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zird is the word [userpic]
A woman I know, who is a member of the AWC here, despite having moved up north in Sweden several years ago, emailed me yesterday to tell me about something that had just happened to her asking if anyone else in the club was having the same issue. One of her banks, where she and her (also American) husband have their savings accounts, had written to them telling them that since they were American citizens, the bank was closing their account.

Sweden recently signed the FATCA agreement with the U.S. As of July 1st, 2014, Swedish banks are obligated to report to the U.S. on the holdings of their American customers, something those customers are already obligated to do themselves with the FBAR and other bank reporting forms required by the IRS and U.S. Treasury. Sweden joins a long list of countries that have already caved in and signed the FATCA agreement with the U.S.

For those of you who don't know, American citizens who have foreign bank accounts must already report the amount of money in ALL said bank accounts if the total amount of money in them is more than $10,000 ALL TOGETHER on any given day in the year. That includes pension plans, retirement savings, IRAs, mutual funds, checking, savings and ANY account your name is on... including all such accounts for your kids, if you are a joint account holder with them.

Because I have joint accounts with both my husband and my children, that means that I am essentially reporting on my husband's money as well, to a foreign (for him) government. My kids are both American citizens, so despite having never lived in the U.S., they will also be required to complete the U.S. tax filing and bank reporting requirements when they are of age.

Despite never owing anything, I have always complied with the American tax laws and filed my reports every year. When I first learned about the FBAR requirement a couple of years ago, I immediately took steps to get into compliance there as well. Penalties for not complying run in the tens of thousands of dollars. The fact that despite all that, I could still be kicked out of my bank accounts and denied service is extremely distressing, not to mention discrimination. How are expats like me supposed to live and work in Sweden without basic banking services?

The woman that wrote to me has already contacted the Swedish Tax Authorities, who were appalled that the bank had closed her account purely on the excuse that she and her husband are American citizens, DESPITE the fact that they are ALSO Swedish citizens, AND have lived and worked in Sweden for over 30 years. Banks are obligated to do the reporting to the US, but because it is at their own expense, many banks around the world are opting to close and deny customer accounts because they don't want the hassle.

She is also threatening to go to the media and to contact a lawyer, both steps I applaud. This is the first person in my circle of acquaintances to be affected by FATCA, but I'm willing to bet she won't be the last. I was also informed by the FAWCO UN Liaison when I emailed her last night about this, that it's not just non-American banks that are closing accounts. The Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO) recently had their U.S.-based Wells Fargo account closed, presumably because the account owners are non-resident. Which means that even if I was forced to move all my banking to a U.S. bank I have no guarantee that they won't ALSO be closed because I am non-resident.

Isn't it already unbelievable enough that American expats are subject to citizen-based taxation (WITHOUT REPRESENTATION, I might add), instead of residence-based, meaning that we must potentially pay double taxes if we make "enough" money, but that we must also inform the U.S. government of how much money we have in our bank accounts AND that foreign banks have are essentially being bullied by Uncle Sam into doing the SAME reporting on us? Americans living IN America don't have to do this. We are not "hiding money in off-shore accounts". We live and work here. No wonder the amount of Americans officially renouncing their citizenship has skyrocketed.

If I think too much about all this, I feel like my head is going to explode.
mood: morose
music: The Beta Band—Dry the Rain

zird is the word [userpic]
Despite all my best intentions, I seem to be lucky if I manage to write a post once a week. I am so lame.

We've been having torrential downpours here for over a week. Huge puddles of standing water in the roads, lakes in all the fields, and the ditch around our lot is running with water all day. We've had armageddon clouds and grey skies for what feels like forever. Yesterday, there was actually about an hour or so of sun right in the middle of the day when I went for my lunch walk, and today, it was only spitting a bit when we went out, though it turned dark and began bucketing down again about an hour later.

Got the okay on my Christmas vacation time off, and I got everything I asked for, which means about 2.5 weeks off for only sacrificing 4 vacation days. WOOT! Thanks, Christmas and New Year's, for falling in the middle of the week. Axis very kindly gives us two in-between days. They call them pinch-days here, ...I actually can't remember what they're called in the States. Bridge-days? It's the Friday after New Year's, and the Monday before Epiphany.

I'm feeling the need for some time off, though I'm not desperate, and I'll have Thanksgiving week as well, so all in all, I have a lot to look forward to! I'm hoping to get some Christmas shopping done soon, so that I can take things home with me and not have to mail them.


