SnowCrystals.com. These are taken by Kenneth Libbrecht. It is incredible the shapes water can take. And they are not just hexagonal crystals, but also pillars, plates, needles, and many other shapes.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
It is really hard to take a photo of the moon and trees with Christmas lights with a tiny camera without a tripod. I thought it was cool how the color of the moon was so different from the lights, I couldn't really tell that by eye. The moon is also so tiny, our eyes are so often zooming in on it that we forget how small and far away it really is.
Interesting thoughts on originality, copying, authenticity, sharing, borrowing and creativity in these two linked articles: To live outside the law, you must be honest (Mobylives) and The Work of Art in the Age of Maniacal Appropriation (UTNE). I took the freedom to borrow the image by Jim Jarmusch that goes with them (see below), and hope that is considered creativity and not stealing, as suggested in the articles. I don't condone any plagiarism, but look below - we do share and borrow ideas and images and thoughts and inspiration from books, sunsets, old and new art, knitting patterns, photos, views and landscapes, and just snippets of information anywhere. These are not easy questions, and to talk about them is to talk ethics, not an easy thing, and maybe something we talk too little about. Sometimes we want it all for free, sometimes we want to own our own creations, and sometimes we just want to connect it all and take what we want and reuse it in new ways. Reality is never so black and white as in movies or made-up school examples. The Mobylives article is really worth reading about this topic.
On Thanksgiving Day, this past Thursday, a few snowflakes fell down from the sky and landed wherever, including on sleeping Smokey. She didn't even wake up to notice her first snowfall after moving outside 6 or so months ago. All furred up and bundled up, she stayed warm and was happy.
Posted by LS at 4:14 PM
Saturday, November 27, 2010
When I grew up I remember seeing the movie Shangri-La on TV one Sunday afternoon, and I loved it. A hidden valley, far away in the Himalayas, a paradise away from everything else, isolated and self-sufficient. Last night PP showed me an old movie by Lewis Mumford called 'The City", which shows another kind of utopia - a village where workers live in nice houses without industrialization's horrors and pollution. It is worth watching, and you can find it here, in the Prelinger Archives of ephemeral films.
What struck me after seeing this movie is that there aren't any utopias anymore. We can't realistically dream about paradise islands where you can live away from the rest of the world. Everything is connected, affected, even if you want to be isolated. Every hidden valley, little town, or tropical island is affected by the global climate change, atmospheric pollution, radiation, and trash and toxins thrown into the sea, groundwater, or rivers. Over you satellites are watching you or give you connectivity to anywhere else in the world. All economies are linked, and what happens at Wall Street or in Asia's stock markets affect a country and village across the world.
So, the idea of Utopia has changed. Now we wish for small Utopian things, like affordable health care for all, toys without lead, and cleaner streets, while in the past you could dare to think big and dream away... I think this creates a kind of hopelessness and apathy in the new generations - it is much harder to change anything, the problems are big, global, and enormous. Even if you plan a small better village locally, you run into global and national problems and forces, since so much is controlled at a higher level, not locally anymore. Here in New Jersey, there used to be several local villages (like Roosevelt) built and based on Utopian ideas of fairness, sharing, and ethics. Now they are all just regular places like any other (with a few exceptions, like Free Acres).
Who even wishes for World Peace anymore? I do, but who really works for it? No big masses of people... I think the whole world view has changed since the hopeful 1960s, and gone downhill since then. The only way to change global things is for all of us to work together in all countries, and that seems pretty much impossible, sometimes even within just one country (US for example). Sad and depressing, unfortunately. Now the only real Utopias are new planets somewhere out there in the universe.
Maybe Utopia is just an impossibility, because humans are too selfish and competitive, and that all goes back to evolution and competition over scarce resources for survival? Still, I like the thought of better places for all...
Links for more information (to avoid the breaking up of your reading* I put these at the end)
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Where does the stuff go?
Prelinger Archives: Lewis Mumford: "The City"
Free Acres, New Jersey : Roosevelt, NJ
* Researchers have showed that reading online text with a lot of links in it breaks up the thought process and you get distracted and don't learn and think so much. At each hyperlink in the text your brain thinks "should I click on this or not", and you loose your thought and memories of what you just read. So even if you don't click on the link, you are affected, without knowing it. So, links at the end on this post. (Link to more about this here and here.)
