Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Today is Onsdag, in English it's Wednesday, or Wodansday, and it was named for Odin. Odin is the father of the Norse gods, god of war, death, poetry and wisdom.

He was pierced with his own spear and was stuck to the tree of wisdom for nine days. He has only one eye which shines like the sun. The other eye he traded for a drink from the well of wisdom and thus gained all knowledge. He sits on throne in Asgard and can observe all that happens in the nine worlds.

On the day of Ragnorak, Odin will be swallowed by the wolf Fenrir.


Today is also Halloween. Pam is celebrating it with her kids at school. They'll be bobbing for apples, reading scary storys, decorating cookies, calculating pumpkin π, and so on. It should be a good day. Maggie is sticking cotton balls to her shirt and carrying a squirt bottle. She's going as "partly cloudy with a chance of rain".

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Today is Tirsdag, the first of 4 consecutive days of the week that are named for Norwegian gods. Tuesday is named for Tyr, the god of war. He is considered the son of Odin, and is depicted with only one hand because his other hand was bitten off by a giant wolf named Fenrir.

On the day of Ragnorak -- the end of the world -- Tyr is destined to kill Garm, the dog which guards the entrance to Hell. Unfortunately, Tyr will be killed in the battle, but seeing how it's the end of the cosmos and everything, there really isn't much to live for anyway. In truth, the world is reborn after Ragnorak as an idyllic world where gods and men will live happily together and there will be no more wickedness.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crystal Sculpture

Earlier I wrote about this crystal sculpture on the NTNU campus. It focuses sunlight onto metal plates, and on very sunny days it burns holes in the metal. I finally found the plates, hanging in the cafeteria inside the cafeteria in the Realfagbygget Building. Here is a picture of all of the plates, and a picture of the plate from the first year. The first plate has the most pronounced markings, as the crystal has been slowly getting pock-marked from the weather and the effect of the focusing is diminishing, making more recent plates not as interesting.

The scultpure.

The plate collection so far.

This is the plate from Year 1. That's some serious solar power!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Forest Day

It was "Forest Day" at ThIS, and all of the kids and teachers spent the day in the forest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Pam and the kids went to a flea market on Sunday and got cross-country skis and rollerblades for the whole family... total price: $40. Not bad! This winter we will be a Nordic family, skiing through the countryside.

Mama hamster had 4 more babies. Then she ate them. Yum!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Fire Station of Azkaban

Fresh from the discovery of a police car, well, the discovery of a "police car," we soon found something else we'd been looking for: a fire station. The fire station is hidden downtown in an unmarked building with smoky windows, but if you look closely you can see emergency vehicles behind the windows. Somewhat ominous is this dementor, standing ever watchful over the block of vehicles. What does this mean?!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

It's getting colder and darker, and we are thankful for the big sunshine always just outside our window. Here's the zoom:

Getting Dark

Pam and the kids are back in school after a week vacation, happy to again have some structure. I video-chatted with them this morning, which was 6 pm Trondheim time and it was quite dark outside. The nighttime lows are now freezing, and it appears winter is well on its way. Send scarves.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Police Sighting!

Yes! Finally sighted! A police car in Norway. It was tricky, but we caught sight of this vehicle staking out a playground in this barnehage (kindergarten).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vid Kids

Tune in and turn on, baby! Three screens, no waiting. Please don't turn me in to the authorities, it's all educational, I swear!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

City Bikes

School is off this week for a holiday. Norwegians seem to take plenty of holidays. Nice!

I was talking to Pam on videophone today and it started snowing in Trondheim. I was in D.C. yesterday and it was 93°F... meanwhile it's snowing in Trondheim.

The family went to Pirbadet today, the huge aquatic center on the fjord. Immense glass walls and glass ceiling give a full view of the fjord. Pam says it is amazing and very difficult to describe. Hopefully we'll get some photos!

Here's my picture for today: City Bikes. For about $15 you can get a passcard to use these bikes for the year... and the $15 is refundable at the end of the year. The city owns 175 bicycles which are kept at 10 bike stations around Trondheim. Just check one out and leave it at another station.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Salt Spray for your Hair

Just what you needed: saltwater spray to put in your hair so it looks all nasty like you've been to beach all day. It gives you that "attractive devil-may-care look." Only in Scandanavia?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

To Frøya

Pam and the kids are off with Allan and family to their hytte on Frøya island, a 3-hour drive to the west that takes them through some very long tunnels underwater (10 km long!) and through some amazing fjords. We'll be begging Pam for photos -- this should be spectacular!

Back in Washington, I'm on my 8th couch and preparing for a whole bunch of trips. DC tomorrow, Seattle next weekend, Phoenix a couple days later. I'll take 5 trips in the next 2 months, more than I usually take all year.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mindball and Bølgende Arkader

The second time we visited the Science museum was on a rainy September Sunday. It was just as fun. We discovered new things we missed the first time, like this game Maggie and Peter are playing. It's called Mindball. Each player dons a headband which reads alpha- and theta-waves, compares the levels on a computer, and adjusts the position of magnetic ball on the table accordingly. The more relaxed a player is, the more a ball is pushed towards his or her opponent. Very cool!

(You can purchase one of these for about $22,000, here's the link if you're interested.)

While the kids were relaxing their brain waves, I was delighting in the painful electric shocks I could receive by grabbing onto a simulated electric cattle wire and pushing a button. Have you ever tried to push a button knowing that it will cause you pain? It is a very difficult thing to make yourself do!* (*Kind of like when we did a blood unit in high school anatomy and physiology - we poked holes ourselves every day for two weeks.)

Also at the museum is this remarkable piece of art called the Bølgende Arkader ("Bølgende" means "billowy" or "wavy"). As you move right and left, the painting shifts in exactly the way a painting should not shift. Here's a video showing the effect and how it is accomplished. I need one of these. I want to meet this artist.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hamsters are Multiplying

She does it again! Momma has 4 new teeny tiny pink babies! We'll need four new names... Ideas welcome!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Drive to Røros

Pam and the kids and Grandma and Bumpa drove to Røros, an old copper mining city to the south of Trondheim. They say the scenery was just gorgeous, like the countryside in Washington but more exaggerated. The kids found some chunks of raw copper.

Foto: Jiri Havran

People have been asking if I'm really in Norway right now. No I'm not, I'm currently couch-surfing in Bellingham. 6 couches in 13 nights so far, maybe I'll start a couch-blog. I will however continue to write blogs as if I am actually in Norway. This is the beauty of digital media.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Scrabble in Norsk

I had a chance to see a Norwegian Scrabble board. Of particular interest are the three extra letters in the Norwegian alphabet: ø, å, and œ. The point values of the pieces are different also, as the letters have a different distribution. The J, for example, is only worth 4 points as it is a fairly common letter, while the most valuable tile is C, worth 10 points (the same value as X and Z in the English version). Curiously, the letters Q, X, and Z are so uncommon in Norwegian, that they are not included in the Scrabble tiles. If you want to spell a word with one of these letters, you need to use a blank.