Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Extra Ultrasound Today

We had ultrasound number two today, since our little daughter-to-be was not positioned very well when we went in the first time. All is very well. What was most interesting is the midwife switched the machine to 3D mode. I have seen 3D advertised at private clinics, and wondered why we didn't normally receive this. Today we did. I still question why they generally stick to the regular imaging.

Monday, September 29, 2008

US Dept of the Exterior

A friend sent me a link to an excellent onion article. Stavanger even receives mention.

Friday, September 26, 2008


After I graduated from college, I existed for several years with no TV. Of course there was no internet and no cell phones. When I had my first apartment in Minneapolis, I existed for some time with no phone. I didn't know anyone--- who would I call? I just used the phone at work, and there was a pay phone across the street. Eventually I had a phone, and a friend gave me a broken TV which worked fine with a half-working VCR so I could rent movies. My window to the world was the Pioneer Press at work. In 1991 I watched one of the presidential debates in a laundromat.

Eventually, the hand-me-down TV broke down and I purchased a new one. I quickly learned that modern TVs are completely ill-equipped to receive broadcasts, so I started up with cable, and have not been able to live without it since--- but that isn't really the point of the story. In the mid-90s I purchased a PC and of course had to have internet. With dial-up, things were rather slow, and in those days, the online community was mostly comprised of "early adopters." I don't recall much of the political process when Clinton was re-elected in 1996, other than he was rather uncontested. Of course, the economy was riding on the bubble fueled by the same technology that I had just bought into-- the internet.

I didn't take much of an interest in politics in 2000. I voted of course, but I never dreamed Bush would win the election. Even in 2000, my news window to the world was largely TV--- generally CNN. By the time 2004 rolled around, I was much more plugged-in to the online news world, and I watched almost no network TV. In many ways, I was out of touch with reality, as I saw very few political ads, and I tended to gravitate toward political views that closely reflected my own.

What is unique about 2008 is that not only is the internet something almost universally used, but youtube, political blogs, and news aggregation sites like fark and digg are very widely read. If you compare politics today to politics 10 or 20 years ago, in the past, there were gatekeepers to the media. A story wasn't really news unless it bore the stamp of one of the major networks. CNN broke ground during the first Gulf War to legitimize cable news, and of course Fox came along with their mostly editorial propaganda network to wild success--- while lowering the bar and blurring the lines between news and opinion. In the background, more and more political blogs emerged, resulting in the situation we have today. We have access to far more information than any other point in history. If I miss watching Sarah Palin's interview with Couric, I can watch it whenever I want on youtube. Every word McCain utters can be scrutinized for accuracy--- since every word is somehow recorded and magically shows up on the internet. Countless amateur "journalists" in their pajamas create a grassroots network that examines every angle of politics. No longer are we dependent on the arbiters of good taste and journalistic decorum. We have all become journalists. Anyone can leave a comment on their favorite right or left wing blog and "be heard."

This is not without its dark side. Despite all of the information at our disposal, nasty untruths are easily passed off as fact. A startlingly high percentage of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, for example. It involves nearly zero effort to fact-check this types of rumor. This leads me to believe that despite all the information out there--- or maybe because there is too much information--- people tend to believe what they want to believe. It is easy enough to find a source or community that supports any sort of belief.

Another dark side to technology is how we have access to all news everywhere in the world, and once information is in the wild, it cannot be reigned back in. Back in the early 90s there were all sorts of sci-fi writings about cyberwarfare. It seemed like a very abstract concept at the time. Now we have arrived. When Russia "invaded" Georgia, there was a cyberpropaganda war in place. Russia, accustomed to decades of existence in an insular "iron curtain" lost the battle. Some of the continental media coverage was at least partially open in reporting that Russia claimed a legal foundation for their actions, and that they were acting defensively. The US and UK media portrayed Russia as far more aggressive. But if there is one thing that past ten years have taught us, it is to be skeptical of the media. Left or right, nobody really seems to trust it, but rather filter it according to one's own beliefs.

We have more information than ever at our disposal, and yet have even less of a clue what to believe and what the truth is. Could a "group" like 9/11 "truthers" even exist without the internet? In the good old days, it seemed the three broadcast networks all led off with the same two or three stories in the national evening news. There was nothing to question.

The silver lining in all of this is that I have access to everything I need back home in the US. I have an 800 number where friends and family can call me--- on an IP phone (over the internet). We have email, and video calls with my parents--- again, over the internet. It isn't like 100 years ago--- leaving on a steam boat, crossing the Atlantic, and maybe sending a few letters, but otherwise never seeing family again. We are connected more than ever--- yet politically, I fear the US is more divided than it has ever been.

