Saturday, August 08, 2009

Interna

My move is slowly making progress. Meanwhile I'm getting increasingly edgy because I haven't had time to do as much as read a single paper for almost a week. I think I have withdrawal symptoms.

I managed to sell almost all of my furniture, except for a lonely armchair that hasn't found a new friend yet. The woman who bought the bed luckily doesn't need it before next month. She agreed to pick it up the day I'm leaving so I won't have to sleep on the floor. I washed and vacuum cleaned the car and put "For Sale" signs in the windows. Today somebody took a testdrive and said he's very interested and will get back to me.

The moving company is scheduled to pick up my stuff in 10 days. From here it goes to the East Coast, on a ship and over to Europe. I'm told the port of first entry will be in the UK. Luckily, unlike in Canada, I don't have to appear in person at customs. (Though customs Canada was more or less a joke. After my household items arrived, I had to appear at customs at the closest airport. A women asked if I had imported any weapons. When I correctly replied "No," she stamped my documents, said "Welcome to Canada," and that was that.)

In the UK the stuff will go back on the road and then I don't know. Moving companies, I had to learn, work in mysterious ways. In particular, they like to collect sufficient stuff to get a truck full. My things don't fill an 18 wheeler, thus they are likely to sit around in various European cities for an undetermined amount of time.

Sorting through my stuff, I found a lot of notes for topics I meant to blog about but then didn't. I also found a napkin ring that I absendmindely played with and then took with me first time we went to dinner at Hannah's. Hannah's used to be the best restaurant around, but it closed recently.

If you have ever been in Waterloo, you will have seen its landmark, a pyramid of barrels in front of the old Seagrams Distillery (which now hosts the Center for International Governance Innovation). It's just opposite Perimeter Institute. The pyramid has been removed in the last days to make place for something called the "Balsillie Centre of Excellence," about to be build there. Residents could come and pick up a barrell, I hear the barrels were gone pretty fast; more than 500 were distributed to members of the community.

Perimeter Institute itself is also in the middle of changes. The constructions for the building extension have begun. Most of the parking lot is closed, fenced and filled with fancy working equipment. It is also the time of the year when new people come in and the expired folks, like me, go out.

I'm sitting in my apartment, surrounded by moving boxes, trash, and piles of unsorted papers. I've cancelled my electricity, water, and internet services. I've handed in my notice to move out. I dealt with the insurances, the automobile club. It feels like I just yesterday opened the bank account, now I'm trying to find a smart way to close it. Inbetween, I'm trying to learn a few words of Swedish. En, tva, tre, fyra, fem, sex, sju, atta, nio, tio. Jag talar bara lite svenska. I haven't figured out yet how to get the little circles over the vowels.

Things are changing. It's kind of comforting this blog stays the same.

41 comments:

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

For someone who likes to make out at times they are a bit unorganized it sound likes you have things well in hand. However it’s unfortunate that Stefan is not with you as to make good on the fine print found in all marriage contracts which is to lift and tote on such occasions :-) All joking aside, I do hope the rest of the move goes smoothly and your things will be waiting for you when you arrive in Stockholm.

Eftersom du kommer till Stockholm, vilket var det sista hemmet av René Descartes är det lämpligt att säga: "Jag tror, så därför jag bee" :-)

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

I did find the wedding photos, but still looking for the documents... I'm sure they are here somewhere...

I'm somewhat suspicious of your Swedish. If I type it into Google translate the result is a grammatically perfect English sentence which means, I guess, that's where it came from ;-)

Ooops - a preview window? Seems to be a new feature. Probably quite handy if the comment section is long.

Vacancy said...

Hi,

My feeling; instability,
I had something same as this a few weeks ago, it's going to "change".

I hope to be comfort and fast ; ),
good luck.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

As I have admitted before, except in emergency situations to being able to read a little French if the English instructions are somehow damaged or lost, I’m ashamedly unilingual. Therefore, you are correct that I Googled the Swedish. However, the weakness of your premise is that regardless of the language I am seldom if ever grammatically correct :-)

Best,

Phil

Uncle Al said...

Good news everybody! The Lutheran Church of Sweden pull up its tent pegs 31 December 1999. Bee need not be dour.

Be careful with "Uff da" - it's Norwegian.

Bee said...

Speaking of Norwegian: A Swedish guy told me "This is Norwegian" supposedly means "This is weird." Anybody knows if that's correct?

Bee said...

Vacancy: Thanks :-)

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

I suppose you know that old joke? Call yourself lucky you're a native English speaker. I wish I was, my life would be much easier. Best,

B.

Jean-Paul Billon said...

