Sunday, December 30, 2007

Painting and more

This weekend I decided to start phase two of operation "Painting my apartment". So last thursday I went to Maxbo (kinda norwegian version of Home Depot), and bought some paint. Since now I'm painting the entrance hall I decided to go with a not so common color so I choose violet for the wall and purple for the finishings. Yesterday I started the painting process and so far it looks very well.
Continuing with the improvements to my apartment I also went to Ikea and bought some furniture I was in need, and of course I bought more than what I needed but it does not matter my apartment is going to be very cool.
So, all this made me wonder what's going on... I mean, I'm improving my apartment, I'm buying furniture that matches with what I have and with the colors I'm using... so far, every time I bought something there was a clear practical reason for it, but this time it seems that is basically because I'm happy and I just want to make my apartment nicer. Maybe it's the norwegian winter, maybe it's the fact that I really like it here, maybe it's a combination of those and more reasons, but no matter what I'm doing it.
On a side track, yesterday I received an email from somebody I thought I would never hear from again. It is curious how you can try to bury some things in your head and in your heart just to realize that some things are stronger than what you think. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to hear from that person, it's just that it really surprised me. We used to be very good friends and for my blindness and dumbness we part on different ways (even different countries) for a long time. Hopefully this time things might turn out better.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hiking on the snow

This week was a very intense week because many things had to be ready before the holliday, so I needed a break. So today, with two colleagues we went hiking out in the snow. I must say, there is snow in Oslo already but we decided to take the same route we have hiked before (without snow) and see how it looks like with snow.
First thing, lakes are frozen and we walked over three of them.
Second thing, for the snow lovers there is still not enough snow. However there was one ski slope open, and people were skiing.
Third thing, the landscape looks very nice with snow. We missed two turns so we had to take different routes, but in the end we managed to get to our destination. It was very interesting and I liked it very much.
On the side note, I'm so glad that I bought this military outfit in the US from the army surplus. It was a real advantage to be able to just go through with this Goretex suit without having to worry about the snow or the coldness.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Me, the coldness and 26Mbps

Today I realized how annoying I can be. It was at lunch time (although I didn't notice it until I came back home), and I was talking about marmalade (jam) and fresh fruits. Somebody was telling me where to find things from outside Norway, essentially an immigrant neighborhood and I just shut up at him without even realizing... To top it off, after that somebody else came to talk to me and I did it again....
And afterwards I ask myself why sometimes people is scared of me.... But as my psychiatrist once told me, the first step in solving a problem is acknowledging there is a problem, so let's see what I can do to avoid "frightening" people.
In other topic, I thought I knew what was coldness all about. I thought I could manage without problems since I like to hike and camp and all that.... how wrong I was... In the little time I've been here
my body has proved that is not designed for this weather... first it was the humidity (or better said, the lack of), my body seems to need some minimal humidity to work. Since here everything is so cold and every place has heating, the humidity seems to be very low. Then my lips started turning purple... hopefully it fixed using blistex, but I still feel them a little "unease" about the weather. And of course, everytime I go out I need to wrap myself in tons of stuff or risk to freeze myself while walking.... Strangely enough having a short day hasn't been a problem so far, although people tells me that Scandinavia will bite me anytime soon.
Last but not at least I got my internet connection: 26Mbps!!! which is amazingly fast, it really flies.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Yesterday and today I've been painting my apartment, it has been an interesting experience.
So far, only my bedroom is being painted in the future I plan to paint the living room, the hallway and the kitchen. It's interesting to see how things change with a little color, my apartment was originally "hospital white", which means that it was almost colorless. Now my bedroom is yellow and you can tell right away that it looks much better and much more alive than before. I still have to finish some details but I can say that it's almost done.
One thing that I noticed is, why am I doing this? meaning why do I go through all the pain of painting my bedroom? It's quite an interesting question, but the answer so far is because I really like where I am now, and I really like the life that I have so I would like to establish here and that's why I paint my apartment to start the process.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Apartments and moving issues

Last week I had to move to a new apartment, since my first month in Norway was approaching. I found a nice apartment at a very convenient price and I rented it.
It must be said that renting was an "interesting" experience, since at first I had help from some people but the last steps I had to do it myself. To spice things up, the landlord spoke very little english, so it was basically a sign language conversation. Finally the move day came, I move all my stuff from the 4th floor to the door (moving things that way is not funny), and I called a taxi. I tried to speak norwegian and I prepare myself, so I knew exactly what I needed to say (although it was not the most usual way, most people agreed that it was correct). I called, listened the options in the menu and selected a "Maxitaxi" since I was moving my stuff and had some boxes to carry. Finally I reached an operator and I said: "Jeg vil en taxi fra ... til ...", totally proud of myself and feeling totally sure that after that my problems were over. Of course the lady asked me something that sounded like white noise to me, so swallowing my pride I replied "Could you repeat that in english please?". I turned to be a very simple question (once the question was asked in english of course): " Do you think that you need a van or is it a station wagon enough?". I asked for a station wagon, and wait for a few minutes.
Once everything was in, we went to my new place and I unload the station wagon. Thinking that finally I could do something without much pain, I went to my apartment and tried to open the door.... voila! the landlord didn't give me all the keys.... I called him (at this time I was pissed off) and demanded a solution because I was not going to pack everything and return to my previous place. After a while, the building manager came and gave me the missing key and finally I was able to move my stuff.
Despite all the troubles I'm really happy now, this weekend I went to Ikea and bought some curtains, and I'm thinking about painting my room. My furniture & friends are still "sailing" through customs, so I'm sleeping on a sleep bag on the floor, but at least my apartment is going to look really nice in a few days.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I think...

