Boulder open #54 at Karbin

_MAL9659, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Friday night I participated in boulder open #54 at Karbin. The assortment of bouldering problems was more challenging than last time, and I completed just 24 out of 40. Still, I placed higher in the rankings this time: 8th place as opposed to 14th last time.

I met some nice folks there, including Emma, pictured above, and Matilda, the 14-year-old girl who placed first in the competition. Matilda is one of the best climbers in Sweden and was featured in an article in the most recent issue of Bergsport magazine.


Lindy hop @ Chicago

_MAL9545, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Wednesday night after my salsa lesson I went down to Chicago on Södermalm as usual. The place was hopping, and I had a lot of fun. This guy is a dancer from Singapore, and he was quite good! Here are the 33 photos from the evening.

Editorial by 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern

My dad sent me a link to this excellent editorial by George McGovern, in which he responds to recent remarks by Vice Predident Cheny comparing current congressional Democrats to the ”McGovern Democrats” of 1972.


Spring has arrived in Stockholm

_MAL9296, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

On the way back from lunch, I took some photos of the blossoms and flowers that have been springing up all over in the past week. Spring has definitely arrived here in Stockholm. The daytime temperatures are headed back up into the 20 °C range, and the sun is shining.

It's times like today that it's good to be alive.

Alex out and about

_MAL8972, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I let Alex outside on Saturday, and he enjoyed it. He explored the neighborhood, sniffing all the flowers he could find. He seemed to enjoy his time outside, but he was also glad to come back in.


Stockholm at night

_MAL6842, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Here's a recent photo from a bike ride through the city. Can you see why I like this place?

Tonight I'm going dancing at a salsa social at Chicago. I'm sure I'll have lots of photos tomorrow. In the mean time, take a look at my photo stream for a bunch of photos from recent days.



_MAL8433, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Lotta gave me a waffle iron for Christmas last year, and I just got around to using it the first time. On Sunday I made some from a mix; today I made a batch from scratch and they were even better. In fact, these were some of the best waffles I've ever eaten.

Here is the recipe I used:

1 dl wheat flour
1 dl milk
1 egg
50 g melted butter
1 T heavy whipping cream
2 t baking powder
1 t sugar

(dl = deciliter, g = gram, T = tablespoon, t = teaspoon)

Melt the butter on low heat in a small saucepan. While the butter is melting, Mix the egg, milk, and cream together in a bowl. Add in the melted butter, sugar and baking powder, and mix with a whisk until these ingredients have been fully dissolved. Then pour in the flour while continuing to mix. Whisk until a smooth consistency is achieved.

Pour a large spoonful of the batter into the center of a hot waffle iron, covering about two-thirds of the area of the iron. Close the waffle iron immediately. Allow the waffle to bake in the iron for about a minute, removing it when the it has become golden brown in color.

Serve with hot maple syrup, fruit, jam, or powdered sugar.


Climbing at Häggsta with Matt & Lisa

_MAL8250, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Today was fun! Matt and Lisa joined me for some climbing at Häggsta, the same place I went with Åsa R. a while back, Häggsta. We took the commuter train to Huddinge and then biked the 5 or so km to the cliffs. Then we spent a few hours climbing. The temperature was well over 20 °C early in the afternoon, dropping into the teens only around six o'clock. Take a look at the 51 photos from today!

We made several approaches up the cliff. First, Matt led a route that didn't have many bolts, so he put in his own protection as he climbed. For those of you know familiar with climbing, this means he stuck little devices into cracks in the rock and then secured himself to these by hooking his rope through the devices. Once at the top, Matt belayed Lisa as she climbed up. Once she was at the top, I followed. We rappelled down and did the same thing a few meters to the left of where we climbed first.

Today marked a couple of firsts for me: my first time to be belayed from above, and my first time to rappel using a Grigri belaying device. I think outdoor climbing has gotten a grip on me. Tuesday I'll work downtown, not too far from a couple of outdoor equipment shops. I plan to swing by over my lunch break and pick up a few goodies, including a climbing helmet, a basic 'bucket' style belaying device, and perhaps a crash pad for bouldering.


From Rudan to Paradiset and back

Today I went biking with Matt, Lisa, Åsa & Patric. We spent about 6 hours in the woods South of Stockholm. Firas, we rode the path around Rudan; then we took Sörmlandsleden out to Paradiset and back. It was fun and very challenging, and the weather was perfect. At Paradiset, we stopped for a snack and filled our water bottles with water pumped by hand from a well. Patric even managed to schmooze some chocolate cake from the folks there, who were holding the annual meeting for the Friends of Paradiset organization.

