Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It is Christmas and we are on Kvitsøy. The weather was terrible yesterday, but it hardly mattered. We spent the day indoors with food and opening gifts until all hours of the night.

Julian received and amazing assortment of toys, clothing-- even children's furniture. Toys today are mostly made of plastic, and his have motorized wheels, buttons that light up, and play songs or speak. Everything makes noise. Everything requires batteries.

We all agreed that at one year old, he has more toys than any of us had during our entire childhoods. It really made me think about all the people in the world who cannot even meet their most basic needs. My wife's brother said it well: "Being born in Norway is like winning the lottery."

It is rare to truly appreciate what we have. Speaking for myself, I tend to take it for granted-- after all, I am not surrounded by extremes from the other end of the spectrum. In a few weeks I will be heading back to India-- where the extremes are overwhelming to the point that they are desensitizing. What a different world Julian is growing up in--- and what a different world than my own-- decades ago. I really hope that we do not spoil him, and that he will learn the value of what he has. On the other hand, is it even possible to spoil a one year old?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


birthday1 057, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Lise went a little crazy with the birthday cake last night.

Birthday Photo

birthday1 072, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Julian turned one today. I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


It took a little over two years on living in Norway before being served lutefisk-- at this case at the company Christmas party. It was one of several buffet offerings, and I had to try it. It was quite edible, and didn't come close to living up to its reputation as a horrible food. It is a salty cod with a very strange texture. It was served with bacon, so it tasted like.... bacon. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it, but I would eat it again if it were served to me.

It really does not deserve its infamous reputation, unless Americans do not know how to prepare it properly.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Customs/ VAT

Public service message to everyone sending gifts from abroad: the limit for customs/VAT is 200nok in Norway. This means that if a company ships a package with a declared value above 200nok (about $40USD), I will need to pay a good chunk of money to pick up the parcel. I have no idea exactly how it works. It seems to add about 60% to the price. I believe there is a 25% VAT and maybe an equal amount of fee for the COD service. I recently received a package from Amazon that was valued at approximately $60, and it cost an extra $36 to extract it from the post office. If this were shipped as two separate packages, I would have paid zero fees--- and maybe $10 in extra postage. Or, if someone would have reshipped the package for me, and declared its value at 199nok, there would have been no extra fees (although who knows how much shipping could cost).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby

This morning I woke up to the aftermath of some sort of ice storm--- ice everywhere. I could have skated to work. I tossed on the studded wheels and headed to work. A kilometer or so from home, I thought I dropped my chain--- but it actually BROKE. I had to hobble home on ice in my bike shoes. On examination I bent one of the plates. I can only attribute this to my massive strength, as this is my light-use mountain bike. I removed two links and put in a new pin and was on my way. I had no alternatives--- there was no way I was driving on this.

I only saw two other cyclists this morning... both walking their bikes (and it appeared their chains were intact). It was treacherous even with studs on some of the hills--- which are very steep-- but I made it in one piece. It still amazes me that I can bike across glare ice--- people were falling down walking.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed ligula velit, vulputate tincidunt, suscipit bibendum, blandit sed, massa. Mauris eleifend. Morbi turpis magna, ornare at, tincidunt quis, sollicitudin sed, nunc. Mauris egestas euismod quam. Mauris pretium. Donec ultrices. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nam ut risus pharetra lectus elementum rutrum. Fusce congue dignissim tortor. Etiam pharetra. Donec non nibh. Nam ullamcorper. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Nulla vestibulum sem blandit augue. Sed posuere erat sed nisi. Praesent venenatis. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Aenean sapien risus, fringilla pulvinar, bibendum a, tempus vel, purus.

Morbi aliquam, sem ut pellentesque malesuada, tortor pede semper erat, et bibendum elit mauris eget nisl. Aliquam tincidunt faucibus nisi. Aenean vulputate quam quis libero. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. Duis eleifend. Integer tristique. Phasellus nulla erat, lacinia in, molestie quis, blandit eget, dolor. Donec at tellus ac odio congue lobortis. Duis sit amet arcu. Fusce hendrerit turpis non libero. Pellentesque eleifend, diam malesuada accumsan fermentum, neque lacus rhoncus justo, ut facilisis diam sapien sit amet turpis. Fusce eu mauris.

Read more

Monday, November 26, 2007

We've Got Norway.

Want to rot your brain instantly? I am probably the last person on the planet to stumble across this.

