Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from September 2007

OK, toss my digital camera into a fjord?

September 29th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Norway stone bridge

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

After two days in the fjord country of Norway, I’m saturated by visions of beautiful landscape.

Tunnels under mountains, stone bridges over salty sea-filled fjords, waterfalls pouring down steep and stony cliffs. Tiny towns with their upside-down reflections. Full moons as big as the snow-splashed mountains beneath them.

If people smash champagne glasses after a wedding, so that no glass will never be used for a less-noble toast–shouldn’t I on that principle smash my digital camera?

Noooooo, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m not that idealistic. But I surely am awed by Norway’s lovely fjord country.

Tags: Travel · Wide wonderful world

You cannot take bad photographs in Bergen, Norway

September 27th, 2007 · 2 Comments

I could say more, and maybe I will tomorrow, but right now it’s already late at (Norwegian) night.

September sunlight. Big and dignified architectural ideas. Broad public spaces. Water. Interesting old Hanseatic wooden buildings around a historic harbor.

Delicious codfish with berries for dessert.

Good night, and thank you for listening.

Tags: Travel · Wide wonderful world

Hey–why aren’t those guys using my phone-jammer graphic?

September 26th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Some people calling themselves the “New Hampshire Justice League” just opened a store at CafePress where you can buy funny Tshirts, etc.

There are some fine choices including a cranky Democrat donkey, slogans like “Keeping the GOP honest in 2008,” and one of those no-don’t graphics with a phone in it.

For NH, GOP phone pranks don’t just mean phone-jamming. In 2006, NH voters got thousands of deceptive robo-calls that (in violation of FCC rules) gave the (false) impression that Democrats were the ones harassing them, again and again. NH was not the only state hit by this tactic.

I’ll be happy to donate my own handsome elephant graphic to the New Hampshire Justice League. By the way, I do have a birthday coming up in December, so if anybody is wondering what I would like…

Tags: New Hampshire! · politics

Frank Wilczek with young August Strindberg

September 24th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Frank Wilczek with young Strindberg

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Now here is a truly multi-purpose photo, where you can see within a single frame:

  • How beautifully September sunlight shines in Sweden..
  • …but nevertheless, chilly air makes us wear our raincoats…
  • …and (another favorite thought of mine) Swedish landscapes, especially big glacier-scrubbed rocks like this one, remind me of NH, and last but not least…
  • …how very sweet-natured Frank Wilczek is to be willing to pose for me in so many different odd places over the years.

Tags: Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Clever but not too crafty fix for old chair

September 22nd, 2007 · Comments Off on Clever but not too crafty fix for old chair

Corner of flat chair cover is tied to chair leg
Frank is a physicist–I am an engineer, which means I can’t help looking at all the world to see what practical changes would somehow improve it.

Today we walked miles into beautiful Stockholm through beautiful September sunlight. Our goal was the Saluhall market at Östermalmstorg, with Frank’s favorite vegetarian restaurant, the Örtagården.

No, there will not be a quiz on those Swedish names.

It was wonderful, and I’ll be posting some photos over at Flickr, but what I can’t resist writing more about is the Örtagården’s truly clever chair-covers.

Chairs that get lots of wear will start looking worn. Normal slipcovers drape over the top of a chairback–even though the chairback itself rarely gets worn or dirty. Furthermore, any time someone sits down on the chair, it pulls the slipcover cloth down–so before you know it, you have a slipcover that looks worn or frayed or even ripped.

The Örtagården re-covers just the seat of each chair, using flat pieces of cloth (with corners cut out) that tie onto each chairleg. With the same amount of material and effort needed to make one normal slipcover, they can spruce up six or seven chairs!

And their food is delicious, even to this non-vegetarian.

Tags: Useful

A plow spared this daisy, but November will not

September 21st, 2007 · Comments Off on A plow spared this daisy, but November will not

A plow spared this daisy, but November will not

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Right up against the edge of this plowed field, one small daisy plant celebrates its so-improbable survival with a few flowers.