Gummi Bananas with Chocolate

I don't know if it is a European "thing" or Norwegian, but there are all sorts of bags of mixed candies and chocolates available. One of the greatest culinary affronts to humanity is that almost all bags contain some variation of a "gummi banana" covered in chocolate. I am not particularly fond of fresh bananas, and artificially flavored bananas are even worse. Yet what makes this bad situation dire is that the artificial banana flavor tends to leech into the taste of some of the finer chocolates in the bag. Everything is bananas!

This situation is nearly hopeless, as it seems all brands pollute their pristine chocolates by introducing these synthetic bananas. Nidar? Are you reading this?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Unicycle Man

As I was biking to work today, I saw a wobbly figure ahead of me. I was baffled at this rider's lack of any form--- until I drew nearer. He was on a unicycle. What a crazy way to commute to work. I wonder if he took the big hill up to the university.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Half-week in Review

I was greeted by a winter-cold Monday with a flat tire on my ride to work. Fortunately it was an easy rim/tire combination that required no tire levers to change. It appeared to be a pinch flat from the tell-tale snakebite pattern. I was ready to go within minutes, when I heard the new tube hissing. I quickly checked the tire for debris, found none, and popped a new tube in and was on my way again. Riding home, I ended up flatting about a kilometer away, so I walked. I apparently have a problem that requires a bit more time to sort out, and I am not interested in burning through yet another tube. The rest of the week I simply rode a different bike. I am generally diligent about locating the sources of my flats, but in my rush to bike to work I sometimes cut corners--- and besides, it had every appearance of a pinch-flat.

Some people cannot wait for the weekend when at work. For me, it seems I never have enough time. I have been working like a madman to prepare from my London trip on Monday--- only to find out it was rescheduled yet again. I am not happy. This is the second time they have rescheduled, and the second set of flight tickets that are burned up. Flying to London is so cheap and easy from here that it is generally more economical purchasing cheap, non-refundable seats. On the other hand, if they are canceled twice, I might need to reconsider. But I am more bothered by my wasted time. I will be going sometime in the future--- a few months from now. So my next trip is to California in early November-- when the weather here is at its absolute worst.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kvitsøy Photos

We spent much of the weekend on Kvitsøy fixing up an old house in my wife's family. It is a little over a hundred years old. We ripped down two walls--- not the actual walls, but rather several layers of wallpaper, then particle board, then more wallpaper. Underneath they are solid planks of wood.
Today we took a little boat trip around the islands. Kvitsøy is comprised of 365 islands in total. It was a bit chilly on the water, but at least it was not raining.

In the center of the photo, you can see scaffolding around the house we are fixing up.Kvitsøy has a very traditional-looking lighthouse--- very much a rarity around here. While there are several lighthouses in the region, most are more like a "light house"-- like a traditional looking house with an attached tower or turret for the light. This lighthouse is still functional.
There were a few fine sailboats docked downtown.
There are rock formations sticking out of the water all over the place. It is a bit tricky boating around here.

Massive shortwave radio antennaes--- broadcast all over the world. The anntanaes are on a revolving track, since their broadcast is directional.

To the left of the lighthouse is a harbor master station. This is like air traffic control for ships. They control all of the boat traffic in the region from here.

Off in the far distance you can see mountains. In Stavanger, we are too close to the mountains to be able to see them over the foothills-- so we just see the hills on the other side of the fjord where we live. The floating objects are part of a mussle farm, from what I have been told.

Downtown is rather quaint. I am almost convinced there is a law that all houses must be white.

Julian's great-grandfather's weatherbeaten boathouse.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gone Fishing

IMG_3630, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

For some reason I find this photo highly amusing. Perhaps it is the cat. Every photo can be improved by the presence of a feline.

Monday, September 15, 2008

News flash

We just had an ultrasound today and are expecting a daughter on Valentine's day. My wife doesn't like the name Valentina, so I am back to square one. Julian should be happy to have a little sister.

Watch List

On a different note, I had a few glitches with my recent travel to Boston. I couldn't check-in online when I left Norway. At the airport, it turned out there was a "comment" on my case, and the agent had to phone KLM in Amsterdam. When I was in Boston, I was told I had to stop at the transfer station back in Amsterdam. This has happened once before--- no big deal. It usually just means that they couldn't book a seat at that time.

