Wild Raspberries

_MAL2758.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Saturday I went climbing with Matt & Lisa. Along the trail, wild raspberries were growing all over. Many of the berries were perfectly ripe and almost fell off the stems when I touched them. Yum!

I also took some other fun close-ups of flowers and insects, so be sure to take a look in my flickr photostream. I put these photos in the “Close-ups” set.


More lead-climbing at Salveo

_MAL2153.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Thursday evening I joined Matt, Lisa, Daniela and Robban at Salveo for a few hours of climbing. While there, we made some new friends named Stefan and Tina. In the photo above, Tina leads a fun 6a+ route. I tried it later on in the evening and really enjoyed it.

This was only my second time lead-climbing indoors. The toughest one I saved for last: a 6c that's just really pumpy at the end. The overhang is tricky and by the time you get there, you don't have much strength left. I had to rest on the rope a few times on the way up, but I finally made it to the top.

Tomorrow if the sun shines as currently forecasted, Matt & Lisa & I will return to Ekoberget for some more lovely outdoor bolted lead-climbing.

Here are the 29 photos I posted from last night's climbing.

La Isla Wednesday night

_MAL2027.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Wednesday night I went dancing for a few hours at La Isla. I had a few nice dances with a nice girl named Catherine whom I hadn't seen in a while. She's a fun dancer and sweet too. Of course I also salsaed with my buddy Alexandra, who just keeps getting better ever time I dance with her. At about half-past-twelve I caught the last subway home. It was an exhausting and fun night!

I have posted 17 photos from the night.

Steely Dan at the Stockholm Jazz Fest

_MAL1603.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Tuesday evening, Steely Dan performed on the big stage on Skeppsholmen, as the headline act of the Stockholm Jazz Fest's opening night. The last time I saw them in concert was also the last time they performed here in Stockholm, way back in the autumn of 2000, just a couple of months after I moved to Sweden.

Tuesday night's concert was a lot of fun. We got rained on a bit, but the skies cleared shortly after the band began to play. They opened with a jazz version of the theme from the U.S. game show The Price is Right, no doubt a tribute to Bob Barker, who recently retired after hosting the show for many years. Then Donald Fagen and Walter Becker moseyed onstage to the delight of the crowd.

The band stuck mostly to their crowd-pleasing hits from the 70s and 80s: Bad Sneakers, Josie, Hey Nineteen, Time out of Mind, Peg, Dirty Work, Green Earrings, Aja, Bodhisattva*, Kid Charlemagne, FM and, and My Old School. After Fagen and Becker walked offstage after the second encore, the rest of the band closed with one final jazz instrumental piece.

I got a kick out of Becker's interlude in Hey Nineteen, wherein he introduced the coming refrain “the Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbian…”: These are the contents of the “bag of tricks” one must have on hand in case one's wit and charm are insufficient to the task of seducing one's young companion.

At his own apologetic admission, Fagen had a cold; and his voice suffered quite a bit. At his best, he's always had a rough voice, and it was at times hard to hear his vocals over the instruments. In some of the songs the bass was also a bit too loud. But in general, the mix was good and the sound was pure Dan. John Herington's guitar work was excellent, rivaling some of the other talented guitarists who've played with the band in the past.

As they've done in other recent live shows, The Dan's backup vocalists Cindy Mizelle & Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffrey took turns singing the verses of Dirty Work, not doubt to give Fagan's voice a rest; this also served to share some of the limelight with the girls, who did a fine job.

The crowd was a lot of fun, with folks dancing, clapping, and singing along. It was nice to see so many Steely Dan fans there. I had no idea there were so many here in Sweden! I met several really friendly folks at the concert, including the three women sitting right behind me: Kristina, Karin, and Cecilia. I felt like I had something special in common with the other concertgoers, and the atmosphere was jovial and electric.

In front of us a bit closer to the stage I saw two middle-aged men who seemed to be old friends who had just met by chance at the concert after not having seen one another for many years. They were smiling, hugging each other, and introducing each other to their respective families. Steely Dan bringing people together: I like that!

I wrote an email to Fagen & Becker, and told them to come back to Stockholm soon. We love you guys. Keep up the good music.

Photos from the concert: Steely Dan, Stockholm 2007

*A Bodhisattva, I have learned, is “an enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others. ”


Women dress up when they’re fertile

I enjoyed reading this brief article in New Scientist. Apparently, women make themselves pretty when they're ovulating. Here's an excerpt:
[I]t is the first evidence that women openly advertise their fertility. Interestingly, all the women in the study group described themselves as being in committed relationships with men. So why go to the trouble of dressing up? Perhaps to attract other men. “Women with high fertility tend to feel attracted to men other than their primary partners...”
So ladies, if you're getting that wandering eye, check the calendar — what part of your cycle are you in? If you can resist temptation for a few days, the feeling might very well pass.

