Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Another Beautiful Day

I cannot believe how warm 70 F can feel. It was another perfect day. I rode home from work to pick up more water, then headed out for the "mast" across the water. The ride ended up being over 2500 ft of climbing. Still, I took it easy. The view was amazing- sailboats everywhere. I returned home and painted like a lunatic. I am so sick of the white paint. It is time for some color. Of course, now we need to actually decide. It is almost 10pm with the sun still shining brightly. This has been a good summer.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monster Jellyfish?

As if the frigid water temp isn't enough of a deterent, we now have "monster jellyfish" off Sola beach (the big beach in town). Why can't we have killer sharks like everyone else?

Source of Flats

My mountain bike is three months old-- give or take. Anyway, when I removed the tire, I noticed that the rim strip- plastic, by the way- had shifted, and that there was a metal shaving from a ham-fisted wheel builder. The power spoke driver had apparently missed the spoke head, and went skittering away across the rim, gouging it to the point where I could slice vegetables with it. There is no point fussing about it, so I took a dremel to file off the rough edges. I replaced the rim strip and gave it a coating of electrical tape for good measure. It will add a few grams to this boat anchor of a wheel. I don't think I need to worry about the rim cracking where I filed.

It is 11:15 and it is dark "already." There have been few nights where we have enjoyed our city lights view-- we rarely retire before the twilight ends. It looks like we live in a big city from this vantage point.

Been Almost a Week

Last week I rode to work every day. The weather has been amazing- borderline Minnesota summer weather, although rumor has it that the heat is killing people around the world. It has been hot here. I have been using the mountain bike to ride to work. Most of the route I take is off road. I usually bike through a forest preserve on my way home to add to the miles-- the route is simply too short as is. Last Thursday I made an epic ride to Bersagel and back. That might be an exaggeration, but it is quite hilly over there and I was almost there when I remembered I had a webex meeting with a company in the USA scheduled for 8pm. As it is ridiculously light out- still- I had lost track of time. I was thinking I was past the point of no return, and decided to continue the loop. I was much further from home, and was racing against the clock. By the time I made it home, I discovered my meeting needed to be rescheduled.

Saturday I took an easy ride. The weather promoted mountain biking- overcast and waiting for rain that never arrived. I ended up flatting in a wild raspberry patch. There are raspberries everywhere. I need to watch out for hikers collecting berries that just pop out of nowhere. They literally grow wild around here. Anyway, I couldn't find the leak, so I just replaced the tube and kept riding. I arrived home and patched the tube. Sunday I took a similar ride in the morning before we headed out to Kvitsøy for some sun, sea, and grilling on some random island. I actually caught some more UV rays, so I will look like a normal swarthy person by the time we make in back to the US in late August. This morning I was ready to ride to work, despite the rainy forecast. My rear tire was flat again. I just didn't have time to deal with it, so I drove to work.

After work we needed to paint. But before painting I trimmed our hedge- which is like a fence, and had to take a quick ride. The weather was just too perfect--- again, it did not rain and was sunny, hot, and humid. These days are a treat for me in Norway. I decided to take a little time trial up to a big hill on the other side of the fjord, then to Dale, and home. I made the first seven miles at almost a 22 mph average, although in all fairness, I was riding in traffic and drafting cars. As soon as the road turned upward my average dropped significantly. Still, I made great time-- just over an hour for a quick, hilly workout.

I returned home to paint. Seriously, any couple that can paint together can stay together for eternity. Then again, we haven't decided on what color we are painting the upstairs. Right now we are taking care of the hideous greenish blue wallpaper that is all over the downstairs and stairwell. We accomplished a lot of painting tonight, but we are running out of the off-white paint, and will need to pull the trigger on the rest of the colors.

