Tuesday, June 30, 2009

4-letter car names are very common

Why? There is FIAT, SEAT, SAAB, JEEP, Lada, Alfa (romeo), Audi, FORD, Mini (of course), Opel, Tata, Benz, and .... now IKEA? See photo to the left. Any theories on why 4-letter names are so common and any thoughts on how to put the IKEA car together? Note that you got one tool in your kit. (link)

Alcoholic leverage?

Photo from OK, seen in Sweden:
Vinberusad salami (= "Drunk on wine salami")
Morellino di Scansano turns out to be a red wine from the southern part of Tuscany. The salami doesn't look too wet, maybe the wine was injected?

(note, the words 'vinberusad salami' has no hits on Google yet, but soon it will.... right here on the blog)

Monday, June 29, 2009

It is all the universe's fault!

There is an interesting article in SEED MAGAZINE online about extinctions and time:
"Sometimes, something kills nearly all life on the entire planet. But is there a regular cycle to this creation and destruction of Earth’s biodiversity?" Read more here about the geography of the universe and the sun and how it all can create giant extinctions about every 62 million years: The Extinction Oscillator by Adrian Melott.

Fort Nonsense, a real place

This place is not as nonsensical as the name implies: Fort Nonsense in Morristown, NJ. Up on a hill overlooking the relatively (and relatively is here used in a US historical concept, not European or otherwise) ancient city of Morristown are the remains of a fort built by the revolutionary army in the late 1770s (1777 more precisely). All that remains are.... nothing. The outline of the defense system are marked with newer stones in the ground. The soldiers were told to build the fort by George Washington during a winter, but the British never came so the fort was never used. The name came later, possibly reflecting that Washington told his soldiers to build the fort just to keep them occupied during the long winter. Today it is a wooded hill and part of the US National Park System, and a great place for picnics. Back in the 1700s I bet there weren't so many trees around, since they had been cut down to feed the the iron furnaces in the areas. (Thanks to SK that showed me this place.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Little Garden Gem in New Jersey

Not far from George Washington's historical headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, USA, are The Cross Estate Gardens. It started as a summer retreat built by the railroad man John A. Bensel in 1905, and the main house and the 5-story water tower is still there. In the forest near the house is a great giant outdoor grill - just like one I want at our house!

The house is surrounded by a small but very charming garden, which was developed by the later owners, the Cross Family. They were involved in the Horticultural Society of New York.
There is a perennial garden with a formal layout with brick walks - really nice!, and a large arbor covered in wisteria and clematis. Another part is more wild, with taller stands of trees and herbs, including a giant dawn redwood. It is a really peaceful place hidden among the valleys and hills of this part of New Jersey.
The gardens are maintained by volunteers - thank you for all your work!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Emboldened, emphasized and impressive empanadas

My friend SK showed me Morristown recently, and took me to a fantastic restaurant that is not really a 'hole-in-the-wall', but more of 'hallway-in-the-house' in downtown Morristown. Raul's Empanadas (seems like their website licence wasn't paid.. ooops, can't link to it) serves up more kinds of empanadas than I ever knew existed, and even if they look the same from the outside, their innards differs deliciously. Empanadas are like pirogies but from Spain and South America - filled bread packages that you eat with a spicy sauce. Three sauces are available, chipotle mayonaisse, hot habanero, and green chile. Yummy for all three.

We had three kinds of fillings: Five Sausages & Lime (with Columbian, Mexican, Italian, Argentinean, and Spanish sausages), Hummus (that was for SK, she said was better than expected), and Curry Chicken, with sweet plantains on the side. They also have Buffalo Wing Empanadas, Guava and Cheese Empanadas, Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Empanadas, and the list goes on. They seem to do great business with deliveries around town to court houses and county offices. If you are in Morristown, NJ, and don't know where to eat, go here! Don't you like the orange and blue? I do!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why I don't like some modern things...

The image on the left is from this article that is really worth reading.

When the computer, car, iPod, digital camera, router, squeezebox, fridge, freezer, microwave, gas stove, sump pump, bike gears, cell phone, battery charger, etc. breaks down I don't know how to repair them. Things have gotten too complicated and unexplanatory, and especially those things that have micro chips and data code in them are impossible to repair yourself.

Our battery charger died about 8 months after we bought it - I guess we have to throw it out.

Our freezer has repeated problems with water leaks, and to get to the drainage pan you have to turn off and defrost the fridge for 2 days, then remove the whole ice maker which include about ten parts and 40 screws, and then you see the pan. Bad design.

When our SAAB in the 1990s had some mice living in its engine while parked outside, they chewed on the cable that had the microchip in it, of course. It was the most expensive cable in the car to replace, of course. And no warranty to cover things like that. Who knew that rodents like rubber? I bet many knew, but didn't care.

