Friday, July 23, 2010

Even in Burlington, Vermont

Three or four summers ago –long ago to put it simply-I sat up on Mount Philo in Charlotte, Vermont and looked out over this scene.  Lake Champlain and beyond that out of sight the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and directly below me many large and expensive homes on broad expanses of grass

A beautiful view, every day, but I had other thoughts arising from the fact that I live in Sweden where the word “bergvaerme” (geothermal energy from bedrock) is a household word. Why so? Because in a country of 9 million people there are to date 370,000 geothermal energy systems in use. "Only in Sweden", I thought.

My next thought was: “I’ll bet that all of these expensive homes are heated by oil or natural gas.” Why so, if the USA is in such great need of freeing itself from fossil fuel dependence.?

 I wrote a letter to the Burlington Free Press (BFP) and sent Emails to five University of Vermont Professors. My suggestion that geothermal might be an alternative was ridiculed in the BFP. No professor answered my Email. Geothermal?  “Never in Vermont” apparently

In my city in Sweden, Linkoeping, the oil burner is practically extinct. My home, like most, is heated by hot water piped from a high-tech municipal waste incinerator. My neighbor’s home, like many others is heated  by closed-loop geothermal.

Now  these many years later there are small signs of hope blowing in the wind – no wind turbines below Mount Philo, you may have noted. The most visible sign of hope came from an initiative taken by the Senator from Vermont, the honorable Bernie Sanders who held a forum in 2010 where geothermal was mentioned for the first time. But talk is not action.

And then, in this the summer of 2010, I found two signs of actions taken. 

The first I discovered – thanks to my UVM daughter number one – was the well hidden existence of a geothermal system at the Vermont Vietnam Memorial on Route I-89 just after you enter Vermont from New Hampshire. Here it is. Have you been there?

If you have I will bet you never knew that the beautiful building is cooled and heated by geothermal energy. No oil, no wind turbine, no chimney, no smoke -  a geothermal system is invisible. You won’t learn much about geothermal there, but maybe that can change. “Never in Sweden” a welcoming rest place with free coffee,  I might add.

But now, July 2010, Eureka. I visited  Champlain College in Burlington and found a professor to whom I posed this question: “Do you know where the geothermal project is. He (Name to be added if I can find his card) said, yes, follow me, after a short walk he pointed to this building, Perry Hall, soon to be the new Admissions Office complete with brand new geothermal  system. Nice place. Cool in the both the  geothermal sense and the vernacular.

Today I close by showing you the two essential elements of a geothermal system used here (open-loop system is the term). More  another day. 
In looking at these two small elements you will realize, I hope, why geothermal goes unnoticed and unremarked. On the left, the source well, with the bottom deep in the bedrock below the site. Cool water is pumped up from this well and into the heat exchanger and heat pump system in the basement of Perry Hall.

On the right, the return well through which the slightly warmer water is returned to the bedrock.  

Water in, water out. More another day. It works. In Perry Hall, at least, the oil burner is extinct. And in signing off, thanks to Michel George of Champlain College who in good time will tell you the whole story at the Champlain College web site. And if any UVM Professor reads this, Why not "Even at UVM"?

Footnote added 24 July 2010 The Champlain College web site has a complete photo album on Perry Hall but no photos of the geothermal system. Therefore the two above can serve as a complement and soon additional photos in a new post on the system inside. The URL is:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On July 14th , if you read New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s column Seduction, Slavery and Sex, you were quickly be led to not one but two Only in Sweden phenomena of interest to columnist Kristof.

His opening line? “Against all odds, this year’s publishing sensation is a trio of thrillers by a dead Swede relating tangentially to human trafficking and sexual abuse. ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ series tops the best-seller lists (in the USA)”

You do not know what and who he is referring to?

Here is some help. Walk into your nearest Borders Bookstore and here is what you may see (what I saw in June in Borders in Burlington, Vermont). THE TRIO!

And, if you have not met the heroine of the novels and the films then here she is, Lisbeth Salander in the (Swedish) films, Noomi Rapace as actress and Swedish citizen.


He continues by noting that “ A trio of best-selling Swedish novels, along with legislation, are shining a light on human trafficking and prostitution”. He neglects to mention that trafficking in Sweden was first put in the spotlight by the Lucas Moodyson (also Swedish citizen) film Lilja 4-ever. But what about the legislation?

The legislation to which he calls our attention is the “sexkoepslagen” The law dealing with payment for sexual services. Since he realizes that few women who have been trafficked have the resources and the will to deal with abusers as Lisbeth Salander does, he recommends that legislators in the USA and elsewhere consider adopting the Swedish law as a step toward decreasing trafficking.