Snow and Ice

Winter is here-- for a few days. We had snow last night. This morning I quickly threw on the extra wheels with the studded tires and bundled up. My cold weather gear consists of my autumn riding gear with windpants over the biking tights and snowboarding gloves rather than regular full finger gloves. I was more than warm enough on my ride in, despite the wicked wind. The ride home was a bit dicey with all the rutted refreeze on the bike paths. The roads were fine. The snow didn't seem to deter any of the other bike commuters. There were tire tracks everywhere-- and maybe a few ski tracks. All things considered, this is mild stuff. Nothing like Minnesota winter.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So Big

IMG_3367, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

His grandmother on the Norwegian side taught him the "so big" thing på norsk, which became of great concern to me-- so I quickly taught him the English version. Now he performs right on cue in either language.

It is scary how much he understands at less than a year old. This morning he crawled over the the coffee table, pulled himself up, grabbed the TV remote, turned on the TV (knew exactly which was the power button). He then crawled over to the cable box and turned that on and started watching TV (well, sort of). I don't know how he does it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fun with AT&T

When I travel in the US, I use a "pay as you go" cell plan and an antique American cell phone. These plans are perfect for drug dealers--- they can be purchased completely anonymously. I also have a few Vonage accounts for work, so I just roll over my 800 numbers to my cell phone. It is a great way for people to be able to call me when I am on the road, and it is cheaper to call out than using international roaming on my Norwegian cell phone.

By now, you realize there is a catch to all this IP and cell phone goodness. My credit card statement arrived, showing the expense from recharging the account when I was recently in the US. I went online to download my invoice so the accountant wouldn't have a fit. My default PIN number should be the last four digits of my cell number. Sounds good so far--- except that is only a temporary PIN. To actually access the account, AT&T sends a PIN via SMS (text message). Of course there is no way I have coverage in Norway--- so I cannot access my text messages to be able to access my online account to be able to print out my invoice.

So I make the mistake of calling the AT&T--as I was directed to by their website. They do everything in their power to discourage calling them. I was trapped in a labyrinth of automated voice directories. There was no hope of getting anywhere, since my request didn't fit anything remotely normal. I spoke with several customer service people who had nothing to do with my services. Apparently, the pay as you go customers are completely marginalized, likely because most service users are likely drug dealers, pimps, and illegal aliens. Eventually I managed to speak with someone who confirmed my worst fears. There is no way to generate a PIN than through text message.

The accountant will have to take my word for it--- supported by some scribbles on a napkin. Or wait until the next time I am in the US. What a ridiculous business process--- it simply cannot be overridden. Rule number one in business process management has been violated. The demise of the entire telecom industry as we know is eminent. Death is at its door. I just wrapped up a video call with my parents--- using MSN chat-- which is primitive technology-- and free of charge. I will be getting a new Windows phone in a week or two that also has WIFI, MSN chat, Skype, and all sorts of communications tools, in addition to cellular service. Soon all phone appliances will be built as mult-modal communications devices. You will never have to speak to customer service again.

Singing Toy

Julian received this crazy creature that sings and speaks in Norwegian. This song is dedicated to my Norwegian teacher in Minneapolis who insisted we sing this song at the beginning of class week after week-- much to my dread. This is for you, Hillary.

Underwater Baby

Originally uploaded by filtersweep
A few weeks ago a photographer took underwater photos of all the kids at baby swimming. Julian has his eyes wide open--- he seems to be enjoying it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Joys of Cold Weather

I believe today is my last day on the fixed gear. I awoke to clear weather, so I opted for the fenderless fixie. A minute before leaving, I checked the temperature-- 1C. There was a very thick layer of frost on the road, and ice everywhere. I took it easy. I don't need studded tires yet--- although they are mounted on my extra wheels. It seemed my fellow commuters were running studs at a rate of one out of four riders. Knobbies should be fine this time of year.

The best thing about this cold weather is that it cuts the commuters in half. This means no long lines for the showers, and stinky guy isn't in the changing area. It isn't even a difficult commute yet--- it could be this cold and raining--- or snowing. At least it is dry.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nothing is Safe

IMG_3241, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Our whole world has changed--- he is all over the place and standing. Nothing is kid proof anymore.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Adventures in Travel

There was a time and place when I hated the "class system" in travel, and "elite status." Those smarmy travelers always have the short lines. I didn't seem right--- that is, until I received Elite status. My card was waiting for me at my parents' house. My whole life has changed. Yesterday when I left Minneapolis for Norway, it took literally five minutes to make it from the curb to the gate. But allow me to digress.

Thursday evening I flew on Air Canada from San Francisco to Vancouver. I was staying in San Francisco at the Fairmont hotel-- likely the nicest hotel I have ever stayed. I took the shuttle to SFO-- along with a few other hotel patrons. We had the most interesting discussing a group of random strangers could have. My Air Canada flight was nice. I arrived late in Vancouver. Fortunately the car rental area was right at the airport--- no shuttle necessary. Alamo screwed up my reservation, so I ended up in a black Crown Victoria. Fortunately, they aren't used by Canadian law enforcement, otherwise I would have slowed traffic down wherever I drove. It literally looked like an unmarked car. I settled in to my hotel by midnight-- with a 10am meeting the next morning and a 2pm flight to Minneapolis. I checked google maps to ensure I would have enough time to make it from the meeting location to the airport. If the meeting ran long, it could mean trouble.

