Saturday, April 28, 2007


I am probably starting to sound like I am obsessed. This is turning out exactly like I thought it would. The 24 year old driver is being charged (she was driving under the influence, BTW)-- but she was released yesterday. I am sure she will end up doing some time, and it sounds like she is pleading guilty.

What I do not understand is, if it is so important to chase her for driving an unregistered vehicle, and she has shown a clear disregard for the law by fleeing, and a disregard for public safety by driving on this road and killing someone, why the hell are they releasing her after one day? The legal system is ridiculously lenient in Norway.

On a better note, the community is considering closing the road to vehicles, and it is still front page news in the media.


You cannot win. A kid was hit by a bicyclist and injured. It looks like a strange story. A female cyclist struck a four year old. She stopped and asked if they were OK. The mother said they were fine. She took off and was on her way. The kid was injured worse than originally thought and they took him to the hospital. For some reason, the police want to speak to the bicyclist. I wonder if they pay this much attention when a driver injures a cyclist? The transportation policy around here is to build bike paths that are separated from the lanes of motorized traffic. In the US, we would call them sidewalks. We all know how safe that is.

On a better note, the authorities are already looking into adding speed bumps and reducing speed along Jåttåveien, the stretch of road where the fatal accident occurred. It is about time. In another article in yesterday's paper, a resident of the area cited how many accidents have occurred on that road.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thinking this Through

I must have seen at least 50 bicycle commuters today. I rode by the accident scene. There it was gruesome-- with paint markings on the road, a destroyed stone fence, patches of sawdust collecting some sort of liquid. It was in stark contrast to the sunny, warmish weather. There were people everywhere on this bicycle superhighway. Life goes on.

On reflection, it angered me that the police chased a driver that committed the grievous offense of driving without plates. This was no felony, no murder, no NOKAS case. Chase was given over what is effectively a sidewalk-- a road restricted from through traffic, except by buses. In the US, many jurisdictions have put extreme restrictions on high speed chases-- regardless of the original crime committed. These things rarely end well.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Little Freaked Out

This morning looked to be a beautiful day. On a whim I decided it would be a good day to renew my residency visa, so I drove to the police station. I arrived about 8:15. The office opened at 8. They were on number 54. I drew number 76. There was one window open. It looked to be a long wait. At nine, another window opened, and things started moving. I ended up at work around 10am.

I left work around the usual time, and drove home. The weather was amazing--- warm, sunny. Everyone was out. I regretted driving, but it was just as well-- we had a meeting at the church to discuss Julian's upcoming baptism at 5:30. Things would be a little rushed. As Lise finished preparing dinner, I glanced at an article in the paper about bicycle helmets, accidents, and bike fatalities. Since 2004, there had been only one fatality in southern Rogaland. I mentioned that fact to Lise with a twinge of sadness-- we knew who he was: the father of a close friend who was killed soon after we moved to Norway. Still, there was something reassuring about the rarity of serious bike accidents.

Later that evening, Lise came downstairs after reading the news on the internet, and said something about how that one fatality was now two. In today's online local news was the story of two women in a car, chased by police, who struck two women biking-- killing one of them. The accident occurred around 3:30pm. What sickened us both is that is the route I take to and from work. That is a road Lise walks Julian. It is a road that I see full of kids walking and biking to school every morning--- a road where through motorized traffic is forbidden-- although during rush hour it can be well-traveled with little consequence. It was a head-on collision-- another unexpected element to the tragedy.

I don't regard biking around here as a particularly dangerous activity, but I guess that all bets are off if there is a police chase. In some regards, it is like being struck by lightening. My only wish is that the criminal justice system were more focused on punishment for these sorts of crimes. Norway tends to be quite soft on crime. It truly was a good day not to bike home from work.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Week in Review

It has been a busy week. I have made a concerted effort to spend more time with Julian during the limited time when he is awake in the evening. He has been going to bed earlier and earlier each night. I biked to work all week. Early in the week, the weather was quite decent, and there was actually a line to use the showers-- and we have three of them. It motivated me to leave earlier as the week progressed.

Tuesday I discovered another flat tire-- after work. It was the rear again. This time is was a large piece of embedded glass. Hopefully my tire karma is paid in full for a while. Thursday afternoon and Friday morning I saw snow. A few days earlier I was biking in shorts and short sleeves. This morning, with the wind, it was as cold as it has ever been this winter. Hopefully we have winter paid off in full, as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brann! Brann!

