• There's a peace prize? Swedes, especially the middle-aged and older, often tune in to watch the Nobel festivities on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death and the day the honors are handed out by their king.
While in America the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore has overshadowed the other Nobel laureates in the national news, that's not the case here in Stockholm. Asked what they thought about this year's peace prize winner, a couple of Swedes on the underground snorted. "We don't care about that," they agreed. "That's Oslo's prize. We like to celebrate our Nobel winners."That "other" prize will be handed out in Oslo on Monday, as well.
• Wake me when it's morning. Adjusting to the day here has been more challenging than I expected. There's something disorienting about being eight hours ahead and having the sun make a guest appearance only between 8:30 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. And it's downright weird to see little kids with backpacks trudging along in the dark at 3:30 p.m.Summers are a different story, says Henrik Gorbow, the official escorting University of Utah's Nobel laureate, Mario Capecchi, this week. "You can go to a restaurant very late and come out into bright sun when you're done."
• Speaking of sunny.... One of the men with whom Capecchi shares his Nobel Prize in medicine, 82-year-old Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, credits some of his success to being born with a "happy gene." He was a twin, something he'd highly recommend for everyone, he says with a laugh, but his brother, now deceased, always complained that Oliver got the sunny disposition.His good cheer was obvious as he earned warm laughter each time he spoke to the crowds during Nobel Week events. That's one gene I hope no one will knock out, in mice or men.
• Behave yourself. I've been warned to control my purse at all times during the Nobel banquet. Under no circumstance is it to be allowed to touch the dining table, no matter how much it wants to.
That's just one of several protocol tips I've been offered in this lovely, manner-conscious country. At the banquet, there's a lot to avoid. One of the biggest banquet faux pas came when a ranking government official forgot to turn off his cell phone, then took the call to silence it. Worse, he was seated next to royalty, making it a double scandal.
You can't leave the table during the banquet, no matter what. There are no photos allowed, either, if you're not accredited to take them. Does that mean folks who have a phone with a camera in it must leave it home? Not necessarily. "You can leave it in your tiny little purse, turned off, of course" a Nobel Foundation source counsels. "You do have a tiny little purse, don't you?"Doesn't everyone?
• A hip new audience. If you want to see selected video from the Nobel Prize celebration, it's just a YouTube click away. The Nobel Foundation announced the "arrival of TheNobelPrize on YouTube," where it will have its own branded channel. They promise unique footage of new and previous Nobel laureates, interviews, "buzz around the awards, educational content and more. Just click it at www.youtube.com/thenobelprize.
Deseret Morning News writer Lois M. Collins is in Sweden for "Nobel Week" to cover the awarding of the Nobel Prize in medicine to Mario Capecchi, distinguished U. professor of human genetics and biology.