Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good News Bad News

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver, poet

Pam got good news/bad news from Norway today. One of her best friends in Trondheim who was planning to leave has decided to stay on at the school for another year, which is good. Another friend at the school is thinking he might stay also, since we're coming back and this other teacher is staying and we're all friends... also good.

Except there were three teachers leaving and two currently on maternity leave, so we were looking at possibly 1-3 openings. Now there may be two less than that, so who knows what will happen. We'll keep our fingers crossed!

Another teacher at the school who left last year has begun teaching in Malaysia. She reports that the school pays for them to stay at a 5-star resort where the kids go swimming and scuba diving every day after school. She makes so much money that her husband doesn't have to work. Every year they have several openings, and she's encouraging Pam to come to Malaysia for a year or two. Then there's those offers from Australia...

Many possibilities for the future -- wow!


Norway, everywhere we turn! Not only does it seems to infilitrate every thought, it is also embedded all around us, daily reminders of the new world we will be joining.

I found two cloth norsk flags in my mailbox at work today, a surprise gift from Janet. She gave us a big flag last year, which is currently in storage in Trondheim with a roomful of our things. It's good to have the flags up again!

We speak norsk at home more and more, the kids are really enjoying it. Peter and Anna both make up words when they don't know the Norwegian word. Anna explains that the word are in Evernew, the language spoken in Evernoon, her fantasy world. The language there alway changes, and so the language in Evernoon is indeed, ever new.

I've finished the 3 CD set of Norwegian conversation. It got very good and quite challenging at the end as the speakers progressed from speaking slowly and enunciating clearly, to speak naturally and slurring a few phrases. I'm going to give them all a listen through again, and maybe edit the files so I can hear them back to back without all the music and grammar lessons.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Penguin Receives Norwegian Knighthood

The Norwegian Royal Guard traveled to Scotland last August and knighted a penguin. It's true. He lives at the Edinburgh zoo but he's been in the Norwegian army since 1972, and has been promoted each time the guard visits. He's finally made knighthood. Here's a video of the ceremony, and the complete story at Wikipedia.


It's been a week! A car crashed through our garage last Sunday. There's been a lot of clean up and reconstruction to do. More jobs!

Work continues to sap hours in the evenings and weekends. I've always joked about working 10 hour weeks (my actucal teaching time), but in truth I work most evenings and often on weekends as well. It's pretty consuming being a professor and trying to grow in all directions at once. I always felt a tinge of envy for those who finish their jobs and the only thing they have to think about for work tomorrow is what time to set the alarm. But I love the flexibility of my job so I never paid much attention. Until now. While in Norway, I could leave my job for the night and for the weekend -- leave my job mentally, that is -- and what a difference it made in family life! Now my eyes are opened to how much I actually do work, and as Allan observed, "People work a lot in this country." (I'm especially busy this year sitting on four committees and working with the dean on a project).

We went to the Krills on Friday for dinner, and Anika and Nikolai had more song recommendations. I've now got songs by Knutsen & Ludvidsen, two men who live in tunnels beneath the earth and sing bizarre kids songs, including Ku i tunnelen (Cow in the tunnel) and Grevling i taket (Badger in the ceiling).

I also managed to find some time to poke around YouTube for norsk videos, and I've been hitting paydirt! How about these Disney song clips in Norwegian. I'll post a couple...

Colors of the Wind

Here's the beautiful Pocahontas song, sung in Norwegian with subtitles in both languages. Perfect for learning, and it doesn't hurt that Pochahontas is such a hottie.

Something There That Wasn't There Before

Perhaps my favorite Disney clip, no subtitles on this one, though.

But this one has subtitles:

What I really need is video sing-a-long with the bouncing ball...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Interesting Blog


"Noen sier: Vi har bare to årstider i Norge - en hvit vinter og en grønn vinter!"

Which translated means:
"Some say: We have only two seasons in Norway - a white winter and a green winter!"

ICEBUS is the blog of someone in Stavanger, a lot like the blog I kept last year, Naylors in Norway 1. I'm fascinated!


I'm on the third Norwegian Conversation CD. It is all listening comprehension, and it has gotten fun and challenging! Our hero, Olav, who met two women on his last trip, is having a second date with Kari and he just blew it. Turns out Olav doesn't like children and doesn't want to have any. I'll have to wait until conversation 8 to find out how this date ends, but I've got a bad feeling about this.

Pam has become quite interested speaking norsk around the house, and suddenly the whole family is speaking. Good fun!

A car drove through our garage a few days ago. I've got a guy working on fixing it, and I've been playing detective with the piece of bumper that was left behind. A surprise project in the middle of this huge process of fixing up the house so it's ready to rent. We just finished drywalling the upstairs office and it's ready to paint (and much warmer now).

Pam started looking for rentals in Trondheim tonight. Woo-hoo! It's not gonna be cheap!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Far and Few, Fjerne og få

I've had early morning walks with Boomer this weekend. He is glad to be out after all the bad weather we've had. I put norwegian songs and poetry on my ipod and listen while we walk. It is a nice break from the audio lessons.