I remember in my youth, moving from France to Morocco, than from Morocco to France (before the 80's), and long time later from France to San Francisco (1998) and then back (when the IT bubble burst out). It was both so much excitement and worries and sadness (when I had to leave California). Moving a lot around the world is good for health, you are young, enjoy...

Chris Granade said...

Ah! Now I'm sad that I missed out on seeing the barrel pyramid! Just arrived today, now that it's completely gone.

rillian said...

Good luck with the move! International freight seems to be especially mysterious. Our stuff took almost 3 months each way, from Vancouver to London and back. Which was longer than we were advised, but apparently we had bad luck with many redirections and waiting for containers to fill (and yet it happened twice). I was most amused that the actual transport appeared to be free; it was only when someone touches one's cargo that money is added to the bill.

Of course, Vancouver is much further from Europe than Waterloo; hopefully you will have your effects more promptly!

rillian said...

Oh, and on Macs (US keyboard) it's option-a for å. On linux it's compose-o,a. No idea on Windows.

I'd also written out instructions for ä and ö, but it occurred to me you probably already know how to do umlauts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bee,

I only can say, the way you write you appear a bit sad, which is possible to understand, since you're still not close to Stefan and you may not know what challenges, beside the language, are waiting at you in Stockholm.

Best,

Kay

Thomas Larsson said...

To get ÅÄÖ in Windows, switch to Swedish keybord layout, and press the keys for brackets and braces.

Phil: You translated "Cogito, ergo sum" into "I *believe*, thus I be". Are you religious?

Georg said...

Hello Bee,
I feel very sorry for You. Because I am
of the species which "rules the chaos"
I felt the about 5 "big" moves
in my life extremely unpleasant.
BTW, thanks for the joke, till now
I thought that bilingual meant
"speaking with forked tongue" :=)
Regards
Georg

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Thomas,

Well at best, as with Einstein, I guess you could call me cosmically religious. None the less that’s what I get for trusting google with the translation. However I did, long ago, study Latin for a few years at school, so let’s try it from that direction; although I recall no direct word for bee or can’t find one. Also, it was intended to be a play on words, which only works in English, where ‘Bee’ rather than ‘be’ is replaced for ‘am’. That of course is the trouble with languages as they don’t often translate easily; other then mathematics of course :-)

”Cogito, proinde EGO sum a mellis plasmator”

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

å å å å å å å å å å å å

:-)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Georg,

thought that bilingual meant "speaking with forked tongue" :=)

No the word for that is politician :-)

Best,

Phil

Arun said...

å å å å å å å å å å å å:-)
In English, I suppose that is aaaaaaaaah.

Its what the dentist tells you to say, in Sweden and America, respectively :)

Pope Maledict XVI said...

"I think I have withdrawal symptoms"

Yes, I know that feeling, of suspecting that interesting papers only appear on the arxiv when I am unable to read it. I suppose they must appear *some* time....

On the other hand, I am also familiar with the feeling of joy on those rare occasions when hep-th has fewer than 10 papers, and the corresponding sinking feeling when, as happens all too often these days, there are 18 or 20. I guess this really is addiction: you can't do without it, but basically you hate it..... :-)

By the way, today's word verification is a work of genius: "precac". I'm definitely adopting this word! He looked at the arxiv listings with a precac expression.

Giotis said...

In most cases it is reviving to leave everything behind and move to new places.
It depends though; many people just want to settle down.

Good luck with your new life.

Bee said...

Dear Arun,

Actually, I think the å is not pronounced "aah" but rather "ooh." But as I said I don't speak Swedish, so this is more guessing than knowing. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

“Call yourself lucky you're a native English speaker. I wish I was, my life would be much easier”

I’m not so certain, for if you had secured a posting in England instead of Sweden if this Canuck would fare any better at understanding many of the natives there:-)

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Pope,

Well, I do of course check the arXiv... I just haven't had time to actually read any paper. Most of the papers I usually read though aren't from the daily arXiv listing. I have several piles of articles that I thought would be interesting for one or the other reason, I usually read a couple of them every day. About half of them turn out not to be useful. In any case, I have a strong hesitation to hit "mark all" on the arXiv listing for the reasons you mention. Best,

B.

Georg said...

Actually, I think the å is not pronounced "aah" but rather "ooh."
Hello Bee,
as someone who had a lot of contact to swedes
I assure You, that that
Swedish "a"s are midway between standard
German "a"s and "o"s.
People around Ulm have a similar
"ao".
Regards
Georg

Anonymous said...

Hi Bee,

If you're using an English keyboard, the convention is to double up A for A-overcircle and to add an E for umlauts: ångström ==> aangstroem. (Though this particular case is usually handled by pretending it's "angstrom.")

