Thursday, April 29, 2010

Language is not easy...

From a friend of ours:

I bought a little 7" TV/Monitor/AVPlayer for my video work, and reading the manual, I fell off my chair, ROTFL-ing:
"Do not put the player in bed, sofa, cloth and clothes, etc to avoid jams in the hole."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sweden in New York

There is actually a lot of Sweden in New York, if you just know where to look. For example, they are now selling the 1970's progressive hippies most loved attribute, the backpack Kånken for $110. I had two when I grew up, both were used so much that they fell apart after years of use. Now they are in fashion on 5th Avenue (and AREA has one, green of course). The company Fjällräven (= the arctic fox) has opened its first store on Manhattan.  Unfortunately their fantastic pants are just too expensive for normal people.  Do you think any millionaires would wear Fjällräven pants?  Maybe. 

There is the cafe called FIKA, which we should check out sometime. But, didn't someone tell these guys that white text on devilblack background is very hard to read and doesn't look good? And guys, you are in the US, how about having American spelling and not British?  And fix your grammar, it isn't even Swenglish sounding.  Whoever made their website gets an F grade in user friendliness, design, and text. Oh, and there is no way to get back to the main menu when you have clicked on About... embarrassing.  Oh, their coffee is Löfbergs Lila, which I do not like, it is in my opinion the most overrated Swedish coffee.  Tastes burnt.  OK, maybe I will go someone else instead, like the NewsBar. 

There is even a Swedish bonfire party on April 30 to welcome the sun back (this is called the Valborg festivities in Sweden - a great excuse for lots of college students to get drunk and for many to sing old traditional songs). 

And if you read this blog, know Swedish, and have an ipod, I highly recommend that you download free podcasts from the Swedish public radio.  Sommar i P1 and Tankar för dagen are my favorites so far.

Finally, it seems like the intra-Atlantic mail is working again, after being stopped due to diabolical ash clouds from the mid-Atlantic ridge island...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Green changes... a photo diary from the garden

pink rhododendron (azalea)
Our big azaela (rhododendron) flowered like never before. It is up above 4 feet now so it is safe from the munching deers.

sweet peascucumber seedlingstomato seedlingsbamboo poles for garden project
Seedlings are growing like crazy in our living room window, here are sweet peas (thanks EH!), cucumbers and many kinds of tomatoes. We also got lots of long bamboo poles for free from a local garden and we will use them to construct some new things in the vegetable garden, you will see later.

chitting pole beans flowering Amelanchier
I sprouted the bean seeds inside for the first time to plant them out after germination, we will see if it works. This is called chitting, and these are Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans (long green beans, 'störböna'). And our Amelanchier ('häggmispel') flowered against a blue spring sky.

concord grape bud flowering peach
The Concord grape sent out fuzzy leafy shoots, and the peach tree also flowered for real the first time. We actually might have peaches for the first time ever, same with the pear tree. Amazing!

The red currant and goose berry bushes also flowered during our spring heat wave and are full of little berries. For once it seems like we will get enough fruits to have more than just one little taste. The raspberries are less happy after the harsh winter, but I know they will come back. I even have rhubarb plants now, they are finally taking off after 4 years of trying. Today is a rainy, rainy day and I had planned to move the last dirt into the moved raised bed for the peppers, and start digging up an area to grow tomatoes in the soil.  We will see if I managed to get enough energy to go out and get wet from above and sweaty too.

There are more photos on my Flickr photostream.

OK snapshot: Underground concert ('Strålande aktivitet i underjorden')

Photo from a music concert in Sweden's first nuclear reactor hall, R1, 30
meters below the surface in central Stockholm.
'Konsert i i sveriges första kärnreaktorhall R1, 30 m under jord i centrala
Stockholm alltså.'
(photo and text by OK, posted by LS)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, LA and the Earth...

Congratulations on Earth Day, and congratulations to LA with a vision of the Biggest Bang there ever was, maybe... or have there been many big bangs?  The universe is amazing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Varje morgon vaknar LIVET
fylld av nya möjligheter
Varje morgon - nya chanser
att lämna det gamla som hindrar oss

Låt oss bejaka nuets gåvor
möta HOPPET, vår inre längtan
Låta LJUSET visa nya vägar
att dela GLÄDJE med varann

Till dig från Karin B Wahlberg

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ice and fire in the time of volcanism

When you have gotten tired of your too colorful and contrasty screen background and need something black to rest your eyes on, try one of these.  I love the one with the black labrador and the waterdrop on the chrysantemum petal. I know some readers of this blog probably would pick the black LEGOs :)
This one called leafage is by (matt) on Flickr (creative commons license).