Many of the 162 readers agree with him and express in their comments their strong support for taking such action. As one of the 162, and as far as I can tell the only one writing from Sweden, I support his goal but suggest that much more careful examination of the effects of the law are needed before taking such action.
The law says that it is a criminal offense to pay for sexual services. This in contrast with an older view that it is a criminal offense to sell such services. The law has been in effect since 1999. The question is the same as with all well intentioned laws – has it significantly decreased prostitution or more specifically trafficking? Kristof says that it has but cites no sources.

A counter view is widely held, one that says that the law simply motivated sellers and buyers to move even more quickly from the street to the internet. I cannot provide sources at this writing providing data, but I take this opportunity to call attention to a serious study of the larger subject, prostitution in Sweden, a study that undoubtedly bears upon the law against the selling of sex and on trafficking.

First the study, then a closing note on a current court case.

The study is a Ph.D. dissertation with title (in translation from the Swedish) “Is sex work? Swedish and German Prostitution Politics Since the 1970s.” The author is German-born Susanne Dodillet who now holds a Ph. D. from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden after successfully defending her dissertation in 2009.

As I understand from the extensive coverage of her dissertation, she is convinced that her research shows that the German policy of legalizing prostitution is the better approach to dealing with both trafficking and the abuse of women who sell sexual services.

(She has kindly provided me with an eBook of her dissertation, which is some 600 plus pages long, so I eventually can correct the simple assertion above.) Since her dissertation is in Swedish, anyone interested in learning more must turn to possible future publications in the peer reviewed English language literature or contact her directly.

The goal of this post is in principle to note that Kristof and readers seem to have an overly optimistic view of the beneficial effects of the Swedish sex law. In my experience, especially before I moved to Sweden in 1996, I all too often held such optimistic views about human behavior in Sweden.

There is at this time a case that went to trial on July 5th in Sundsvall, Sweden, that is already shaping renewed discussion of the sex for pay law. A man has been held for managing the sale of sexual services provided by five women for at least 400 men, all via the internet. Here are 400 men each of whom potentially could have been charged under the law but who, of course, were not. What conclusions might be drawn about the effectiveness of the law from this case? We shall see.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yes, Only in Sweden finns the Magnum Gold Ice Cream Bar

If you have read the last two or three, you understand the theme. Some things happen Only in Sweden, others Never, things such as the masterful playing of fine music on the street.

Men eftersom det är fredag kväll på den dagen då man ropar högt TGIF tänker jag visa alla något som bidrar till ett fint firande av TGIF, något som finns Only in Sweden.

The object of my affection, which contributes so much to celebrating TGIF is called Magnum Gold, created just for the Summer of 2010. So look at the picture, and, if you happen to be on the - in this case - wrong side of the Atlantic, eat your heart out.

Or better yet, contact the manufacturer and open a franchise in the US of A.

Here it is, with its more ordinary partner, whose name I have never mastered. And now that Friday the 23d has passed, I can reveal to you what is inside these packages. It is true that svenskheten (Swedishness, a beloved concept in the debate section of newspapers) really requires the consumption of large amounts of alcohol on Friday night.

But since I am Swedish in name only, my excess is in the consumption of the two forms of ice cream shown in the pics to the right. In the Hokanson, Jaederqvist, and Lundgren families  who emigrated to America in the 1870s, svenskeheten was synonymous with being absolutist, which means the total avoidance of alcohol. Thus every Sunday was celebrated at my great aunt Hokanson's house by indulging in the consumption of 10 different kinds of ice cream. I keep that tradition alive, but only on Fridays.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Linköping 8 juli - tystnaden och tomheten

Jag antar att du som kan läsa svenska har tittat på föregående post (Church Street 4th of July) från Burlington, Vermont. Om du inte gjort det föreslår jag att du först titta på dem. Bilderna visar vad man upplever där sju dagar i veckan fast med nya musiker - för att inte prata om Break Dancers - varje dag. Jag kommer att visa Break Dancers i en ny post inom dem närmaste dagarna. Jag tillbringade 3 veckor i Burlington.

Tillbaka i staden Linköping där jag bor i Sverige gick jag direkt till Centrum för att se vilka som spelar där.

Två bilder tagna på samma dagstid som dem i Burlington talar sitt eget språk, därför behöver jag inte skriva mer.

                                          Gyllentorget kl. 16.10 8 juli 2010 - Linköping, Sverige

                                        Trädgårdstorget kl. 16.00 8 juli 2010 Linköping, Sverige

Monday, July 5, 2010

Church Street - "Doing" on the 4th of July

Yesterday I wrote that what I want to do is show what people are doing on Church Street and who is there on  Church Street. Here is a moment on time on the 4th of July, a moment lasting long enough for me to move from one point to another. More slowly than normal, I might add, thanks to a protesting thigh muscle damaged in the Clarence Demar Memorial 5 km race in South Hero earlier in the day - 8:30 AM to be exact.

