Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fosen 1

Easter vacation begins. We accept friends' invitation to spend a few days at their hytte on Fosen, a big island across the fjord.

We catch the ferry. It seems they're no longer collecting money for the ferry ride, rather they photograph your license plate and send you a bill. If you register, they'll deduct the fare directly from your bank account, no hassles involved.

The hytte is lovely farmhouse near the water. After lunch, we go for walk. We explore the water edge then hike up over a "mountain". We meet a local on the trail who shows us two viking burial mounds nearby. On the other side of the hill we stop by a horse farm and the kids all get to brush horses.

Then back to the hytte for puzzles, games, music and dinner. Tonight we go to a party.

Below: Pam at the Viking burial mounds and Mike reclining on a viking burial stone.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Peter's new haircut

Peter got a haircut. The stylist put some wax in his hair, and he instantly had a hip Norwegian look. He loves it, so do I!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fire and Ice

Daylight savings came to Norway on Sunday, and suddenly we have light. How quickly it has gone from darkness to lightness... almost shockingly quick.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Indian Food Party!

Superfun evening! Party at Roger and Kirsten's. They made a huge feast of Indian food with tandoori chicken, 3 different breads, 6 different veggie dishes, and 9 different curry sauces. Wow! We ate and ate and ate some more. The best Indian food I've had in a very very long time.

Maggie and her posse showed us the video production they made for their math class: a story of an evil plot to capture the Easter Bunny to sell on eBay. It's a mathematical musical, with original songs. Highly entertaining! "Surreal" would be the best word to describe it. Peter and Anna did a lot of knitting with their friend.

And then the games. We played "The Settlers fra Catan", laughing at the mix of English and Norwegian in the title of the game. Maggie and Anna stayed for the night, the rest of us rolled home, full and happy. Thank you friends!

Keeping in touch

Skype video chat works really well for keeping in touch with family back home. Sometimes the audio is quirky, sometime the video gets all wonky, and so sometimes we have cut off the call and try again. But when it works it works, and it's free. How can you beat that?

Here's Anna with Grandpa Jack.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Maggie picked up her new glasses today! And a cool new Domo shirt, too. In other news, Peter has been practicing all week for play try-outs, and his hard work payed off. He snagged the role of "Peter" the scam-artist in an upcoming production of The Emperor's New Clothes.

Happy kids.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Famous Philosopher

A guest professor was using my office at HiST this week. I came in on Thursday to meet some students for advising and met the professor. It was none other that Paul Ernest, famous social constructivist philosopher from the UK. Nice guy! He let me take a picture.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It was snowing again this morning. I don't want to talk about it. I'll talk about emergency numbers instead.

There are 4 emergency phone numbers in Norway. 110 = fire. 112 = police. 113 = ambulance. It looks hopeless to keep them straight. Here's some tips:

They all begin with 11, and then...
0 for fire. Fire burns until there's NOTHING left.
2 for police. 'police' has two syllables.
3 for ambulance. 'ambulance' has three syllables.

Isn't that easy?

Even easier: just dial 113 and they'll connect you to whoever you want. To help you remember that 113 is the all-around emergency number, just think of 911, reverse the digits and take the square root of each digit. Simple? Maybe not, but don't fear. Remember I said there's *4* emergency numbers in Norway? The 4th number is... (drumroll)

911. Yep, you can now dial 911 in Norway and it will connect you to the 113 number. There is such a strong American influence here that they've decided to add the 911 number to their service. Cool, huh?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunny Sunday

We played plenty of games and had several social events this weekend. Today, it is sunny... hard to believe! We're enjoying a quiet afternoon of games, guitar, and homework, as we sit in the sunshine. Aaaaaahhhh...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Frame Hunting

The temps are above freezing, and according to the long-range forecast they should stay above freezing for the next two weeks. The roads are rivers again, can we dare to hope that the snow is washing away for good this time?

Saturday we ventured downtown in the rain to do some more shopping for Maggie's glasses. Traffic was insane, I've never seen it this crowded. It's not even sunny. Maybe it's because the last two weekends were so snowy, this is the first weekend people are daring to venture out? Finally, we ducked into a parking garage and got out of the traffic and onto the sidewalks. Outside of the Torg, a stage was set up, and the area was filled with a big crowd gathering for a concert. Over a thousand people standing under umbrellas enjoying the show.

