Rules for fools

We all know the basic rules of dividing up shame in a relationship. Your mother must have taught them to you, or maybe your brother, or father did. (Or maybe you learned them from George W. Bush). But to refresh you memory, here it is:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Simple, and therefore very easy to remember. It also makes sense intuitively. But it’s also so very inadequate, albeit understandably so. Not many of us have ever needed to know the rules beyond those two.

However, these days we get fooled almost daily, thanks to the Internet, and especially the social media. The current archaic set of rules is not enough anymore.

shame

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Hometown hero

SOLLENTUNA, Sweden – About 35 years ago, a fair-haired boy got off bus 520 at the Sollentunavallen stop, walked through the gate and down the stone stairs to the outdoor rink, to attend Edsbergs IF’s hockey school.

Even if he had given it any thought, maybe he would have seen himself come back to the rink as an adult, and maybe a child could even imagine an indoor rink where the old outdoor rink was, and a practice rink next to it, and a full-size bandy rink next to that one, but he most likely didn’t think he’d be back at “Vallen” to unveil an image of himself on the wall of fame of the new rink.

Sudden + Daughter

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Time stood still

“Every time I jump like that, I feel like time slows down a little bit.”
– Son, today, after a hop over a puddle

On the back wall of my elementary school cafeteria, there was a big clock. White background, black hands, no numbers, just the short lines that indicate the five-minute (or second) intervals the hands have to make to travel around the face.

There was also something else I’ve never been able to forget in my school, and that was the rule that you had to finish your plate, because food was never to be wasted. That’s why I sometimes sat alone at a long table and stared at the clock, while trying to chew whatever food was given to me that day.

One time, when I was there alone, trying to make the food go down, I glanced at the clock, and waited for the seconds hand to move, as it did, second by second, not in one smooth motion – but it didn’t.

The clock.

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Magic post

When Phil Verchota was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1956, pinball machines were still illegal in his home state. However, the state supreme court made a ruling that pinball was a game of skill, not chance – and therefore not gambling – a year later, so it’s safe to assume his pinball playing days weren’t cut short by law.

Although, eighteen years later, when he enrolled in University of Minnesota, pinball machines were still illegal in New York City, and the games took place in back rooms of establishments that already had a questionable reputation.

In 1980, pinball machines were legal almost everywhere in the United States, but by then, Phll was in Finland, and that’s where I met him. We played a few games of pinball in the Helsinki hockey rink cafeteria.

See, Phil was also a pretty good hockey player and had won Olympic gold in Lake Placid about six months earlier. People call it “Miracle on Ice.”

Phil's skates at the Smithsonian

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Masked intentions

I spent a good ten years of my hockey career, or “career”, if you will, in Finnish minor leagues – a galaxy far, far away from the NHL – where games are played late at night, and the practices held even later at night, where it’s sometimes easier to get to an away game than a home game.

In the minors, the coach sometimes decides to make big league moves, such as shorten the bench in the third period, but most often he doesn’t because he can’t even if he wanted because he only has two lines to work with.

If the team has a coach, that is.

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5436 days of Stockholm

The man at the New York souvenir shop was just trying to make some chit-chat. He was the one greeting us as we walked into the “bobblehead store” which is what Son calls all those souvenir shops now because that’s where he happened to buy his Abraham Lincoln bobblehead doll.

This time, he couldn’t decide whether to get a Kennedy or Clinton, or maybe George Washington so he didn’t buy anything which is why we were hanging around the front door, waiting for Wife and Daughter.

“Where are you guys from?” the greeterman asked Son.

“Oh, we’re from, em, Sweden,” replied Son, and then looked at me.

“And Finland,” he added.

Now, if I’m traveling alone and people ask me where I’m from, I always say “Finland”, but that “I live in Sweden now”. When I’m traveling with the family, I most often say that we’re from Sweden, always making a mental note to myself that technically, we have traveled from Sweden. Sometimes, I add that I’m actually a Finn, but most often I simply don’t want to engage in a conversation, so I let it slide. It’s not important.

This is the view from the opposite direction of my first office

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Back in the USSR

Wife’s sister, my sister-in-law, has a vivid imagination, and a great sense of empathy, both character eemraits that make her a caring and a popular person. What it also does is create false memories, because when she hears a good story – and she loves a good story – she gets so into it that when she tells the story later on to somebody else, she may tell it in first-person, thinking that whatever happened, had happened to her.

Of course, it doesn’t happen with every story, and with everyone, it’s often when Wife, her sister, tells her something that their experiences get intertwined. It’s sort of like meeting a celebrity on the street, and saying good morning to her, because you think it’s another one of your friends, when it is, in fact, one of the Friends.

I was there.

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Dream big

Last weekend, Daughter had another bandy game. Bandy, if you don’t know, is like field hockey on ice, and Daughter, if you don’t know, rocks the sport. She’s a great skater, and more importantly, she’s got the gene that I don’t have, which is the one that makes her want to practice every time she gets a chance.

The games last Saturday were especially exciting because they were her first games indoors.

AIK

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26+1 ways to survive in Sweden

“You know how the homeless people say “taaaaacksåmicke”, with that long “aah”? I wonder if that’s how they were taught to say it, or if that’s their natural accent?”
– Wife, the other day

My natural accent in Swedish should be Finnish, but is not. Of course I don’t know exactly what my Swedish sounds like, except that probably worse than I think. When I first moved to Sweden, and wouldn’t speak Swedish, my colleagues and new friends often – naturally – asked me how much Swedish I spoke to begin with.

My line – because of course I had a standard line for that – was: “It’s probably better than you think but worse than I think”. And I think that applies to my accent as well.
From Austria? "No, I'm Inga from Sveden". Continue reading

He always came back

It’s funny how one’s senses can go into hyper speed in a fraction of a second, he thought. Just a second earlier he had been leaning back in his boat, watching his two buddies pull the fish out of the water, and now he was in the water, his body and brain working overtime trying to figure out what was going on.

The water was cold, they said. It was dark, and he could hardly see anything. The lake didn’t smell, but he heard sounds of struggle behind him. He spat out the water that had got into his mouth when the boat had capsized.

In the water

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