Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I'm in Denmark now in a cute library in the narrow back streets of the old part of the city. It's very pretty here and the cafe culture is something to behold. Even the public libraries have great cafes inside them. I found a hotel not far from here and will be here until Saturday when I catch the train to Berlin to meet my girlfriend. I haven't seen her for almost two months so it's going to be a real blast!!! I am also craving to have a proper conversation with her. I now feel quite used to travelling by myself and keeping my own company. It actually does take a little while to adjust to that but realise how much I enjoy conversing, chatting, just plain gossiping to friends and colleagues.

I'm working on a book review today and then I think I'll take the afternoon off and go and see another Copenhagen sight. Yesterday I went to the National Museum and spent a good part of the morning in just one room of the museum. There is a special exhibition on about Denmark during WWII with a focus on the resistance movement. It was an excellent exhibition. Extremely interesting and well presented. Well my one hour of free internet access is up so I think I may be forced to go have a coffee before starting some real work...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Snowing in Malmö

I arrived in Malmö yesterday and parked myself in a hotel in the Old Town. It's very pretty here and since I hadn't heard much about Malmö I was pleasantly surprised how much I like it. It's quite small but very charming with lots of cobblestone streets and squares (Torget). Copenhagen is about 10 minutes away by train over an 18 Km bridge. I will be going there tomorrow morning some time. Today I conducted an interview with a staff member of the Ericsson Enterprise-Consumer Lab. It went very well with the one exception that I recorded the interview on a digital recorder and I think I pointed it away from M. when I interviewed him and consequently can hardly hear his voice. I'm hoping I can boost the volume once I transfer it to my computer. After the interview I went back to the hotel and it started to snow. I think that is quite unusual for Malmö which is pretty far south in Sweden. It was biting cold too and the wind gushed through the holes in my beanie and froze my scalp. It snowed all afternoon but melted as it hit the ground. For dinner I just spent my last Swedish Krona on a really nice meal of Gorgonzola pasta, a glass of white wine, chocolate cake and coffee. One of the best meals I've had since in Sweden. Yum...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Paper to Högskolan Trollhättan-Uddevalla

I gave a lunch time seminar on my research for my PhD on Tuesday. The presentation went well. There were about 10 people present so it was quite a small but comfortable gathering. Helene gave me some very valuable feedback on the paper the other day and I think the presentation was a lot better as a consequence of the adjustments I made on the train on the way down to Göteburg. I've been staying at M's flat in Gbg. since arriving and have had a very enjoyable time here. I can take it a bit slowly this morning because my train to Malmö doesn't leave until 12:40pm. I feel like a real traveller now because I have to find a hotel on arriving in Malmö and don't know any one in the city. I'll be staying there overnight and will conduct an interview with some Ericsson staff tomorrow. After that I'm officially on holidays and will head for Copenhagen.

At sunset

Originally uploaded by Juzza.
This is me outside Sofia. It's about 3:00pm and the sun is about to set. We wandered down the hill soon after and stopped at a little cafe where I had the best apple crumble I think I've ever tasted.


Originally uploaded by Juzza.
The next day we walked to a part of the city in Sodermalm that I had not seen. These old wooden houses are in Nytorget Street just at the base of a small hill on the top of which sits Sofia Church.


Originally uploaded by Juzza.
We had a lot of fun in the robotics room pushing large amounts of buttons with the other six year olds. All the other exhibits seemed a bit stale and motionless after this room.


Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Priscilla is apparently one of the first robots of The Humanoid Project here in Sweden. She was the star of the robotics exhibit at the Techniska Museet. When you stood in the centre of her gaze, she said something indecipherable and then giggled in a high pitch.


Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Last few days in Stockholm and Helene was back in town. I felt much better and although my cold was gripping on, I was ready to try to pack in a few more sights before leaving Stockholm for Göteborg where I was to give a presentation on my work. We did a lot together and had an unforgettable time. This is Helene on the way to the Techniska Museet.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A litre of cough medicine

Well I was a little premature thinking that I was on the mend. After a very rough couple of nights having trouble breathing, I decided (with a bit of prodding by Johan) to go to a local doctor.

