Nov 18, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Lazy Sunday

I stayed up late working on the website’s innards by upgrading lots of backend stuff on the server as I have ignored things for the last year. :-) I went to bed around 1:15am and paid for it by getting up at around 9:30 as mentioned in my last post.

The thing about sleeping in here in Stockholm at this time of year is that this means that I have missed about 2-3 of good light (notice I didn’t say sunlight because that is pretty rare right now). So I kicked myself in the butt and got out of the apartment around 12:30. The first thing I saw was an old mini. Sweet looking ride.

My plan? Nothing really. I decided to go down towards the main shopping district and eventually get some groceries. The trip is about 20 mins by subway so I have to make sure I don’t get too much and on top of that, things that could melt. I feel like a student more and more.

I got off at the Hotorget stop and cruised down the longest pedestrian street called Drottninggatan and browsed through the Hötorget market square where there is a flea market on Sundays. I didn’t see anything of value (big surprise).

 

I grabbed some groceries and headed home. I got a nice text from the family showing me what they ordered for breakfast in Arnprior where Connor is playing hockey today. It brought a nice smile to my face.

Well, I must watch the end of the Formula 1 race and hopefully Vettel will crash out of the race. (no one gets hurt obviously).

TTYL

Nov 18, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Day Trip to Uppsala

For those not aware, I am in Sweden for 7 weeks right now for work and on the weekends I have been trying to get out and see Sweden as much as possible. Today was the start of my second weekend here in Stockholm.

I decided to go north today and visit Uppsala which is the fourth largest city in Sweden and is considered primarily a university town. The trip to Uppsala took about 55 minutes or so. I had to take a bus and then two trains towards the Arlanda airport which then connected to the central station in Uppsala. The train was pretty fast and I asked the conductor what the top speed was and he replied it was 200 km/h. Not bad at all.

I took the trip today with Adrian who is my colleague at the company and we started off from the train station. The first thing we saw that was unbelievable was the sheer amount of bicycles parked outside the train station.

There must have been at least 200 bikes all lined up for their owners. We first thought that there must be a good reason for this but throughout the city most bicycle stands (and I don’t mean 4-5 openings in a bike rack …. I am talking 20-30 openings) were full as well!! In general, I think that the fact Uppsala is a university town and the general culture of Sweden contributes to such a high rate. It was definitely impressive.

From there we headed towards the river that intersects Uppsala which is named the Fyrisån. It’s a fast flowing river that cuts the city in half with one side containing the older parts of the city (including the castle and the impressive church) and the commercial side with most of the stores.

The day was fairly normal for this time of year. Overcast and fairly windy with a hint of moisture in the air. I will be honest that I was a bit chilled from walking around all day but I will tell you why later.

Next stop was one of two dominant features in the city which is the Domkyrka (Uppsala Cathedral) that can be seen forever. I looked it up and it’s the largest church in Scandinavia and is the seat of the Church of Sweden. We had to go in and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s frankly stunning inside. We went in thinking that we wouldn’t be able to walk around much but we could pretty much go anywhere in the main portion of the church (the nave). The arches and detail work is unbelievable. To top it off there was a children’s choir practicing as I walked around so I sat in the pews for a good 10 minutes listening to them sing. Hear for yourself.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp6oWvYA_5Y Uppsala Church&rel=0]

I am a bit disappointed with the iPhone 5 in low light I have to say. I was looking at the pictures and I wasn’t too impressed. Anyway, I digress.

Within the church is buried the one and only Carl Linnaeus who was the father of binomial nomenclature (system of naming living species) and also modern taxonomy. His tomb is within the church which emphasizes his importance and standing within Sweden and frankly the world. A side story is that one of the guys in Ericsson here in Stockholm is a great-great-great-great-great grandson and still is active in botany apparently. That story was told to me last year and I will follow-up on that as I am more interested.

Next stop was the Uppsala Castle right near the church (Uppsala Slott in Swedish) which overlooks the city and is littered with multiple bastions that protected it from those darn pesky raiders. The castle is from the 16th century and it’s presence shaped a lot of the country’s past given the Church’s role in Sweden (as with every country during that time). King Gustav Vasa decided though that the whole country should move to Protestantism and not the dominant Catholicism at the time. Well, one way to stamp your authority is to seize all church assets throughout the kingdom and this castle pretty much was used to keep this decision enforced. :-) Now here is a picture of what were called Styrbiskops at the time. The translation was Bishop Controllers. They literally are pointed at the Uppsala church that I just described. :-) That’s one way of keeping things enforced by having cannons that could travel up to 1km from the castle. Those pesky Bishops would have to think twice about changing the service that day.