The meeting could not have gone better. It lasted less than an hour. I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I flew United and ended up sitting next to someone who was a higher up on the Olympic committee for Vancouver. We had a very interesting discussion. The flight had a connection in Denver--- a short connection that was miraculously at the neighboring gate. While waiting, my name was announced at the gate. I was offered a free upgrade to first class. I later noticed that they gave my original row in economy to an enormous man-- the entire row.

On a different note, I am only 11K miles away from Elite Gold. It would almost be worth it just to take a round trip to the middle of nowhere to pad my miles.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

San Francisco...

...again. I see more of the US now that I live abroad than I ever did when I lived here. I am back in San Francisco-- a very cool city. I have a great hotel room with a view. Apologies for the phone photos.

I seem to know my way around better than most places I have been. Tomorrow I head to Vancouver, B.C. This week has been flying by.

Monday, November 05, 2007


No, I am not back on Kvitsøy. I am in Iowa, at my parents, listening to 50 mph gusts of wind blasting outside-- wondering if this will affect my flight to San Francisco today. At this rate, it might even affect the drive up to Minneapolis.

So far this trip has been excellent. I couldn't ask for more--- except to maybe have the rest of the family here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Back to the USA

Tomorrow I had back to the US--- this time to visit family in addition to work. I had two last minute meetings pop up, resulting in a crazy travel schedule. Tomorrow I fly to Minneapolis, as originally planned. I then have a Friday meeting in Atlanta, so Friday I fly out at 5:30am, and am back in Minneapolis later that evening. I spend the weekend with my parents. Monday I fly to San Francisco. Thursday evening I head up to Vancouver, B.C. Friday I head back to Minneapolis. Saturday I return to Norway.

I discovered that it is impossible to buy flights online for domestic routes. NWA, American, and United would not accept my foreign credit cards. I cannot book through KLM for anything that does not originate in Norway. Oddly, I had no trouble booking through Yahoo travel. I am not happy about this. I never noticed this before about NWA, since I have always booked international flights. I have had all sorts of problems for other types of services--- US companies freak out on foreign credit cards. The dollar is practically worth nothing these days. You would expect they would have all sorts of foreign business.

Speaking of the value of the dollar, I have been asked to buy all sorts of toys for my coworkers. When word leaked out, more people came with requests. I can see that this can become very old, very fast. I will have to start charging a handling fee if this continues.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

World's Best Pizza Recipe

Revised on January 2, 2008.

It has been something of an obsession to perfect the perfect pizza. I rarely cook. I almost cannot cook. But if I do something, I have to be the best at it. I am willing to share my secret recipe for pizza with the world. It is a bit unorthodox, but that is half the point.


2 cups of flour (heaping, this isn't rocket science)
6 oz cold water
25 g active yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Olive oil

The crust should be started a day before you wish to eat, so that might be a deal killer right there. I use 25g of fresh yeast. Around here, it comes in a cube. I drop it in about 6 ounces of water. Mash up the yeast so it is mixed into the water. Add a tsp of salt and sugar. In a grand mixer with a dough hook, add a bit more than 2 cups of flour. Coat the hook in olive oil. Add a tsp of olive oil to the water mixture (optional). Fire of the mixer on its slowest speed. This is where the chemistry comes in. As it mixes, it is important that the dough clears the sides of the mixing bowl. It will most likely end up as a big lump of dough. The key is to periodically check the dough (with the mixer off, if you value your fingers) to see if it is elastic. If it is just tacky, but not elastic, add a bit of cold water. If too much of the dough is sticking to the bowl, you probably need to add a bit more flour. The key is to keep it in one, cohesive, elastic mass. As it starts to come together, turn up the speed to medium. It could easily take 5 to 10 minutes to mix it all up.

Once you are satisfied that it is elastic, but not too wet or dry--- and it comes easily off the hook, it is time to transplant it into another bowl. Sprinkle a bit of flour into the bottom of a bowl, place the ball of dough into the bowl, sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough, cover in plastic, and place in the refrigerator. It will rise, even in the fridge, so make sure the bowl allows for a bit of growth. Let it sit overnight.

2 fresh vine-on tomatoes
2 sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 tsp plain pesto
2 tsp tapenade

Two hours before you plan to actually eat, remove the bowl of dough from the fridge. Dice two tomatoes-- and choose tomatoes with flavor-- not the watery cheap ones. Cut up two sun dried tomatoes into tiny pieces. Press the clove of garlic. Place into a bowl. Add the pesto and tapenade with a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon. Place in refrigerator for the remainder of the two hours.

