Saturday, March 31, 2007


Last night Julian had a fever. I would rather go to the dentist than watch him go through being that upset again. He was inconsolable-- until we gave him some children's aspirin, and he finally calmed down and fell asleep. He actually cried a tear. It was gut-wrenching. I would not have been as concerned, but he had his first vaccinations today. We were told that fever can be a side-effect, but it only leads me to question what is in the vaccinations. While I am slightly paranoid about such things, I tend to trust the Norwegian government more than the US government. He is back to his normal self today.


I finally managed to find the time to download the handful of photos I took in the US. The trips are far from vacations. Here is a shot of Boston taken from our hotel. Boston was a much smaller city than I thought it was.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Tromsø 2018?

Tromsø is applying for the Winter Olympics for 2018. Does anyone realize how far north Tromsø is? Then again, by 2018, the only real snow will probably be north of the arctic circle. From late November through late January, the sun doesn't even rise above the horizon. As far north as it is, at least it is warmer than Minnesota in the winter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Escape from USA

When we were checking in at Logan, the ticketing agent gave me a bit of trouble about returning. My visa expires in a few days, and I have no return ticket to the US. The reason my visa expires is because my passport expires the end of May. On paper, my visa expires in late May as well. I suggested that I still had 3 months as a "tourist"- that no visa is required to travel to Norway. I had looked into all these details before leaving-- and even visited Norwegian immigration twice to make sure there would be no problems.

The woman was very kind. She told me she could be fined $20,000, so she consulted her supervisor. I was not popular with everyone else waiting in line at the counter. Her boss arrived and asked if I had a Norwegian drivers license. He then asked when it expired. He was in disbelief as I showed him that it expired on my 100th birthday. He said it was good enough for him.

On the plane, I decided that I would tell immigration at Schipol that I was traveling for three weeks on business, if asked. I was never asked. The guy looked at me and stamped my passport without a word.

Yesterday I mailed in my re-application. No messing around anymore.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vintage Filtersweep

My mother sent me this photo of me flying a kite, with my brother in front of me, and two unidentified neighbor kids watching. I don't know why I think this photo is so cool-- maybe because it so effortlessly captures childhood in the 70s.

I am back in Norway. How quickly this place feels like home again. Flying from Boston to Amsterdam was no worse than flying from LA to Boston. I couldn't make it through three movies-- not enough time.

I have noticed I now watch more movies on planes than anywhere else.

Mini Movie Reviews:

Walk the Line- I don't know what there is to say about the "Man in Black." My grandma liked him, I liked him-- as did all the hipster kids that kept "Ring of Fire" in constant rotation down at the CC club back in the early 90s. As a movie, it was OK-- but most of these types of movies would come off as rather weak if they were not actually "true stories." This was every bit as good (or bad) as that Doors movie.

Night at the Museum- My first thought: Mickie Rooney is still alive?! He would be good to pick up in a death pool. Owen Wilson had possibly the longest cameo in history. It was a fun enough movie, but the obligatory father/son tension was a cliched Hollywood contrivance that I could have done without. This is a perfect film for a semi-conscious intercontinental flight when you are questioning if they are pumping enough oxygen into the cabin.

Deja Vu- I watched the first five minutes, then decided watching a terrorist attack from the comfort of my economy seat in a plane was not a good idea. I skipped it.

Stranger than Fiction- Am I actually warming up to that Ferrell guy? Watching Dustin Hoffman and his coffee and Emma Thompson and her cigarettes are priceless. Maggie Gyllenhaal was perfect in her role. Spoiler alert: of course the movie had to have a happy ending.

The flight from LA to Boston showed Stranger than Fiction AND Talladega Nights-- a veritable Will Ferrell film-fest. I had already seen both.

On the return to Amsterdam, I gave Deja Vu another opportunity after my boss told me how excellent it was. This movie, like all time manipulation films, requires a high suspension of disbelief. The plot was rather artificial. Still, if you can get past that, it was on par with the Hollywood gold standards for time travel.