I think I really like Norway, life is so peaceful here. I know I've been here only for a little while, but so far I really love it.
This Saturday I went to a fishing sport store to ask about fishing here in Norway. The guy was really nice and he explained that fishing near Oslo is really easy but only during spring and summer and that during October it's forbidded. He told me that during winter I could don "ice fishing". Since I didn't know what "ice fishing" was, naively I asked the guy if he could tell me more. He looked at me like "duh...." and started: "ok, you get yourself a drill go to the frozen rivers or lakes, drill a hole and then start fishing".... I think he saw the surprise on my eyes while he was telling me about this... sounds fun, but I'm not sure if I'm going to try it in the short term.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Vikings, elves and... Trolls :-)

19 days ago I started a new face on my life, I left the US and my previous job, and I moved to Norway looking for new challenges.
I have to admit, if you are a developer and you work in the US you probably earn more money than you will in other parts of the world, although cost of living there is really expensive.
I also have to acknowledge that working for Microsoft was a great experience because of all the things that I learned. It has to be said that working for such a humungus company makes you open your eyes and pay attention to how they manage to do something at all.
That being said, my stay here in Norway has been great so far. The country is beautiful, the people is friendly and my job is great. Finally I am working for open source again, which make me feel really good.
People in Norway seem to be very elvish, I was expecting to find lots of viking looking people, but people here is more elvish than anything. Of course, walking around I've seen viking looking people, but so far (probably because I've been mainly in Oslo) they don't seem to be too many.
I do not belong to any of those categories, since my new employer is Trolltech, I'm officially a troll :-)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

When you have talent... (not me btw)

I created a blog for my mom, since she is an artist and she wanted to show her artwork on the internet. She started uploading pictures of some of her works and I realized how talented she is and how little talented I am in the arts field.
If you want to look at her artwork look here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

If you want to play with the big guys...

