Friday, April 30, 2010

It's cool... no it's ugly... no it's Rockheim

Seattle has the Experience Music Project. It's a bizarre looking building made to look like 'music'. My reaction every time I see it swings wildly between thinking it's really cool to thinking it's the most revolting building I've seen. It's cool! No... it's ugly. 

Trondheim is building a Rock 'n' Roll museum right now, and when I saw it for the first time, I had the same reaction. They've taken an old mill building, kept the old historical look, and slapped a big glass box on top that's about 20% bigger than the buildings footprint so it hangs over in a lopsided way. Ugly. Way ugly. But kind of cool. Were the designers inspired by Seattle and wanting to create something to elicit this reaction? Huh.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sirka Sirkus

We attended a performance downtown of the local children's circus, Sirka Sirkus. Some of Maggie's classmates are in the circus. Earlier I had spoken to the director and planned to enroll my kids, but when it came time to join my kids weren't interested. After this show, they have changed their minds! The free show had about 20 acts with juggling, diablo, handbalancing, jumproping, silk swinging, tumbling, and clowning. Set with a theme of a world traveler meeting acts from around the world, the show had unity and was well put toghether. The kids in the show displayed a wide range of talents, from excited 6 year olds jumping rope to some young teens who were exceptionally talented jugglers.

Afterwards, Maggie, Peter and Anna were all talking about the acts they want to do when they join the circus! And joining the circus is something I think they will do.

Yum! Scum!

This was funny to us. Spotted this bag of leftover Easter candy at a shop. It's called Påskskum or Easter Scum. Yummm... a bag of scum. 'Skum' actually means 'foam', which makes sense if you think of pondscum as the bubbly stuff on top of ponds. It sure doesn't make it sound appetizing!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Woke to a strange sound this morning, and there in the closet were newborn kittens. I thought they were guinea pigs at first, and at 6:00 a.m. it was very difficult to figure out right away. Sometime in the night Sjokolade became a mom. The kids were thrilled. Pam had wanted to allow Sjoko to have one litter of kittens in order to give the kids the experience of raising baby cats for a few weeks. The kids all thought it was perfect that there are 3 kittens and 3 kids, but I've made it clear they won't be staying. 3 months and then they'll be off to new homes. Ther are very sweet, and Sjoko sits with them and purrs and purrs. I've never seen her so happy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Your ashes come home to me

Iceland has been spewing out dangerous ash clouds for the past week, shutting down airspace over Europe for the past week. It's been the most extensive airspace closure since the World Wars, and it has affected a lot of people we know. May Lise was stuck in Portugal and had to hitch a ride back, Peter was stuck in England for a few days, Uncle Rick stranded in the USA for a week, and other people we know were stuck in Bergen and Germany and Spain. Very exciting, unless you're stranded somewhere.

Today I was set to fly to Sandane on the west coast. Skies had cleared, things looked good, the news reported that 100% of air routes were operating and my flight checked out as okay online. But by the time I arrived at the airport, Førde airport had closed. I switched to Sogndal airport, adding 1 hour to my trip. No problem. But then I went to check my bags and they tried to switch my bags, oops! Sogndal had just closed. Unwilling to take a 9-hour bus ride with my questionable back, I went home instead.

Arriving home, the news articles had changed: Air routes over Norway are entirely open, except for small parts of Norway. Heh. I may have been one of the very last passengers affected by the ash.

"Waiter, they're volcanic ash in my soup."
"Of course there is, sir. This is a no-fly zone."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Murder mystery

Another mystery was afoot last night. Who killed Big Bubba? I got to play the part of a carny, a role I'm more than qualified for! We cooked ribs tonight... we found an incredible deal at the grocery store this weekend, 10 kg for 100 kr. Slow cooked 'em for seven hours, mmmmm.... so good. Our Norwegian friends were masters of the southern drawl. Very funny evening!

