_MAL8508.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

This afternoon I made a yummy omelet for lunch, with sausage, potatoes, bell peppers, jalepeños and cheese. I seasoned it with salt, black pepper, paprika, and cumin. Quick, simple, and delicious.

I made twice as much of the meat & veggie mix as I needed, and I'll use the remainder to make another omelet for tomorrow's breakfast.


My first lead-climb

Thursday night I joined Daniela for a bit of climbing at Salveo Gym in Sunbyberg. . At Daniela's urging, I tried lead climbing for the first time, on two different routes up the twenty-six meter high climbing wall. This was indoor sport climbing, because I clipped the rope into quickdraws attached to permanent anchors in the wall. So it's still not traditional climbing; that would involve putting protection devices into natural rock on the way up. But it still was a good way to get accustomed to some aspects of leading a route.

When leading a route, one pulls the rope up from below instead of simply following the rope up to an anchor point high above. This means that the lead climber must clip the rope into higher and higher anchor points as he ascends. To do this, the lead climber must have one hand free to grab slack in the rope and clip it into the next anchor point (usually a bolt hanger or a quickdraw). To clip the rope into a quickdraw, one must have a hand free; this usually entails hanging from the other hand, something that can be quite tiring.

Also, because the lead climber usually climbs a bit above the last bit of protection before clipping into t the next one, the distance he can fall if he looses his grip is somewhat farther than when climbing with a top-rope. For example, if one climbs a meter above the last place once clipped in, a potential fall of a bit more than two meters awaits if one looses one's grip.

The prospect of falling several meters is something that can be a bit scary at first, especially if one is accustomed to climbing with a top-rope. A couple of times during my two ascents, I was just about at the end of my endurance when I managed to clip the rope into the next quickdraw and put both hands back on the rock or lean back and put my weight on the rope. Exciting!

_MAL8494.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.
I caught this great photo of Daniela as she put on her climbing shoes.


A quick dance or two at La Isla

_MAL8478.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

At 23.00, Chicago shut its doors, so I went to La Isla for a bit more dancing — this time salsa instead of swing. I met a nice girl named Helena who lives on the Spanish island of Tenerife. We danced and talked about photography. I also danced with Sara, and Johan captured a few good shots of us.

I was only at La Isla for an hour; I had to leave in time to catch the last subway home. Allsix photos from the evening are online for your viewing pleasure.

Lindy hop social Wednesday night

_MAL8394.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Wednesday night I swung by Chicago on Södermalm for a bit of Lindy hop dancing. I saw lots of friend there, including Mette, pictured here dancing with Mark, a D.J. & dancer visiting from Seattle.

There's no air conditioning at Chicago, and the meager ventilation system is inadequate to the task. Everyone was drenched in sweat. Many dancers changed shirts twice or more, and at times I had sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes! Next time I'll have to wear a hat or a headband. Even with the the heat, the place was packed. I took breaks from dancing only so I could capture a few photos!

To see more from the evening, check out all 21 photos in my Lindy hop photo set.


My climbing bag

_MAL8101.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Here's my climbing bag, including some new goodies I picked up in Massachusetts. I plan to take a course in traditional climbing soon so that climb a wider range of routes, including those that lack bolts or other permanent anchors in the rock.


Life's a beach

_MAL7876, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

This afternoon I stocked up on climbing gear and camping equipment at the local Eastern Mountain Sports store. I got some Black Diamond cams and nuts at 15% off, two Nokian studded tires at 25% off, and a North Face sleeping bag at 50% off! Not bad, eh?

I also swung by the Bike Zone shop in Hyannis to see if they'd been able to obtain a replacement for the defective Specialized “Deviant” full-face helmet I had left with them. To my disappointment, they hadn't succeeded in getting a new helmet. I might try to see if I can find a replacement helmet at a big bike shop in Boston before I catch my flight on Thursday.

In the late afternoon I took the kayak downriver to the sea. I had fun negotiating the swells and waves and made my way around the jetty, and up to the beach. After taking a quick swim in the surf, I sat in the sun for a couple of hours reading the copy of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six that I picked up for 50 cents at the flea market a few days ago.

I've found the people here on Cape Cod very friendly. I chatted with several people on the beach, including a couple of cute girls visiting from elsewhere in Massachusetts. One of them took this nice photo of me. Thanks girls!

Tomorrow will be my last full day here on the cape. I'll probably spend at least some of the day out kayaking and enjoying the sunshine. Of course I'll also need to start packing for my return to Stockholm. With all the gifts and goodies I've picked up, getting everything into one bag might be a challenge.

Thursday sometime during the day we'll pack up and drive into Boston. We might do a little sight-seeing and shopping, and have dinner in the city. My flight leaves late in the evening, and I'll arrive back in Stockholm late Friday morning.

