Swedish passport

I picked up my new passport today. I can confirm that there an an RFID chip embedded in the photo page, right behind the signature. This page is about half a milimeter in thickness, and it's made of plastic. The passport incorporates several other nifty security features, including a version of my photo that's made up of a grid of hundreds of tiny perforations that go all the way through the page. The top of this photo is in the part of the page where the word TEXAS appears. The image is visible only by holding the page up so that light shines through from behind. These holes are almost impossible to make out in this image, and I'm guessing they're very difficult to duplicate.


Swedish passport due tomorrow

Tomorrow moring I shall return to the police station on Kungsholmen to pick up my new Swedish passport. Pursuant to the new regulations, passports must be picked up in person by the passport holder.

Aside from my aforementioned excitment about having tangiable proof of Swedish citizenship, I am also eager to see if the photo in my passport looks any better than the one on my Swedish drivers license. :)

I will use the new passport for the first time when I travel to the U.S. in a few weeks. I will go to Austin for an assigment for IBM.

Now that I have two citizenships, I'll have to investigate the proper procedures for travelling with two passports. I have several unanswered questions, including:

  1. Am I allowed to leave Sweden using my Swedish passport, and enter the United States using my U.S. passport?
  2. If so, must I use the U.S. passport to leave the U.S. again and use the Swedish passport to re-enter Sweden?
If I can use the passport of the country I'm enterering or leaving, it will mean standing in shorter queues.

It's actually a good thing that I am getting a new passport. My U.S. passport has no more places for entry & exit stamps. One of these days I need to swing by the U.S. embassy and have some more pages inserted into my U.S. passport.



This evening I went out with my climbing buddies Anna and Lotta and some of their friends. We went first to Street near Hornstull, but the line outside was way too long, so we went to an alternative rock club called Debaser, on the Southernmost tip of Gamla Stan.

There was a line there too, so we waited outside, our feet freezing on the cold cobblestones.

We got in just as the live band was completing its final set; so it was just a DJ from then on. I danced for a while (this is shake-your-butt dancing, mind you, not any sort of dancing with RULES). Then I joined my friends at a table where they had gathered.

Say cheese!

Lotta shows off her “climbing elbow.”

Finally, around 03.00, the bar kicked everyone out. People continued to mingle in the cold outside but I headed for the subway station to catch the last train home. Oh, by the way — The archway to the right of the club entrace is Slussen, the lock between Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea.


Friday night climbing

I went climbing last night with Anna and Lotta (not my ex Lotta — another one). Here Anna shows off her upside-down move. Fancy!

“Victory is mine!”


My certificate of Swedish citizenship

Here is the certificate I received a week ago.

It seems to be a rather old or formal sort of Swedish, and I must admit I'm not familiar with this particular usage of the the verb att ta upp. To come up with a concise translation using my knowledge of Swedish and English, I'll have to fiddle with word order a bit. I'll do my best. A rough English translation follows:

of Swedish citizenship

The Swedish Migration Board accepts the application for Swedish citizenship of Michael Andrew Lowry, citizen of the United States of America.

Norrköping, 16 January 2006

And here is a close-up of the seal at the top. I rather like the design, in case you hadn't noticed.

On Monday, finally made my way to the police station on Kungsholmen (a nice building, by the way) and applied for my passport. I waited in line about 5 minutes, and was then called to the counter. It took about 2 minutes to apply. Each of the positions along the counter had its own digital camera mounted on a vertical rack, such that the person behind the desk could move the camera up or down. The girl behind the desk took a photo of me and collected the 400 SEK fee. She asked how tall I was and whether I wanted my country of birth listed on the passport. She explained that the passport would be ready in about 5 workdays, and that I would have to return to the police station to fetch it.

I know that technically I am already a Swedish citizen. Even so, I think it will feel more real once I have my Swedish passport in my hands. There is something nice about having a piece of tangiable proof of an accomplishment or achievment.


Video: Snowmobile safai 1

A video I took while Lisa was piloting our snowmobile down the mountain.

Video: skiing with Lisa, Edgar, & Xavi

Here is a short video I took while skiing with Lisa, Edgar and Xavi at Åre a few weeks ago.

What every Swede should know

I have great friends.

Today my colleagues Daniel L., Daniel H., Åsa, and Torbjörn gave me a gift to celebrate my becoming a Swedish citizen. The gift is a book entitled Vad varje svensk bör veta (What every Swede should know).

The book is a compendium of facts about history, politics, art, music science, and religion. Particular emphasis is placed on Sweden and its place in the world. I look forward to reading it. Before long, I'll be more Swedish than a native Swede.

Thanks guys!

Letter to the editor, and my thoughts on Jill Carroll

The Christian Science Monitor has published a letter to the editor I wrote in response to a recent article on the topic of potty parity, a practice that despite the name is based on the idea that women deserve more toilets than men.

I sent the letter to CSMonitor on a whim, but I'm happy to see it published.