Friday, November 26, 2010
fridge full of gorgeous edible leftovers
meaty turkey legs, apple cider sauce, caramelized sweet potatoes
sleep-in morning, apricot-golden sunrise, then hot coffee
warm socks and thick sweater on
outside ice-cold stormy winds hit our house
stiff pine needles are constricted on the branches in fear
of the snowstorm that has yet to come
Lapsang Souchong is warming my hands, heart, and brain
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I am adding some here in English to EH's post about Monica Törnell's classic song about the Swedish winter from 1984, Vintersaga (Winter Tale), written by Ted Ström. The original song is on Youtube. It really describes the Swedish winter and its people in a melancholic way, all the darkness, cold, ice, and isolation. Here is a quick translation to English. The geographic names are all over Sweden, making this song relevant for all parts of Sweden. I grew up with this song and for many, including me, it symbolizes Swedish winter and Swedish moods...
Vintersaga ... av Ted Ström. Sjungen av Monica Törnell 1984
En kusttanker som stampar genom drivisen i Kvarken.
Ett träningspass på Ullevi i dis.
Gränsstationen i Torneå, en gumma på en spark.
Landsorts fyr där snöstormen drar in.
Tät snö som gloppar i Mariabergets backar.
Hett och svett på Statt i Härnösand.
En tradare i snörök mellan Kiruna och fjärran
flämtande ljus i Visby hamn
Det är då som det stora vemodet rullar in
Och från havet blåser en isande, gråkall vind.
I Malmö rispas dimman av färjornas sirener
Och på andra sidan sundet börjar världen.
En ensam Volvo sliter i motvinden på Tjörnbron
Bion i Pajala ger "Den sista färden"
Lapplandspilen råmar som ett vilddjur genom natten
Gårdarna släcker sina ljus
Ett stormpiskat Marstrand ber sitt Pater Noster
Stockholm city svajar i sitt rus
Det är då som det stora vemodet rullar in
Och från havet blåser en isande, gråkall vind.
Tradarfik i Docksta i motorvägens skugga
En överdos på Skärholmens station
Insnöade vägar nånstans på Österlen
Och fyllan växer till på Mommas krog
Frusen törst i kön till stadspuben i Luleå
Frusna drömmar uti monarkin
Kärleken får leva mellan nattskiftet och drömmen
Kärleken går på billigt vin
Det är då som det stora vemodet rullar in
Och från havet blåser en isande, gråkall vind.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
(This one over Marieberg. It can symbolize the cultural dawn that is sinking down over daily Swedish newspapers. [Marieberg is the little mountain on Kungsholmen where Dagens Nyheter and Expressen have their offices - those tall buildings in the distance.])
Swedish newspapers are struggling just as American ones, and what sells the most (crime, drama, entertainment, and other mayhem) is not really what can be considered high culture...(which some think is just snobbish intellectualism... but I don't agree 100%). Fewer and fewer pages are printed in the morning papers, and the giant online dragon is Aftonbladet (also in print), who mostly has sold out to the mayhem-addicted. I read Aftonbladet all the time online, but half the time it makes me sick. But it still has lots of currently updated news from around the world, mixed in with the latest in plastic surgery, weather chaos, grisly murders, and recent school bullyings.
Currently the top headline in the online edition of Aftonbladet is "Obama furious at North Korea" (something serious to look like a serious paper), but this is followed below by "Hand was stitched on the foot -9-year old girl had miraculous operation" (gross me out and make me in awe thing), "Several trucks blowed off road" (the usual weather chaos thing), "Your child will become obese due to bad sleep" (scare me in the everyday life thing).
Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet are the two old morning papers in Stockholm, fierce competitors, and both try to be very serious until they too dip their feet into the reality TV shows and Zlatans latest outburst. Then there is Expressen, Aftonbladets competitor, an evening newspaper also online and in print - but not at all as big as 'aftonslasken' ('the evening garbage'). These are all in Stockholm, and on the West Coast there are a few more papers.
Aftonbladet was in deep dodo about 20 years ago but managed to turn a bad situation around by focusing more on the 'soft issues', i.e., home, women, food, health, parenting... and becoming less macho (=sports, economy). There is a great documentary radio program in Swedish about the macho culture on Aftonbladet back then, when a few women who wrote a report about it which became rather infamous (and important) and how their newspaper office is today. Yrsa Stenius has also written about the culture at newspapers in Sweden in her great book Makten och kvinnligheten (The Power and The Feminitity), which I will review here at some point.