Prosciutto (sliced-- enough to cover pizza
Ruccula (cut up)
Parmesan cheese
Mozarella cheese

The toppings are not an exact science, but this is my favorite. Preheat the oven for almost as hot as possible. A hot oven will yield a better crust. While you preheat the oven, work and stretch the crust on a clean counter top sprinkled with flour. If it is sticking to your hands excessively, you used too much water. Use a light coating of olive oil on your pizza pan, and sprinkle lightly with flour to avoid sticking. Place crust in pan. Spread sauce on crust and grate a little parmesan cheese. Evenly spread Prosciutto. Apply ruccula. Top with mozarella, taking care not to drown the pizza cheese. Place pizza in oven, on one of the lower racks. Bake for 7 minutes. After seven minutes, check the pizza. Take care not to overcook the crust. When it is finished, remove from the oven and let it set up for two minutes before cutting. Eat.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cold Out There

This morning it was nearly freezing outside. I left for work a bit early, and had my first dark ride-- as in completely dark. Winter will soon be here. I will have to tune up the mountain bike. Some lunatics are already running studded tires-- whether on cars or bikes. I haven't seen a hint of a snowflake.

On a different note, I am heading home in two weeks. I will take a weekend layover to visit my parents on my way to San Francisco. I rather suddenly decided to take the detour. I am traveling apart from my colleague, so this is more practical. It has been a little over a year since I have been home, although I was just in the US a few weeks ago. I don't even know where I am anymore.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Whitewater Rafting

I just returned from a whitewater rafting trip in the mountains for a work retreat. I really take for granted how beautiful it is around here. We had to do a “swim test” before we were let out in the raft. Jumping in icy cold mountain water was not my idea of fun. We had wet suits, but they are just exactly that---- very wet. They sort of kept us warm. The temps were a few degrees above freezing. It was the last day of rafting for the season. I probably would have thought it was too cold two months ago. It was OK. It isn’t something I would normally drive three hours out of my way to do. Half of my coworkers “chicken out”- so there were only a dozen of us crazy enough to risk life and limb in freezing water. I was a little concerned about missing some safety instructions due to language issues, but everyone working there was from the UK.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Better Video

This is more like it--- taken from my phone when I was out playing with Julian. He is turning into a little boy already. He is the funnest, funniest, happiest person I know.

That time of year again

Apologies for the lazy posting of random youtube videos. Things have been heating up at work again. I am heading back to the US in a few weeks, and might end up in Brazil. Much preparation needs to be done. I have been biking to work almost daily, and it is finally cold again, and growing dark much earlier. We had a heavy frost the other day.

In other news, Norway has published everyone's earnings for 2006. It bothers me that the government does this. The media goes nuts over who is the richest in the nation, the states, the cities-- like it is some sort of contest. I learned that one of twenty in Norway is a millionaire. That does not include real estate as an asset. I guess in our neighborhood it is more like one in ten. We should be in that category soon enough-- but when gasoline is heading to $150 per tank (in US dollars), a cheap new car is $40k, and a bag of groceries with almost nothing in it is $50, does it matter? We are preparing Julian's bedroom, and buying a little paint and a few brushes cost more than $300US. I believe the six pack of beer that I purchased cost $25-30 US. You can see there is nothing wrong with being in the merchant class. But back to the original point: it is nobody's business how much I earn or what my assets are. Then again, there are plenty of public employees who are in the same boat.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Shoes

I had a bad run on clothing last US trip. I purchased a pair of Adidas training pants--- the most comfortable workout pants I have ever purchased. I was working in our attic the first day I wore them, and I snagged them on a nail, ripping them. I was thoroughly annoyed.

My other purchase, the same day from the same store, was some very cool Nike shoes. Tuesday I decided to take them to work. Since I commute, I keep shoes in my locker--- shoes that never see the outdoors. It was a perfect plan for keeping the new shoes looking new for eternity. They would be my new work shoes.

So the first day that I wore them, we had a fire drill at work--- the first fire drill in the two years I have worked there. We obediently evacuate the building. The drill lasted forever. It was a beautiful day outside, and as we waited for the drill to end, I took a step backwards and slipped in something: a huge pile of cow shit. Only in Norway would you find a massive heap of cow dung on the sidewalk behind a technology park building. I had quite a clean-up job on my hands. This is what I get for being up-tight about my new shoes.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tastes Like Chicken

Last night was a night of firsts. Julian had his first baby sitter. We were invited to a dinner party, and hired the 12 year old neighbor to keep an eye on Julian. Actually, he should have been sleeping the entire time, so there really was no childcare involved. The dinner party was in walking distance, so we were not far from home. The only thing that struck me as odd was how little the sitter was. She seemed too young to be left home alone herself. We know her and her family quite well, since they literally live next door to us.

