November 14th, 2003


Sweden: One Step Forward, One Step Backwards

Today I have come to realise that in some cases, Sweden is really ahead of the world. While in other cases, Sweden is very much behind.

An example where they are ahead is that today, I arranged for currency exchange (from Swedish Crowns to USD) over the internet, and the transfer of funds was completed entirely using the internet. They will even call me when my currency is ready to be picked up. That's fucking cool. And while internet banking is relatively new in the US, it's been around in Sweden for a long time. And virtually (like 99%) of all companies have the ability to be paid electronically directly from your bank account. Again, pretty damn amazing.

An example of where they are behind is the way they dispense alcohol to the masses. They have this concept called Systembolaget, which basically is the the state-owned and run distribution system for alcohol and spirits of all types. In most of the systembolagets, you stand in queue like you're waiting for free government cheese (is waiting in line for government cheese just a US thing?). Very communist. And the system is set up that way because everyone in Sweden is convinced that it is good for them. Yet I have a personal bar in my apartment that is as well equipped as the regular watering hole you'd find in your local neighborhood. 34 distinct types of alcohol, 25 bottles of wine, and 3 different champagnes, and sparkling wine.

Well, make that 24. Right now I am enjoying the entire bottle of 1995 french chardonnary that i got in 1999 while on a trip through the wine country during a weekend excursion during my time in audit.

Bye for now. Caroline and I are going for drinks and nibbly things at Eken, and then someplace trendy for dinner. I have to take some time so that I look and smell better than I do now. Have to impress the cuties!

Love, Rodney
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