Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Ships, Models, Technology 

The Colin Archer 

Colin Archer was a Norwegian ship architect, who in 1893 designed and built the class of rescue ships now simply referred to as "Colin Archer". The extremely rugged vessels became iconic in Norway.

Archer spent a lot of time trying to come up with the perfect hull, making the ship almost unsinkable.

I find this ship to have really beautiful proportions and lines, so I decided to build a model of it.


 
Kullfallet, Alternative energy, Technology 

Optimizing energy storage

After running my solar power system for a while, and planning the heating system, it became clear to me that energy storage is the part that is hardest to solve.

The electrical batteries are the weakest link of the system. Unless you spend a lot of money on a large battery bank, you will have to be thrifty with your consumption, and you constantly worry about the charge level. 

 
Technology, Software development 

Snabbmöbler

This is an idea for a business that manufactures custom furniture using particle board. The client designs the furniture using a simple computer interface, and the furniture is then quickly manufactured using robots, and delivered as pieces in a box, IKEA style.

Slogan: We guarantee to have the furniture you want, because you design it yourself.

Snabbmöbler is Swedish for "fast furniture".


 
Health 

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

I was recently stuck with BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) which is a horrible condition. After some struggle at hospitals and clinics, I've put together some info that will hopefully be helpful to other sufferers.

 
Philosophy, Religion 

Creation and the cosmological argument

The cosmological argument usually comes in a form similar to this: Everything that exists has a cause, so the universe itself must also have a cause, and that cause is an agent outside of time and space, i.e. a god that created the universe.

The reason the cosmological argument seems so persuasive is that it is easy to compare with how humans interact with the world. We are a species that thrive on our ingenuity with our own creations, so why wouldn’t the universe itself be a creation too? The problem is that there are two different contexts here for the word “creation”.

 
Travel 

Flying is way too safe

Flying somewhere with a commercial airline involves a lot of safety checks on both the planes and the passengers. This is a hassle to all travelers and I wonder why people put up with it. I guess it gives a false sense of comfort and security that many people need.

 
Music 

How to play drums

I've played drums on and off my whole adult life, and it's a big part of what keeps me happy and balanced. It is an awesome feeling to be part of creating music and to bring joy to other people.

I am self taught in drumming, and wasted a lot of time on making mistakes. Writing this text I hope to help fellow drummers to reach their goals faster.

 
Kullfallet, Construction 

Home heating with firewood

If you have access to free firewood, then using it to heat your home becomes an attractive option.

In this entry I will explore the different firewood heating methods, and make some calculations for my cottage.

 
Kullfallet, Construction 

Finishing the bedroom

The floors of my cottage feel cold and are generally in bad shape. So I decided to replace them, and started with the bedroom first.

 
Technology, Kullfallet 

How to stabilize the temperature of a freezer

A common way to stabilize freezer temperature is to insert some bottles of water, which will turn to ice. This will increase the thermal mass of the freezer, so the temperature will be more even over time.

With freezer stabilization, you can extend the time the goods in your freezer will be cold in the case of a power out. This can also be useful for a hand carried freeze box.

 
Kullfallet, Construction 

Finishing the exterior

The house exterior of Kullfallet was finished last September. Here are some pictures of the process.






 
Ideology 

Redistributing happiness

The idea of socialism is to redistribute wealth so that fortunate people are forced to give to less fortunate ones. This can be distinguished from a society where people freely help the needy by voluntary donations.

At first glance it may seem like a socialist society is more brotherly and helping, but it is actually more cynical and pessimistic, because it says that human nature is rotten and will naturally not lead to any helping hands, unless forced by shaming and physical violence. On the other hand, a non socialist society focuses on developing the character of its citizens, so they naturally want to give to the less fortunate.

 
Music 

Electric bass favorites

Some of my favorite songs with great electric bass parts.

 
Music 

Can't get enough of the Funk

Time to shower some more funk over this blog. Can never get too funky for me!

 
Humor 

Memorable Late Show moments

David Letterman retired from the Late Show recently. It is hard to find a more quick witted and obnoxious talk show host. Add to that a healthy dose of self deprecating humor, and he became my favorite for many years. Here I've collected a few YouTube videos with memorable moments.

 
Politics, Sweden 

Immigration and forced compassion

Forced compassion is a popular theme in Sweden last few decades. The state's funds are squandered away on humanitarian projects without the citizens' say, so politicians can compete in who is the most well liked in the world. Or perhaps it is with the citizens' approval, since politicians are not voted out of office. In any case it is a great mystery to me, and is probably a mix of white guilt and common Swedish self-loathing.

