Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Record cold

We thought last winter was bad. Then we thought this summer was cold. Well, this November was the coldest November is Norway in more than 222 years. In 1788, Trondheim began keeping records of the temperature, so there's a long list of data to compare the weather with. This November had an average temperature of about –5°C (with the last 2 weeks being about –15°C).

What has also been strange is that cold has not really bothered me this month. I'm feeling like –15° is not so bad. Maybe my blood has thickened! (Actually, blood gets a little thinner in cold temperatures, not thicker. Becoming acclimatized to hot or cold environments actually involves complex interactions between your glands and the temperature regulation part of your brain. For what it's worth.)

Another strange thing: this year there have been 20 world record high temperatures around the world, including a high of 53.7°C (129°F) in Pakistan (ouch!) I think global warming is caused by all the heat leaving Norway and going elsewhere!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


How could I have gone so long in Norway without eating lutefisk? Lutefisk is a traditional Norwegian dish. It is fish that has been soaked in lye until it turns into a jelly-like consistency. Loved, hated, cherished, and feared, no one is neutral in their attitude towards this bizarre dish. I finally got a chance to taste it on Saturday. Here's a picture of me after the first bite. Divine!

Saturday my office had our winter celebration. First we went to see a comedy show at Olavshallen, and then to the Julebord at Rica Nidelven. There were over 300 kinds of food, and I think I tried them all.

It's time to gather energy now, our national math teacher conference starts this week, followed by a kindergarten math conference, and I have sizable roles in both conferences. It's going to be go-go-go! this week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving is strictly an American holiday, so there was no long weekend for us. Nevertheless, we began preparing on Tuesday, and by Thursday evening we were ready with a traditional feast of turkey, potatoes, yams, stuffing, bread, salad, jello... all kinds of tilbehør. Somehow, all of the food was ready on time, at the same time... some kind of Thanksgiving miracle. We had a couple of families over to join us, and the evening was a big success.

It is said that the earliest Thanksgiving was in 1621 with pilgrims in Plymouth and people from the Patuxet tribe of the Wampanoag people. It was a celebration of thanks for the help the pilgrims received settling in a new land, so the meaning is of continuing relevance to us as we settle in this new land.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brewery Tour

The local brewery offers beer tasting classes. We'd been to one a couple of years ago, and it was fun to join people from the school for another evening. The brewmaster takes the course very seriously, giving us the history of brewing both globally and in Trondheim, teaching us the basics of beer tasting, and filling us with facts and concepts about beer production, serving tips, eating tips, and so on. The course is only 100 kr., and includes enough beer to cover the entrance ticket. Highly recommended!

Monday, November 22, 2010


 It was the Christmas concert at the school this weekend. Pam was very busy organizing the silent auction, and the kids have been busy preparing their performances. Anna's class danced to "Suzy Snowflake", Peter's class passed a flame as they sung "War is Over", and the big surprise was Maggie's class singing and playing the music for "Christmas is All Around". Maggie played flute, and she totally rocked the house with her flute solo. I knew she'd been secretly practicing flute at home, but I had no idea she could play like THAT. Apparently, neither did she judging from her reaction.

It was a fun evening of friends, food, and music, and now it feels like Christmas is coming.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Odd Nordstoga

Tonight Pam and I went to a concert at Olavshallen, a fancy concert hall downtown. Odd Nordstoga is one of the best known Norwegian folk singers, and the first Norwegian musician I started listening to some years ago. I'd decided back then that a good way to help learn the language is with songs, and Odd is one of the best popular musicians in Norway that actually sing in Norwegian. (Here's my first post about Odd, with a video.) It was disappointing to find that many other popular Norwegian groups sing in English. From a marketing perspective, this makes sense, as the ratio of English to Norwegian speakers world-wide is 150:1.

Odd played a lot of songs from his new album, "November", which has been met with broad critical praise as one of the best albums of the year. He didn't play a couple of my favorite songs, but he did of course play "Kveldssang for deg og meg", otherwise known as "Grisen!" (The pig!), his first big hit, a very catchy folk song that involves a howling pig.

The audience was rather subdued - in America we'd expect to see people shouting and dancing in their seats. Instead there was some swaying and polite applause, and a few moments of foot stomping.

We thoroughly enjoyed the songs, even those we hadn't heard before. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Superb conference, and now I will buy his new album.

A Norwegian film and a concert this weekend. Good training!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Troll Hunter

I couldn't believe it when I saw this movie came out a few weeks ago: Trolljegeren, "The Troll Hunter". A mockumentary about some college kids following a troll hunter, and the trouble they run into. Turns out trolls are real.

This movie is full of Norwegian folklore -- and there's a lot of troll folklore. I've been fasnicated with them since we first moved to Norway, and we've read all the stories concerning all types of trolls, so this was a "must-see" movie for me.

Elisabeth and Martin emailed me yesterday asking "Trolljegeren this weekend?" But of course. This evening we all piled into the newly named "Trollmobile" and drove downtown for the film. We were not disappointed. We couldn't follow all of the conversations, but how much conversation do you need when you're hunting trolls. And oh, there were so many trolls. Nasty things, trolls are.

I understand an American company has bought the rights to the film so there will be an American version. They'll have a lot to live up to.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fish Pudding

I had lunch with Gerd today. On the menu: Fiskepudding = "fish pudding". Yes, it sounds absolutely horrible -- how could I resist? I couldn't believe there was such a funny-sounding Norwegian food that I hadn't tried yet. A name like "fish pudding"... it's hard to think of a less appetizing name. Maybe "liver toothpaste" or something like that.