We took several photos today, both with my (little pocket) camera and Åsa's somewhat more capable one. Åsa has posted the photos from her camera to her Picasa web gallery. Patric took the above photo of me as I rode across a bridge over a bit of swamp. These makeshift bridges were all over the place, and I must say many of them weren't exactly designed for bikers. The boards were placed just a bit too far apaart in many places, making it necessary to ride on a single plank to avoid slipping between them!

I'll post high-res versionf of Åsa's photos to my flickr photo stream soon, along with photos from my pocket camera.


Climbing with the girls

_MAL7447, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Tonight at Klättercentret, there were lots of women! Anna brought her gang of girlfriends including Zindy and Yvonne. Zindy's boyfriend Jon came too, and soon Matt & Lisa also showed up.

Tonight's climb was a step forward for me. I successfully completed a tricky black bouldering problem that I'd been eyeing for a few weeks. I made some progress on three other problems, all of them quite difficult ones.

I also saw Sigrid and Hannah climbing there later in the evening. I have posted 75 photos from the night's climbing session. Enjoy!


Sweaty swingin’

_MAL7400, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Last night Chicago was packed. The feeble air conditioning just couldn't keep up, and we were all sweating. I met some good dancers there, including Johanna, who has lived in NYC for several years.

I saw another photographer there too, but I neglected to get his name. Maybe next time. Here are the best 38 photos from the evening.


Climbing at KC tonight

_MAL7210, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I met Lisa at Klättercentret for some climbing tonight. We did walls first and then did a bit of bouldering. I climbed a really new 6c route of black grips on far right-hand side of the tall wall. It required some strength, but it required even more technical ability and balance. Tricky and fun. I didn't manage to do it all in one go though — I had to rest a few times on the way up.

When at the top of a different route (a 6b of yellow grips), I pointed my camera down and caught this excellent photo of a fellow climber on the adjacent rope.

I saw Linda there too, and captured a few photos of her doing two fun problems on the bouldering walls downstairs. I have posted 21 photos from the evening.


More doubletalk from Bush

I just listened to a speech by U.S. president George W. Bush. The president entreated the congress to continue to fund his disatrous war in Iraq. The president's speech was full of the same sort of distortion and fearmongering to which the world has come accustomed. But even by his abysmal standards, this speech set a new low.

The president claimed that if the congress failed to pass a generous funding bill, this would actually result in U.S. troops staying longer in Iraq, and in more troops being sent back to the front lines. He seems to want the public to believe that the U.S. congress has no real power, and that the best Congress can do is delay the inevitable continuance of his costly war:
The bottom line is that Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people.
If you buy the president's line, it's the Democrats in congress who are preventing the fighting men and women from returning safely to their families.

This is bullshit.

The legislators want the troops to come home sooner, not later. The only power Congress has over the war is over funding. Therefore making funding contingent on conditions that ensure the troops are removed from danger is the only way the Democratic-controlled congress can rein in the presidents war.

U.S. toops are surely better off safely at home than in the middle of a foreign civil war.

Congress has the power to control the legislation that funds the president's war. If Bush follows through on his threat to veto any bill not compatibile with his political ends, this action will be what puts U.S. troops in danger.

I can't wait for 2008.


A few beers at Oliver Twist

_MAL7074, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Last night I joined Matt & Lisa at Oliver Twist, a pub on Söder with a great selection of beers. I had a couple of beers from Mahr's brewery in Bamberg, Germany. I didn't particularly like the pils, but the weissbier was delicious. OT has a big selection of beers from the U.S. too. I asked after beers from New Beligum Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado; unfortunately, these were among the stock. So I finished witha Celis White from my hometown, Austin. Well, it used to be brewed in Austin.


An afternoon in Hagaparken

_MAL6895, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Sunday afternoon I went down to Hagaparken with Matt & Lisa to practice climbing safety techniques. Matt showed us proper handling of ropes, taught us how to tie important knotts, and gave us instruction on how to move a rope from one point to another safely.

Afterward, we went up to the copper tent cafe, where Anna joined us for a cup of hot chocolate. Afterward, Anna and I spent a few hours bouldering at Klättercentret.