 The volcano on Iceland is still spewing out ash and probably soon more lava, they say.  Can you imagine the first vikings that settled Iceland from Norway over a thousand years ago.  They came from a solid-rock country of granite and gneiss and limestone, billion year old rocks carved by ice ages, and were faced with a living breathing geologic living thing.  The earth moved and trembled, spewed out lava, ash, and rocks, sulfuric water boiled in hot pools, and whole mountains exploded and cracked open.  If you were a viking that had never heard of such things, what would you have thought?  I wonder how much of these experiences influenced the old Norse mythology and especially Ragnarök, their Doomsday.  I am sure it provided vivid imaginary of hell, except Old Norse didn't have hell and heaven (well, they did have hel, but that had a slightly different meaning than the home of the devil), they had Muspelheim and Valhalla. I find it kind of ironic that a hot place like this island was named Iceland ("Island"), and not Fireland ("Eldslandet").  (In 1947 Hekla, another one of the larger volcanoes erupted, see today's stamp from Iceland). Was it just wishful thinking from the vikings?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More about the volcano eruption

A huge ash cloud is moving in over Scandinavia and Britain, and as of Thursday night all air traffic has been canceled in large parts of western Europe.  Check it out on this map of flights in the air. See, not one plane over Scandinavia and the British Isles.  The airplane's jet engines can get destroyed if they get volcanic ash, consisting of mostly glass, and etc, in them.  The sunsets are nice too because of the extra pollutants, here are some photos of the setting sun in Europe from today.

We live in interesting times, indeed.

Volcanic activity on Iceland- personal thoughts

The volcano under Eyjafjallajökull is erupting on Iceland. Jökull means glacier and the mountain is called Eyjafjall. I found a good site with pictures, here, thanks, and the picture on top of this post too.

Iceland is a country known to me. Here I have stayed under the shadow of this very volcano, for months I lived there. Some evenings after the sun had set, the ice cap of Eyjafjallajökull seemed to glow with an inner light. I have no other way to describe it. Every morning you looked that way to see if you could see the volcano or if it was hidden in clouds. On the old postcard picture LS published you can see Eyjafjallajökull, the snowcovered mountain on the right.

Volcanos are amazing, and I have never felt more aware of Earth as an everchanging environment than here, in Iceland (Ísland). Here I have swum in hot water in natural basins, under the stars under the volcano Katla and Myrdalsjökull and in deep caves at Myvatn. I have dug my fingers deep into the sand in active areas and felt the soil being warmer in the ground than on the surface (Landmannalaugar). I have walked on 10 year old lava-fields at Krafla, still wenting sulphuric gas (Myvatn) and seen the mud boil (Namafjall) and water gush from geysers ("geysirs"). For a Swede used to old rocks of granite lying apparently unchanged for eternity this is a totally different experience. The ground is alive, and earthquakes is part of normal life.

Volcanoes are also scaring, they can overtake a lush country with thick ash layers. I have walked and ridden through ash-covered barren lands, where nothing but a few bushes and grasses can live. The southern coast of Iceland is covered in mile by mile of black volcanic sand.

I want to go there again, and experience nature in constant change. I wish I had been there overlooking the volcanic eruption as shown on the pictures. Instead I follow the events on the internet, like at the Volcanism Blog.

Volcanoes and other odd and ends

I am sitting here at home with a sinus infection and in between doing work work, gardening, and walking on the road to get fresh air, doing dishes and drinking tea, and sleeping and sniffling with a headache, I find little gems online.

How about this modelmaker, using body parts as backgrounds: ski slope, paint job, and bee keeper?

And this old photo of a combined beer garden, barbeque joint and gas station from 1940's Louisiana? I bet that bbq was good, not so sure about the beer :).

And in case you haven't noticed yet, a volcano is erupting on Iceland, and the three last times this volcano has erupted it is followed by the giant and dangerous volcano Katla erupting under its glacier, which in the past has led to 'little ice ages' with very cold winters the following years.  Keep yourself posted on this... 

Katla was also the name of the fire-spouting fierceful dragon in the faraway country Narnia in Astrid Lindgren's book The Brothers Lionheart, a book I loved as a kid and still have in my bookcase.

