På besök söderut

Jag var en snabb sväng ner till Uppsala för att kolla på några graderingar och naturligtvis släpade jag med kameran. På fredagen när jag kom dit så var det riktigt skönt och det gick att gå i T-shirt vid 22-tiden, men dagen efter så var det mindre kul – kyligt och blåsigt.

Men det är alltid kul att gå runt i centrala Uppsala och fotografera husen, speciellt längs Fyrisån så blir det ganska fint med ljuset, de olika huset och folklivet.

Huset i centrala stan är riktigt intressanta men jag har inte lyckats komma på hur jag ska få intressanta bilder av dem. Men det är väl en bra ursäkt för att göra fler besök och fler försök – jag har några idéer men jag behöver lite sommar, löv och lite kvällssol.

Dagstuhl Seminar – what a great idea

I had never heard of Dagstuhl before receiving an email with an invitation to participate in a seminar. At first I thought it was a spam message and actually sent it to my spam folder (I, as most others, receive many spam messages each day about conferences, journals, etc) … but a split second later my brain sent a “stop command” to my fingers. There was something unusual with this message, I moved the message back to my inbox and saw what my eyes had seen: the names of some people I knew or had heard about.

So I started to read a bit more carefully, sent a couple of emails to check if this was for real, talked to a few colleagues and realized that: Yes, it was real. My colleagues recommended me to attend and since I had been thinking of start doing some research again the timing was perfect.

Fast-forward about a year and it was time for me to leave for Schloss Dagstuhl. After two flights, a train ride and finally a taxi ride I arrived at Schloss Dagstuhl.

Jag undrar vad det är som tar en sådan plats

Since I arrived in the evening I didn’t see much of the building but in the morning I was greeted with the following view.

After breakfast it was time to meet the others. Some were old friends and some I met for the first time. I soon discovered that the seminar followed some simple rules: breakfast, start discussions at 9:00, lunch at 12:00, new discussions from 13:30, dinner at 18:00 and then social gatherings until late evening/early night.

 

This is what I really liked about the whole format, there was a lot of time for meeting and talking to the others, the atmosphere was very informal and relaxed. To be honest I’m surprised that this idea hasn’t been copied all around the world. I think that all Ph.D. students should visit something like this at least once during their studies. It’s a huge opportunity to get to know the people in field and get contacts for the future.

Schloss Dagstuhl is in itself a nice historic site. The current buildings are not that old, some 250+ years, but on top of the hill behind the buildings there are the ruins of the original castle. They are much older, originally it’s build sometime before 1290, and of course there have been additions, renovations, etc since then. Now there are just some low stone walls left and a partial tower but it’s always fun to walk around and try to imagine how it looked like when people were actually living there. My reaction was the same as usual, having lived the whole of my life in areas where wooden building are the norm I just see the stone walls and go ”Brrrrr, ccccoooooollllld”.

To summarize: if you ever get an invitation from Dagstuhl, don’t put it in your spam folder just answer ”Yes” and go there.

Here is a description of the visit some of us made to Völklinger Hütte (in Swedish) and more photos from the whole trip

Völklinger Hütte

För några veckor så var jag i Tyskland några dagar (på engelska) och en eftermiddag så fick jag chansen att åka på en utflykt. När jag anmälde mig visste jag inte riktigt vad det handlade om men jag tänkte att jag måste ta chansen att se saker när jag ändå var där.

När jag sedan fick veta att vi skulle åka och titta på ett industriområde så blev jag rätt skeptisk men jag hade ju aldrig varit i de här delarna av tyskland förut så varför inte. Det skulle visa sig vara en av de intressantaste utflykter jag gjort på länge.

Efter en timmes resa i en bekväm Audi så kom vi till själva anläggningen och mina misstankar om ett mindre intressant studiebesök tycktes bekräftas, redan på parkeringen möts man av ett stort trist hus plus en massa rör.

Men när vi väl kom in på området så blev det ganska annorlunda. Någon hade tack och lov ordnat en guide som berättade för oss om hela anläggningen och han gjorde det på ett väldigt bra sätt. Om du någon gång åker hit så betala för att få en guide, det är väl använda pengar.