But the point here is that there used to be a lot of culture, analysis, deep thought, and funky stuff in these newspapers (like New York Times still has), but it is largely gone or at least minimized. There is still reviews and important articles about art, theater, books, philosophy, movies of course, but it has become much more shallow, especially in Aftonbladet, I think. So, the sun is setting over the cultural departments at the
Swedish newspapers.... I am sure there is lots of interesting things to read in other media forms, such as magazines and blogs... but an old tradition is fading. The times they are a'changin'.
This is the most viewed post during the last 6 months on this blog. Who could have expected that? More from LA please. Nearly 1500 people have viewed this blog post since May this year.
This is number two... I think people like animals, especially Chinese ones. (EH posted, nearly 1300 views)
Then there is a gap of nearly a thousand views down to the famous Pirate Island Board Game, which has about 600 views. (LS photos and post)
It seems nearly impossible to predict what will draw a lot of views... here are more in the top ten since May:
extinct professions, Twinkies, Poison Ivy, Ramshakles, Swedish mountain hiking, Tjaldur, and my Via Ponte restaurant review.
Can you see a trend in these top reads? I can't, not more than they are as diverse topically and geographically as the interests of our family. Keep on posting dear blog members, people are reading! We have over 95 000 visits so far, since the start of the blog in 2007.
More facts you don't need to know (for the last 6 months):
13% used a Mac, 84% a Windows computer
Internet Explorers leads among the visitors with 52%
The most found image from the blog is this (long live SAAB!)
Yesterday, a Google search for "archeology +underground houses in Scandinavia" lead to our blog. As did "cleo cola history" and "ridiculous ponderings".
This blog is decidedly ad-free (and tweet and Facebook-free too), but if I go into the ClustrMap to see where you blog visitors come from geographically, I can see the ads that Google think fit with this blog. Right now we have these ad headings featured: US Railway Project, Locomotive Leasing, Free Legal Consultation, Top Quick Italian Recipes, and Rail Fleet Consulting. That is what you get when you write about 1880s train accidents, wrecked locomotives, and Italian pasta shapes. The ads lag behind, these posts are a week old at least. Automatic internet marketing a la Google...
Thanks for all the visits, dear readers!
Just a photo from my trip to Sweden in September 2010. The water is Eriksbergskanalen (I think , at least part of Lake Mälaren) between Kungsholmen and Karlberg in central Stockholm, and the photo was taken from the bridge of St. Eriksgatan. I used to live not far from here when I went to college.
Posted by LS at 8:11 AM
Monday, November 22, 2010
I think this is fantastic! Handmade art from alien weed plants by Patterson Clark. Here is an example of garlic mustard paper printed with assorted weed inks using a Norway maple wood block. I just love it!
More revelations, revoltings, revolutions, rambling and riveting thoughts:
But be aware if you are an introvert, because some psychologists and WHO then might think you have a problem.
The Digital Generation is not just teenagers that text 5000 messages a month, toddlers with iphones, or 8-year old kids that love Nintendo (those youngsters are called Generation Z). It is all of the rest of us too - all of us that use digital tools like GPS, computers, digital cameras, cell phones, DVD players, ipods, ATMs ('bankomat'), etc. We are all becoming more and more dependent on these things, and at the same time our power over them is becoming severely limited.
What do you do when your cell phone doesn't work? Call the company (on another phone), and then probably send it in to get another one. When the computer breaks? After searching the internet and not understanding much of the geeky advice there, maybe buy a new one, or send it in for expensive service. When the battery to the ipod is dead? Throw it away and buy a new one. It is the true new wear-and-discard society ("slit och släng" in Swedish).
We have lost so much power over our own surroundings, our own capabilities. Repair is no longer in our hands for many of these gadgets, so we are powerless. Same for cars - it used to be that you could do some repairs by yourself, but the new cars have all these electronics in them so you stand there with your wrench and can't do much except for change a tire or so. Same with new dishwashers, fridges, and washing machines. Many aren't even worth repairing by the experts, so they just send you new ones as long as you have warranty left. Products seem to be just made to break, so we can buy more and more... It is sickening, and not smart or sustainable at all.