 
Nature, Alternative energy, Politics 

Global warming

I just watched the documentary Merchants of doubt, which exposes the forces behind the so called global warming controversy. Al Gore made a big name for himself with the documentary An inconvenient truth, and since then scientific consensus is strong on the subject; the planet is getting warmer and it is because of the activities of man.

 
Kullfallet, Nature 

Flora and fauna of Kullfallet

I will try and collect pictures of the flora and fauna of Kullfallet. This will be ongoing lists, that you can access by clicking on the links to the right under the section "Pages".

To start off, I've created the pages "Flowers of Kullfallet" and "Trees of Kullfallet". I hope you'll enjoy it.


 
Kullfallet, Construction 

Making the walls look nice

Is there anything more depressing about a house than rotten moldy walls? It is as if the house fails in its primary function to provide shelter. The Kullfallet walls were in dire need to be replaced.

But the wall boards sit on a timber frame, which first has to be inspected and fixed. If taken well care of, a timber house like this can last for centuries. But given a chance it will deteriorate quickly by moisture and vermin like ants and rats.

 
Kullfallet, Construction 

Building a new roof

The first step in renovating the old cottage at Kullfallet is to replace the roof. It is old, leaky and rotten. And it was made on the cheap, way back in the 1920s.

As I tore off the old roof, it was interesting to see that building technology hasn't change much in 95 years, only materials have become better. It was built as a truss structure, covered with a sheathing of boards from end to end, then a layer of water protection wood shavings covered by hardboard. Then a grid of lath for the roof tiles. The new roof will be the same method, except the water barrier will be tar paper instead.

 
Music 

Funky organs

The organ is a great instrument, and fits really well in funk, acid jazz and gospel music.

Below are some funky organ parts that I like very much. 





 
Kullfallet, Alternative energy, Technology 

Solar power for homes

Providing electricity for your home is a challenge for the independent home owner. It is also an interesting topic for sustainability and technology reasons.

The market is still very small for alternative ways of powering homes, but steadily growing as prices of solar panels and batteries go down. In the future I think every home will use its own power.

This post outlines the parts needed for a solar power system, and shows what components I plan to use for my own system at Kullfallet.

Most systems are grid-tied, which eliminates the need for batteries, and enables you to sell surplus electricity back to the grid, in effect making the meter run backwards.

My system is not grid-tied, and therefore more costly, but also makes me 100% independent.

 
Kullfallet 

Moving into Kullfallet

It has been an impatient wait for the snow to melt, so I can finally move into my new house. But preparing for the move kept me very busy with buying tools, equipment, food and a car. We also took a trip to clean out the house and get acquainted with my neighbor, a friendly 80-year old lady living alone 800 m from my property.

It will be a challenge to make it work. No electricity, no running water, no plumbing, no indoor toilet, no shower, no kitchen, no heating (broken chimney), a leaking roof, parts of the floor missing, parts of the ceiling missing, unusable entrance road, and a climate where it gets below 0 C (32 F) in the night. So it will be like camping out for the first few months. Luckily I have a spring with fresh water, and a solid internet connection. 

 
Kullfallet, Sweden 

How to buy forest in Sweden

Buying land is pretty straight forward in Sweden, and can be done by foreign nationals as well. However there is short supply near all metropolitan areas, so you'll have better luck in rural areas, and they are plentiful.

It has become very popular for our European neighbors to buy leisure properties in the Swedish country side, especially Germans and Norwegians. With a forest cover of 57% and a generous right to freely roam it (allemansrätten), many people find it an attractive safe-haven from their busy lives.

All aspects of life in Sweden are heavily regulated, and so is the ownership and purchase of land, so the buyer needs to beware.

 
Kullfallet, Sweden 

Becoming a hillbilly again

So a new chapter begins in my life. I have bought a remote 15 acre forest property in the heart of Värmland, Sweden. My intention is to repeat what I did in Thailand, to create a small farm and live off the land as self-sufficient as possible.

The area is famous for rolling hills of never ending spruce and pine tree forests, full of wild-life such as moose, bears, wolves, boars and deer.

Climate is similar to southern Canada, with winter temperatures at 0 F (-18 C) and summers at 75 F (24 C). When I visited the property this February, the snow cover was around 15 inches.

The closest town is Sunne, 30 minutes away, where some 5,000 people live, and it has some useful shops. This is a cultural center that draws a lot of tourism, both for nature experiences in the summer and down hill skiing in the winter.

