Sunday, August 31, 2008

Almost Finished

I am almost finished painting the house. I only have the doors left. There really isn't much time to spare--- I head to Boston the end of next week, then it will probably rain the rest of the year after I return. I am not looking forward to this trip as much as some of my other trips. In early November I will be in San Diego-- which should be a better work trip.

Summer feels like it is almost over. It was almost cold when I rode to work on Friday. Wednesday I actually drove--- for the first time in recent memory. I took a half day off to be with Julian at the daycare. When I drove home after work, it was almost painful. Traffic was ridiculously slow--- all the way to the freeway, then on the freeway. I can literally bike in less time than driving. This time of year, schools are back in session and everyone is back to work. I am not missing anything by biking.

Friday night I hung out with a bunch of American expats--- the same group I met with in February. There is something nice about being around expats. It is a rather unique status. I would not otherwise be friends with any of these people.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I just caught this on NRK. Oddly, it is in English.

First Day of Daycare

Today was Julian's first day at daycare. He only spent a few hours there in the morning, and Lise and I were there the entire time. This is the week where he gradually adjusts, but judging by how much fun he had, I don't see that as being an issue. He seemed to love all the toys and being able to play with other kids.

An interesting sidenote-- all the kids in his group have blond hair. Everyone but Julian has blue eyes.

Unlike in the US, daycare is practically run like a school here in Norway. It would be almost equivalent to home-schooling him if we did NOT send him. Ours in run by the city--- as are most. It was good to check the place out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I believe this almost fits a purist's definition of "irony." My Polar S720I needed a new battery. I replaced the battery myself a year and a half ago. The trouble was that after so many battery changes, the screws were getting worn. I fired off an email to Polar and received a response from Polar Norway. They had no screw kits, which was unfortunate. The marketing value alone from selling a "screw kit" would be well worth their effort. They offered to change the battery for a fee. Not wanting to be without the monitor for a week for such a trivial task, I was reluctant, until I discovered they would do a full refurbish for around 500 nok. This included a new cover, case, band, and battery. Basically everything but the electronics, or so I was told. I nearly jotted down the serial number off the back of the case, until I realized I would never see the case again anyway.

Or would I?

Today I found an envelop in the mail. It was returned after nearly a week's absence. I checked it out. Sure enough, everything looked new. I examined that back--- same back cover, same serial number, same old screws.

Other than that, I truly looks new. Assuming it works OK, I must say, I am satisfied. Considering how much they cost new here in Norway, it is a bargain.

The other bit of news in the mail was an ominous looking envelop from the IRS. I had a particularly complicated tax situation in the US this year-- and even owed money, despite not have lived a day in the country. Contrary to what anyone would have you believe, nobody moves to Norway to live as a tax exile. Especially from a low tax nation like the US--- low relative to the socialist tendencies of northern Europe. This envelop was frighteningly thick. I actually opened it BEFORE the monitor envelop. All it turned out to be was a document I need to return indicating that I had lived in Norway the entire year. No big deal there. And I swear, we expats all receive "very special attention" form the IRS. All correspondence I have received from them since moving has been oddly personal in nature. I miss the good old EZ-days of form letters and filing by phone. Then again, we receive more of that then we might wish for in Norway--- where the government completes our tax forms for us, we sign and return. You would think the US could enact such laws.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Playing with a telephoto lens

IMG_3524, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

What a difference a lens makes. Granted, it was a hazy day, but this view makes us look like we live in the mountains.

A more realistic view

IMG_3515, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Unintended consequences

Julian had one usable "sippy cup"-- the kind that really cannot be spilled. It is an engineering marvel. Of course, having only one cup poses a bit of a logistical problem, since we end up using it all the time. This prompted us to buy a new sippy cup of a slightly different design (since our main cup is longer made. Now Julian will only drink out of his new cup. We are right back where we started.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sad Birthday...

....For one of our two cats. Zeke turned 14 today-- the day we had scheduled to take him to the vet to see what was wrong. He had been losing much weight recently. He was starting to look quite ill. The vet did not need to spend much time before advising that we put him to sleep. I was more or less prepared for this eventuality-- although the reality seemed quite harsh. This was to just be a vet appointment. It was quite obvious that he was wasting away. He was dehydrated and pale (apparently they can check that sort of thing). It made sense to take care of this today. It did not seem right to schedule another trip to the vet solely to euthanize him. I do not need to worry about him anymore.

Zeke really was a good cat--- never caused any trouble. He had grown much more affectionate recently, and seemed to want to be around others the last few weeks. It was difficult to pet him because he was so bony. We knew something was wrong, but he gave no indication that he was uncomfortable or in pain. I thought this was part of the aging process for cats, but I guess it was more than that. I believe our other cat senses Zeke's absence.

I have never been through the loss of a pet before. Zeke lived a long life-- a rather pampered indoor existence. He was healthy up until recently. He lived an interesting life in two countries. He will be missed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gear Inch Calculator

Click to enlarge....
I am always consulting these in my quest for the perfect ratio.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rust Removal

Lise's Centurion has been in our shed, and has picked up a bit of rust on the chromed Tange headset. She is wanting to commute to school this fall, which only makes sense. Julian will be in daycare, and the university is just up the hill from where I work. We could probably bike pool together.

Yesterday I started rebuilding a rear singlespeed wheel for her using a beautiful vintage high flange Campy Record hub laced to a FIR rim. "Made in Italy" is the order of the day. It is always nice having spare parts lying around. Fortunately I had spokes that were the right length--- some nice DTs.

Tonight I fished the bike out of the shed. I did a quick google search on rust removal, and found all sorts of references to odd products and substances I had never heard. Further research indicated that hydrochloric acid was the active ingredient. Some down home advise suggested vinegar. That sounded much better than searching for some obscure wood bleaching agent. To my great chagrin, white vinegar worked just fine. The rust peeled off with a bit of finger nail rubbing. I gave the bike a full cleaning, and it looks better than new. It really is a sharp bike--- a lugged Centurian RS with a bunch of new components. I dropped a gear for her so she can more easily handle the hills. Before Julian arrived, we went on some epic rides, but it has been some time since she has ridden. Running single speed, she can coast down hill, so gearing isn't quite as crucial as on a fixed gear. This weekend I will take Julian in the trailer and we will have to try it out.

On a different note, I will be back in Boston in early September. My fun days of being at home will soon be over. I also have a trip to San Diego planned in November. Hopefully I can drop in and see my parents then.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Station Wagons

Living in Norway, SUVs are rather rare. The full-size station wagon is the family car. Seriously-- if I drive to baby swimming, or day care, or the Kid-n-Care store, the lot is literally full of station wagons--- Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, Saab, Volvo, Opel, Ford, Toyota, etc. A majority of of them have a trailer hitch for running home improvement errands on weekends, and have a ski box on the roof for extra storage (or even actual skis in the winter)--even luxury cars.

We have a full-size station wagon. It handles very well, drives like an actual car, and has a similar footprint to an SUV. It just doesn't sit as tall and is lighter (and thereby gets far better gas mileage). In the US, the wagon is all but dead, unless you consider the compact wagons like a Matrix. It seems to me that the minivan replaced the station wagon, and the SUV replaced the minivan as the family vehicle of choice.

When I was a kid, the station wagon was the ultimate in cool. Of course, we never had to wear a seatbelt, and we sat in rear facing seats way in the back (where it would be considered child neglect to place a kid today). But it was long before the minivan came around.

I hereby raise my glass in honor of the misunderstood, and largely ignored, humble, practical station wagon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sunday, August 03, 2008