Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dubai Photos

World's tallest building.

Entire city under construction.

Outside the indoor ski hill.

Inside--- at Mall of Emirates.

All this way to find Norwegian water in my room.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Where do I begin? Maybe with, I have been working non-stop since I have arrived and haven't seen the outside of the hotel in a few days? Such is glamorous work travel.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Greatest Cat in the World

When Elijah was a kitten 17 years ago, I never considered the day he would be no longer with us. He has been the best cat imaginable--- with a personality more in line with a puppy. He hasn't been doing too well lately--- and today was the day for his one-way trip to the vet. I will miss you, dear friend.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


There is something about this show that fascinates me. Perhaps it is because it is far more honest than any American show of its kind. It is set in Sweden when the economy was terrible and people were emigrating to the US. The adults get drunk at parties, and Emil's father is borderline abusive when he loses his temper at Emil.

How NOT to make a burger

We ate out at a restaurant last night-- the four of us, along with my wife's family. I almost never order a burger when I eat out, but I had heard good things about the burgers where we were eating, and I wasn't feeling particularly creative. It was alleged to be American-style. When it arrived, my wife and I were both convinced they screwed up and served us lamb burgers--- there was an overpowering minty rosemary flavor to the meat, and the texture was unlike any burger I have ever consumed. Lise asked the server about it-- he claimed the meat was seasoned, but I am still convinced we ate the wrong species of mammal.

Regardless, it brings up an interesting point that was recently discussed over lunch at work--- how to make a perfect burger. I as asked as an American who should know how to grill. I offered by expert advice: use ground beef that is not too lean, pack into patties, salt, and grill. My coworkers were dumbfounded. It seemed each had some crazy "recipe" of adding all sorts of herbs, spices, and filler-- mixing in food processors, and so on. It could explain why I have never eaten a decent burger anywhere in Europe.

Passports, Etc.

Having two kids is four times the work. I have been quite busy the past two weeks. I am preparing for a trip to Dubai toward the end of the month, and I really don't have the open-ended time available in the evening to work--- at least no time I can depend on.

This week we took care of all the paperwork for US passports for the kids. Here is the deal: it is much easier to obtain Norwegian passports. However, for tax purposes I need social security numbers for the kids to claim them as dependents. The only way to obtain these numbers while abroad is to use a passport as an ID. The only way to obtain a passport while abroad is to appear in person before an officer of a consulate-- usually at the embassy-- and the only embassy is in Oslo. This means we would all normally need to travel to the capital to appear in person so our signatures could be accepted. But this week, there was a consular visit to the international school here in Stavanger. This would save us the huge inconvenience of an Oslo trip. To apply for a passport, we needed the births to be registered by the US--- Norwegian birth certificates could not be directly used. We also needed passport photos.

The afternoon before the consular visit, we headed downtown to a photography store for the kids photos. It is quite a challenge getting the eyes open/mouth shut pose for a month old infant, but we managed. We met another American family going through the same thing-- updating the passports for their teen kids. We walked out of the store about $100 lighter. Getting social security numbers is expensive business.

The next morning we showed up at the international school a little before 9 am when they were scheduled to open the visits with the consular officer. The atrium as crowded. We were there none too early. Julian somehow managed to wait the two and a half hours without too much trouble, although undoubtedly he was bored out of his mind. Of course, a few hours in nothing compared to an Oslo trip-- and we would still need to queue up at the embassy as well. Now we just need to pay hundreds of dollars in fees--- in cash--- in US currency, and we will be all set.

I really hate US tax law-- that subjects ALL citizens to income tax-- regardless where you live in the world. Imagine if state income tax did the same thing.