Bavaria

Münich. Home of Puma, BMW, and a bunch of other huge German conglomerates. Like in Stuttgart, everyone wears masks here too. At least in public spaces and until it’s time to eat. Germans don’t hesitate a second to give you a somewhat perturbed, reprimanding look if you don’t have a mask strapped on.

Arrived in the Bavarian capital kinda late last night after a full day of meetings in Stuttgart. No doubt that it’s “big boy business” down here. The niche, fringe, and edge-case stuff isn’t exactly frowned upon, but it’s still traditional, old school industry that rules the day here.

Traveling for a couple of hours along the busy Autobahn A8 yesterday evening, frequently passed by a slew of vehicles, most at well above 200km/h, it became perfectly clear why there are so many supercharged cars here. Makes much less sense to own an AMG GLC or a Lamborghini Urus in Sweden with its low-bar speed limitations.

Took an off-the-street taxi to a meeting today, a Mercedes S Class (6 cyl/300hp/2019) which according to the driver cost about €150k – including some extra bells and whistles. I can’t wrap my head around how much money that represents and, above all, how many passengers that taxi has to transport before getting some kind of ROI.


East Germany

Last time this far south in Germany, I was in Eisenach, about 4 hours north of Stuttgart. I was there on a press event together with a few other journalists from Scandinavia to see how beautifully reunited Germany had become 20 years after the wall and fences had come tumbling down.

If memory serves me correctly, Eisenach is famous for two things; an automotive museum located adjacent to what used to be a BMW factory but was renamed EMW (Eisenacher Motorenwerk) as Eisenach was part of East Germany – and Wartburg Castle where Martin Luther (of the Protestant persuasion) was kept under house arrest and also where he translated the bible from Latin to German.

Both Wartburg Castle and the factory were interesting places to visit. But the most memorable takeaway was during the press dinner when our guide, a woman in her 60s, admitted how much she missed East Germany’s patriarch, Erich Honecker, and how the state “took care” of everything for its citizens.

I’m going to paraphrase her here, but the gist of this remarkable, wine-fueled confession was this:

“You know, we never had to worry about anything…where to live, where to study, what kind of work we would do, the food we could buy…it was the same for everyone. Now it’s chaos…capitalist chaos…”


German Breakfast

Currently in Germany for meetings in Stuttgart and Münich. First time I’ve left Sweden in over 7 months. It’s possibly been 25 years since the last time I stayed domestic for that long.

Mandatory mask on from the moment we traversed the Danish side of the Öresund Bridge, throughout the airport, the SAS lounge, on the aircraft, at the airport in Stuttgart and everywhere but my room at the hotel. My N95 mask fits relatively comfortably over my face. Not being able to read facial expressions other than by looking at people’s eyes and eyebrows is certainly interesting.

Kastrup was far from empty, but most shops, cafés, and restaurants were closed. It felt like having a middle-of-the-night departure time – but during a sunny afternoon. Weird.

Here in Germany, I’ll be staying at an American owned hotel where, unlike most hotels in the US, a spectacular breakfast buffet is included in the room rate (a rate which is roughly half of what it would have been if the hotel was located in the States).

Over the years, I’ve been spoiled rotten by lavish hotel breakfasts in Asia and, to a slightly lesser degree, here in Europe. But today, for the very first time ever, they offered fresh pretzels over at the bread corner. A pretzel is a pretty good substitute for a bagel. Back to work now.


Exhibit at MKK’s Gallery Night

For the second consecutive year, I’ve been invited by MKK to exhibit a tidy collection of artworks during Malmö’s annual Gallery Night. As a safety precaution, due to the pandemic, there will be a limited amount of visitors admitted to the hall at any given time throughout the weekend.


Acidic Fishbowl Dip

Above is a piece I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve lost count how many different walls it consists of. It may or may not make it to the exhibit I’ve been invited to in a couple of weeks, but it’s definitely a finalist.

I really love being so busy as I am right now and looking forward to a short trip to a not-so-foreign land soon. I feel a little anxious about international travel. I’ve got a couple of n95 certified masks and as much liquid antiseptic fluid as I’m allowed to carry onboard.

Like the next guy, I can totally dig partaking in a good discussion. Discussions can often be an excellent platform for testing out arguments, venting thoughts, and learning what “the other side” thinks and has opinions about. Recently, I got into an acidic discussion with an old friend. I was fuming about something and needed to get it off my chest when I posted some angry commentary. Unsurprisingly, this pal answered me with a sledgehammer of contrarian views and belittling comments he felt compelled to share. Probably because my views were within his wheelhouse (or fishbowl).

