Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden

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book of february: all the light we cannot see


My Mum recommended I read this book, and I’m so glad she did. To be honest I started reading it this summer. Don’t take my somewhat extended reading time to mean that the book isn’t captivating – oh it is! The real truth (in stark contrast to the fake truth) is that I borrowed the book from the library to my tablet, didn’t realize it had been automatically downloaded, and then only had a few days left to read a 500+ page book. Which evidently was not enough time. Also the hold line for the book is a constant 100+ people.

Finally in February I once again got my mitts on a copy of this somewhat elusive book and finished it off. It is wonderful. I’m not at all surprised it’s won a Pulitzer Prize. Anthony Doerr’s story telling is something worth experiencing. Plus you get to ingest such lovely words as “extirpation” and phrases like “amphitheater of noise”. (Don’t worry, that doesn’t give anything away.)

A story revolving around the second world war and set in France and Germany where the two main characters lives are wonderfully detailed by Doerr. Read this book. Even if it takes you half a year to get your act together enough to finish it. Worth it.



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15 days: my iphone withdrawal story

15 days, that’s one day more than two weeks. That’s how long I haven’t had a smart phone at my immediate disposal. That’s actually how long I haven’t had a phone of any kind easily at hand. 

These days there are a lot of articles about phone addiction, the dangers of extended screen time, or even this one about decreased mental capacity while in close proximity to a smart phone. I haven’t done any empirical studies on how smartphone use personally affects me, but it’s definitely safe to say I am affected. 

First, there occurred a mishap that led to my iPhone being submerged in water for an extended amount of time. No, I do not have the 7, so yes, that was the end of that. Not that I would believe it at first. My very first response was to envelop my phone in a bag of rice for over 48h. Because diligent Googling said that was the ideal amount of time. 

These first 48 hours were no walk in the park. I constantly felt like I was forgetting something whenever I was leaving home, or a friend’s place – wherever I was really. That feeling of “something is missing” was not a comfortable one. Even when I assured myself that it was my phone, and that I didn’t have it with me. 

I didn’t let the fact that my phone was drying out in a bag of rice stop me from uploading to Instagram or scrolling through Facebook. Most importantly I didn’t let it stop me from taking pictures. (I have over 6,000 pictures on my phone pretty much at all times, and yes, I back up regularly to the cloud and harddrives – don’t cry for me Argentina). My addiction to technology is deeply ingraned. I borrowed my wife’s phone often and brought my SDLR around with me in a way usually only reserved for tourists. 

Day three was test day. Finally I would find out if my phone would turn on or not. If my phone would be saved. Turn on it did not. I despaired. I cleaned it out diligently and charged it. Thinking that maybe, just maybe it was completely drained of battery, and needed a charge. 

Days four and five I wrestled with the thought of life without a phone. If it was truly gone I would need to replace it. At some point at least. But maybe – just maybe, I bargained with myself, I could make it all summer without a phone and wait it out for the 8 (or X or whatever Apple decides to name their next smartphone). Why spend the money on an old model now when I can buy the newest version in a few short months? Can I really make it three months without a phone? I could. Right? Or I could buy the 7. That one is waterproof. But why spend that money when a newer better version will soon(ish) be available? Can I make it? I can. Right? How long could I delay my reward? I was torn.

Day six, life. Much to my surprise my iPhone blinked blue on the sixth day. All the buttons were functional, and I could turn it off and on using them. However, the touchscreen was unresponsive. This meant a trip down to the nearest fast phone fix it locale to see if there was anything to be done. One tense afternoon and one phone call to aforementioned wife, lead to the news that the repair costs would equal phone replacement costs. Day six continued: contact with Apple Support, which in alignment with my recently completed survey I am highly likely to recommend to a friend, colleague or blog reader. (In the name of honesty: I added the last category). They helped me with exactly what I needed and gave me an estimate on fixing or replacing my phone, which would result in a functional phone guaranteed to be returned to me. The right decision was ade clear to me: send it in.

The weekend following day six was a three day holiday weekend in Sweden (Midsummer – see previous posts 1, 2, and 3 for more information on that). So it wasn’t until the tenth day that my phone was to be picked up. Alas, UPS could not enter our condo building so the successful pick up occurred on the eleventh day. When I kept our kitchen window ajar and listened for truck noises all morning – and promptly ran out with my decrepit phone when I saw a large brown truck from my bird’s eye view. 

Since then Apple has been assessing my phone and determining that a replacement product is to be returned to me. Bringing us to the present day: day fifteen. Mail is not delivered on weekends in Sweden, so we shall see what happens on day seventeen. 

Maybe my newfound freedom from mobile phones will mark the beginning of a less phone-dependent, more present in the moment period of my life. Or maybe like any true addict I will be back at it as before exactly when the opportunity presents itself. I’m shooting for the former. 

After my initial panic of being without a phone for an extended period of time, later bargaining with myself about how long I could make it without a phone, I’ve now been able to enjoy these past days without a phone. It’s been nice. It’s one less thing to think about. One less thing to remember to have with me. One less thing to distract me from the matter at hand. I think I’ll take a phone vacation every now and again. It’s been nice.

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book of january: the opposite of loneliness

I remember going to see Marina in a play. My cousin had invited me along, and when we drove up to the blue paneled colonial that housed the theatre I didn’t know what to expect. We were in grade school, and my only previous conception of children in plays was the school produced fifth grade play.  Though I myself did not categorize myself as a child at the time.

It was dark when we arrived, after what seemed like an eternal car ride. The sort of car ride that once illuminated by adulthood is one that could not have taken more than five minutes to span the distance from my cousin’s house to the theatre, door to door. It must have been my anticipation pulling on time, extending it.

