Sunday, November 29, 2009



I passed my Norwegian drivers license exam last week, so now I am an officially licensed Norwegian driver. I was previously a somewhat officially licensed US driver, but I had one year to trade in my U.S. license for the Norwegian one. They trust the U.S. enough that I didn't have to take any of the driving lessons or the written exam. Even so it still cost me about $400 to get the license. My friends from India will have to start from scratch to get a license here and that will cost them something around $2500 - $3000. Ouch. I had to rent a special car that had brake pedals on both sides so the examiner can make a panic stop if you're about to run somebody over. The car was actually a pretty nice BMW although it was completely gutless with a 1.6l 4-cylinder. I had to take the test in the dark which wasn't so great but by pure luck I had just driven on the exact road that he tested me on only a few days earlier, so I knew where the turns and roundabouts were at. The examiner was a 25 year old Norwegian guy, and he was pretty easy on me. I didn't do anything stupid and after we finished driving for 40 minutes or so he said "well it's nice to take the exam with someone who actually knows how to drive.." I didn't tell him that I've had a license since before he was born, that made me feel too old :)
I felt kind of bad when I left and I could see the old Oregon license laying on the clerk's desk. She probably chucked it out after I left, maybe I should have gone dumpster diving that night to get it back.

The days here are getting really short now - I was at the gym this morning and the sun didn't peek over the hills east of the ciy until 10:40am. At least there are only 3 more weeks until the winter solstice!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sgt. Joe Saturday

I'm no longer surprised now when the doorbell rings at 10:30 pm. I figure it will be the police again. Sure enough, last night a man and a woman from the immigration police knocked on my door. It took me a minute to get the guy to stop talking in Norwegian before I could figure out what he wanted. The last time they were looking for a person that lived directly below me, today they were looking for a Russian woman that used to live next door to me. I haven't seen her since July probably so there wasn't a lot I could tell them. They showed me her passport and I said "yep, that looks like her, but I haven't seen her for 4 months". They seemed a bit confused in general, the same as the last time they were there. Anyway they finally left after they realized I wasn't going to be much help. Not sure what happened to the Russian woman but she can't have gone too far without a passport.
This morning I decided to walk down to the gym from my apartment. I timed it so I would get there just when it opened, but when I got a block away I saw some people coming out of the parking lot instead of going in. I figured that wasn't a good sign. When I got up there a girl who works there told me that someone had broken in the night before and stolen a bunch of things from the office and front desk. She said she couldn't open it but she was just waiting for the police to show up. I decided to leave before they got there as I didn't really need to meet anymore "politi" this week :)

This afternoon Leif and Han's and I went to watch some musicians play at a small bookstore in the old part of downtown. It's a very cool store, tons of really old books in Norwegian and English. It's in a very old wooden building with low ceilings that must be more than 100 years old. They had the "concert" on the 2nd floor, accessible only by something that would a cross between stairs and a ladder I guess. We ended up with about 30 people crammed into a little room, not including the 5 people in the band. The band played an hour of Celtic music that was really nice. I'm sure we were violating every fire law in the universe, including: no lighting, no emergency exit, and too many people (including the guitar player's 86 year old mom). Since there were almost no lights they lit all sorts of candles and stuck them next to stacks of dusty old books. The bass player in particular I was sure was going to light himself on fire by backing into a candle part way through the show. I had a 1/2 cup of coffee ready to fling on him just in case. The music was great, the only bad part was that the owner's wife came up before the show and said they were selling the building and moving the store, so not sure when or where I'll get to check out the stacks of old books again.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Fly Zone

Leif and I tried our best to go for a flight from Værnes airport yesterday, but there was a layer of low clouds and fog that just would not go away. We waited for a couple of hours in the flying club "clubhouse" (trailer), but there was never enough visibility for a VFR flight so finally we gave up and decided to go for a drive up to the Skarnsund Bridge. The bridge is about an hour's drive north of Værnes so we had just enough time left to get up there before sunset. The drive along the E6 there is quite nice, and unlike Trondheim there aren't any tunnels and toll booths to stop for. There are some other things you might want to stop for though. Like moose. When we got about 5 miles from the bridge I was looking at something in the car when I heard Leif make a noise, like "oww-hmmfff". Not sure what that means in English, but apparently in French it means, hey look at that shaggy horse running through that yard where there is no fence and oh now it's turning around and running straight towards the car and it's huge and it has horns oh s*&t it's a moose!
I had about 1 second to try and figure out if it was better to try and stop in the road and watch the thing try to jump over us while the car behind me smashed into us, or to keep going and try to miss it. I kept going and swerved into the other lane while mr. moose went sprinting by right behind the rear of the car. I was bracing myself for a giant "thump" but somehow it missed me or I missed it, not really sure. Anyway that was a little too exciting actually. I think from now on I would rather see them from a distance.
After that we managed to make it to the bridge at sunset - I got some nice photos but Leif had a dead battery in his camera so he might have to go back again :)
Skarnsund is an awesome bridge, it was finished in 1991 and there was a toll both on it until 2007 but now it's free. They were nice enough to put a separate bike/pedestrian lane on it as well so you can walk out in the middle and get some nice views there from 150 feet above the fjord.
The fog had mostly gone on the way back except for a few spots, but no sign of any more moose.
Today was a beautiful day for November, it was 8C (46F) and the sun was out most of the middle of the day. I actually went for a run with just normal running shorts and a long sleeve shirt on, but I had to laugh at some of the Norwegians strolling around who seemed unconvinced of the nice weather. Most of them were wearing giant winter jackets and hats and gloves, one lady had a full snowmobile suit on. She probably thought I was crazy too I guess. One thing I can always say about the Norwegians and the weather, they are fully prepared for anything!

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