At the dinner party, we were served whale meat. I have never had it before. When asked by the host what American attitudes were about eating whale, I explained that it was just one step up from cannibalism, which evoked a hearty laugh from everyone. Actually, it is rather true: it is almost taboo in the US. Of course whaling minkes is legal in Norway, and you see it for sale in some stores.

Whale most definitely does not taste like chicken-- or fish. It is a very red meat. The best way I can describe it is that it tastes much like a bad cut of beef, although a little tougher and with a tighter grain. It also has a slight hint of tasting like an "organ meet" with a subtle hint of beef liver. It isn't bad, but it is a far cry from being a delicacy. I wouldn't go out of my way to kill a whale just so I could have another taste. But I would rather eat whale than another alleged Norwegian food: sheep's head. Maybe next dinner party they will serve spider monkey?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

17 Months

As a follow-up to earlier this year when a young woman who was fleeing the police struck and killed a cyclist commuting home from work, the driver was finally sentenced to 17 months in prison. I guess for Norway, that is a rather steep sentence-- and the courts actually treated her offense as a real crime. Still, it seems rather light to me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kvitsøy Revy...... 1977

NRK broadcast a 30 year old video of the Kvitsøy variety show. It is crazy seeing my wife's parents when they were so young. It also provides a nice look at the town back in the day (not that it has changed much).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Giant Slugs

There is nothing quite like the slugs around here. They are nasty, and are everywhere in the morning or after a rain. They eat their own dead. It doesn't get much worse than that.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Home Again

Just like that. I managed to sleep most of the flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. The more often I do these, the easier they are.

Friday, September 21, 2007

We have tornados

I turned on the TV--- all we have is tornado coverage. Makes me feel at home.


I am in Orlando. That is about all I have to say.

Actually, there is so much I could say, but I have my own terms regarding the scope of this blog to consider, and I would be violating my values to expound. It is good to be back in the US. It is quite warm here. On the other hand, it is surreal being at such an IT event. I have never seen such an assembly of misanthropes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Excessive Consumption

I had to stop in the office this evening to do a little work. I am leaving for Florida on Tuesday, and I would prefer not to go anywhere near the office tomorrow. I noticed a little tin of mints on my desk-- a promotional item with our company logo on them. After wrestling to open it, I found myself devouring the entire stash. At that point I took a look at the label to see where they were made. They were made in the EU- nothing more specific than that. But more importantly, they came with a slight warning: "Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect."

I am not quite so sure this is a good corporate message.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


We arrived home from Kvitsøy where we spent the night to find out the son of our neighbors across the street died in a motorcycle accident this morning. He was 27 years old. We would see him in the neighborhood quite regularly, although we never really knew him. We know his parents, however. It is a complete tragedy that makes no sense at all.

From appearances, the accident involved no other vehicles. It occurred less than a kilometer from here-- on the main road. It occurred very early in the morning, when presumably there was little traffic. I won't speculate what happened, other than to point out that it occurred in a construction area where the lanes have been rerouted-- resulting in a rather sharp, off-camber turn.

At first glance, it seems like there are a disproportionately high number of tragedies and accidents here. But in thinking it through, I believe there is more of a sense of community here than living in a city in the US. When we lived in Minneapolis, we barely knew any of our neighbors. The news was filled with tragedies-- involving complete strangers.

Our thoughts are with the family across the street. We have seen them coming and going through our window. I cannot imagine what they must be going through. It is unbelievable.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Baby Swimming

006, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

What could be more fun than baby swimming? Maybe if we were not required to wear swim caps...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Company Party

Last night we had a company party at a boat house on Harfsfjord. There was much discussion about how people were getting to the party-- what mode of transportation. Much alcohol was expected. The party was scheduled to begin at 4pm and run late. I planned to arrive around 8pm after Julian was asleep. I had a vague notion of where the boathouse was located. It wasn't really on a street or road, since it was down by the water.

I left in rather cold weather as the sun was setting. I tried a shortcut down to the water in Madlasandnes. This took me to a treacherous narrow gravel path that teetered above the water. There was no way I would take this route home in the dark. At the point when I was concerned that my short cut may not have been a short cut at all, I spotted the CEO's car. I followed the trail another half kilometer. Thankful I had my bike- it would have been a long walk from the parking area. I found the house. I had arrived. As I entered the cabin, I was greeted with boos-- for I was wearing a blue and yellow jacket: Swedish colors.

