Friday, February 26, 2010

fast fashion

Det var bare et spørsmål om tid ;-)

congratulations girls and guys!

The girls showed an impressive force last night as they sailed into victory and another gold medal! It was an emotional 4 girls that met with the press after the race.
Equally exciting is that our curling team beat the Swiss in the semi-finals last night! I really tried to stay awake for the whole game, but must have fallen asleep in the 5th round, around 1 am. They have now secured a medal... the color will be determined on Saturday´s final match against Canada.
It will be another late night for me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the mystery of Norway

A great article , from the Wall Street Journal, about the Norwegians` view on themselves and their ranking in the Olympics.

Article link: The Mystery of Norway

A sample:
By the end of these Olympic Games, the Norwegians will have pulled off what is, arguably, one of the finest performances in the modern history of sports.

The only problem is that nobody outside Norway seems to take them seriously.

Norway's Olympic team has won 17 medals in Vancouver so far, enough to place it third overall and only one gold medal behind the leaders. The country grabbed three medals Tuesday, including silver and bronze, respectively, for Kjeitil Jansrud and Aksel Svindal in the men's giant slalom. The haul is expected to continue throughout this final week.

Norway has won more Winter Games medals than any other nation. Last week it became the first country to win 100 Olympic gold medals, and Tuesday it hit the 300-medal milestone (the U.S. is second on the all-time list with dozens fewer.)

What makes its performance hard to fathom, however, is that Norway has only 4.7 million people to choose from. It's as if the American team finished third in Vancouver after limiting the athlete pool to people living in metropolitan Detroit.

After winning a bronze Tuesday, Mr. Svindal said expectations for victory in Norway can be a little out of control, especially in the Nordic sports. "People think you can just go to the Olympic Games and take the medals home with you," he said. "It's a little harder than that."

At Whistler Tuesday, where Mr. Svindal was challenging for his third medal of the Games, some of his countrymen said the expectations back home had become unrealistic. "Now, the success is almost a given, so if we don't do well, then people get disappointed," said Anette Frolich, of Oslo


My own personal observations, sitting here in Oslo, is that Norwegians will accept nothing less than Gold. Even today at lunch my co-workers were complaining that we were ONLY in 3rd place with the amount of medals (only U.S. and Germany have more than us!).

We are allowed to be proud of our accomplishments!

At the same time, I wish the Norwegian media would stop with the negative headlines every time we do NOT get gold. It just sends out the wrong message to the younger generations, who again feel the pressures of being the best. (pass this along to Petter Northug too, who clearly needs to grow up).

Maybe this article will remind my fellow Norwegians that we are, in fact, doing a pretty damn good job!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

curling fever

I find myself not being able to go to bed at night because the Curling competitions are broadcast live from Canada... which is around midnight here.
I am really impressed with the Norwegian guys, not just because of their strong fashion sense, but because they are basically "amateurs" who are not even sponsored.
All of them have full time jobs, and even had to buy their own "uniforms". Speaking of which, I predict that we will see more pants like these in the next olympics... unless the olympic committee enforces a new "dress code" ;-)
The Norwegians secured a place in the semi-finals, after winning 7 out of 9 games. They will play against the Swiss in Thursday´s semi-finals.
Good luck guys!

fun in the snow - the German way

Where were these girls on Saturday when I was freezing my ass off and could have needed some warm cheers from the sidelines?

This was in the Harz mountains, Germany, where 30 men and women did a topless toboggan race... and 14,000 spectators showed up!

Check out the video link at the bottom too: (warning for Americans: not censored like the CBS channel felt a need to do).