Historically, my rhetorically gifted friend has often allowed his sharp intellect and an other-worldly ability to recall (and tirelessly recite) memories in ludicrous detail, (coupled with relentless, wide-ranging nerdiness) take a front seat socially. For as long as we’ve been friends, he’s been infamous for being a know-it-all, a behavior I feel a lot of common acquaintances would agree, albeit anonymously, can be a bit taxing. In moderation, socializing with him can nonetheless be a pleasant experience. Our discussion turned ridiculously ironic when he claimed that it was me, not him, that had a history of being a wisenheimer. Not that I can’t be incredibly stubborn about my opinions. But I never forget that they are just that, opinions.

To some people, being anything but right, regardless really of whether or not they’ve identified that there might just be different takes, opinions, and perspectives, or, god forbid, that they’re just plain wrong, is a seemingly absurd concept. It’s as if their lives depended on being right. Or, their fathers. It’s a trait of Donald Trump and exactly how he’s created the abysmal divide. Put in other words, it’s bullying.

One would think that at our ripe old age, despite being a know-it-all, my friend would have had grasped that discussions aren’t necessarily clear-cut right or wrong. Regardless of the topic, really, a discussion is a debate, a challenge, a contest of hopefully thoughtful, unemotional arguments – as opposed to thoughtless, unbecoming, belligerent speak.

I realize I really shouldn’t be that surprised about how this ended…and I guess I was just plain naive for continuing the discussion when it had gone down such a negative path early on. And I was certainly way too spontaneous and emotional in my opening statements. Live and learn.


Poolside FM

Every once in a while, I cross paths with a website that gets me all fired up – in a good way – and I end up getting totally hooked for a time. This is the case with Poolside FM, a relatively new place on the Internet where great music and 1980s design aesthetics converge in a wonderfully cooky way. So well done. I never ever thought I’d look back at the 80s and feel some kind of weird nostalgia. After all, it was mostly a decade chock full of pastels, mullets, and, rarely memorable music!  Poolside FM is available on iOS as well.

I couldn’t find any other poolside photo, so my shot of former pro swimmer Rebecca will have to do.


Everyone Knows It’s True

I took this photo on the shores of Mono Lake in Central California, as the bird flies, not too far from the Nevada state line. I was there with fellow photographer David Pahmp. We were heading to Bodie and stopped by the lake real quick to take a few early evening shots. As soon as we pulled back on to the highway again, a patrol car pulled us over for speeding. But just when the stocky highway patrolman was about to give us a well-deserved, triple-digit fine, he got a call on the radio and had leave us pronto with only a gentle slap on the wrist. He seemed like a decent fellow and after the verbal reprimand, wished us a safe journey onwards.

America is full of people like that. Decent folks with reasonably sound values and good attitudes. Unlike the president…

From David Frum of The Atlantic:

One of the most striking things about Trump is how seldom, if ever, anybody tells a story of kindness and compassion about him. Not even his own children have much to say. […] Few former employees of the Trump administration praise him as a boss. Few business partners speak of his honesty. Few tenants of Trump buildings have anything good to say about the homes he supposedly built. Few officials of any city have been willing to celebrate any contribution to urban life. Few beneficiaries of any Trump philanthropy.

Imagine a man who has lived in the public eye for half a century, supposedly one of the country’s leading business figures, and when in trouble he struggles to summon credible or trustworthy witnesses from outside the Fox Cinematic Universe. There’s just a gaping zero where goodness should be.


Qigong: MorningFlow

Feeling stiff after a night’s sleep? Need to get up to speed physically and mentally? Here’s a series of easy Qigong movements that I guarantee will energize without making you break out in a sweat. More information about my Qigong coaching can be found here.


Sunday Thoughts

From the other night here in rural Sweden where things seem peacefully timeless – at least until you go online.

Generally speaking, I’m an optimistic dude. I literally wake up most mornings and have at least one fun or interesting thing to look forward to. Today, it was first practicing yoga, then making a tasty breakfast for Charlotte, and finally, working on a super-snazzy presentation for a client.

I’m taking a break from that right now. Got to get some thoughts out of my head.

I still read a lot. Mostly news from liberal outlets like the Washington Posts, New York Times, The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune, and, of course, The L.A. Times. I dig into Swedish news as well, but honestly, it just reads so incredibly trivial – pebbles thrown in a tiny pond of political indulgence. At least when compared to all the really important issues the rest of the world is going through now. Obvious biases aside, I still feel I have a pretty good objective sense of key ongoings.

I continue to worry about the state of the US and what could be a potentially devastatingly chaotic, disastrous autumn. Living in this part of the world (EU) feels a whole lot safer, more secure – but also uneventful. I have family in California and Alaska, so that gives me a little anxiety. What if things get really bad? Lawless, even.

The rioting and protests aside, the socio-political upheavals have so far been mostly sensationalized by the media but trivial in the grand scheme of things. But what if there’s a dramatic escalation as we near November? What if Trump double downs on the confusion and deploys more military troupes, declares Marshall Law and does his best to fan the fires so the pandemonium spirals, spreads, and blankets the entire nation prior, during, and after the election?