Casino Royale- OK- I have seen this in a theater before. The point of this review is to highlight how butchered it was-- "edited" for planes. There were parts that were cut out for no apparent reason. This is a Bond flick-- no nudity, no real profanity. Bonds torture scene was left mostly intact, except the part where he taunted his nemesis. The scene where he was drugged and nearly died was completely removed. I do not understand. All the violence was left intact.

X-Men- The Last Stand- I didn't make it through the entire movie, since I ran out of time. I have no idea how it ended. This is the sort of film I would only watch on a plane.

Hotel Television- European hotels seem to have normal cable TV. ALL of the Hiltons and Hyatts where we stayed had some custom "hotel network" that replaced all the normal commercials with commercials for "As Seen on TV" and infomercial type products. It was disturbing-- especially since it resulted in showing the same commercials all the time- like for the Carroll Burnett DVD collection. HBO seemed to rotate the same three movies non-stop: Tranporter 2, 16 Blocks, and the latest episode of Rome. To further complicate matters, the networks seemed to rotate on the same channel. If I fell asleep watching HBO, I awoke to some weepy televangelist. Another note- I quickly forgot how many commercials they show on American TV.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Back in Boston

...did I mention it is snowing again?

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I have been too busy to blog or take photos. My camera phone is no longer on speaking terms with my laptop. I am sitting in a bar in an Irvine Hilton. The past week has been surreal. We took a small plane with engine trouble to Raleigh. We had a long meeting, then hurried to the airport to take the milk route to Oakland. This plane stopped in Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, then Oakland. It was one of Southwest's routes--- we never had to change planes. Fortunately the plane was half full, or it is half empty? Regardless, the burly flight attendant offered use peanuts and crackers on all four legs of the flight. It ceased to be amusing. I had my first experience at Midway airport in Chicago. It is like landing in a soccer field in the middle of a residential neighborhood. I had no idea that a plane could stop so quickly. Helicopters need more landing room. Denver was Denver--- which is nowhere near Denver. Las Vegas was surreal from the air. Oakland was Oakland. It is probably a better spot to land than the San Francisco airport- which looks like a dock sticking out into the bay. After San Francisco we flew to Orange County airport-- across the street from where I sit, amidst an Irani-American event. Literally: only in America.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I had a nice trip to Amsterdam-- on an exit row. I sat next to a retired Statoil exec who talked my ear off. He was very interesting. He and his wife were on their way to Nice for a month. We had a little glitch when we landed- there was no one waiting at the gate to open the doors. We sat for maybe ten minutes before we could "deplane." I ran a tight schedule, and we had to walk twenty minutes or so to catch our plane to Boston that started boarding before we even landed. We ended up on a NWA airbus with video on demand. I sat next to some strange Swedish woman who sold snowmobile parts. She really wasn't that strange after talking to her a bit. I watched Night at the Museum, Walk the Line, and that movie with Stranger than Fiction. I started watching Deja Vu, but it seemed entirely uncool to watch a movie about terrorism while on a plane. Our flight to Boston was nothing. It is significantly shorter than flying to Minneapolis or points further west. Boston is so small the airport is practically downtown. Good thing I had some US cash-- there are toll roads here.

We ate a feast of Sushi down the street. I am tired. My PC thinks it is 2am. I have meetings in the morning. Must get sleep.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I haven't even left, and I am missing my family. I don't believe that traveling without them is something I ever really want to be comfortable with. I shortened our trip by a few days so I will return next Monday. This will be a difficult trip in that we are pinning much of the company's future on business in the US. My goal is to build up more resources within the company that I can tap into. I have spent too many evenings working from home, making calls to the US, and organizing travel plans. When I return I will work on a way to balance home and work life. I am in one of those "be careful what you wish for" situations.

In thinking about this, I remember that I wasn't thrilled about returning to work after Julian's birth. It seemed like the wrong thing to do-- yet life goes on. My guess is that I will feel pangs at everything related to his gradual independence. I don't understand parents who take vacations and leave their kids behind. My parents never did that. I vividly remember one summer before I was five when my father was away at graduate school for a few weeks. Of course Julian is too you-- or is he?

Time to finish packing. When I return, it will literally be springtime.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Happiness... a snoring baby.