Monday, February 22, 2010

race report: Grenaderen 90 km - cross country

This was to be a very long and very cold day!
04:30 - pack up the car and drive downtown to the bus-transport
05:15 - the bus drove us up to Hakadal
06:00 - at Hakadal, where there is an abandoned train station which is our only chance of being indoors. The actual starting point is a 10 minute hike uphill where we pick up our time-chip and get ready for start. There is a tent where there are port-a-potties, which is quite a chilling experience.
The temperature is -12 C and snowing. It is just barely getting lighter outside. "Sunrise" is at 07:35 now, but we will never see it today anyway.
07:30 - Start of race! There are about 600 competitors and there´s 7-8 lanes wide in the starting lineup. There is a mad start to get first up to the "bottleneck" where we go over a small bridge which only has 2 lanes. I manage to keep a good pace and I am feeling good.
As always in these races, it´s quite packed with skiers for the first 10-20 km. Already we get quite a few climbs, which spread out the people a little. Then as soon as we get to the first downhill I notice that I have no glide whatsoever! People are passing me pretty easily and I´m quite frustrated. I had prepped my skis the night before, but had a bad feeling that I had done this wrong.

The 1st food station is at Kikut, after 17 km. It took me 1:30 to get here, which is a good pace for me. I get some sandwiches with salami plus something warm to drink.
Plenty of climbs coming up. But then finally we get a flat section. It would not last long. More uphills before we get to the 2nd pitstop, Storflåtan. It took me 1:36 to cover the 15 km, so I am still on schedule.
After each stop though my hands start to freeze up. It would take about 30 minutes after each stop to get my fingers warm again. Luckily my feet would never be cold. It is also about here that my GPS battery died. After only 3 hours? It was a brand new battery, but I guess in -12 weather the battery won´t last long.
The 3rd stop is at the top (technically), at Løvlia. It took me 1 hour to cover the 11 km here, so I am quite pleased considering all the climbs. But it is also here where I am getting tired and having problems keeping my hands warm. Luckily they have warm drinks for us, but I wish I could put my hands inside an oven. It is still snowing and the wind is merciless... even though we have a tailwind for the most part.

More downhills! Really steep! I think this is where I had my first fall. I would end up with 3 total falls today, each one just me planting my ass on the ground, not wanting to careen into a tree or something.
It is 13 km to the next pitstop, at Kleivstua, and it took me 1:28 here. My pace is slower now.
It is here that I decide to have my skis checked out while I am enjoying some hot coffee. This nice Swedish guy manages to fix my skis (why did I not do this earlier??).
As I leave the pitstop, I notice an immediate improvement with my glide, and I hate myself for not checking them earlier.
I think the best last minute decision I made that morning was to add on a wind-proof vest under my jacket. The wind is still pretty strong, and the tracks are disappearing, making the visibility very poor.

I also notice that my water bottle is completely frozen! And this is one of those bottles with the big opening that I bragged about to Ellen just last week... because the opening never freezes. I even tried to hack away an opening with my ski pole, but it was rock solid. So... no more sport drink for me except at the pitstops. Bummer.

I am at the next to the last pit stop, at Sollihøgda. It took me 1:22 to travel 10 km, so my pace is slower than I wanted to be. I meet one of the guys that I had talked to on the bus this morning, and we were both looking forward to this thing to be over. We were at the 66 km mark, so we still had 24 km to go.
More uphills and more downhills. Seems like there were never any flat areas where I could just "walk".
At the last pitstop! Finally! At Sandungen. 15 km in 1:47. But here they are out of hot water! I am offered a cold drink, and I have no choice but to take it, especially since my water bottle is now just a block of ice. So I have some cold salami sandwiches and a cold drink.... mmmmmmmmm.