At the time I only knew Marina through my cousin, but seeing her on stage I was both awe-struck and inspired. Much the way I am now, after reading her book. My child self went home after seeing Marina completely determined to participate in a play and simultaneously terrified at the prospect. That is how I would describe my experience reading Marina’s book. Inspiring and terrifying.

The Opposite of Loneliness

In my own mind I fancy myself a writer of sorts. I would love to write a book, but put no actual practice to these thoughts. Marina’s book inspires me to write, to put finger to key and create. Though this thought is also terrifying: it is a daunting task. Many of the similarities between Marina and me are also unnerving. The ending of her really hit home for me. Not to give anything away, but I was shocked by the similarities between Marina and me. We are, and though I wouldn’t use the word terrified, I would use the word concerned, about the future of the human race and what that means. While she focuses on the permanence of the written work I focus on the permanence of genetics, and that is where we differ.

With further thought, I realize it may not be surprising that we share much in common. I’m beginning to realize that growing up in the same home town does expose one to many of the same things. Her life is not so unlike my own. I applaud Marina’s work, and the work of her  parents getting her book out into the world.

If you haven’t already read this book, do so.


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book of september: the last lecture

If I were going to take one thing away from Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture it’s that: all you have is time, be patient.

Initially one might think this idea to be slightly contradictory, but I don’t believe necessarily is.

I truly enjoyed reading Pauch’s book. Not only is it a great story, but he explores some universal themes through discussing his last lecture. If you have seen his last lecture, don’t be deterred from reading the book, as he doesn’t merely recite the lecture. Rather, he explores it in a way uniquely his own (as one may expect).

If I were going to take two things away from the book, I would include that everyone can accomplish their childhood dreams.

Over all, great read, positive in ways you might not expect it to be, and surprisingly a feel good read. A book I’d recommend.


the zoo

This summer Evelina and I visited Kolmården Wildlife Park. It’s one of the largest wildlife parks in Europe. We made the trip with Evelina’s cousin, her husband, and their daughter. It was a day full of fun.


Well, there was an incident at the zoo a few weeks before our planned trip that made me somewhat hesitant about going. The wolves attacked and killed an employee. This was an extremely tragic event, and my condolences go out to her family and friends.

The reason I was hesitant about going is that I was a little bit shocked by this event. Of course, I was shocked that the wolves attacked someone who worked so closely to them for their entire lives. But, more so that the situation arose where it was feasible for an employee to be attacked and killed by the wildlife at the zoo. These are wild animals that are exhibited. It’s not entirely shocking for wild animals to be violent and gruesome at times. That’s part of their being defined as wild animals. I also understand that the employees at this zoo, and likely other zoos, feel very close to the animals they work with, they may even feel safe with them. However, I am not sure I can say that it is reasonable for a person to be alone in a wolf pen. Regardless of training, situations clearly arise that cannot be handled by one person alone. The fact that the rules and regulations of the zoo allowed this event to take place gave me pause. I was not sure I wanted to spend my money in support of such an environment. Things may have only been worse if there were three to five people in the pen that day, but maybe not. What if there was a tranquilizer gun present? If there were more than one tranquilizer gun available? I don’t know the intricate details of the rules and regulations of keeping and caring for wild animals in captivity, but it doesn’t seem like this should happen. I hope the zoo is asking itself now, in the off-season, what were the circumstances that allowed this horrible event to take place, and what can we do to ensure the safety of our staff?

Needless to say visitors were no longer allowed to visit the wolf pen for the summer.

I am glad though that we went. It really was a great day, full of new animals to see at the park, an excellent dolphin show, rollercoaster rides, safari rides through animal enclosures, souvenirs, and, of course, fika.

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september 12th

September 12, 2012. I know what I was doing 11 years ago on this date.

I have read a number of beautiful blog posts paying remembrance to the tragedy that struck New York and tribute to the survivors of that fateful day. It is something our history will be forever changed by, and an event that we will never forget.

Unless our entire planet is destroyed in exactly 100 days. Or haven’t you heard? Both Nancy the psychic and the Mayan calendar predict the end of the world to be in December of 2012. The 21st to be more precise.

picture credit, and source of most information found here

I have some high quality information about the translations of ancient Mesopotamian writings, and their declaration of the imminent doom we are currently careening towards*.

NASA even backs this research.** I have found a quote by a NASA scientist that states that “the important threats are from global warming and loss of biological diversity, and perhaps someday from collision with an asteroid or comet.” He then goes on to say that this is all going to happen, together, simultaneously, at once, on December 21st.***

I just want to make sure you’re all prepared for that.

Silver lining: no need to buy Christmas/Hanukkah presents this year!

Good luck to you,





*The aforementioned translations are utilized in fiction writing, and only completed fictitiously.

**NASA denies all research concluding that the end of the world coincides with the winter solstice.

***This is a direct misquotation, taken out of context.

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in memoriam


Over the weekend this beautiful and amazing person passed away in a car accident. My life was touched by this wonderful woman, who never failed to bring a smile to my face. I am dedicating this post to her.

Marina, you are so missed. You have left us all far too soon. They say the good die young, but that doesn’t really cut it. It seems that words have a hard time describing the beauty you brought into this world.

I will always look back on our times together fondly. My thoughts go out to your family who are mourning this horrible loss. I hope they find what little solace is to be found. They will remember you always, as will I and all of your friends.

“The first time her laughter unfurled its wings in the wind, we knew that the world would never be the same.”
– Brian Andreas

You are loved and missed.
Requiescat in pacem