What are you doing, face?

I’ve known you all my life, and I’ve always been very fond of you. Well, mostly always. I’m not very happy with you now and that’s why it’s time we have a little chat. Quite frankly, I’ve been putting this off long enough, and I do appreciate everything you’ve done for me in the past, so don’t think I’m going to enjoy this.

Ahem. You need to shape up. You’re a little too loose these days. I liked you better when you were wound up tighter. It’s like you used to care but now you just let it all hang out in the wind. I think you’re not even trying anymore.

I’m looking at you, face.

Just another pretty face.

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Hey, Swedish Chef, Don’t Feel Bad, Sweden Does Love You

In the name of full disclosure, I am not a Swede. I’ve retained my Finnish passport, citizenship, and most of the values in my 12 years in Stockholm but I have also added many new ones. Values, not citizenships. One of the things that hasn’t changed, though, is my appreciation for the Swedish Chef, which is why I was so surprised to see this story about Swedes being tired of getting asked about him. Or that, gasp, he wouldn’t be funny!

This past summer, my two kids, my beautiful Swedish wife, and I have watched a half a dozen movies together: Ice Age 4, Madagascar 3, Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz, The Muppets, and Alvin and the Chipmunks 3. And which ones are the kids talking about afterwards? Mary Poppins, the Oz, and the Muppets. Which songs have been in heavy rotation all summer? The ones from the Oz and the Muppets.

And whose picture is on my son’s wall?

The Swedish Chef’s.


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My friend Smiley

In just a few months, on September 19, the character combination known as “smiley face” will turn 30. I’m sure it’s going to be a wild and crazy party full of interesting characters. Maybe even & and * will turn up, even though it was exactly those two that Smiley pushed aside thirty years ago.

Of course, it’s not just Smiley that has its birthday because Smiley’s sad twin brother, Frownie, was born just seconds later, making its first appearance a mere two lines later in that email message Scott E. Fahlman sent his Carnegie Mellon college colleagues.

Smiley’s come a long way from being a pain in the neck – or at least causing pain in the neck when people were told to look at it sideways – to being our best friend, the trusty sidekick that knows exactly how to convey our feelings, when words aren’t simply enough.

Seeing the original Smiley still makes me smile, but these days mostly because it’s like seeing an old friend. I don’t really use his services anymore, because I often use the more streamlined and faster version of the Smiley. The Noseless Smiley: :)

In fact, you can tell a lot about the person you’re interacting with just by looking at the smileys they use. Here’s a quick guide to the most common ones:

George S.

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Summer special, Part IV

Summer: GÖK

Life was perfect. Our home had become exactly the kind of haven of peace and tranquility in the world of stress and chaos we had wished for. Agnes was going to take a sabbatical from work, she wanted to go back to school and study something. IT, I think. And I loved my job, to be honest. In other words, everything was so great that I started to worry about the future. Something was going to happen.

This just couldn’t last, that much was obvious. And if things couldn’t get better, they’d have to get worse.

Nothing ever stays the same.


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Summer special, Part III


Our next trip to Ikea was a true case of hit and run. We had already decided on which bed we wanted. Agnes was supposed to just walk in and buy it, and since she already was going to be in there, maybe grab a pack of napkins and candles. There couldn’t have been many left at home anyway.

I was driving the getaway car. My job was to sit in in our rented van at the gas station across the street and I would only get involved if they did have the couch in the warehouse and some muscles were needed.

Who were we kidding anyway? We didn’t really need me in the purchase process.


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Summer special, Part II


Our first visit to IKEA hadn’t gone unnoticed by our friends. Agnes’s friends almost fainted when she told them. After all, we had gone to the fantastical furniture house after just three months of dating. And not only that, we had also bought something together. Something big. Something real.

As far as the Swedes I knew were concerned, we were practically engaged. Agnes would have the right to half of everything we had ever bought from Ikea. In our case, that meant 50 percent of everything in our apartment.

That’s right. Our apartment. We had just moved in together.


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Summer special, Part I

Hey, I found an old story in the archives, and I thought it’d make a nice summer story. I’m on vacation with Wife, probably riding our bikes around town, stopping for cups of coffee, reading good books, and hanging out. Below you’ll find Part I of the story that will be published in four parts in the next four days, but automatically – at 9 am CET – so I can, you know, stay on vacation.

Summer: FAKTUM

At IKEA with the missus. He he he”. That’s the message that marks the public start of our relationship. While my Swedish, pigtailed girlfriend was checking out a blue kitchen cupboard, and measuring it with her eyes to see how it would fit in my apartment, I was leaning on a wall some 10 meters away, sending text messages to my friends.


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