Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kayaking in the archipelago of Uppland

I went on a camping tour last weekend with some friends. We were kayaking in the archipelago of north Uppland in Sweden on the east side of Gräsö.

The weather was unsteady, lot of clouds and windy too. The kayaking became something different than in good weather, it required some skill in the waves and wind and rain in sunday morning. It was fun and exciting, and I got a few good surfs with my kayak. It was a nice outdoor weekend. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nitobe, a place to be

I love Japanese and Chinese gardens. Maybe it is that they follow so strict rules, or maybe it is the combination of strict and whimsical. In Vancouver I visited the Nitobe Memorial Garden, which is designed by a famous Japanese landscape architect. It is not big, and it is located on the University of British Columbia campus. But, as we say in Swedish: 'liten, men naggande god" ("small, but superb"), that is exactly how it is. Here are some photos for your enjoyment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another look at the Olympics

Going for the Gold

Click on each of the pictograms to get another view on China and the Olympics...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sometimes you just need a sister..

This picture by Sandra Kuck, an american artist, is here to illustrate my longing. The world is small today and travel is pretty cheap, but still sometimes people are just too far away.

Monday, August 18, 2008

UBC Botanical Garden, Vancouver

Some photos from the UBC Botanical garden in Vancouver, a great place on the university campus. These photos are from the plantings, but there is also a forest with enormous conifer trees, ferns, and mosses, but I didn't really get any good photos of those. In one of the tall dead tree tops, really high up, a bald eagle was sitting (sorry, I was using my little camera and didn't have a tele lens, but you can kind of see its' white head). The Asian white poppies were amazing with their shadows through the petals. The purple flower with spikes is around it is a flowering artichoke, and the leaf with a purple vein is a cabbage leaf that got a little help in Photoshop. I love 'stockrosor' (hollyhocks), with their tall spikes of large flowers. We can't grow any in our garden because they get attacked by a rust fungus and die, which is a shame.

American values

I am about to become a double citizen, both Swedish and American, so I can vote here in the US. I figured that since I have lived here now for 14 years or so and pay lots of taxes, I might as well have a say in how my taxes are used and who will be the president (and I hope it won't be the 'old white-haired wrinkly guy').

On the citizenship application you have to answer some really specific questions, such as:

Have you joined any organization, including the Communist Party, or become associated or connected therewith in any way?

Have you practiced polygamy, received income from illegal gambling, been a prostitute, procured anyone for prostitution or been involved in any other unlawful commercialized vice, encouraged or helped any alien to enter the United States illegally, illicitly trafficked in drugs or marijuana, given any false testimony to obtain immigration benefits, or been a habitual drunkard?

There are some more questions too, mainly about if you have been arrested or convicted of any crimes and if you are willing to bear arms in the military for the US.

I find it really interesting that what they focus on are a few 'evil' things, and there is a lot more that is unsaid. Isn't marijuana a drug? Why is that listed specifically? Why not list heroin specifically? What counts as a habitual drunkard? Which organizations are people supposed to list? What if you joined the Norwegian Modelboat Building Association of Northern Minnesota? Do you have to list that? The Cold War fear is still present with the specific mention of the Communist Party. What about Nazist, aren't they as bad? Polygamy?

What if you are a man that is a member of the Cooperative Commune Party in Outer Minneapolis, just helped a green alien to land on Earth, bought a prostitute a breakfast one morning, grow marijuana as a medical drug, have a Kentucky bourbon every night, and are married to 5 women in 5 states, but you don't know about it because you are suffering from some severe personality disorder? You could never become a citizen...

(Just heard a squirrel running on the side of the house. They climb up and down without any effort at all. Silly squirrels. Thinking about it, animals don't need to pass any citizenship tests, they can behave however they wish and won't get kicked out of the country.)

It would be reallyy interesting to see what questions Sweden asks its potential citizens. Since the Communist Party (now called the Left Party) is in the parliament, I doubt that question is included. I think I find that question the most old-fashioned and outdated.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Food quote of the day

"I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded... dead" - Woody Allen

Oh, if he knew what he was missing. Ask SK, my former student, who had her first living oyster in Vancouver and loved it. Here is the photo:

oysters and tapas

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Film is dead?

While at Wegman's the other day(its a grocery store) I saw the notice: "Last day for film developing, Aug. 9" It gave me pause,and not just because it was my birthday that was the "end of film"

I know some here have proudly proclaimed "Film is dead", I'm not sure I agree, but it is certainly waning. If you poke about online there are big groups still into film. At the New Hope Auto show this past weekend I saw several people with 35mm slr's. I usually see a fair number at the various railroad things I frequent. I see younger people with them, it is not just older people still hanging onto film.

Film is dead, long live film!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Welcome to our blog, world citizens

Our world map on the right side has just started over, after a year of accumulating visits from places everywhere, I mean everywhere. Mauritius, Sao Paulo, Nigeria, hawaii, you name it. Of course most visits were from Europe and North America. In total we had 29 837 visits, nearly thirty thousand, which I think is great. This map to the left is from the archives, and unfortunately you can't get a bigger version. But look at all those red dots - it is like chicken pox for bloggers. Thanks to all of you that have visited and please visit again. Now you can see your dot appear on the new map which started today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mixed things

Chinese food, worth a look: scorpions, insects and such

MADDER is not a herbal medicine against craziness, it is an herb related to coffee. Not sure why it was in a jar in an old pharmacy in Philadelphia. Mad, Madder, Maddest?

