February 26, 2008

More weather

This winter was the warmest on record, and there have also been an unusual number of storms coming in off the North Sea. There was one last Friday-Saturday with a 9 foot surge on the Danish coast, trees blown down, power out, trains cancelled. There is another storm coming in tomorrow, and then another this weekend. I'm used to short intense storms in Minnesota but these ones are different-- rain and a long steady hard wind. 20 m/s means an average speed of 45 mph, with gusts on top of that. One good thing is that these storms pump lots of oxygen-rich water into the Baltic which will help the cod to survive.


February 24, 2008

WWI Anti-German Language Changes

Kaiser Bill

Franz Ferdinand

Sauerkraut was called liberty cabbage, brats liberty sausage, and hamburgers, salisbury steak.

Last day of winter sports vacation

The Swedish winter sports school vacation week is kind of a misnomer, since it is spring, the earliest spring on record. January temperatures were 10 F above average, and February has also been unusually warm. Flowers are blooming, hedgehogs have come out of hibernation, pollen is in the air and the fish are biting.

First rainbow trout-- first of the day, and first ever.

Second rainbow.

Third rainbow, 3.7 pounds.

Back home.

One for dinner, two for the freezer.

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February 22, 2008


In Sweden they use meteorological definitions of the seasons. Spring has arrived when the temperature is above freezing for 7 days in a row. In fall the average daily temperature is between 32 and 50 F, and it cannot be fall after Feb. 15. It is winter when the temperature stays below freezing for several days.

This map shows when the Swedish winter usually arrives. We're down there at the bottom on the '10 Jan' isotime line. But this year winter never made it. That meant that when fall expired last week we were officially without a season.

The temperature has been below freezing a few times over the last few months, night frosts, a day or two of snow, but that was it. It pains me to tell you this because I believe winter is good for the soul and this year I have not been cleansed. It's too late for me now because spring has arrived.

Here are some cloistered lillies that were blooming in the park today.

North German Travelogue

The Swedish schools had 'winter sports vacation' this week. Me and my wife took a few days' vacation and the family went to Lübeck Germany. Its a great city to see on foot with a family, not too large, good food, lots to see. Lübeck is in Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany, bordering the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and Denmark. The city is just a couple of hours by train from Copenhagen.

We ate lunch on the train. It is so easy to travel with kids on trains. They can move around, find the restrooms, spot animals outside, etc.

The train drives straight onto the ferry to cross from Denmark to Germany. Everyone must de-train for the crossing. The boat is part of the fun-- find a table with a good view and get some food.

After the train put ashore it stopped in Oldenburg, home of the Diskothek Silo (click picture to enlarge). There is a midwestern feeling to north Germany.

Lübeck had a nice new train station.

According to this sign there is a speed limit for tanks and jeeps entering the city center. We didn't see any tanks or jeeps.

Here we are at the Holstentor, the historical entrance to the city center.

The Royal Air Force bombed Lübeck on March 28, 1942. During the firestorm the cathedral's bells fell about 5 stories, cracking the floor.

Here is the central square. Straight ahead is the courthouse and we ate lunch in the Rathskellar underneath. At one point they cut those big round holes into the dividing wall to let wind through, so it would not blow over.

The Rathskellar was full of history, signed documents from the 1700s, models and peices of sailing ships, pictures, old bottles of wine. Lübeck was the 'Queen of the Hanseatic League' and its traders became rich shipping salt to Skåne Sweden and returning with salted herring and cod.

Lübeck is famous for its marzipan.

Here are some grotesques from a stone staircase. Architects would say that they are not gargoyles since they do not have water spouts.

The trip home.

February 21, 2008

Which Twin Peaks character are you?

Thanks to Church of the Sweet Ride for the link to this quiz, whereby you can figure out which Twin Peaks character you are.

My result:
You're Agent Albert Rosenfield, the snide and superior forensics expert. Your tongue is sharper than your scalpel, and it doesn't take long for people to start hating you for your supercilious quips, but you are the very best at what you do. You don't suffer fools gladly, but you give respect when it's due. In fact, you're a good guy at heart, but so wedded to your sarcasm that you can rarely stand to treat people kindly.

February 16, 2008

Campaign poster

by Warhol, 1972

Sealed hub in cold weather

Picture from 'Elegy for Sturmey-Archer'

Whenever the mercury drops below freezing I have trouble shifting gears on my bike. Actually it becomes impossible to shift. The bike has a 4-speed internal gear hub. Can anyone offer advice?

Scouts/Taxi Driver

I stayed late at work yesterday to finish an application and ended up taking a taxi to get home in time to take my son and a friend to a scout meeting. A Friday Night Disco meeting. In my day the scouts never would have touched disco, but that was a long time ago in a place far, far away. Scouts here are coed. They had popcorn and punch and flashing lights and my son's friend is ready to sign up. They do 'real' scout stuff too like three weeks ago they were outside building fires in a snowstorm. My son was the only one who could get a fire started and everyone else came over to light sticks to bring back to their own piles. He told me the key was to use a knife to make thin shavings on one side of the stick.

So I always talk to the taxi drivers. The driver last night was from Iran and the first thing you need to know is that Iranians are Persians, NOT Arabs, who he said are Barbarians. He told me he liked Israel when he was a kid growing up in Iran because it was a thorn in the side of the Arabs. He supports Hillary Clinton. He liked the US because of its commitment to justice and human rights, and he was worried about Russia which is building ties to Iran.

February 08, 2008

Meeting behaviors

Things that may happen during a meeting:
sleeping feet
sleeping butt
existential itch
sugar rush
sugar blues
nature calls
creeping scalp
hot flash
creeping eyebrow
the giggles
the smirks
the snorts
muscle tics
vacant gaze
glassy stare

What you can do about it:
adjust spectacles
clean teeth
twirl pen
scratch nose
advanced nose scratching
roll fruit
roll eyes
adjust cuticles
stretch fingers
drop pen
exchange meaningful glance
pained squint, mouth 'oooooh'
adjust socks
stroke beard and/or lips
massage eyelids
pick at hair
sit up real straight like you're about to say something

February 06, 2008


We've been laid low by the stomach flu the last few days. Thank heavens the worst is over.

It's been a warm January, 4 F above average and you can count the January nights when we had frost on the fingers of one hand. Our flowers refuse to stay down. I made it outside this afternoon and took these pictures from around the house.

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