I had another webex scheduled for 9pm tonight, but it was canceled due to technical problems. It is with a potential partner from New Zealand-- and it is 7am tomorrow already. Anyway, I now need to fix the flat. My favorite TV show starts soon. It is on NRK, but is a Swedish show, titled Skjergardsdokteren. It is a mixed blessing that it is Swedish. The good news it that it is captioned in Norwegian. Unfortunately, it is captioned in nynorsk. This means everything is spelled funny. I need to read it aloud in my head, since much of nymorsk is like a phonetic spelling of the west coast dialect. Still it drives me buggy. I regard it as the Norwegian esperanto- a fake language. But most Norwegians are quick to point out that most of written Norwegian is really Danish anyway. TV is mandated to caption a certain percentage of shows in this written nynorsk dialect. Too bad they use it for the best show on TV.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kids Say the Darndest Things

I was returning from the store down the street after dropping off our recycling and picking up some bottled water. On our street were three kids of assorted nationalities-- three boys, maybe eight years old, play-fighting with wooden swords. As I approached I heard one kid whisper to the others, "han er fra USA." As I walked closer, the bravest of the three asked, "er du fra USA?" I said yes and asked where they were from. One was from Turkey, the other from Afghanistan, and the last one was from Norway. I had no idea who these kids were, but apparently they must have overheard something from his parents. I thought it was rather amusing. I assume their sole window to the US is through their TVs. They must think I come from a strange, amazing place.

On a different note, I have been surprised how much diversity there is around here. When I say "surprised," I mean it in a good way. Then again, a little diversity goes a long way in Norway, when blond hair and blue eyes are the norm. Even someone like me tends to stand out. Ironically, there is probably more variety here than in our old SW Minneapolis neighborhood. But I still can't find a decent Mexican restaurant anywhere--- in all of Norway or all of Europe.

A coworker recently purchased a bike, and today began riding to work. We almost lived across the street from him when we lived on the other side of the hill. I think it is fairly accurate to suggest that I may have inspired him to ride to work. He would 0ften pass me in his car as I rode to work-- and for all the times he offered me a ride home when the weather was nasty, I never took him up on it. I hope he continues. Regardless, I have a new found respect for him for even trying.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

First Fixed Ride of the Year

I few weeks ago I built up my fixed gear-- rebuilt it, actually. Today I took it out for a ride, and it was such a heavy gear on these hills that I thought I had the wheel in backwards (with the 15t cog). I stopped and counted the teeth. I actually was using the 16t cog. Anyway, I took the flattest ride I could for an hour and a half. This is definitely not fixed country.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Finally Found It

There is a radio mast on top of one of the hills on the other side of the fjord. I noticed there was a road visible on satellite maps. I had biked to Li on several occasions trying to find the mystery service road, but I could never seem to find it. Today I made another voyage. As I was riding down a gravel road, a guy stopped his car and got out to talk to me about something. He was asking if I was biking off-road. I told him about this mystery road to the "mast" and he told me he would run up that hill- that it was great training. This stranger then drew a map in the gravel-- explaining that it was a private road and was unmarked. I thanked him and was on my way. Eventually I found the road near a farm house. As a private road, it just means that don't want cars on it. In fact, the road had a gate over it, but there was walking entrance. It appeared to be part of the recreational hiking system of Sandnes.

I started riding up-- non-stop up. There were switchbacks to break up the sight lines, and horse manure everywhere. The trouble with manure is that it means there are flies everywhere-- in fact I inhaled a few. I noticed a huge snake had molted and left his skin behind on the trail-- maybe not a "huge" snake, but not a little garter snake either. The point is, I didn't even know there were snakes in Norway. I also saw a little deer. It was one of those European deer that looks about as big as a huge dog. Anyway, after much sweat, I made it to the top and was rewarded with an amazing view in all directions. A couple of hikers were hanging out at the top as well. I snapped a few images with my phone camera. I will definitely return.

In looking at the elevation profile from my monitor, you can see a high pressure system has moved in (in other words, I was not below sea level today). I was struck by the fact that literally a stone's throw from the sea water below, I was at about the same elevation as the Minneapolis airport-- which is about as far from the ocean as you can be. Anyway, it was a very nice ride.

I might mention that I live on the peninsula to the left of the fjord (visible from the smaller area map to the left of the satellite image). It gets a little tiresome living on a "half island" because I can only really bike south if I want to get anywhere. Also, I am finding mountain biking a little more interesting these days. It places me closer to nature. Also, it was a little cooler this morning, and for some reason it just feels better riding on trails and through woods when it is colder outside. I still need to find some club rides, but I think it is quiet right now while everyone is on vacation.

Phone cam goodness (next time I should bring a real camera).

