Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ding, Dong...

Ding, Dong, the hog is dead!
And not only in Oz land. We really think the groundhog is dead this time. No dug up holes, not a trace.
No red slippers sticking out under any houses either.

And talking about red shoes I just read this nonsensical stuff on the fantastic internet (my emphasis):
Wearing red socks or shoes helps remind us to ground our bodies. Because red is a grounding color, seeing red on your feet throughout the day will serve as a reminder to bring your attention back to the physical body. This is especially helpful if you tend to ignore your lower extremities. By consciously focusing on the color red at your feet you will be energetically distributing your energies downwards, anchoring your energies to the earth, thus creating a better balance within yourself. Isn't it interesting that the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz story was wearing ruby red slippers? She got grounded when a house fell upon her while she was flying through the air. It was also the magical tapping of the red slippers together that brought Dorothy back home to Kansas.

Well, this groundhog appears to be quite grounded right now. Wow. Maybe the hog went home to Kansas too? I wonder if this is why some people refuse to wear red shoes? I love red shoes.

Of course we have a new growing problem in the little cute orphan rabbit that have decided our lawn is the perfect place to live - wonder when it will discover our lettuce patch?

(PS. The hog's shoes are the real thing, the actual slippers Judy Garland wore in the movie. Don't ask me how he got them).

Colorblind testing in action

Wear this if you want to test your next date or friend if he/she is colorblind. From goodstorm.com, an online store that tries to be progressive ("Capitalism done right")and give back more of the profits to the designers.

This reminds me of 3rd grade school nurse visits when we had to look through that book with colordots and say the numbers - the same book had been used for decades and it was falling apart.

A place to visit: The Painted Desert

This is a place I always have wanted to visit, the Painted Desert in Arizona. All the different nuances in brown, red, white, pink... It is situated between Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest. Imagine photographing or painting watercolors in this landscape.

Read more on the Colourlovers blog, where this photo came from.

Large scale tetris

All the things you can do to avoid studying... Russsian students playing large scale tetris. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, O.K.!

Not everyone in the world has a swamp named after them, like O.K. Welcome to the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia and Florida, infested with orchids, alligators, and pythons:Some raw facts from various sources on-line:
*** largest swamp in North America (700 square miles = 1800 km2, Eskilstuna kommun is 1100 km2) and
preserved for the future

*** Okefenokee means "Land of the Trembling Earth" in the Choctaw Indian language

*** The last tribe to seek sanctuary in the swamp, the Seminoles, conducted raids on settlers in surrounding areas. An armed militia led by General Charles R. Floyd ended the era in 1850, by driving the Seminoles into Florida.

*** A battery is a mass of peat that is pushed to the surface of the swamp water by the buoyant force of trapped methane and carbon dioxide, by-products of underwater decomposition. Many people in the Okefenokee region call such formations "blow-ups."

***The entire swamp is covered with peat beds which overlay the sand floor. In the Okefenokee Swamp, it takes about 50 years for one inch of peat to form at the base of the swamp. Unstable peat masses will tremble, giving the Okefenokee its name "Land of the Trembling Earth."

*** All of North America's venomous snakes live in or around the Okefenokee as well as alligators, many turtle species, lizards, and tortoises.

*** Alligators: This lizard shaped reptile reaches a length of 14 feet (3.5m) and a weight of 500 pounds (230 kg). Her diet consists of nearly anything she can catch but she shows very little interest in human prey.

OK, wet, trembling, and hot and humid - O.K., when will we visit? This place sounds like something out of The Lord of the Rings, the Princess Bride and Harry Potter combined! Let's paddle in and see if we can find some wildlife!
And yes, it is O.K.'s birthday on July 30, so when I post this it is his birthday in Sweden, and soon here in the US too.


