Alone in Sweden’s coldest village
Next time you complain about the weather being cold, you need to remember Åke Siikavuopio. Åke, a former welder, is the only person living in Naimakka, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute’s northernmost weather station and the coldest place in Sweden. How cold? Try -42.6 degrees C (-43.6 F). Åke was born here and several generations of his family took care of the weather station here, before it became automatic. “It’s probably just as cold in other places,” says Åke. “It’s just that here you have the river and the mountains which add to the chill, plus Naimakka is situated in a hollow.” Åke doesn’t have much to say about the cold, he tries to avoid doing things outside when it get really cold. But he says the cold doesn’t make you sick, and it is possible, he says, to stay out an entire day even though it means the cold almost takes the life out of a person. He says his hands have been frostbitten several times, to the degree that his skin has fallen off. “People say it’s pretty up here,” Åke continues. “But I don’t really see it.”

Royal dinner at the Palace
Finally time to gather together for a great royal dinner at the palace, and unlike last year – this time Prince Daniel was at Victoria’s side. It was a sparkly event, the other night, but what is Victoria wearing? A gown of a different cut than we are used to seeing, for sure, but if she is trying to ward off baby rumors – then maybe this was the wrong model to choose. Note her black nail polish!

Well drillers stick together
“It’s hard to be married,” Strindberg wrote in “A Dream Play”. “I think you have to be an angel.” Well, an angel or a… well driller. Did you ever think there was a connection between your line of work and your inclination to divorce? According to a study by Statistiska centralbyrån (Statistics Sweden) it is. If your better half works as a pilot or a trash collector, s/he is more inclined to divorce you than if s/he works as a mathematician or a well driller. 7.2% of all recycling- and garbage collectors go through a divorce, while only 0.8% of mathematicians and 0.6% of well drillers do. Among special ed. teachers, 1.8% go through divorce. Among politicians - 1.6%, pastors – 1.8%, librarians – 2.5%, engineers – 2.5%, psychologists – 3.2%, travel guides – 6.5%. The tendency to divorce also has to do with where you live, in Stockholm 19 of every married 1000 get a divorce, while the number in Norrbotten is 11.1 out of all 1000 married.

Björklund backpedaling on 'friskolor'
According to Minister of Education Jan Björklund (Folkpartiet – Liberal People’s Party), some 'friskolor' [free schools] - publicly funded schools similar to charter schools - put emphasis on profit for the owners, rather than on quality of education. It’s important to note, that Björklund in the past has been one of the strongest advocates in the debate for free schools in Sweden. “Gaps in the legislation have given free schools the chance to ignore libraries, study counseling and school nurses. Since they get as much money as municipal schools, the owners have been able to withdraw the financial surplus,” Björklund says and admits to a certain naïveté among the right winged. Says Mikael Damberg, a Social Democratic politician: “It is good that Folkpartiet admits that they’ve been naïve and that that has acted as a stopper and the development of harder demands on the free schools.” Swedish free schools can be owned by individuals or enterprises or organizations. The existence of free schools has been an important issue for the center-rights and for the Greens for quite some time.

Elegant Scandinavian recipe with a fusion twist
Scandinavian food can be very heavy and sort of dull – or very light and elegant. We found a recipe of the latter sort, with an interesting fusion twist: Fresh Cucumber Slices with Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Cream by BecR on Ingredients: 1 English cucumber 3-4 ounces thinly thinly sliced smoked salmon 1 -2 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives fresh ground black pepper, to taste 1. tablespoon wasabi powder or 1 tablespoon wasabi paste, to taste fresh dill, to garnish. Partially peel cucumber horizontally (so that some dark green still shows), then slice into 20 at 1/4-inch thick rounds. Lay on paper towels. 2. Arrange slices of smoked salmon on top of the cucumber slices, cutting salmon to fit. 3. Drizzle salmon with lemon juice and lightly sprinkle with pepper. 4. In a small bowl whip together the cream cheese, fresh dill, fresh chives, pepper, and wasabi powder. 5. Top salmon with wasabi cream, and garnish with fresh dill.