There has been a lot in the news here in the US about how The Digital Generation is affected by our online-additions. I will copy little snippets here on the blog and link to the articles if you want to read more. Mainly these articles focus on lack of attention, lack of focus, lack of face-to-face friendships, and lack of problem solving. I think we all need to think about how all of this affects everybody, and even if you yourself is not severely affected, I am sure you might have people around you that are or can be. It is hard to break addictions, but I think many of these behaviors play just into the human minds addiction and attention centers.
Some of these technologies are so new that there aren't really any social rules about them. For example - in my opinion it is not OK to text messages on your cell phone during class, dinner, conversations, etc. but people do, all the time. I know professors who text and e-mail during lectures and meetings.
I recently had a cab driver who was texting at 65 mph on the highway and I had to tell him to stop. It is illegal to text while driving in NJ, and also illegal to talk on the cell phone without a hands-free set. But people talk on their cell phones while driving too, but at least you have your eyes on the road. I do to, sometimes, because it is convenient... and that is the point of today's life - everything should be convenient, instant, fast, and over the top.
I know I might sound like a curmudgeon, but I think this is a dangerous trend of addiction to instant digital rewards. The internet and its digital devices can be good and can also be misused. Many times I think they take the power from us, instead of us having the power over them. People say all the time: "Oh, I just have to check e-mail." Well, do you? We are addicted to feel needed, important... but are not needed any longer so much by real people, but by an e-mail program.
I went to a lecture about this a few months ago and I will blog about it later, but it largely was about taking control of your Inbox and not letting it control you. I know that for many of the readers of this blog this is not a problem, but I feel the burden of sometimes hundreds of e-mails a day and a to-do-list that just grows and grows. E-mail, texting and online social web sites - aren't they just time suckers?
Merlin Mann says: Joining a Facebook group about creative writing is like buying a chair about jogging. (right!)
I like the internet, because you can find information on historical train accident maps, new knitting patterns, and cool Latin species names - things that otherwise would have been unknown to you. So, how to find a balance and how to direct your internet focus to you don't get trapped in the information swamp? More on focus and attention in the news later, now it is time for real work and not blogging.
I'll end my ponderings today with a quote from a UTNE article by Brad Zellar:
Sunday, November 21, 2010
In Swedish, that is. Yes they do, and when you type on an American keyboard without ä, å, and ö, your Swedish text can become both hilarious and misinterpreted. The a, ä, å, are treated as three different letters in Swedish and they mean very different things; it is not optional to add the diacritical marks when you use these letters in my mother tongue.
Well, it wasn't optional, until computers came into the picture and we all became anglicized (especially me, after living 15 years abroad)... To type "ä" on my laptop keyboard, I have to push two buttons (Fn + Alt), and then typing 0 2 2 8 while still pushing the two original, so six keystrokes in total, and three simultaneous button strokes for each one, for one simple little Swedish letter. On a Swedish keyboard it is just a single keystroke of course. So, I hope my Swedish relatives and friends forgive me for often assuming that they can add the rings and dots to the o's and a's in their heads while reading my ring-free and dot-free Swedish text sent via e-mail. There are a lot of common Swedish words that use these unusual letters (such as "är" for 'is, are').
Here are some examples of Swedish words with and without the umlauts (that is what the dots and rings are called, linguistically), showing the difference those little marks make in Swedish.
vanliga = common; vänliga = friendly
halsningar = swallow (like drinking beer); hälsningar = greetings
slakt = slaughter; släkt = family (extended, including grandmothers and cousins, etc.)
kram = hug; kråm = decorations; kräm = creme, gel, paste
ta = take; tå = toe
laka = leach; läka = heal
lov = vacation; löv = leaf
al = alder; ål = eel
ost = cheese; öst = east
sal = large room; säl = seal
as = dead animal, carcass; ås = esker, long narrow hill
osa = smoke; ösa = bailing, emptying water out of something
sova = to sleep; söva = to put someone to sleep, like anesthesia
lada = barn; låda = box
bar = bar; bär = berries; bår = stretcher
bor = live; bör = ought to
borda = enter, board (especially about boats, like pirates do); börda = weight, burden
aska = ashes; åska = thunder
åra = oar; ära = honor
hora = hore; höra = hear
kar = basin; kär = in love; kår = chill, sudden wind blast
sas = was said; sås = sauce
tal = speech, number; tål = endure
gata = street; gåta = mystery
I am sure the Swedes here on the blog can come up with even more of these.