At the transfer area, I couldn't handle the transfer at the kiosk, so I entered the cattle queue. When my turn at the window finally arrived, the woman asked if I had any problems before. I recounted my issues in Norway, and asked what the problem was. She said my name was on a watch list. This makes no sense. For those of you who know my name, you know how absurdly common it is. Why would they not use something a bit more unique--- like a passport number? Oh well--- it is apparently only a problem for me in the Netherlands, and I made it home.

Random Brush with Fame
On the plane, a very tall, vaguely familiar looking woman was seated right in front of me. Then it suddenly occurred to me: it was Kathrine Maaseide. When I told Lise about seeing her on the plane, she said she was surprised I even knew who she was. I told her that she was wearing very low-cut jeans, and leaning over. I recognized her by the tattoo on her bum. A sad commentary, I know. But we are talking about Olympic beach volleyball.

Monday, September 08, 2008


I am back in Boston- 80 degrees and sunny skies. I experienced the longest trip imaginable as we apparently went around whatever is left of the hurricane. We literally flew south into Boston, meaning we flew in an "L" rather than the normal straight line. I guess that is better than flying through a nasty storm.

When I arrived at my hotel, the cheap Hilton I always stay at, I experienced my newly elevated status as a Gold Elite Hilton member. This hotel room is embarrassingly huge--- larger than any apartment I ever had-- and it costs the same as a normal room. For my free perk, I chose internet access. They have an excellent breakfast buffet here, but I much prefer my spartan "breakfast" of a triple shot of espresso and maybe a scone at a coffee shop. Any breakfast involving cooked meats slows me down too much.

Tomorrow I head up to Maine for a meeting. Tuesday I relocate to a different hotel for an event we are sponsoring that lasts until Thursday. I then settle back in here and have a customer meeting on Friday. In the middle of all of this I am hiring a new person and am preparing for the following week's London trip. I return to Norway Friday evening. I will be home before I know it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dentist Today

I had my first visit to a Norwegian dentist today. I won't remind you how long we have lived here, but I did take advantage of my US insurance and schedule an appointment just before we relocated. I had no idea what to expect. I had been experiencing a bit of discomfort from one of my upper fillings.

The first interesting aspect of the appointment is that there is no hygienist. My appointment was strictly with the dentist. I began by giving him a brief rundown of my dental history (I still have all my wisdom teeth, for example). He took two X-rays---- thankfully only two. He then took a few photos of my fillings using some tiny dental camera. He then showed me the images on a monitor and explained that my old amalgam fillings were expanding, and would eventually crack the tooth entirely. The consequence of waiting until the tooth is cracked is that it can cost tens times as much money to treat. I needed three of the fillings replaced. The rest of the appointment was uneventful, and I scheduled an appointment in October to have them replaced, and paid for today's appointment.

Lise and I carpooled, since my office is on the way to the university and I was running late from the dentist. I started describing the appointment, and Lise could practically finish all my sentences. She referred me to him, and apparently he told her the same thing about one of her fillings. On one hand, it was a bit suspicious, but on the other, something is clearly going on with one of them, and amalgam fillings were recently banned in Norway.

I thought the dental camera was a bit unusual, and commented about it at work. None of my coworkers had seen such a thing before. I had never seen one in the US. The other notable difference between the US is that he did not advocate flossing as much as using a special kind of plastic toothpick. Anything is better than flossing, so I will give it a try.

Work was busy, as are most days leading up to a work trip. I leave for Boston Sunday. I found out later in the day that I am heading to London the Friday of the week I return. It seems like I was just there (in June). This should just be an overnight trip, as my meeting is in the morning. Other than that, my only other trip scheduled is to San Diego in early November. I should be able to see my parents during that trip.

After work we picked Julian up at the daycare. We dropped the car off at home first. We really want to keep him in the habit of walking home. When we arrived, he was sitting at a children's table with five other kids, all of them busy playing with crayons and markers. He seemed to ignore us--- looked like he was having a great time and was in no hurry to leave. Eventually we made it out of there and walked home. We played in the playground on the street until it began to rain heavily.

It feels like summer is over. It has been rainy the past few days. I normally hate driving to work, but it rained so much last night that my bike shoes were still wet. It is time to switch out to my winter riding setup--- which is mostly waterproof. It is raining again tonight, and I am sure it will be wet tomorrow in the morning.

I am writing this on my new laptop. I really needed one, as the new software we just released was crushing my old one. The new setup is much faster. Of course it is no easy feat moving everything to the new machine, and Windows Vista is a complete joke. But I was sick of working on XP for so many years--- I needed a little change.