Tag Archives: bike

Me and my laptop

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So yesterday, I bought a bike. The last one got stolen somewhere last fall, but with the snowy season kicking in early last year, I never really bothered to get a new one. Well, that and I was kinda getting tight on the budget. But we’ve had great weather the last couple of weeks here, and even apart from that I was getting real tired of walking everywhere. It’s fecking time-consuming, I’m telling ya.

Anyways. Yesterday was not a good time to buy a bike. At least, not yesterday between 5 and 6 pm.

See, I was happily rejoicing in my newly acquired possession (a black bike! with 21 gear! and decent breaks instead of back-pedal! and a slightly unstable pedal, but anyway, it was only 700 SEK), and walking back to the lab (don’t have a decent lock yet… I’m not taking any chances this time), when this suddenly crossed my path.

I thought it was quite exciting. A crime scene on University grounds. I felt like Morse. Or Frost. Or De Cock. With C-O-C-K*.

So I took a detour to get to the entrance to my building, but it only got better. Firetrucks. And firefighters. And policemen. Cute ones, at that. EVERYWHERE.

Turns out the ventilation broke down in one of the wings, and the whole department had been evacuated, nobody was allowed in. Which is good. Because you don’t want people running around in a building full of chemicals but without ventilation. Only, and I am trying to say this in the calmest way possible…

MY LAPTOP WAS IN THERE!

I have very consciously decided not to get a tv here, because I felt I was watching too much of it, only to have my full focus turned to my laptop. It is my alarm in the morning, my radio, my writing sanctuary, my phone, and my connection to the outside world (i.e. it gives me internet). In other words: it’s my everything. Without my internet laptop, I am nothing. I need it like I need oxygen.

And I was not allowed to go get it.

Clearly, they didn’t know me yet. I’m not much of a troublemaker, but I’m stubborn as hell. I got security at Rock Werchter to break the rules just for me without uttering a single word, and I’d do it again.

And thus I went back there every hour. Until they let me in.

They finally caved.

Love to say, I told ya so.

I couldn’t stop my experiment though so that failed miserably, but who cares about a week’s work? I had my laptop back.

And everything was right in the world.

*It’s from a Dutch crime series, in which the main detective always spells his name when introducing himself. “My name is De Cock. With C-O-C-K.” It doesn’t mean the same in Dutch, by the way. The first two are British, should you not be familiar. I should find analogies that are more internationally usable.

Sweden in a nutshell

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I thought, if I can successfully write a recap of two weeks of blogging, I can surely successfully list the things I love/hate most about Sweden, two weeks into this little project of mine?

  • I love … free coffee. Free coffee, I’m telling you! Well, at the lab at least, but anyway… Nothing helps to recover from (or prepare for) a failed experiment as does a cup of coffee. At our lab, there is a HUGE, and – more importantly – cosy coffee room with two coffee machines and all the sugar, milk, cups, spoons, … you could ever need. Heaven surely must come close to this…
    However, I hate … the lack of Freddy. Freddy was the guy in my previous lab who filled pipet tip boxes, did the dishes (you cannot believe how much dirty glassware one scientist can produce in a day), did the ordering, made media, autoclaved everything – in short, did all those lousy, dreadful things a scientist has to waste his/her time on. There is no Freddy in Sweden :(.
  • This is maybe not the best example... but at least I could afford it.