The doorbell rang shortly after dinner. Lise was with Julian, so I went down to see what was going on. It was one of the neighbor kids from down the street selling raffle tickets to fundraise for his football club. I ended up buying one. Someday Julian will be in the same situation. Besides, this kid lives down the street. He received bonus points for being easy to understand. Lise gave me a hard time, since she had declined a few offers, and said there have been two or three other people who have stopped by the past few days. These others were not from the neighborhood, and were raising money for dubious causes.

A little later in the evening, the doorbell rang several times in rapid succession. I was thinking there is no way I will buy from someone that rude. When I made it downstairs, I saw an adult woman at the neighbors across the street, on the cell phone, yelling at me in Norwegian, "fire! fire!" She asked me to get some water, so I filled a bucket and followed her up the hill as she spoke the the fire department. I could not see or smell any smoke, but I followed her anyway. At the top of the hill, I could see smoke. As we walked through some brush, I saw the fire. There was no way that a few buckets were going to make much of a difference. There was probably an acre of wildfire, spreading in a circle. The woman and another neighbor started beating the fire out with some scrap lumber they found. I went back for more water. By the time I returned, which was a few minutes, the fire department had already arrived. By this time, there were all sorts of neighbors out. I felt ridiculous with two buckets. The fire crew took care of everything in a few minutes.

My guess is that some kids started the fire. One neighbor thought that the sun could have started it by shining through some broken glass, but I found that idea to be far-fetched and rather naive. I don't think any houses were really threatened by the fire, although they could have been if it gained strength or if it went unnoticed for much longer. All in all, it was like a block party-- a great way to meet neighbors I haven't met before.

Happiness is a New Wireless Router

I have been having issues with my wireless internet. This morning I could not access the internet at all from my laptop, so I tried the wired connection up in the loft. Nothing. This defied logic. I could not even see the wireless option, so something was amiss. I looked at the router, and none of the lights were on. I checked the power connection, everything appeared to be connected. I wiggled the wall wart power cable-- no shorts. I pulled out my multitester to see if any juice was passing through the power converter, but I couldn't register anything--- the plug was very thin, and I chalked it up to poor contact.

Here was my dilemma: this was a little over a year old-- and maybe under warranty. I did not know if the router was fried, or if the power supply was bad. It was on odd plug and 4.5 v-- very non-standard. I had nothing to test it. I bagged it all up and headed to the Elkjop, where I had purchased it. The computer repair station was closed, and the sales floor had no unboxed units I could use for testing. I decided to just buy a new one. As I searched the box for its warranty info, I noticed that I had a lifetime warranty. I am sure that means I have to send it in, and would be without one for an indeterminate time. The trouble is, both IP phones require the router, and all of our internet connections go through it. My plan was to return the new one to the store if it was only a bad power supply.

I arrived home, and tested the old one with the new power supply-- nothing. The router was bad. At least I made the right decision. I hooked up and configured the new router, and plan to have the old one fixed under warranty. I can always sell it. It had me thinking about what a racket a lifetime warranty is on an essential item. On the other hand, I have had very little computer hardware "go bad" on me.

Beautiful Day

It was 62 degrees today, or something like that. For me, that means shorts and short sleeves and a ride. Back in Minnesota, I would have worn knee warmers and long sleeves. Somehow I have adjusted to the climate here-- although the locals tend to be more bundled up- like wearing jackets. I headed out, thinking I might bike around to Bersagel in a loop, but some random biker guy caught me, and I followed his route for an hour or so, and we had a nice talk. He was a doctor who lives south of Sandnes, and is training to follow the Tour de France this year- practicing for the alps. He knew the elevation of every point on this ride. I had anticipated a quick hour to hour to ninety minute ride, and only had one bottle. I wasn't ready for these thousand foot climbs that he knew about, but it was fine. The weather was great, I was feeling OK, and he was wanting to take it easy. My only worry was my hydration, and he ended up sharing half his extra bottle with me. The best part was to learn of a different route- and this set of roads didn't see much traffic. It felt good to have an extended hard ride, and I feel like an uncaged animal riding the road bike- rather than the slow mountain bike with a heavy backpack carrying my laptop and work gear. Still, I don't think I will be in any condition to race on May 1. My parents will be here for most of May, which will likely rule out the North Sea Race. Just having Julian around makes racing impractical right now, and I am completely OK with that. There actually are more important things in life.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Giving and Taking