Monday, April 19, 2010


April 19th, four weeks into spring. Still snowing. Here's a picture from a couple of days ago with crokuses coming up outside of a nearby school, and here's a picture from this afternoon. It should make me want to scream, but it's been warm and sunny. If it wants to snow a little bit while it's being warm and sunny, well that's a bit schizophrenic but it's all right with me. It's even kind of fun.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Snow this morning, then beautiful weather after lunch. We headed downtown to the Vitenskapmuseet, or Natural Science Museum. We'd never been, and today was a family day with free admission and lots of talks for kids about evolution and early human civilations.

There was new park nearing completion right across the street, so we tried out their rides and played in the art sculptures. Then we strolled back through Bakklandet and impulsively bought ice creams. As we were enjoying them by the river, it began to snow again. Crazy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


The big news everyone's talking about these days is the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which has spread all over Europe and Scandanavia. Airports are shut down all over the place, and we know personally 4 people stuck in different places from Oslo to Portugal. Our neighbor can't get a flight back from Lisbon, but she managed to find a ride via a ride-sharing website and she is now driving back through Europe, about a 40-50 hour drive.

My mother is flying to England next week, and she's worried about travel... even if the skies are open, there are thousands and thousands of people waiting for flights. What a mess!

Friday, April 16, 2010


It began snowing again this morning. A lot of snow. What the heck? It's been spring weather for weeks now!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another talk

Gave another talk today, this one was a little easier because they wanted it in English. 100 vidergående (high-school) students came to campus today, and their schools wanted a science talk in English. I had just the talk; it involved pineapples and Jessica Alba. A fun day!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Gave a talk in Fredrikstad, a very cool city on the southern coast of Norway near the Swedish border. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to explore this city. I didn't get the chance to take the ferry across the river to the fortress, now an area called Old Town. I had to catch a bus, two hours to Oslo to catch my flight, and I very nearly missed that bus. I ran up to it while it was pulling away and I knocked on the door. The driver gave me a tired look, but he let me on. Next trip to Fredrikstad, I'm going to plan on staying an extra day. Beautiful city, beautiful feeling.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I left my heart in Scandanavia

Maggie reports having a conversation with a child and his father at a playground: "It was the first time I had a complete conversation in Norwegian." Go Maggie!

I'm still suffering from my back injury. Saturday I could barely stand and breathe. Yesterday, I visited a friend who's a chiropractor and was willing to see me on a Sunday. Today I'm supposed to in Hell for a conference, but I'm home working my back instead. It's like a full-time hobby without the 'fun' part. I'm optimistic that I'll be back to normal tomorrow -- I'm supposed to be on a plane to Fredrikstad so I hope that's the case!

At least the weather is nice and sunny and warming up.

Here's a video for today. In one of Disney's Jonas Brothers episodes, Kevin has a Norwegian girlfriend come to visit. Here's his song, "I left my hear in Scandanavia."

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I got into A-magisinet, a weekly cultural magazine in the Sunday papers. They did a piece on mathematics and got a photo of me at a kindergarten. I was described as a 'mathematical acrobat'. I like that.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Phineas og Ferb

Best thing to happen to norsk tv: Phineas and Ferb has come to the Disney channel. It's one of my favorite programs and now we can watch it in Norwegian. Here's the intro, with words:

Sommerferien varer ... kun hundredfire dager ... før skolen spolerer humøret
derfor er det så viktig ... for folk på vår alder ... å finne på noe å gjøre
kanskje å... bygge raketter og sloss med en mumie
og klatre opp en bratt fasade
å oppdage noe som slett ikke finnes ... og hjelpe sjimpanser å bade
surfe på tide vann ... å bygge en nanobot ... finne frankensteins hjerne igjen
å finne en utdøddd fugl' ... male hele byen gul... drive søster til vannvidd igjen
som du forstår er det mye å finne på før høstens skolestart
så bli med oss for Phineas og Ferb de finner på mye rart
så bli med oss for Phineas og Ferb de finner på mye rart
(Mooor! Phineas og Ferb lager en serie intro!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reading Swedish og Hekseskudd

A busy week this week. I taught another university class at HiST. The first 2.5 hours went well, but during the last 15 minutes my tongue became all tangled, unable to knit together Norwegian words. It was a strange feeling, resulting no doubt from my brain getting tired. It consumes large amounts of mental energy to speak for so long.