This Saturday I tried to get away and have some peace and silence by using my Jeep to go to a somehow isolated place. I did some research and I came with a perfect place: Lake Isabel, around 40 miles away from my apartment and classified as "Difficult trail" by a local 4x4 club.
So in the morning I wait for a friend to come, we pack some stuff to eat, some stuff to drink, a couple of chairs and my fishing rod+accessories. After some 45 minutes we reached the start of the trail and we were ready for action. In the trail head there was lot of people, mostly off-road lovers in all variations.
I got to the trail head, set up the 4 Hi and started rolling. A few yards away, it was clear that 4Hi was too risky so I switched to 4Lo. The first part was mostly holes and mud, nothing too difficult but the mud pools were covered with somewhere between 5 to 10 inches of water (obviously not clear water) so I tried to avoid as much as possible the middle of the pools and in some cases I took a different route to avoid the pool. I have to admit that my Jeep had no problems with the mud, the stability control helped me a lot to keep the vehicle in the intended direction even when crossing big pools of water and mud. Congratulations Jeep engineers!
Somewhere between 3/4 of a mile and 1 mile away we reached the first main obstacle, the creek. In the trail description it said that it was not as bad as it seemed so I supposed I would be able to cross it. Since this was my first time here, I descended to the creek and started looking for easy places to cross it. My first concern was a 3-4 feet height difference between the trail and the creek, there was a very rustic descent between two trees, after some investigations it was clear that was the only way. The creek in fact didn't seem that bad, it was at most 5 inches deep and the water was very clear so I was able to check everything under the surface. Lucky I did it, because there were some big boulders in the creek bed, so I tried to find a way where I could pass. I don't have a winch and my Liberty is stock so my ground clearance is only 9.5 inches and I have an open differential, so clearly I'm not prepared for rock crawling.
While trying to find the solution to that problem, a truck came to the creek. They were two guys trying to reach the lake in a stock Chevrolet Silverado. I decided to watch them and see what was their approach since they told they had done the trail many times (the Silverado has a similar ground clearance to the Liberty, so if they were able to make it that was good news). The did fine going through the trees, entering the creek and going for about 60 feet on the creek. After that, they seemed to realize that they took the wrong path and try to correct it but it was too late, they were stuck between 3 big boulders. Basically they were lifted and no ground contact.
Looking at that, we tried to helped them, they had a manual winch and other manual rescue tools, so it seemed that rescue was possible. After half hour I decided to offered them to tow them with my Jeep and see if that way they were able to gain traction against the boulder and be able to go back and take the right path. No problems going down the trees, no problems in the first part of the creek (again, congratulations Jeep engineers). Remember I have a stock Jeep Liberty, no modifications at all.
When I was finally close enough to tie a rope and try to tow them, we realized that the Liberty has no towing hook on the front so I needed to turn back and tow them hooked to the back of the Liberty. I asked my friend to watch out and let me know if there were any obstacles, because I had enough problems dealing with the creek while trying to turn around. Unfortunately my friend is not very experienced in off-roading, so he didn't look for the right kind of obstacles, and didn't tell me that I was getting trapped between a boulder and some sand. By the time I realized that I was in troubles, it was too late (but actually I was pointing to the other side, so I wasn't stuck in a dangerous position across the creek). I managed to get my left front wheel between a boulder a the shore (the axle actually was standing on the boulder), and my right rear wheel in the sand, so thanks to the open differential I had no power at all.
For an independent viewer the situation was actually funny, we managed to close the creek with two vehicles in two strategic positions.... Although my situation was infinitely better than the other guys, since I only needed to move the left front wheel from the boulder to get free.
After some considerations, we decided to lift the Jeep using the jack, we lift the right side and managed to add some stones under both right wheels so if everything worked we would be able to gain some traction. After that we lifted the left side and here the problems started, it was very easy to lift the front wheel and put some rocks under to tried to break it free. While doing that my friend told me why we didn't try to move the boulder using the other's guys manual winch. We laced the boulder and started pushing. As expected the boulder didn't even move one inch even while the Jeep was lifted. It was just too big.
I tried to see if there was enough traction with our stone stack but still no traction (again, only stock tires not really off-road tires). At that time things were not looking good, both vehicles were stuck and all of our efforts were in vain.
Suddenly we heard some engine noises and the big guys appeared. A couple of heavily modified vehicles with some hard core off-road guys. They looked at the situation, made a plan, explained the plan to us and started the rescue operation. Since I was stuck with my axle in a boulder, my only chance was to get towed back, if the Jeep was pushed forward, the axle will free but probably the transmission would have been seriously damaged. But, I was blocking the way to reach behind my Jeep. On the other hand there was another trail that was described as "Most difficult" that lead to the other side of the creek, so if they took that trail they could reach the rear of my Jeep. Only problem? the big truck was standing at the other end, so to do that they needed to move that truck first. One of the guys went through the other trail and in about 5 minutes was at the other side. He hooked the truck, and started pulling. Realize the other truck was not a small thing, was a Chevrolet Silverado, more than 2 tons of truck so pulling that thing out of where it was stuck was a major enterprise (at that time I realized how naive I was thinking that my humble Liberty had any chance of moving that tank). After three minutes the job was done and the Silverado was safe at the other side, only minor damage (although nobody checked what happened underneath, I'm pretty sure they sustained some not so minor damage). The guy entered the creek again and hooked my Liberty. Another guy sit on my Jeep and in about ten seconds my Jeep was free. Definitely, that modified truck had some serious power. Since this guy was already driving my Jeep he was kind enough to take it out of the creek and back to where the creek entrance was (even going up between the trees). I checked my Jeep to see if there was any damage, and fortunately nothing happened, since the axle landed very softly on the boulder and nothing else was touched, nothing was damaged. Pretty lucky because the transmission and the front differential were only inches from the boulder.
While inspecting, one of the hard core off-road guys told me that the Liberty was too "cute and pretty" for this kind of off-roading. I'm not totally convinced of that, but at least my stock configuration was not even close to what was needed in that situation. I strongly believe that I had options to cross the creek without problems, it would have been very complicated and probably it was beyond my expertise, so for now I'm happy that I made it back home without any damage. I'm also convinced that the Liberty has a very good handling in mud and water, and with the correct set of tires it can be a medium off-road vehicle. It will never be a hard-core off road vehicle but it can handle difficulties up to medium pretty easily if used correctly. ESC and 4Lo handled mud nicely, requiring minimal intervention from my part. Even when I was driving on the side of the mud to avoid the water, the Jeep responded to my commands without any special tricks or control loss.
Of course, I'm not an off-road expert and I consider myself an amateur for off-roading. Probably somebody with more experience could try harder obstacles with a Liberty and get through them, but for people like me that like to do some off-roading from time to time, the Liberty is a very good alternative.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New home for my blog!

After paying three years for the previous domain I decided that it wasn't worth it so I move to blogspot. The change comes also with a language change, since currently I speak more english than cl-spanish.