Computer problems are the worst, at least if you work with Windows-based systems. We are all supposed to be anti-viral, spyware scanning experts, and fix all their problems. We have seven computers in the house (I know, overkill, but some are old and not much used), and the only ones that never have problems are the Macs. Printers - we have three, only one that work. What happened to making things that last, things that you can understand and fix? I can service my sewing machine, change a tire on a bike, and build a raised bed, but I can't do anything if my cell phone breaks down or if the printer stops printing. Things are getting out of hand, and I miss the simplicity of easy, well-made things. I think so much of frustration in society is because of this, the lack of power of things we use.

It is such a waste. I just ordered a recycling package for my old cellphone so it won't end up in a landfill and will be given as a 911 phone to some needy senior or woman suffering from domestic violence. But why aren't these things done by default? Why do we have to seek them out? Why doesn't companies in New Jersey need to recycle? Why aren't regular batteries recycled? Things are too cheap, it is not worth to repair and recycle, or things are not made to last if they are expensive. Slit-och-släng (Wear and throw away) is back again. That is my rant for today.

As PP says "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." (an expression from the Depression in the 1930s)

Too small to see

This is some pretty amazing tiny art. "Willard uses tiny homemade tools and paints with a hair plucked from a housefly's back and carves microscopic figures from grains of rice or sand or sugar." The sculptures are inserted into the eye of a needle.

There is a great animated video of our superman president too, made as a satire, but failed as that since we love it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Seen on other blogs

Sometimes I just browse around, and check out blogs that are not my everyday places to visit. Tonight I enjoyed:

A luna moth at Farmgirl Fare (always reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver's book Prodigal Summer, a fantastic read, especially for entomologists and wildlife biologists)

Why I love farmer's markets... or really, markets anyware as long as people sell their own things, not junk produced in factories.

Why the 80s sucked... clothing wise. And I love how organic shapes and colors can be so beautiful in/on manmade things.

My friend Cindy got a beautiful surprise waiting for her in Madagascar. And some animals have really long tongues. Wow.

If you chew Copenhagen, it is a pleasure. Those were cheap oranges! Now they can be up to 1 dollar each.

Swine flu news: "They found that S-OIV was borne of several viruses that circulate in pigs, with contributions from avian and human strains. The virus made the leap to humans several months before we twigged to its presence. It was spreading right under our noses, undetected because of our lack of surveillance of flu viruses in pigs." (Note: a 15-year old boy died of it in the neighboring township last week....)

.... and I really want to make homemade pea ravioli. Maybe next Sunday...

Flag day!

Happy midsummer! Glad midsommar!

Here is what we had for lunch:
Swedish flag on top of Finnish herring salad on top of lettuce on top of toast on top of Italian plate on top of Indiska table cloth on top of IKEA table on top of spruce floor on top of basement on top of soil on top of bedrock.

As normal on a Swedish midsummer it is raining. But we are in New Jersey, and it has been raining for weeks, every day. I am tired of this weather, it is like a bad Swedish summer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Teenagers and supernovas

This is especially for LA, who loves space:
Teenage girl discovers new type of supernova (read more by clicking on the link)

"What Caroline discovered is now known as SN2008ha, and it turns out to be a very interesting object — in fact, it is an entirely new class of supernova, never before seen."

Now that I think is cool. I find new species, but new supernovas are definitely a step above that.

And while you are at it - check out AstronomyCast!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Breaking car news from Sweden

There is a special place in my heart for the old, real SAABs, the ones made before GM bought the company and turned the car into copies of other cars and the SAABs lost all their character and style. With the fall of GM, SAAB was also put on bankruptcy notice but today it is finalized, Christian von Koenigsegg is buying SAAB (link in English), backed by Norwegian and Swedish money and other sources. The polls in Sweden say that 70% of Swedes think this is a great thing, even if Koenigsegg is only known for building high-end, customized sports cars and only 20 a year or so.

Good luck Koenigsegg, hopefully you can make SAAB special again. I grew up in a SAAB 95, then a SAAB 96, my first car was a SAAB 900 (the last real version of it), and then a SAAB 9000 (GM-made, with horrible, expensive problems). Back to basics, please!

Day 7 in Abisko: Gone fishing

More from OK and his iPhone in the northern Swedish latitudes:

Idag planerar jag att ta en tur med tält några dagar. Tills dess jag är tillbaka får ni hålla tillgodo med följande (mycket) lokala sevärdheter.

(Today I am leaving for a hike with a tent for a few days. Until I am back, you will have to be satisfied with these (very) local sightseeing items.)