I was quickly handed a beer and champagne. Nearly everyone from the company was present. The CEO made quite a fuss that I had biked. It really wasn't that far, and frankly, it was probably the most practical form of transportation considering the circumstances.

No company party would be complete without the potato cannon. Several Jackass-style stunts were attempted, such as trying to hit people at 100m, or shooting a potato straight up, wondering if it would come straight down on someone's head. Those are moments when it is generally ill-advised to look up.

As the night wore on, I decided it was best to head home. I am too old to stay up all night and be functional the next day. I grabbed my bike and headed toward the road. My mind fills with strange thoughts when I bike late at night- or early in the morning as the case may be. The streets are largely empty and the air cool. It felt like autumn was fast approaching. I had flashbacks to late night riding in Minneapolis, when the city had melted away. There is something incredibly peaceful about riding a silent fixed gear, in a narrow tunnel of light, with not a human in sight. By the time I made it to the hill near home, I was particularly appreciative of the easy gear ratio. I was finally home.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Purple Aeroheads

I acquired a pair of anodized Velocity Aeroheads courtesy of Lectron. I had something of a comedy of errors with this wheel build. Originally I began lacing the Formula hub to a FIR rim, before I realized the shop dude sold me a 32 hole hub, rather than a 36 as he had said. Next I mis-measured my hub and purchase the wrong size spokes, which SPIN was kind enough to accept back on return. I had concerns that this build was heading south, until I realized I had placed a spoke into the wrong spot on the hub. After sorting that out, it was smooth sailing. As I wound down to the last few spokes, I needed to grab an extra spoke for placing the nipple-- so I grabbed one of the spokes from the FIR/Record build. I compared length, just for the fun of it. It was exactly the same size. I had purchased new spokes for no reason. Oh well.
You can see my low budget truing stand- the bike itself, inverted, with a few nails held in place with rubberbands. Using the reflection as the wheel spins, I can see where I need to make truing adjustments. Somehow the wheel dish turned out fine, although I struggled with wheel hop more than I ever have. I ended up sorting it all out.

Yesterday morning it was raining. As this is my rain bike, I took it out for a test of its new rear wheel. I tossed a 17t cog on. It made for a high cadence, easy ride. This is a much smoother hub than either of my other budget fixed models.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dude, You gotta Dell...

My wife wanted a laptop. She is starting grad school and frankly it makes sense having a baby around the house to be able to work anywhere. She will no longer be tethered to the desktop in the loft.

Legends abound regarding the great deals one can receive if they buy computers through work, so I consulted with our purchasing maven. He told me the deals are no more. That there are no advantages over buying direct. We use Dell exclusively at work, by the way. Unless you need some specific motherboard chipset for a crazy audio application, Dell offers the best bang for the buck, in my opinion. Mr. Purchasing Guy also suggested that there are all sorts of back to school deals at the local electronic stores. In Norway, electronics are relatively cheap (compared to vehicles, beer, etc.). We have Elkjop, Euronics, Lefdal, Siba, Elpris, and a few others that I am forgetting at the moment- all in walking distance. I checked a few websites, and by the time we added the MS Office package, Dell was looking like the best deal.

I began ordering online, but there was no way to order the OS and Office in English. I can handle Norwegian computer terms, mostly, but all of our work PCs and my own laptop have the Norwegian keyboard and the English software. I am very accustomed to the terminology, and half the computer words are in no known dictionary or translation book. Since we were ordering a laptop with Vista, I thought it might be helpful to have it in English, since I am confident that we will encounter a few glitches. I asked Mr. Procurement Guy how he orders it in English. He told me there was a place to add comments.

I waited until I was at home after work to consult with Lise, and continued with ordering. I entered everything, and was faced with a submit button. There was no comment field anywhere in the workflow. I went back and clicked on Live Chat- they were closed. I was faced with a last day to order a free double memory upgrade, the free upgrade to a larger hard drive, and free shipping. For all I know, Dell says every day is the last day for such deals. I was shopping under duress. I called the US Dell customer support. I was informed that it was IMPOSSIBLE to purchase a Norwegian Dell with the OS in English. I told him that I had one right in front of me, that we use that configuration exclusively at work. He acted like I was an idiot who had no idea what I was talking about. He then went on to say that there was nothing I could do, that the memory deal would expire, even if I kept the configuration in the shopping cart. I was frustrated. I went back to the website and clicked on submit. I figured I could sort everything else out the next day.

The next day I called some Dell dude who was in Denmark. He masterfully fixed the order for me. His customer service was excellent. It went a long way toward erasing the frustration from the previous night. Now we just wait for it to arrive. I am a little envious at the spec we picked for this machine. It is far superior to my own laptop. In thinking about it, I cannot even remember the last time we purchased a PC.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Frequent Riders

photo 043, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

The other bikes reside elsewhere. The most frequent fliers are privileged to rest in the bike room.