 
Sports, Health 

Anabolic steroids in sports

Anabolic Steroids are banned from sports in all major countries of the world. The main reason is because it creates “an unfair advantage” for the people who use them. Legislators want athletes to compete on equal terms, without artificial aids.

But is sports really fair to begin with? The most determining factors of success are factors the athlete has no control over: what DNA he was lucky enough to be born with, and the environment where he grew up and trained. 

The genes determine his physical potential, but also his mental capacity of determination and character. The environment plays a great part in how much time he can devote to his training, how encouraging his social group is, his parents and teachers, and the availability of healthy food and equipment.

 
Software development, Technology 

Thinking about chess

I am fascinated by chess. Not the actual playing of the game, but finding a way to solve it; to beat the game using a computer and come up with a strategy that always wins.

Chess has approximately 64! / (32! x 8!^2 x 2!^6) = 4.6E42 possible states the game can be in. That's a four followed by 42 zeroes, a humongous number. It would take the fastest supercomputer in the world 3 billion billion years to just enumerate them. That is, if it had anywhere to store the data, because it would require a memory the size of the earth.

 
Software development 

Solving HTML

I'm not happy with the progress of software development today. Like with other products of human thought, software systems and methodologies over time tend to become bloated and difficult to understand, instead of focusing on their essence.

Comparing with another area of thought, for a country to have a great constitution, it requires a re-boot from scratch, as with the US constitution in 1789. But it seems inevitable that this system of laws and rights swells up beyond recognition. People are ultimately motivated by self interest. Let enough time pass and the legal volumes will grow to embarrassing levels.

 
Health 

To be messed up in the head

I was a two hour hike away from civilization, up in a mountain in Thailand, when suddenly bright flashes started showing in my right eye. I had just set up camp and planned to stay the night, so this was the worst possible timing to have a migraine. 

I started to panic, because I knew what was about to happen to me. It's like Bruce Banner's transformation to become the Hulk, except I don't gain any superpowers, instead my brain gets disconnected from reality. 

It became a run against the clock, just hoping I could manage to get back home before the avalanche of pain began, and before I lost the ability to find my way and take care of myself.

 
Culture 

The dramatization of documentaries

I used to enjoy watching documentaries. They gave me a way to visit remote corners of the world, learn how things are constructed, and see the details of a historic event. But not anymore.

What happened? I guess commercial pressure sucked out all real content and replaced it with dramatization and scripted fiction.

This touches on a bigger subject: is reality so boring that no one cares about it anymore? Have we become so desensitized to our experience here on earth that we only respond to larger-than-life stories?

 
Central America, Travel, Motorcycles 

Motorcycle tour of Guatemala and El Salvador 2013

I did not plan ahead for my Central American tour either, I never do. But fortune brought me to some of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life. Overall this trip was a great adventure that made me rethink my impression of Guatemala, and unfortunately dislike El Salvador.

I had just recovered from my Belize tour, and set out on the 3rd of November by driving from San Ignacio to the nearby border of Guatemala. Due to computer malfunction of the immigration system, I had a boring three hours to kill, but soon after that I was on my way westward.

 
Money 

Insurance is for losers

The idea of insurance may seem good at first glance: you pay a small sum of money monthly, to get a guarantee that you will receive a larger amount of money to cover for an unexpected cost in the future.

Life takes random turns and you never know what will happen next. Maybe you crash your car on the way to work. Maybe someone burns down your home. Maybe you lose your job.

In its simplest form, it could be 100 friends agreeing to pay $100 per month to a common pool of money. Each year $120,000 is collected, which is then paid out to the members who are struck by misfortune that year, for example $80,000 to Carl who suffered a house break-in, $30,000 to Amy to cover a stolen car, and $10,000 to Steven to pay his hospital bill when he broke his leg. Seems fair, doesn't it? Not really, because some people are more careful and diligent than others.

 
Software development 

TrainersLab postmortem

TrainersLab was a Windows application that I created together with a Swedish bodybuilder in 2003. In those days you called it a "Multimedia CD-ROM" to make it sound more fancy.

We parted ways and I continued on my own, redesigned the application and published a new version in 2005, as downloadable on the internet.

I still think the technology I used and style of user interface of this new version is very interesting, and could motivate doing a postmortem description of this dead product.

 
Travel, South America, Expat 

Venezuela's stink of gasoline

After spending a week in Mérida and three weeks on Margarita Island, I can safely say that this is the most unpleasant Latin American country I have ever visited.

Below I'm going to list all the things I find wrong with Venezuela. But in all fairness there are a few things that are good: There are no beggars or pushy street vendors. It can be extremely cheap if you are willing to use the black market. Many locations are quite scenic, with lots of beautiful nature.