Over Easter, every relative we visited had incredible cable or satellite reception. We have been limping along on regular cable since we moved here. To be fair, we started cable with a very basic package before we even had jobs-- we needed internet. Cable internet had a much shorter waiting list than DSL, and our apartment was cabled for fiber optic. Unfortunately, this regular cable, that requires no converter, displays an unbearable amount of artifacts. Easter was the last straw. Life is too short-- and our TV is too good-- to be wasted on regular reception.

I spoke with Lise, or rather bugged her incessantly, about upgrading to a digital cable package. This would also include a DVR box, which we had back in Minneapolis. I viewed it as the greatest invention in the history of mankind-- and it had an added value now that we had Julian. We could always pause a show, or record a show to watch later. Anyway, early this week I called our provider, with the new, but dubious name, Get. We will have extra channels as well- like Discovery, Animal Planet, all the usual US cable channels. I skipped the movie channels. We had too many of those back in the US. All the great HBO shows like the Sopranos, Rome, etc. end up on NRK anyway. So I am happy.

On the other hand, yesterday an alarm company stopped by our house offering security packages. I was at work, and Lise scheduled the rep to stop by when I returned home. I am not a fan of security systems. Sure, we had a break-in a few months ago across the street-- but that was rather random. We basically live on a dead-end street in a rather secluded area- apart from our neighbors. It is secluded in the sense that no one can see into our back door or windows. But we share a wall with a neighbor in a side-by-side house-- although we rarely see those neighbors. It is highly improbable that we would be victims of a burglary.

The other factor working against my interest in alarms is that we lived in the US and never had them. When I first moved to Minneapolis I lived in a bad, bad neighborhood. Our windows were shot out, someone started a car on fire on the street in front of our house, a woman was murdered in our yard, and we had three break-ins within six months. I broke the lease and moved-- without much consequence. I lost some music equipment in the break-ins, but it was insured. I later lost a bike when my storage locker in Uptown was broken into in the apartment building I was living at the time. I experienced a few credit card thefts over the years. Beyond that, I really haven't worried too much about crime. We lived in about as safe a neighborhood as you can find in Minneapolis when we had our house. When we were living downtown, it was protected like a fortress with a private army. Those rentanazis were a bit overzealous, and towed my car out of its reserved parking two weekends in a row, damaging it both times. They were worse than criminals. But out of principle, I do not feel compelled to have a security system living here in Norway.

Despite my attitudes, it seems a huge percent of homeowners have alarm systems. This house had one when we moved in, but we chose not to continue the contract. After the break-in across the street, Lise has been concerned every time we return from being away. I can see her point, but I also know that this feeling will fade over time. But she wanted an alarm for peace of mind. We still have the stickers from the old alarm service on all our doors and windows, but I have come to find out that company no longer exists with that name.

Before the alarm rep arrived, I did some homework online, and was surprised how reasonably priced this company was. We need a few extras, since we have pets, and we do not have a proper phone line. For a few dollars per month, they add in a GSM dialer- like a cell phone, and motion detectors that somehow can ignore pets. The entire system is wireless. The system no longer has the primitive key pad- well it does, for backup, but it also has key chain controllers, like remote entry for cars. They probably use all this gimmickry to appeal to the toy loving male minds, because I was finding the technology the most interesting aspect. With all the travel that I do, and the amount of time that we are beginning to spend away from here on Kvitsøy, it makes some sense to have an alarm. We should also save a little chunk off our homeowner's insurance. Still, I believe the best deterrent are the alarm stickers that we already have... and maybe we could trade our cats in for two large dogs.

Flat Tire

My new slicks already had a flat rear tire. I was severely disappointed in the durability- one commute and a few rides- until I removed it and found the stem was separating from the tube. There will be no patching involved. I ripped the stem out so I would not attempt to reuse it by mistake.

I took the opportunity to tune up the shifting. Derailleurs have always been a mystery to me. I read up at Park Tool, and played around with a few adjustments. I am convinced I have this better tuned than the day I purchased it. We shall see-- in a few minutes as I head off to work.