Eat this: Seal oil

I can't believe it! In Aftonbladet today there is an ad for Norwegian seal oil (Iglo Selolje). How would you feel about eating some Omega-3 fats from some clubbed greenland seals? That is what this is! I can easily eat some fish oils and plants, but no whales and seals...

photo: Jean-Pierre Sylvestre

More info in Swedish-Norwegian from the same site:
"I spekket på grönlandssälen finns det höga koncentrationer av Omega-3 fettsyror. Eskimåerna använder säljoljan för att bibehålla sunt hjärta, gott immunförsvar, kretslopp, mjuka leder och vacker hud. Det är dokumenterat att molekylerna i säloljan ar uppbyggda på ett annat sätt an i fiskoljan, och att människor kan ta upp säljoljan bättre än fiskoljan. Man tror att det beror på att säljen är ett däggdjur." Källa: Fiskeridirektoratet (Norge)
No mention that the eskimos primarily use the seal as food, because there isn't much else to eat in the Arctic. For those of you that can read Swedish, note the funny misspellings too!


Next time you want to go on a mini-vacation, you could consider one of these:
Sleeps two (?), and even space for a small kitchen, not very rainproof though.We saw this in 2003 at an antique car and air show in Eskilstuna. (Photos by PP.) There are new Mini trailers being sold too, called 'the turtle' and 'the little one' (appropriate names, see for yourself). What do you think, PP, should we get one? AnS has a small one, but it is probably nearly twice the size of this. Actually, a vintage Airstream might be fun, as long as you don't have to stay at terrible commercial and noisy camping grounds on the East Coast of the US. The best movie I know that features an Airstream is "What is Eating Gilbert Grape?". I wish I had a picture of our old Adria from when I grew up, which maybe isn't an antique classic, but still is full of memories. After that we got a POLAR, yellow and brown (yes, this was in the late 70's!).

PS. Just be careful with a caravan (husvagn), so this doesn't happen to you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Signs: Seen on campus

What do you think about this license plate border? In the US, license plates are made by prisoners. I saw it on campus, and I blurred the number because the owner of the car might very well be a friend of mine, who knows. What do you think?

Today, we are living in a...

steam bath
sweat house
mist shower
Atlantic fog
dew-dripping garden

It is probably 95% humidity and about 25 degrees C outside, 7 AM in the morning (probably up to 32 at least later today) . Everything feels humid, skin is sticky, book pages bulge, painted surfaces are starting to drip... well, not really. But you get the idea I hope. I really, really don't like humid, hot weather. It is like an animal with hot, wet breath has gone around and licked everything in the house. Drool, everywhere! We need to keep the windows open too, otherwise we get no fresh air and breeze inside and it get's too hot. What about AC you say? Well, as long as we can we try to live without it, because it uses up lots of energy, money and sounds terrible. Plus I love to hear the birds sing and not be closed up in a room.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Love That Horse

I saw a picture of another artist on virtual horse ranch, and I was inspired to make a picture of her and her horse. I'm not even close to being finished with it, but its what I called WIP(work in progres).


The top picture is most recent and the bottom is later......

I've been working on this piece on and off....

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) once said..

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man...."

Stamp of the Day: "Fun Fruit 'n' Veg" Smilers

Apropos the post by PP about weird looking plants, here comes a set of recent British stamps. These veggies look quite normal though. I think you are supposed to put the eyes and mouths, etc, on the veggies and fruits before you put the stamps on a letter :)

Book review: Second nature by Michael Pollan

I have just finished the book Second Nature by Michael Pollan, a writer famous for his books Botany of Desire and An Omnivore's Dilemma (books I have yet to finish). I was really eager to read this book, written about 10 years ago, but it was a disappointment. Not in the sense that it was bad writing, in fact, it is excellently written, but the thoughts are hard to follow and there are a lot of words and not much analysis. I had to push myself to finish the latter half of the book. But if you are into garden philosophy, and are not too easily bored, then read it!

He talks about things like 'what is wilderness?', 'the American lawn', and the feel in us to control nature. The title of the book comes from his suggestion that a garden is a kind of second nature. There are plenty of historical references and discussion of the difference between American and English gardening mentality, which is quite interesting. The problem is that in the end you are left without any conclusion - it is like a long evening discussion over one or two bottles of wine and the next morning you don't remember what you decided or if you decided anything at all.