Karin is considering doing a year of high school in the States, but we found out today that she will for sure have to re-do the year here in Sweden. There is no way around it and no way to test out of it. A year of high school in the States counts for nothing, grade-wise, here. So she has to decide what to do, and she's really torn. If she has to repeat a year, she'll be behind all her friends. But the experience and the fun she'll have in the States (with the expectation that she has the RIGHT kind of fun...) are very tempting.

Hard to give her advice as well, since I'm torn myself. I have always thought it would be great if my kids could do a year or so of school away but at the same time, I dread them leaving, and as far as I'm concerned, they can just as well stay here. I can't imagine my life, or my daily routine, without them. Sounds pathetic, I'm sure, and I know every parent has to face it sooner or later, but—and this is something I NEVER thought I'd say—right now, I choose later.
mood: tired
music: none, just me

zird is the word [userpic]
The organizer for our AWC book group sent out an email yesterday asking everyone to send in their recommendations for next year's book list. We all nominate 3-5 books and then, after we get the whole list, we vote on which ones we want to read, and the top 8-9 chosen are the next batch we read.

We still have three books left in the current list, so I actually think this is a little premature, but our organizer wanted to get the voting done before Christmas so people could include the winners on their wish lists. We are reading Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck in November, Orange is the New Black in the beginning of January, and Gone, Girl in mid-February. Maybe instead of 8-9 books, we should only choose 6, otherwise we'll be well into 2016 before it's time to vote again.

We meet every 6 weeks approximately, with sometimes a bit of a longer stretch in the summer and during the Christmas holidays. I've been a member of the book group since the AWC started... nearly 17 years. If the AWC didn't exist, I'd probably have to start it, just so I could have an English-speaking, English-book-reading book group. Many of the people who consistently come to book group consider it the best evening of the's grown quite a bit, but nearly everyone in it is someone I consider my kind of people. Nobody wants to miss book group, even if they haven't read the book.

We keep a list (I keep the list, actually, much to your surprise, I'm sure) on the website of all the books we've read. The first twenty or so books on the list don't have the month we read them listed, but I'm pretty sure it would have been in 1998, as the club began in November 1997 and book group was one of the first activities to be organized. The first book we read was Typical American by Gish Jen. I don't remember it at all, and wonder if I was actually participating in that first meeting. According to the website, we've read 133 books.

The vast majority are, of course, fiction, but we've read a lot of non-fiction, autobiographies, memoirs, and classics as well. There are a handful of books on the list that I didn't read, on purpose, because I didn't like the subject and didn't want it in my head. There are a lot of Oprah books on the list and best sellers... many of which I only read because of book group...I would never have picked them up otherwise.

We've had a couple of theme nights. One for classic fairy tales, where we shared our childhood favorites and talked about why they remain so popular. One theme night was on Women & Oppression and we had 3 books to choose from. One recent one was an author theme: we all read books by Geraldine Brooks and discussed them. It required a bit more work but was a fascinating discussion even though all of us managed to read different books! There were a few books over the years that EVERYONE disliked and have become inside jokes among the members of the group. Used copies of them pop up every now and then in our annual media sale and we all laugh and try to convince unsuspecting non-book-club members to buy them.

I just sent in my list of 5 nominations, after spending over an hour perusing my books-to-buy list and Amazon. None of them are books I've read and all of them are books I want to read. I struggled a bit, because I thought maybe I should put some classics on that I haven't read and feel like I should, but I finally gave up and put books on that I just really, really want to read. The last time we did this, the list to vote on was 31 books long and it was REALLY hard.

And inevitably, I'm disappointed, because books that I don't want to read are ALWAYS voted in. But also, inevitably, some of them end up being worth it.

Anyway, these are my 5 nominations:
The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Before Ever After: A Novel by Samantha Sotto
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Bees by Laline Paull

What 5 books would you recommend?
mood: calm
music: Nina Gordon—Tonight and the Rest of My Life

zird is the word [userpic]
Did I mention I started walking again? Finally? Baby steps, really, but at least it's progress. One of my colleagues, who is also a friend, is helping to motivate me, along with herself. It's only 15 minutes after lunch, but it's better than the big fat nothing which it's been for far, far too long. We actually started 2 weeks ago... we managed 2 days, and then I got sick. And then she got sick.

But now, no excuses, every day, even if one of us isn't there and even if it's raining, which it was today. There are a couple of other people who have said they want to go, too, but honestly, it's easier just with two, and two who are really committed. I have my walking shoes at work (though I either have to start bringing them back and forth every day, OR buying another pair so I can walk at home, too), so there are NO EXCUSES.

