Tuesday, March 27, 2007

[SWEDEN] Two thousand pesos for a haircut

I had a haircut before leaving Manila, but after 2 1/2 months, my hair obviously got a lot longer. So recently, I swung by a hairdresser. I am now sporting short hair. The cost? 320 kronor. Or about P2,198.92. Ouch! In Manila, for that price I could have a dozen haircuts. Maybe I should just shave my head.

Monday, March 26, 2007

[SWEDEN] My apartment

Here's a virtual guided tour of my new apartment:

My doorway. It's customary to leave your shoes at the door (like in Japan and Korea). There's also a place to hang coats and jackets when coming in.

Some artsy thing in my hallway. This message is open to interpretation. You gotta dig the cool lighting on it though...

I have a guest toilet right next to the entrance (with the matching rug and hand towel).

My laundry room. The iron and iron board are tucked away in that closet on the right.

My bathroom. The shower area is actually quite small and considering the size of the bathroom, I wish it was a bit larger.

The flowers are only decorative.
My hallway. The pic is not meant to be a nice shot of the place, it's supposed to convey the space you see and feel as you step inside.

My study. The owners of my apartment are a married couple: French husband and English wife. And they have quite a bit of art put up all over the place. The plants on the window sill are real.

The kitchen and dining area. Stainless steel fridge, oven, and microwave. Pretty cool lighting on the dining table. Ceramic stove and built-in hood on the left. Toaster and water pot which I haven't used so far. More potted plants on the window sill.

Dinnerware that came with the place. All of them from Ikea. I think the multi-colored bowls and cups are cool.

An Art wall facing my dining area. As you can see, the color theme of my pad is a cool and soothing green which I really like (my pad is Manila has a yellow-brown-green theme going on).

My living room. I took this photo right as the train was passing by outside (not sure if you can make it out). The pictures hanging on the wall were taken in Montenegro by my landlady. I think they were rendered a bit to make them look like water color paintings.

There's a plant on the stand and more plants on top of the radiator at the far end of the room.

My 42" Hitachi LCD (or well I think it's an LCD. Could be a plasma. Doesn't matter). It swivels too so if I am in the dining area I can angle it so it faces me while I am eating.

And finally my bedroom. More plants on the window sill. The flowers are decorative. The drapes in the other room are all off-white but in the bedroom I have black drapes to give me more privacy (and darkness at night).

More art on the wall. And those mirrors are actually sliding doors that, when opened, reveal my large closet space.

That's the end of the tour. I really am lucky to have gotten this place and it's even cooler that the owners made sure to furnish it with a lot of great stuff.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jeopardy snafu

I found this while I was searching for something in youtube and thought it was hilarious. Definitely something you would never expect to hear in a respectable gameshow LOL

video uploaded to youtube by kraut63

Actually, I would've given the same reply. =)

Monday, March 19, 2007

[SWEDEN] A new colleague in Sweden

I finally got an internet connection at home so I should be able to update my blog a bit more now. The problem: it's not wireless and the port is at my doorway where there is no table and chair. I pulled a chair from my dining area and my laptop is literally on my lap as I type, and I won't be typing for long because it is getting a bit too hot. I am planning to get a WLAN router soon (or maybe not so soon since I am guessing it will cost quite a bit to get one) so I can actually work in my study (yes, my new pad is large enough to actually have a study among other things).

Anyways, I now have a colleague working with me here in the customer site - her name is Marlena and she is Polish. She's staying now in the same hotel that I stayed in when I got here, and in fact she actually got the same room I got. She says there's a plant in the room that is almost dead which is why she has started watering it, but i take no accountability to the death of that plant since well it's a hotel and there's someone cleaning the rooms daily so it should be their responsibility to water the plants (or at least tell me so if they expect me to do it). Speaking of which, there are quite a few potted plants in my new apartment and so far I have been able to remember to water them a couple of times each week. Hopefully by the time I leave my apartment all these plants are still alive.

Yesterday, Saturday, I went over to her hotel because we planned to walk around the centrum so that she could familiarize herself with the city. Unfortunately the wind on Saturday was incredibly strong. It was somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees I think, and I now find that temperature to be warm enough to be outdoors without a hat and gloves and with my jacket unzipped (guess I have adapted to the cold weather pretty well). But not on Saturday. The wind was so strong that it felt a helluva lot colder than it was. Marlena was actually tearing up from the wind, and after we had walked around to see the Domkyrkan (I'll write more about the Domkyrkan in a later post) and a few University buildings when she suggested that we go have some coffee because and hope that after our coffee, the wind would die down.

So we head to Espresso House (of course) and end up talking about how it is working in a different country as well as the history of Poland and the Philippines and how life is in our respective countries. Marlena knows a lot about Poland and it's history, and it embarrassed me a bit because I just realized I didn't have the same in-depth knowledge of my country's history as she had of hers. So the next time I get back to Manila, maybe I can get a decent history book and read up on it again so I have better, more insightful things to say to people who ask me about it next time. Or maybe I can just check the internet.