He got a lot of criticism for the book, both from ecologists and gardeners. For example, the review in the Library Journal reads:
"Pollan, executive editor of Harper's and self-proclaimed amateur gardener, has written a book that is by turns charming and annoying, insightful and shallow, droll and banal. His collection of a dozen essays arranged by season is based on his experiences over a seven-year period in his Connecticut garden, along with vignettes from garden history. Unfortunately, Pollan's text is characterized by dubious and unsupported generalities, self-conscious humor, and extended, labored metaphors, and his lack of gardening authority dooms the book to superficiality. Experienced gardeners and devotees of garden literature will find little here that is original."

A few quotes from the book itself:
"Without the editing of our perceptions, nature might prove unbearable." (think - the killing of a mouse by foxes, heartbeats of owls, and suffering during droughts)

"Suburban America has been laid out to look best from the perspective not of its inhabitants, but of the motorist. " (He is referring to the omnipresent lawns, lack of fences and hedges, flower borders along the house and the vegetable garden hidden in the back, and I completely agree with this.)

"Domination, translated into suburban or rural terms, means lawn. A few acres of Kentucky bluegrass arranged in a buffer zone between house and landscape, a no-man's-land patrolled weekly with a rotary blade. [...] A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule."

The last comment reminds me of the culture of fear here - fear of ticks, fear of snakes, fear of nature, fear of all things unknown, fear of immigrants, fear of terrorism, and so on, and on. Most people around here seem to think that only if you are a conformist and not wander out in nature or into the wild world, you are safe... Of course, nature and the world has a tendency to get into your life anyway, it is just part of their nature.

With American gardens, here are my pet peeves:
* too much lawn!
* no pretty fences along roads
* too little vegetable and herb gardening
* too much leaf blowing
* too many gasoline-powered tools at dinner time
* too many deers and groundhogs
* mulch vulcanoes around trees
* ridiculous landscaping using non-local stone, colored plastic mulch, and plastic edging between borders and lawn
* pink flamingos and stepping stones made out of concrete and bought at HomeDepo...

Also, personally, I think large, hybrid roses are completely overrated, hummingbirds are amazing, and I would love to have a pond for frogs and dragonflies. Anyone want to come here and help me dig?

(The photo is from my idea of a garden, a livable place for people, plants, and creatures and pretty for all. Photo by LS)

New word: Seagull (verb)

Suggested by a reader of Svenska Dagbladets "lexicala luckor":

Fiskmåsa - komma in på ett möte, skrika, sprida massa papper och sedan snabbt dra.

Seagull (verb): To enter a meeting, yell, spread a lot of papers and then quickly leave.

Anyone else who recognize that behavior?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mutant veges


Why do these happen? Does not appear that you can save the pics, OK is there a way?

Save Energy while surfing the net

Energy saving search engine?

Click the "about" to see an explanation.
Black is the new black.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

RIP: Rhubarb x 2

I guess we are not meant to grow rhubarb. Last year it didn't grow at all after I planted it, and this year my two big healthy plants died, a few weeks ago. And I LOVE rhubarb. I was reminded about our plants demise when I just read this in an old article in New York Times.

Of the things she mentions, I have had all, but I can live without sea urchins. The rest is good food! But that doesn't help when the rhubarb goes bye-bye in the garden. I have always wondered who bit into the first chili pepper (very hot) and decided it might be good to add to their food. It happened in South America, probably in Peru, and at least 5000 years ago. That must have been something!

" Rhubarb, like manioc root, sea urchins and truffles, resides in a category of foods that by rights should never have made their way to the table. The bitter type of manioc can be lethal unless it is processed in some mysterious way. Sea urchins are covered with razor-sharp spines. Truffles are hidden beneath the soil and look like rocks. And rhubarb's majestic leaves, which conceal its edible stalks, are poisonous. Who looked under there to find out?