The last 9 km still remain! My hands are freezing! And we are still not getting any mercy from the tracks... or the weather. Lots of small uphills and downhills (although it seemed there were more uphills... if that´s possible). The tracks were now almost gone, from the side winds having blown fresh snow over them, plus no sunlight passing through the clouds creating a very flat light.
2 other guys have joined me, and we keep switching places, kinda like drafting... but I think it was coincidence. I would fall in the very last steep downhill, and the other 2 guys passed me. But as I see the 1 km mark, and the terrain finally flattens out (just a bit), I manage to pull away from them and cross the finish line about 30 seconds before them. Today´s little victory I guess ;)

There´s really no fanfare or noise after finishing this feat. There are 2 guys and a speaker, announcing my name as I cross the finish line, consisting of 2 poles and a flag. A drink station follows, with luke-warm energy drink.
My final time would be 9:44:01.
About 45 minutes slower than expected... but I am quite pleased considering all the elements that were against me.
Before I forget, I really need to send out a big thank you to all the people who donated their time at the food stations! It must have been insanely cold for them to stand there all day, out in the elements, handing us food and drinks. They were all so nice and gave us a smile and encouraging words. Thank you!!

After the race:
I shuffle inside the school, get my bag with a change of clothing (which has been outside in the snow all day, so the clothes are fairly cold). We have access to the school locker rooms, where we can take a hot shower... although, to me it just felt luke-warm.
I finally get to put on some dry clothes. Wool!
I wolf down a couple of hot dogs and a hot coffee... and go back to get a third hot dog, and a chocolate bar.
Plus I get a diploma! And a nice pin! Plus a little glass with the Grenader logo burned in. Makes it all worthwhile ;-)
I had to wait for the bus to take me back home. When I finally got to my car I had to almost dig it out from all of the snow before I could drive home. My coffee mug that was in the car, half full, was now frozen solid.
When I finally got home I had to dig out my parking spot before I could park my car. I REALLY just wanted to get inside and wrap up in a blanket.
It was now 8 pm.
Finally indoors, on my couch, under a blanket, sipping HOT cocoa... I could look back at what is, to date, my longest and coldest day (the only exception might be back in March 1993 when I spent the night in a small monastery in Suzdal, Russia).

On Sunday morning... the sun came out.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a short race report from the Grenaderen ski race

It was to be an extremely long and cold day during the Grenaderen cross country ski race Saturday! In fact, I cannot remember ever being SO cold for so long.
The 90 km (55 mile) long trail has several extreme climbs, and some even worse downhills. In addition to the tough terrain was the extreme weather conditions. With -12 Celsius and snowing all day long, there was no mercy from mother nature. Our only slight advantage was that the cold wind was mostly with us.
The gun went off at 7:30 am, and there were about 600 competitors. I had some problems with my skis from the start, as I quickly found out that I had no glide whatsoever. This was my own fault for having prepped my skis wrong the night before. There were several food stations, and I stopped at each one to fuel up (thanks for the tip Tim). But after standing still for a few minutes, my hands would freeze up and it took about 30 minutes to warm them back up each time. Towards the end, my hands were so cold they hurt.
But I refused to give up, and even though I saw my time getting worse and worse, I just wanted to get to the finish line.
My final time would be 9:44:01.
I was hoping for 9 hours, but with these conditions, I was happy just to get to the end. Plus I have a shiny new medal and a diploma I can hang on my wall ;-)
Here is a profile from the race just to give you an idea.

Friday, February 19, 2010

suddenly signed up - what am I thinking?

Suddenly, without any warning, and without any thinking, I am signed up for a 90 km ski race tomorrow! Tomorrow morning that is. The bus leaves at 5 am!
Not really sure what prompted me to do this... my friend Øyvind told me about it a few days ago... and after a few days of internett-checking-around, I figure "why not?".
My only other reference is my friend Tim who took it last year and it took him a little over 9 hours.
So... if I don`t write a blog in here by Sunday... please send a rescue party after me.

croquis class again

It has been a while since my last croquis class. Yesterday was my first time this year and it was a lot of fun, as usual. But then Rita´s classes at the Kreaktiv KunstKollektiv in Drammen are always a lot of fun. Plus we were 2 models this time, which is an extra challenge.
I was able to take a couple of pictures of a couple of the drawings. I just love the lines in these.
The artist is Jeanette Ruth Sveiven.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

subway conspiracy

So yesterday I am literally running like an idiot to catch my 8:29 subway to work (I know... I should have taken the bike, long story).
Anyways, it`s already 8:28 and I can see that it hasn`t left yet. I try to stamp my ticket but the machine isnt working. So I fly down the stairs and towards the cabin. As I am pushing the button on the door to let me in, the subway starts to leave!
I am right there, pushing on the door! Let me in!
Incredibly frustrating.