The United States is going through so much turbulence right now. It’s mindboggling. I watched this really well-made documentary about Fascism in Europe the other day and was taken aback by how many parallels there were between the 1920s-30s in Italy and Germany and how things are right now. Trump isn’t smart enough to fully emulate the strategies of Mussolini and Hilter. But he does surround himself with a gang of ruthless thugs that could – and they are already in control of the narrative on Twitter and Fox News. Amazing that we forget how to recognize the signature elements of dictators. It’s like we all suffer from collective amnesia or dementia.

Maybe it’s time for a total reset. Maybe the fall will be so chaotic, so violent and disruptive, that good thing will come from it all once the dust has cleared.

Finally, a reminder of a few things that I think needs immediate fixing.

Monopolies

I learned of what is referred to as “The Chickenization of America” the other day. Not that I wasn’t aware of how monopolism, in general, is slowly but surely eating away and destroying democracy around the world. I just hadn’t heard it framed and phrased that way before. Just like at the beginning of the last century, a few key actors, huge, publicly-traded conglomerates, focused entirely on domination and increasing profits at any cost, are pulling all the strings today. Forbes has an excellent piece that points this out incontrovertibly. And since America has this problem, I can’t see how not breaking up the monopolies wouldn’t spread the wealth and revive competition!

Lobbying and Political Finances

The amount of money in US politics is another issue that needs to be fixed pronto. I think you have to either be cretinous or just plain ignorant not to see how American politicians are bought and sold left and right. Someone recently suggested that the American public should hire a lobbying firm to represent them in Congress. A brilliant idea, however sad it is. Shorten political term limits are also high on my list of ways to improve sound political activism in the US. To put it bluntly, Americans are too fat, physically, and mentally to understand how their democratic system is being dismantled and sold piece by piece by piece. Just the fact that their needs to be lobbyists should be a clear warning that the system is fucked.

Healthcare

Universal Healthcare is such a no-brainer that I don’t get how anybody could question it. How to finance this? Easy. Just reduce 10% of the Pentagon’s budget. Take another 5% and you could have a free college education for everyone. The Guardian has written an interesting article about this could save trillions. On the other hand, Americans would probably not need full universal healthcare if they just started eating and living healthier.

Ok, back to work.


Resurfaced in Lund

Back in the village after a day in Lund where I discovered this wonderful resurfaced piece somewhere on an otherwise bland side street in the city’s historic district. More from my Resurfaced series can be enjoyed here.


Cows in Vejbystrand

I have more than enough photos of cows munching grass and simply calling out to them on the meadow hasn’t helped grab their attention at all. So, I devised a slightly different strategy, realizing that I had to befriend them somehow. Cows might not be the animal kingdom’s smartest mammal, but they surely know that I don’t belong to their tribe.

A month or so ago, I came up with an idea. I played a string of sound effects of cows mooing and calling out through my iPhone’s tiny speakers. Low and behold, the whole crew would not only look up from their grass munching, but a few of the boldest ones would also walk towards me, possibly thinking that in fact, I was one of them after all – just a little different. My strategy is the same as what some birdies do when they use a whistle or hunters when they employ horny moose calls. And with a few slices of apple with me, I literally have the cows in Vejbystrand eating out of my hand.


Summer Studio

When I moved into this little cabin back in February, it was a mess. Unfinished walls and packed from floor to ceiling with all kinds of stuff n’ junk. Most of the cabin’s contents went to our local charity and whatever was left has been archived in boxes and stored away.

After giving the place a coat of paint, new furniture, wall decor, and both elephant grass and giant bamboo, my little summer studio has been a great place to work. At least until the late afternoon when the sun is out and pointed straight at my front window and the place gets sauna hot. On these rare afternoons, I’m usually ready to quit anyway, so no harm is done.

We’ll be heading back to Malmö in a while and I’m looking forward to enjoying additional indoor space – especially now that autumn is almost upon us. Still, I can see how I’ll be back here later in the fall to work on my new book of short stories.


Summer Setting

Back in Vejbystrand again where the days are slowly getting shorter and the nights seem darker, somehow.

It’s only a matter of time now before fall is upon us with shifting colors, cooler winds and less gardening. I hand-mowed the giant lawn here this afternoon and finished just minutes before it started pouring.

The cows are still here. Don’t know for how long, though. Will we ever see them again? Sadly, the next time might be in the meat section at our local supermarket.

I have an art show in Malmö in less than a month. Thinking of showings some of my most amusing “cowtraits”. Like the one above.


25 years ago: Windows 95

I never understood how Microsoft became so successful. I mean, I get how their licensing business model was genius and that preinstalling their OS on every PC soon made it ubiquitous.