Colombia and Venezuela have the same geography and share the same basic culture, yet they are like night and day. I'm not trying to trivialize Colombia's problems, but there really is a difference. I attribute this to decades of governmental mismanagement in Venezuela, which really is a shame considering how nice this place could have been.

 
Alternative living 

Living in a shipping container

Would you want to live on 12 square meters? I was thinking about this as I got busy drawing up a 20 foot shipping container home in Sketchup.

Shipping containers are relatively cheap and sturdy, and saves a lot of time when building a tiny cottage. They also lock up safely. And when you get bored with your surroundings, you just load it up on a truck and move somewhere else, taking your home with you.

 
Technology 

The water wheel

The water wheel is an interesting invention. It has always fascinated me in its simplicity and elegance, and it is used on a stream, which involves the soothing sound of water.

It has been around for more than 2000 years, commonly used to power mills. During the industrial revolution it eventually got replaced by the turbine, which is more efficient.

There are three types of water wheels: The undershot, where water enters under the center of the wheel, as illustrated to the right, the overshot, where water enters above the wheel, and the vertical axis, where the water flows straight down onto a wheel that looks more like a propeller.

The material used is commonly wood, but wheels out of steel can also be found.

 
Culture 

Faking it as an artist

Do you think life as an artist seems glamorous and cool? Do you enjoy doing drugs when you are working? Or perhaps the mere mention of the word "work" makes you feel uneasy? Why not try being an artist? It is not as hard as it seems.

The brilliant documentary Exit through the Gift Shop illustrates my point very well. The story is about a wannabe graffiti artist who captures the acts of famous taggers with a camera as they are out in the streets, and then decides he wants to be an artist too, and puts on a giant exhibition in Los Angeles.

 
Music 

Funky Swedish songs from the 1970's

Might sound like far from home, but there was some funky stuff going on in Sweden too in the 1970's. Big nostalgia trip for me to listen to it again.

 
Politics, Religion 

Why should we care about the Middle East?

They are throwing some fuel on the Palestinian-Israel fire again. Can never let it be peaceful for too long in this part of the world.

Why should we care? We have one group of people who insist on wedging themselves into a region of the world that hates their guts and could be no happier than to see them extinct -- against another group who thinks stoning is an appropriate method of punishment and where women are seen like second-rate citizen. Again: why should we care?

 
Africa, Culture 

The history of Liberia

A lot can be learned about human nature from looking at the history of Liberia. I visited the country in July of 2011, invited by a friend to explore the region for possible business opportunities. On this trip I had a chance to see with my own eyes a failed state brought to its knees by corruption and primitive culture, not just read about it and ignore it as we commonly do.

After the American civil war ended, the American Colonization Society was created to help former slaves return to Africa, where they were thought to have better opportunities. The ACS had admirable goals and was actively supported by Abraham Lincoln and James Monroe.

 
Sports 

The sport of MMA

I'll admit it up front; I'm not very interested in sports. But I have trained on and off in the gym my whole adult life, and I hike in the forest almost every day, so I'm into an athletic lifestyle. Just not in a competitive way or with made up rules or silly accessories like balls or clubs.

Why do we have a fascination with people who can do physical feats like kicking a ball between two posts? It seems so arbitrary. But perhaps it reflects on our ancestry when physical skills like speed, strength, dexterity and throwing precision were what got you the meal of the day, or fought off intruders. Perhaps sports are the modern day refined versions of such skills. 

Sports lets us watch and admire our heroes when they do their feats, and it gives an outlet for our innate tribalism when we cheer on our team. Life of today is so safe and has so little drama, that our evolved brain becomes under-stimulated. No surprise that sports are so popular.

 
Central America, Expat, Motorcycles, Travel 

Motorcycle tour of Belize 2013

In October of 2013 I went to Belize with the idea to settle down there for a few years. I thought it sounded nice since it is in the tropics and the official language is English. It's a small country with only 340,000 people, and land is still cheap to buy, even virgin forest can be found. 

The population is mostly Mestizo, with big Kriol groups, and some Native Americans. The western parts have big communities of Mennonites, very much resembling the Amish in the US. They have succeeded well in agriculture and trade. Along the coastline are the black Garifunas.

 
Food, Culture 

Tipping is stupid

Why do people pay more for a meal than the agreed price? Is it because they are exalted by the superb service, or is it out of pity for the server that brings the food? It is socially very awkward to get away with not paying gratuity, and I believe that's the real reason people do it. It is a form of bullying that certain industries use to get more out of the customer, and oddly people just accept it as normal.