Whoever did wasn't greeted with a pleasant-tasting reward. Uncooked rhubarb is about as delectable as pond algae. And yet mankind persevered. We cooked it, we added sugar -- lots of sugar -- and we found out that nature can be kind. If you have ever grown rhubarb, you know that it is a prosperous plant, one that can take over your life every spring as you search for ways to tame its bounty -- much like its cousin, sorrel. This may be why most people settle on rhubarb jam. You can slice up the stalks, simmer them with sugar and be done with it. "

Well, that is, if it grows and doesn't die for you.

Fox hunting at Mt Washington

While driving down from the Cog Railway at Mount Washington, this fox came out of the forest and ran parallel to the car for the longest time. It has a live chipmunk or red squirrel in its mouth! OK, I know it is a short ugly movie... but at least it is wild and real!

Here is a still photo that shows it better.

Stamp of the Day: Hokusai's art

The topic for today's stamps are obvious: the two images that are grown on the rice field mentioned in the post below. I have always loved this kind of art with simple clean lines and bold colors, but at the same time very expressive and detailed. It is probably why I love Art Deco and Art Nouveau too. Enjoy!

Rice art in Japan

An example of what you can do with agriculture as long as you grow a variety of varieties:

"Each year, farmers in the town of Inakadate in Aomori prefecture create works of crop art by growing a little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru-roman variety. This year’s creation — a pair of grassy reproductions of famous woodblock prints from Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji — has begun to appear (above). It will be visible until the rice is harvested in September." (from Pink Tentacle where there are more pictures from other motives too)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The most annoying sound...EVER

The most annoying sound ever.

LOL cats

Lolcats(Laugh Out Loud cats) is a new internet sensation that gripping the nation which depicts a cat doing a cute, scary, funny or just plain weird pose with text that makes it look funny.

Stamp of the Day: Monty Python


The real cardboard box story

Leaping Volvo

Missing words

The newspaper Svenska Dagbladet has a weekly updated column of "Lexikala luckor", missing words in the swedish language. A favorite:
Blygskryt [substantiv], att genom att framhålla sina enkla vanor, sin fantasilöshet, dåliga smak och sitt bristande kulturintresse få någon annan att känna sig som en fåfäng elitist eller snobb.

Modest bragging: Through the means of accentuating one's simple habits, lack of imagination, bad taste and lack of cultural interest make someone feel like he/she is a self-conceited elitist or snob.

One word: Luxury! ;)
The translation can probably be improved, english is not my "starkspråk" (strongest language, as in ability that is)...

Which words do you miss, swedish or english, besides the obvious "lagom"?

(Listening to while posting: Paul Giger - Chartres)

Monday, July 23, 2007

SAAVO, a new kind of car

Just happened to see this in Aftonbladet - a car where the front is from a SAAB and the back from a Volvo

Stamp of the Day: Husqvarna moped

An old fashioned Husqvarna moped from the 50s! Note how 'bike-like' it is, so selected today to aid the bikers in Tour de France that needs some extra help getting up the mountains. I bet they wished they had this little machine to help them out.

My friend KV's dad got an original 1960s Husqvarna for his birthday present a few years ago, very similar to this model, and lovely red and running smooth like a lathe!

Husqvarna is named after the town where the company started, Huskvarna in southern Sweden, and here in the USA they are famous for their chainsaws (which includes the brand Jonsered, another Swedish town name), motorcycles, sewing machines, and lawn mowers. They also sell or sold fridges, washing machines, cast iron stoves, and bicycles under this name. Wikipedia says these are all different companies that are related to the old royal weapon factory started 1680 in Huskvarna. This month Husqvarna motorcycles were bought by BMW, but the chainsaw company is still 100% Swedish.

The logo is an H as seen through a gun barrell and a sight - I never knew that until today! That of course comes from the old weapon factory. If you want to check out the historical timeline, it is here.

