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I'm typing this in a café named Roasters in Luleå, in the north of Sweden. The coffee's good (even if they don't seem to be familiar with the flat white), though the music, not so much. They seem to have a number of songs on shuffle, one of which is one of those saccharine torch-song duets they used to have in the soundtracks of big-budget Disney animations; you know the ones: piano chords, syrupy string orchestra, melismatic vocals with the requisite loop-the-loops to tick the “soulful” box, and the obligatory truck driver's gear change before the final choruses get belted out. It bespeaks a sort of romance preserved in formaldehyde, like a consumer-capitalist Lenin's Tomb of tacky sentiment plumped up with high-fructose corn syrup. But enough about the awful music.


Yesterday, I spent pretty much the entire day in Stockholm; after checking out of the budget hostel, I met up with two friends (Jack, an iOS software developer I know from mailing lists ages ago, and Dagny, whom I know via being fans of the band My Favorite), went for coffee to a rather decent place in Södermalm named Drop, and did some walking around with my DSLR camera (some of the results of which are in the usual place. On my sojourns, I stumbled across a science fiction bookshop, in which I found a book of art by an illustrator named Simon Stålenhag, whose specialty seems to be scenes of an alternate 1970s Sweden with robots and weird machines. The book also includes text, but it's in Swedish; as far as I know, no English translation exists.

After going to Hermans for dinner again, I picked up my suitcase from the hostel and went to the railway station. My train to the north arrived slightly late; I had a bunk (the top one) in a sleeper compartment (fairly standard; not unlike the German CityNightLine sleepers which are, regrettably, no longer running; the main difference being the presence of power points for charging one's gadgets); there was one other passenger, though we didn't speak much. (One thing I've noticed about Swedish trains: the carriages seem quieter than in England or elsewhere; perhaps there's something to the national stereotype?)

I woke to find the train speeding through a snowy winter landscape. We reached Luleå at about noon. I checked into my hotel (this time, having a room to myself), and went for a walk with my camera. It's not snowing, but there are ice and snow on the ground; the outdoor temperature is around zero here.


Tonight I see Loney Dear. I'm looking forward to it.
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