"Med vanliga halsningar till hela slakten!" (With common 'swallowings/gulps' to the whole slaughter)
also "med vänliga hälsningar till hela släkten" (with best wishes to the whole family)!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Just look at the sequence occurring in this table.
1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321
Ok so lets try 1 x 9 etc.
1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111
And so it goes .!
9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888
Brilliant, isn't it?
And look at this symmetry:
1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321
Thursday, November 18, 2010
We saw this in Dolores, Colorado, one of the states that have enacted medical marijuana laws. Here in NJ the law has passed, but they have not yet figured out how to prescribe and distribute it to needy people. Seems like they do it more low-key in Colorado.
Posted by LS at 9:54 PM
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
For AREA and other car lovers: First Day Letter of 6 Swedish stamps featuring classic cars - Volvo Duett (made for 2, a typical practical Swede car), Chevrolet Bel-Air (like they had in Mad Men?), Porsche 356, Traction Avant (with that Chicago gangster look), Saab 96 (of course!), and Jaguar E-type (AREA's favorite, see here).
I was relieved to find out that SAAB 96 was included in the book 50 Cars That Changed The World. You can see the rest of the list here as part of the Contents of the book.
SAAB 96 is THE nostalgia car from my childhood.
See the cover of the book - that car is on the Swedish stamps too.
Update: Go to the Amazon page for the book and check out the amazing video at the bottom (under Related Media) - how to cook farfalle with cream sauce and prosciutto!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Things I have learned today (and yesterday):
"One surefire method to tell the difference between wool (and cotton) and synthetic fabrics is to test them against an open flame. Wool will burn to ash, while synthetics will melt." (link) Wool smells like burning hair, cotton like burning leaves... Now I can sort my yarn better, if I spend some time tomorrow outside over a bucket of water burning little things up! Here is the whole story on burning fibers.
If you first fry up some portobella mushrooms in olive oil, then add a little balsamic vinegar, then put it on buttered bread, with some fried up thinly sliced onion with thyme and parmesan cheese on top, and then have Jarlsberg cheese on top of that and then put it under the broiler in the oven for 5 min, you have the best smorrebrod sandwich in the world for breakfast.
A Skeppshult pancake frying pan will work the best if you soak the top with canola oil before you try to use it. The last couple of times my pancakes got stuck. This time, not one pancake got stuck and they tasted fantastic. I made a large batch yesterday morning, and many are now in the freezer for mornings to come. When I was a kid, my grandparents (KE and RE) used to make pancaked, freeze them, and then refry them up in little pieces when we came and visited. Served with their homemade rhubarb and strawberry jam it was one of my favorite foods in the world. (Thanks for the pancake pan, EH!)
And, a frosty night will not kill off the habanero chili peppers. Maybe the capsaicin is some kind of anti-freeze too? But now all tomates, carrots, and peppers are inside. I also harvested tarragon branches, but we still have lots of colorful swiss chard outside.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
A hundred years ago this was the way of traveling in style, but also out of necessity. Instead of bumping along in a stage coach over rocky roads, up and down for days at end, you could have a (rather) smooth ride in a railroad car - what a treat! Today we drive in our air conditioned or heated cars, up and down mountain passes, across deserts, through mountains, and over gulches on steel bridges and take it all for granted. Only the weather can stop us, but rarely does.
I wonder how many of us could survive if we suddenly were dumped back in the late 1800s - when basic things like hot showers, shampoo, clean clothes, edible food, and lice-free beds were scarce, non-existent, or only for the really rich. But the really rich would have had to take the stage coaches or steam trains into the mountains as well; when it came to transportation people became more equal.
Riding the narrow gauge steam train on the "high line" over Cascade Canyon and Animas River might have been the thing to do back then as a tourist, just as today some people bungee jump, swim with sharks, and go whale watching. But the railroads, at least in the Rockies, were not built for tourists even if they filled that role later. The railroads were built for financial reasons, and out of necessity. The silver, gold, and iron needed to get out of the mountains to fill the pockets of the rich, and the food and supplies needed to get into the mountains to feed the miners. The rich tourists followed the iron tracks, up into new exciting territories.
(written during our Colorado-New Mexico trip this past summer)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I used to not like brussel sprouts ('brysselkål'), but now I love it. Great embroidery with an unexpected topic, don't you think?
Thanks Rosie Geissler for sharing this on Flickr.
Posted by LS at 1:53 PM