The main hitch, after obtaining the number of the local medical vård, was that the messages upon connecting greeted me in Swedish. Seems like Sweden, like Australia, has enthusiastically embraced the automated voice system that shunts people off into various task centric paths, which would all be very useful and effective if:

1/the caller speaks the language
2/you could be bothered to listen to a vast stream of boring possibilities delivered in a slow monotone
3/you knew what you actually wanted
4/you remembered what the options were by the time you finished listening to them all and by some miracle found yourself still awake.

I texted a number of friends I've made in Sweden to see if they could help me translate the message but received no replies. On that note, why is it that mobile phones never seem to be close to hand (yes Heidegger, I'm asking you) when there is an emergency, and yet can always be relied on during times of complete inconsequence?

Then Johan called back. He has been very sweet and concerned about my deteriorating health and rang various numbers and then gave me the details of a central clinic that was open on Saturdays until 2pm. Since it was past 1pm I thanked Johan, got off the phone and jumped on a train from Asspudden to T-centralen, changed to the green line and one stop later, got off at Hötorget.

I found the building, rather shabby and in disrepair, off one of the very smart outdoor malls in Slöjdgotan. There was a lift the size of a vertical coffin in a corner that had a sign on it warning "three people maximum." There were two people in it when I arrived and I couldn't possibly imagine how they had managed to squeeze in there. They gave me one of those, "please don't try" looks and I waved and said "I'll take the stairs". I didn't realise the clinic was on the top floor. It was one of those circular staircases with a continuous winding rail. I hung on for dear life and wheezed and panted up the stairs. I had about two breaks and finally reached the top. I arrived just as the two people who had taken the lift were clambering out of the coffin, seeming to expand in volume as they exited.

There was an extremely long queue and I was by this stage feeling a bit dizzy. Fortunately, it turned out that they were all waiting for a free influenza vaccination and I could see a doctor shortly. I handed over my visa card with a moment of terror wondering if I actually had enough credit on it, fortunately I did. The doctor called my name and I went in. The doctor was jurassic with a wiry beard that must of been growing for a lifetime and hid most of his face. He had white hair, distressed but not intentionally so, glasses perched on the end of his nose and fortunately, a bright twinkle in his eyes. He seemed pretty on the ball, despite appearances. He asked me which was my preferred language. If only I could have rattled off a list of options. So after a brief examination, turns out I have bronchitis. I wasn't hugely surprised and glad it wasn't anything worse. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics and cough syrup and sent me on my merry way (in Sweden one has to get a prescription for cough syrup).

Last night, after a draining afternoon of schlepping around doctors and apotekets, I had a moment of brilliance. I choofed off to the local video/dvd store in Asspuden (just around the corner) and asked if I could hire a DVD. Fortunately, they were quite accomodating about it and looked up Helene on the database to see if she had borrowed there previously. Turned out she had, so I returned home with "The Stepford Wives" (not the '75 classic but the remake).

Helene doesn't have a VCR or DVD player, so I lay back on her Ikea banana chair with my apple powerbook and headphones and watched the movie. I had also discovered that someone in the block had a wireless router and hadn't changed their default settings so I could surf the Net at the same time. I felt a little guilty about this though so refrained from doing it but I did feel like the Mistress of my own domain, Queen of tech - my technical prowess had come through in a moment of feeling a bit sad and sickly - and I felt smuggly savvy. So when I saw the Stepford Wives I felt kind of disappointed that the only way the movie seemed to be able to reconcile the apparent challenges of two generations of feminism (represented by Bette Midler and Nicole Kidman), was to create a monstruous feminism even more hideous and insane represented as the female neuroscientist, artificial intelligence specialist character played by Glen Close. Revealed as the ultimate (post)modern prometheus, she of course has to meet her very public and tragic end through the destruction of her creations and her own death. Rather disappointing. Still, it was a good idea and my little Ikea banana/apple powerbook/wireless internet (that I didn't use) cocoon worked just fine.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wee bit better

Well I'm emerging from my inhuman state to something akin to humanoid today. Feeling slightly energetic, I vacuumed Helene's apartment and sucked up all the hair balls. There were quite a few. Also managed to get out for about two hours for a bit of a walk in the lowering sun. That was nice. Checked out where I can get my hair cut. I've been here for almost five weeks now and I'm a bit hairy. Found a place in Södermalm and went in there (mainly because they had a resident black labrador) and booked a cut for next week.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Scandinavian cold

Still feeling rotten. I think Scandinavian colds might be more potent than Australian ones...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Meet up at Linköpings universitet

Met up with the HCI crowd at the Dept of Computer Science and Informatics. I went with an open mind because I was a bit unsure about whether we would find any commonalities across disciplines. I needn't have worried, I found the meet up incredibly stimulating and received very positive feedback from Stefan, who invited me over to talk about my research.

It was the first time I've presented the direction of my research to anyone outside of my own research centre. I really appreciated how Stefan engaged with the material and gave me plenty of leads to follow up.

Started feeling like I was coming down with something some time during the day and am now feeling quite sick. I think I overdid it on the weekend and have contracted some nasty cold. Feeling achey, sore throat, stiff, headache and chesty. Hope the Panadol kicks in soon...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Museum, Opera and Requiem

This weekend turned out to be filled with 'cultural activities'. I didn't expect it to be quite so eventful. I had booked to see Romeo and Juliet at the Folkoperan in Stockholm but hadn't made any other arrangements. On Saturday A. sent me an SMS. She asked if I wanted to go to the Modern Museum. We went there together and bumped into Johan and his partner in the dark room of the "invisible cities" exhibtion. We had coffee together and then I left to go to the opera. On Sunday, I was invited by I. and J. (two of Helene's friends) to a Verdi Requiem at the Engelbrektskyrkan. It was absolutely amazing and really blew me away. There were three choirs massed and four soloists. One of who sings in the Royal opera but the others were professional opera singers as well. The Church itself was very impressive and the music was incredibly moving. Arrived home late and got up early this morning to catch the X2000 to ACSIS. Very tired now. Today I worked on my presentation for tomorrow to the Department of Computer Science and Informatics.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Yoga day

I've been working on my paper today from home, that's Helene's apartment until her return at the end of November. Since the clocks went back an hour last weekend winter feels as though it is upon us, despite the weather actually being quite mild. I've only experienced a couple of very chilly days since arriving. But the dark - the days seem to be almost gone by the time they've just started. At least that's my perception. Darkness creeps up at about 3:00 pm and the feeling that one should be hurrying along to get home and warm is present in the strides and expressions of all the Stockholmers.

It's also been washing day. I've done three loads and emptied the garbage. At about 5pm I will start making my way to Yoga and may walk from Hornstull to get a bit of exercise (even if it will be quite dark by then!)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Working on paper

At the ACSIS seminar, I met an academic who is teaching at a University in the south of Sweden called Högskolan Trollhättan-Uddevalla. We chatted over lunch when she was in town and were in contact via email afterwards. She has invited me to give a paper about my research.

Today I have been working on an outline of the paper. I'm really nervous about the prospect of presenting my work in public. I can't gauge at all whether it's even in a coherent enough state to be presented. Really very nervous...

Still, I have a bit more time to work on it. I might even prepare an abstract and post it up on my blog for comments. I know people who have done that and it seems very brave. Well I'll consider it.

Meanwhile, if you'd thought I'd forgotten about Part 2 of reflecting on cultural studies then you'd be so wrong but I'm guessing this may only be of interest to a very select few. I have actually been giving this a bit of thought and time and have had some very fruitful discussions with Johan, the Director of ACSIS. He helped to situate Scandinavian cultural studies in the world picture. It has been very helpful for me to reflect on this, since I am in a cultural studies research centre. The truth is I am producing my place in cultural studies, and my works relevance to some of the concerns of cultural studies are partly present but largely emerging in process. Since this PhD heralds my return to academia after a long 10 year sabbatical, I have come to 'cultural studies' with a vague sense of its scope and breadth, feeling comfy with only a few patches of the quilt, so to speak, but now am starting to move on to neighbouring patches.