Monday, January 30, 2006

The kind of earwax you have is controlled by the ATP-binding cassette C11 gene, according to Japanese researchers.

Who would've guessed? And here I always thought the ATP-binding cassette C11 gene was so innocuous.

And who knew there were two types of earwax?

And who starts to feel a little queasy just contemplating the whole earwax phenomenon?

The Swedish word for the day is forskning. It means research.

- by Francis S.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy New Year.

The Swedish word for the day is hundåret, which means a dog of a year, say Hanna and Ban~ken. As opposed to hundens år, which means the year of the dog.

- by Francis S.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

If anyone asks me if I believe in ghosts, I tell them it's not that I believe in them, it's more that I just don't not believe in them.

But the truth is that my heart, the irrational part of myself, most definitely believes in them, no matter how skeptical the rest of me is. I remember when I was nine or ten, I would play the piano and wonder if the ghost of Bach was listening, and if he was insulted. Or if I played well enough would he appear and tell me how good I was (he never showed up, definitely a testament to my poor fingering, overuse of the damper pedal and tendency to play so fast that the notes would get all tangled up in knots and I'd have to start over again, which drove my father mad).

Just last weekend, when the husband was in Gothenburg over Saturday night, as I finally turned out the light and pulled the covers up tight to my chin, feeling very alone in bed, I wasn't worried about someone breaking into this vast apartment, I was actually worried that I would open my eyes to find a nasty spirit floating above me. Or something like that.

Not that I've ever actually seen a nasty spirit floating above me, or for that matter, a spirit of any kind above, below or beside me.

The problem is that no matter how hard I try, I can't will myself to really not believe, no matter what I say about not believing and not not believing.

I think it's time that I just give in and tell people, well, I've never seen any but yes, I suppose that I believe in ghosts.

Do you?

The Swedish word for the day is Spökslottet, which is the name of a mansion not far from Odenplan, and means the ghost castle.

- by Francis S.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Miscellaneous item No. 1: Walking to work in a heavy pair of work boots, my ankles and shins aching from the extra weight on my feet, I was suddenly wafted back to junior high school when it took a couple of days for my feet to get accustomed to my winter boots, and the day Deborah Newman threw one of my boots into the girls' locker room after school in a mad fit of 7th grade flirting. Sadly, it's been more than a week and my ankles and shins haven't adjusted.

Miscellaneous item No. 2: Yet another friend has jumped onto the blogwagon: Billy. Like me, he's having to face up to the fact that the only hairstyle available to him for the rest of his life involves the shortest setting on an electric razor. Stop by and leave a comment.

Miscellaneous item No. 3: The food was great, but the more I think about it, the more I find it disturbing that I ate at a trendy restaurant called "Döden i Grytan" - which means "Death in the pot" - along with the husband and P., another fashion photographer and I., the former backup singer to David Byrne. The fact that the name is Biblical in origin only makes it worse.

Miscellaneous item No. 4: Does having a black chandelier put you at a 6 on the Kinsey scale?

The Swedish verb for the day is att banta, which means to diet, which is something I've decided I really must do, after looking at holiday pictures.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Swedish phrase for the day is så lyckades Birgit Nilsson hålla sin död hemlig. It means how Birgit Nilsson succeeded in keeping her death a secret.

I knew Birgit Nilsson was one of the world's great opera singers, but I didn't know she was actually able to manipulate things from the grave - obviously, she's not just a fabulous soprano, she's also a zombie.

(Cue magic fire music.)

- by Francis S.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Can there be anything more harrowing than parenthood?

Not that I can figure.

The thing is, when my little brother and his wife brought Owen home from the hospital to start his life in the big bad outside world, the doctors and nurses told them to watch out because he seemed a little jaundiced. And then, after a couple of days, he had become even more so, and the pediatrician said that he better go back in the hospital. And it turns out that Owen, poor little baby, is a rather severe hemophiliac. Which is quite treatable. But that is poor solace.

My brother told me they cried, they felt guilty, and then they had to face it; a three-step process that no doubt will be repeated for the rest of their lives. And me, I just felt sick and all I could think of was Owen, and of something my sister wrote to me, about how becoming a parent changes your life not in the way you think, but more in that you become so very vulnerable just because your children are so vulnerable. I can only imagine, since I lay awake all night thinking about my brother and his suffering for his son, and worrying about Owen, who is so very little, so very vulnerable.

But, the first reaction in my family is to be stoic. When my brother called to tell me all of this, he sounded a bit hoarse, but his voice was steady.

"The doctor said he can never be a boxer," he said.

We laughed.

The Swedish word for the day is blödarsjuka. It means hemophilia.

- by Francis S.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My beloved little brother and his wife, the rebel, are the proud parents of Owen, who arrived propitiously, two weeks early and with all tax advantages, on Dec. 31 at 9:30 p.m. in Manhattan while all of us in Stockholm were drunkenly swigging champagne at 4:30 a.m. here, a good four and a half hours into 2006.

Welcome to the wide world, baby boy.

The Swedish word for the day is farbror, which is what you call a paternal uncle; morbror is a maternal uncle.

- by Francis S.