In the first two shops (Sansyn and Brilleland), it looked like we would have to pay around 3000-4000 kr. for the frames and lenses. That's around $500, which is ridiculous. We'd do better to order them from the U.S. However, at the third shop, Krogh Optiker, we found a discontinued set of frames, and they just happened to be having a deal on lenses. We got frames plus lenses for 695- kr., a price I'm quite happy with. Not part of the decision, but nice nonetheless, Krogh also has free coffee and hot chocolate. Krogh Optiker... thumbs up!

Despite the rain, it was nice to be downtown, poking in shops and getting some treats. Springtime, please hurry!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mr. Chuong's

Thursday and Sundays there's a dinner buffet at Mr. Chuongs, a Chinese restaurant near the festning. 85- kr. for kids, 119- kr. for adults, all you care to eat. They offer three Chinese entrees, a soup, fried spring rolls, and ice cream. There's also french fries and hot dogs for the kids. It's a very reasonable price for a restaurant in Norway, and the food was excellent with the perfect amount of spice.

It was just the kind of trip we needed to get our minds off of the snow!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Last week, the weather was warming and the rain was washing away the snow. We could see grass again.

Friday, it started snowing again, and it has snowed pretty much non-stop for the past 6 days, about 35 cm (14"). Here's a picture of our back patio. The table looks like a giant cake.

The last few days it's been mixing with rain, turning the streets into ice. Enough is enough. For the first time, I feel like I want to run screaming from this miserable winter!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fish knitting

I learned to knit last week. After many mistakes, mysteriously growing rows, and experimental stitching patterns, I finally bound the final row and what I had looked like a fish. So I added a fin and an eye. Knitting... cool.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Finished reading Roald Dahl's Matilda today. Anna has been a faithful follower, and it has been her bedtime story most evenings, with Peter often slipping in to listen along. Anna become so intrigued with the story, that when Pam volunteered to read to read to her one evening last week, Anna told her "No... only if it's in Norwegian."

The language is more complex in this book that other Dahl books I've read in Norwegian, but we were soon in the groove. It was a very good exercise for me to read this out loud; it of course helps quite a bit with speaking Norwegian to, well, speak Norwegian.

Upon our successful completion of the story on Sunday morning (Anna couldn't wait until bedtime to hear the final 2 chapters), we watched the film. I didn't care for the casting choice for Matilda herself, or the drawn-out ending, but Denny DeVito was wonderful as the bad dad, Mr. Wormwood.

Now I must find a new story to begin. Hmmmm...

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Pam joined her handball team for a night at one of the ladies' hytte on Fosen, a large island across the fjord. 15 of them there, they had a wonderful time!

This evening we accepted an invitation at Daniel and Evelina's for a special Raclette dinner that's popular in Switzerland in the winter. Thick slices of cheese are placed on small pans and grilled underneath heating elements in a tabletop stove. Meanwhile, vegetables are grilled on the top of the stove. When the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, it is scooped out with a wooden paddle onto potatoes and eaten with onions and spices.

Oh my, it was so good. We ate far too much and rolled ourselves back through the snow, warm and happy.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Up at 05:00 to catch a 07:00 flight. Trondheim to Oslo to Kristiansand, then a bus ride to Grimstad, a small city on the southern coast on Norway. I'd joked to my family that I'd be on the beach on the warm and sunny south coast, and I did get a chance to walk along the water edge, but warm and sunny it was not.

I gave a presentation at the University of Agder Grimstad conference for a group of college students entering a program to mentor middle- and high-school students in math and science. The students are sharp and energetic, and it was a pleasure working with them.

After my portion of the meeting, I had a couple of hours to explore Grimstad. The town seems like it will be great come summer time, with twisty pedestrian streets filled with shops and a charming waterfront. The streets are crowded with shoppers and school children, even though it is still winter, and the waterfront is also busy even though the bay is frozen over. I make my way up the hill towards a large church and find cannons, a statue of a woman with 3 flying birds, and a nice view of the town and water.

Circling around the back of the hill I pass a sports stadium, schools, and a path through the woods before winding back down into neighborhoods. I stumble upon the university again, arriving just in time for pizza.

In the evening I arrive back in Trondheim, to find the town covered in deep snow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Maggie needs glasses. I took her to the opikker today. She was a bit nervous at first, but she quickly became thrilled to find that she could see clearly through the lenses the technician set her up with. Glasses aren't covered under the national insurance, even for kids, but the visit seemed a reasonable price, about $90. We haven't bought the frames and lenses yet, but it looks like they'll cost between $50 - $600, depending on what we choose, which is probably comparable to what we'd pay in the U.S.

