Now that's a good idea.

When running for office, Stockholm's mayor Annika Billström promised not to go forward with the contentious road congestion tax proposal proposed by the Green party. Once elected, she went back on that promise in order to put together a ruling coalition with the Greens.

Now, Billström has again taken the path of political expedience and declared that only Stockholm residents will get an opportunity to vote on the congestion tax referendum next year. Her decision ignores the obvious fact that the matter of transport is a regional one that involves citizens of the entire county. In fact, the tax will affect residents of the surrounding suburbs even more than Stockholmers. The majority of people forced to pay congestion fees are those who live in the suburbs and commute to the city for work. The people most affected will not be allowed to vote on the issue.

Billström is no doubt hoping to benefit from the marginally higher support her party enjoys in the city. But her support isn't very solid. From the looks of it right now, hers is a losing proposition. TV4 reports today the results of a recent poll showing that 63% of Stockholm residents are against the congestion tax. Billström's party is also losing support, and this is almost certainly due in part to her obstinance on the congestion tax.

Billström's party seems likely to lose control of the city (and perhaps the whole country) in next year's parliamentary elections.

I follow this issue with some interest not only because I would be affected should I decide to purchase an automobile, but also because I am responsible for part of computing infrastructure for the congestion tax project.


The Sunday before my parents returned to Austin, we took a walk in Haga Parken, across the lake from my home. There were many geese and a few ducks. They were everywhere around the water, and we fed them some stale bread I had been saving for just such an occasion.
For the past two nights, right after sunset, a large flock of geese has flown South directly over my home. Summer is coming to a close again. It's time to get outside and make the most of what's left!

It's a lovely evening, and the setting sun is casting a warm orange glow in my kitchen.

My knife rack in the sunlight.

And finally, here's the beer I'm having with dinner tonight. It's Staropramen's Granat beer. Systembolaget recently added this beer to their shelves. I first tried this beer while on a business trip in Brno in March.


By popular demand, here are a few photos of my adorable cats Alex & Sasha.

Eva Solo kitchen timer

I finally bought the Eva Solo kitchen timer that I've been looking for since I first saw it mentioned on Engadget a few months ago. I purchased it at Nordiska Kompaniet on Saturday while doing some shopping in downtown Stockholm with my parents. NK has an expansive kitchen department, but it's not cheap. This little item set me back 200 SEK.

Still, I suppose one must have a little luxury now and then. The timer is a stainless steel cylinder on a magnetic black rubber base. The surface of the steel cylinder is brushed on the top and polished on the rim. Minute indicators from 0 to 55 are printed along the rim. The design is simple and elegant. To set it, one simply twists the steel cylinder clockwise. There is a small rasied portion of the base that indicates how many minutes are left.

I think it fits in well with the many other stainless steel items in the kitchen. If I ever get around to renovating the kitchen, I'll probably replace the hood over the stove with one in stainless steel. My dream kitchen would also have a stone (or artificial stone) countertop, an induction stove and oak cabinets with halogen spotlights underneath.

I'm taking care of my neighbor's cat Max for a few weeks while he's away on vacation in Novosibirsk. Max is a bit crazy. He's easily excitable and occassionally decides to attack without warning. Here is the result of this morning's confrontation. Nice, eh?


Here's another good view of Balestrand, caught between two ridges.

Remember that small branch of the fjord I referred to in the photo taken quayside in Balestrand? Well here you can see the end of that branch. In the foreground is the trail up the peak. If you look carefully you can see a stack of rocks beside the trail in the distance. These marked the trail.

After a bit more the slope to the right of the trail got even steeper. No false steps.

Here's the view down the valley to the right of the trail. It's steeper than it looks.

Here's a self-portrait.

Near the top of the mountain there was a bit of unmelted snow that was attracting the attention of other hikers.

One of them took this excellent photo of me in the snow.

Here's one more view back to the hotel.

I made it! I put some of the snow on my hat to help keep me cool. It worked really well. It melted slowly as I hiked down the mountain, and was almost gone when I reached the bottom.

I met some sheep on the way down the other side of the peak.

When I came over the ridge, I startled this one. She was quite upset.

I hiked down the left side of the ridge, along the Kallbacken path. That name means "cold stream," and the path lives up to the name.

There's a lovely stream at the bottom of the valley, fed by snowmelt from the slopes above.

The stream is small, but the water was flowing very quickly. I drank some of the water and refilled my bottle. It was delicious. Hopefully there aren't any dead sheep in the stream above. Actually, I took this photo just a few hundred meters from the top of the mountain, so I think the water was probably safe.

And here's a look down the valley.

There were three cabins in the valley, in various states of disrepair.

Here are the other two.

One more waterfall. Maybe I should have worn hiking boots. Oh well — next time.

Here's a bridge I crossed on the way back down. I thought itl looked interesting.

I hiked back along the slope behind the town.

As the hotel came into view, I began to hear the family whistle. I whistled back and took this photo of my parents waving on the balcony of our hotel room.

After a quick shower, we walked to a nice little restaurant for dinner.

As we walked back along the quay toward the hotel, an expres boat similar to the one we took from Flå arrived to drop off some passengers.

And finally we had a cup of coffee on the back deck of the hotel, and watched the color on the mountains and clouds change as the sun set behind us.

A closer view of the hotel from up on the mountain.

Ok: decision time. Take the easy blue trail, or continue up the red trail to Raudmelen peak?

I kept going obviously. Here I am at about the halfway point. It was sunny and warm so I stripped down to the bare essentials.

After the midway point the right side of the mountain just dropped off... it was a very steep slope (70 degrees or more) down to the valley below. There's still some snow even in August, and it's feeding the streams. I could hear the sound of the waterfalls of this stream even across the valley.

The view up the ridge toward the peak.

And loking back whence I came.

We had a nice breakfast this morning in the corner table at the dining hall in the Kviknes hotel.

The hotel was built in 1910, and it was (at least at the time, the largest wooden building in Europe). It's very charming.

The quay had fishing boats moored this morning. In the background you can see the city "center" of Balestrand and beyond, a small branch of the Sognefjord.

In the afternoon, we packed a little lunch and took a hike up in the woods behind Balestrand.

Before we even got to the woods thoug, we walked through Balestrand. Isn't that clever? I'm jumping forwards and backwards in time. I guess I wasn't clever enough to post these chronologically.

Ok, back in the woods. it was a warm day so we didn't go far before it was time to break for lunch.

We stopped at a little picnic area near an intersection of hiking trails.

Here mom enjoys a Ringnes pilsner bought tax free at the Oslo airport. So there, Norwegian alcohol taxes!

The views of the fjord were impressive.

At the trailhead of the "red" trail — the one that goes to the peak of the nearby mountain, I left on my own.

The higher I climbed, the better the views became.

At first the trail was nice and shady.

Here's a view of Balestrand. The hotel is the long building near the end of the peninsula.