It comes in a pre-cooked loaf. It's really less like pudding and more like tofu. Gerd sliced it and fried it in a pan with zucchini. We then put it on bread with butter, mayo, cooked zucchine, red pepper, and a splash of lemon. It was... absolutely wonderful. I have a new favorite food!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Danger! of an unknown type...

I saw this sign on my usual walking path on campus.

Takrasfare... I know that "fare" means "danger". But "takras"? I begin running through my inventory of related works. Tak = ceiling or roof. Ras = ????, rasende = furious. Furious roof danger? Maybe? It dawns on me that I am walking on path of danger, and I know only enough Norwegian to know that I am in danger but not enough to know what kind of danger I'm in. I need to know either more or less Norwegian in cases like this. Right now, I know just enough to be worried.

"Takras", I found out later, means snow and ice sliding from roofs. Leave it to Norway to have a special word for this!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Father's Day

The kids are in bed and I'm settling down to do some boring computer grown-up work. I opened Google and the Google icon was composed of neckties. Did I miss father's day? It's in June, isn't it? Clicking on the icon, I find out it was indeed Farsdag, or Father's Day, here in Norway. Dang. Missed it again! Someone owes me pancakes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lego League

Today was Lego League competitions, held in the Realfagbygget in Gløshaugen. I had a stand with snap-together polygons and a series of puzzles spread out on carpet for the kids to play with between events. I brought Peter and Anna with me and spend a delightful 5 hours building shapes with random kids.

Many times, parents would stand nearby watching. I'd call out to them, asking the to join us. Most often, they'd say, "No, I'm fine" and continue playing with their phones. Only about 1 in 10 would join us. I asked a kid why that was... he told me that grown-ups were kind of boring and just liked to watch TV or use their computers. I hope I never become a grown-up.

No, I'm sure many parents didn't want to take away space from the kids, but the few who dared had a good time. Kids have great ideas about a lot of things, and it fun talking shop with 9- and 10-year olds for a few hours!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Harold the CPR dummy

Maggie had a CPR course in school. They gave all the kids an extremely cool thing: their very own CPR dummies. (HLR, actually, in Norwegian. Stands for Hjerte-Lungeredning, or Heart-Lung Rescue). Harold, as she affectionately calls him, comes in a box. He inflates and then is ready to practice. His head must be properly tipped back in order for air to pass from his mouth to his lungs, and he makes a clicking noise if his chest is pressed in the proper place with the proper amount of pressure. Totally awesome. But it does freak me out lust a little bit that he looks like the robot from I, Robot.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Grant Lee Phillips

Went with Martin down to Dokkhuset for a concert tonight. The venue is in Solsiden, an easy 15 minute walk down to the river, in a building I've never been in before. Very good show. Martin got there early and got us seats up by the tables in front, about 3 meters from the stage. Rockin'! Here's a pic Martin got with his phone.

The cold looks like it will give way to merely 0° temps. Hurrah!

Monday, November 8, 2010


It was time for Nabokunst again. My friend Anne-Gunn is an artist and craftswoman, and every year she gets together with a group of artist friends to have an exhibition/sale. It takes place at Åsvang school and hosts 8 or 9 artists. We love coming out, talking to the artists, and supporting their work. It's a great chance to get an early start on Christmas shopping as well. All in all, a very artsy weekend for us!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


It came down. Oh, did it come down. We had about 7 inches of snow on Sunday. It came from nowhere. We'd had beautiful warm weather the week before, and then suddenly WHAM! Snow. The roads were treacherous today, and I was glad we were already prepared with winter tires on our vehicles. I imagine my colleague will be so happy that skiing season is here. Me? A little less happy, I think.

At leas the snow makes it must brighter outside!

And at night... the city glows blue. Just wonderful!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Class at Remida

The Remida Center is a place that collect recyclable material and uses it for art. They have classes and host school groups. It's a very cool place. It originated in Italy where they have many of these centers. The one in Trondheim is the only one in Norway.

Today they hosted a class for 4th and 5th graders on computer animation. Pam signed up Peter, and I took him today. He was less than excited about taking a class on a Saturday, especially since it would be in Norwegian. When we arrived, he commented "This looks like a graffiti artist studio!" and his attitude spun right around. He spent 15 minutes playing with the material, during which time a girl from the neighborhood he knows showed up. With only 12 kids signed up for the class, we didn't think we'd see anyone we knew. He had a friend, he had a room full of cool stuff, and then it was time to start class. "Awww.... we have to use computers?" he said. I've never heard him complain about using computers before – a sign that I'll need to get him back here to build stuff from their wonderful selection of parts.

He had a great time in the 5 hour workshop and can't wait to come back. I came to pick him up an hour early so I could meet other people at the center, and made 4 contact with people I might collaborate on art projects with. It was a great day for us both!

The Remida center doesn't look like much from the outside. It is located in Svartlamøen, an industrial arts part of town close to the docks that reminds me very much of Sesame Street... a weird mix of urban, industrial, and hippie. Tough, but kid-friendly.

 The other side of the building hosts a very modern barnehage (kindergarten) which has art as its focus.

Here's a fascinating piece of art nearby... a wall of colored rectangles, each filled with sinks, appliances, doors, and other discarded materials now recycled into a beautiful installation. I love to see things like this! Trondheim sponsors many projects like this art installation and the class Peter attended, and now I know how to tap into this wellspring of creativity. Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Pam made her first successful batch of boller today! Boller are traditional Norwegian sweet rolls, very popular here. Pam has become obsessed with baking lately, a trend I like very much!