The Subbotnik

When we came up to the cabin last week, there was a sign on the information board: "Clean-up Day. Saturday, July 28. 10.00. Decided on at yearly meeting. Everyone shows up. The board."

Well, I've seen more polite invitations for me to donate free work coming from students. They couldn't have sent an email around, informing people? Asking what day would be best? Maybe saying "please?"

The night before was the Olympics opening gala, and so I didn't get to bed until 2 am. I crawled out of bed and made some coffee at 9, and heard that they were already at work. I ignored them until the dot of 10, got out my work gloves and ambled over.

There were a good dozen people here, some with trimmers clearing out the bush, and the rest raking everything together. Two guys were using a chain saw to saw through some of the larger bits of wood. I greeted the folks I knew, and dove in.

Ten minutes later it was break time, since they had already started well before. At least the board had organized cold beer and water. It was nice to chat with some of the neighbors, ones from the other end of the colony that we haven't seen in years. The German spoke shyly to me - "I think I saw you on TV last year." Yup. And the new neighbors asked if they had heard me in Swedish radio just the day after I had introduced myself to them. Yes again, I had been up to give a talk and a bunch of interviews, had sort of a blitz of Swedish media, radio, TV, and newspaper. My!

After about half an hour the bossy, nosy wife of the board speaker (she is the vice speaker, keeps it all in the family) came around to check on who all showed up. She came up to me to ask me who I was - I've only had this house for about 16 years and she bitched *bitterly* about the shenanigans of our son for years. Guess I'm not as famous as I thought :) I told her, and she excused herself for not working, she just had an operation. I think she should have stayed home and rested.

Anyway, had a nice chat with the neighbors on both sides, and got a big bear hug from the Italian guy who was happy to see me, as I always stop to chat with him when I see him in his garden. On the dot of 11 I excused myself, said that I had an appointment, and hurried home to change. As I drove out, they were all standing around, talking. Must be good for getting to know your neighbors, although I know a number of people who didn't go because they hated the rude tone of the sign.

My appointment? Running through the "loppis", the flea markets, looking for a new office chair. Got a great one with armrests for 100 SEK, that's about 12 €, with the euro being so low against the krona. But still a great bargain.

The title of this article, Subbotnik? Go look it up in the Wikipedia.


The Swarm

WiseMan was cleaning out the guest house and pulled the pile of cushions out of the corner. We haven't had many guests for a while, so we've not had the whole pile out for some time. He pulled out the last cushion, and found something unappetizing - the floorboards were sagging, and there was an ant colony living there.

He got me to come and look, and we soon realized that we didn't need to shoo them, they were breaking camp. There was a large pile of eggs in one corner, and in a flash every ant had picked up an egg and transported it out of our sight. Teamwork!

Still, we don't relish them coming back, so we got some ant spray at the store. I'm debating whether to take up the flooring or not. I probably should, but that will be a few days worth of work to fix it. Anyway, the sun was shining today, I painted the deck and finished power washing the house. Now: time to write!


Never forget Utøya

A year ago today a lone gunman first created a diversion in downtown Oslo to occupy the police, and then went out to the island of Utøya, where the social-democratic youth were holding a political summer camp. There he shot dead 69 people.

Norway has not let itself become a police state. They value their freedoms so much, that they have just carried on, and put the murderer on the stand as they would any other murderer. They did not ramp up "security" (okay, they already have cameras all over the place), they did not do what the murderer wanted, to force the "foreign elements" out of Norway. They remained unshaken.

Today, many cities in Scandinavia are holding memorial services. The Oslo service was broadcast on Swedish TV, I listened to the premier, Jens Stoltenberg, give an excellent speech. July, normaly one of the lightest and happiest months in Norway, will retain a black spot, July 22. "We are aware of those who are in mourning, who are hard put to deal with day-to-day life. We are there, and we will reach out, and speak with you."

In Lund a small group of young people gathered in front of city hall on the large square around a red flag: "We will never forget Utøya. We will not let ourselves be conquered". They had storm candles and red roses, and just stood in silence. Passersby stopped, and joined in for a few minutes, before carrying on.


My, how time flies!

Someone was asking if anyone had a "Duden Informatik" around. I piped up "sure" and got it down from the shelves.

Oh my. Time flies!

I purchased this when I got my first professorship in 1993. There have been a few changes, it seems, since then. Internet is not an entry, but electronic post is there. There are flip-flops and NAND gates and programming languages like Pascal and Elan.

I guess I haven't really used it much, especially not recently. I do think this is a candidate for the paper bin. But not tonight.


This would be great weather - for April

They are forecasting 19 degrees C and rain for tomorrow. It's the middle of July, and we have mostly had rain and cold all summer. Oh, there's been a bright spot here and there. I'm sure I've had breakfast outside twice now. And gone to school without a coat at least one day already.

On the other hand, I've gotten soaked a few times.

I just hoping that summer has been saving up all the warm goodness for when I'm off school. Last day of classes tomorrow!


Rest in Peace, Part II

We buried Daddy the day after his funeral when the ashes finally turned up. We had chosen a spot on the land that still belonged to him - or rather, that we thought belonged to him. We had even checked at the courthouse that the current owner was him.

A week later we got an unsettling letter. The property had been sold at a tax sale in September. For payment of the $200 outstanding and 10% of the market value of the property, sold to the greedy neighbor that my father did NOT want to have the property. There had been a notice in the paper (which we don't read) and there had been a sign tacked up on a telephone pole on the property. That counts as proper notice in those parts.

I dug through records, found the bill, we had it in the list of paid bills, but in the digital world, only the last 6 months were online. We had to pay to have the back statements printed, and mysteriously all other payments on our records were done, but this one was not. Shit. We consulted a lawyer, it would be costly to sue, not sure to win, and then we would have to sell the property to pay for Mom's care. So we decided to be practical and just move Dad.

My brothers did the deed yesterday. We had been planning on planting a dogwood - his favorite tree - on the spot. Instead, they dug him up (luckily, we had marked the spot with some stones), drove to the cemetery where his father had purchased 9 lots because they were on a special deal, and buried him next to his parents and his sister. The view is not so nice from here, we can't plant anything, and it is in the county seat and not in the village he was born and grew up in.

But we do have high hopes that he can now, indeed, rest in peace.


New car!

We purchased a new car today! Well, new for us. It's 3 years old, but has only run about 8000 km. It must have just been used to go shopping on Saturdays or something. It is a nice color of blue, has A/C and seat heating, the back seat folds partially or completely, with enough room for taking stuff along to Sweden. It's pretty basic otherwise, place to park my gum and my parking card and a cup of coffee. It's job is to take me from A to B and not need *too* much gas.

It will be such a relief not to be totally dependent on the dysfunctional public transport here in Berlin. I still want to use my bike in the summer, I've kind of gotten to like the ride to work from the train station on bike: through quiet streets, over the water on a pedestrian bridge, then down a wide bike path. I get to school in a good mood, and I think the students appreciate that.

WiseYoungMan will *not* be driving this car, however...