Saturday, January 23, 2010

Frosty day in Tyholt

We had a couple of days of freezing fog a week ago, so I was lucky enough to get some nice pictures that day from the Tyholt tower. This picture is looking down towards the Telenor office building where I work. The bigger buildings on the left are part of the NTNU marine science campus.
I have been very busy the last few weeks, starting when the owners of my building said that my apartment was sold, so I needed to find a new place. I technically had 3 months, but they were hoping that I would be out by the end of January, and through luck I did manage to find another place already. You can actually see it in this photo if you know where to look, but basically it's just behind those tall apartment buildings in the center of the pic. It should take me a whole 5 minutes to walk to work from there. I managed to talk the owners of my current apartment into paying for the move, so hopefully my back won't be destroyed by trying to carry a sofa down 4 flights of stairs. The new place I found is the top half of a house, with 2 bedrooms and about 80 sq. meters of space compared to my current 47, so having some extra room will be nice, except when the heating bill comes. I'll have to park outside now too, so I guess I have to break down and buy an ice scraper. I started packing up the last few days and it is quite amazing how much stuff I've accumulated in only 1 year.

I also started the 1st level Norwegian course at NTNU last week, so now I have that for 2 classes a week until the end of May (6 hours a week). I think it will be quite fun actually, we have a small class of around 15 people, and almost everyone is from a different country. The first few classes were pretty easy, but I have a feeling it will get much harder soon.

Just to make my life a bit more stressful, last week someone managed to duplicate my debit/visa card and go on some spending spree at Macy's in NYC. I got a call from the bank last Sunday morning asking if I had tried to spend $8000 at Macy's the day before, so I said "well no, I've been in Trondheim all weekend". So she said "OK, we'll have to send you a new card and then you can file a claim for the fraudulent charges." Which is fine of course except that it takes a week for the new card to show up and in the meantime I have no money and no debit card either. So I managed to live for a week on about $10 worth of change that I dug out of my change box. Yesterday the new card showed up, so I gave it a workout this afternoon and it seems to be fine. Yea for money!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last day in Tromsø

I took this on Sunday, from the top of the tram car ride outside of Tromsø.
It was definitely worth the 99 kroner for a ride to the top, although it was windy and cold as hell up there. I managed to stay out on the observation deck for all of about 5 minutes before I was shivering too much to take any pictures. I met another guy from the race on the way up in the tram. John David said he was from Belfast and he came up to Tromsø to run the half marathon. He was worried about his camera battery on the way up and sure enough, it died as soon as he turned the camera on, so he said he was going to come back again the next day just to get some pictures. You get an incredible view looking west over the city from the platform up there, if you're tough enough to stay out there. I think there was about 30 mph winds that day and some rain, so I ran for the hot chocolate after a few pictures. John David had walked across the bridge from town with a German woman who was also in the race. She for some reason had decided to try to hike to the top of the hill we were on, which was about 1000 feet of vertical climb, through the snow, in the rain and 30 mph wind. Nein danke! We never saw her again.


I'm sure she's fine. Somewhere.

When I was a boy I built a plastic model of the German battleship "Tirpitz", which was the sister ship of the Bismarck. After the Bismarck was sunk in 1941 the German navy sent the Tirpitz into hiding basically in Norway. It spent some time in the Trondheim fjord and later moved north past Tromsø where it was attacked numerous times by Allied aircraft and once by a quite daring mini-submarine attack from the British. The Germans repaired the damage from each attack until a direct bomb hit on the bow of the ship made it unseaworthy in September of 1944. The German navy then moved the ship to Tromsø, to act as a floating gun battery basically, with no further intention of trying to repair the ship. The Allied attacks continued, since they were unaware that the ship was no longer seaworthy. On November 12th, 1944, an attack was made by British Lancaster bombers that finally destroyed the ship. It rolled over and sank near the island west of Tromsø, ( in the background of the picture above ). More than 900 sailors were trapped in the ship and killed when it sank. Partly because my father was in the American Navy in WWII, I always felt bad when I read about ships being sunk and sailors dying at sea, no matter what navy they were in. I'm sure I read about what happened to the Tirpitz when I was young and building that model, but I probably never thought I would someday be in Tromsø myself to see the place where it sank.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Polar nights 10k

I did the Polar Nights 10k race in Tromsø yesterday. Truely a course which will be burned into my head for some time. I think if the race had been on Friday, it might have been reasonable ( 30F and streets covered with packed snow). Unfortunately it started warming up and raining on Saturday morning, so by race time at 3:00pm it was about 37F and the rain had turned the course into a combination of rutted wet ice, gravel, slush, and puddles. Mostly wet ice. I had my shoes spikes screwed in a little bit too far I think, they were working on the flat areas but every time we had to go uphill my feet would start slipping backwards a little bit on every step. The wind was blowing somewhere between 20-30mph most of the race, I didn't feel it when we started in downtown but as soon as we got out of the main part of the city it just about knocked us over. Anyway the course was the same for everyone, and it was fun in a sick sort of way :)
Some guy wiped out into a huge puddle of melted snow in front of me about half way through the race. I think that must have been a long 5k back for that poor dude.
They had the course marked with nice little oil lamps the whole way, and a lot of volunteers helping us at the corners. I'm not sure how they got all those volunteers to show up. Let's see, stand outside for a couple of hours in the cold, pouring rain, high winds, in the dark, sounds like fun! I finished 33rd in the men's group for the 10k, out of 111 starters. I think there were 3 women that finished ahead of me. I was impressed with some of the people that ran the half-marathon. That had to be a tough slog in that weather. The woman that won the half finished in 1:28 something, which is pretty fast for running on ice.
Tromsø is a nice city, I can't see that much really because it's dark, I guess I'll have to come back sometime in the summer. Maybe all the ice will have completely melted by then :)
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Greetings from Tromsø

I made it to Tromsø yesterday, escaping the -20C temps in Trondheim for a balmy -2 in the Norwegian northland. I saw a few other runners around town today, getting ready for the race tomorrow. I'm glad I brought my race shoes with the spikes in, the streets are mostly covered with packed snow and ice in a few places. The temperature tomorrow should be fine for running, unfortunately the forecast calls for rain and "near gale force" winds. That doesn't sound so great...
At least if the weather is horrible I can laugh at the half-marathon people for not being smart enough to only run the 10k :)

I asked the girl working at the restaurant where I ate lunch if she was happy that the sun would start coming up again next week. She said "oh it won't be back until Easter". Hmmm.
I feel bad that I would know more about the sunrise/sunset in Tromsø than someone who actually lives here but just to be sure I double-checked when I got back to the hotel. I was right. She'll be really surprised I guess when it comes up in a week, or maybe she thinks Easter is in January.

I will have to do some fast thinking when I get back to Trondheim next week. The company that owns my apartment called me and said they had sold the apartment, so now I have to move. Technically by the contract I have 3 months to move, but of course the person that bought it wants to move in at the end of January. The building company said they had another apartment I could move into in Lade (further away from work), and if I moved by the end of the month they would give me a free month of rent. The problem of course is that moving sucks, and if I move in 3 weeks and then find a place I like better after a month I would have to move twice in one month. On the other hand it's hard to turn down 10,000 NOK of free rent. More on that later.....
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