What was harder to comprehend was how so many people in offices all over the world ever got anything done on those trashy machines filled with bloated, buggy, and butt-ugly software.

At some point, during my years working for various ad agencies in different roles, I had to work on Windows PCs to ensure that the multimedia projects I was working on were cross-platform. It was an interesting but not a very creatively fulfilling process.

As Steve Jobs once said, Microsoft doesn’t have to lose in order for Apple to win. Today, “the fruit company” is thriving and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is thankfully using a big chunk of the fortune he made from Windows 95 (and later iterations of it) for charitable projects all over the world.

Sadly, sometimes, standardization has nothing to do with whether or not a product or service is best-in-class. A Windows-based PC has and never will be as easy to use as a Mac. The gap isn’t as wide as it once was, but there’s still a level of clunkiness to a PC that will likely never go away. And I still think Microsoft makes an aesthetically repugnant, unintuitive operating system that distracts from my creative process. Just look at the above commercial (which was likely created on a Mac…).

So, no, I don’t think there’s any reason to celebrate the launch of Window’s 95 some 25 years ago. Especially since much of Microsoft’s then-new operating system’s interface was blatantly ripped off from Apple’s macOS. Then again, Steve Jobs “stole” much of Mac’s interface from Xerox when he visited Parc, one of the photocopier company’s research labs.

I haven’t counted all the Apple computers I’ve owned over the years. Could be about 20 by now. I’m writing this on a relatively new Macbook Pro 16″ and I plan to upgrade my iMac later in the year. Back in 1998, when I bought my very first workstation, a top-of-the-line Apple Macintosh 8600, I felt a little worried that the then-struggling Apple might go actually go bankrupt. Around this time, Microsoft made a substantial investment in the company which sent a message, a vote of confidence that seemed to resonate well with Apple consumers like me. Today, Apple is among the most profitable companies in the world. So I no longer hesitate about buying into their walled-garden ecosystem. And their computers and the operating system still enables me to pursue my creative ambitions. Which is fundamentally why I continue working on them. Macs are enabling. Facilitators. Tools.


Short Visit: Malmö

Back in Malmö for a stint. Found a place with a great view. A vantage point I’ve not been privy to before. Strangely, it feels good to be back here. Meet with friends, eat from a wider selection, and just have more options. After six months as a country boy, I kinda miss city life.


Redneck Rampage

The mental health of a rabid Trump supporter and the cultish way said support is displayed, has never been made clearer to me than after watching this speech with Kimberly Guilfoyle. She’s really scary – on so many levels! It’s’ what happens when a verbally gifted redneck, a contradiction in itself, is given the spotlight and allowed to spew – in full regalia – absurd and offensive 0bscenities unabashedly.

If I hadn’t known better, I would have guessed Mrs. Guilfoyle was instead a comedian performing a satirical sketch of a hardcore Trumpian on Saturday Night Live – not at the Republican National Convention. It’s that cooky. And scary.

Like I’ve said before, the fall’s presidential race is going to incredibly interesting. Hopefully, it won’t be a race to the bottom for a country already in dire straits.


Långa Bryggan in Bjärred

From today’s film shoot at among other locations, Långa Bryggan (the long pier) in Bjärred, Sweden. I’ve been hired to film a trailer for a Master Class (of sorts) themed around a business case and told through the lens of a seasoned CEO who’s been through hell and high water during his decade long tenure.

Behind me in this shot is a restaurant where we both ate a tremendously tasty lunch. If you’re not starved before arriving, the 500m trek along the pier could help muster a bit of hunger. I ate the above Asian Shrimp Salad.


Swedish Championships in Vejbystrand: 505

Yesterday, I was offered a boat ride but since the seas were high, I declined. Instead, I stood firmly on the cement pier in the morning and captured a few exciting moments from the Swedish Championship in the 505 class sailboats that are competing in the waters just off the coast here in Vejbystrand. All footage shot with the XT3 set to 4k, 59fps, and 200Mb/s. That generates a ton of data, but on the other hand, it provides me with a ton of flexibility in post-production. I practice, the amount of information each frame contains, allows me to zoom in to about 200% without much loss in quality or the final render being pixelated.


Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

From a 10-day press trip that took me all around Guatemala. This shot is from Lake Atitlan up in the hills in the southwest of the country. Beautiful region. Surrounding by majestic volcanoes, Lake Atitlan has several ancient villages populated with Native American Indian tribes. Poor, but not destitute and rich in colorful, flavorful culture.


More Egg Salad Sandwich

Here’s a version of my simple, unquestionably delectable egg salad sandwich. I’ve been eating some version of this recipe off and on since I was a knee-high. In the US, the egg salad sandwich is inducted in the Sandwich Hall of Fame, right up there with the Peanut Butter & Jelly and the Baloney & Mayo (or, Mustard, or both) sandwiches.

