December 31, 2007


The city is building a park on the edge of town, near our house. From the top of the hill you can see for miles, kilometers even, in every direction. Today I finally had a chance to make this picture, the first clear day we have had for about half a year it seems. The shot goes from south on the left to north-northeast on the right. Click on picture to enlarge.

December 30, 2007

I Eat With Gusto, Damn! You Bet!

Hello Everyone, it's time for poetry
I submit to you the following it's entitled:
"I Eat with Gusto, Damn! You Bet"
By one Jonathan Richman.

When I eat like I do it,
I use not fork nor spoon
No grace or culture to it
When I call my own tune.

For I eat with gusto, damn you bet
A regular canine cruncher
Except truth be told I'm sloppier yet
Than many a dog food muncher
I eat a pound I eat a ton
And no there ain't much I cuts up
And while I'm having merry fun
Bystanders puke their guts up.

The FBI sent someone by
Who handles health affairs
I had not finished my cream pie
When he chanced up the stairs
Why did he turn the other way?
Why did he leave so quick?
Will he come back another day?
Did something make him sick?

Click on link above for full poem.
Thanks to B. P.'s short story 'Drool' for inspiration, as well as L. J. and E. P. for sharing the Jonathan.

Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Bike advocacy in high heels. From the world's cycling capital.

December 29, 2007

Confident, Capable and Creative Boys

A British government report for nurseries and playgroups recommends that staff resist their 'natural instinct' to stop boys from using pretend weapons like guns and light sabers. They write that fantasy play involving superheroes and weapons 'allows healthy and safe risk-taking and can also make learning more appealing'.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families' report, entitled 'Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys' Achievements', describes how some staff members find boys' play more difficult to understand and value than girls' play, mainly because boys choose activities with more action, often involving special powers and weapons.

Research by Penny Holland, an early-childhood specialist at London Metropolitan University, has concluded that boys should be allowed to play gun games. Holland found that boys became dispirited and withdrawn when they were told such play-fighting is wrong.

The report says, Creating situations so that boys' interests in these forms of play can be fostered through healthy and safe risk-taking will enhance every aspect of their learning and development.

National studies suggest... that boys are achieving less well than girls across all areas of learning and that more girls are working securely within the early learning goals than boys.

Boys are not less able than girls, so perhaps we do need to look at our own attitudes, if we are to better understand why they are making less progress... The quality of our relationships with them, and the values we hold will impact on boys’ ability to engage confidently in the learning process. Are we planning experiences for boys that build on their interests and value their strengths as active learners and problem solvers, or are we simply expecting them to be compliant, passive recipients of new skills and knowledge? Are we utilising boys’ fascinations and learning preferences as starting points for our planning?

December 28, 2007

Studded tire

I bought a wheel today and mounted a studded tire on it (a Nokian). The plan is to switch the front tire during cold spells, like the one that will arrive Sunday.

A short list of things I should probably do in 2008.

1. Give up TV. Some days the only thing Fredrik and I do together is watch The Simpsons. I want him to know something about the US since he has had the bad fortune of growing up in Sweden but I worry about what he might be learning from Homer, Ned, Moe, Monty and Willy.

2. Listen to great new music, like the CDs Charlie just sent me.

3. Practice yoga to dissolve the effects of tedious meetings in foreign languages and long hours at a keyboard.

4. Get better at writing to people, like my family and Charlie.

December 26, 2007

A rose is a rose

My wife picked this rose outside our house yesterday. We're having a really strange 'winter'. Clouds, mist, rain, wind, but no snow, hardly ever any frost, and the roses by the house are still growing.

December 22, 2007

It's a wonderful life

-Why don't we tape this and we can watch it later?
-Yeah, I'm falling asleep.

And now four years later we finally got a chance to watch our tape of It's A Wonderful Life. Anyone who has kids or knows someone who has kids or maybe ever was a kid themselves can relate. It felt great to cry at the end when Jimmy Stewart starts shouting at his Uncle Billy and his kids and his wife and goes begging to old man Potter, and then his friends all show up to give him fistfulls of cash.