Tour de France: "Death comes with a big hammer"

Second stage in the Pyrenees today of Le Tour 2007, and another day of long, steep climbs. The tour first went up in the Pyrenees in 1910 with the mountain pass of Tourmalet on stage 10, 2114 meters high, as one of the major challenges for the cyclists. The tour organizers waited along the route in anticipation to see who, if anyone, could handle the 326 km long stage with several severe climbs. The climb of Tourmalet was after all rated as "hors catégorie" (beyond category) by tour sponsor and initiator, the magazine L'auto. The categorization of mountain roads was published by the magazine to inform motorists how difficult and steep they were, on a scale from 1 to 4 with 1 being the hardest. A category 1 climb was only to be attempted with the most powerful cars. "Hors catégorie" meant that motorists should not even try...

When the french participant Octave Lapize spotted the organizers beside the road he uttered the now famous "Vous êtes des assassins!" ("You are murderers!"). These words came from the man who was regarded as the greatest climbing cyclist ever. Lapize however survived "the attempt to take his life" not only to win the stage, but claimed the overall victory of the tour of 1910 back in Paris as well.

Lapize receiving the kiss of victory

The rating of the climbs in the tour still stands, but are not for motorists anymore. Both engines and road surfaces have improved considerably since then...

"Death comes with big hammer" was said yesterday by a Eurosport commentator when rider Cadel Evans, third in the overall classification, failed to keep up with the race leader Michael Rasmussen on the "hors catégorie"-climb of Plateau de Beille, the second of the day.

(Listening to while posting: John Paul Jones - Tidal)

Sunday, July 22, 2007


This is Limo, a very sweet 17.2 hand gelding warmblood cross. The owner of the barn across the street owns him, and shows him in adult equitation, which is when they jump 3ft courses and such. Hes about 16 years old, and has a severe murmur in his heart. He's going to go to a horse heart person to look at him, to make sure hes ok. He might be ok, or it might become worse over time. Hes had a good life, and deserves the best treatment. Any questions about him or any horsey questions in general are welcome!

Movie review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

LA, AREA, and I saw the latest (5th) Harry Potter movie today, the day after buying the 7th book in the store. LA has only 50 pages left of the 700-so pages, probably a 24-hour record for him, but AREA is lagging behind because she has been riding instead of reading. Plus they have to take turns.

Back to movie - I am not sure I read the 5th book, but I have read all previous ones. There are some things I remember, but not the general story, so I don't think I read it. But the movie was great - a 4 on a scale of 1-5. The acting was very good, much better than in some of the earlier movies, and it is more serious too, as in seriously scary and depressing. No big monsters though, this time it is more mind boggling and emotional turmoil inside Harry. I liked some of the special effects, they were less Disneyesque than before, and the scenery was definitely not prettified, rather coarse instead. But detailed and well-made. Of course there was a steam train too! So the movie is worth seeing, but you will be confused in the beginning if you haven't seen the previous ones. There is no summary first about what is going on, so read the books, read a summary of all the stories, or something like that so you are a bit familiar with the characters and the places. Or you will be confused.

But what really got me was how political the movie was, since the Ministry of Magic is trying to rule over education and throw innocent people in jail, how they curb free speech and people's right to gather. These days some of this reminds me too much of some of the things going on in America. Not that Lord Voldemort is in the White House, but I guess there is this culture of fear that has been fueled by bad journalism (it isn't even journalism when they just copy and paste from White House press releases and don't think and investigate themselves).

Tour de France: Man-Machine

Tour de France (1983) by Kraftwerk, one of the coolest album covers ever. It was inspired by a hungarian stamp, shown below. The faces of the cyclists resembles those of Kraftwerk members Ralf Hütter, Karl Bartos, Florian Schneider and Wolfgang Flür. Apparently the cover was changed for the reissue in 1999, only keeping the faces of the remaining members Ralf and Florian. Kraftwerk as a group failed because Ralph and Florian were a little to much fond of being out cycling instead of making music in the studio, at least according to former member Karl Bartos.

In my opinion the bicycle captures the essence of Kraftwerk, man and technology overlapping, and in harmony. The song could just as well have been on their record "The Man-Machine".