Völklinger Hütte är alltså ett stålverk som först började byggas 1873 och slutligen stängdes 1986. Jag vet inte rikigt när det stängdes men om man ska dömma av den här kalendern så var det den 16 september.

Vi började med att titta på de luftpumpar som såg till att masugnarna fick den luft som behövdes. Det maskineri som finns är de maskiner som funnits länge och är som synes ganska rejäla byggen.

Det fanns en modernare pump som pumpade ungefär samma mängd luft och den var mycket mindre. För att verkligen uppskatta storleken så behöver man göra en besök.

Guiden, som själv hade praktiserat där under ett år, berättade om den oljedimma som fanns i den här byggnaden. Under de 100+ år som stålverket var i drift så gick det åt rejält med olja för att smörja mekaniken och det rinner fortfarande fram ny olja från väggar och maskineri trettio år efter det att driften avslutades!

Nästa stopp blev de utrymmen som användes för att mala ner malmen till små stenar. Efter att ha sett hur de jobbade och vilka dammavlagringar det blev så är det ganska lätt att förstå varför Ruhr-området hade ett sånt dåligt rykte när jag var ung. Tyvärr så var det så pass mörkt i dessa utrymmen att det inte gick att ta något annat än några detaljbilder.

Det är svårt att beskriva men när man går runt och tittar på alla rör, byggnader och olika detaljer så är det vacker på något märkligt sätt. Det är inte vackert på det sätt som man hittar i natureren eller på en målning, det är vacker på något märkligt brutalt sätt.

Jag skulle lätt kunna gå omkring här under ett par dagar med kameran och ta massviss med bilder. Appropå natur så berättade guiden om hur naturen hade tagit över när de började röja upp efter UNESCOs världsarvsutnämning. Guiden sa att han kunde inte förstå hur träd och buskar hade kunnat växa på vissa ställen eftersom det bara fanns metall att växa på.

Även idag så finns det både små och större spår av hur naturen vill ta över.

En av alla fascinerande detaljer var ett av “fiken”, dvs de ställen där de kokade kaffe och te åt de som jobbade på stålverket. Här jobbade de arbetare som t.ex. hade råkat ut för någon olycka och inte kunde jobba med själva ståltillverkningen. Ett “fik” bestod av ett rum där det fanns några rejält stora tunnor, dvs ca 2 m höga och nån meter i diameter, där man kokade te och kaffe. När arbetarna kom och ville fylla på sina kärl/hinkar/termosar så fick de inte komma in i själva köket utan de fick fylla på från de kranar som fanns på utsidan.

Hela stålverket är fullt med de mest fascinerade saker, allting från de vagnar som skickade upp malmen till toppen på masugnarna, själva masugnarna till olika smådetaljer.

Kort sagt: Om du har vägarna förbi så tycker jag definitivt att du ska spendera en dag på Völklinger Hütte … men glöm inte att betala för att få en guide.

Du hittar fler bilder från Tysklandsresan här

Lättnad

Känslan när jag efter 45 minuters grundligt letande äntligen hittar passet (avresa 6:50 i morgon) … och sedan, som en extra bonus, upptäcker att det är giltigt två månader till !!

The Travel Bear

Yesterday I was trying to organize my photos (finally) and found some photos from 2005 that I haven’t seen in a long time … and then suddenly I ran into the Travel Bear.

To be honest, I don’t really remember the details but there was some kids in school somewhere in the US who had sent the Travel Bear to a conference, SIGCSE, in St Louis that I visited in 2005. A friend asked if I wanted to take care of the Travel Bear for some time, take him to Sweden, send some progress reports back to the kids and then find some other traveller so he could continue his travels. Well, I thought it was kind of cute and decided to let him come with me and this is the story of ”Travel Bear going to Sweden”. These photos were among the first digital photos I’ve taken (and the first photos in many years), they were taken using my first digital camera (a Nikon E885) and I was just learning about photography.

Does anyone recognize this? I suspect that the Travel Bear concept was a common thing but does anyone recognize this particular Travel Bear and know what happened to him?

Travel Bear goes to Sweden

Hi,
Travel Bear spent the night on a luxury hotel in downtown St Louis, he was a bit sleepy and difficult to wake up but he finally opened his eyes.