Today, my most basic version is created with all organic ingredients; boiled eggs, mayo, chopped onions, salt, black pepper, and a gentle squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Add a dash of wasabi, a sprinkle of cumin, or, a pinch of chili flakes to your likin’. Just don’t mix all the ingredients together too fast or the concoction will end up being way too smooth. Add some chopped cabbage if you like. Cabbabe gives any sandwich a little extra crunch. And who in their right mind can resist biting into a little extra crunch once in a while?


Pink Lady vs Mad Cow

From earlier tonight as I tempted a cow with a juicy apple so that she’d show me how long she could stretch out her luke-warm, sandpapery tongue. After a while, the cow seemed to get a bit pissed and even looked like she was about to threaten me. A charge against our old rickety gate would not have gone well. So, I pulled back and gave her a few generous pieces from my bowl of sliced Pink Lady. While I know that the apple was a Lady, I’m not entirely sure the cow wasn’t a bull. Didn’t check it’s equipment below.


Swedish Sunflowers

Until recently, I didn’t know that there is a relatively large sunflower field not far from us in Vejbystrand. We drove to it the other day and only a few of the thousands of lanky plants had begun to blossom. So, I’ll be back in about a week. The last sunflower field I visited was outside of Arles in Provence, France – not far from where Vincent van Gogh painted, went Mistral-crazy, and cut off his ear. Shot wide open with the Fuji x100v.


Twenty Second Wedding Anniversary

Twenty-two years ago today, Charlotte and I were married at Brunnby Church not too far from where these very words are being typed right now, in Mölle-by-the-Sea.

Twenty-two years means I’ve been a married man for more than thirty percent of my life. Who would have thought that considering all the short-lived relationships I had had up until meeting Charlotte. I always felt that since my parents had both been married and divorced a few times, I was doomed in the marriage department. My father was married four or five times, all depending on who you ask.

I have never been as nervous before or since our priest Ola Stålnacke married us. My Best Man, Jonas Bratt, had thoughtfully stashed a flask of liquor in his tux, so, after a few swigs, I calmed down. Standing at the alter was a sweaty affair, nonetheless.

It rained during our wedding ceremony and back and forth throughout the 15th of August 1998. And even though the speeches ran long, the food was mediocre and our DJ totally sucked, the party was a tremendous success that friends would mention and praise for about a decade afterward.

Charlotte and I went through the wedding dinner’s seating arrangement yesterday (during dinner!) for the first time in 22 years. Sadly, of the 67 invitees, four have passed away Lars Fransson, who died from Covid-19 at the beginning of June, is the most recent. The other three are my aunt Lillemor, brother Tyko, and friend Jan-Axel Olsen.

I’m not typically a fan of religious institutions. I realize the service, purpose, and value to the evolution of human societies religions have – and to a lesser degree – still provide. When we were married on that drizzly, late summer day in southwestern Sweden, I saw it as a polite gesture, a nod of respect to the “elders” but also to experience one of the more pompous ceremonial traditions within Christianity. In retrospect, I think it was well worth it.

To this day, I continue to love Charlotte for a multitude of reasons. Our roles as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are interchangeable and our journey continues to unfold as we carry on, evolving individually and as a pair.

We’re both doing what we can to avoid having our pact fall into the doldrums and become institutionalized – something we often see happen among other couples that have been married or together way too long – sadly, without even realizing it.

Most importantly, after close to a quarter-century of mostly blissfulness, Charlotte and I appreciate how uniquely strong and respectful our bond is.


The Moon

Shot this the other day…late last week. With a 400mm lens and a teleconverter, I have a whopping 840mm glass pointed at the moon (400mm x 1,5 APS-C crop factor = 600mm x 1,4 teleconverter). But even when you consider that I don’t have to deal with any ambient urban light, as in Malmö, it’s still pretty amazing that my kit can capture the moon’s surface so well.


Dung & Seaweed vs QAnon

Apparently, Sjömantorp, the house where we live nowadays, has an age-old right to retrieve seaweed from the beach. Only a few houses along the meadow here have this agreement in place with a click of local villagers (a group of vigilant farmers with a monopoly on most of the seaweed here).

So in an effort to add an injection of powerful nutrients to the property’s many new, young plants, mainly elephant grass, and bamboo, I took our old rustbucket of a wheelbarrow down to the shoreline yesterday and picked me a nice big batch of dried seaweed. On my way up from the sea, I also piled up a couple of dried cow chips on top of the natural manure.

I was going to use some of the seaweed for my small vegetable garden but read somewhere that because of how polluted most of the country’s coastal waters are these days, it could potentially contain dangerous amounts of Cadmium and other heavy metals.