December 20, 2007

Danish Sayings

This 'live traffic feed' menubar widget is a lot of fun. I wasn't expecting so many people from all over, and another surprise is how many people are reading old posts. To me this stuff is ancient history, out of sight and out of mind. I wouldn't even remember what I ate for breakfast if I didn't eat the same thing every day. I read these old blogs and I think, hey, that's not half bad. A lot of people seem to be reading an old post about Swedish Sayings, I must have a lock on that niche. In order to increase market share I have decided to post about Danish sayings too, to add to the season's hygge.

First a Christmas Update. The year's most prestigious gift in Sweden is an environmentally friendly car. The hot gift in Denmark is a certificate giving a goat to a person in Africa.

Danish Sayings.
He that does you a very bad turn will never forgive you.
He that drinks beer, thinks beer.
He that hides is no better than he that steals.
At sea you must sail or sink.
He who wants to hang a dog is sure to find a rope.
He that you seat upon your shoulder will often try to get upon your head.
He who can sit upon a stone and feed himself should not move.
He who feels himself scabby, let him scratch.
He who has no falcon must hunt with owls.
He who has plenty of butter may put some on his cabbage.
He who hesitates is lost.
He who lies down in the wash will be eaten by swine.
He who marries a widow with three children marries four thieves.
He who sows peas on the highway does not get all the pods into his barn.
He who tastes every man's broth often burns his mouth.
He who would close another man's mouth should first tie up his own.
If a beard were all, the goat would be the winner.

December 16, 2007

Year in Photos

Our family's year in photos on Flickr. Please enjoy, and Happy Holidays.

December 09, 2007

Cool yule.

The Christmas season is in full swing, even in the land of blogs, thanks to 3-speed's gingerbread house. Here is our own.

Put up a few Christmas lights this afternoon. Some people overdo it when it comes to Christmas lights. A few is all it takes.

December 08, 2007

The sausage mill

I was called up to a faculty-wide board meeting Friday this week. The ordinary member is on parental leave and the first substitute was disqualified because of another assignment. I haven't been to one of these meetings since March. I am a substitute and substitutes are only granted permission to speak if they submit their questions in writing to the board secretary three days in advance, and I have better things to do with three hours a week than observe board meetings. But now I will be a proper member for six weeks. It turns out that things haven't been going so well so they hired a coach to observe Friday's meeting and give advice on how to improve the work climate. The underlying cause is that the people in charge have decreed huge, rapid, unprecendented and largely unmotivated structural changes in the organization and it is this board's job to implement the changes.

In a related story, on Monday this week the head of our department asked 5 people to leave voluntarily or be fired. The usual deal is that a professional academic trades the high salaries of private industry for job security (tenure) and research freedom. In practice, where I work, we do not have job security anymore, and formally they can now tell us what research we should do. That's fine if they would like to treat us as employees of a private company, but then we should be paid accordingly.

December 02, 2007

Laughter the best medicine

Aleksandar Cotric is a Serb who has made an art form of dark one liners.

Why shouldn’t we be proud of our past, when each new day is worse than the previous one?

Serbia is not a twilight zone. Here you can see nothing at all.

He published a book of aphorisms in Sweden which was a flop, according to him, 'everyone there is too happy.' Cotric is part of the Belgrade Aphoristic Circle who continue a tradition of ridicule stemming from Tito's 35 year rule. Rastko Zakic is another member of the group. He wrote:

The working class is the skeleton of our system.

And another that got him arrested, When our Father died, it turned out he abused us and he abused our mother as well.

In a later book Zakic wrote, When our Father died, the court determined that he didn’t abuse us. He was hauled into court and called mathematicians and philosophers to the stand to argue that he couldn't be tried twice for saying opposite things. The judges were not convinced but the secret police offered to clear his name if he would spy on the group of aphorists. He agreed on the condition that they give him a special police uniform.

Our problems are all the fault of one man, he added, referring to Tito. It’s just a coincidence that we voted for him.

Here's the New York Times article.

One more. We are ready to die for what we believe in, but thank God, we don't believe in anything anymore. -Aleksandar Baljak

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