I moved the treadmill out of hibernation this weekend too and made a start walking at home, as well. Went for a walk on Saturday with both kids in the beautiful fall weather, and yesterday I walked for nearly half an hour on the treadmill. I even bought a DVD box set so I'd have something new to watch while I walk: more motivation.

I've also started standing more at work. I had actually started a couple of weeks ago, because of my stupid shoulder. We had an off-site team meeting last Wednesday that was really fun and the guest speaker my boss had arranged was very timely. A woman who is a physical therapist, life and nutrition coach. She talked about how bad it is to sit as much as we all do nowadays and encouraged us to find ways to get more active.

I put the desk up before I leave in the evening and in the mornings, when I arrive, I stand for the first hour of work. During the day, I try to stand for at least another hour's worth as well, and my goal is to eventually be able to stand at least half the work day. My entire team is helping to encourage and remind each other as well. Sometimes, as soon as one of my roommate's desks goes up, the other two will rise. Then we'll all stand for awhile before someone finally gets tired and sits again. Although, there is a lot of nudging about taking the stairs (we're on the 4th floor), I've not been able to start that knees won't take it. I'm hoping that as I get more endurance with walking and standing, I can start that as well.

One of the AWC members who had organized an online diet & exercise group last year is doing it again and sent me an invitation, but I've learned my lesson. I tried it, but it's too much for me to do it that way, and actually de-motivating, watching & listening to everyone else talk endlessly about weight and weight loss and exercise. I have to do it my way, or it just doesn't happen.

Now I just need to work portion control into the mix, and maybe I'll finally see some results. :)

Views from the walk

mood: tired
music: my bracelet whacking the keyboard while I type

zird is the word [userpic]
I'm having a bit of a blank spot. Writer's block. Been there, wrote that.

According to LinkedIn, it was my 10-year work anniversary yesterday. I'm not sure how LinkedIn knows, since I don't even remember exactly which day I started with this company. I knew it was October, but I'd have to do some digging to figure out which day it was.


Well! That was easy! Helps to have a blog that I used to post on EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. What the heck did I find to write about?? I just went back in my archives and I started work on October 18. So now I know. LinkedIn was totally jumping the gun.

When you start a full-time job at my company, they give you a bicycle. A really nice one. In the company colors of red & yellow. Basket and everything. I still have it and it is still where it usually is... in the garage. It would be a great bike to have if we lived in town. It's a town kind of bike. But out here in the countryside, where there are really only roads that people drive fast on, it's not for me.

I've heard that when you hit your 10 year anniversary at my company, they give you... another bicycle. Presumably because the first one has worn out after 10 years? I don't know but I do know that I don't want or need another bicycle. I don't know if I can get it changed for something else, but at the moment I can't think of anything else equivalent. They probably won't give me an electric car instead. Ideas?

10 years! That's the longest I've been at one place. I was at First Chicago for 7.5 years, I think. What I actually do hasn't changed all that much since I started, though it has also grown...but other things have changed enormously. The company has grown like crazy, for instance. When I started, the marketing department consisted of 7 people. Now we're over 60 and still growing. I was the only graphic designer (for years). Now I'm part of a team of 9 (some of whom are project managers) and a sub-department of 16.

I've had 5 bosses. I've moved to 6 different locations. I've moved into and thankfully, out of, open landscaping. I've lost a landline and gained a second monitor. I've gained an adjustable-height desk. I've become SENIOR. I could happily stay at this job, this job I love, for another 10 years (or more).

As long as they don't plan on giving me YET ANOTHER bicycle then.
mood: calm
music: Madonna—Live to Tell

zird is the word [userpic]
Things I'm kind of worried about: getting pneumonia again from this head cold, whether or not my shoulder will get all busted up again from traveling, how to stop sounding like I'm 80 what with the pneumonia and busted shoulder

Things I'm kind of aggravated about: my daughter's insistence that I am lying to her about the fact that I have NEVER said certain things, the way my eyes get blurry when I look at my iPhone or iPad too long, the fact that I have to start wearing socks again (it's COLD)

Things I'm kind of geeky about: Where's My Water 2, word- and language-related facts and games, my Spotify playlist

Things I'm kind of quiet about: what I really think about certain people, things that worry me, all this stuff rattling around in my brain

