Saturday, June 30, 2012

Flickr Photos

I've been publishing all of my house building and living photos on Apple's Mobile Me. However, that service is shutting off today, so I've moved everything to Flickr.

The links on the blog are still fine; I've essentially just duplicated the webgalleries. In the future, I might be able to collect topics more intelligently for new visitors. For example, I combined the daily galleries of our two weeks of house-building into one collection.

Flicker is built into iPhoto now so it should be just as easy for me to keep updating from my Mac and iPad. We'll give that a test during our next visit.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sweden's Twitter account

I'm ashamed to say that I've come late to the fascinating social media experiment run by officials in Sweden. The country's official twitter account, @Sweden, is being handed over to its citizens to say whatever they want. The New York Times has a good review of the project.

There is a selection process to find people comfortable with twitter who can write in English, but there's no filtering or censorship. The account is handed to different people each week, and I am finding it fun and enlightening. I highly recommend following the account!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Midsommar 2012

Today's the big midsummer holiday in Sweden. Although the weather looks pretty dodgy, with rain showers and temperatures only 13°C/55°F, there will still be the traditional pole-raising and celebrations at the island's meadow. We've been on Aspö the past three midsummers to celebrate the holiday- and my birthday, of course!

We've changed our travel plans this year to go to Aspö later in the summer, to escape the Texas heat for one reason, and to link up with Ann and Dave for another.

Making this change is, I think, the right idea, but I will miss the big holiday celebrations with my friends and neighbors, though.

I've also found an excellent little video from which gives a perfect précis of the Swedish Midsummer holiday. I could swear that part of it was filmed on Aspö!

UPDATE: Annika sent a few photos, which are on her photoset. She said it was rainy before and after Midsommar day, but it was sunny for the festivities! Hooray!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cross-Laminated Wood

The New York Times published an article about a new technique for building with wood, the cross-laminated timber panel.

I can understand why this might not quicken the reader's pulse, but the interesting thing about using these types of engineered wood is that it allows the building of a wooden skyscraper. Imagine that- a 9 story building made completely out of wood! Now that's cool.

Our house is made out of glue-laminated wood, and its beams are very strong. Some of its timbers are over 13 meters (40 feet) long. It wouldn't be possible to build a house like ours with ordinary wood.

But the beams in our house are laminated only in layers, so their strength is in one direction. Cross-laminated timber is strong in multiple dimensions. It is also, amazingly enough, more fire resistant than steel. It may also be a great way to use billions of trees that have died in North America due to a beetle infestation.

I know we won't see any multi-story buildings in the archipelago; but it is fun to see the technology used to build our little house scaled up to make huge buildings.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

England v Sweden, I'm not comparing my two favourite international cities, but instead previewing the next match in the Euro 2012 football tournament. The two teams play tomorrow, and I'm hoping for a well-played draw, and for both to advance to the next round. (How's that for diplomacy??)

This is the first tournament I've experienced outside of the UK, and it is a bit strange to be so far removed from all of the emotion of the England national team.

However, I'm finding lots of fellow travellers at work; expats are revealing themselves with scarves and posters dotting the workplace. For example, I had a good chat about the day's Germany-Holland match on my way out of the office last night, which was nice.

UPDATE: England won 3-2 in a thriller. All they need now is a draw against Ukraine to progress to the next stage. Sweden, sadly, no longer have a chance to progress out of their group after two losses.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Star trails from space

I published my own star trail photo last September, and I'm itching to have another go later this year.

In the meantime, a far, far, cooler set of such photos is on Flickr here. I highly recommend taking a look.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Settling back in Texas

People suffer from jet lag when flying transatlantically, I think I'm suffering from temp lag. From being absolutely frozen on Saturday evening in Stockholm, we deplaned in Dallas into an evening 50 degrees warmer. Sheesh.

Ollie was thrilled to see us, and he forgave us for missing his 9th birthday. Now it's just a matter of unpacking- and preparing for our next trip, only a bit more than 6 weeks from now!

I will have a few things to post about; painting, cable lights, deck lights, furnishing the little house, logistics once again. For now, though, I plan to rest my tired legs.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Marathon is finished

I'm back at Marcia & Rutger's after a pretty darned miserable day. It was 5°C/41°F at the start of the race, with a 23mph (37 km/h) wind, and rain with a teeny bit of sleet to boot. Just horrible.

I finished in 4:11. I was hoping to be just under 4 hours; in fact I finished the first half in 1:57:30, but the cold got to me and I slowed down a great deal in the second half.

My favorite part around the 30km mark was when I saw Tony! He and Ann-Catrin were following me online, and Tony ran out to find me, and he did. I ran over and gave him a big hug. That was a special moment.

Here's me just after the finish; I look a lot better than I felt. In fact, I was shivering so hard 10 minutes later, Grant had to help me into a dry jacket.

But I am proud of running pretty fast at my age and in such tough conditions. I was 4th out of 11 Americans in the 50+ age group, and 563rd out of 1842 oldsters who finished. Overall, I was in 6982nd place, out of 14687 finishers, so I made the top half at least!

Now I plan to run it again in 2020, when I'm 60. We'll see...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back in Stockholm!

I'm writing this on Friday evening from the cozy kitchen of Marcia and Rutger's house. We left Aspö, picked up my race packet at the stadium, and made our way through the Friday afternoon traffic to the cozy kitchen without much fuss. However, the weather turned sour today just as forecast, low 40's and rainy, pretty damned miserable. The worst part is that tomorrow's race gets more of the same. I've gone from roasting hot pre-dawn training runs in Texas, to a frigid race in Sweden!

I didn't pack for such cold weather, although I did have the foresight to add my running jacket to my carry-on, so I have that at least. And I found in my closet on Aspö an old long-sleeved t-shirt from a race in Manasquan, New Jersey, in 1996, which will be pressed into service.

We're going to relax tonight; tomorrow's race isn't until noon, which is a civilized time. Sooz and Grant are making pasta primavera for my carbo-loading.

There are a number of blog-worthy topics about our past week at our little house, but those can keep for me to parcel out over the next few weeks. For now, I'm focusing on my 42 kilometers tomorrow!