Another stamp-cycling connection: When US Postal Service sponsored Lance Armstrong's adventures of Tour de France, there were jokes of the need to raise the price of postage to afford his salary...

Stamps, art, music and Tour de France. How's that as a hybrid post?

Stamps of the Day: Wild boar and Garbo

Since the current theme are ribs from pigs, here is a stamp of some live, but wild, pigs from Russia. I also got a question on how to find stamps on the internet, and without google not much would be possible. Google images for 'topical stamp XXX" or 'stamp XXX" or "postage XXX" (eller frimärke for Swedish) where XXX is your topic and see what you can find!

There are also some other good websites, such as:
Russian stamps
US stamps (USPS), for about the last 10 years
Swedish stamps (Postverket, in Swedish) or go to this page, and click on Press pictures
ebay.com can be good too
Wonderful World of Stamps
Computers on stamps
Stamps by themes (French)
Dinosaur stamps
Chinese stamps
American Topical Association (lots of links here)
Norwegian railroad on stamps (and other countries too)
Thematic stamp site list

And, in fact, the most beautiful stamp in the world is Swedish: Greta Garbo of course! (note that the collaborative American stamp didn't get the honors). Here is a link to a larger version of the Swedish Garbo stamp.

Great food in Vermont: Curtis BBQ

Along the Connecticut River valley in Vermont, north of Brattleboro in the little village of Putney, there is a fantastic place for barbecued meat called Curtis BBQ. It is a bit out of place, perched next to a gas station and a large highway intersection, but the smell, the smell, the smell is right. Judging from the size of their parking lot, people come here from far away. Vermont is not famous for its barbeque, but this place IS famous (PP was here 15 years ago, so it is going strong too). The Roadfood review says:

"The self-proclaimed “Ninth Wonder of the World” truly is an amazing phenomenon: an excellent barbecue parlor in Vermont. No regional excuses need be made for the racks of ribs and half chickens pitmaster Curtis Tuff cooks on a big open grate over smoldering hardwood. These are world-class meats, served in high roadside style. When we say high style we mean that this is not a restaurant at all. It is a picnic."
The setup is a bit unusual too, since the kitchen is inside an old blue school bus, and you order through its window. The menu is extensive since there are lots of side dishes. "Slab" refers to ribs, a full slab is about 60 cm long I would guess.
The grill is in an old trailer, wheels still attached, and with chickens and giant slabs of ribs being slabbed down right in front of you. When you sit under the umbrellas at the picnic tables you get the smoke wafting over you now and then...
PP and I couldn't help comparing the food to Ridgewood Barbecue in Tennessee, the best BBQ we have ever had, but this was not far behind. The pork and chicken were delicious, as was the home-bottled lemonade soda (Curtis' Lemonade), and cucumber salad. The baked beans could have been better, they need more bacon and more sweetness. But the pork was great, falling off the bone as leaves in fall. And the BBQ sauce - mmmmmm!
Last night we had BBQ ribs here at home, and they had been on our grill for over 4 hours slowly cooking and smoking - yummy!!! Maybe red meat is not so good for you, but it is definitely good. We made our own barbecue sauce too, with too much pepper in it (we did follow the recipe). We need to try some different sauce recipes, so we can get it RIGHT. We had mussels made on the grill in a cast iron pan for appetizer (try it! so delicious) and coleslaw (cabbage, carrots, mayo, applecider vinegar, salt & pepper salad) with the ribs. I got so stuffed!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New swedish word on Google

When googling for "borgarvälling" ("gruel de bourgeois", referring to caffe latte), there is one (!) hit, my post about the nice label of the Bella espresso. I'm unique, just like everyone else! ;)


Friday, July 20, 2007

To all lurkers:

We know you are here, you read this blog and think and feel and eat and breathe, but you don't comment. We know who you are (at least some of you) and we just want you to know that you are VERY welcome to comment on anything. If you don't have a gmail account and want to comment, send us an e-mail (if you know who we are :P ), and we will help you out. What you are doing is called lurking in the blog world. Freedom to all lurkers!

