Live like a Viking.
Live life like a real Viking this summer. Does it sound like your cup of tea? It’s not Grand Hotel that awaits you when you spend the night in a Viking cottage in Birka – the house isn’t exactly a five star suite, the stove is an open fire, and the mattresses are filled with straw. You prepare your own food with meat, root vegetables, honey and nuts. Students built these rough Viking houses, and they were built using the kinds of tools that the Vikings themselves used, according to old techniques. So far there are five houses only, but by 2016 there will be sixteen. Birka on Björnö in Mälaren was an important place of trade during 700-900. You reach it by ferry from Stockholm Strängnär and Härjarö. Price from Stockholm is $36, which includes entrance and a guided tour of the museum. If you want to stay the night like a real Viking (and thus be part of the museum yourself) it costs $350 for a family of five. The season runs from June 27 to August 16. For more information:

Happy Birthday Princess Marianne!
Marianne Bernadotte just turned 85 and many were her well-wishers. Astronaut Christer Fuglesang, Crown princess Victoria, actress Britt Ekland, and singer Agnetha Fältskog were just a few. “I’m happy to be alive!” said Bernadotte and continued mingling at her party, which took place at Stockholm City Hall. Fältskog brought with her a bottle of Sardinian wine, Crown princess Victoria honored the birthday girl by giving out scholarships. And in her long, white sequined dress, Victoria outshone everybody else on the red carpet. The evening’s MC was model Emma Wiklund. Skin cancer on the rise in Sweden. The number of people getting skin cancer in Sweden is on the rise. “It’s epidemic really,” says Karin Westermark, an expert on skin cancer. “It’s dangerous if we get used to the number increasing. It’s very worrying. If you are unsure about changes in your skin, then don’t hesitate, seek help. Westermark works at Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten (Swedish Radiation Safety Authority), where a new report shows that malignant melanoma per year in Sweden is around 25 of every 100,000 residents. Less than 50 years ago, 5 people out of every 100,000 got malignant melanoma, that’s five times less. The increase has been steady since 1998, with a 3.6% raise for men per year, and a 3.8% raise for women per year. Westermark points out that skin tumors are among the most common tumors in Sweden. The cause is mostly an increase in UV rays followed by much too intense tanning. “Many people ask why people in the past didn’t get sick since they were outdoors much more, but they slowly got their skin used to the sun. Today we’re working inside and then when we do get into the sun we’re almost shocking our skin with it. Besides, in the middle of winter, we travel to Thailand and expose our skin to the strong sun there.”

Unemployment on the rise.
More people are losing their jobs in Sweden (especially in the mining, manufacturing, and energy sectors). Statistics Sweden presented the new numbers, showing that Swedish unemployment has hit 9%. In May around 446,000 people were out of work, that’s 157,000 more than in May 2008, when the unemployment rate was 5.9%, the agency said in a statement. Figures released for April, show unemployment at 8.3% (or 403,000 people). Statistics Sweden attributed the raise of people without a job to two main areas: The manufacturing and mining industries and the energy and environmental sectors. “Within this group the number of persons employed decreased by 51,000,” read the statement. It also said that the increase in the unemployment rate was due to a higher number of students looking for summer work. Sweden’s economy officially entered recession in the third quarter of 2008, and the government forecasts the country’s economy will shrink by 4.2% this year. Unemployment is expected to swell to 11.1% in 2010 and 11,7$ in 2011, according to the Swedish finance ministry.

Training to be happy.
Being happy and being successful is not the same, according to mental teacher Igor Ardoris. The secret to happiness is to train your brain to be happier. Ardoris became a known name with Swedish TV series “Klass 9A” where he played a teacher. Something he also is in real life. He also calls himself lecturer, mental trainer and coach. And now he can add “author” to the list. “Själförsvar” (Soul defense) is the title of his book. And soul defense is his method to help us becoming better prepared, physically and mentally. He got inspiration from Eastern philosophy, mindfulness, karate, aikido, Tai Chi, and yoga. “Karate,” says Ardoris, “is meditation in motion. Or a mental training done physically.” Ardoris does yoga daily and karate a couple of times a week. It was last year that Ardoris came to Johannesskolan in Malmö with the goal of turning the school’s 9-graders into the best students in the country. “It was a real challenge,” he says. “But I feel best among teenagers who need a bit extra time and energy.” The result was that the students indeed did raise their grades.” Lycka och att lyckas” (happiness and to succeed) is the book’s subtitle. Those words are two words we often mix up according to Ardoris. It’s a myth, he says, to believe that just because we’re successful at work, have great kids, a good marriage and a wonderful home we will automatically become happy. “Success and happiness come to people who devote themselves and do something they feel is worthwhile. Only if the things we do are deeply rooted in our own goals and values can we become happy. That’s why each individual must take his or her time to dream and plan.” Ardoris, who was born and raised in former Yugoslavia, gives us one of his tips for a stronger soul: “Take 30 minutes a day for your inner hygiene. Begin with 15 minutes of just thinking about the activities of the day ahead and what you would like to happen. Then train deep and slow breathing for about 10 minutes. Sit up straight and try to focus on your expiration. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and try to imagine the air as just flowing out when you breathe out, as if you were breathing mist on a mirror. For more information:

Pepper spray and bears.
Pepper spray, also known as OC Spray (from Oleoresin Capsicum), is now being used by forest workers in Gävleborg’s province as a defense for the growing strain of bears. The weapon is already used in Värmland. The active agent in pepper spray is a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain and even temporary blindness, and pepper spray is commonly used in riot control or as a personal self-defense. Last year a Swedish forest worker was seriously hurt by in a bear attack, which brought up discussions among union and employers. They decided on arming the forest workers with the spray, it has already successfully been used by forest workers in Alaska, where 90% of all bear attacks have been staved off.

Married for 68 years – not allowed to live together.
Asta, 87, and Gösta, 89, got married 68 years ago in 1941. “It was a bit of a scandal when we met,” says Gösta. “Because I had another girlfriend then.” And now the couple is facing a second scandal. Asta is moving into an eldercare living because she suffers from dementia. Up till Christmas last year, it was fine for her to live at home with Gösta and she is physically sound. But now she must move. Gösta has tried to find a place with eldercare where they both can live together, but not managed to do so anywhere in their hometown of Karlshamn. “They are building new houses for old people, and they are very nice, but not a single one of them has a room with space enough for two people,” Gösta says. It’s difficult for Asta to speak. But one thing she can say is: “We’ve always been very happy. We still are.” And later she adds, in a sing-song voice, “All will be well.” Christel Jönsson, director of Karlshamns Social Welfare Board, is optimistic still. “No, we have no apartments for two people. But most things can be solved,” she says. Perhaps the couple will receive adjoining rooms so that Gösta at least can visit his wife daily. For many years Gösta and Asta also had a business together. “It went very well,” says Gösta. “There has never been any ‘mankelimang’ (hitch) between Asta and me.” rdoris