Ibi & Marina in Las Vegas

My salsa instructors Ibi & Marina competed in a salsa competition in Las Vegas earlier this year. Here's a video of their performance. Inspiring!

Thanks to Björn for the video, and also for the link to this fascinating article on why good dancers are attractive.

The durian fruit

A recent article in the New York Times reacquainted me with the durian fruit. During my Asian travels a couple of years ago, my colleague Leak Peng gave me a tour of his hometown of Singapore. As a part of the tour, he took me to a hotel whose durian pastries are world-famous. I admit it took a while to get over the pungent smell of the fruit. The taste is quite enjoyable, but I can understand that many wouldn't be able to get past the odor. In the aforementioned article, I learn that a scientist in Thailand has bred a variety of durian that does not have a strong smell. While this might not appeal to folks in Singapore, I imagine that a sweeter-smelling durian would help to increase the fruit's appeal in the rest of the world.


Sport climbing at Häggstaberget

Åsa R. climbing Häggstaberget
_MAL6800, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

On Friday I joined Åsa R. for a bit of cliff-climbing. We biked from Tullinge station out to Häggsta, a bit North of Flottsbro, where I went mountain biking last autumn. We parked our bikes at the foot of the cliffs and Åsa hiked around to put the rope through a ringbolt at the top of the cliff. We climbed several routes up the rock, moving the rope to another ringbolt twice.

After a few ascents, we sat in the afternoon sunlight and had a little fika of coffee and sandwiches. Despite the warm sunlight, it was just a few degrees above freezing outside, so the warm coffee helped a lot. After our snack, we made a few more climbs before biking back. Åsa lives in the neighborhood, so Häggstaberget is her “home mountain.”

This was my first time in more than a decade to do any outdoor sport climbing. I think I'm hooked! Here are the 30 photos from the day.


Dinner today

_MAL6300, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

For dinner today I had one of my favorite meals: Nürnburger bratwurst with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. This time I also had a special treat: a bottle of organic Riedenburger Pils beer. Riedenburg is a small town in Bavaria near Regensburg, and it's my good friend Andrea's hometown.

One more trip to Kittelfjäll?

I'm hoping to join Stina, Walles, and some of their friends for an encore trip to Kittelfjäll this evening, but as of now, there are currently no seats left on the bus. I'm first on the waiting list, and remain hopeful there will be a cancellation. I've already packed my bags, and I plan to be at the bus terminal at the scheduled departure time just in case someone cancels at the last minute or simply fails to show up.

Now that I've been up there once before, I will know what to expect. I doubt the snow will be as good this time around, because it's later in the season and is bound to be warmer. If I do get a seat on the bus, you might not see another post from me until I return.

Happy Easter everyone!

Lindy-hopping the night away

_MAL6194, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Last night after my salsa lessons, I went down to Söder for a bit of swing. It had been a few weeks since I danced anything but salsa, so it took a while to get back into it.

Stina was there as well as Walles. I met them on the ski trip to Kittelfjäll a few weeks ago, and it has been fun to see them at Chicago since then. Stina's a great dancer, and always has fun, even when dancing with a comparative beginner such as me.

I posted the best 21 photos from last night. Check 'em out!


Photos from Göteborg

_MAL5274, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

The salsa congress in Göteborg was a blast! It was three days of dancing until the wee hours of the morning. I saw lots of familiar faces there, including Rebecca, the girl pictured with me above. I also got to know my traveling companions a lot better. I took several thousand photos, filling up my three 4 GB CF cards. Several times during the trip, I was forced to sit down and go through and delete photos from the cards so that I could keep taking more. This was actually helpful though, because it's easier for me to justify deleting a photo when it's still in the camera than when it's on my computer at home. Without further ado, here are the best 644 photos from the weekend. Don't watch them all at once.


Sunshine in Göteborg

_MAL4569, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I returned yesterday morning from a fun weekend of salsa dancing in Göteborg. The weather there was absolutely lovely, with clear skies and warm sunshine every day. Here's a photo I took on Saturday while walking down one of the city's main shopping streets with Tove, fellow dancer and girlfriend of one of my traveling companions, Vladimir. Tove and I stopped for an ice cream. I had soft vanilla ice cream in a cone, with strawberry topping. Yum!

I took several thousand photos during the weekend, and have selected more than six hundred of the best ones. I will upload them soon!