Things I'm kind of anal about: re-reading all the books in a series before I can read the latest, keeping the same routines for morning get-ready and evening go-to-bed, checking and re-checking my posts for grammatical and spelling errors

Things I'm kind of clever about: convincing people without even trying that I'm much more social than I actually am, coming up with names for things, remembering people's names and often the names of their children too (though I never ever know what kind of car they drive, or even what color it is even if I've known them for years)

Things I'm kind of sad about: how fast winter is coming, how far away my family feels sometimes, my own lack of motivation

Things I'm kind of embarrassed about: the chair that collapsed with me in it, the fact that every time I eat I spill something (!) on my shirt, the fact that there are so many items for this particular list that I am too embarrassed to add to it

Things I'm kind of wistful about: the sugar beets on the side of the road (harbingers of fall), the flame-tipped maples, the neighbor's cat who comes to say hello and be petted and who hangs around sometimes for an hour or so but who always leaves again

Things I'm kind of proud about: the fact that my boss had to remove my numbers from the work statistics because I skewed them too much, that I get so much done each day I sometimes think I'll run out of things to do, that I've started walking at work with a colleague (only 15 minutes after lunch so far each day but it's a start)

Things I'm kind of spoiled about: my husband's cooking, my children's really excellent behavior (despite our battles), a job I love

Things I'm kind of happy about: the Kindle I would never have bought for myself, the shiatsu neck massager that I just gave myself for an early Christmas present, the things I'm looking forward to which include Thanksgiving both here and at home

What are your things?
mood: calm
music: The Sundays—A Certain Someone

zird is the word [userpic]
I am not going to make it through the teenage years.
mood: frustrated
music: none, just me

zird is the word [userpic]
Dang it, there went time again, flying. Every time I write the word flying now, I have to delete the e I automatically add to the end. Flyinge. (where I live, you know)

We spent most of yesterday evening watching three old videotapes that Anders' mom gave us when we were dropping her off yesterday after her appointment at the physical therapist (hers was after mine, my arm is MUCH better, thank goodness). She's slowly cleaning out some of Einar's closet junk and getting rid of stuff.

One was a video Anders had made shortly after he moved downtown to the apartment in Chicago (that I later moved into with him) of the waterfront, his apartment, MY apartment (complete with my kitties Pooka & Toby....aaaah!!!) and one of his hockey games, plus a round at the Tetra Pak office.

The second one was old family home movies of him as a baby at the zoo with his parents, then as a 5-year-old with his family at Christmas, and then a really old one of his dad and brother at their parents' home when they were young men. So fun to see! HIS CHEEKS. Man, alive. Nom City.

The last one was OUR WEDDING!! hahahaha! It's the tape that my cousin's husband Andrew made and I had forgotten that he taped so MUCH. I'm still mad at my brother, John, for not cutting off that godawful ponytail. And I'm mad at everyone else for not telling me that my barette of silk roses was CROOKED. He taped a bit of the rehearsal dinner, the ENTIRE ceremony and nearly all of the reception (at least highlights of people's speeches, and such) until the dancing started.

So funny to see everyone so YOUNG and thin and the guys with so much hair! And to be reminded of those who have passed on, my mom's cousin Anne and Becky's Chris, and especially my Dad. I had tears in my eyes more than once during the course of it, and Karin said she did, too.

It was fun to sit there with the kids and explain things and tell them who people were... so much more alive than the photo albums no one ever looks at. Of course, if we don't get this transferred soon from VHS, no one will look at this ever either...

It made me miss my old friends that I have so little contact with now, and it made me miss US and how young we were and it made me miss Chicago, too. Karin thought it wasn't fair that she and Martin weren't invited, though. Hee! Hard to believe it was nearly 20 years ago. Again, with the flying(e) time!
mood: happy
music: Kendall Payne—Closer to Myself

zird is the word [userpic]
Picking lists of books is hard. I always hated that old question about if you were stuck on a desert island which 10 books would you want to have with you? The answer was, I thought, painfully obvious:

Boy Scouts Handbook
The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson
Practical Wilderness Skills by White Wolf Von Atzingen
Living Ready Pocket Manual - First Aid by James Hubbard
Fishing for Dummies by Peter Kaminsky & Greg Schwipps
How to Survive on a Desert Island (Tough Guide) by Jim Pipe
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

That's only 7 (all real books) but I'd round out the list with some re-readable favorites, for those long nights by the signal campfire.

