August 24, 2008


Here's part of a newspaper article from last week:

After having spent several summers in Sweden together with his Swedish wife and two sons, Will Ferrell knows what his favorite thing is to do in Sweden. 'It's going to sound crazy, but my favorite thing is going to the recycling station. Swedes have the best recycling I've ever seen. Like, 'Old shoes, please place them here.' I love to fill the car and empty it at the recycling station.'

Will I am with you 100% and in fact just today I filled the car and emptied it at a Swedish recycling station. Here is my photo-essay:

The main goal was to get rid of this ratty old couch. It was tossed into the 'burnable waste' container. It will go to the incinerator and be turned into electricity.

The recycling center takes folks yard waste and composts it, turning it into topsoil that they sell:

All of the 'white goods' are arranged carefully in the corner-- fridges mostly, and some water heaters

They accept all kinds of hazardous waste. The labels on these bins say 'cleaning agents', 'acids', 'bases', 'insecticides', 'mercury thermometers' and so on.

They also have a place for home mechanics to put used motor oil. This is great. It reminds me of a college housemate who changed the oil in his station wagon and dumped it in the middle of my vegetable garden in the backyard.

This friendly gent is there to help you find the right resting place for your junk. He told me that last week he got his picture taken by a busload of Chinese tourists.


August 23, 2008

High tech bikes

All these Minneapolis cycling types are twittering about the Xtracycle, a device that mounts into the rear of the frame and lengthens an ordinary bike, allowing you to carry things like lumber or four bags of groceries.

I also have a high tech device that allows me to carry four bags of groceries using an ordinary bicycle; it's called a bungee cord. It works like this. Put a big bag of groceries in the manbasket (this bag had four large milk cartons, yoghurt, potatoes). Pass the bungee through the handles of the three other bags twice and tie in a square knot. Finally, set these bags on top of the first bag. Ready to ride.


The most-hated man in Toronto

Igor Kenk, owner of The Bicycle Clinic, was arrested for bike theft and was eventually found to have 2,396 stolen bicycles. Kenk had stashed the bikes in 10 garages he rented around town, and in his house. The police also found cocaine, crack cocaine and about 15 pounds of marijuana.

There are different theories about what Kenk planned to do with the bikes. Some say he was hoarding bikes to prepare for a severe oil shortage. Kenk had a scrap metal dealer's license, so he may have been waiting for another spike in metals prices before melting down the bikes.

Kenk lived in a rented house in Yorkville, a nice suburb of Toronto, with his partner Jeanie Chung, a concert pianist. Chung faces charges for possession of stolen goods and drugs, and turned herself in after returning from performances in Banff.

You see, my dear wife complains sometimes about all the bikes I have been collecting (I am up to 3, but one of them is in a different country), and now she is afraid I will end up like this. I said, If I'm going to end up like that you'd better start practicing, it's a long way to Banff.

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August 19, 2008

MN is in good hands

Thanks to everyone involved for a great trip to Minnesota!

It was so great to see friends and family. Highlights of the trip:

1. Seeing my nephew Brett's week-old daughter Elanor Zeforah* Dregge

2. Seeing what wonderful young adults my neices Kristina, Amy and Cathy and nephew Brett have become.

3. Minnesota wildlife turned out in force. Well done! Highlights:
Bald Eagles on the Mississippi, Lake Chisago and Rice Lake State Park
Wild Turkeys in the hills of SE MN
Red Squirrels at Owatonna's Central Park and grey squirrels at Lincoln School
Pileated Woodpeckers, racoon, 13-lined ground squirrels, humming birds at the River Bend Nature Center near Faribault
Deer every evening just north of Owatonna
Buffalo, otter, wolves and bear at Oxbow Park in Olmsted County
Walking stick and huge wasp at Rice Lake

*Zeforah (Zipporah) was a wife to Moses. From the King James Version, Exodus 2,
And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

Moronitude doesn't sleep

Fresca asks me to flesh out my proposal for using some of a fictitious billion dollars to help everyone stop being morons.

I find it is not going to take nearly that much money.

Here's my point-by-point guide to halt the ongoing march of moronity.

1. You find yourself watching Cops. Solution: Turn off the TV, eat some nuts, drink a glass of water and load the dishwasher.

2. You think that government is the problem. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy that will keep you from living in a safe, decent society. Solution: Become a lobbyist and make money getting the government to chase its tail.

3. You buy a big vehicle in order to get in touch with the wilderness. This is costing you a fortune in gas, not to mention the payments and insurance. Solution: Bike to work, feel the wind and sun, and learn the true meaning of force and momentum.

4. You think everyone is a moron. Solution: You probably have seasonal affective disorder and need more sunlight. Take a vacation and remember that your nation's future is in their hands.

Show business

The breakdown from a national survey of 'Most Admired News Figures'
Couric, 5%
O'Reilly, 4%
Gibson, 3%
Rather, Brokaw, Williams, Cooper and Stewart, 2%
14 people including Lehrer, Woodruff, Jennings, Cronkite, Limbaugh and Walters, 1% each
No Favorite Journalist, 44%

Note that Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, tied for fourth, is a comedian.