And then today, I figure it`s pointless to run since it was again 8:28. But when I get there at 8:31 it is still there!? And again, as soon as I enter the station, the subway starts to pull away!!

I just know that somebody somewhere is sitting there with a camera, laughing, as they watch me running after the subway, in my pre-coffee half-awake state.
Tomorrow I am taking the bike.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

waiting for Sookie

From the same creators of the wonderful series Six Feet Under came True Blood. A dark mix of vampires, blood and sex, and of course the sexy Sookie in her little white Merlotte`s top.
Season 1 ended in December, and now I am impatiently waiting for season 2. According to NRK they will start sending it on March 2nd. Season 2 is already finished in the states and even available on DVD! What the hell is taking so long?
In fact, season 3 will start airing in the states already in June.
I guess I will just have to enjoy watching my DVD season 1 and drink my True Blood.

Friday, February 12, 2010

skiing:Skansebakken-Heggelia: Jan 7

It´s taken me a while to post these but I just had to share these photos. Last weekend I had my best skiing to date this year. The weather was just perfect, and everybody I met along the way was just smiling. This is "post-card" Norway at its best.
The trip started at Skansebakken and headed mostly uphill for the first 10 km, where I took my first pitstop. I continued further in for another 4,6 km to Heggelia where there is a cabin. Here they sell food and hot beverages.
Of interest, the Heggelia cabin was built in 1686 and has changed owners and uses through the years. In 1989 they started serving food and beverages, plus lodging.
Anyway, enjoy the photos:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

office room with a view : sunset

I don´t really mind working overtime with a view like this :-)

to be nude or not to be nude - an early morning dilemma in the locker rooms

So this morning, after riding my bike to work, I went down to the basement where I can shower and change. Both men and women can use these facilities, although I have yet to see any women in here.
Anyways, as soon as I get out of the shower, the cleaning lady shows up (I´m not sure but I´m guessing she´s in her late 20s early 30s, and either Polish or Russian or something).

I had barely dried off, so I´m still in the buff. I tried to seem decent by covering up, but I had brought a really small towel to save space in my backpack, so I was physically unable to wrap the towel around me.
I had no choice but to stand there butt naked, putting on deodorant and clumsily looking for my clothes, which were everywhere... some in my locker, some down in my backpack.
For those of you who have read my earlier posts, I don`t really have a problem being nude... but in this case I was wondering how comfortable she was with ME. Was she uncomfortable with me being there or was she trying to sneak a peak?
She did not leave or run out screaming...
She just continued washing the floors and sink.
The whole thing was kind of amusing, me standing there naked, and this girl trying to just do her job.

As I was leaving, I turn to her and thanked her for keeping the place nice and clean and that she did a good job.
She just smiled and said "thank you" :-)

the bike is finally out!

I know, I know... I should have taken her out a lot sooner, but January has been insane cold, and I always struggle getting back into the routine of riding my bike to work. So this was the first bike ride outside in 2010.
But it was a slow start.
I went down to the basement to switch out the back tire with the studded tire. This should only take 10 minutes... but it seems I have not been very good at keeping her clean, poor thing. Just getting off the old tire took forever... then I just had to put fresh oil on the chain and rings. Not to mention wiping off most of the old dirt, oil, grime from last year. 30 minutes later I was finally ready to take her for a spin.
Now all I had to do was figure out what to wear, get all the reflector strips and lights, plus make sure I had a proper change of clothes with me to work.