Purple Rims

photo 034, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

When I get around to building up the purple Aeroheads, I can assure you that they will clash with everything. I am just waiting on some spokes, and I will lace it to the hub, hiding in the ice cream bucket.

A Thing of Beauty

photo 032, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

There are other tires that may ride better than an Open Corsa, but few are so perfectly made. They don't even require levers to install.

More Hoarding Behaviors

photo 028, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Do I really need four unused saddles? Three handle bars- including two identical El Toros? Or course I do-- these are all out of production. It never hurts to have some high flange Record hubs lying around, or some spare quill stems, or that crazy SRAM corncob cassette. Hey, at least it has a 16t cog in there--- but can I really ride around in Norway with a 11-21? I could hardly manage Minnesota hills with those ratios.


photo 027, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I unpacked some boxed that were packed back in the US-- and have sat in storage ever since. I obsessively collect tires. I really don't know what else to say. Granted, we have 5 bikes that require road tires, and maybe have a two dozen wheels lying around. But still, it is pure excess that results in me having two pairs of unused Vittoria Open Corsas lying around-- as well as Veloflex, Pro Slicks, some random Continental, and some Hutchinson that I purchased for some inexplicable reason. I ended up dressing up the Ksyriums with red Open Corsas. The Veloflex are too fragile for anything other than racing. They shall wait until my hiatus concludes. I found three beautiful latex tubes, but the valve stems were too short for the Mavic rims. I could only find one valve extender. Some hop head probably swiped the other.

Look Up

photo 022, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I am thinking I will ride with the Ksyrium SLs on the Look for awhile. They have been in semi-retirement after I used them exclusively for racing. Now that I no longer race, they have sat idle for a little over a year. I don't know how I feel about the 11-23 cassette with these hills, however.

Bike Room Clean-up

photo 023, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

It has been raining non-stop that past few days. The nice thing about commuting is that it forces me to ride. I wouldn't normally be caught dead riding in this abysmal weather. When it is really wet I take the mountain bike. One of these days I will fully document the carnage on the trails--- of the gigantic slugs that are run over and cannibalized by their peers. It is beyond disgusting.

Tire Patching Party

photo 021, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Last night I had a tire patching party. It was just me and my imaginary mechanic posse. I had built up quite a flat collection. Apparently my mother-in-law inquired about it. My wife pointed out that the total quantity of tubes that most people own are actually already in use- in their tires. I guess I never considered that.

Photo of photos

photo 018, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Of my favorite Parisian graffiti and the Louvre. Call it juxtaposition.


photo 015, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I am not much of a fan of Chilean wines. But I am a sucker for a good marketing gimmick.

Got Prune Juice?

photo 012, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Flies, its what's for dinner

photo 004, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I was entertained for well over an hour as this spider eviscerated a fly. The spider had quite an elaborate web that did not fare too well in the photo. He/she spent the better part of the afternoon on dinner. I don't mind these spiders so much when they are out in the garden where they belong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exercise in My Stupidity

Last time I built a wheel, it was very easy--- too easy. So easy that I didn't fully respect the scope of the project for my most recent wheel-- a rear Formula laced to a crazy purple Aerohead, courtesy of master wheelbuilder Lectron himself.

So I carefully measured everything and tossed it into some web-based spoke calculator. I jotted down the resultant spoke length required for the job. I went to Spinn and ordered 32 double-butted spokes. I questioned the shop guy's find after a lengthy wait as he hunted them down in the back room. He reassured me that they were double-butted. The resulting cost of 10NOK each was certainly expensive enough for top-end spokes--- that is over $50 for one wheel's spokes. Still, I was skeptical.

I started lacing them up that night. It wasn't until I started on the trailing spokes that I realized that I had made a grave miscalculation. I still had the web page up on the screen, and checked the dimensions. At this point I realized the java application had not refreshed itself with the current data. When I hit "enter" I was struck with a different spoke length. I unlaced the wheel as carefully as possible, but there is no way to unlace the trailing spokes without bending them. Actually, they were all slightly bent when I was done. There was no way the shop could resell these.

I didn't think too much of it until I swung by Lectrons's to purchase a wheelset that he kindly loaned me. I am quite sure it was a masterful marketing scheme to hook me on the wheels- but his offer was too good to pass up-- a set of tubulars, which I shall elaborate on at a later time. In addition to the agreed upon monetary remuneration, as a goodwill gesture I offered Lectron the pile of spokes, at which he commented, "I can't use those! Those are cheap, straight gauge. I will never use those." He had been sold double-butted spokes for less money-- top shelf. At the very least, I was ripped off. I vowed to attempt to return them.