I’m guessing that late September may be too late for these flowers to set seeds–but what do I know? I’m not a botanist and, for that matter, I am not a little Swedish daisy.

Good luck, little plant.

We who are about to blog salute you.

Tags: Sister Age · Wide wonderful world · writing

Beautiful sunny day to get lost in Stockholm

September 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Beautiful sunny day to get lost in Stockholm

autumn leaves

Originally uploaded by martinaph

Plenty of work and writing I should be doing, but — look at that blue sky! Imagine the sunshine. Imagine this morning’s crisp but also welcoming air.

So (here comes my excuse) I still don’t really know my way around Stockholm–and the best way to learn strange cities is to set out with a map in your hand and get lost. Hmmm, number 43 bus heads south from Nordita–wonder where that goes?

So I jumped on the bus and found out, with a map in my hand. It went almost all the way down to the Grand Hotel, where the Nobel Committee kindly put us up back in 2004.

Anyway, when stuff around the bus started looking like maybe good place to get off and eat lunch, that’s what I did. I then wandered back more or less toward where I came from, but up different streets.

Eventually, my feet started getting tired. Then I mapped my way to the busline and 43-ed back to my office.

Back to work, back to work–that’s enough blogging, Betsy Devine!

p.s. But first…thanks to Martinaph for taking this photo and letting me blog it. And thanks to Flickr for hosting so many great images!

Tags: Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Ulf’s amazing bicycle

September 18th, 2007 · Comments Off on Ulf’s amazing bicycle

Black and white Brompton

Originally uploaded by yhase

Frank and I were just leaving Nordita when I saw it–the most gorgeous bicycle ever! When I say a physical object is gorgeous, I mean that it clearly has much information cleverly packed in its essence.

I was not disappointed. Ulf kindly set down his backpack and demonstrated just how he could fold up his Brompton bicycle into a tiny, portable package to carry on trains or store in a small closet. Flickr has a photo pool for Brompton bike enthusiasts where you can see these amazing bikes folded and unfolded in places like London, Paris, and NYC. I guess I just never noticed them before.

Judging from the expression on Frank’s face, he now wants his own Brompton bike to fold and unfold.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · geeky · Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

What millions of dollars of DC lawyers can do

September 17th, 2007 · 1 Comment

I’m so outraged–suppose I fire a gun into a crowd and kill John Smith. Am I innocent of murder unless the DA can prove that I intended to murder Mr. John Smith?

That’s exactly the kind of reasoning, it seems to me, behind the latest outrage in the NH phone-jamming scandal. James Tobin’s lawyers claim that he’s innocent of telephone “harassment” because–even though maybe he should have known Democrats might feel emotional distress if folks jammed their phone lines on Election Day–Tobin’s real “intent” wasn’t to make anybody feel bad at all.

Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say here but I did just write up the whole story at Blue Hampshire–some of the comments there are from people who were there, talking about what it felt like to get phone-jammed. In better phone-jamming news (thanks to Frank and to Ri and to Bill for all emailing me the link) today’s NY Times has an editorial urging a real (not Gonzales-led) investigation of the phone-jamming. Partial text of appeal of James Tobin

Tags: Editorial · New Hampshire! · Wide wonderful world

Good-bye to Uppsala, hello to Stockholm

September 16th, 2007 · Comments Off on Good-bye to Uppsala, hello to Stockholm

That time of year…

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

When we found ourselves with no place to stay in Sweden, this lovely peaceful house welcomed us in for a two-week stay. After all the packing and racing around in Cambridge, we stepped into two weeks of tranquility and grace, enhanced by lovely giant breakfasts served every day in the dining room.

Not far away, in Uppsala’s Ångstromlaboratoriet, there was an inspiring hive of physics activity. Frank finished four manuscripts in a record time–I didn’t get quite so much finished, but I’m well underway on a chapter about the early seventies at Princeton University.

We will miss our peaceful Uppsala homebase, but stark busy Stockholm does also look inspiring!

Tags: Sweden