The postcard is from 1918, the last time Katla erupted on Iceland.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stamp of the Day: The love and hate of cilantro

Some people hate cilantro ('koriander"), and think it tastes like soap.  I used to be one of them, but changed after I had some really good Asian and Mexican dishes with it.  Now I only really don't like celery, especially root celery (celeriac).  A little of it cooked in soups is OK, but raw celery is not my thing. I am not sure it is genetic since my family all loves celery and cilantro, but it certainly is something biological about it.  AREA loves to eat whole celery sticks dipped in peanut butter.

The NY Times article I linked to above is currently the most e-mailed article on the NY Times website - it must really have struck a cord with the readers.  Who knew we cared so much about cilantro, a tiny little herb?

The stamp is from Israel and shows cilantro (Coriandrium sativum) in its full glory. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring has sprung

The Gods must have gone crazy.  First we have two giant storms and hundreds, maybe thousands of trees fall down and most people get flooded, and a week later or so, we have 98 degree heat (that is 37 degrees Celsius).  It has cooled down since then, but the spring took off with an explosion.  My photos are still in the camera, so you just have to imagine green trees, purple lilacs, daffodils and cherry trees, all at once.  We have already cut the lawn (with a mower that started on the first try after the winter rest, that was a record too!).  A new fence is up around the garden, photos will come later.  Inside, all my tomato seedlings are up, as are onion shoots and cucumbers.  There is still lots to do before they can go outside, and the last frost date hasn't been yet.  If we get snow now, a lot of plants would be really, really unhappy. And people too.

I have a somewhat adventurous cousin who lives in Tromso (Tromsø), the northernmost part of Norway.  If you want to see how spring windsurfing is in a place where the snow never leaves and the ocean is ice cold year round, look below. This is filmed in March, a month ago, when they average about 4 hours of sunshine per day:

Windsurfing season opening, Tromsø 2010_03_07 from O Bra on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I would not like to be asked to do a DNA test of this...

art in New York city

(Oh, you want to know what it is? I went to New York and had to go to the bathroom at Penn Station, and in the booth one tile was removed at eye height, and instead was this... about 150 chewing gums I think, all pressed in. You could get some good fingerprints here I think!)

One buttock playing

This video made me suddenly love classical music a hundred times more...

(Thanks to OK for sharing)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bits and pieces

Protons are colliding under the Alps and making small big bangs! Read more in this New York Times article that explains it.

Why You Can’t Work at Work. "With its constant commotion, unnecessary meetings, and infuriating wastes of time, the modern workplace optimizes interruptions and makes us all work longer, less focused hours." So true.  Here is a video with Jason Fried to watch if you like. I agree with so much of this.  I went to a talk about how to deal with too much e-mail last week, and will blog about it soon.  Work is becoming chopped liver-time, not a place to think and make things.  Guess why I try to work at home one day a week just to get peace and quiet and get writing done? And I don't even have a manager. But I get sometimes 100 e-mails in a day.

Strychnine, anyone?  I want to read this book.

And then just for fun...

Restaurant review: DeAnna's in Lambertville - tone deaf to customer's wishes

A great little Italian neighborhood restaurant in a great little NJ town... must be tried, we thought after reading several reviews of DeAnna's Bar and Restaurant.  So on a recent Thursday night, temporarily childless, we set off to the Delaware River and its shore town Lambertville, full of history, galleries and antique charm (and some rich New Yorkers too). We were a bit early, so we walked through town down to the wonderful little bar called The Boathouse.  Imagine a tiny boathouse, without a boat, but stuffed with rowing and other boat memorabilia, and about maybe 14 chairs total, cozy like crazy.  We sat at the bar, and had probably the friendliest and funniest bar tender (Marie, I think her name was) I have met.  Mmmm, margaritas!  Chatted with some locals, including a woman that had moved to the village Stockton, just a few miles north, a few months ago from New York City.  She had been to DeAnna's and said the decor was not her style, but the food was OK.  I should have known then what I know now, then we could have changed our plans.  But I get ahead of the story.

We walk back to DeAnna's, and inside we are seated at a small table for 2, and we immediately notice that there is a guy with a synthesizer in the corner maybe 6 feet away, but we aren't the closest table.  Hmmm,  I hope he won't play for a while, I am thinking.  We order antipasto, some wine, and our two pasta dishes.  This restaurant has only pasta made fresh each day and they are famous for it.  Then the guy starts playing. LOUD. And what kind of instrumental music was it?  The kind you hear in cheap hotel elevators, and just horrible, horrible.  I could have dealt with the music I guess, but only if I would have been able to hear what PP said across the table.  It was horrific!!! Old 70-80s tunes, partly prerecorded on 3.5 inch diskettes (I didn't think anyone used them anymore! maybe he really was from the 80s?).