I don’t know if this pertains to seaweed on our beaches, but it feels better not to take a chance and risk poisoning my homegrown ruccola and spinach. There’s enough scientific evidence out there for me to just assume that even the sea here Skälderviken and beaches that surround Bjäre, unfortunately, contain a fair share of toxicities.

I am fascinated by conspiracy theories. It’s not what is claimed that I find intriguing but rather how they develop from fringe ideas to mainstream opinions. There are a ton of conspiracy theories bouncing around the Internet on any given day of the week. Some gain a surprisingly disproportionate amount of followers and become popularized among millions of people.

There can’t have been a more fruitful time throughout all of human history for spreading irrational explanations about all kinds of stuff. And Trump has done his share by spreading some really crazy theories to his most gullible supporters. The more intelligent followers are just as opportunistic as Trump is and while they hopefully don’t really believe in the crap his many tweetstorms and rally speeches contain, they’re savvy enough/conditioned enough to know when to just shut up, nod and continue wagging their tales.

When trying to decipher what some of the later years’ conspiracy theories represent and how they get traction, I think it’s important to understand that the vast majority of people that subscribe to them do so more for the value of participation than because they care or, at least have seen even a speck of solid evidence that provides a particular theory’s validity. Such is the case with the outlandish, right-wing Qanon theorists explained here. Ignorance is bliss.


Sunset Statements

Last night. So surreal. Shot on my two year old iPhone.

A few thoughts:

– Sunset scenes like last night’s are far too magnificent to experience in anything but realtime. Here it just slides into the uncanny world of visual clichés. A picture one might find among similarly miniaturized, mass-printed moments stacked in a postcard rack at the local souvenir shop.

– Saltwater taffy ice cream is definitely a new favorite flavor. Still not even close to genuine gelato pistachio.

– The 1 kg bag of organic, sun-dried tomatoes I ordered from Amazon.de on Friday arrived yesterday. That’s a remarkably fast delivery from Germany but likely not environmentally sound.

– No,”cancel culture” isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s probably older than Gutenburg’s printing press with movable type. It just hasn’t been as weaponized or politicized before. Thanks, Trump. Thanks, Twitter. Thanks, Facebook.

– The novel coronavirus has provided many (myself included) with formidable, unquestionable arguments to avoid socializing with people you don’t really enjoy socializing with.

– Few are talking about it, but the main reason so many Americans are getting sick is that so many of them are overweight. The “underlying condition” onto which the virus has had such a successful stronghold is indirectly caused by obesity. According to this article, the body in folks that are seriously overweight is in a constant state of inflammation – making it extremely difficult for their immune defense system to cope with the virus’s attacks. The US government’s own scientists and health experts agree  unilaterally on the main reasons why 80 million Americans are obese:

  • Most Americans live in an in-the-car and sit-behind-a-desk society. Daily life doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity and exercise.
  • Anybody that’s been to the States knows that food is available practically everywhere. So are the many alluring messages telling Americans what to eat and what to drink – in order to be happy and to feel satisfied. Food is so readily available, it’s in places where it was never found before. Today, most gas stations have convenience stores that are open 24/7/365. Like in Sweden, the vast majority of their offering is snacks and sweets.
  • Food portions at restaurants and what folks prepare at home are bigger than they used to be and most contain excessive amounts of both sweeteners like fructose (≈ sugar) and sodium (≈ salt).
  • The poorer you are, the more likely it is you have to choose the cheapest options when grocery shopping. Lower prices usually mean less nutritional value and again more sugar and salt to artificially enhance flavors.

The Art of Living

They say that after you turn 25, not much of your character changes. Thirty-two years later, I can’t but agree with that statement.

I clearly live a healthier life in 2020 than I did in 1988 when smoking, snuffing, and drinking was all part of my daily diet. I never got into drugs, at least not the illicit kind in power form. I’ve always exercised regularly, 90 minutes of Qigong&Yoga this morning) but also fall into spells of spectacular indulgence. As I near my sixth decade, I realize that I still spoil myself regularly and enjoy much of the same stuff as back in my youth. Like the IHOP breakfast above which I ate with great vigor while waiting for a friend up in the Bronx a couple of years ago.

In 1988, I spent the entire summer unloading bananas off rusty boats from Central America (mostly Panama) which arrived weekly in Göteborg’s commercial harbor. Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries were seemingly insatiable when it came to bananas at the time. Each Friday, a freighter chuck full with about 130.000 cardboard boxes of bananas colorfully branded Uncle Tuca, Del Monte and Chiquita would dock and wait to be unloaded the following Monday morning.

At 18.4kg per banana box, placing a few thousand of them onto a conveyer belt from deep inside the vessel each shift was intense. But in retrospect, the job provided me with humbling insights into the world of the working class. Like many other labor-intensive jobs, the fruit company that hired me and my “banana boat” colleagues (which in the summer consisted mostly of students, struggling musicians, and artists) eventually automized the entire unloading process.