They let us take home a few frames, and Maggie is excited to wear them to school to see what her friends think. We'll shop around a bit before we decide what to get, so stay tuned for the final results.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

World of water and ice

Finally there's an extended break in the cold. There's been warm (above freezing) temperatures many days in a row, and it has been raining and raining. As I walk to and from work I watch with great satisfaction the fast-flowing streams bubbling their way down the roads, cutting miniature fjords through the ice. The thick icing of winter, long past its welcome, is rapidly transforming into streams that pour steadily down the drains. I can now dare to hope that winter is on its way out. Yes?

Tuesday I went to Meldal to work with some teachers. Meldal is about an hour drive south of Trondheim, and again we pass frozen waterfalls like we saw on our trip to Oppdal last week. Under the rainfall, the waterfalls have lost their definition and now look blurry, like time-lapse pictures.

Meldal is a small mining town. The old copper and sulphur mine sits high on the hillside, surrounded by trees, its angular form looking like something from the world of Halo. I understand that in the summers you can ride an old steam locomotive from Orkanger to Meldal, take a tour of the mine and smelting facilities, and then ride the train back again. We may need to try that this spring.

It was a full and busy day in Meldal. This week will continue to be very busy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Relaxing weekend

Relaxing weekend... a nice change. Today we stayed home and kept the TV off. Instead we played music, learned to knit, and did puzzles.

Tomorrow the weather calls for temperatures above 0°. Ahhhhhh....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Wizard of Ozlo

The 10th graders at ThIS put on their musical tonight. They had been studying social problems, and one that caught their attention was the plight of child refugees seeking asylum in Norway, and the unfairness that children ages 15-17 are treated as adults and not children. They decided to write a musical on the theme, and they wrote the script, the songs, and directed it themselves.

The "Wizard of Ozlo" was fantastic. Again and again throughout the evening I couldn't believe that this masterpiece was entirely student-created. Songs, dance, students both singing and playing the instruments... along with a poignant and touching storyline that made a political statement. Wow! Well done 10th graders!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New vocabulary

I've started bringing my laptop with me to meetings, keeping Google Translate open to type in words I hear or read that I'm not sure of. In the meeting today, I kept the list of words to study later. I used it 50 times in a 2-hour meeting. Here's the kind of vocabulary I'm working on these days:

bidra målene
de skam
oppdrag utfø

gjennomføres etter nærmere avklaringer og i samråd
noen utfordringer
vurdere innholdet
å drifte

lag opp
å utvider

av vår egen grunntildeling
overføring til
div interne inntekter
å overstig

trekke ut
skikkelig godt
å klare
å klarere
å stoler på
help targets
be run
the shame
missions conducted

learning difficulties
implemented after further clarification and consultation
some challenges
assess the content
to operate
continuing education

team up
to expand

of our own basic award
transfer to
internal revenue
to exceed

really good
to manage
to clear or sanction
to trust

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Interesting Olympics articles

Here's a couple more articles reflecting on Norway's winter olympics accomplishments...

Why Norway Wins (Warning - Socialism!)
 "Twenty-three medals, nine gold. From a country of 4.5 million people. That’s about one medal for every 200,000 Norwegians. If the United States hogged Winter Olympic glory in Norwegian proportions, it would have won…well, 1500 medals, which doesn’t make much sense, but certainly puts the standings in some perspective."
The Hard and the Soft of Norwegians
An interesting, and exhausting, story in the NYTimes of a very tough Norwegian in WWII trying to escape to Sweden with the help of locals while being pursued by the Nazis. Almost unbelieveable what he goes through.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March! Warmth is here, along with World Math Day and a sleepover.

March is here, and the sun has been shining! It feels warm on my cheeks, the angle of light in the morning is noticeably higher, and there is hope that spring is on its way. Finally! I am feeling entirely beat up by this winter. Everyone tells me it's been the worst winter they can remember. Only Geir-Erik, the maintenance man at work, has been able to tell me of a worse winter they had back in the 50s.

Today is World Math Day. I did a short math show for the international school to kick off an afternoon of math booths in the gym. It was big fun... I sure like doing shows.

Tonight Pam invited all of the girls in her class for a sleepover. It's been amusing. And scary.

My mechanic picked up our Mercedes tonight. It's been sitting dormant in our driveway all winter. I'd hoped we could fix it when the warm weather came, but I'm not so sure. He's gonna look it over and give us an opinion, but his gut feeling is that it's just too tired. Sad.