Like Bethany, I found myself hoping someone would tag me for this particular meme...books, lists, sharing favorites; what's not to like? It's much more up my alley than Ice Bucket Challenges or online quizzes about what kind of dog I am.*

The meme is at least a little more specific than the desert island question... share 10 books that have stayed with you in some way, affected you/moved you/caused you to neglect your family.

The thing is, I could come up with a couple hundred books that fit this criteria. Heck, I could come up with a couple hundred just from my childhood and teenage years. I'd be willing to bet that many of those books might be on your list, too. But even there, I find it immensely difficult to pick just ONE favorite from authors who wrote so many marvelous books: Diana Wynne Jones, Roald Dahl, Louisa May Alcott, C.S. Lewis, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Susan Cooper, Rudyard Kipling, Madeleine L'Engle, L.M. Montgomery, Edith Nesbit, Arthur Ransome, Elizabeth Enright, Laura Ingalls Wilder...

And, around the time I was 13, I discovered Science Fiction & Fantasy. Even if the vast majority of the children's and young adult books I read, and that were available, fall definitively into fantasy, SF/F was a revelation to me. I would have a hard time choosing only 10 such books that have stayed with me, moved me, affected me in some way. These 13 (I couldn't keep it to 10) only just begin to scrape the surface:

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin
Brightness Falls From the Air by James Tiptree Jr
After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper
The Hound & the Falcon by Judith Tarr
Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Hidden Land by Pamela Dean
Pilgrimage by Zenna Henderson
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Angelica by Sharon Shinn

So, I had to dig deeper. I had to REALLY pare down to the books that have helped to form significant parts of me, aside from the huge core of science fiction and fantasy that makes up the bulk of my inner life: my values, my beliefs, my sense of humor, my way of relating to the world. Books I find myself re-reading more frequently than others. Books that satisfy something deep and primal within me. Without further ado:

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
This book showed me that you didn't have to make things up. Fiction is wonderful and fantastic and mindblowing, but O! So is the world itself. The trees, and the bugs and the animals. The way it all interacts and interweaves. Annie Dillard taught me how to LOOK at things, how to SEE them, in the bigger picture, in the full fabric of life within the world.

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
As long as I can remember I've been fascinated by Michelangelo. My parents had two gigantic coffee table books when I was a child, one about him and one about Leonardo DaVinci, but it was Michelangelo who captured my imagination. DaVinci had brains, but Michelangelo was all heart. Passion in every line, every work, everything he did. I was already an artistic and creative kid, but Irving Stone's biography showed me how it was to BE an artist. This book brings to life his life, his struggles, his art and his triumphs in a riveting portrait.

Mister God, This is Anna by Finn
I went through a religious phase in high school, singing in a interdenominational choir, going to Bible Study, and generally being, in all likelihood, pretty insufferable. I read the Bible cover to cover. But mostly what I learned from those years was that organized religion WASN'T for me. This book, with its emphasis on loving kindness, the pursuit of knowledge and simple humor, was. It still speaks to me, though it's a little twee these days.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
It's been a while since I read any of Rand's books, but both this and Atlas Shrugged had a huge impact on me as a young adult. They fire the imagination and even though I didn't and don't buy every philosophy Rand evangelized, they breathe life into many of ethics and values I believe in and struggle to achieve: independent and logical reasoning, the refusal to compromise your principles in the face of peer pressure, and the idea that selfishness is not necessarily a bad thing.

Katherine by Anya Seton
Another historical portrait, this one probably more or less made up out of whole cloth and based on very scanty facts, but still a love story of astounding proportions and a look into the past that shows you how much things remain the same when it comes to the human heart. Full of stark scenes that stick in the mind.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I don't remember when I first read this book; it seems like I've always had it. The morality, the ethics, the dilemmas, and the bravery of the people involved is incredible. It teaches you how to be a better person.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I love this book and the entire series with a passion. Even if they're too long, even if they keep ending on horrible cliffhangers, even if they're based on a ridiculous premise (I have a thing for time travel books in general, actually). This first book is a galloping, breathless whirlwind adventure of a love story about courage, passion, and the choices we make in extremis. Its sequel, Dragonfly in Amber, is just as good, if not better.

Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne
No child should come into the world without their very own copy.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
The paperback copy I have was originally my sister's book, I think. I shamelessly stole it and never gave it back. I've read it a dozen times, easily. It never gets old. It's one of the best stories of leadership, friendship, humor and family ever written, even if it IS about rabbits.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I love Dodie Smith and I didn't know until I was grown that she had written anything but The 101 Dalmations and its sequel, The Starlight Barking. She was a playwright and wrote several novels as well as a series of autobiographies. This particular coming-of-age story is smart, literate and unpredictable, and it's enjoyable no matter how many times you've read it.