The roads were nice and packed with snow, and very little ice, so it was a very nice ride. Only takes me 20 minutes, so its still faster than taking the car.
Today the sun is out again, so if I can leave work before 5 I can get some sun on my way home too.
Such a nice feeling sitting on the bike again :-)

Friday, February 05, 2010

norwegian to english spelling

I have noticed that some Norwegians have a difficult time pronouncing the English v and w.
"Love" becomes "low", and "was" becomes "våss".
But I had to smile when I saw this sign at the International airport in Oslo.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

a long day at work - trains planes and automobiles

It`s 9 pm and I`m finally home.
Had to get up at 5 this morning in order to take the subway downtown, the train up to the airport, then fly to Stavanger and land at 9 am. The class lasted from 10-4. I was lucky though, and only had Photoshop for 1.5 hours. Merethe had both Illustrator and InDesign to teach.
At 4:15 pm we took a cab back to the airport, flew back to Oslo, train downtown and subway home.
I`ve got a frozen pizza in the oven and I think I`ll enjoy a glass of red wine.
Time to relax :)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

business trip

I`m on my way to Stavanger with one of my colleagues. I will be talking about the Photoshop CS4 to a group of people, and as always, I`m a little nervous. I always am before I teach a new class.

It will be a quick trip, unfortunately, and we fly back already right after class. So I don`t get to really see Stavanger... a city I have never been to before.
Oh well... need to leave now.

car vs subway vs bike

I never seem to learn... do NOT take the car to work!
Basically I have 3 choices of transport: car, subway or bike.
The subway takes 15 minutes... when it is on time. (an unreliable form of transport at best... and always crammed with people who all seem to be sneezing and coughing... also, they just increased the price).
Bicycling can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes depending on how wet the roads are... or in the winter, how much snow/ice (but with studded tires, it is pretty safe). It gets me fresh air and costs absolutely nothing.
This morning I decided to use my 3rd alternative, the car. How long did it take me to get to work? 35 minutes!! (and that´s AFTER having shoveled the snow away and scraped the ice from the windows)
It´s only a 7 km distance! I could have walked next to my car!

Please... next time I toy with the idea of taking the car to work... come over and kick me in the a**!

Monday, February 01, 2010

my visit to Bergen

After the Depeche Mode concert on Friday, I had all day Saturday to just be a "tourist" in my own country. I´m so glad I decided to spend a whole day there. Bergen is such a beautiful city.
I had planned on starting the day early, and get my hotel breakfast. But I did not wake up until 10:20, and breakfast ended at 10:30!
New plan.
Eat a banana and go for a run :-)
It sounds like a cliché but everything is at a top of a hill! No matter where I went, there was a steep hill to climb. It made for a really good run though, and my 30 minutes turned into a good 45 minutes. A really good way to see alot of Bergen in a short time.
After my run, I went to get some lunch.
I had originally planned for just a sandwich, but when I saw they had seafood soup, I could not resist. It was packed with chunks of fish, shrimp and mussels! It was heaven!

After my lunch I walked around just taking photos and enjoying the sites.
It´s been 10 years since my last visit, and I had almost forgotten how beautiful it was.

It was cold! Only about -5 Celsius, but an intense cold wind. You can see it in some of the photos, how it is snowing sideways.
The very first buildings in Bergen were alongside the harbour called Bryggen. The old Hanseatic wharf is architecturally unique and is included on UNESCO's list of world heritage of history and culture.

And there was of course the fish market!
Where else can you see rows upon rows of fish heads lined up?

Even the view from my hotel room was great, and it changed almost by the hour. It started snowing really hard Saturday evening, and by Sunday morning the view was incredible with the dark blue sky in the background.

The final panorama shot was taken Sunday morning, while I was waiting for the bus.

I hope I get to visit Bergen again soon.

I have a whole album uploaded which you can see here.

I hope you enjoy them :-)