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Friday, December 31, 2010

Last days of 2010

I can't believe another year has passed soon. Time really flies. For the upcoming year there are no specific plans. It will be mostly work, I guess. I would have liked to make another trip to the US someday. It has been a while now, it's about two years since my last visit.

I have no plans for this evening either, apart from making a salmon dinner and watching TV. There are usually pretty good movies shown during the holidays.

The three working days this week were occasionally busy. It was just me and one other guy working half time. We had to help the others also, so we had a few things to do. Many people take vacation at this time of year, so we were rather few on the staff. And then some people can't come to work because of the snow drift and cancelled trains. The service on my line is down to one train an hour now, and it's not like it's on time or anything. Every day is a challenge, mostly because of this. Remarkable that the weather can cause such problems here. I have heard that there are weather issues also elsewhere, floods in Queensland and blizzards in large parts of the US.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas celebration

It has been a very nice Christmas weekend. I made it to Göteborg by train, it was only about 40 minutes delayed. That's nothing compared to what other people have endured. Many people have spent Christmas at airports in Europe.

We had the traditional meal Friday with meatballs, roasted ham, herring, cheese, bread, Jansson's temptation and much else. Very tasty, and of course you eat too much. Santa, whose true identity one of the kids figured out, came knocking on the door and delivered some presents. He was in a hurry back to the north pole, so we handed out the rest of the presents ourselves. Some of my presents included a book with brownie recipes, necklace, bracelet, a bedding set, a calendar with photos of my sister's kids, Christmas ornaments (fabric hearts made by my mother), a scarf and several gift certificates. All of these things will come to good use.

Saturday we were tired, but went for a walk in the nearby park area. It was bitterly cold, so it was a short walk. For lunch we had lutfisk - at least the others liked it. I got some leftovers instead, and there was plenty to eat. In the late afternoon we drove to Borås. Sunday my mother treated us to homecooked lunch at her apartment. My nephew got a snowracer that he made use of in the hilly terrain near the house. He and I also spent a lot of time building things of Lego. Mostly space ships, helicopters and other vehicles.

This morning it was time to check out the after-Christmas sales. I got a tunic, a pair of shoes and some Christmas ornaments. I started my return trip at 3 pm and arrived home a little after 7 pm. All the connections worked (three different trains), and that was truly amazing. Let's see how it is tomorrow when I have to get to work. I can't stay at home, because I'm the only one working in the stacks, except for one part-timer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas weather

The weather is still terrible and the train problems have reached new heights these past few days. The snow blows sideways and it's very cold. Saturday I was going to Malmö to go shopping the last presents. I went to two different malls, and the city traffic (buses) was basically running ok. When I was going home, I thought I would start from the new Malmö Central Station. A pretty big mistake. I will spare you the details of this ordeal, and just say that it took two and a half hours to get from there to Kävlinge. Normally it would take about 20 minutes. Just awful.

There hasn't been much to do at the library this week. Because of the weather not many people from outside Lund come in. I was really supposed to work today, but told my colleagues already yesterday that I can't make it. I knew what the weather forecast was like, and thought it to be useless to even try going anywhere today. I still remember how cold it was Tuesday to stand at the platform in 20 centigrades below zero, waiting for the delayed train. I have spent more than two hours every day travelling - one way (normally 30-40 minutes). My job isn't that important.

It remains to be seen if I can make it to Göteborg tomorrow morning. The traffic authority recommends that passengers bring plenty of food and drink, and extra warm clothes..... It doesn't sound particularly safe. It has happened a few times that trains have broken down in the middle of nowhere and the electricity went out. It is amazing to us that the infrastructure in this country stops functioning in the winter. This is the second winter with such weather, didn't they learn anything?

I have received some Christmas letters/e-mails from relatives and friends abroad. It is always nice to get news and updates from all of you. I have sent out my letter via e-mail, and if anyone was forgotten, please remind me. I hope you will all have a joyful holiday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Train and weather problems

Like I suspected, the train service hasn't been working that magnificently this week. It's not only the new train tunnel and all the technical pieces that have to fit, it's also the weather (snow, wind and ice). Mornings and evenings all the trains are delayed. I haven't bothered learning the new departure times, because right now it's useless. It doesn't matter when I go to the station, it's just luck if I catch a train without having to wait a long time.

There have been a lot of things going on here this week. Some good and some bad. Monday and Tuesday we had more requests than we normally would. Monday afternoon we got the new car for the storage round. We never thought we would see the day. It's a Volkswagen transport vehicle, so a little larger than an ordinary car. Bright red. I have been nervous about driving it, it's brand new and I'm not familiar with it, the weather is awful, and I'm worried I will damage it. It seems to be working quite well though, it's easy to manage and the breaks are definitely functioning (I tested).

