Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Everything is Bigger in Norway

from the basset hounds to the indescribably beautiful glacier-made mountains and fjords, Norway is on a completely different scale!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

I've posted some on the group blog this week but forgot to post on my own (or remembered but was too tired). We've moved through another segment, staying in Sindal for three days. Sindal is a cute little town of about 4,000. I got to experience my second danish birthday with my hosts as their little girl had turned 7. Birthdays are a big deal over here! And unlike the 8 year old boy's birthday I got to participate in previously which included running about in the woods, riding atvs, and playing ball, this birthday was properly decked out in pink princess gear, had drawing and painting time, and a disco dance room.

We also took a day up to Skagen at the very top of Denmark where we attended the Skipperskole and took a "sandworm" out to the peninsula tip to see where the North Sea and Baltic Sea meet. It was cold, but I put my feet in the water anyway.

My vocational day was at Tankegang, a very modern multimedia firm in Frederickshavn. They produce most of the print marketing for the regional government agencies. I have to say that their government marketing is far more catchy and modern than most of that I've seen in the US. Tankegang also marks the second real discussion I've gotten to have about internet media, social media, and mobile media (apps). YAY, people who actually understood what I do!!!!

We are now hosted by the Rotary in Hjorring. We are staying out at Skallerup Klit, a hotel facility so we can have a day without scheduled program. Yesterday we gave a presentation to the 1440 district conference in Hjorring. Today we get to watch it rain (thanks weatherman) and enjoy the Roman Baths.

Tomorrow we have another vocational visit (for me this is the Hjorring Library which I also toured on Saturday, so I'm hoping something new comes out of it since I'm assigned to go again) and our regular club presentation in the evening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Libraries, Ventilation, and Hercules

Our days in Aars were quite exciting as we got to visit a number of local businesses. These included the site of a new wind farm, a leading library and luggage sorting systems manfufacturer, a unique air systems manfucaturer, and the Royal Danish Airforce base at Aalborg International Airport.

The use of wind power in a nation like Denmark is a bit of a no brainer. It sits squarely in the path of windstreams which sweep across the peninsula. While the public politley does not state their wish to end dependence on middle eastern oil, the reasons for the Danes to find alternative and clean energies are much like the US. At this site outside of Aars, six new turbines are being erected, standing about 80 meters tall, and having blades 50 meters in length. You can stand up inside the blades and walk into them!

Our visit to the RAF base was really fun as well. We visited the search and rescue pilots and helicoptor as well as the home of the Dane's C130J's (also called the hercules!) We had a great tour of the hangars and also the control tower which negotiates the needs of both the civilian airport and the airforce. The Aalborg airport was created during the second world war by the German Luftwaffe and taken over by the civilian and RAF authorities after the occupation. The old bunkers are still used for testing the RAF's F-16 fighter jets. Many cold war elements still remain from the airport's role in security for Northern Europe. And yes, that's me at the helm of a C130J. There were a lot of buttons. Even a red one I was not allowed to push. :-)

I'm now in the town of Sindal, after saying goodbye to my awesome hosts in Aars (and their adorable cocker spaniel who tried to get in the car with me when we left). We are presenting to the rotary club in town tonight and will spend the next few days in the area, including a trip to Skagen, Denmark's most northern point.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A bit more on Animal Resuce

Since many of my hosts and people I've met have asked what animal rescue is and why I support it, here's a video form the ASPCA explaining what they do.

If you can still read after watching that video: I have a basset hound who's life would no doubt be much different if she did not have an understanding owner. (Those of you who have met Glory know there are a few things less than normal about my dog. She suffers from several genetic faults from bad breeding which cause several of her internal organs to be small and shunted, leading to her inability to properly clean her bloodstream and her abnormal development. Other than the obvious issue with the organs themselves, some of those neural connections in the brain will never take place. The light is on but no one is home. But she has the most loving heart and sweet personality. If she had headed towards a hunting pack or other life, she would have likely ended up in a shelter, at a resuce, abandonded/lost (she can't find her way back home.) or dead because someone didnt take her to the vet when she was young to see what the issue was.

For Glory and the other dogs brought into the world by breeders just looking to make a quick buck, I support rescue. For all the hounds whose owners don't stand by them when they get ill, or don't take them when they move, or think having children and a dog at the same time is impossible, I support rescue. For all the old dogs whose muzzles are gray and steps are wobbly, I support rescue. I beleive our pets should be treated with dignity in their old age, provided the care they need, and made to know love.

The rescues I have the most connection with are the House of Puddles in Fredrick, MD and Senior Hounds Abound in Orlando, FL.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aars is for Art

For a small town, Aars certainly has a good arts scene. From the new nusic house to the commissioned art throughout the main street and schools, the municipality has a lot of it. I have to say I don't think all of it is the art I would prefer to have in my city or surrounds, but there is a great support for artists and their work in the region.

I am also quite lucky to be the guest of one of the town's attornies and his family for these four days. I've made fast friends with Adina the red cocker spaniel (who immediatley sensed I was a doggie pushover and would bend to her every whim).

In less exciting news I seem also to have cracked the sole of my sneaker so that my right foot can get wet from the bottom up. So random.... but it means that I will have to go shoe shopping because the liklihood of us having rain free days for the next two and a half weeks is slim to none. Fall in Denmark means rain and wind.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Catching up on Grenaa

Since we are about to depart Grenaa, an update on just what I have been up to. Our four days here have included two presentations to the Rotary Clubs, a visit to Terma, Technologika Institut, Martin Entertainment, and a day today visiting an 8th grade class in a regular school, a school for handicapped and austistic children, and a juvinille rehabilitation center (the danish version of juvie hall).

The time at Terma (who is integral to the new F-35 fighter jet as well as other air engineering projects), Technilogica Institut (who does rapid prototyping and compliance testing) and Martin Entertainment (they light the biggest entertainment venues and shows in the world like the olympics), was certainly the highlight of the vocational activities here. I totally got to geek out.

The time at the regular school was neat. The 8th graders were very excited to meet real americans and we got to explain how our schooling works. They could hardly beleive my schools had over 800 students at them. For students who attend all their years with the same 30 people, the numbers in american schools and classrooms are difficult to comprehend.

Our visit to the youth "jail" and that term can only be used very very loosley, was a bit disturbing. The facilities were nicer than those used by the students who had never committed a heinous crime. Non violent crimes harldy warrant any action at all for offenders under 18, so to even get to go to the luxury hotel "jail" one must do something pretty bad. We were shown a study that 81% of the youths who are sent to such centers return to a criminal life. The system obviously doesnt work. No effort is made to convince the inmates they have committed any wrongdoing or that they should be sorry for what they did. The system is supposed to support the human rights of the inmates, yet it prevents the victims of the crimes they comit from ever receiving justice. Sooooo, who's rights are really at risk?

On a bright note, the school for the handicapped was well equipped and progressive in their care. If only the money from the jail expendetures was going to the handicapped chidlren and the normal school children to help their schools and programs.

Monday, September 13, 2010