The book we're using for my portion of this class is Algebra för alle, which is written in Swedish. So yes, I'm reading a Swedish book now. My copy of the book has been previously used, and the first two chapters have notes written in giving the Norwegian translations to some of the Swedish words. It helps. A little. OK, not so much. It's okay, though, time to ta tyren ved hornene (take the bull by its horns) as one of my colleagues says. In truth, Svensk is fairly close to Norsk, so I get the gist of the text if not the subtleties.

I threw my back out today, something I haven't done for a year or two. Every small movement is extremely painful. Grrrr. It happened while I was eating cake, yes a very strenuous activity. I can't find my weight belt, so right now I have a shirt tied tightly around my waist and that's helping. The next few days should be not much fun, thank goodness my calendar is empty tomorrow and I can take it easy.

The "good part" is I learned a new phrase: Hekseskudd, which means "witch shot" (or "witch fire"). It's the official Norwegian name for these deep back muscle pains which come on without warning. The idea, as you guess, is that a witch has just shot you in the back. Very appropriate.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tooth update

Maggie's tooth is all fixed. It only took about a half-hour. They rebuilt it with some kind of resin, and it looks great. Maggie reports it's not a sharp as it used to be because they can't make it too thin, but otherwise it seems to work great.

Monday, April 5, 2010


A sunny day today, irresistible weather for our first visit to Lade for the year. This is one of our favorite spots to picnic, out on the rocks in the fjord, a place where Vikings once moored their boats and Leif Erikson probably roasted meat just as we do today.

Other people had the same idea – Lade was more crowded than I've ever seen. Everyone has been going crazy with the bad winter. It was still cool, but oh the sun! It felt magical out there. Peter and friend Felix built spears to go hunting with, and they managed to snare a couple of wild pølse (hot dogs). Maggie read and napped in the sunshine. Pam and I just breathed the air.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The bunny came. Kids were up way early. We had a fine day and went for a walk later... flowers are coming up, which is a good sign. I hope they're not destroyed by another surprise freeze!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fosen 3

On our final day on Fosen we were greeting by a sunshiny morning. It was a warm and happy day. We took a little drive around the neighborhood, looking at the farmhouses, the islands, and two spectacular waterfalls. One of them had a small ice cave that we couldn't resist – Maggie was the first one up and in.

After lunch, we bid our friends a fond farewell and headed back to the ferry and home. This trip was exactly what we needed to revive our spirits after the brutal winter. We arrive home refreshed and relaxed. Thank you friends!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fosen 2

We went to a local party. In these small communities, they have frequent dances and other social events, usually with live music. About 30 people were at the hall. We paid a $10 cover and brought our own beer. Pam and I immediately began circulating, meeting new people. It was so easy to meet folks – we came with locals so we were trusted, but we are foreigners so we were immediately interesting. There was a raffle, food, and a lot of dancing. We stayed out until 3 a.m., and were some of the first people to leave. By the time we left to walk home, we felt like part of the community.

Pam spoke a lot of Norwegian tonight – the first time I'd seen her speak so much.

Karsk: At the party we had some karsk, a traditional Norwegian drink that's worth mentioning. Karsk should properly be made as follows:  place a 1 crown coin in a cup. Add coffee until you cannot see the coin anymore, and then add vodka (or more properly moonshine) until you can see the coin again. Enjoy!

In the morning, Geir took the kids out for tractor rides. They each got a turn to drive. We took a couple of short walks in the rain, but mostly stayed in and were very lazy. It was a truly relaxing day with puzzles, guitar, food, and no responsibilities. A very good day.


Peter and Maggie collided tonight. Peter got a hole in his head and Maggie chipped her tooth pretty well. It looks horrid, but after a brief recovery she's doing well. That's a good thing, because all of the dentists are closed for Easter vacation. We'll see what the dentist says after break.