Here is some more about the word lurk, lurker, and lurking... (and don't take offense at the negative connotation, we love all our friends).

From Merriam-Webster's English Dictionary:
Etymology: Middle English; akin to Middle High German luren to lie in wait
1 a : to lie in wait in a place of concealment especially for an evil purpose b : to move furtively or inconspicuously c : to persist in staying
2 a : to be concealed but capable of being discovered; specifically : to constitute a latent threat b: to lie hidden
3 : to read messages on an Internet discussion forum (as a newsgroup or chat room) without contributing

and in Swedish from the Svenska Akademiens Ordbok:
[fsv. lurker, kringstrykare, sv. dial. lurk, lurker, trög människa, tiggare, skälm, slyngel, tölp; jfr ä. d. lyrk, påk, äv. föraktlig, benämning på person, nor. lurk, påk, stor o. klumpig person, tungt föremål, isl. lurkr, tjock käpp färö. lurkur, knölpåk, medelstor torsk; möjl. av ir. lorg, tjock käpp.

Stamp of the Day: a machine

I think, but I am not sure, that this is a lathe on this Soviet Union 1957 stamp celebrating Russian Machine Shops. PP, maybe you can tell? The thing in the background hanging from the ceiling is a travers in Swedish, which is probably the same in English. Note Lenin up to the top left.

EVE: Online

Recently, I found this game called EVE online which is a futuristic ship based MMORPG(Massivly Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) Where you choose between 4 playable races and interact in a vast, nearly infinite universe. The official site can be found here. There is also a 14-day trial that you can do, and that can be found here. If you feel satisfied during that 14-day trial, you can upgrade it to a paying acount and engage in mass combat with thousands of players at once.

See you in space!

There are some good things on American TV after all

From last night - Keith Olberman's Special comment on President Bush and the Iraq War. Watch it, he is grilling Bush alive!

How did they know?

A song about me!!!

Favorite Swedish food

Here are some of my favorite Swedish food that is available here in the US (and mostly only at IKEA, of course). Do you seen anything in common among these items? The only thing I know is that they are GOOD. In order: Slotts mustard, Wasa crispbread, Abba anchovy-style herring, Felix pickled beets, smoked roe spread (kaviar) and Kung Gustaf sardines in tomato sauce. Mmmmmm!
Those of you that live in Sweden might not think these are special, but they are!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Glass Flowers

Amazing Glass flowers at Harvard Univ.

They also have animals

Sorry the pics of the flowers are not that good...there must be better ones...

Snapshot: Brazilian roadstand

The bags to the left and right contain Araucaria nuts and the jars have preserves that are locally made in the mountains outside of Sao Paulo. This was a small roadstand, nothing in particular, with an amazong (=amazing) variety of preserves.

Another Swedish word in English?

Today's word at yourDictionary.com:

Word of the Day: Fartlek (noun)

Pronunciation: ['fah(r)t-lek]

Definition: An athletic training technique developed in Sweden in the 1930s by the Swedish national coach, Gosta Holmer, comprising alternating periods of intense exercise with periods of less strenuous effort or any workout based on this technique.

Usage: An good example of a fartlek is the saltin fartlek, which includes (1) a 10-minute warm-up jog, followed by (2) a 3 minute hard stride followed by a 1-minute jog repeated 6 times, and then finished with (3) a 10 minute warm-down jog. Because it is a borrowed word that appears rather un-English, it has developed no family thus far.

Suggested Usage: Although fartleks are workout routines well-suited for any sport, they are most closely associated with running: "Bruce likes to run through 3-4 fartleks every day in preparation for a marathon." However, the alternation of vigorous activity with slower sets the stage for metaphoric manipulation: "Buzzy, you can't study in fartleks; you have to work constantly and continuously on your studies if you are to succeed in school."