I've enjoyed my first visit to Massachusetts and lookforward to visiting the Commonwealth again soon.


Now that's a mojito

_MAL5674, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

A while ago I shared my mojito recipie, but neglected to include a photo. I shall now remedy that oversight. Here's a shot of a delicious mojito I made the day before I flew Massachusetts.

Upon arriving on the Cape, one of the first orders of business was to obtain limes, fresh mint, and a bottle of fum. I have also begun to experiment with using brown sugar instead of white when making the sugar syrup. The molassas in the brown sugar adds a nice bit of warmth to the drink.

Unfortunately for me, brown sugar is very expensive in Sweden. I suppose this is because most refined sugar on the European continent is produced from sugar beets and not from sugar cane. I'll be packing some brown sugar in my bag when I come back.


Kayaking on the Swan River

_MAL7507, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

On Friday the sun came out, so we went kayaking on the Swan River. We rented our kayaks at the shop where route 28 crosses the river. It was my first time kayaking, and I had a great time. Check out my flickr photo stream for more photos.


Irises on Cape Cod

_MAL6768, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I'm not dead — just very busy! I'm vacationing with family on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and have been here in the U.S. for about a week. A few days ago I attended my friend Hugh's wedding (my brother Ethan was one of the groomsmen). Now I'm just relaxing and taking it easy.

The house where we're staying is right on the Swan River, and the view from the back porch is really quite nice. It's relaxing and calming to sit outside and watch the river flow by. The river actually flows upstream when the tide comes in because we're just a few hundred meters from where the river empties into the Atlantic ocean.

I took this photo of the purple irises growing behind the house three days ago when we had good weather. Right now the sky is cloudy and the temperature is cool. I hope the sun comes out again tomorrow so we can go kayaking in the river.


Swedish National Day 2007

The Sixth of June is the National Day of Sweden, so like a good patriot of my adopted home, I hung my Swedish flag from the railing of my balcony this morning. I'm the only one in the neighborhood to have done this.

Swedes aren't terribly patriotic, and unfortunately patriotism here is sometimes associated with nationalism, racism or worse. Leave to to moderate, introspective Sweden to question the value of loving one’s own country!

I believe one should be proud of one’s land and be embrace what's good about it. No country on Earth is perfect, just as no person is perfect. We do what we can with what we're given, each to this best of his abilities.

I love my adopted home Sweden in a different way from the way I love my fatherland The United States, and part of the distinction has to do with the way I obtained citizenship in each country.

I was born in the U.S., so I didn't have to work for U.S. citizenship; it was just given to me. But I chose Sweden, and to become I Swede, I had to put in a lot of work and invest more than five years of my life. In a way, it feels like my Swedish citizenship is the one I earned.

This afternoon, I will attend a special citizen ceremony for naturalized Swedes who were granted citizenship during 2006. Because I live in the small municipality of Solna, I will attend the ceremony for Solna residents, which will be held at Confidencen, a small theater on the grounds of Ulriksdal Palace, just fifteen minute’s walk from my home. Were I to live in Stockholm proper, I would attend the ceremony at Stockholm's landmark city hall, where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held each December 10th.

The ceremony will consist of musical entertainment, a speech, the handing-out of welcome notices to new citizens, and then the singing of the Swedish National Song, Du gamla, Du fria. I spent a while last night making sure I knew the words by heart. Now my only problem will be making it through both verses without choking up. I'm a sentimental guy, and the song is quite moving.

Åsa and Patric will accompany me and take photos. After the ceremony, a snack of some kind will be served (perhaps with a drink — the invitation doesn't say). Just in case, I have a bottle of chilled champagne and a set of hand-blown Orrefors flutes I've never used; so a celebratory drink will be in order.

In a bit less than month, it will be time to celebrate my other national day, the Fourth of July. I'm planning to have a cookout with friends on that day, and to serve my world-famous hamburgers.

For the curious, here's a bit more information about the national emblems of Sweden, including a link to a good recording of the national anthem. And for a bit of history, here's a link to blog entry I made on this day last year.

Another good night of bouldering

Tuesday night I did some bouldering at Klättercentret. Sometimes I actually see progress in my climbing ability, and this was one of those times. I managed to repeat the cripmy, pumpy white-graded problem that I first tackled a few weeks ago. Then a few minutes later I did my second white-graded problem and followed that with a couple of tricky black-graded ones. It's nice to see progress! I'm going to Massachusetts for two weeks of vacation now, and I hope to find some places to climb while I'm there.