A sunny swim at Brunnsviken

_MAL1303.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

This afternoon I joined Eva at Café Sjöstugan for a cup of tea. We saw an injured female mallard there, and not sure what to do, called the police and asked them for recommendations on how to deal with an injured bird. They referred us to the local wildlife rescue folks, Viltjouren. We got in touch with them and let them know where to find the duck. Then we walked down to the shore to swim and get a bit of sun.

_MAL1278.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

While there, we met an American girl named Heather and her two Swedish friends, Susanne and Anna. Heather is just wrapping up an extended visit to Sweden. She has been doing some epidemiology work at Karolinska Institutet. She will return home to San Francisco in a couple of days. It's always nice to chat with an American. Heather was also kind enough to take a photo of me and Eva.

Here are the eight photos from the lake.


A bit of salsa at Vanadis

_MAL1217.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

After climbing, I took my bike on the commuter train and got off at Karlberg station. From there, I biked up to Frejgatan and all the way across Vasastan to the interesection with Sveavägen. Vanadisbadet lies up on the hill there. Tired though I was, I couldn't pass up an opportunity for a few hours of salsa dancing. The sun was shining, and there were lots of dancers on the dance floor.

First though, I had to get some food. I hadn't eaten a proper lunch — just a Snickers bar after climbing. So I bought a little ham and cheese sandwich and wolfed it, washing it down with a Mariestads beer. Then I was ready for dancing!

A lot of the folks I normally dance with are either on vacation or at the salsa congress going on this weekend in Hamburg. So the group was a bit different than usual. Even so, the folks I met were friendly and enthusiastic about dancing salsa — two of the most important criteria! My new French friend Mouss was kind enough to take a few photos (including the one above) of me dancing with a new acquaintance named Cecilia. She's fun to dance with!

After Vanadisbadet's last dance at 11, I donned my new Prana sweater, threw the big backpack on my shoulders, and and trudged home on my bike. It's only a few kilometers home from the bath — up Sveavägen to Roslagstull, and then straight on past the University. It's been an action-packed weekend, and I'm positively knackerd. After a quick dinner and shower, I'll go straight to bed.

Next up, an ordinary workday on Monday, followed by a nice evening of rest. Then there's the Stockholm Jazz Fest on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to seeing Steely Dan in concert again. Lotta and Lisa are coming along, and maybe a few other folks too. It'll be fun!

To see more from Vanadisbadet, take a look at all 14 photos.

Climbing at Häggsta with Anna

_MAL1156.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Yesterday we managed only a few climbs before having to return to civilization. So today, Anna and I returned to the wilderness for some more close encounters with the rock. This time, we biked to Häggsta — I with my giant backpack full of climbing gear. I think the ride to the cliff was a harder workout than the climb!

_MAL1127.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

We still don't have a decent guide to the climbing in the area (they're out of print!). So we fumbled around a bit, trying a tricky route we later learned is called den omöliga väggen, or the impossible wall. Impossible, I'm sure it's not; but it was definitely too difficult for us today. We'll have to try that one again someday. Next we tried to lead Bilbo's Arête, but learned halfway up that the bolts only go halfway up. Oops. Luckily, another climber on his way down an adjacent route helped up retrieve our last quick-draw from the rock.

_MAL1132.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

By coincidence, we ran into Patrick, Isabelle and Lina on the rock. They were doing some traditional climbing; it looked like they were having fun, and with their trad gear, they were able to lead routes we couldn't. Patrick is the one who helpfully informed us of the dearth of bolts on the route we had been attempting.

With time and sunshine running out, Anna and I packed up the rope and scrambled up a crack in the rock to look for other top-rope anchors at the cliff edge. We found a really good route there. It begins with some cracks, a boulder sticking out from the cliff, and a little overhang. Then there's a gently sloping cliff straight up to the anchor. Anna and I both agreed it was a lot of fun and we plan to return to that route soon. It was almost exactly 30 meters tall, perfect for my new 60 m rope.

Häggsta is obviously meant for traditional climbing. There aren't enough bolts in the rock for bolted lead climbing. You gotta have your own protection to stick in the rock, because even where there are bolts, they are too far apart for comfort. I still haven't taken a trad climbing course, and don't plan to put my life on a piece of pro until I've gotten proper instruction in the device's use. I gotta take a trad climbing course soon so I can get more out of Häggsta.

I have posted 19 photos from today's climbing.


My first outdoor lead climb

_MAL1073.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

This morning at 9 o’clock — no, make that 3 P.M. — I hooked up with Anna for a bit of climbing at Ekoberget just outside of town. It was my first time there, and I made the mistake of thinking I could find my way based soley on one glance at the map. This was not the case. Suffice it to say that the route there is somewhat circuitous.