Despite what one might initially think, the Christian Science Monitor is not a right-wing fundamentalist newspaper. On the contrary, I have found most of the articles to be balanced and considered journalism, with an emphasis on the plight of those people around the world who are suffering the most and might otherwise escape the focus of the media. It's real journalism, but with a conscience.

At this time I'd like to take an opportunity to add my voice to the many calling for the release of Jill Carroll. Jill is a recent addition to the growing roster of westerners kidnapped in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. In her reporting for CSMonitor, Jill has done an excellent job of showing how the war has affected ordinary Iraqis. The world needs more people like Jill — people who are not afraid to seek out and tell the truth.


Ice skating at sunset

This afternoon, I put on my cold-weather clothing and walked to Ulriksdals slott. There, I went for a skate on Edsviken.

Cats & snow

The cats have been staring out the window for the past week, so I thought it would be nice to let them out for a while.

They were a bit skeptical of the snow at first, but after a few minutes, their curiosity overcame their caution.


Swedish citizenship!

This morning I went to the post office to pick up a pice of registered mail. In the envelope was something I've been looking forward to for several years: my certificate of Swedish citizenship. As of Monday 16 January 2006, I am a citzen of Sweden.

Both the U.S. and Sweden now allow dual citizenship, and I remain a citizen of the United States. Also, because Sweden is a member of the European Union, I may now live and work in any of the E.U.'s member states. Moreover, I may move away from Sweden and move back at any time. It feels really great to have the freedom to live where I like.

Tomorrow morning, I will go by the police station on Kungsholmen to fill out the paperwork and have a photo taken for my Swedish passport. The new passports are machine-readable and contain biometric data in accordance with the standards set forth by the U.S. government in 2002.
The certificate of citizenship I received this morning is adorned with the seal depicted to the left. This seal is the smaller of Sweden's two official coats of arms (in English).
The larger coat of arms is used primarily by the royal family and by those people and government agencies who represent Sweden abroad (e.g., Swedish embassies).
The smaller one depicted here is used by many state agencies. Some use a slightly different version of the seal. One notable example is the Swedish police.


Sveriges lilla riksvapen

Here is the version of Sweden's lesser coat-of-arms that was printed at the top of my certificate of Swedish citizenship. It is slightly simpler than the one below.

These are variations on a version of the coat-of-arms that I found in a PDF file from a state agency. I added some emboss, texture, and shadow effects to make it stand out a bit, and added a blurred Swedish flag for a background.


Wu Liang Ye

The Thursday after we returned from Åre, the gang met some of Lisa's Chinese friends at the King Tan restaurant on Sveavägen, between Hötorget and Rådmansgatan.

Xia serves up the 五粮液 (Wu Liang Ye), a liquor popular in China. The name means five grain liquid. It's a blend of distilates of husked rice, glutinous rice, sorghum, wheat and corn.

Xavi gives it his approval. This is before the bottle has been opened, mind you.

Jordi toasts with three glasses at once.

I went climbing at Klättercentret again last night. Here Lisa comes close to conquering the green/gray route in the upstairs bouldering section.

Anna tries a slightly different route.

And finally, Lotta conquers the overhang on the brown route.


Today I wore one of the shirts and the sportcoat that I got when I was in Austin. I also wore the new irridescent tie my dad gave me for Christmas. Thanks, dad!

Update from Stockholm

Stockholm is a lovely city even in this dark time of year. This photo was taken by one of my new Spanish (sorry, Catalan!) friends from Barcelona. He took this photo from Slussen looking North, with Gamla Stan and Riddarkyrkan in the middle of the photo, and Kungsholmen and Stadhuset in the background. Tonight I might go out dancing, but I doubt it. I still have to finish unpacking and get ready for the party I have planned for Saturday.
Having lost my cellphone somewhere at Åre, I finally received a new SIM card and a temporary replacement phone yesterday. For the few days I was without a mobile phone, I felt oddly disconnected from the world. Now I have a loaner — an old Ericsson R320S. I've never used an Ericsson phone before, so I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting to the different menu system.

I've been wearing the new cowboy boots my mom bought for me. They're great for keeping out snow, slush and water. I just have to remember to treat the leather regularly so that it stays soft and water resistant.

Now here are a couple of photos from Åre.

Lisa posing for the paparzzo.

Klättercenter was not too crowded tonight. I had not climbed there in almost a month, so I was a bit out of practice. I took the next few shots from the top of a 6A climb that had one particularly tricky part.

Lisa patiently holds the rope while I snap a few photos. The route I took is the purple grips. It starts in the left corner down below, and then moves to the right corner and then back to the center. Using the walls is important.

Here I am posing with my climbing friends Lotta and Anna in the new section upstairs.

The new section is mostly for bouldering — that is, climbing short boulder-height walls without a rope. There are thick foam pads on the floor, so falls aren't a problem.

More of the new bouldering section upstairs.

I was moving in this photo and ther was no flash, so it's very blurry. No, I'm not the Flash.

And now two snapshots of the main climbing area, taken from the new upstairs section.