In October that year, I flew with Yugoslavian JAT to Thailand and worked for 6 months at the Golden Sand Resort on Lamai Beach, Koh Samui. Upon returning to Sweden in April, my brother Nick called to ask me if I wanted a bartending gig at a hotel in Riksgränsen, way, way up in Lapland towards the very tip of Sweden’s northern border – real close to both Norway and Finland. Financially depleted and desperate for work, I got on a rickety train from Göteborg where spring was abounding and arrived approximately 24 hours later in Riksgränsen where it was still midwinter.

If the lifestyle I had previously been leading – culminating with several seasons working in a bar at a ski resort – was formative, the time I spent in Riksgränsen surely solidified much of it. It took me several years to leave the restaurant business and embark on more creative, less destructive endeavors. But in essence, I’m still more or less the same guy as I was back in 1988. Just older on the outside.

Here’s an interesting documentary from the BBC about the art of living where the team has met a ancient folks living in a remote mountain village in Italy and how their lifestyle has promoted mental and physical health and longevity. As usual, I’m caught between being inspired and realizing how boring that would be.


Lennart vs Watermelon

With all the really bad stuff going on right now across the world, in Beirut, in D.C., the US, Brazil, India, and elsewhere, watching a curious, carefree puppy discover how to best eat watermelon is a wonderful distraction.

You can follow Lennart’s adventures on Instagram and YouTube by searching for @lennartminidachshund

More of my commercial and personal films here.


US EMBASSY: Don’t go to Siberia
Shot this outside of Saint Issac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia several years ago. It’s so far my only visit to the former Soviet Union.

Because I’m a US citizen, I regularly receive emails from the US government (via the US Embassy in Sthlm) about stuff that I, as an American passport holder, should think about before traveling to foreign lands or gathering in open places and spaces.

The latest warning, which arrived in my inbox recently, is travel advice for Americans planning on visiting or already in Siberia. Not that I wouldn’t want to visit Siberia. Just not right now. What could possibly go wrong in Russia right now? I wonder daily when I’ll feel comfortable traveling abroad again. When will be the next time I set foot in Bangkok, Tokyo, New York. L.A. or Madrid again? Feels a long way off.

Employee of the Month

I’m fairly sure that about this time 2o years ago, about three months before our child was born, Charlotte and I began discussing names. That he or she would have at least two names, possibly three, was something we agreed early upon. If it was a girl, we would honor our respective grandmothers by giving our baby girl a name from each of them. The same would have happened if it was a boy with our grandfathers’ first names.

I don’t remember how I came up with the name “Elle” but I know Charlotte liked it. It’s short and therefore easy to remember, it works internationally (though many Asians often pronounce L as R) and, it’s a palindrome. I don’t think Elle is a particularly difficult name, as the text in the above photo suggests we should have chosen, but it’s definitely a little unusual.

Our daughter Elle Ingrid Agnes Raboff will be 20 in a couple of months. She’s still figuring out what to do with her life. While a few of my friends knew what they wanted (or, at least felt obliged to fulfill their parents’ vision) at 20, I was still clueless.  Heck, at 57, I’m still pretty much clueless. Elle is focused on getting a higher education, which is obviously great. But for now, working at the supermarket, she’s getting a ton of valuable life/work experience all the while earning honest money.

The other day, Elle sent us a text message with the small, inserted photo above. At some point during that day’s shift, a boss had approached and asked Elle to come with her to the office. A little nervous that something was awry, it turned out that Elle, after only six months on the job, was going to be awarded “Employee of the Month”. We were both tremendously proud. The fact that the store has 300 employees means there must have been some competition.

I’m a firm believer that being proud or feeling pride is something you can only truly do when you’ve been actively involved in a positive outcome or result. Both Charlotte and I feel therefore immensely proud of Elle’s achievement. I don’t want to read too much into the award, but the motivation is certainly a testament to our daughter’s ability to do her job really well and her social intelligence.


Mowing the Lawn with Conan

While our friendly neighbors insist on polluting the air and airwaves with our ancient fossil-fueled lawnmower, I really enjoy the exercise I get from mowing it manually. It takes about two hours, 9700 steps or, roughly 6,5km to get the property’s grass mowed down. I always listen to a podcast while mowing – today I caught up to the latest episode of Conan O’Brien’s funny show, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend.

I think I waited a bit too long after last week’s intense rainstorm(s) as mowing the grass today was unusually sweaty. And as soon as I start to sweat, an armada of insistent flies start flying around me. Have to admit that there were a couple of moments when I considered firing up the old fuming jalopy…but now that is mowed, I’m glad I didn’t.