After a bit of driving around, we finally found the way there and even managed to get in a bit of climbing. I did my first outdoor lead-climb, and was happy to make it to the top without falling. I'll practice falling while leading some other day, and probably indoors.

Today was also the first time for me to use the some new goodies I brought from the ’States. The rope, quick-draws, and carabiners got their first taste of rock today, and seemed to work well.

It was warm and sunny when we arrived, but the clouds began to move in after about an hour or so, shortly after Matt & Lisa joined us at the cliff. We had intermittent sunshine the rest of the time there. Anna didn't get in a lead-climb this time around, but there's always next time. She did get some nice photos of me though. Thanks, Anna!

The day was documented in 13 photos.


“Summer Open” at Karbin

_MAL1005.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Friday night I participated in the recently-announced and somewhat last-minute “Summer Open” bouldering competition at Karbin in Västberga. I had a sore foot but still managed to complete 26 out of 40 problems. I think the problems were a bit easier this time around, so that probably helped too.

Ewa took a few photos of me, including this one of me tackling problem #4. This was hardest problem that I managed to complete.

For more, take a look at my 38 photos from the competition.

_MAL1060.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

After the competition, I joined Elin, Emma, Sara, Magnus, Lisa, Christian, Pete, and a few others at Judit & Bertil pub near Hornstull. The pub has Samuel Adams Boston Lager on tap, so I was satisfied. Nothing beats a cold beer after climbing, and my sore foot probably benefitted from the alcohol.

_MAL1062.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

And after that, I went to Mojito on Upplandsgatan for a bit of salsa dancing. There, I met my new friend from Paris, Mouss, and his salsa-dancing friends from Stockholm. It was so hot and humid inside that I had to wipe off the lens with a cloth in order to get this shot of Mouss and Amanda.


Hot Salsa Wednesday

_MAL0413.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Wow! Last night was fun at La Isla. There were so many good dancers there, and I danced with many of them. Johan was kind enough to take a couple of photos of Alexandra and me dancing. She had been traveling in Costa Rica for a while, and then I was on vacation in Massachusetts, so we actually hadn't danced in a few months. It's always nice to get reacquainted again.

Janaki was there, and we danced a couple of dances. I met her last week at Gröna Lund, and saw her again there on Tuesday. I also danced with Sofie, whom I met a long time ago but hadn't seen in ages. Malin also favored me with a dance or two, and I visited a bit with a French salsa dancer named Mouss. He is in Stockholm for just one week, and is trying to visit all the main venues for salsa dancing during his time here. Helena was also there. She's the photographer who lives on Tenerife. And Mark Anthony, the D.J. and dancer from Tornoto, was showing his stuff — I got a lot of photos of him.

Speaking of that, here are all 40 photos from last night.


Another fun Tuesday night at Grönan

_MAL0189.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Last night's salsa dancing at Gröna Lund was just as much fun as last week's. I danced non-stop for the first hour. By that time, I needed a rest, so I picked up my camera and took a bunch of photos. In the photo above, the photogenic Janeki smiles for the camera.

Because I dance with them, I know most of the women by name. But I know fewer of the men's names. In any event, it's hard to remember all the names, and If I've posted a photo of you and you want me to put your name on it, just send me an email and I'll update it.

Without further ado, here are the best 46 photos from last night.


Sunday night at Container

_MAL0029.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

It was raining on Sunday, so the dancing was at Container near Odenplan instead of at Vanadisbadet on Sveavägen. I met some nice folks and good dancers there. Here are the best 23 photos from the night!

Human nature

Tonight I went to Container for a few hours of salsa dancing. In the middle of the evening, a couple of teenagers, just 14 and 16 years old, entertained us with a performance that included several styles of ballroom dance: waltz, samba, cha-cha and a few others I couldn't identify. It was really impressive!

The salsa dancing was fun as it usually is. I was tired after having spent five hours bouldering at Klättercentret earlier this afternoon. Even so, I had a great time dancing. The dancing was at Container today because the rainy weather didn't allow for dancing outdoors at Vanadisbadet. I'll post photos tomorrow.

After the performance, and between dances, I caught my breath and chatted with Ibi, Maria, Rafael and Hassan. The topic of conversation turned to sexual attraction, what sorts of women men find attractive. It was an interesting and lively discussion! Apropos our discussion, I found this article in Pyschology Today particularly amusing and interesting:
Ten politically incorrect truths about human nature

Bouldering at KC

_MAL9724.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours bouldering at Klättercentret. I wasn't really in top form, but I had a good time anyway. My usual Tuesday & Thursday climbing routine has been thrown off recently. This week, it's more of the same. I'm going dancing most Tuesday nights at Gröna Lund, where the friendly folks from Stockholm Salsa Dance have arranged salsa dance evenings. And Friday, there's a boulder open competition at Karbin, so I don't want to climb the day before that. So this week, it'll be climbing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in addition to the climbing on Sunday.

