Thursday, June 30, 2016

Not My Kind of Adventure

Close to the entrance of the Borås Zoo, there is an Adventure Park. Personally I get dizzy just by looking up at it, and it would not even enter my head to try and get up there myself to try the opposite perspective! (It will be more than enough adventure for me if I dare try the new entrance bridge to the Zoo when that is opened, however stable that might be. Click on the link above to see an earlier post about that.)

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I’ll be linking to Good Fences – even if I have my personal doubts about the fences in this case being anywhere near good enough!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Piece of Cake

2016-06-29 Borås 365 år

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Today was the 395th anniversary of the official founding of the city where I live (Borås), and, as has become a tradition, it was celebrated with free cake for everyone attending the ceremony in  the city centre at noon.  (This being lunchtime for many people working in the city usually means quite a good turnout.)

Speeches are kept short but the ceremony also involves announcing a new “ambassador” for the town every year. Last year it was a an elderly business man, a survivor of WWII concentration camps. This year a young girl, Shahrzad Kiavash. I never heard of her before, but learned a bit about her story now: She came here as a refugee from Iran at age 5. Four years ago she had a septic infection and had to have both her legs amputated. Not only did she survive - last year she managed to partake in a triathlon race!


This image from http://shahrzad.nu

 

Through My Lens

Our World Tuesday

Outdoor Wednesday

 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

¡Buenos días!

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Maybe some of you will remember (at least if I remind you!) that around six weeks ago, I happened to hear about the language app Duolingo, got curious about it, and decided (quite on a whim) “to try a bit of Spanish”, to see how far that method of learning would take me, in, for example, a month or two. I did not set my goal very high – I actually only expected to play with the app for perhaps 30 minutes a day. But in reality, most days during these six weeks I probably ended up spending at least 1-2 hours with it (not all in one go, but for a little while now and then, several times a day).

I also found an old Spanish primer and grammar in my bookcase. My memory has been deceiving me for years to believe that those must have belonged to my mum, who (I thought) might have wanted to learn a few phrases before we went to Spain on a family holiday back in 1967. (I was eleven going on twelve at the time, and all I recall learning back then was to count to ten or twenty - so that I could buy paper dolls in the little shop in the street where we were staying.)

However, when taking a closer look at these books, I found that they were from 1974, so not connected to that holiday. Moreover, it’s definitely my handwriting (and not mum’s) in the ejercisios in the first three chapters of the primer, belonging to a TV/radio distance course. So even though I remember nothing at all about it, I must conclude that I started out with good intentions, but soon gave it up! (1974 was the year when I graduated from senior high and then took a “gap year” working in an office, while still living at home. It was also the year when I got my driving license, and I suspect I found other ways of spending my evenings…)

Now, 40+ years later, I’m happy to report that this time I stuck at it a little bit longer. Still remains to be seen how much further, of course! But in these six weeks, I managed to work my way through all the 14 levels of the Duolingo app (+ quite a lot of repetition in between), and reached “37% fluency”. Have to admit I’m feeling quite proud of myself - even if I do realize that most of my progress has been in passive understanding rather than in active use of the language. (And as for grammar… I think one probably does need some extra time with a grammar book besides Duolingo, to grasp some things properly…)

To celebrate my 40 days introduction, I am now giving myself a serious test of the “understanding” part, though. Yesterday and today I have read the first two chapters of a book which I found free for Kindle in both Spanish and English: Rise of the Dragons / El Despertar de los Dragones by Morgan Rice.

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Rice is an American author of fantasy novels, not Spanish - but never mind! The main idea was to find a book (preferably for free) that I could read in both languages, so that  1/ I can compare, and 2/ if I feel I get stuck, I can still finish the book... I also invested a few dollars in a proper Spanish-English dictionary for Kindle (only need to point at a word on the screen and the English translation / explanation comes up).

So far I’m actually getting along rather well, even if  at a very slow pace … What I did was to read the whole first chapter in Spanish (and really making efforts to understand); and then the same chapter in English. Same procedure with the second chapter today. Of course there were details I missed or got a little bit wrong. But on the whole, I am surprised (and encouraged!) at how much I actually do manage to understand – and also at how much of the vocabulary learned from Duolingo came in useful.

After having gone through all the levels of Spanish, I have also (the last few days) tried a bit of French (which I did learn for five years at school back in my teens but have hardly used since). I’m not sure whether it’s me or the app, but so far I’m finding the French version more boring than the Spanish one. Not because I’m sailing through it (rather the opposite – I’m a bit shocked at how much I’ve forgotten) but because of the content. Seriously: I’ve never been to France. But if anyone reading this has more intimate knowledge of that country, can you please tell me: How many Frenchmen nowadays have a pig? And how many of those who do happen to have one, carries it around with them? And if so – why? Because they only seem to lose it, and then have to go looking for it, and… (…)

So, getting a bit bored with French pigs, I switched to Welsh, just out of curiosity, because I’ve always been fascinated with it (ever since family holidays in Britain in the 1970s) and thinking that it must be such a hard language to learn. I still suspect that it is. But I do quite like the introductory approach Duolingo is taking to it. If ever I go to Wales again I’ll be able to say: Draig dw i (I am a dragon)! 