So let's get down on Church Street, seen from Brueggers Bagels at a rare instant of pedestrian free pavement. To my left at that moment was a very fine guitarist (Eric LaFave)  playing his own music entirely for his own pleasure - and ours. A bit further along the street we are in another musical world, that of Johan Sebastian Bach played from memory by a very young violinist.

Eric LaFave suggested that I also wander up or down Church Street to find an accordion player he thought well of. Up around Borders Books I found a fine accordion player although apparently not the one he had in mind.

Here is a "For the 4th of July All American Accordion Player with Ten Gallon Hat". Having just finished a rousing Stars and Stripes Forever complete with the closing piccolo line she moved on to Irving Berlin, Dancing Cheek to Cheek. A song like that from the American Songbook does not leave people unmoved, as you see here from a dancing duo who had no truck with that "Cheek to Cheek" approach.
I myself would rather have been dancing than photographing but photographing gave me the chance to close by showing you two of the many attentive listeners and watchers. 

Only a small figure here in the background, a woman who came to the USA from Cambodia via Vietnam twenty years earlier, finding herself on the 4th of July in Burlington with a very small child as attentive as anyone else at this end of Church Street.     
Here she is, small child born in the USA!

Closing notes. Anyone who is shown here and wishes to have his or her picture removed let me know.

And, as you can see, I am not yet conversant with formatting within blogspot. The layout I see as I write isnot the layout I will see in Preview and therefore not in the posted form. So bear with me, I can only improve "eller?"                                                                                                                                                     .

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Doing and being

As you may have figured out, I am photographing life in Burlington as seen on the street and in the parks. You cannot have figured out that back in Linkoeping, Sweden I will do the same thing at the same times daytime and early evening in Linkoepings corresponding public places.

There are two or three things on my mind, as you may also have figured out. Here are two.

What's happening?
What is going on out there? What are people doing on a Friday and Saturday in a small city in America?
Who's there?
Who are the people out there? Bystanders, watchers, performers - people

Here are samples. Then I am on my way back. No time to be hanging out creating blog posts but a sample might be worthwhile.

Here is Sid, 14 years old. Playing Miles Davis Four, for example.

Here is a face, on paper. The original will be revealed tomorrow, perhaps.

And to close this off for the afternoon, here is a face and a bass.

American faces, American music - Only fitting given that it is the 4th of July tomorrow. I will celebrate early since the Clarence Demar Memorial Race takes place in South Hero at 8 AM.

Stay tuned.
July 2d - Let Me Count the Ways Continued.

In the beginning of July 2, I found Michel George of Champlain College in a transformed ice house on Battery Street. More about that another day. On leaving the Ice House, I was faced with this question- What's your passion?

I won't transcribe what I wrote but the words are the skeleton of a text on counting the ways.

Friday night on Church Street defies description. Images not yet edited will tell part of the story sometime. They will help to tell the story answering the question "What is the central experience that life in the USA, at least Church Street USA, offers that is an alternative definition of American Exceptionalism?" Not to worry, no pedagogy tonight.

Here you simply see the place to which I retreat when sensory overload threatens. Muddy Waters Coffee House on a Friday night at about 8 PM - three people, one of them in the middle with Sicilian background supplemented by St. George backup, who asked the simple question, "What pictures have you been taking?" The answer will begin tomorrow.

For the present, just wish yourself to be in this picture and say to the man in the middle "Small dark here."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

I promised on the 19th of June to start writing and now on July 1 I understand that I will have to go into retirement to write everything that I want to tell the world (my one blog reader, if that). The Sufi "mystic" Rumi wrote in Farsi (Persian) that there are a hundred ways to pray, and English speaking poets have taken the liberty to express that as "There are a hundred ways to kiss the earth."

In a sense, they are one and the same statement as I hope you can see from my annual homage to my mountain, Camels Hump Mountain in Vermont. The picture was taken today at the summit but the wind was blowing so hard and the rain was driving horizontally that I only had one chance and had to take shelter a bit lower down.

That is one of the ways I love Vermont or being in Vermont.

Another way I love Vermont is that in Burlington, Vermont, I am given endless opportunities to enjoy environments like this one, Speeder Earls Coffee on Pine Street. Never in Sweden, sadly.

And here at Speeder Earls I take chances and occasionally ask a question as I did just now - no picture. A woman was engaged in discussion with two young women with magnificent corn rows (there may be a more accurate name but that is the best I can do) who looked as if they might have African roots in the sense that they, unlike the standard African-American, were born there. I asked and I was rewarded. The three were discussing something planned - perhaps - by the Vermont Multicultural Alliance for Democracy. My question always is - What languages do you speak? Here part of the answer was French, Swahili, English, and ?. Now you, my lonely reader can place them in the country to which NPR has devoted much of its day, the country freed from King Leopold Fifty years ago. They are not (yet) in the picture.

So let us hope the pictures appear here, then I must leave. But stay tuned!