December 6th, 2004


So red the rose

19 months after my last trip here, I am back in Stockholm. The bloom is not off; I have noticed however as the government has continued to privatize services some of the problems I had seen at home and not here have been cropping up though. I have now seen as many homeless people as my previous 4 trips combined (2 this time). But I cannot honestly attribute it to a move from socialism to capitalism. Realistically what I saw on the first trips here was buoyed by the same inflated tech economy as we had back home, perhaps moreso. Still, it is odd that as people here are noting signs of resurgence that only then would more homeless people start to appear. Or maybe i just don't go to the right (wrong?) places. It's hard, though, to understand some of the differences. Stockholm, while the largest city here, has a similar metropolitan population to Pittsburgh. They have a fully-formed transit system with frequent service in a fairly dense pattern, 3 generations of subway, commuter trains and streetcar and narrow gauge rail remnants. We have a subway which goes only south, and the transit system is trying to fold up at night and on weekends. And it's not like no one drives here: rush hour can crawl on their highways and they have a just-opened tunnel highway which I can't help but think of as a mini-Big Dig (Södra Länken).

I've participated in my share of jokes about the dollar and the current administration, but something which is of note: the dollar is currently trading a 6.6Kr. It was over 10Kr last time I was here, but about 7 previously (in August 2001). So the jokes about the dollar tanking aren't really true. It's dropped back to a level matching where it has been before.

Anyway, I have just over 5 days left in a city I truly enjoy with interesting friends, spending sadly too much time working, but at least on interesting work.