    I love … the shops! I am not talking clothes shops (obviously) – if you thought IKEA had neat ideas, think again. I am absolutely loving to stroll around interior decoration shops and discover all the genius little things on display. Buying them would ruin my budget, but one can dream, at least…
    I hate … their opening hours. Granted, the supermarket is open till 10pm every day, but on Saturday you will not find any shop open after 4 or even 3pm. I mean, how can you enjoy a relaxing day of shopping when you only have 5 hours? Honestly?
  • I love … cycling. And everybody cycles here! There are loads of parking places for bikes, separate tracks along the road, … There is only little traffic but it is well organized – you know how as a pedestrian you have these buttons to speed the green light when crossing the street and it seems that it takes longer when pressing the button than if you’d have just waited? Not here! You press and … presto … cross along! b.r.i.l.l.i.a.n.t
    But I hate my bike. Or maybe that’s too strongly put. I don’t actually HATE it. But it squeeks. And it has a back pedal break. And my bell is broken. I can do something about the squeeking and the bell, but that damn break… .
  • I love … the gym. At €165 per year (for university employees, it’s around 200) including full access to the gym and all spinning/aerobic/workout/… classes, you have no excuse not to go (which probably is the point). I’ve been there for the first time today and it was a blast (though I’m stone dead now – after only 2 classes… how disappointing). The teachers are good, the building and equipment are recent and modern, and while the majority of people are students, you see a good deal “older” people (grey hears included!) so I’m not really feeling out of place.

    I hate … that they don’t have dancing classes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a serious session of Aerobics, but I am completely hooked on “true” dance classes, where you take a song and work out a choreography over a couple of weeks, so that you really have time to make the dance your own. Most group session are “gympa”-based (defined as “All around workout in a group with focus on strength, cardio, and flexibility”) so the dance element is often missing, but even the Funk or Afro sessions are drop-in (understandably) so … not gonna happen. I keep on searching, though!

I love the purple trains … I miss UHT milk … I like the rabbits in the university grounds … I hate it that I don’t speak (or at least understand) Swedish … I love the many trees/green spaces in the city …

So all in all, the things I like about Sweden are at a slight advantage. Let’s see if they can keep this up ;).

The joys of bike riding

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So, I got my bike. And I hate it.

Let me rewind. I’m a cyclist. I have never in my (admittedly short) life owned a car, nor am I planning on purchasing one in the near future. The reasons are simple – apart from my part-time obsession with saving the earth (part-time as in, I consciously don’t buy a car, but I do love my long and hot showers), it is just incredibly expensive: purchase, gas, taxes, maintenance, … . Well I got some traveling to do before I go bankrupt, thank you very much. So, especially since in Lund (as in many student cities) a bike is almost indispensable anyway, it was only natural that I wanted to have a bike here. And this morning, as if God was sending me a signal that He, in fact, exists, there was some sort of… let’s call it a park sale. 1200 crowns (€127) for a second-hand, well-repaired bike. And while I was trying on one black-and-green-and-orange bike (I thought it might be easier to spot, as I tend to forget where exactly I parked it), there he was, smiling at me. A grey, Swedish version of the well known Dutch bike, which immediately felt as if it were made for me. Sold!

And so the trouble began. The handle bar is fairly close to the saddle (if my legs were 5cm longer, I wouldn’t be able to cycle), but it is also bent. This appears to be normal to most people, but on my old bike (which has been in my possession for 15 years, some intervals when it was stolen notwithstanding) the handlebar is straight. And this has some serious implications when, after grocery shopping, you want to hang your full bags on either end of the bar, since in the case of a bent bar, the distance to your feet – more precisely your little toe – is shorter. A lot shorter, even. Them bags were swinging and turning as if they wanted to generate electricity, banging my poor little toes with each failed attempt. The wobbling made steering rather difficult, and in addition to this, my beautiful bike was equipped with a back pedal brake. I am not exactly familiar to those, and as a result found myself almost falling on several occasions – I don’t think correcting with my left foot was the best solution, but it was either that or kissing Swedish soil. And if that weren’t enough, the handle of one of the bags broke, spilling my peaches and potatoes all over the park (admittedly, the bike may not be entirely to blame for this. still.). I made it home though, and immediately added to my to-bring-from-home-list: cycle bags.
We’ll have a long way to go, my new bike and I.

Ok... - I said NOOO! - How did you know it was me? I had disguised myself so well!

But on a totally unrelated but at least more cheerful note: I got a library membership card and brought Astérix comic books home to learn Swedish – jeij!