American Airline

I need to travel to Raleigh from Boston next week, and AA is the only carrier that can get me there faster than hitchhiking. So I tried ordering flights online. Everything was going well, until I had to enter the billing address. They would not accept "Norway"- it was not in the drop-down box. I believe they had every country in the western hemisphere, but not a single European or Asian option. They are an AIRLINE. Do they not serve travelers?

So I called them. They wanted to add $10 to process it over the phone. They couldn't accept a foreign credit card either. They said I could go to any British Airways counter at an airport. I wasn't going to travel just to buy tickets. Finally I grabbed an old US credit card. I had to guess what the phone numbers were, and I am not convinced I gave the correct billing address, since the statements come here as well. I hindsight, I should have gave them a random US address using my work card.

I won't even mention how the only flight I could get out of Raleigh to San Francisco is on Southwest. It has THREE stops. I wonder... does the final destination count as a stop? It seems all flights by default have at least one stop. Three stops could mean four legs to the flight. I will likely feel released from incarceration when we arrive in glorious Oakland. Now if only the GPS could actually drive the car to hour hotel.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Changing a Battery in a Polar 720

Polar would have you believe you must send their heart rate monitors to a repair shop just to change the battery. At least that is what the owner's manual states. I threw caution to the wind, as mine requires its third battery, and I really do not want to send it off to who knows where. As you can see, the CR 2354 battery could not be more easily accessible. Despite what I read elsewhere on the internet, it does not use a CR 2032. Four small screws hold the watch together. The only risk, aside from ham-fisted mechanical aptitude, is that the HRM is water resistant. Apparently I have not guaranteed that it is properly sealed. But this is out of warranty, and I don't see a repair shop doing much better. Besides, I am not going diving for pearls with this thing. Use this information at your own risk.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Picture 004, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Our weekly weekend getaway took us to Melsheia, where some of the Nokas money is reputed to be buried.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I took a brief break from biking to work. I drove the day before and after the UK trip, which meant all last week was free from biking. Yesterday we had a fierce wind and rain. I drove. This morning was similar weather, but I knew I had no car available to drive. Motivation came from nowhere. The wind was at my back, and I am quite sure that I set a new speed record. Unfortunately my HRM is in need of a new battery, so I have no idea what my time was. I do know that no cars passed me on the back stretch of road. That almost never happens.

I think winter is over. I am thinking of using the wheels with the studded tires to run slicks. I'd like to order tires from the US, but I can't seem to find slicks with a folding bead.

Next week I leave for the US again. I have been very busy with preparing documentation and scheduling meetings. I am thoroughly stressed out. With this trip, March is already gone. This time I will be flying to Boston, then traveling to NYC, then either DC or SC, then to San Francisco and LA. It will be another whirlwind tour. I am seeing more of the US while living abroad than I did when I lived back home. The irony.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stavanger Tourism in London?

01032007304, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I couldn't believe it: we saw Stavanger posters all over the tube system- usually right when we came down the escalators. My boss and I really put on a vocal display of how cool the area was for the benefit of anyone nearby. We were actually headed to Heathrow when we spied these.

Haberdasher's Hall

OBEY, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I spotted this guy guarding the entrance to the hall. His sidekick was named "Serve," but taken out of context, it looks much more surreal.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Back From Mirror World

I picked that up from a Gibson novel--- likely due to the English driving on the wrong side of the road. A few key differences that distinguish England from other countries (aside from the driving): heated towel racks. It seems a little cheap by Norway standards, where we like to heat the entire bathroom floor. 200-some volt outlets-- normal enough by European standards, by they insist on using an even bulkier plug-in than continental Europe. Think US oven or electric dryer plug and you have the right idea. To add a bit of a flourish, they like to place on-off switches at every outlet. Funky taxis. There are no others like them. Here in Norway we like our luxury cars. England still uses the old-school looking cabs that are actually quite practical if you have a bunch of luggage.

The trip went well. It was nice to see a little more of England rather than just London. I don't think there are any English people working in the hospitality industry in the entire country. It was a nice trip, but it was great to finally be home.