Last year in the public library in Trondheim, I found a book of Edward Lear poetry translated to Norwegian. Included is one of my favorite poems, The Jumblies...

Far and few, far and few
is the land where the Jumblies live.
Their heads are green and their hands are blue
and they sailed to sea in a sieve.

”Fjerne og få er de riker nå
hvor vildrene holder til.
deres hode er grønt, deres hender blå,
og de dro til sjøs i en sil.”

I had Merete read it into my computer last year. Here is her reading of the whole poem:

Vildrene, (translated from the Jumblies, by Edward Lear)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Keeping on keeping on.

Watched a few Seigmenn videos, as recommended by Anika (19). Reminds me a lot of the angsty 80s bands. I do like the acoustic version of Dödelein.

Searching the song title trolling for lyrics, I come across this a post to a gaming forum:

"RE: What are you listening to right now? Seigmen - Dödelein (acoustic version). Very few songs are more beautiful than this one. Ett tusen lykter viser vei!"

After I'd read the post, I suddenly realized the final sentence was in Norwegian and I'd read through the post without pausing to think about it... a moment of really thinking i norsk.

I've been meeting often with Allan. We've met three times this week. He's very patient and seems so happy to be speaking norsk with me, even though I know it must be painful. He loves the language and sees many fascinating connections between the words. We joke about the language... I ask for the word for 'assignment.' "Oppgave." "Oh, is that like when you read it and it is too difficult so you say 'Jeg gave opp!'?"

He has many interesting views on the United States. He sees things I do not.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My chair met with the dean yesterday to discuss my request to take a year off. They're approving the leave, which allows me to keep my job and return next year. It's nice to be able to go and not close any doors behind me -- though several people have told me that they think I'll end up staying in Norway longer than a year. News is traveling -- I've had three people in other departments so far ask me about the leave!

Language practice continues, and it continues to be fun despite the occasional burnout. I got my Eurotalk software, which is okay. I can watch video conversations and be tested on them, and it has a recording feature so you can listen to yourself. The interface, however, is a little clunky and takes more time and effort than I'm happy with. I'll complete the program and then decide whether or not to get the intermediate level.

I've been enjoying the Teach Yourself Norwegian Conversation series. Olav keeps picking up women, and so I'm learning dating techniques as well as language! The conversation I listened to yesterday was very funny. Olav meets his friend Odd at a bar. Odd's mother is old and has toothaches, his uncle is in the hospital and not expected to get better, his cat died last Friday, and Odd himself has headaches everyday. In fact, he's got a headache now and needs to go home. Dang!

Still my favorite language learning tool: the Pimsleur series.

Also, I'm trying to find Norwegian songs on YouTube, popular songs, but it's proving quite tricky. Most of the Norwegian artists, it seems, record in English. I suppose this makes sense -- a song in Norwegian has an audience of 4.5 million, while one in English has a market hundreds of times bigger.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Dizziness of Freedom

The paperwork has begun for me to take a year off from the university, and so we are officially off and running. In truth, we have already begun preparing in earnest. Last time we went to Norway we rushed -- once we decided we'd go, we had less than 3 months to rent the farm and find homes for our animals. (Then Pam and the kids were in Norway while I slept on couchs and lived out of a my Beetle for three more months, carrying around a cage of cockatiels!) This time we can make sure we do it right.

We must put the house in excellent shape and so are we having work done on the barn, the studio, and in most rooms in the house. I've got a buddy coming over several times a week to work on things in the house. We compiled a big list of everything that needs to be fixed on the property, and we're getting it taken care of now. We've begun packing again -- what to bring, what to ship, what to store? What happens with out animals this time? Where will we live? Who will rent our house? How will we manage our final weeks, making all of the visits to family scattered around the country while taking care of the packing and shipping?

Furthermore, everything is now seen through this filter of the move. Today I renewed my drivers license, and rather than do so online I went into the office to get a new picture and signature on file, just in case. Then to the tire shop -- do I want a warranty on my new car tire? No point, really. All of those books in my office -- some will come with me but I've already started giving away others. My friend is coming today to do some drywall and painting -- more repairs that are being done to satisfy future renters rather than ourselves.

There's so much to do and so much uncertainty it makes me a bit queasy sometimes. I saw a billboard that said "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." I'm trying to think of it like that!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Two New Finds

Allan and his family drove to Florida and back over winter break on what he calls a "Viking trip". Aparently, the Vikings used to load up their boats and travel south during the cold dark winters, and this tradition continues to this day. Instead of a boat, there were instead 6 family members in a mini-van. That's a lot of togetherness!

They returned yesterday, and Allan and I met this afternoon and talked for over an hour. I felt very comfortable with language today, as if I've improved noticeably over the break. What fun this is!