 

Around the castle are the Royal grounds which are now used by the university. The botanical garden was created by the aforementioned Linnaeus and it must be stunning in the summer. In the winter months you have to let your mind wander a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

It was getting dark as it was getting close to 3:30pm(!!!), so we headed back towards the centre of the city but I saw some stadium lights in the distance. We were headed that way anyway so we continued and I saw that it was a professional Bandy game about to start. I had read about this and it was in my to-do list so given I was already here I decided to stay and Adrian left. Pumped!!

The game is much like soccer with corner ‘kick’s if the ball leaves the playing surface which is on a large rink. The halves are 45 minutes long non-stop and it is unbelievably fast. Players are constantly trying to attack and use long swerving attack angles with the ball constantly being passed amongst the team. There is no hitting but just the usual boys will be boys type of action in the corners. I enjoyed it a lot. Who needs the NHL. The best part was the European football type of chants going on in the stands during the game. Non-stop drumming and chanting is awesome.

Here is some action from the side of the rink. There are no restrictions for just watching the game from here but watch out for the ball flying around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml9lgiJPPSQ&rel=0]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8cRmfSvIP4&rel=0]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbXUydY7bZw&rel=0]

From there I went on the train home. A great day to say the least. I don’t think my posts during the week will be so extensive but I will try to post something every day. I don’t know what I am doing today but I need to get out of the apartment. I allowed myself to sleep in to 9:30 today (I went to bed at 1am) which is unheard of back home.

Bye!

Oct 5, 2011 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Sweden 2011 – Days 1 -3

Well, well well. Look who decided to finally update his blog!! I had to laugh quite hard at the last date I posted but it’s been quite the busy year to say the least. The boys have really grown up fast … Carson now being 5 years old as of last weekend freaks me out!

But enough of my sentimental journey that I was going down. How has been my trip to Sweden?

In a word fantastic!! I have always wanted to come up here and of course in true Colvin tradition, I vowed that the first time would be paid for by my employer! Well, I waited long enough and my wish came true. :-)

Plane ride
The plane ride was uneventful really. I was placed in the back of the plane (second last row) on a 767 which was actually not too bad. The person in front of my work colleague of course was a bit nasty. Even during take-off he decided that he was special and reclined his seat to the point that viewing the in-flight entertainment was a bit difficult. Luckily I didn’t have that problem.

I am not a nervous flyer to be honest but ever since 2001 I think of the worst scenario despite being completely enamoured by the art of flying. So, for the last week or so since I knew I was going to Sweden I have been a bit of a inside ‘wreck’. I am fine once I am on the plane though. It’s stupid I know but that is how I operate. :-) But I digress.

I settled in for the plane ride and figured out what movies I was going to watch. Leaving at 7:40pm is a bit tough only in the sense that I had a super long day because I had been up since 6am as Carson had hockey at 7am. I was bagged to say the least but I had to stick it out. I chose the movie Super 8 which was in fact really good. I really wanted to see it during the original theatrical release but of course I have zero personal time it seems. Soccer this year really busied me out as I had practices 5 days a week and Barbie and I never take advantage of baby sitters. Yes it’s our own fault. I watched that during my supper which was a pasta and meat sauce. It was quite the experience getting my supper since I was in the back of the bus you typically don’t have a choice of supper. Of course the guy behind me complained there was no chicken left after the stewardess had just fed 150+ other people from the front of the plane and he couldn’t figure out why there still wasn’t a selection of meals. What an idiot! She had her canned response of “Sir, if you have any concerns please send an email to Air Canada indicating you are not happy. The next time you fly I suggest that you find a seat in the middle of the cabin so that you can have a better choice of meals.” I smirked because she obviously had those lines memorized.

Next movie I chose (or suffered through) was Dinner for Smucks. Enough said. It wasn’t that good even though I am a huge Steve Carrel (spelling??) fan. It just was very predictable and frankly poorly written. I am not going to waste anymore bits and bytes on this topic. By that time it was about 11pm Ottawa time and we were close to the northern coast of Ireland. I needed to get some sleep time if I was going to have a half decent day. Well, I have never slept on a plane before and this of course wasn’t the first time I would succeed. We landed in Frankfurt on time at 8:30am local time (2:30 am Ottawa time) and it was a really nice day. The sun was shining and while still having glasses on was quite the shock to my tired eyes. We transferred off the plane to the waiting bus on the tarmack and we were off to Terminal 1 which is the main Lufthansa terminal. It’s a funny terminal as one half of it is quite dated and the other wing of the terminal is brand new. Now the last time I went through Frankfurt was when I was sent to Madrid I believe. The cool part of the terminal are the planes in the new part roll by and you are looking at them at almost the height of the cockpit. I have a video of two Airbus 380′s rolling by! Needless to say that was pretty impressive. They are massive planes. I just checked my iphone and for some reason my laptop can’t see the videos. I will figure it out later.