And check out what we saw this weekend:

Yummy Red Lollipop

Update: This fantastic photo was taken by and processed by AREA, and you can see more of her photos on her Flickr account. Check out the teal-colored Jaguar on her web site. I also have car photos from the same show on my Flickr account.

Input wanted

We are planning our new tile floor in the hallway - grey and cobolt blue little tiles. What do you think about this design? PP did the edge, LA did the center. The edge design will go all the way around of course. I love it. If you have better or different ideas, let us know in the comments.

sushi or brick?

When LA saw this he said: "Wow, that is the combination of my two favorite things in the world, sushi and LEGO!" This is great stuff. (thanks PP for the link to more)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rick Rolling

Here, take a look at this:
It is supposed to be 'The Dark Knight part 1/13'.
Obviously someone hacked the CD and uploaded it to youtube.
But wait, just take a good, tempted look at it...

You just got 'Rick Rolled'!

This new youtube phenomenon is were someone inserts a continuous picture, then inserts 'Never Gonna Give you Up' by Rick Astley. The picture should be tempting, something you know your victim will want, like a new movie or computer game.

Why would someone take the time to do this? Simply, because they have no life.
Personally, I have been Rick Rolled dozens of times.

Friday, August 8, 2008

pepper and...

The best looking graffiti I have ever seen. In Vancouver's Gastown, of course. It did point towards the ocean so it was accurate too.

for modern techno babies

Seen in Vancouver. My Dad always wondered where the OFF button was on our heads, and look, here it is, in the Ipood baby shirt. If you have a small car (like a Mini Cooper) and a baby, then you of course need to have the Mini Pooper shirt too. No, KV, I didn't buy one for your newest one :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vancouver, the city - like it or not?

On our last day in Vancouver we spent a few hours downtown, and went to four different areas: Chinatown, Gastown, along the harbor, and Granville Island. I took lots of photos, and will only show a selected few here, the rest can be seen on my Flickr account, in the Vancouver folder.

Some thoughts about Vancouver: All buildings are made of glass, especially modern apartment and office buildings. There is a lot of construction going on, but also areas right downtown that are in horrible shape, real dumps with homeless people or abandoned lots. Reminded me of parts of Baltimore or St. Louis, so a real American city-problem. The harbor is right in the center of the city, which is surrounded by mountains. You have giant cargo ships, railroad, and roads straight into the city center. The railroad that ends in Vancouver is Canadian Pacific and you can take the train all across North America nearly to Greenland from here.

The worst we saw was in Gastown, or near it, is an area that in the guidebook has been described as 'old town' feel with cute stores and cobble stone streets. There were some cobble stones, but most stores were tourist souvenir shops with things Made in China. We did see a sweater made in USA, a thing you can barely find in USA these days. Run down areas here too, and a steam powered clock that whistled four times an hour. That was cool, it is the only one in the world, but I bet they just put it there to lure tourists to the area. But some alleys you stayed away from, you just didn't feel like walking on a street where someone had just peed (we saw him do it).

Chinatown was wonderful, and had a different feel to it compared to New York's Chinatown. The buildings were smaller and it seemed more authentic and much less 'krims-krams' sold to tourists. Here were many markets with fruits, seafood, and medicinal plants and animals. Dried gecko, dried scallops and mussles, dried squid, anyone? We had lunch at a fantastic place called Hon's Wun-Tun (Noodle) House, highly recommended. We stuffed ourselves with dumplings, roast duck, noodles and chicken dishes. Nothing tasted like the usual Chinese-American fast food restaurant, and it was so different and so much better. The Chinese beer I had was the best I had during the whole trip, and Canada is known for its great beer so I must have missed out on the good ones.

Finally we ended up on Granville Island, which is paradise. It is a small island nestled under a big bridge going into downtown, and filled with old wharf and shipyard buildings that mostly have been converted to stores and restaurants. The best is a large public food market, just like a Swedish 'saluhall', but good and filled with local and organic things. I could live there forever! I bought spices of course, Asian ones that are hard to find, and sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili sauce that I love. You can get it in Sweden but not in New Jersey. SK and I ended up at the restaurant The Sandbar (with its own boiler signage) for a fast dinner before we had to go to the airport. SK had her first raw oysters, and she loved it, and the rest of the food was great too. But the best was the view over the sound and the rest of Vancouver. Absolutely magnificent. Each chair came with its own blanket to wrap around you if the evening got cold. What a place. At that moment Vancouver city redeemed itself in my eyes. I really could live there I think. I have more from Vancouver, pictures from the Botanical Garden and Anthropology museum are up next.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Spartan diner

LA and I had lunch at the "New Diner in Sparta" in northern New Jersey on Saturday, a place that turned out to be not so new. The whole place had seen better times, probably around 1950 or 1960. The pink vinyl seating and the personal juke boxes, unfortunately now non-functional, could have been in the movie Grease. The food was OK, not the best, and the ice tea was horrible. I won't dwell into a long restaurant review, it wasn't worth it. But the atmosphere was cool as a historical flashback. The pink seats looked like giant lips up close.

Ice tea. Looked better than it tasted.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Travelling light

A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says,

'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger".