Saturday, January 31, 2009

the world is weird and fun

I just got an email notifying me that Barack Obama is following me on Twitter.

Hi, Charlotta Kratz (LottaK).

Barack Obama (BarackObama) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Barack Obama's profile here:

You may follow Barack Obama as well by clicking on the "follow" button.

(Yeah, I added him first.)

Not that he updates a lot.

today's tip

New online forum for expat Swedes: Smågodis.

Friday, January 30, 2009

and that map has some funky dutch names on it

Letters of recommendation are very American things. You need them to apply for jobs, scholarships, and schools. I have had to ask for a few, and I have written many.

Yesterday I wrote a letter for a student who wants to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. I really hope she gets to go, because from what I hear Cape Town is an interesting place. Western European culture with a layer of Africa, just as California is Western European with layers of Mexico and Asia: cultures bleeding into each other.

I randomly met a woman from Cape Town at San Francisco International once when our plane was delayed. We spent a few hours people watching and chatting. I haven't talked to her since, but I get emails from her sometimes. Political mass emails I am assuming she sends to everyone she knows.

sometimes I love the internets

I am taking a journalism class online right now, and last night our teacher was snowed in and didn't make it to the chat. We didn't know that at the time, though, so there was a little irritation before we just went ahead and discussed each other's story ideas.

It was a really cool experience. Super simple.


My favorite author, again, found something interesting: the young Obamas.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

that's one of them right there, in that grainy photo

I went to a panel yesterday. Well, it was actually two panels, but on the same topic and with the same panelists.

Five young people talked about their experiences as gay and lesbian students on a predominantly Catholic college campus. It was interesting.

A few years removed from college they talked about growing up, coming out, and gaining and loosing friends. Mostly they were positive about their surroundings. They said a lot of the pressure came from the inside.

One thing is clear to me: Openly gay people are brave, and deserve tremendous respect. Every single one of them, whether they sit on panels or not, have faced challenges no straight person ever goes through.

Monday, January 26, 2009


It is better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.
-Emiliano Zapata

it will make you happy

On Sunday, Sean Penn won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in Milk. Not that awards matter, but he really was good and I think everyone should see that movie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


if you see clint eastwood's gran torino you should also read this book

In his movie Gran Torino Clint Eastwood plays an old racist whose neighbors are Hmong. The Hmong is a South East Asian mountain people who were forced to relocate during and after the war in Vietnam. Many were recruited by the CIA and fought on the American side.

Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is one of the best books I have ever read. It tells the story of a Hmong family, a sick daughter, and their meeting with the American health care system. It's heartbreaking, and you learn more than you want to know about cultural differences, and how people manage, and not, to work around them.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

the 70s are oh so far away

There was a guy in the record store today, trying to sell old records. I think he had gotten them out of his mom's storage, because he blamed her when the store wouldn't take them. He was told that records sitting in storage get warped, and useless. He didn't understand.

So the guy working in the store held up one record in his hand, and looked at it. Then he looked at the guy trying to sell them, and said, "They are supposed to be flat."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

david letterman is not my favorite, but this is pretty funny (thanks noel)

imagine that

My biracial friend pointed to the face on the TV screen and asked her multiracial daughter, 2-and-a-half, if she knew who it was.
-Uncle Prez-e-dent!, the little girl said.

"Apparently she feels a connection", my friend commented.

And I am thinking of all the biracial students I have had, and how all of them have said that they wished there would have been a family like theirs anywhere on TV when they were growing up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

separated at birth


januari 20, 2009

On Februari 20, 2008, one of my former students, who now teaches 4th grade, had this to say about Barack Obama:

As a black person in America this is the first time I've ever been able to tell my little cousins, you can be president and really mean it and have proof to back it up. As a teacher, I can look at every student in my classroom and say you can do it too.


Happy 3 years, blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I liked Clint Eastwood's latest movie, Gran Torino. I liked The Wrestler also. That's the one where Mickey Rourke makes a comeback playing an aging professional wrestler.

Both films have a strong male ego front and center. Both men are uncompromising. Their endings are similar.

The testosterone is flowing. Mickey Rourke's is tempered by a goodhearted stripper, Eastwood's by a young Hmong woman living next door.

They say there are no supporting characters in real life. But movies sure still have them.


There was a plane making an emergency landing in the Hudson River in New York last week. It was dramatic, and it was all over the news for days.

Everybody on the plane survived, and the pilot was named a hero seconds after the incident.

Tugboats helped rescue passengers, and tugboats were declared heroes too.

According to CNN or MSNBC, whichever I was watching, it was 'A New York Moment', and 'An American Moment'.

It was not.

It was somebody doing his job really really well, and others rushing over to help. That kind of thing happens everywhere.

I think there is something very unattractive about labeling compassion.

People always come together in times of crisis. What I wish is that people more easily would come together in times of non-crisis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

cooking, medieval style

So yeah I made gravlax, my favorite dish ever. You basically cover salmon with sugar and salt, and leave it for a couple of days. I used four tablespoons of sugar, and four tablespoons of salt, for every kilo of salmon. I let it sit for 48 hours, which was a little short. Next time I'll leave it for another day.

Spice-wise I made two versions: One was super traditional using black pepper, allspice, and enormous amounts of fresh dill. The second one had fresh ginger, lime, coriander seeds, and black pepper. Both turned out good, but not great.

Here is a good step-by-step recipe with simple instructions.

more from damien rice

I like sad songs

I just told Dan that "happy music is for losers".

I just found a cd with music from caitlin

Sunday, January 11, 2009


If you are in the US: click this link, and find a local recycling spot for old electronic equipment. Cool, huh?

new year's in dublin

I don't know why I don't like Bono. Here is, however, a column he wrote for the New York Times that I kind of like.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

the mothership

The Mothership? Where all expatriate Swedes trek to refuel? IKEA, obviously.

JaCal, a Swedish woman living with her family in California (blogging here), said it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

where I grew up, in winterland

Pretty, huh? I borrowed the photo from Gunnar.

helping the googlers

Bowie song in the trailer for Milk: Queen Bitch.
Bowie song in the trailer for Frost/Nixon: Fame.
Bowie/Queen song I heard yesterday in another trailer for a movie set in the 1970s: Under Pressure.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

yeah, 'getting exercise regularly' is a tad more boring

My favorite author had borrowed a new year's resolution from somewhere, and it said:

My New Year´s resolution is to inspire, be fierce and never be ugly.

I think I'll use that one too. And I guess that means both of them already have made good on the first part there.