Sunday, March 27, 2016

Modern Art Museum Stockholm

My days left here are now in the double digits. The Easter weekend is a 4 day holiday and I'm spending it enjoying Stockholm before I have to move away. Moderna Museet i Stockholm is another of the local museums I haven't been to and it is now free. It was a perfect day to go out and visit another museum. The sun was shining but it was still cool (48F) and very windy so it was good to be inside. They have a nice restaurant like many of the museums here. Here's the wonderful view from the restaurant where you can see across the water to Strandvägen and the Nordic Museum / Nordiska Museet.

There was a lovely Easter Sunday lunch buffet with a couple of different pickled herrings, blackened salmon, couscous, and other things. Inexplicably the meat was labeled as Texas Chili and did taste like some Texas BBQ so I was right at home in many ways with this meal. I've grown rather fond of the crispbread / knäckebröd with some butter on it and have a huge wheel of it at home. They were supposed to have gravlax but I was disappointed there wasn't any since it's another favorite I'll miss from here. It's raw salmon cured with salt, sugar, and dill and usually comes with a nice tasting dill and mustard sauce. Swedish food has definitely grown on me during my time here.

The museum has some interesting and unusual art pieces as you would expect in any "modern" art museum. Here's just a few samples of what you can see in this museum if you visit the beautiful city of Stockholm:

Vasa in a bottle

a giant mouse nightmare for this guy

a modern art view of Slussen in Stockholm

this one odd thing out of many much odder things

 "I hope everything is perfectly clear, but if it is too clear you can call me and I will try to make it more obscure." - Salvador Dali

I forget who did it but the lips are a neon light

Andy Warhol (but of course the subject is Marilyn Monroe)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Happiness Is The Road

Marillion is an awesome band and this song speaks well for the journey down many more roads... happiness is the road.

studio version with lyrics

live version

Marillion - Happiness Is The Road

lyrics from

The greatest blessing that we have 
Is the dawn of each new day 
A chance to finish what we started 
And made a mess of yesterday 
As day comes out of night 
A chance to get it right 
A chance to start again 
A chance to get it right 

The people here 
Full of love and comfortable in themselves 
Not scared to let go 
No fear round here 

I met this man 
In Utrecht Netherlands 
He was a doctor of the body and the soul 
He said to me: 
Man, there's a book you have to read. 
I feel your pain. It makes me cry 
But these tears are yours - not mine. 

You're focusing on all of your bad yesterdays 
The worry lines are getting deeper every day 
And deep inside you 
No surprise - there's a crisis! 
You might have been to blame 
But you can't go on this way 
Must I watch and pray? 

While you torture yourself with what's behind ya 
Torture yourself with what awaits ya 
Draggin' that guilt and regret inside ya 
Anxious of the goals that always evade ya 

Your mind will find a way to be unkind to you somehow 
But all we really have is happening to us right now 


And each baby.. 
A human sunrise 
Each baby - a human sunrise.. 

Look around you 
Feel your soul inside you 
Look inside you 
Feel the life course through you 
The life that's giving in every thing that's living 
The plants and the trees 
The birds and the bees 
And apes like you and me 


You're a slave to your mind 
But you are not your mind 
You are not your pain 
Say it again 
You are not your pain 
Say it again 
You are not your pain 

Happiness ain't at the end of the road 
Happiness ain't at the end of the road 
Happiness IS the road 
The road 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report 2016 Update is published. The editors argue that happiness provides a better indicator of human welfare than income, poverty, education, health and good government measured separately. Roughly 3,000 respondents in more than 150 countries were asked to evaluate their lives on a ladder where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 represents the best. For the world as a whole, the distribution is very normally distributed about the median answer of 5, with a population-weighted mean of 5.4. It's a simple concept of being higher or lower on a happiness ladder but it needs to be simple to measure people of so many different nationalities and mindsets.

I'm from the United States which is ranked #13 with a score of 7.104. I currently live at my first foreign service post in Sweden which ranks a little higher (#10/7.291). Supposedly I improved my happiness environment by moving to one of the top 10 countries but it wasn't a huge jump in position. It doesn't feel like a drastic change but I do think people here seem a little happier. It also depends a bit on the seasons here. The top 10 is dominated by Nordic countries despite their cold and dark winters. Maybe the survey is taken in the summer when everyone is enjoying the long days filled with sunshine and pleasant weather.

Top 10

1. Denmark (7.526)
2. Switzerland (7.509)
3. Iceland (7.501)
4. Norway (7.498)
5. Finland (7.413)
6. Canada (7.404)
7. Netherlands (7.339)
8. New Zealand (7.334)
9. Australia (7.313)
10. Sweden (7.291)

I'm moving to Venezuela this year which is ranked #44 with a score of 6.084. They're still above the median score so they're relatively happy compared to the rest of the world. All of the bad news I see about their struggling economy hasn't pulled their happiness down below the median yet. However, these reports do show Venezuela is losing happiness. 2015 they were #23 with 6.810 and 2013 had them at #20 with 7.039. The trend doesn't look good but they do remain well above the bottom 10 countries.

Bottom 10

148. Madagascar (3.695)
149. Tanzania (3.666)
150. Liberia (3.622)
151. Guinea (3.607)
152. Rwanda (3.515)
153. Benin (3.484)
154. Afghanistan (3.360)
155. Togo (3.303)
156. Syria (3.069)
157. Burundi (2.905)

The overall list may be something to consider for future assignment bidding if being around happier people makes a difference in my own quality of life and happiness. I'll test that this year by moving a little further down the list to Venezuela. I'll try to keep some of that Swedish happiness with me as I go. :-)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Swedish History Museum

Less than 4 months left in Stockholm and I'm still trying to see everything I wanted to see around here. There are several museums on my to-do list and fortunately many of the government owned museums are now free to visit. Check the link for a complete list. I think it's great to use taxes for greater access to these wonderful learning places. The Smithsonian museums in DC are free resources for the people and it'd be great to see that model used everywhere. Museums are a great way to find out about a place and what made it what it is today. The Swedish History Museum does a good job of telling that story with a focus on prehistory, vikings, medieval, and a timeline of 11th century to today. I looked around and enjoyed the museum more than I took photos so here's a small taste of the viking era:

Speaking of history, near the museum at Storgatan 28 is an old pharmacy called Apoteket Storken (stork). It's a step back in time to 1898 with a lot of the original interior and ceiling murals while operating as a modern pharmacy. It's worth a look at the details in person if you're ever in the area.