Etymology: Today's word is actually the Swedish word for "speed play" based on fart "running, speed" + lek "play." "Fart" is the noun from Swedish fara "go, move," akin to German fahren "travel, journey" and English "fare" as in "fare thee well" or simply "farewell," from Old English faran "to journey, travel." Another derivate of the same root is "ferry" from earlier "ferian." In Greek, the original root emerged as poros "journey," seen lurking in "emporium" from Greek emporion "merchant," someone who did quite a bit of journeying in the days of ancient Greeks. In Latin it emerged in portare "to carry" which we see everywhere in English borrowings: "porter," "portfolio," "import," "deport," "important," and many, many more.

—Dr. Language, yourDictionary.com

I remember in school gym how we had to stop, walk, run, stop, walk, run, over and over, but I didn't know that was called fartlek. I had no idea this word was used in English either. Of course smorgasbord and ombudsman are used, but otherwise Swedish words are rare in English. Have any of you ever heard fartlek in an English sentence? What we really need is the word LAGOM to enter the English language.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ebon army battlepack

This is a creation that I created called 'Ebon army battlepack' using LDD (lego digital designer) and has 3 foot soldiers, a metal colossus and a ballista that fires. I designed this set so that if bought in multitudes of 10 or more, an army could be created (hence the name 'Ebon army battlepack'). It takes a few weeks for it to upload itself into the gallery, so you won't be seeing it in your toy shelves any time soon. It costs USD 12.61 or if you're from sweden it costs SEK 124.93 ( which is cheap compared to some items in the gallery that can cost over a $1,000.00!

Edit: The is now up for sale and can be found here.

Stamp of the Day: The Slinky

Keeping on the theme of toys, today's stamp is the Slinky!

Art in Chicago: The Thorne Rooms

At the Institute for Art in Chicago there is a famous collection of about 50 miniature rooms made in the early 1900s. They are inset in the wall and only backlighted with light coming in from windows in the back or the side walls, so there is no lightning at all in the room themselves. I took some photos, without flash, so they are grainy (sorry about that), but I think you get the idea. The rooms were designed by the wife of the owner of a fancy department store in Chicago, Marshall Field's, and the Montgomery Ward stores (like Ahlens in Stockholm), and she hired artisans to make the furniture, walls, needlepoint, etc. All items where handmade, and often of the correct type of wood. After a lot of digging in the book I have I found out her maiden name was Narcissa Niblack, but she is always mentioned as Mrs. James Ward Thorne in our book.

I loved this collection, which I had never heard about before. I just happened to run into it when I was visiting and saw the sign "Thorne Miniature Rooms". The scale is 1 inch = 1 foot, a scale she started to use that later became standard for miniature works like this and dollhouses. There are other of these rooms at other museums across the country, so now I have more places I need to visit.
She started with making a series of European rooms from different periods (Louis XIV, Victorian British, etc.) but those didn't interest me as much as the American rooms she designed later. I especially liked the kitchen. They looked 'lived in', cozy, and the light coming in from the windows made them look so welcoming. Below is the New Mexico Dining Room (c. 1940). She was very exact with the details, so note the beams, the typical adobe fireplace, and the rugs. Below is the Pennsylvania kitchen (1752), which looks like something that could have been from this area in New Jersey's area too. It is a kitchen in a Pennsylvania Dutch house (Amish, or similar). Look at the glass on the table, it is probably only 4 mm high, and still copies the original design.
And here is a third kitchen, this one a Massachusetts living room and kitchen (1675-1700). Look at the typical elliptic rugs, you can still see them used around here. This kitchen is supposed to represent a Pilgrim kitchen in the Boston area about 50 years after they first settled. Glass was very expensive since it had to be imported, so windows were small and of many small pieces of glass.
And, for comparison, a English COttage Kitchen from the Queen Anne period (1702-1714). In the book I got it says that the hooked rugs on the floor are not typical of this kitchen, since they were invented in America and only available later. Instead floors like this had dry grass or sedges strewn over them, which was swept out when it got too dirty. But I bet that didn't look as neat.