Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fire Experiments, Fire, & More Fire

Recently, we performed a small experiment in one of the Universities fire testing laboratories. We used a pan of liquid methanol, started a fire, and measured the heat release rate (a measure of the rate at which energy (in the form of heat) is released) with a device called a oxygen consumption calorimeter. We ran a few tests to check out how repeatable the experiment was. Then, we simulated our experiment after wards with some computer software and compared the computer simulations to the data we got from the experiment. Knowledge regarding the heat release rate of a fire is one of the most important concepts and factors in fire safety design and evaluation.

Setting up the experiment:

The hat is pretty useless here but makes a good photo! Netsanet, Dennis, & I.

Marta, Netsanet, & I set up the thermocouples and data aquisition equipment for the experiment:

A simulation of the velocity of the gases entering and leaving the test cell:

A representation of gas temperature:

Unfortunately, this test was not nearly as scintillating as some of the stuff I used to do and see at UL(though more educative in different ways):

In conclusion, Hooray for Fire! (I mean, fire safety!). Guess that's enough nerd speak for one blog. Cheers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fun First World Factoids

If you were as rich as Norway, you'd do some of these too:

-While education is free, all are entitled to a laptop since 2005 once they get to around 10th grade.

-You can claim social security at 18. Some kids take advantage of this and the amount of money is certainly enough to live. It is a bit problematic as you can just lollygag through life without doing much!

-Like Sweden, all men must go into the military for 1 year after high school. Or, they can choose to do a social project for a year. Norway actually does have soldiers in Afghanistan. However, the soldiers there are not the ones that have been in the military for 1 year. After 1 year of service, you could continue in the military, and these are the people that tend to go. They send some people up north to ‘protect’ the border with Russia.

-The income tax rate is something like 35%. But they also tax lots of other ‘bad’ thing. For example, alcohol and chocolate have very high tax rates. For some reason, meat does as well!

-Norway is part of the Schengen zone but not the EU. They get all the benefits of being in the Schengen zone (which I think includes free trade), but are pretty much in their own isolated bubble and not dragged down economically by the EU. That’s nice, cause with such high oil and salmon exports they’re flush with money!

-They have a King and Queen! Although they are basically there for show nowadays.

-Norway is one of three countries where you can buy whale. The hunt the Minke (which I guess is the most populous whale), during a regulated whale season.

-They also sell lots of reindeer and moose.

-They still have a pretty big native group living up north.

-I didn’t previously know that Norway was occupied by German for some years during WWII.

-Svalbard, Norway’s massive island/archipelago just south of the north pole, has some pretty massive tax incentives for people to move there. Like Ushuaia, in Argentina (but probably much more substantial).

-Norwegian is similar to both Swedish and Danish, but in different ways. In speaking, certainly closer to Swedish, many words are the same. The alphabet is more similar to Danish, though. For example, Norwegian and Danish have a letter that is formed if you pushed the a and e together ‘ae’, but in Swedish, this is accomplished by an a with two dots above it. The Danish influence is likely due to the Danish occupation when most of Scandinavia was actually Denmark. Otherwise, all the languages are of Viking origins. Anyways, nobody in this world can learn Danish very well nowadays, it’s a bit of a freak language, even according to the Danes.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The first thing you need to do before you go to Norway is tell yourself that you are going to be broke by the time you leave. After accepting this fact, you can then properly enjoy the city.

Oslo was quite a nice city. I was not expecting it to be covered in snow as it was, as all the snow has long melted in Lund, but I did happen to get one of the warmest and clearest days they have had this year, so snow wasn't much of a bother and weather was enjoyable.

The first thing I realized when I approached Oslo by bus, was that although I was expecting a fairly flat area like Southern Sweden, the region was actually pretty hilly. The second thing I saw, as the bus curved around the bay that the city sits on, and as the downtown came into view, was that the economic recession certainly had not hit this city! There were tons of large cranes and plenty of construction was evident.

Oslo felt like a city that is just starting to become Europe's Dubai. It is a pretty simple place in fact, but fancy architectural buildings and bridges seem to be going up quickly. The new Opera House is very impressive and has an amazing view of the bay, the islands in the bay, and the city.

I didn't have much of a problem meeting people at the hostel to go sightseeing with, and quickly went out with Kelly from Martinique and Fabio from Sao Luis in Brazil. We took the tram to Frogner Park (the one with all the impressive sculptures). Speaking of the tram I paid about $11 for a day pass, woohoo! Even though there are only about 900,000 people in Oslo, including the surrounding area, they have an extensive bus network, tram network, and a full subway.