I found a couple more things worth mentioning:

BYKI: Before You Know It

This is a flashcard program, available in many many languages. I thought it silly at first, but I've been playing more and more with it and doing it with my children, and I like it now. It shows a word or phrase, speaks it, and often has a picture to go with it. You follow a series of routines working back and forth between the languages. A stripped down version is available for free, the deluxe version costs $50, which seems a bit steep. It took a little while to figure out how to get the special Norwegian vowels ø, å, and æ. On my computer, I have grown used to typing option-o, option-a, or option-' to get these characters, and this works in any text box or program except for BYKI, which is annoying. Instead you must select a keyboard mapping and then it designates three keys as these vowels.

Download it for free at

Pimsleur Comprehensive via

I've been eyeing this series of 30 units, having much enjoyed units 1-10. The set is very expensive though, hundreds of dollars. Today I found it on an audiobook site, You can join for $7.50/month for two months and $15/month each month thereafter, and get one free download per month. They have the Pimsleur lessons in blocks of 5, so I picked up units 11-15 for $7.50. I should be able to complete my collection of units for $45 instead of around $200. The total I will have paid for all units 1-30 is $75. Totally worth it!

The down side: I'll need to wait one month to get the next set of 5, but this should tide me over until my Eurotalk software arrives next week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Norwegian Independent Study

Here's some of the books and courses I've been enjoying.

Pimsleur Norwegian

I first used the Spanish version of this course when I went to Spain and liked it very much. Last year in Norway, I bought this course online as mp3s for about $30 and listened to them on my iPod walking around Trondheim. The course is mostly listen-and-repeat, and follows a good formula. The course I had was 10 thirty-minute lessons. Yesterday, I found out they have a comprehensive Norwegian course with 30 lessons, but it's very pricey, in the $200-$300 range. I found one on Amazon for $150... I may cave in and buy it.

The Pimsleur courses are hands down the easiest to use. If you're going to buy just one course to get started, I'd recommend this.

Teach Yourself Norwegian Conversation by Margaretha Danbolt Simons

A booklet with 3 CDs. We found this at a used book store and it was a good find. It has very nice realistic conversations with grammar lessons thrown in. My favorite conversation is one with an adult talking to a child. "Do you like school?" "No, it's boring." "What do you like to study?" "Nothing." "Do you play sports?" "No." "Your little sister is nice." "I don't like her. She's stupid." (Dialog written by someone who knows kids!)

The grammar lessons are good, but this requires much more concentration than the Pimsleur courses. There's a couple of problems with the course... one is that they often don't give me enough time to repeat what was said, as if it were adapted from a cassette tape course wherein one would press pause after each prompt. If I speak quickly and don't think, there's time to finish a sentence.

Another trouble is the Norwegian folk music at the beginning and end of most of the 3-4 minute segments. It gets old very fast, and I feel like too large a percentage of time is spent waiting for the music to play to get to the language.

Nevertheless, this course is a nice contrast to Pimsleur and it's currently in my car's CD player.

På Vei

The Norwegian course for immigrants, this is what they used at university courses in Norway. A textbook, CD, and workbook, this is the real deal language course. There is absolutely no English in any of the books, as it is aimed at immigrants from all countries. The set was expensive, around $150 I think, which is a lot for softcovers. One nice feature is a support website with practice and quizzes, both written and audio.

Unable to get into the Norwegian language course at the university in Norway (I was #77 on the waiting list), I used these for independent study and found it extremely effective. As a student of many languages, however, I've had experience with many variations of grammar, gendered nouns, and so on, so I could make sense of this course. Even so, occasionally I needed to ask someone to explain a point of grammar. Without outside help, I suspect this would be fairly difficult for many people to use as an independent study.

Eurotalk Interactive

I just ordered this CD-rom, finding it for $20 on Amazon (normally $40). It has nine lessons, each in six parts, featuring games, videos, dictation (microphone required -- cool!), and quizzes. It looks exciting. I ordered the "Talk More!" version for "Beginners Plus+". They offer an introductory version, one for teenagers, an intermediate level, and a business version.

Norwegian in 10 Minutes a Day

Allan found this at a used book store for $1 and bought it for Pam. I covet this book, as I covet all things Norwegian, but she's holding her ground on this one. It is a workbook with some nice features – it includes flashcards and a bunch of tiny stickers to stick all over everything in your house. Thankfully, she hasn't gone sticker crazy... yet. The previous owner had done the first couple of pages and then gave up. The pages are full color and the lessons are varied and fun. I spotted this book on Amazon for about $15.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Godt Nyttår! Here's a treasure trove of norsk videos:

NRK, the Norwegian broadcasting company, has a great website with lots of programs on nett-TV. The link above is for the children's programs, which are at my level right now.

On my first visit, I chose a program at random, Stå Opp ("Get Up"), and chose the first episode, Babysøster ("Baby Sister"). The program cuts to footage of a girl taking care of her baby sister, and what do you know? It's Ingrid who was one of my students at Eberg skole when I taught there last March. Small country!