Just in time for summer: mojitos

Before Die Another Day, I had never heard of a mojito. Mint and lime? Two of my favorite flavors. At the very first sip, I was a mojito fan. In fact, I think it's probably my favorite cocktail. Unfortunately, most bars in Stockholm charge around 100 SEK ($15) for a mojito, so I don't order one very often.

Consqeuently, a constellation of collaborating conditions has coalesced concurrently in my consciousness:
  • mojitos are delicious
  • the mojito is a summer drink
  • it's summer in Stockholm
  • I live in Stockholm
  • mojitos are expensive in Stockholm
  • I have an unopened bottle of rum in my bar
Coincident cognition of these conspiring contentions completely compelled concordant comprehension of the correct connotation, convincing me to concoct this lovely summer beverage.

So yesterday I made my first mojito.

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
5-10 large mint leaves or medium-sized sprigs
1 lime
1 cup crushed ice
½ cup rum
club soda or sparkling water

Mix the sugar and water in a small pot or sauce pan, and bring almost to a boil, ensuring that the sugar dissolves completely in the water. Add a bit more sugar if you want a thicker, sweeter syrup. Place the syrup in the fridge to cool.

Put the mint into a tall glass and crush it against the inside of the glass using a fork. Once the syrup is cool, pour it into the glass with the crushed mint and stir it around a bit. Cut the lime in two, squeeze the juice into the glass and drop the lime halves in too. Add the crushed ice and rum, and top off with club soda or sparkling water. If you like, garnish with a sprig of mint.



The summer’s first dance at Vanadisbadet

_MAL5453.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

The Club Salsa guys who arrange the Sunday evening salsa dances at Container during the rest of the year hold the same event at Vanadisbadet during the summer. Sunday night was the first such dance of this season, and I was there.

It was cool and a bit windy after the sun set, but a few dances solved that problem. It's actually nice to dance when the air is cool and breezy, because one stays cool, and doesn't get drenched in sweat.

I met this guy last night. His name is Mwisa and he comes from Zambia. He is studying in Uppsala, and teaches salsa lessons in his spare time. He said that the salsa dancing is better in Stockholm, so he often comes down from Uppsala to spend the weekend here. Above, Mwisa dances with Linda.

Here are all the photos from the evening's dancing.

Biking & BBQ with Åsa B.

PICT0107.JPG, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Sunday I joined Åsa B. for a nice bike ride in Hellas. We started behind Hammarbybacken and took the blue trail as far as Hellasgården. Then we went part of the way around Källtorpssjön, where we stopped so I could take a quick dip in the cool water by PG’s Udde.

PICT0112.JPG, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

After the ride, we retired to Åsa's lovely balcony for a little barbecue. We fixed a couple of kinds of sausage and ate them on a fresh baguette with potato salad and fresh green salad. Yummy, except for the very bland so-called Chorizo sausage.

PICT0004.JPG, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

With the great view from her balcony, Åsa and I sat out there sunning ourselves and drinking beer. Here are all the photos from the bike ride and barbecue. This is the life!


Cliff-climbing at Vårdberget with Åsa R. & Sylvia

_MAL5325.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

On Saturday I joined Åsa R. and Sylvia for some excellent climbing at Vårdberget, a 30-meter-tall cliff near Fituna, out near Nynäshamn.

_MAL5250.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

We started out around 13.00, and climbed until after 21.00. It was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect! The cliff has a good selection of routes, all with a sturdy ringbolt at the top for a top-rope. There's a path up around to the left of the cliff, so we walked up to the top and belayed from there. The view from the top was lovely. The cliff faces to the West, so the sun shone on us all afternoon.

_MAL5030.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

It worked well having three people. We took turns climbing and belaying; and the third person could either rest or take photos. For some of the best climbing shots, Åsa and Sylvia rigged up a sling so they could hang out over the edge of the cliff and shoot downward.

_MAL5319.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

The climbing is quite varried. There are lots of cracks going up the cliff, from big ones you can put your whole body in, to small ones that you can barely fit your fingers in. The last routes I climbed were of the latter variety, and quite challenging. At several points, it was necessary to put both of one's hands in the crack and lean one's body way out to the side just to get a good angle to make the grips work.

_MAL5332.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

After we had exhausted ourselves climbing, we rappelled down with our equipment and then went down to the shore, where Sylvia and I mustered the courage to take a quick swim in the 8° C water. The sun was still up, so once we were out of the water, we warmed up quickly on the rocky beach.

There were so many good photos that I posted a total of 175 photos from the day!


Sacuye salsa socal

_MAL4842.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I had so much fun dancing salsa at Chicago tonight that I barely took any photos. Two of the six photos were on the way out the door after the last dance! Here's Catharina, just back from her long trip to South American and Asia. She still remembers how to dance, apparently!