When we step out of the cafe, we find out it was still very blustery outside. So we decide to call it a day and maybe try to see more of the city some other weekend when the wind isn't forcing us to stay indoors.

I actually decided to run today. As I said, it doesn't feel too cold anymore so I was feeling ready to take on the weather in just my running attire and a sweater. And I did run - I have no idea what distance I covered but I ran for 28 minutes so that's probably about 4-4.5 km. The intense wind was still around though and it made it extremely difficult to run. But I really needed some exercise so I am glad I did it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Repeat of 2005?

Woo-hoo!!! Liverpool get through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League!!!

They actually lost to Barca 0-1 at home, but because they did beat Barca 2-1 a couple of weeks ago, they end up on even terms 2-2. But Liverpool get through because of the away goals rule - in their match-up against each other, Liverpool scored 2 away goals (i.e. in Spain) while Barcelona scored only one.

Next up: PSV Eindhoven, who Liverpool trounced during the group stages earlier in the tournament, so there's a good chance that they make it through to the semis. Of course, you can never count out any team because anything can happen.

Anyway, they are a few more wins from possibly winning their 6th Champions League trophy, after capturing it 2 years ago. I am not going to count my chickens before they are hatched, especially since both Chelsea and Man Utd loom in the distance. But I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that they do well and snag the big prize...

Good luck Liverpool!!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

[SWEDEN] Settling in

Finally! Last Sunday, after being in Sweden for almost two months already, I moved to my new apartment! Funny thing though, after only a couple of days of being in my new place, I had to fly to Rubiera, Italy for a business trip. So I'll have to re-settle in tomorrow night.

The internet connection in my apartment hasn't been set up yet, so my blog will probably stay un-updated for a week or so (although I hope it gets sorted out sooner than that). I'll try to sneak in a few posts every now and then to remain connected.

More on my fantastic new place (plus other updates) soon!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fantasia sings 'I'm Here' on Oprah

OMG. I just saw this in one of my favorite blogs, www.rickey.org. Fantasia is going to be playing the role of Celie in "The Color Purple" on Broadway starting April 10. She recently guested on Oprah and sang 'I'm here', the same song she performed in American Idol a couple of weeks ago.

Now I remember watching a video of that AI performance a couple of weeks ago and I thought to myself, 'Man, this woman really knows how to deliver such an emotionally charged performance, it's almost like she is putting everyone else on AI to shame.'

Then I saw her Oprah performance. The arrangement had been changed to make it even more stirring and heart-felt. And, my God, I was blown away even more!!!

(I didn't upload this video to youtube myself, it was uploaded by user peppa800)

I've re-watched and re-listened to this dozens of times already and it still moves me deeply each time. I read a comment that someone made on this video online that you watch it and you feel it in every fiber of your being. I couldn't agree more.

Kelly Clarkson may be the biggest-selling and most internationally successful Idol ever, and she may never be surpassed in that regard. Carrie Underwood's debut album is the highest-selling debut album by any Idol winner and she may end up being the most award-winning as well, with Grammys, Billboard, Country music and American Music awards trophies under her belt already. Jennifer Hudson has so much buzz attached to her name now with her role as Effie White in Dreamgirls, which earned her a Golden Globe and an Oscar award that you expect a lot more success to come her way. And Chris Daughtry's album has already sold 2 million copies (actually outselling winner Taylor Hicks by a mile) and selling more records than any other non-winner in AI history.

But for me, no one else in Idol history can dig as deep within themselves, deliver more emotion, bare more of their soul, and move people as much as Fantasia. There is an unmistakable truth to her performances that, to me, no one else can match.

I just hope that at some point in her career, she can come up with an album featuring songs like this one.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

[SWEDEN] My first Swedish parking ticket

Ugh what dumb luck!!! I got a parking ticket a few days ago.

Normally when I head home, I have to get a parking pass from the hotel reception. I drive up to the front of the hotel, park on the side of the road, get a parking pass, then I chill in my room for a bit - you can park on the road for 10 minutes - before I head back out to drive my car to the parking lot about 200 meters away. Then I head straight to dinner.

I followed that same routine one day and when I step out of the hotel lobby, I see a parking ticket on my car! WTF? I was there for less than 10 minutes! I step back into the hotel and ask the receptionist to explain the ticket to me. Apparently, the ticket was not for parking for more than 10 minutes, but for pointing the car in the wrong direction i.e. against the flow of traffic. In the Philippines, parking this way is not a problem hehe so I didn't know there was a rule like that. To make matters worse, my ticket costs 800 kronor or about P5600. Damn!!! That is a lot of money for parking in the wrong direction for less than 10 minutes.

Anyway, I never made that mistake again. Ah well, I guess you could say your experience in a new country will never be complete unless you have some infraction against the law hehe. Okay that is not true, but I will just think of it that way so I'm not too bummed about the 800 kronor I just flushed down the toilet...