How to get commuters to follow the rules

Every morning, I force myself out of bed, wolf down some toast and make my way down to the subway station for the 16 minute commute into the city. Once on the train at rush hour, my fellow passengers and I keep a close eye on the occupied seats when we pause at a hub station. At the smallest sign that a person may vacate their seat, we swoop in like a flock of seagulls fighting over a stale french fry to grab a place to sit.

Of course, after scoring a coveted place to rest my legs, it’s only a few stops until I arrive at my destination, which also happens to be a hub station. Now I am in the benevolent position of granting another drained passenger the dignity of relaxing in the comfort of a thinly cushioned bench, while I escape to the platform.

I trudge up the stairs (the escalator is always broken and the elevator has an overwhelming odor of urine), and look for the quickest and most convenient way to exit the station. 

Image shows long hall to subway station exit.

This particular station happens to have a long hall that ends in 2 doors. One door exits forward while the other exits to the left. My work building is located toward the right, so I generally take the door facing forward to exit the station. 

Temperatures are currently below freezing, and because of bad construction, the forward facing door I normally take has a flimsy paper sign attached with cheap tape begining to peal off with the cold. It reads, “Please use other door to minimize cold air in the station.”

Like many commuters, I think, “This is not my problem.” Taking the door on the left means walking 5 extra steps around the corner. That’s 5 extra steps in the cold, slippery outdoors.

This is not happening.

For the past two weeks, the sign has been ignored by all commuters through the station, and rightly so, in my opinion. But today, things have changed.

Image shows scary old man blocking an exit.

When I reach the top of the stairs, I swerve through the crowd and make my way to the hallway that leads outside. There stands a grey-haired man in a faded green coat, covered in what I hope is ketchup, leaning on the wall beside the forward facing door. As I get closer, he begins to cough disturbingly, hacking and grunting, then follows this by expelling a lage glob of mucus onto the floor. 

I turn swiftly to my left and steer clear of the door guarded by this human personification of Pestilence. Those five extra steps through the biting cold now seem like a small price to pay compared to risking exposure to a mystery illness.

Genius move Stockholm Transportation Service!

Run the gauntlet of disease and mucus, or concede to take the exit less traveled? I acknowledge your superior strategy. You win this time. I shall bow to your will and use the recommended exit.

The real reason behind gluten-free diets

The reason people do not eat gluten. They must defeat the Kaiser.

Pro Winter Tip

During a conversation the other day about combating the winter darkness, I got a good tip.

“Turn on the continuing fireplace on Netflix on your tv in the evenings, and it makes things feel cozy.”

In the past, I’ve only used the fireplace tv for Christmas. It’s interesting how your brain will trick you, because I’ve noticed that we all keep about a 2-foot distance from the tv because of the “heat” from the fireplace. I never considered doing this during normal days, but why not?

The woman who gave me this tip said that some evenings, she turns on the t.v. fireplace and sits down with a nice cup of tea and a book.

The funny thing is that this week I’ve discovered that an office on my floor is doing the exact same thing. They have a huge t.v. screen and they run the 24-hour fireplace on it all day. I can’t believe I never thought of this before.

But I’ve also found a way to make it even better. I noticed that a few candle companies sell scents labeled “campfire” or “bonfire.” So, just buy one of those to burn while your tv fireplace is on. (And then exchange the tea for hot chocolate.)

Winter cosiness achieved!

image shows WoodWick candle with fireside scent

Finnish pronunciation

I had a meeting last week with 3 Finns. While their English is excellent, it’s funny to hear the different emphasis they put on certain syllables.

For example:

Categories – ka-TAG-ories

Development – dee-vell-OP-mint

Now, I can’t speak any Finnish, of course, but I imagine many Swedes get a kick out of the way I put the accent on the wrong syllables in Swedish. And in Swedish, this can totally change the meaning of the word.

Classic example – tomten

Tomten can either mean “the garden” or “the Santa” depending on where you emphasize the word. Here’s a great example from

My kids and their friends are always confused when I tell them that if they’re nice, the garden will give them presents, while if you water Santa well, he will grow.

The Swedish Halloween report

From having no pumpkins or celebrations for kids when I moved to Sweden over 20 years ago, Halloween has improved.
As reported in previous years, trick-or-treating has resulted in: money, candy dug out of pockets, loose chips, aspirin.