Anyway, I just hung out for a couple of hours before my next plane took off to Gothenburg. I just walked around the terminal and tried to look half-human. At this point, I have been up for over 20+ hours and suffering. But not as much as I could be. Check this picture out of the smoking rooms they had at the airport. I wish they could have these everywhere. It was sponsored by Camel and it was fun to see these people suffering and inhaling 10x what they are used to. This is how to stop people from smoking. :-)

The flight to Gothenburg was a bit more harsh in the sense that it was an older 737 and the German stewardess attempted to speak any English and when they asked what I wanted to drink I said ” Coke, bitte” and she proceeded to give me coffee. She wasn’t impressed when I asked for Coke instead. She disdainfully poured it into the cart and gave me the smallest glass of Coke in history. The guy beside me who spoke German proceeded to get a full glass of Coke + another glass attached to a full can of Coke. Nice. :-) It pays to speak German apparently.

We arrived in Gothenburg and waited for our bags. Nothing much going on in the airport other then … nothing! The airport was basically empty. We arrived at around 1:30pm local time so I was a bit surprised to see only one regional airplane on the tarmac plus our 737. Down in the luggage area we had the run of the place and I just walked around and looked at all of the advertisements everywhere. Of course Volvo had a huge billboard plus a car displayed in the terminal as this is their home base. That is part of my Saturday trip probably where I will go to the Volvo museum. So we finally got our luggage and grabbed a cab to downtown. The cab driver went about 130 km/h all the way from the airport to the centre of the city despite the 100km/h posted limit. Hey it’s like me in Ottawa!! We were driving in a late model Volvo station wagon that was loaded with leather etc. Meh … it was a car. Coming in to Gothenburg from the airport takes about 30 minutes and the scenary is much like I associate with Newfoundland or maybe Northern Ontario along Lake Superior. Lots of pine trees, exposed rock faces and water. Very pretty scenary and it was funny to see some stunted trees a la Newfoundland. There was lots of sunshine and it was good to see my first view of Sweden. Things were looking up.

However, I was suffering from a lack of sleep but we checked in to the hotel and then walked around Gothenburg for a while. It’s all a blur from there but we walked along the waterfront and got a visual of where the Ericsson site was located. It’s across the water and can be reached by water taxi or using the bus. We eventually decided to use the bus as it only took 7 minutes and saved some cash for the company. There are four of us from the company on this visit. My manager Andrzej, Jeevan, Peter and myself. We all met up and went for supper eventually around 7 or 8 pm. It was a pasta place and frankly was empty. More on this later but it became quite a lightning rod of a place the next day. :-) By this time I had been up 30+ hours straight and I was a mess. I fought through it and I was in bed by 9 or 9:30pm. I slept like a baby as I knew I had to be up by 7:30am the next day for work.

Monday

I woke up quite refreshed to be honest. I wasn’t feeling too jet lagged and I was ready to go. I went downstairs to the free breakfast with everyone else and it was a fantastic meal. Lots of fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, yogurts of every type … frankly everything you can think of with European flair. One thing about this place is the food is fantastic. It may be expensive (yes, it is really expensive here for most stuff) but it’s a high quality. Typically for a lunch you will pay about 80 Crowns which is about 11 bucks or so. Now that is dang expensive for a typical lunch but you get lots for that price and it’s all fresh. Except at Burger King …. :-) … I swear that all of the Burger King’s in the world are located in Sweden. That’s the only fast food place I think that is everywhere. I laughed on the way in from the airport as I was reading the street signs. Lots of cool Swedish names and then one called “Burger King”. :-) Yes, they apparently warrant there own official highway sign.

As I said before, I hopped on a bus and it only takes about 6-7 minutes door to door from the hotel to the Ericsson site. My hotel is located above the central train station and that is really handy to get around and also see the typical downtown types walking around. Lots of kids wandering about and looking for trouble probably but one of the nice parts of Sweden is that people are quite reserved and helpful. Teenagers typically aren’t bugging others and these reservations makes it a nice experience. The guys I am with have been to Sweden before and they talked about how you will see 8 or 10 year olds walking around at night as they come back from football practice or whatever and they are completely safe. Women walking around and knowing that even the drunks won’t bother them but will in fact help them if they see they are in trouble. A really nice change from our suspicious and paranoid culture that we have developed in to in North America. Sad actually that it has become that way. The kids freedom I am sure contributes a lot to their future view of things. I could see myself wanting to expose the boys to this country if it was possible. Who knows but one day I might get an opportunity to do a long term assignment here and the whole family could move here. It might be good for them.

I really liked seeing kids training for soccer at 10pm at night. We could learn a lot from this place.

The work day was fine. We met a lot of people and it was a long full day where we gathered lots of the needed information. We were planning to have to squeeze out the information but the folks here were so nice that we ticked off about 50% of the required information in one day!!