(NO TRUMP) YOU CAN’T TOUCH THAT

Shocker: Because he’s trailing in the election polls, the president is becoming increasingly desperate. So much so, that the lunatic is now toying with, or, at least floating the insane idea of postponing the general election. Though he’s already gotten away with a bunch of crazy-ass stuff, this idea is, fortunately, something he cannot do on his own (no, not even via an Executive Order). Check this well-sourced article for how a postponement could theoretically work and why delaying the general election still won’t in reality make much of a difference.

Trump has always and will always blame anything and anybody but himself for his many well-documented shortcomings. And the president’s lackluster polling performance and receding popularity among the millions of like-minded, lost souls is certainly no exception. The blame game has always been Trump’s MO: deflect responsibility, deny wrongdoings, lie about facts, obfuscate the truth and create so much confusion and doubt that some folks, usually the most gullible, end up so utterly bewildered that they pick him out of sheer desperation.

Yes, it’s finally looking bad for Trump – but increasingly good for the American people. At least for those that can and choose to see beyond the pile of bullcrap, the current regime has been dishing out left, right, and center for the past three years. It’s about time to move on and beyond this era and start getting stuff right about improving education, creating universal healthcare, taking on institutionalized racism, reducing military spending, reeducating the nation’s police force, getting big corporations like Amazon, Google, and Facebook to pay a reasonable level of corporate tax and so on. There is so much work to be done and once Trump is out of office, hopefully, Biden & Co will waste no haste and just dig in. That is if the nation survives this election season. Have to admit, I’m a little worried…

Ok, feels much better to have gotten this off my chest.

I met this green lady in her for this post apt Halloween outfit during my last visit to New York in 2018.


Many Chairs

Shot this time-lapse from a university lecture room in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The Qigong course I attended last September held a few classes there. I arrived early (via Grab) and the chairs in a circle got me thinking about all the different roles people have in their lives. For example, I’m a father, a husband, a filmmaker, a graphic designer, a writer, a cook, a Qigong trainer, and a professional travel photographer.

We all play different roles in our lives. Some are interconnected while others are diametrical opposites. We are simultaneously cohesive and at times, like it or not, sanctimonious.

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about whether or not it was important to determine if China intentionally or involuntarily spread the Covid-19 virus. I argue that it’s irrelevant at this stage but that it might become a key query in a future investigation – an inquiry that could hypothetically lead to massive financial retribution.

My friend also pointed out that the world should really be more cognizant, concerned and wary of how the Chinese government is manipulatively taking advantage of the generous freedoms democratic nations (naively) provide them with and forcefully establishing a significant presence all over the world – all the while concurrently acting intolerantly towards foreign citizens (journalists in particular), and more importantly, its own people. Yes, the United States has been busy with its own flavor of imperialism for many, many years. The difference is that the US has been a comparatively open society. Especially if you’re a white, Anglo-Saxon male.

I don’t think to call Covid-19 the China Virus is solving the pandemic and I don’t think the US is in a place to criticize any other country’s way of doing business. But there are no two ways about it, the Chinese government really is despicable. If the recently enforced, extremely prohibitive laws in Hong Kong in the far east wasn’t enough, how about the Chinese government’s oppression of the Uighur population in the far west. So authoritatively Orwellian, blatantly disregarding all aspects of human rights and democracy and we just keep ordering more stuff from there. We shouldn’t do business with them at all. Apple, Nike, Walmart, Amazon, and the others should shun China until Xi Jinping & Co soften their grip and drop their whip.

When I think about Xi Jinping’s dictatorial, iron-fisted, anti-democratic tenure – as well as those preceding him (for about 5000 years) and how much of the world indirectly support the Chinese regime, the level of hypocrisy is shameful. And yet though most will agree that we shouldn’t tolerate this, we just do. We just move from one chair to the next and hope the music never stops.


Ceramicist Andrea Karlsson

For my ongoing series of short films, “Time Capsules”, I visited the young ceramicist Andrea Karlsson the other day.  To have so much energy and creativity is both inspiring and a little enviable. I can easily see that this young woman has a bright future within the arts.

Shot this on the Fuji XT3 with the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2, the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4, and a caged Gopro 7 Black. Natural light and edited on Final Cut Pro X.


How Now Brown Cow

Shot this yesterday on the meadow here in Vejbystrand. I must admit, I’ve been having a hard time getting this year’s cow collective’s attention. So I came up with a plan. I googled “cow sounds”, clicked my way to a Youtube video that promised a bunch of farm sounds, including cows, pigs and I think sheep, and then cranked up my iPhone’s volume as loud as it would go (11) and zimzalabim, I got the attention of at least one of these beautiful creatures. At least for a few seconds. Like most people today, the attention span of cows seems also to be getting shorter and shorter.