I then met up with Kjerstin, the couchsurfer who was going to host me from Saturday-Sunday, and her boyfriend who had just moved to Oslo from Australia. She actually had somewhat recently moved to Oslo from another part of the country. But she was really awesome and very kind. She met me in central Oslo Saturday afternoon, and we did the tourist thing for awhile downtown. We had some lunch at a cafe, where I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu (hehe...) a single crepe filled with creme fraiche & a fruit, for another $11. Sandwiches ran around $20 or more! Add a drink in and your at $30 for a pretty simple meal!

After some eating, walking, and talking, a plan was set for the evening. To try some reindeer! Reindeer is really common in northern Norway, so it is readily available at the grocery store, as well as moose. We took the tram back to her neighborhood just north of the city center and made a grocery store trip. Reindeer usually comes in shavings (it is quite a tough meat so eating a steak isn't exactly a walk in the park on your jaw), and we couldn't find the right kind (or the right price), so we settled for moose shavings! Kjerstin cooked an uber Norwegian dinner. The moose shavings were cooked in cream with mushrooms, and the cream was reduced to create a thick sauce. One surprising thing about moose was the distinct smell. Unlike beef, it was extremely aromatic and smelled very gamey and wild. Oven roasted vegetables were had as well as I made some mashed potatoes and turnips Scottish style. Norwegian beers were also tasted, which were decent, nothing dark or heavy though, fairly light.

It says Velkommen Nick!

Sunday morning before I departed Kjerstin made a huge breakfast! The funniest part was she was talking about some syrup she bought that she was going to use with the pancakes she made, and when she pulled it out it was Aunt Jemima! haha! Breakfast also consisted of some very hard, tacky, typical Norwegian bread, topped with slivers of salmon and a medium white Norwegian style cheese. The salmon was excellent, and made the bread tolerable at most. Pancakes with bananas were topped with syrup, and lingonberry jam (like the Swedes!). Then she made some cinnamon rolls and I took a few with me for my enjoyable 7.5 hour bus ride home!

Also, my expectation of course was that there would be no beggars or homeless people, come on, this is Norway folks. But I was pretty surprised to see some here and there. Kjerstin said that she thought recently it was just legalized in the last few years or so. The other thing is that all the people who are asking for money or sitting on the street in fact do have at least a shelter or a place to live. Nobody is or should be spending the night on the street here.

What happens when you browse grocery store fish sections in Scandanavia:

The king and queens palace:

Toy or real?....Real.

Downtown and the old cathedral:


The big ass ski jump is in the background on the hill!! They just used it for the Nordic World Ski Championships last week.

Vigeland Park

Oslo's largest park has 212 amazing bronze and granite sculptures of women, men and children, designed by Gustav Vigeland. Really impressive! The park was finished in the early 1940s.

121 bodies reaching up to the top. Carved out of 1 stone in 14 years!

The angry boy statue!

Wheel of life sculpture:


The way the local people take their kids for walks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fish Balls

Per the usual, I've been doing my best to sample just about everything I can find in the grocery store, without reserve, discrimination, or food racism. Here's my latest in Swedish findings:

Quite possibly one of the most disgusting foods that has come into contact with my taste buds recently is fish balls! Basically, like a hot dog in fish form (leftover fish scraps), but formed into a ball instead of a weener. I'm not sure the problem however lied with the fish balls themselves. Rather, they were smothered in some creamy, thick dill sauce in the can and well, after nearly upchucking, I really had to throw the whole can out after 1 bite! That is one purchase that will not occur again.

This plate contains several Swedish staples. Boiled potatoes galore (taken straight quite often but sometimes with a delicious cream-based gravy sauce). And, lingonberry jam. Yum. Lingonberry jame is placed quite often on meatballs and various other meat products. In this case, a side for a Swedish style meatloaf that was actually very good. An odd, but surprisingly decent combination.

The Pizza Kebap! Okay this isn't exactly Swedish since it is of kebap origin and the pizzeria I bought it at is run by middle eastern guys. But, it is not something they sell in kebap shops in England or Germany or many other places in Europe for that matter. Not bad though.

Some fluffy chocolate balls with coconut, yum:


Still waiting to be tested in the fridge are Blodpudding and Fiskpudding (Fishpudding)