While Travel Bear was awake he was a bit sleepy so he decided to take a slow morning and listen to some music on the iPod. But he couldn’t stay in bed forever since it was the last morning in St Louis, in a few hours we was taking the first of several airplanes in order to reach our final destination: Yttersjö, Umeå, Sweden.

Despite being quite sleepy, it was winter so he probably wanted to sleep until spring, I managed to get him to airport.

Travel Bear got quite interested in the airplanes and wanted to take a closer look at them.

However, as soon as we got on the airplane he got sleepy again.

After a couple of flights Travel Bear got very confused when he tried to read the signs, he had severe difficulties in reading the white text and I had to explain to him that it was Swedish. ”Aha” he answered and went back to sleep.

A few hours later we disembarked from our last flight and got a ride with Roland, our local cab driver, to my house. Being a foreigner Travel Bear got to sit in the front seat.

Of course Travel Bear was quite sleepy after the trip so he went back to sleep … in my bed (hmpf).

The day after he found my kids GameBoy and played a few round before breakfast, then he decided to follow my two youngest kids to the school bus.

”Why have they put all their backpacks in a row” he asked. I explained that the kids didn’t like standing in a queue waiting for the school bus, instead they put their backpack in a queue and when the bus came they just took the same position as the backpack. ”Smart kids” he answered.

I spend a few hours showing Travel Bear around until my kids came back home and started to play with him

A few days afterwards I took Travel Bear to my office

And then to one of my lectures (which he found pretty boring).

During the next few weeks Travel Bear and my kids explored Yttersjö, they found a snow castle with a slide

Travel Bear also made some attempts to learn skiing but he didn’t succeed that well. His favorite place was the snow castle + long walks in the village when the kids weren’t at home.

However, not being a ice bear Travel Bear sometimes really enjoyed some quality time in front of the fire place.

We also went to a Dojo in Umeå were there was a ”wrestling competition” where my youngest son were competing.

Of course Travel Bear and my son wrestled for a while and guess who won!!!

One day my kids and Travel Bear decided that he should visit their school and here you can see a few pictures from their school.

Travel Bear’s time in Sweden were coming to an end but my kids and he decided that he should take part in some local fishing competitions. The first was a really local one, just a few hundred meters from home. First my son had to teach Travel Bear how you fish in the winter: first you remove some snow from the ice, then you drill a hole through the ice until you reach the water, then insert the fishing line (with a hook of course) and then you wait until some fish decides that it looks tasty.

Some fishers lies down and look at the fish swimming under the ice. Travel Bear doesn’t need to do that since he catches the fish anyways.

After a while Travel Bear got tired of waiting for more fish and started to wander about, disturbing the other fishers.

Then he saw something interesting on the beach … snowmobiles !!! So Travel Bear decided to try one

By now the competition was finished and people gathered for the price ceremony (and some burgers).

A few day afterwards it was time for the second competition, but this time it was necessary to travel to a small village called Varpsjö – but this time Travel Bear and my daughter decided they needed a chair.

He also met a moose for the first time in his life

When we got back home Travel Bear played a last game on the GameBoy before it was time to leave Sweden for some new adventures.

Experiencing US Air

I can’t say that I’m one of those persons who are constantly traveling. In fact I’m probably very modest in my travels with approximately 1 trip outside Sweden each year. That said, I have traveled with a number of different airlines – some which are really nice, some which are less nice.

Last week I had the opportunity to travel with US Air on 6 different flights, this was the first time I traveled with US Air and hopefully the last. I was amazed, of those 6 flight the crew on 5 were quite unfriendly and looked like we were disturbing them during work (they all looked angry) – some of my friends heard comments from the crew to other passengers that were quite unfriendly and you got the general feeling that you should be privileged that you were allowed to fly with them.

On the 6 hour flight across the US they didn’t offer any kind of free snacks, across the atlantic (8 hours) there was one movie (with bad sound and bad picture) that was shown to everyone (no individual video screens) – I don’t even remember when that happened the last time.

OK, in todays economic situation I don’t expect much, but this …it was actually very nice to get onboard the SAS plane for the final flight home – no free sodas or snacks but on a 50 min flight I don’t expect that – with a crew that was friendly and nice.

Next time I’ll make sure that I’m not traveling with US Air.