 
Alternative living 

How to create your own country

Did you ever want to live in your own country, to make your own rules? Tired of adjusting yourself to other people? 

One solution is to buy a decommissioned cargo ship, and then strand it on a very shallow part of the sea, on international waters. You need really deep pockets and an adventurous spirit to succeed with this, but what an exciting adventure it would be!

 
Motorcycles 

Why I like 250 cc offroad bikes

A 250 cc offroad motorcycle is the perfect compromise in terms of weight, price and ability to ride through difficult terrain in the country side. You sit up straight which is easy on your back and arms, and you have a good view of the traffic in front of you. These bikes are usually made for loading up gear, so it is easy to tour on them.

 
Music 

My favorite Latin American songs

Before I visited Colombia I had only a vague idea about Latin American music. In this post I have collected some of my favorite songs heard in the streets and in salsa clubs around Medellin.

 
Expat, Thailand, Colombia 

Expat living: Thailand vs Colombia

I have lived on and off in Thailand for eight years, and visited Colombia five times, spending in total a year there. They remain my favorite places on earth, both cheap, beautiful and interesting.

Selecting a country to live in is of course very much a matter of personal taste, but I will try to be as objective as possible in this post so you can make up your own mind. 

 
Thailand, Expat 

Chiang Dao house

This is a house I used to own in northern Thailand, living there from April 2010 to July 2013. I ran out of money and sold it, but saved the below document that I created to attract buyers.

It was a great experience and I learned a lot about house construction, farming and local Thai customs.

 
Travel, Motorcycles, Colombia, South America 

Motorcycle tour of Colombia and Ecuador 2012

This tour took me some very varied places. It was interesting to explore the rural parts of these beautiful countries. However no camera was brought on this trip, so I hope my words will be vivid enough to make the story enjoyable.

First a summary to give you a taste of the adventure:

  • Three weeks, starting April 16, 2012.
  • Stopped and fined by police twice.
  • Jumped on the street by police and searched for drugs.
  • Pressure cooker heat mixed with numbing cold and a sprinkle of rain.
  • Conquered a land slide and got interviewed on TV for it.
  • Vast expands of nothingness makes you feel very small.
  • Nothing beats the Andes for majestic views.
  • Chain jumped the sprocket, but was fixed road side.
 
Alternative living, Alternative energy, Travel 

Mobile living for ultimate freedom

I have been playing around with the idea of having a vehicle as a permanent home, to be able to tour around and explore the world as economically and independent as possible.

Here are the criteria for the solution:

  • Simple technical solutions that are easy to repair.
  • Truly independent, with no need to visit hotels, bath rooms or restaurants.
  • Economical to operate over great distances.
  • Safe to sleep in at night with no worries about intruders.
  • Easy to cross country borders without the hassle of paperwork.

The solution is a solar/muscle powered over-sized bicycle, which has foldable parts so it can be reconfigured in different modes.

 
Fitness, Hiking, Thailand 

The Wat Palad hike

Since my joint problems prevent me from doing serious strength training in the gym, I've focused on low impact endurance training instead. I've never been really good at it, or even liked it, so I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I used to do a lot of hiking in the past, but usually just for fun with no goal in mind. I guess I had a fairly ok cardiovascular fitness, but nowhere near real athletic standards.

I remember that when I did my military service at age 20 we ran a 10 km forest track once a week. 52 minutes at my first try, and five months later I finished the track in 42 minutes. Pretty ok since I had never done serious endurance training before. But my body weight was 70 kg, not 96 kg as it is today, and that is a lot of additional weight to move around.

 
Humor, Social media 

Favorite GS Elevator Tweets

GS Elevator is a provoking and funny Twitter account that I subscribe to. It is described as "Things heard in the Goldman Sachs elevators do not stay in the Goldman Sachs elevators."

 
Humor, Movies 

What makes a comedy funny?

Let's compare two comedies, both directed by Frank Oz, and both with very high scores at IMDb.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is one of my favorite movies of all time. Hilarious, exciting, scheming, and with great acting performances by Steve Martin and Michael Caine.

It's about two con-men tricking women out of their money, and how their paths cross on the French riviera. It turns into a competition that has many unexpected twists, and a very surprising ending.

The other comedy is Death at a Funeral, which is about the craziness that can happen when family secrets are revealed at a stiff English funeral.

I found almost nothing funny about this movie, and this got me thinking about the subject of humor, and why people see it so differently.