We decided to bear it out, maybe he would stop soon.. when then waitress came back, we asked if we could change table because the music was too loud for us.  She said there were no other tables (we saw several empty... hmpf!), but she would ask him to turn it down.  Which he did.  For 5 min.  Then it was loud and horrible again. It was like he was some kind of leftover, overheated dish from the 80s, the synthesizer guy I mean.  In fact, he was kind of coordinated with the absolutely amazingly tasteless metal/sparkle/glitter/flower arrangements that were on the wall.  They looked like something out of a Las Vegas hotel, very American and very cheap.  Made in China, spraypainted with glitter. The exact opposite to European style.  I wanted a nice, quiet, cozy, Italian restaurant with great food, not this... I mean, a nice piano in the corner playing classical music would have been fine...  or even a synthesizer set as a piano sound playing classical music.  No, instead it was fake harps, violins, swooshing and humpybumping.  Bothersome music...

We got our antipasto, which probably was the best antipasto I have ever had.  Especially the grilled eggplant.  Wonderful food, really worth the money.  The bread wasn't anything special I thought... Dry dinner rolls with whole wheat in them. Our pasta arrived, I hade seafood Fra Diavolo (seafood in spciy tomato sauce), and PP had pasta with prosciutti and peas in a creamsauce.  His dish was fantastic, mine was OK.  It was missing something, I am not sure what.  But the whole time we ate the music was there gnawing in our ears, and we couldn't have a normal conversation... it was jsut awful.  When we were done with dinner, I told PP - "lets go and have dessert at another restaurant, I just want to LEAVE".  We paid and left, just a little more than an hour before we got there, which is not like us at all.

I found out today that Thursday's are music night at this restaurant, but I didn't see that when I looked at the website in advance, neither did they tell me that when I booked the table in advance.  And when it was clear that the music bothered us, why didn't they move us?  Now they have two customers that are really unhappy instead, and one of them is writing about it on this blog for everyone to see. It would have been so easy to place us in the little room off to the side below the bar, where there was plenty of tables and not one customer.  Oh well, live and learn... Next time we are going to Hamilton's Grill in Lambertville instead.

PS.  If someone from DeAnna's is reading this, I hope you understand how bothered we were by the music.  It destroyed our experience, I am sorry to say.  But the food was great! Next time, if there is a next time, we are not coming on a Thursday.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Food fit for eating?

peeping Peeps are here again  At Easter time, many shelves in many grocery stores get filled with Peeps, a strange marshmallow concoction shaped like little birds, ghosts (for Halloween), and rabbits, etc.  Their shelf life is probably forever since they seem to be made mainly of sugar and preservatives, with color added. I don't like them much to eat, but for some, this is heaven...  This is our local food store last week when the Peeps had arrived.

A friend of mine says that the Peeps are best when you let them sit out of the box overnight so they develop a nice dry crust - then you bit into the hard shell and a soft, chewy middle. 

The first Peeps where made in the 1940s. I bet you can grill them and make s'mores, but I have never tried.

Peeps have been used as theatrical props for a while,and there are contests of using Peeps in dioramas featuring famous movie scenes and historical events. How about a Marilyn Monroe, made out of Peeps? Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr, of the winner in the recent competition run by Washington Post, a large newspaper.

Then came the competitions and challenges of the Peepshi. How to make a nicelooking sushi out of all junk food: Peeps, fruit by the foot (long bands of colored tough fruity things), and Rice Krispies treats, all things that my kids are familiar with.  The competition spread to Flickr, where people started to add their home-designed junky sushi :)  Enjoy! more photos here!
Photo by Nate Marsh on Flickr (CC license). 

OK snapshot: "Sådan är kapitalismen"

At the newly privatized Swedish pharmacy-monopoly company Apoteket, they
have a special shelf for Feel Good products (Må bra). As if not everything
at this place should make you feel better... Or maybe these are products
to treat you if you feel too good? (photo by OK, text by LS)

Thursday, April 1, 2010


April 1... you must be joking

... is a great day for the local news media in Sweden. They get to write any stories they want to try to fool the people. I still remember the one in the early 1970s: "If you have a black and white TV and pull a nylon stocking over the front of it, it turns into color." Apparently many many Swedes tried this. And on April 1, 1950, the news was that new trolley airplanes would provide commuting options for the people in Stockholm. :) Imaging that someone must have sat and cut out and assembled this photo by hand with a scalpel from three original photos. There was no cut-and-paste Photoshop back then. The statue is the one of the former king Karl XII, I think.