Bastuns omklädningsrum. Som en norrlänning skulle säga: "Å här häng man använda handdukar som ska bli ren." (The dressing room in the sauna. As a northerner would say: ".. can't translate.. but the point is that reindeer and clean is the same word in Swedish :) [LS noted])
"Any frolic in your pocket?" [Frolic is a kind of dried dog food]
Den verkliga bossen på vandrarhemmet är dock Murre. (The real boss at the hostel is Murre.)
Långväga gäster har med sig sina inhemska specialiteter. Vad det är? Krylli-Cola kanske? :) (Far away guests are bringing their own cultural specialities. What is this? Cyrrilli-Cola maybe?)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trying something new, VB6

VB6, that it is. That we are trying out, PP and I. It is not a new kind of car engine, dish soap, or camera lens. We read an article by Mark Bittman, and got hooked. He is the food writer for The New York Times, and VB6 stands for... Vegan before 6 PM. Vegan was too much a stretch for us, so we are doing Vegetarian before 6 now. So you get to splurge on fish, poultry and meat at dinner, but cut it out for breakfast and lunch to cut down on calories and bad fats. It is certainly an easy way of eating more veggies and salads, and it doesn't get boring. We will see how long we can keep it up (and yes, I doubt I want to do this in Sweden, I am dying for herring and potatoes for lunch.) Doesn't this look appetizing?


Day 6: These boots were made for walking, and swimming...

Another day in the Swedish Arctic from OK's iphone diary/camera (posted and translated by LS):

Idag tog vi bilen västerut till Kopparåsen, där jag klev av och mamma fortsatte med bilen för att hitta ställen att skåda och måla på.

(Today we took the car to the east to Kopparåsen (= The Copper Ridge), where I got off and mom continued with the car to find some nice places where she could bird watch and paint. )

Kopparåsen heter inte så utan skäl, på berget Koukkel inmutades 1897 en stor yta för brytning av just koppar. Detta var innan järnvägsförbindelsen mellan Kiruna och Narvik var byggd, men planerna var storstilade trots detta. Man planerade brytning och viss anrikning på plats vilket skulle ge arbete åt 500 man, och transporten ned fram fjället skulle ske med linbana.

The Copper Ridge isn't named that without reason, sine a large area was claimed on the mountain Koukkel in 1897 for mining of said copper. This was before there was a railroad between Kiruna and Narvik was built, but the plans were grandiose regardless. They planned mining and some concentrating right there which should give jobs for 500 men, and the transportation down from the mountain should be done with a cableway. )

Man kan på många ställen se var de brutit i grunda dagbrott, och invid har de staplat malmen i snygga rätblock. Detta gjorde man för att mäta hur mycket malm som brutits, lönen var nämligen 4,50 kronor per kubikmeter.

(You can see in many places where they mined in shallow open areas, and next to each pit they have stacked the ore in nice cubes. They did this to measure how much ore they had collected, since the wage was 4.50 Swedish kronor per cubic meter).

Det hus som gruvadministrationen använde finns kvar, med fin snickarglädje och strålande utsikt. Idag var dock molnen ganska låga och när jag fortsatte stigen norrut mot Vadvetjåkka nationalpark så gick jag upp i molnen och regnet. Molnen lättade efter ett slag och plötsligt fick jag en strålande vy mot udalen mellan Vadvetjåkka och Njunjes. Tog fikarast på en kulle nära Njuoraluspi.

(The house that the mining administration used still exists, with nice gingerbread work and gorgeous views. The clouds were a bit low today and when I continued the trail north towards Vadvetjåkka National Park I walked up into the clouds and the rain. The clouds eased up after a while and suddenly a fantastic view opened up showing the U-shaped glacial valley between Vadvatjåkka and Njunjes. I took a break on a little hill near Njuoraluspi.)

Vände åter i mina fotspår på den måttligt använda stigen, de enda skoavtrycken jag såg var mina egna. Stigen var trots bra rösning svår att hitta bitvis då den gick genom snölegor och över hällar ristade av isen. Per telefon avtalade jag med mamma att mötas vid Björkstugan, men stigen ned dit visade sig vara mycket vag och svår att följa. Väl nere i dalen fann jag bara brofästen men ingen bro över den forsande jåkken som jag behövde passera för att komma till E10:an.

(I turned back into my own foot tracks on the ligthly worn trail, and the only tracks i saw where my own. The trail was hard to find despite good stone markers [those stone mounds in the photos], since it partly went through snow and over large rockslabs engraved by the ice age glaciers. By phone I talked to Mom and we decided to meet at Björkstugan (The Birch House), but the trail down to there turned out to be very vague and hard to follow. When I finally got down into the valley I only found the remnants of the foundations of the bridge but no bridge over the rushing stream that I need to cross to get to road E10.)