Monday it was Lucia Day, but the only celebration was the saffron bun for the afternoon coffee. Later in the afternoon I heard a strange noise coming from an office three doors down the corridor. I didn't react until a colleague came rushing, saying something about "we have to call an ambulance". I ran out of my room to see what was going on, and met a colleague with blood pouring down from the top of her head. The entire light fixture had fallen down onto her. She seemed to be shocked so I grabbed hold of her, moving her in the direction of the bathroom. I couldn't see how deep the wound was, but suspected it was pretty deep, since the amount of blood was huge. My other colleague had the sense of contacting the janitor, who agreed on taking the wounded one to the emergency room. It is really close (600 meters) if you walk, but it was not an alternative. I stayed with her, trying to stop the blood flow (it was impossible) and then went with her to get her belongings, and followed her out to the car. I know that she is a level-headed person who can stand a lot, so I wasn't worried that she would faint. Afterwards we were three people who cleaned up the blood from the corridor and the bathroom. It wasn't easy, it dries quickly. A terrible accident, no one would have thought that the light in the ceiling could fall down like that. They have checked all of the lights now, to make sure they are properly fixed. The visit to the emergency room went well, she had bled all over the floor also there, so the nurse had taken her in right away. She was stitched up and is doing ok. When she came back to work yesterday she hugged me and also gave me a present for helping her.

Yesterday we were treated to Christmas style lunch by the employer. Salmon, herring, meatballs, sausages and more. Today my department head arranged coffee and cakes for us. Very tasty saffron cake. Also crullers (klenät) and chocolate pralines.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas party at work

It was a hectic week at work. In addition to the regular work I had to make preparations for the Christmas party Friday evening. We were several people who went shopping, decorated the room with two fake trees, got the tables and chairs out, and installed lots of lights, both electric and live candles. It went very well, because we were in a room that isn't used for anything at the moment, so we had time to decorate it. Last year we had one hour to do everything and it almost killed us. We used the same caterer as then and it was a great success. Even though she didn't have the cakes ready in time, so she had to make a second delivery. But the food was magnificent, and very much worth the price. She had handmade meatballs, for instance. Very nice food. The party was also very successful, everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. There was lots of talking and eating. Even presents and a quiz.

Saturday I rested. I had a marvelous headache and didn't do much. I watched TV, winter sports mostly. This weekend I have also wrapped presents and written Christmas cards. I didn't go anywhere today, because the train service was interrupted. They have built a train tunnel under Malmö, making access to Denmark easier. There are also two new stations. They have spent all night and day reconnecting the tracks and changing the computer system. It seems to be working. We'll see how it is tomorrow morning. There is a new timetable to learn also.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas concert

It was a rather active weekend. Saturday I was in Lund to do some Christmas shopping. It went surprisingly well. Some stores had long lines, especially the book store. I also went to the optician, because my glasses had broken. They agreed to replace them at no cost (guarantee case), so I had to decide on new frames. It was difficult for an indecisive person like me. I got help from the staff, so it didn't take too long to get it done, though.

Sunday morning I went grocery shopping and then I spent hours decorating the tree. It is now overloaded with santas, bells, balls, angels, hearts, horses, stars, cones and other things. After a late lunch I went out to see the Christmas market in town. It was a disappointment, there were not many stalls. The local stores were open and I got some small presents. Also more ornaments at the thrift shop. In the evening I attended the Christmas concert by the Police Choir and Orchestra in the church. It was the first time I had heard them and it was a very nice performance. They sang the traditional songs like Silent Night, Mary's Little Boy Child, White Christmas and also several Swedish songs of the season.

It has been long days at work these past two days. I got a request from my boss to find information about a student who had attended the University around 1770. It turned out to be very difficult. In fact, it was impossible. He was enrolled in 1761, and was listed with his name only, no vital information. Back then they weren't that meticulous. Very annoying, and not a proud moment when I had to tell my boss about the failure.

There is still snow on the ground, but part of it has melted. It is colder again now and very slippery.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bad weather

We have pretty bad weather here. Lots of snow and very windy. It was really cold to stand waiting at the station this Monday morning. The train I normally take was delayed. The next train was shorter than usual, and when passengers for two regular trains tried to board that one, some had to be left on the platform. I was one of them. The next train arrived two minutes before another one, so there were passengers for two trains also for that one. But I made it onboard. I arrived at work forty minutes too late and it's a long time in my world, because we have a deadline. The train service has been working on and off this week, making life a little difficult. One of my colleagues didn't make it to work today, for instance. She was snowed in.

It was of course my turn to drive to the remote storages this week. The first problem was to dig out the car, the second to get the doors open, and the third, and biggest problem, was to make it back without damages to me, the car or the books. Getting the car started was no problem at all, and that was quite surprising. It was really slippery, and I was forced to drive on roads that were not plowed at all. Not my idea of fun. Still, I'm impressed by the fact that I remember the techniques for driving in such conditions.

It seems like our patrons have problems getting here, because they order books (online), but then they never come to pick them up. Desk duty today was very slow. Two visitors in total, and they had no questions, so I was bored.