Monday, August 31, 2009

The Project Update

The project is going very well so far! I have found Norwegians to be generally quite friendly and receptive to the idea. So far I have photographed an incoming freshman at the University of Oslo who is going into International Relations, but has a strong interest in Environmental Studies. She took some Environmental Science classes both at her high school in Norway and when she did an exchange program to England for 6 months. She provided some very interesting insights about how they teach the subject in both countries: differences and similarities which betray the countries' political and cultural agendas.

Going off a lead from one of my helpful advisors in the Fulbright office, I checked out an apple juice stand downtown, located near the castle. I found it and after inquiring of the attendant about the legendary owner of said stand, I was told he will be working this week. She also gave me his number, so I set up a time to meet with him and talk tomorrow! This should be fascinating. I think he will have a lot of interesting things to say about buying local, slow foods and fair trade... among other things. I heard he is quite opinionated, friendly and talkative. I'm really looking forward to meeting him!

After obtaining the juice man's digits, I sped through the palace grounds toward the harbor. My aim: to obtain some fresh fish (probably cod) from the fishermen regularly stationed there who sell the catch fresh from their boats. They had sold out of fish (only prawns) so I tried to strike up a conversation with one man on the boat. Something I said seemed to make him uncomfortable, or maybe it was the sheer fact that I was sticking around for more than 30 seconds to talk. (Norwegians can be very shy people, but I have found in general they will open up if you are friendly and polite). Finally he passed me off to the real fisherman and captain of the boat. I was happy to find this man to be much more friendly. Kristian Kristiansen, an interesting example of Norwegian redundant nomenclature, gave some great personal anecdotes and information about fishing laws here. The well-traveled former smuggler took me for a beer on his friends' fjord cruise ship and told me stories about living in a van in Australia for 3 months. Finally, I made a few portraits of Kristian on his boat and got his card. As an after-thought, he went back onto his boat and came back with a generous serving of halibut from his own personal stash. When I tried to pay him for it he insisted that he only gets this "most delicious fish" once-in-a-while and likes to share it with his friends. He would not take any money for it at all. I plan to return to the harbor and visit Kristian again as soon as I can to bring him some prints of the portraits I took. He said someday this spring he may be able to bring me out on a fishing trip with him. Looking forward to that!!

There is, of course, much more to tell... but that's all for now.

Kristian Kristiansen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Column in the Exeter News-Letter

Here is the first publication of my monthly journal in the Exeter News-Letter, it's called "Norsk Code"

Even Blogger has turned Norwegian! Thankfully guessed "Logg på" meant "Log in"

Went to Prague last week with 7 others from UiO. We were there from Wednesday until Sunday. We did a lot, saw even more.... I should just let the photographs speak for themselves.

One day with a little rain; the mist over Praha!

Atop the castle hill, not looking down but back at myself.


The world-famous, 600-year-old astronomical clock in Old Town Square.

Interesting facade

Bottom part of the astronomical clock (added in the 1800s). Contains the traditional signs of the zodiac surrounded by a ring of circles representing the months of the year (depict harvest activities) enclosed by an outer circle with 365 names. A marker at the top indicates the day.
At a picnic on the banks of the Vltava river we celebrated the name day of our new French friend, Christopher. He randomly joined our group on the way to our impromptu picnic, and we were all glad he did as he sang us cute french songs.

The clock counts as one of the oldest still-functioning machines. These sculptures, added around 1490, perform an interesting little play every hour. The skeleton (death) rings his bell and nods his head while Vanity, Greed and the pagan Turk shake their heads "no!"

A viewing bubble above the city.

Prague castle in the distance.

13th Century Old New Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. Clock in Hebrew, read backwards, on building behind.

Franz Kafka riding the shoulders of a headless giant through the streets of his home-town, as described in his short story "A Dream."

The House of the Black Madonna - Cubist building, architectural novelty.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Norway is fantastic! I have been so busy since my arrival on Monday evening it's been impossible to sit down and blog a bit. However, to make good on my promise to my hundreds of glowing fans (hahaha), I'll give a brief run-down of what's been going on... IN OUTLINE FORMAT!

I. Flight
A. Next day arrival, delay, taxi
II. Too many bags
A. My parents = porters?
i. They were great :)
III. Housing
A. Shortages
B. Electricity issues
i. Note to self: Do not plug US 60Hz surge protector into 50Hz outlet. EXPLOSIVE noises and fumes will occur!
C. Dynne: [Norwegian] noun, a usually down-filled quilt, often with a removable cover; comforter.
D. Roommate
i. Very nice and clean Bosnian/Croatian guy; IT major
IV. Administrative
A. 5 billion log-ins for different accounts at school, new bank, etc etc... EVERYTHING here is computer/internet-based. Nobody writes personal checks anymore!
B. Police station odyssey
i. Had to arrive at 7am for an 8:30 opening at the police station to have residence permit stamped into my passport. But it was kind of worth it... I mean, it's a really cool stamp! haha It's got my picture and holograms - verrrry official!
C. "Take a numbers" everywhere... I mean, EVERYWHERE... you know? Numbers like you get at the deli counter? But you take them to talk to people at the phone store, the Trafikanten (Central Oslo metro station spot to get monthly student passes for the "T-Bane" - Norwegian metro)
V. Fun
A. Vigelands Park experience (sublime: temperature, breeze, weather, park, art, hot air balloons floating about...)

B. Transportation
i. T-Bane
> Stops running around 12:30, though the clubs stay open until 2. So one night after a party organized by the school, I had to hitch a ride with another international student with a couple of wonderfully kind Norwegian boys who were waiting to pick up their girlfriends later in the night. What luck!!!!
ii. (MY NEW) Bicycle named "Begerka!!!!" ("Boogie" for short)
> Graciously donated for FREE by my administrative advisor at school. It's a Diamant - Norwegian brand 15 speed with a back rack :)
iii. Ferry - Super cool way to get from Oslo city out to the peninsula Bygdøy, where several museums are located.
C. IKEA adventures
i. Huge, just like in the US... and comparable prices!
D. Buddy groups
i. Orientation groups assigned by the school. Though three of us who met on the first day have been trading off and attending each others' buddy group activities, depending on which events most tickle our fancy!

Now off to unpacking and meeting up with some other Fulbrighters and my new Australian friends for some drinks at a football (soccer) pub.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Another work of

Need to start making some mail art. Will create and send, even if from Norway!

New do-do's

Ecological Issues Series

Colony Collapse Disorder
Acrylic and newspaper on canvas

Factory Farming
Acrylic on canvas

Invasive Species
Acrylic and ink on canvas

Ecological Footprint
Acrylic on canvas