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(National flag of Wales)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday – Good Fences

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Last weekend my aunt and uncle were in town, and together with them I re-visited some of the exhibits in this year’s sculpture biennale. And learned that sometimes it’s actually worth while giving something a second look – or a closer look.

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Last time I only saw the white picket fence sculpture from some distance,  and then it just looked like…well, a fence! This time I went up close and looked down inside it – and discovered fences within fences – and the whole thing suddenly took on more layers of meaning as well! (Like: How quick we are to judge by first impressions. And how much more there may be to discover beyond – and within – that first impression. And how many layers of defense a person may set up inside themselves. And…)

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And here’s a photo that my aunt took of one of one of the other sculptures (with me behind it). Here it also struck me this time that the ‘speakers’ on top of the ‘mosque pulpit stairs’ resemble satellite TV antennas (of which there are plenty in this area).

Linking to Good Fences

Friday, June 17, 2016

Far Out – Among Bears and Wolves

Friday My Town this week asks us to share “favourite remote places around your town”. Well, not having a car, I very rarely get around to the really remote places… But one of my pretend remote places is the zoo.

In yesterday’s post I showed some photos from the ‘African savannah’. At the opposite end of the zoo, in more typical Swedish nature, we find some of the big animals from our own fauna. I was in luck and happened to be visiting at feeding time for the wolves and the bears.

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The bears waiting expectantly in the back enclosure while staff are spreading snacks for them to find around the outer areas.

In the wild, in summer, our Swedish bears like to eat blueberries. However, when there are no blueberries, they don’t say no to an imported melon instead…

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Daddy Bear also enjoys a swim before his snack.

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Shakin’ it off…

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Joining the rest of the family to see if there’s any more food left.CIMG8825

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The wolves are rather more shy, and really prefer to eat when there aren’t so many humans watching… So they were rather hesitant to come out of the wood to fetch their snack.

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And there’s the prey, down by the river… CIMG8799

I really want it…CIMG8800

No, I daren’t… CIMG8798

Well, if you don’t want it, there are others who do!
(Who’s afraid of a cowardly wolf?!)
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Hey! What’s that thieving magpie up to…CIMG8804

That’s MY meat…CIMG8803

Ha! Got it!CIMG8805 

 

Friday My Town – Far Out

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday – Good Fences

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Last weekend I visited the zoo in my town (Borås). Lots of fences at the zoo, of course… But besides all that are necessary to separate visitors from wild animals (and the animals from wild visitors), they’re now also in the process of building this spectacular new wooden bridge, leading from the entrance straight to the African savannah area. In the future, this bridge will make the whole park more easily accessible for wheelchairs and prams (avoiding the old steep hill). No doubt it will also offer some spectacular views.

But for now, the bridge leads Nowhere! Winking smile

Sharing with Good Fences

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sculpture Biennale–Part 2

As I said in Part 1, some of the works in this year’s sculpture biennale are found in a residential district in town which is usually not much frequented by others than those who live and work there. It is one of the areas in town with a lot of immigrants. Although I’ve been in the neighbourhood sometimes, I have very rarely gone walking in among the high-rise apartment blocks before. Although within walking distance from the city center, this neighbourhood still feels like a suburb.

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▲One of the new sculptures for the biennale is a white picket fence – something we normally associate with small one-family houses with their own garden here. (Untitled, by Sirous Namazi, born in Iran)

On the other hand: In among some other apartment blocks, I also found this picket fence surrounding an urban allotment site. (As far as I know, not considered a sculpture!)▼

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In a park, I caught up with a guided biennale tour at this construction below – which is part of the sculpture biennale ▼

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Flat Field Works (Middelheim Variant #1)

This artwork creates a space that resembles both private and public environments. The pavilion adds a new feature to the park that we can use for a moment’s rest or play, for reading a book, or as a stage. The artist often reflects on the social role of art and how artworks are experienced, both physically and psychologically. Andrea Zittel is best known for her living systems, a multifaceted exploration of what humans need for their survival.  (Text from a sign nearby)

I tagged along with the guided tour to a couple of more sculptures.

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Another untitled piece by the same artist who made the white picket fence. The brochure says: “Shoes and trousers give no clues as to gender, age or ethnicity, so the missing figure remains anonymous. Thereby, we are all invited to identify with the work, and project our own story on it.” – Hmmm… (Suggestions?)

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▲ More tall buildings, and in among those another sculpture, consisting of two opposite sets of stairs. ▼

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These are said to resemble mosque pulpits, and by placing them opposite each other, the artist Mounira al Sohl (born in Libanon) wants to encourage dialogue rather than sermons. Every hour, there is also a song in Arabic played from the pulpits. So we all hung around for a while, awaiting that…

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After that I parted from the guided group (because I was going home, and they were going back in the opposite direction). On my way, I passed by some older blocks of houses which I like for their variety of doorways:

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And on the other side of the street from those, there is one my favourite murals from the street art festival two years ago:

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The area of town we’ve been touring in this post is to the west of the railway. Crossing over the main bridge back to the east side, I took these views. Might as well show them “while we’re here”…

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(looking north)

Having crossed the bridge and the railway station, if you turn left you will find your way to the city center. I, however, will be going in the opposite direction to get back home!

 

Sharing with:
Friday My Town (Meeting Spot) and Skywatch Friday

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