I worked from home on Wednesday. I seem to have a cold that attacked my ears. I get these once a year. They greatly affect my balance, but I end up with no other symptoms. Yesterday I drove to work. Today I feel much better, although I can feel it a little in my chest. I would almost rather be full-blast sick than have limited symptoms and among the walking. Having half a cold is like being in limbo- and it certainly does not invite any sympathy from others.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Viking vs. Rosenborg

Yesterday I went to a soccer game. The stadium is a generous walk away, and considering that there is no parking near the stadium, I hoofed it. In the rain. Lise's brother offered his cousin's season ticket. As I approached the stadium, I saw mobs of people walking to the game. I don't know if they all live in the neighborhood, or if they had to park a few miles away.

We had good seats- meaning that we were out of the rain- unlike the players. I noticed two of Lise's cousins from the other side of the family sitting one row behind us. At "halftime" I bumped into two coworkers- who were attending the game separately. Stavanger can really be a small town sometimes. Football is a strange sport when you attend a live game. Basically, the fans object to any decision in the opposing team's favor-- no matter what. I cannot imagine a worse job than officiating a soccer match. The line judge on our side of the pitch looked exactly like Jim Carey in Me, Myself, and Irene, which lent a comic air to the proceedings.

The game ended in an unsatisfying tie. There was pedestrian gridlock outside the stadium as I left. A new train stop in under construction, and the sidewalks have been rerouted. With the rain, and the construction zone, there was a very muddy mess. It was raining quite hard by this point, and the walk home was all uphill-- literally all uphill for a few miles. I was a tired, wet mess by the time I arrived home. There is something very cool about being able to walk to a pro sporting event. It reminded me very vaguely of living downtown Minneapolis, a few blocks from Target center, and walking to Timberwolf games. Except here, I was walking home through the woods- rather than an urban landscape. It was a good night.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Snowing on Easter

It is snowing, on Easter, in Kvitsøy. It never snows here. The weather could not be worse. Now it is raining horizontally.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Wanting a Boat

I was checking at, and there are almost as many ads for boats as cars. OK, that is a slight exaggeration, but there is an amazing assortment available that are relatively affordable. We live on a peninsula, so it is only fitting that we should have some sort of watercraft. Of course, I grew up as far away from an ocean as you can find on this planet. I know nothing about sailing, boat maintenance, navigation, or the realities of boat ownership. I have this fantasy notion of "boating" to the Mediterranean, but should probably consider that these diesel powered craft have a top speed of maybe 8 knots. That is a speedy 9mph. At that rate, it would "only" take 3 weeks round trip-- and that doesn't even account for the fuel. But at least we could stay in the cramped cabin, providing we could find somewhere to dock.

My best guess is that the expense of the boat is only the tip of the iceberg (which is probably not the best metaphor, in this case). All the accessories and maintenance-- and time- probably make this something more than I would bargain for. I guess I have the rest of my life to sort this out. Still, it never hurts to look.

Two Below

It is maybe 30F right now-- below freezing. For all the holidays in Norway, the main problem is that they are all during cold weather. May seventeenth is generally a miserable day. There are no holidays between Pentecost (the end of May) and Christmas. My theory is that Norwegians are so fussy about their vacation time that they wouldn't want to ruin it by overlapping any of it with a holiday. At least the sun is shining today--- which is probably WHY it is so cold.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


A few random notes- I am off work until next Tuesday for Easter. This is one of the perks about living in a church state.

I tossed some 1.6" slicks on the extra mountain bike rims. The bike looked silly-- almost like a car with four donut spares. But it was silly fast and silly quiet on pavement and gravel. The reduction in rolling resistance was amazing. I went out for a test ride today. The tires don't have a very nice ride-- these are bullet-proof Continentals with wire beads. They feel more like plastic than rubber. Since I didn't have my laptop with me, I rode down some stairs that had been teasing me for weeks. There is quite a psychological barrier to riding down steps-- my strategy was to have my hands nowhere near the brakes-- and it worked just fine. Now I need to work on riding up.

Julian has been wonderfully entertaining, as always. It is incredible to be able to spend this much time with him. I should probably take more video of him, but I don't want to experience his childhood through a camcorder viewfinder.

Elijah the cat is enthralled with a nature show about bears on NRK. The crazy bear cubs are sledding down the side of a mountain. Nothing is quite as odd as watching a cat watching TV.