Day of fluorine

I had a big meeting today to sign a commercial R & D contract and so I put on the new wrinkle-free, stain-free shirt I bought at the outlet mall in Medford. It smelled funny, like pesticides, and made my skin crawl and muscles ache, and so I put on a T-shirt underneath and that made the day tolerable. My wife said it was a good looking shirt.

Then I went to an 8 AM appointment at the dental hygeinist and she ran that devilishly sharp buzzing device around my gumline and painted my teeth with fluorine.

Then I went to work and on the train I discovered I had left my pass at home, so I got off the train in Malmø and bought a ticket. Earlier I would have chanced it but today I felt like being an honorable citizen. Got to work, and the big meeting was rescheduled so we can work out some details. I had ordered food for the meeting and instead of feeding lawyers I was able to give some students a free lunch-- one of my students just got a job at the new Danish Ministry for Climate and Energy, his dream, so he was psyched. He will be helping organise the next international 'Kyoto' climate summit, to be held in Copenhagen in 2009.

Back home again I got to take off that funky shirt. I read the label and found out it had been treated with teflon, a fluoropolymer. It was the day of fluorine. I'm going to wash the shirt and see if that helps-- has anyone else had this kind of negative reaction to a wrinkle-free shirt??

August 17, 2008

Back in the saddle again

We got back yesterday from a two week trip to MN. There's an old Swedish saying, 'Away is good but home is best'. It was a great trip thanks to family and friends and Minnesota is in good hands. We weren't able to spend nearly enough time with Tim & Kate, Mark Woodrich or my sister Andrea and will have to rectify this.

Went for a bike ride today and it was nice to be back in the saddle after two weeks of daily automobiling in the land of sky blue waters. Makes me think of Gene Autry, the singing cowboy:

I'm back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly Jimson weed
Back in the saddle again

Ridin' the range once more
Totin' my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again

Rockin' to and fro
Back in the saddle again
I go my way
Back in the saddle again

My attempt to update these lyrics:

My chain is glidin' just fine
Ridin' my new 29"
Sharing roads with cars
and jumping broken jars
Back in the saddle again

August 09, 2008

Five things from 08/08/08

Tagged with fives by Tim:

What was I doing 5 years ago?
On August 8 2003 I sent 28 emails, to students, family, colleagues. Pithy.

Five things on my to-do list
Modify figures for book chapter on atmospheric chemistry
Call Tim and Mark Woodrich
Get a fishing license from Cabela's
Buy shoes
Read manuscript for Vibeke

Five snacks I enjoy
Cashew nuts, roasted, no salt
Beer sausages
Carrots, organic
Chocolate, dark

Five things I'd do if I were a billionaire
-Buy a cabin on a lake with a dock, canoe, stone fireplace and a separate building for my workshop (boatbuilding, bike building..)
-Invest in technologies: algae to fuel, algae to plastic, wave power
-Invest in society: how to take 10 years off your age by eating right and getting moderate exercise, and how to stop being a moron
-Organise 'Inventor's Club' meetings for my son and his friends every week. Topics: electrical motors, building bridges out of raw spaghetti, soldering irons, blowing glass, lathes and mills, mallets and chisels
-I would make music every day

What are five of your bad habits?
Not listening
Bitching and moaning
Too suspicious and too trusting
I should cut back at work and spend more time with my family

What are five places you have lived
Crookston MN
Owatonna MN
St. Paul MN
Pasadena CA
Lund Sweden

What are five jobs you've had
Mowing lawns
Soda jerk
Camp staff at Crow Wing Scout Reservation for 3 summers
Research Engineer

I tag:
Wood Row

August 06, 2008


Here's some highlights of our first few days in Minnesota.

This is the newest member of the family, Elanor. I'm a Great Uncle!

Here is a feisty Badger we saw at Oxbow Park, outside of Rochester.

We went fishing on a float below lock and dam number five, near Wabasha where they filmed the Grumpy Old Men movies. Younger son caught his first fish ever, a sheephead.

We saw a lot of animals during this trip: wild turkeys, deer, bald eagles, soft shelled turtles, racoons.

He is learning to play with cats, here at my brother's house.

My sister's husband got a buffalo statue from his job at the Salvation Army, took it home, put it in the backyard and painted it. Here's our younger checking out the buffalo, backed by his cousins.

Here on the monkey bars at Lincoln Elementary.


I am from Owatonna Minnesota. It used to be that if you told someone you came from Owatonna they might say, Oh, isn't that where they have Louis Sullivan's National Farmer's Bank, the premier piece of Architecture's Prairie School, built in 1908? Yes, it is. I took this picture today from in front of The Little Professor book store:

But these days when you say you are from Owatonna people will most likely say, Oh, isn't that where they have Cabela's, the World's Foremost Outfitter and Minnesota's second largest tourist attraction, after the Mall of America? Yep, that's it. Our hotel is just behind Cabela's and the bountiful parking lots are full of utility vehicles. So, the first morning we got up around 4 because of the time difference and went for a walk in Kaplan's Woods. Beautiful nature-- big trees, woodpeckers, deer, and there isn't a single footprint on any of the trails. We're the first people in there since the big storm on Thursday that may have been involved in the plane going down at the Owatonna airport. You see, if you like nature, go to nature, not the store. You don't need a thing really, maybe just a cap to swat bugs with.

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