Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trashed by Derailer Hanger

(Or derailleur, if you prefer.) It simply broke on my way to work yesterday. Keep in mind, they are designed to break--- if you fall. In my case, all was well-- it merely broke. I had a long walk to work. There was no hope for rescue. Our car was having its windshield replaced--- after it was cracked by a ham-fisted repair monkey who fixed our wipers. We had some sub-compact--- no room for a bike. After work our regular car was in order, and I had a ride home. Now I have to find a replacement--- or two. It looks poorly designed at best.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dispatches from the Outer Reaches

Heath Ledger died. I just read in on the back of today's paper. I was a bit stunned--- I rather liked him as an actor. I mentioned it to Lise when I phoned her. Our conversation went something like this:

HER: "Um, that happened a few days ago, you know. Did you just hear about it?"

ME: "Uh, yeah. I just read it in the paper. All they have on TV is cricket and Tamil music videos, you know."

HER: "Wow. News rather travels slowly there."

Seriously, I feel bad for the guy's family. Brad Renfro was one thing, but this? Who is next? These things always occur in threes.

I cannot believe I have only one more day here. Time has flown by. Tonight there is some nightclub downstairs where the music is blasting--- shaking the building all the way up to my 14th floor hotel room. Then again, I question how many floors this building truly has. The elevator reads: L, L1, L2, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20. I count only eleven floors. I guess it all about profiling.

I had an adventure in crossing the street during rush hour. Seriously, nothing could be more difficult. There is never a break in the traffic. It terrifies me seeing small children in traffic. This entire city is crumbling in the jungle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Empty city beach

Picture 011, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

---something about the pollution in the water keeps people away.

View from my hotel room

Picture 003, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Children's Store

Picture 009, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

This high end kid's store featured all sorts of blue eyed blond haired imagery--- in the middle of southern India. Go figure. They sold all sorts of cool items--- at Western prices.

Lunch at the Beach Resort

Picture 014, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

...aka Fisherman's Cove.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Only in India

So I am reading in the newspaper about a baby elephant that ended up stuck in some sort of pit. The villagers struggled to help, but the elephant's mother was extremely protective. The villagers had to find a large male elephant that was trained. The male was able to distract the mother so the villagers could help and care for the baby. It was definitely a feel-good story. Original story before the happy ending.

On a different note, I read about 32 tigers that were killed. I quickly realized they were the dreaded Tamil Tigers-- a terrorist group in Sri Lanka.

Finally, I heard it here in India first--- I can vote in the Democratic primary as an American ex-pat. I am a citizen of the world. We have something like 32 delegates. Cool stuff. The Republicans don't yet have their act together.

In India

I made it. It is hot. More info later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strange Days

Here I sit in a hotel room in London that is so small that I am struggling with claustrophobia. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that I have been in larger elevators. Any money that I have saved the company by staying in these digs have been more than compensated by the copious volumes of beer that I have consumed this evening. In the aftermath, as I eat a few wasabi covered peanuts purchased at a neighborhood convenience store, I will begin to regale you, dear reader, with my day's endeavors.

I awoke on this "beginningly-dismal" day when Julian awoke. While I cannot recall my latest pean to his wonderful humanity, this brief missive must suffice. He awoke before six AM, at which point I was required to assume his care. Despite admonitions to the contrary from my wife, I secretly hoped he would resort to his typical patterns, and fall asleep in my arms. He did not.

Lise had the brilliant idea to phone a taxi well in advance of any thoughts I might have had for making such sane preparations. Unfortunately, the dispatcher indicated that there was a poor reliability factor involved with spiriting me to the airport at such hour, so Lise graciously volunteered to shuttle me to the airport. I arrived with incredibly excessive time, as it took a mere five minutes to reach the gate, for I was checking nothing. That is not to say that the dutious security specialist was not remiss in securing my miniscule quantity of toothpaste as a potential weapon of mass destruction, but alas, I knew the risks of smuggling such contraband on an international flight, even if it only was to the UK.

I arrive in fine form, dressed nattily in my black suit, with a striped shirt, and a red tie that annoyed my wife. Yes, it was a "power tie," well-chosen and well-suited for its chosen purpose. My flight was uneventful, and I had a full row to myself. I easily found my pick up person at Heathrow, which is no mean feat, even on a slow day-- for it is by most arguments the worst thought-out airport since mesoproterozoic times. He was both younger and more pleasant in demeanor that I had expected based on prior assumptions from previous phone contacts. We ate lunch in a rather tony London suburb--- in a noisy Italian cafe. Conversation was a bit difficult, considering our mutual language barrier.

Following our lunch, I separated from my gracious host, and headed toward Paddington station. It is really the only part of London I can even pretend to know about. It is quite possible I do not appear as a hackneyed tourist there (in Bayswater). I had a meeting at Chelsea Harbor in a few hours, and thought I might check in prior. I could not have been more misguided in my assumptions, as there were extraordinary delays on the tube. At every stop the conductor recommended that everyone "detrain." As I was near my expected stop, I largely ignored such admonitions, only to be exposed to a 20 minute delay. Unbeknownst to be, I was to suffer considerable anxiety waiting underground "in the middle of nowhere" in the London tubes. It took minimal motivation for me to depart at my expected transfer. My bladder was most appreciative of a nearby Starbucks, that served both espresso in actual porceline cups, as well as free public urinary facilities for the pay-toilet impaired. On my return venture to the tube, I secured some cash bearing the Queen's likeness.