The next day I stopped by Spinn after work with my sorry bag of bent spokes, a bunch of nipples in a greasy recycled bag, and a badly soiled receipt that was nearing 30 days in age. A hapless employee tried to help me as I explained my woeful tale. I showed him the receipt, the price paid per spoke, and told him that I had asked for double-butted spokes, but was sold straight gauge. He disappeared into the back of the shop, emerging with another straight gauge spoke, identical to mine. I re-explained my situation. He informed me that only bike frames were double-butted. I told him the same applies to bike spokes. He said they don't sell any spokes like that, and asked what brands are butted. I merely mentioned Wheelsmith, Sapim, and DT. He disappeared into the store, reappearing with a fist full of double-butted, black spokes. I showed him how they were thinner in the middle. He explained that straight gauge were better, because they were thicker. I made no attempt to educate him that butted spokes are actually stronger than straight gauge, despite being thinner, but rather asked for an in-store credit. After struggling with a poorly designed point-of-sale IT solution, he offered me the voucher for 320NOK- as I handed him the remainder of the bag, and explained that some of the spokes were bent. He said it was no problem. I think he was merely relieved that this transaction had reached its denouement. And I was out of there before he could change his mind. I could have had a cat in the bag for all he knew! Now I can afford that new pair of socks that I have had my eye on.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Flor og Fjære

photo 060, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

We had our annual family lunch at Flor og Fjære-- an island maybe a half hour by boat that is inexplicably set up like a tropical island-- right here in Norway. Apparently manipulating the wind has much to do with controlling the temperature. And to be fair, this place is only open half the year, and they use artificial means to keep some of the plants from being too cold in the winter. It truly is an amazing place-- if for no other reason than then challenges posed by having banana trees in Norway.

photo 068, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 067, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 103, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 101, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 102, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 108, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 117, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 118, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 121, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 125, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 124, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 129, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 131, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

photo 132, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Perfect day...

photo 005, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

...to be at a tree park.

Dragonfly on a Lifevest

photo 004, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Maybe it is a little too "close-up."


photo 001, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Last Sunday we went to the arboretet with Julian. I finally uploaded the photos.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Week in Review

Today was my first proper week back at work since I don't know when. The first few days I had to drive, since I had meetings with a new partner. Wednesday evening I threw together the fixed gear and rode to work Thursday. I apparently installed the wheel "backwards" (it is fixed/fixed), and ran with the 15T cog. I didn't really notice until I had to ride home, which is mostly up hill. I was probably pushing about 75 gear inches, rather than my normal 70. Oddly, I grew accustomed to it, and left it unchanged for today's commute.

It looks like I am going to buy a set of tubulars from Sjur. I am somewhat apprehensive, since they are more of a hassle to cope with when they flat, but I rarely flat as it is, and there are options for fixing on the road. For the uninitiated, tubulars are tires that are literally glued to the rims, rather than having a bead that hooks on the rim. The "advantages" are rather arcane, especially for commuting. Then again, I am commuting on a fixed gear, so you might consider that I am not looking for the easiest or quickest way to accomplish my mission. But then again, I reach it in relative style.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Track Racing

Today I heard a heap of racket outside. At first it sounded like model airplanes in the backyard. Upon opening the back door, it sounded like a full-blown dogfight, with real planes-- but it seemed to originate in front of the house. I opened the front patio door-- and it was super loud. The repetitive doppler effect led me to believe it was from the horse track down the street. I looked up the schedule at the Forus Travbane, and it was some sort of Nordic motorcycle championship. I took Julian down to the overpass (where we would have a free sneak peek), and witnessed the craziest sport on two wheels. I had to do a double-take--- brakeless motorcycles on a dirt track: track racing. These were the rattiest looking motorcycles, and the dirtiest racers. The bikes literally spit rooster-tails of cinders from the track-- or whatever the loose track is made of (it really is not dirt). The exhaust was an unrecognizable odor-- until I read they burn ethanol. Races lasted only three or four laps. Julian was as intrigued as I was, and we stayed an hour and a half. We had a fun afternoon, despite the bad weather. I tried taking photos, but the motorcycles were nothing but a blur.

The local paper posted a video here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

2.5 Hours

picture 127, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

This ship travels twice the speed as the big ferry. It also had asigned seating. I much prefer it to the monstrosity we were rebooked on last week.

The Silvia Ana

picture 125, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I tried to take photos of the car deck, but they didn't turn out so well. The car deck was entirely coated with what looked like aluminum foil and silver duct tape. I presume it was some fire retardant. It looked like a tacky high school drama set.


picture 121, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

We made good time and ended up in a treeless town.

On the Road Again

picture 119, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Typical sight in Denmark- open road, flat landscape, and wind power.