Friday, July 14, 2006

Belated London Photos

(Or, we finally have internet... I think.) Bridges, the Eye, a castle, a palace, a mime, BMW cop cars, a cathedral... not in that order:

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Waiting at Heathrow

I swear, no country in the world has air conditioning like the U.S. I am roasting away at the airport, waiting for a gate assignment, using the last of my T-Mobile wi-fi that I picked up at a Starbucks. And London has almost as many Starbucks as NYC. This is truly an international airport. No one anywhere near me is speaking English. Lise is home-- left this morning while I had meetings.

I cannot believe the diversity in London. It is far more a melting pot than the U.S. Granted, London is a unique city. But I cannot imagine any American city that has as many different nationalities all jammed together. Almost everyone I encountered in the service industy appeared to be of foreign origins-- English was definitely not their first language.

I hated our hotel. I was ambivalent until I asked the desk manager to call a taxi for Lise. He called a gypsy cab-- no meter. He only overcharged her by £3-- but it is the principle of the matter. That is inexcusable. Otherwise, it was a wonderful trip. We shall return.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


You would think everyone is Italian after the World Cup final. I hope to get some sleep despite the constant horn honking outside. Zidane's headbutt sealed my decision to pull for Italia. Funny how Wimbelton took a back seat to soccer today.

It has been very strange hearing so much English spoken here. I am normally rather self-conscious about speaking English in public-- and very sensitized to hearing it. Also surprising is how many foreigners there are. I have encountered very few native speakers working in the service industry.

Tomorrow work begins. I scouted out the location so I can take the tube there, but it was so hot that I might take a cab and take the train back. AC is a rarity here, and oddly enough, the temps became hotter the lower we went.

I really like this city. It is crazy how many people live here-- feels more dense than NYC, but nothing on the scale of an Indian city.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sharing Birthdays

You would have thought that it wouldn't have taken me this long to figure out that I share the same birthdate (different year of course) with (y)our ignoble president, Mr. Bush. Fortunately, I do not believe in astrology in the least.

On a happier note, we receive the most comprehensive Tour de France coverage you could image. It lasts for hours-- and almost no commercials. Certainly not the endless OLN marketing machinations that are a complete distraction from the race. Still, we get the interviews with winners and losers, and the ever-present Didi whatshisname, who speaks not a word of English (you know... the red devil you looks completely insane).

I am cheering for Thor to take a green jersey. The yellow jersey doesn't seem to interesting with some of the big guns out of the action.

Tomorrow we leave for London. I have everything ready for work-- although I am a little nervous having to give a presentation to the government--- alone. But I couldn't be more prepared (although certainly there is room to be more well-rested).

Anyway, the closest I ever was to a punk was liking some of the more tame Clash offerings. Funny how I have heard this track a million times but had forgotten how apocalyptic it is. Then again, it was the 1980.

London Calling Lyrics

London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared - and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look to us
Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the reign of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
Cause London is burning and I, I live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go at it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out - and draw another breath
London calling - and I don't wanna shout
But while we were talking I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain't got no high
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
Cause London is drowning and I, I live by the river

Now get this
London calling, yes, I was there, too
An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
And after all this, won't you give me a smile?
London Calling

I never felt so much alike, like-a, like-a...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

London Calling

It feels strange working on Independence Day. At least the weather is still incredible. The last few years I suffered through the Northfield Crit. Today, Lise and I took an easy ride to Algård. We had a beautiful ride.

I have a meeting in London Monday-- best of all, my wife will be joining me and we will make a weekend out of it! We wanted to do the same for Barcelona, but it wasn't to be. I am amazed that London is about an hour and a half from here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Great Neighborhood

Yesterday, I went on a nice road bike ride, then we went downtown for the sand volleyball tournament. We returned and I stopped in across the street at a World Cup party hosted by our neighbor, who invited me when he saw me out earlier. Almost immediately after arriving home, the doorbell rang. It was our neighbor next door who was inviting us over. They were with another couple who lived another house down the street. They were all about our ages, and very interesting, cool people. We somehow found the energy to stay until 2am.

I was lamenting our internet, that conked out again. I am now using my neighbor's wireless- THANKS! We should have our internet sorted out soon enough.

Today it was HOT-- like actually 80F! I went on a long mountain bike ride in the forest. I was in heaven. I guess there can be some summer weather here. When I returned, I sat out on our deck with Lise, then caught the tail end of the Tour de France-- which is broadcast live in its entirety here. No Cyclism or drawn out commercials--- just great race coverage.

Anyway, we really came out as winners in upgrading our neighborhood.