So the candy situation is getting better, but this year the kids also received:

  • One ALREADY OPENED bag of nuts
  • An orange with a Halloween face quickly drawn on it at the door since the lady didn’t have candy.
  • Loose popcorn
Image shows a bag of already opened nuts given as a Halloween treat.
Bag of already opened nuts.

image shows an orange with a jack-o-lantern face drawn on.
Orange with hastily drawn jack-o-lantern face.a

Titles are good enough for me

Some days I only have time to read the titles of news stories on the web. And sometimes I think it’s better that I just imagine the contents. Here’s one title of a news story I didn’t read.


I only add the link to verify the source. If you actually read the article, you’ll be disappointed and bored. Instead, just look at the image that I prefer to imagine goes with this headline and draw your own conclusions.

Why is there a fish in the water?

I took a photo yesterday of art installation in the middle of Stockholm. It’s a giant fish coming out of the water.

There have been other art installations in the same place before, so I wondered what this one was representing. I checked the internet, but all I could find at first was a question someone asked on Reddit. They had also taken a photo and asked, “Why is there a big fish in the water?”

Here are some of the answers this person received: 

  • Because water has fish. I don’t understand the question.
  • Camouflaged Russian submarine
  • Symbolizes that there’s something fishy going on around there.
  • His name is Olof. Give him a beer. He has great stories.

(Found out later it’s some sort of climate statement about fish, but I liked the above answers so much better.)

How I try new foods

One thing about speaking a language that is not native to you is that you must also deal with different accents and mispronunciations. In my case, this has often led to me ordering one type of food and receiving another. You may think, “Why not let the person know they misunderstood you?”

Because that would require me to speak even more.

So instead of knowing just what type of food I might get, I get to try all sorts of things I never meant to order.

Today’s order was not so bad. I tried to order one scoop of Mint Chocolate ice cream. I got 2 scoops of regular Chocolate.

Lucky, all chocolate is good.

This image shows 2 scoops of ice cream but I ordered 1.

My stock photo workmates

At my job, I have to choose a lot of stock photos to put on webpages. I only have permission to use the free photos on one site, so it’s constantly the same people in every photo.

I’ve found myself starting to hate them.

They all have names and backgrounds in my head. I’m so tired of looking at them and their fake faces. They always do the same things. There’s never any new photos.

Let me introduce you:

Green-shirt Jimmy, 80s-Hair Erik, Maroon Marsha, Not Kenny Rogers, Barbie and Clone Beard.
Judy is the lady who didn’t get a chair.
Judy might have changed her glasses and Clone Beard changed his shirt, but they don’t fool me. Also, what is 80s-Hair Erik doing with his hand on Maroon Marsha’s shoulder? Bad touch!
Barbie is very disturbed by something Not Kenny Rogers has shown her on his laptop.
What?! They were doctors all along?


In the continuing saga of studying Italian Duolingo, I finally come across a phrase that I DEFINITELY need when I’m in Italy.

Clever advertising

I’m enjoying the ads around town for Spiritmuseum Stockhom (Museum of Spirits – as in alcohol). Whoever came up with this ad campaign deserves a raise.

Trending now in Sweden!

I never would have guessed….

Trending in Sweden - Swedes


And now a Happy Swedish Mother’s Day

Yes, other countries celebrate Mother’s day at different times. Father’s day as well (it’s in November in Sweden, but June in the U.S.). This makes it extremely hard to remember when these types of days are coming up for family overseas, espeically if you need 1-2 weeks to mail a card so it will get there on time.

The continuing adventures of Italian Duolingo

Kind of makes you nervous about keeping up with the daily news in Italy.

Vaccination fashion

Getting a vaccination shot this morning and my main concern is:

Because I think most people don’t consider this when going in. Here’s my helpful list:

1. Baggy clothes (in case you faint)

2. No sleeves

3. Absolutely no high heels (this is for after, in case you’re feeling woozy)

Stay tuned for my further fashion tips like, “How to dress for the gynecologist in Sweden” and “Proper footwear for cobblestone streets.”

Slogan generator

As a copywriter, I’m sometimes asked to come up with several versions of a tagline or slogan for a product. Occasionally, if I run out of ideas, I’ll try one of these random slogan generators for inspiration. They can be quite interesting depending on the words you add. Today I asked for quotes with the words “diseased turtles.” I was not disappointed.

Fun with language pt. 132

Though the photo SHOULD have been a clue, I read this as “Spooky Quest: Lost seals.”

själar – souls
sälar – seals

ALL Moms are Awesome

Are they really?

I keep getting ads on my social media sites saying ALL moms are awesome. So I felt I should make my own:

“4 Legs Good, 2 Legs Better”

CNN had this “fun feature” story on its webpage this week:

Well, I think we all know how this story goes:

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