I declined the uncertain opportunity that the tube presented, rather opting for the adventure of taking a London taxi. I quickly secured refuge in a proper cab, and shortly arrived at my destination, a mere £5 poorer for the effort. Upon arriving, well early due to the change in plans stemming from the train problems, I settled into the hotel restaurant, whereupon all sensibilities were assaulted by the live filming of the British TV show "Top Model." My lofty allusions as to the heights of aesthetic and intellectual prowess of the models were quickly and summarily obliterated. That does not mean that my sublime visage is not visible should you chance upon the broadcast of this highly entertaining debacle. As an aside, I had no clue that the show was so heavily scripted. They ran multiple takes of even the most mundane reactions. I took a phone camera photo that I many eventually publish for your confirmation.

Following my afternoon meeting, I took a taxi to the hotel, whereby I was greeted by two east-European immigrants with identical vowel-deficient names. When I finally opened the door, I realized what a marketing boon a fisheye lens was, as my habitute was only slightly larger than my bed. I wish not to dwell upon such unpleasantness, so I headed out to eat. I chanced upon an Italian restaurant with the full intention of ordering a pizza. A solo diner nearby was eating pizza, and I quickly reconsidered and opted for sea food. The highly Runyonesque waiter highly recommended the sea bass. I took it in. As I waited an indeterminate time, the woman eating the pizza summoned the waiter to inquire about the oven temperature used to bake the pizza, characterizing it as the best pizza she had ever eaten. Initially I was plagued with doubts, since I had initially considered it, but opted for sea food assuming the pizza was excessively cheeseladen. I still ended up with a bit of food envy.

When my sea bass arrived, I was filled with both regret and deja vu--- as it was fully dressed, codeword for "entire fish, skin, head, eyes--- everything". Last sea bass I ordered was in Manchester. It all came back to my like a very bad check from a very close relative. At least I had some clue as to how to eat it, as all eyes were on me. I managed quite well, leaving nothing but the spine and the head. It was worth the effort, although I must admit: the vegetable truly stole the show. You are at liberty to take that comment any way you desire.

Following dinner I chanced upon a pub, where I ordered the most foul excuse for beer that I have ever encountered--- a "blanc" beer that tasted nothing like beer. As if to atone for my sin, I over-compensated by my consumption of Fosters--- always a safe bet. I encountered some crazed British political author who provided interesting conversation, even if his politics were a bit right of mine. Somehow I found my way home.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Blueface Band in Biosuits

Picture 028, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Kvitsøy Lobsters

Picture 050, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Parade Photos

Picture 019, originally uploaded by filtersweep.


Picture 020, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bad News Good News

I went to our local version of Home Depot---- actually it is much nicer and the people working there really know what they are talking about. I had a roof tile with me, since they carry the brand I needed. I was told they stopped making them. They suggested I check a roofing supply depot in Sandnes. From my biking exploits, I knew exactly where it was.

I headed down there, and the proprietor suggesting checking the internet for used tiles. I was out of luck. I returned home and hopped on the de facto national online classified ads. I found several people selling the tiles in the area--- ranging from nok 17 000 for a huge lot (taken from a 170 m2 roof, to a smaller nok 3000 collection, to a dismal ad citing nok 10 each. We called the latter ad. There was a farm about 10 minutes from here. The idea was we take what we want, and leave our money in an overturned flower pot.

We headed out posthaste. There were pallets of very neatly arranged used tiles of all sorts in a muddy edge of a field. They had exactly the same tiles-- same color and everything. They were even perfectly weathered so they would fit right in. We purchased 10, just to have a few extras. We headed home, and in no time I had the roof cap in place. The worst of the repair is finished.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Windy Pt. II

If you thought my last post was an exaggeration, it wasn't. Two heavy tiles, including one of the endcap tiles blew off of our roof during the storm. When the cap tile fell, it crushed a few other tiles on the portion of the overhang below, so I have some roof repair to do. I crawled up there today--- and must say that I am not a big fan of running around on a tile roof. I guess I know why they don't use shingles around here. If they had, our roof would be bald by now.

Friday, January 04, 2008


It is so windy I had to stop and walk a few times on my way home. Car alarms are going off. Seriously, there were close to 50 mph gusts. It took me nearly 45 minutes-- almost twice as long as my normal commute. Crazy wind. But hey, at least it is not raining.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Things have been busy. I am heading back to India in a few weeks, and have a ton of loose ends to tie up before I leave.

On the transportation front, our car's windshield wipers are defunct. Funny how an overlooked and underappreciated part can render the whole vehicle useless. Of course they gave out in the rain as we drove back from spending Christmas on Kvitsøy, so we had a bit of a stressful trip. It seemed all the repair shops were closed until January. The good news is that it has been dry the past few days. The bad news is that dry weather is clear weather, and clear weather is cold weather. It has been very cold during my rides to work in the morning. I seem to be wearing more ski gear than bike gear at this point. The temperature has generally been no colder than -5C. This seems colder than -5F when I lived in Minnesota. I don't know if I have acclimated to a warmer winter here, or if it is a wetter cold that surrounds me. Today it was the northern wind. Regardless, I don't think it could ever be too cold to ride here. It does seem a bit dismal biking in the dark at 8am.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

ours 027, originally uploaded by filtersweep.