Med hjälp av telefonens GPS visade det sig att jag kommit ned en km för långt österut och fick ta mig zick-zackandes genom tät vide och krokiga björkar till den bro västerut som faktiskt skulle finnas. Nästan framme hade jag nästa lilla äventyr, jag skulle kliva ned mot en forsande bäck för att sedan passera den. Då brast min vadringsstav och jag fann mig strax sittandes mitt i bäcken med vatten över naveln! Tur i oturen så klarade kamera, telefon, karta och annat inte så vattentåligt sig precis över vattnet. Numera vet jag att sarekstövlar rymmer mycket vatten! :)

(With the help of the phone's GPS I found out that I had come down one kilometer too far to the east, and had to get myself to the west zig-zaging through thick willow shrubs and gnarly birches to the bridge that actually should exist. Nearly there I had my next little adventure. I should step down into a little streaming creak to cross it, when my hiking pole broke and I found myself sitting in the middle of the creek with water up to my belly button! Lucky for me, the camera, map, and other not so waterproof things kept themselves right above the water. Now I know that Swedish Sarek rubber boots can contain a lot of water. )

Jag hittade rätt bro strax därefter och mötte mamma, som fick bistå mig att med stor ansträngning dra av mina stövlar. Väl hemma igen åt vi en välförtjänt middag bestående av renskavsgryta smasatt med messmör och färskpotatis.

(I found the right bridge soon thereafter and met Mom, who had to help with all her force to pull off my boots. Back home in the cottage we ate a well-deserved dinner consisting of reindeer stew with 'messmör" and new potatoes.)

Vy mot Tornehamn från Koukkel. (View towards Tornehamn from Koukkel.)
Historien om Kopparåsens koppargruva. (The history of the mine [LS note: Sorry, I won't translate it all])
Snyggt och prydligt staplat. (Beautifully and neatly arranged.)
Ett lite djupare brott, med snö på botten. (A little deeper mine, with snow at the bottom.)
Gruvhuset. (The mining house. [LS note: Try to locate this at coordinates 68.4166718, 18.4833336, it is out in nowhere])
Kopparmalm. (Copper ore.)
Veranda med snickarglädje och fin vindflöjel som sig bör. (Porch with gingerbread work and nice weathervane, just like it should be.)
Vy från trappen. (View from the porch.)
Tjohoo, jag hittade rost idag! Rester efter decauvillebanan. Det var länge sen nån smörjde dragbanan. :) (Yipee, I found rust today! Remains of the Decauville cableway. It was a long time ago since anyone oiled the gears.)
"Näfveqvarn 1270 kilo" ("Näfveqvarn 1270 kg")
Fjällbjörken håller en låg profil. (The birch is keeping a low profile. [LS note: Det är en liten dvärgbjörk, inte fjällbjörk :) )
Mot Vadvetjåkka! (Towards Vadvetjåkka!
Gammal snö. (Old snow.)
Uppklarnande mot Vadvetjåkka. (Nicer weather towards Vadvetjåkka.)
I de många småsjöarna fanns vigg, sjöorre och alfågel. (In the many small lakes were Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, and Long-tailed Duck.)
Fint flyttblock. (Nice boulder.)
Finare udal än Lapporten? Vadvetjåkka nationalpark. (Nicer u-shaped glacial valley than the Lap Portal? Vadvetjåkka Nnational Park.
Jag trampade nästan på en ruvande alfågel, vi blev nog lika förskräckta båda två. (I nearly stepped on a nesting Long-Tailed duck, we probably got equally scared both of us.)
Grönt te i det gröna. (Green tea in the green.)
Snön kalvar. (The snow is making babies in the lake.)
"Vintage Lapsang Souchong". Det var te i burken. Eller om det var en sten. Svårt att säga... :) ("Vintage Lapsang Souchong". It was tea in the jar. Or maybe a rock. It was hard to tell... :) [LS note: Definitely vintage!]
Rosling. Särskilt för LS. (Bog rosemary. Especially for LS. [LS note: Thanks! I love this wonderful plant in the blueberry family. Its Latin name is Andromeda polifolia. It must be a treat for a plant to have such a nice star-like name as Andromeda.)
Vy mot Tornehamn på nedvägen. (View towards Tornehamn on the way back.)
Någon sorts lav. (Some kind of lichen.)
Var är bron??? E10 är så nära men ändå inte. (Where is the bridge??? E10 is so close and still far away.)
Här är bron! Och telefonen fungerar fortfarande efter mitt mindre frivilliga bad. (Here is the bridge. And the phone still works after my unplanned bath.)