April 06, 2005

Week 14, 2005.

Its definitely spring. Tulips are 4" in places, the rhubarb is flexing its buds and some optimistic bushes have sent out small light green leaves.

The trains were really messed up in Copenhagen on Tuesday. I was at a meeting where a well groomed consultant was encouraging us to send applications to the EU for new graduate programs. Like I have time to jump through the EU's administrative hoops in order to get a few peanuts-- you end up doing a lot of work to write the application (with no funding for the time and travel involved), and then less than 10 % of the applications are successful. Programs like this make the EU look good because they can say they are building the future using international educational initiatives, but they are a huge waste of time for the foot soldiers at the Universities. So anyway, at least they had good coffee at this meeting. I left early and found a library where I could correct papers, and then went to the subway station with the idea of getting home a little early for once. The street above the station was blocked by a police line and covered by fire trucks, ambulances and lots of police. My first thought was that it was some kind of terror attack-- Denmark is part of the coalition of the willing and has received many threats. There were a bunch of TV cameras focused on the subway entrance. Turned out that a diesel locomotive had caught on fire. But my problem was how to get home? My bike was behind the police line. I could walk to the main station (ca. 25 minutes), but instead stood around for awhile in the sun studying the crowd. After about a half hour they opened up part of the station and I could take the subway to the central station. Things there were worse, if possible. Crowds and bad information, no trains had been running for about three hours. In addition to the fire, someone had jumped in front of a train and that tragedy had also stopped traffic through one of the other stations. Also adding to the chaos was a strike in the new automated train system. These trains have no drivers, spooky and modern, and go through oval tunnels in the cool earth below Copenhagen-- like the intro to Dr. Who. But apparently the computer operators had a beef with the city and they were the ones who went on strike. I was part of the mob for a time, got pressed into a train that went to the airport, stood around there, and then finally a train came through bound for Sweden. I got home, hungry and tired, in time to get the kids ready for bed.

Fredrik is in the first grade and brought two of his workbooks home to show us. There were pages where he had practiced writing each of the letters, and then drawn a picture with a short description. For example for 'E' he had a squirrel on a branch eating an acorn (squirrel and acorn both begin with 'e' in Swedish). For the letter W he had drawn a large stripey W and a smaller stripey W, and there was a book by the big letter, and the description said that pappa W was reading a story for his son.


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