We went back to the hotel around 6 or 7 pm I think and then went out for dinner. The guys decided to go to the Texas Steak House which I found funny that I couldn’t go to something less ‘American” in Gothenburg but it had a swedish flair to my steak and that was good enough for me. Now I don’t drink too much but with a Polish manager and a Russian colleague in tow, I was subjected to three rounds of beer (tall schooner glasses) and needless to say I was a bit loopy. I am such a wimp now but I had to pay for the final round as the other guys paid the earlier ones. When in Rome ……

We finished the meal around 9pm and walked back. One thing I have noticed about Sweden in general is that I am possibly the shortest person in this country at the moment. :-) People are really tall here and it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. It is quite noticeable and quite disarming at times. Thankfully they aren’t all supermodels and that helps with the ego. :-)

I called Barbie and the kids and read some emails before going to sleep. The next day was our big meeting and I wanted to get some good rest especially with the fog of beer in my head.

Tuesday

I woke up at around 5:30 for some reason. I think it was more jet lag then anything. I threw on my gym gear and went down for a run in the gym which worked out quite well. I ran for 5K and I felt quite strong actually. I went upstairs, showered and then went down for breakfast. (I am shortening things now that my battery is dying.)

The day in a nutshell went great! My presentation was well received (and I got compliments from my manager) and we set up the rest of our week as we wanted to. Basically the goal was to get ‘permission’ to continue talking with people to get the project information and that is what happened. Again, the people were really helpful.

I worked until 6pm or so and then went for a walk around Gothenburg. (see Picassa albums) It was a super windy day but I wanted to get some fresh air. We had decided to go to Stockholm for some more meetings and that is what I am currently doing right now. I have been typing up this entry on my laptop on a train to Stockholm!! Fun stuff. The train ride is three hours long and I have been up since 5am but I feel good. I think I am excited to see this city and emptying my head of all of the details of my trip has been fun!  So really this should be under the header of Wednesday but I will do that later today. :-)

Dad … I was going to facetime you this morning as it would have been around 9:30pm your time but I decided not to as the folks on the train might get annoyed with me as they are quite reserved here as I mentioned and it probably would be considered rude. I will call tonight and update this post with some pictures if I figure out how to do that.

My battery is dying and I should shut things down. Expect an email from me to the family indicating where the pictures are in Picassa and showing that I posted this.

I am still an hour outside of Stockholm and the sun is finally coming up so I am going to relax. Our day won’t be too full but I will meet quite a few people during the day and then we are going to return around 7pm back to Gothenburg. We are planning to do some site seeing today and hopefully the pictures are going to be ok. I haven’t been too impressed with the camera I took as the quality is quite poor to be honest. The SLR was still under repair so I had nothing to bring which I regret. Next time …..

Ok … signing off!!

Mar 5, 2010 - Colvin's    No Comments

Surviving

Hi everyone. I am just chilling out after another long week at work. Things are getting a bit crazy at work with my new/old project so life is just flying by. The hockey season pretty much ends this weekend with Connor having his semi-final game tomorrow am. If they win then they will play in the final at 4pm the same day. Carter has his last practice tomorrow and them will have about 2 more games and then an end of year tournament on the 27th. Connor has an out of town tournament in Kingston that same day/weekend so we will be another split family. Sigh. Carson graduated from his skating lessons yesterday as well! So lots going on!!

I have attached a quick photo from my phone (I am writing the post from there) of the two boys sitting at the couch. I have a nasty cold right now and I am hoping they won’t get it. It’s a really bad one as I am super congested.

Anyway, back to being a dad!! Ttyl.

Feb 22, 2010 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Olympic Fever

The boys are actually watching the Olympics with me since it started. Now of course they have had no choice but the addition of HD to the household has made the difference I believe. The raw feed channels on Bell are amazing. I truly don’t miss the talking heads for the various sports especially given how horrible the CTV family of announcers are and will be. Don’t even get me started about the horrible Sportsnet announcers etc. They are truly the bottom of the barrel in terms of talent.

So far the favourite sports for the boys to watch has been short track speedskating and biathalon. Mine as well. I haven’t really been into the hockey. I have watched the odd period but now that we finally have games that matter (starting with Deutschland tomorrow) I will sit through them. So many people are so emotionally attached to these games it’s frankly a bit startling. I have had more fun cheering for our other athletes that work their butts off for 5+ years for 2 minutes of fame (speedskating for example) on television then for the multi-millionaire hockey players. Don’t get me wrong … I will be cheering for them but I think everyone in Canada should wake up and support everyone. The mens hockey team never seemed to be that winning combination for some reason but time will tell to see how far we get.

Today was a bit rough for me as I was home with Carson and Carter today as we have been battling the flu all weekend. They seem to be a lot better tonight so hopefully we can get them in to school/daycare starting tomorrow.

Anyway … I should go … talk soon.

Scott

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