Here are all 46 photos from Sunday's bouldering.


A quiet Friday night at Klättercentret

_MAL9699.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

The evening with Stina and her friends upset my normal Thursday climbing routine, but I made up for that lapse today. After work I biked to Klättercentret and put in a solid 2½ hours of bouldering. Zindy & John were there, as well as Peter and his daughter Daniela, who did a great job tackling several tricky problems.

I'm still regaining my strenght after spending two weeks away from climbing. I managed to do a few fun problems, including the rather unusual one depicted here.

Take a look at the 19 photos from tonight to see more.


Dinner and music on Gamla Stan

_MAL9607.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

After our bike ride, Stina and I joined a her friends Johan and Kajsa for a bite to eat at an outdoor cafe on Gamla Stan. After a brie-and-salami sandwich and a couple of beers, we walked up the street to Wirströms Pub, where we listened to Big Walker, a blues band lead by Oklahoma native Derrick Walker. It was really a taste of home to hear authentic blues music like that. I had been to Wirströms before, and it's a typical English-style pub. The bartender is even from Leeds. But until last night, I had not known about the music downstairs in the cellar. The building is solid brick, so the sound doesn't carry far, and the bar upstairs is pretty noisy too. So I guess that explains why I hadn't noticed before. Now that I know about it, I'm gonna have to add that joint to my list of regular haunts. Here are the 18 photos from the evening.

Biking & swimming with Stina

_MAL9550.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Yesterday evening, Stina and I went for a bike ride from Gamla Stan to Mälarhöjden and back. On the way there, we took a dip at Vinterviken on lake Mälaren, and on the way back, we jumped in the water again at a lake called Trekanten. It was a perfect, lovely, sunny summer evening in Stockholm. I wish every day were as beautiful as yesterday! Here are the four photos I posted from the bike ride.

A few summer flowers

_MAL9507.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I took a half-hour walk yesterday afternoon and snapped a bunch of photos of flowers around the neighborhood. You can find all 17 photos from yesterday in my Nature photo set.


Sasa at Gröna Lund

_MAL9403.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Tuesday night I tried the salsa dancing at Gröna Lund. This summer, there has been social dancing at “Grönan” every Tuesday evening, but this way my first time to try it out. We had to wait for a certain Mister Taube to finish singing before we could begin dancing. When we did begin though, there was no stopping us. The salsseros and saleras took over Gröna Lund for the few hours we were there. It was so much fun, aside from the few moments I was taking pictures, I danced the whole time!

Wanna see more? Take a gander at all all 42 photos from the evening.


A fun evening at Vanadisbadet!

_MAL9058.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Sunday night after climbing at Karbin, I took the subway to Odenplan and then walked up Sveavägen to Vanadisbadet, where Club Salsa arranges salsa dance evenings every Sunday during the summer. Mette, Maria, Pernilla, Åsa, Lotta, and many other fun salseras were in attendance. Jose was kind enough to take some photos of me too, including this one of me dancing with the ever-lovely Mette. She's getting really good at salsa dancing. She's already way beyond me in Lindy hop; and pretty soon I think she'll surpass me in salsa too. It's too easy for girls! All they have to do is follow! ;-)
I have posted the best 47 photos from the evening, this time with lots with me in them! Thanks again to Jose for taking these photos.

Tonight I'll go to Klättercentret to see if I have any strength left after yesterday's session at Karbin. Tomorrow night, if the weather cooperates, I'll go down to Gröna Lund to check out Stockholm Salsa Dance's outdoor salsa lesson and social dancing there.


Last Djungelsalsa until August

_MAL8634.jpg, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Saturday morning, the sky was dark gray; drizzling rain fell for most of the day. Then, at 17.30, just when I was walking out the door to go to Djungelsalsa, the clouds parted and the sun shone through a bit.

By the time I arrived at the dance floor in Årsta, the clouds had completely moved off to the East, and the sun was shining brightly. This was the last installment of Djungelsalsa for a while. The next one will be in the beginning of August. There were lots of friendly dancers there, including several erstwhile Lindy hop dancers! It wasn't so long ago that I branched out from dancing solely salsa and tried dancing swing too. It's cool to see people going the other direction too!

The light was a bit fragmented due to shadows, but I still caught some great photos, including the one of Mette in mid-spin, above. My Lindy hop photo set has been updated with the 37 photos from yesterday.