It is REALLY, really hard to stop here at 10. My bibliophiliac brain is poking at me, "What about American Primitive by Mary Oliver? What about My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok? What about The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll? What about The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye??? You forgot Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver! And The Stand by Stephen King! How can you LEAVE ALL THE REST OF THE BOOKS OUT??"

I could go on all night. Consider yourself tagged, if you haven't already been.

*I find it disturbing how many hits there are for different quizzes with this title. Also, I tried one and got Pug. Um, no. Not even close.
mood: cheerful
music: Darling Buds—Fall

zird is the word [userpic]
Yeah, so the whole weekend sucked. I can't think of any other time I've been in that much consistent, awful pain, since...mmmm. Childbirth? The toothache that led up to the root canal? Toss-up. Anyway, I went to the doctor on Monday and I have "frozen shoulder" and he gave me a cortisone shot on the spot and aaaaahhhh... sweet, sweet relief.

It's not 100% gone and I can feel it threatening to come back after only 2 full days of working so have to talk to my boss and get SOMETHING, anything, figured out about what in my work situation is contributing to this issue and get it fixed STAT. Went to the physical therapist today and it hurts again, but all over my neck and back, and I can at least move my arm around and pull up my pants without crying when I go to the bathroom. Yes, that bad.

Also, am tired of myself and my one-note ow-my-shoulder wah-wah-wah. Here comes the wahmbulance. Pity party!


Guess who is still going to be on the AWC board because no one even asked about taking over my position? *sigh*


I went and voted in my first Swedish national election since I moved here 17 and a half years ago. I've voted in local elections but since I wasn't a Swedish citizen before last year, I've never been able to vote for the national government. It was kind of a let-down. They have a bazillion political parties here in Sweden and all of them are kind of meh and one of them is godawful and I really struggled to learn a little bit about the ones I thought were most compatible with my values so I could make an informed decision. I asked one friend who is actually involved in politics and was running for office in Malmö about how the Swedish parties compare to the Democrat / Republican parties in the U.S. and he just snorted. "ALL of the parties here are so far to the left of what stands for left in the Democratic party in the U.S. that you can't even compare."

OK, good to know, but not really all that helpful. You take your voter card, that you get in the mail, with you to the polling station, which in our village is the elementary school cafeteria at the school Martin and Karin went to for years. Before you go in, you stop and pick up little papers that are sorted by political party and by national, regional or local (county) elections. This is right out in the open, where everyone is waiting, so basically, if anyone cares and is watching, they can all see which party papers you have picked up. These little party papers ARE the ballots. You can just put them as is in their envelopes, which means you are voting for the party, or you can check the name of a specific person within that party, or you can choose to write in a name of your own that you want to vote for. If you don't want people to know who you are voting for, you have to pick up papers for a bunch of parties and then discard the ones you don't want when you get into the voting booth.

You get 3 envelopes to put your papers in: one for national, regional and local, and you go into the voting booth to insert them in the envelopes. Then you come out and show your voting card and your ID to someone who crosses your name off the voting register book and they put the envelopes in the ballot boxes for you. SO. MUCH. PAPER.

Every year, people vote for Donald Duck (his results were way down this year compared to 2010, though) or the King of Sweden (who doesn't even vote himself, on principle, though he's allowed to now, since the rules changed in 1974; before that the royal family wasn't allowed). Anders and I voted for different parties, and he joked when we left the school that he hadn't brought me all the way over here and made it possible for me to be a citizen just so I could cancel out his vote. Heh.

Everyone here is outraged and upset that the "racist" party made so much progress this election and more than doubled their percentage, but SOMEONE is voting for them. Karin wants to start her own political party. I told her to "be the change you hope to see happen" when she said she was only 15 and what could she do?


I promise a book post is coming, but I wanted to be thorough and give it more spotlight than having to share space with my stupid shoulder and Swedish politics. :)
mood: hopeful
music: The Green Children—Are You Out There?

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lizardek's obiter photos
lizardek's obiter photos

Feeling generous? Be my guest!

I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Abraham Lincoln

obiter snippets

Layout thanks to dandelion.
Findus the cat as used in my user icon and header is the creation of Sven Nordqvist.