In general, as a visitor, you can more or less get on in most contexts using English, though it's nicer if you know some Swedish. For what it's worth, a friend who visited Stockholm claimed that she could understand Swedish perfectly well as a form of German once she learned to apply a few phonological transformations. I'd been struck by this myself, since when watching movies it seemed to me you could go some distance towards understanding German starting with Swedish, but I never got very far with it, and a German friend I showed some written Swedish couldn't make it out. In any case, you don't really need to worry about cases, conjugations, and declensions much (though you still do have gender), so you'll have to work that much harder at being grammatically incorrect.

As for Norwegian = weird, there is a certain amount of Swedish humor at the expense of the Norwegians. (Personally, given the history, particularly WW II, I'm on the side of the Norwegians.) Lots of jokes about how Danish is "Swedish spoken with a mouthful of porridge / a throat disease," and while that's a bit rude, it is quite hard for a Swedish speaker to make out spoken Danish. If you see a Danish movie in Stockholm, it will have Swedish subtitles, even though if you used the Danish text everyone would understand it.

Anyway, Stockholm is beautiful and a nice city to live in, and I hope you enjoy your stay.

Regards,

Brian

Arun said...

Dear Bee,

I was merely recalling the humor of Goscinny and Uderzo in Asterix the Gaul; at least in the English version they make foreign languages by adding accents, umlauts and so on to standard English spellings :)

-Arun

Thomas Larsson said...

Kurze Einführung zur schwedischen Vokalen.

e, i, ä, ö are pronounced as in German. Although people in Stockholm sometimes pronounce ä as e.
a is pronounced as German a, if short; a long a is mixed with å.
å is pronounced as German o.
o is pronounced as German u, but a short o is the same as å.
y is pronounced as German ü.
u cannot be pronounced by foreigners (not after the age of ten anyway).

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee - Will they let you take one of the potholes as a momento?

The car will be the hardest thing to sell..everyone is interested and they all want it for a tenth of what it is worth. Have you tried selling it to someone at the Institute?

Arun said...

Anonymous Snowboarder - Sorry, I believe carrying a pothole will cause her to exceed her baggage allowance.

:)

Bee said...

Shouldn't the hole have negative mass? I mean, if I add it to a street there will be something missing.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I can just see you now, standing in front of Swedish customs explaining to them you didn’t declare the pothole since it amounted to being less than nothing:-)

Best,

Phil

Arun said...

Hi Bee,

Potholes no more have negative mass than Blackholes. :)

-A

Georg said...

Hello Bee,
I am looking forward to Your
report on swedish potholes
next springtime.
(If there are any)
Regards
Georg

Arun said...

The idiom "the pot calling the kettle black" points to the existence of kettle holes.

Bee said...

George: I'll make sure to document every pothole that crosses my way :-)

Bee said...

Hi Thomas,

Thanks! It's roughly what I thought. I'll try to stay clear of the u's :-) Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Brian,

As much as I can tell Swedish isn't very close to German (except possibly for some of the umlauts), but if you know German and English, you can guess a lot of words. Take as example part of the sentence Phil used above

"Eftersom du kommer till Stockholm"

"efter" is very similar to the English "after," the Swedish "du" is the same as the German "du," and the German word for "kommer" would be "kommen" I think (or maybe "ankommen"). Other words however don't have any resemblance with neither the German nor the English translation, eg "vilken," (welche/which), or sju (sieben, seven). So I think without some pieces of vocabulary one doesn't get very far. It's sufficient to read signs and and guess product descriptions, but that's about it. In addition, I find it very hard to understand Swedish when I hear it, but I guess it will get better over time. It's the same problem I had with French initially. If you can't tell where one word ends and the next one starts it's hard to apply what little vocabulary one has. Best,

B.

Arun said...

Dear Bee,

Just putting the question here in case someone cares to answer.

http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.0416
Robert M Wald, The Formulation of QFT in Curved Spacetime.

"The requirement that an operator product expansion exists and must satisfy a list of suitable properties appears to provde an appropriate replacement for the requirement of the existence of a Poincare invariant state. In particular, the distributional coefficients of the identity elemenet in OPE expansions play much of the role played by "vacuum expectation values" in Minkowski spacetime QFT."

Question - how does one formulate symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism in this formalism?

Thanks in advance!

Åka said...

Hello! I just made the move from Canada to Sweden myself (arrived less than a week ago). It was stressful, but I like being here. For us, of course, this is moving back home. The weather is nice, cooler here than at the shore of Lake Ontario!

We reduced the stuff for a family of four to six suitcases plus three boxes. I think that's pretty well done. We got the suitcases with us on the plane, but we are still waiting for the boxes.

Swedish is actually fairly closely related to German. I found it relatively easy to learn German in school (but I forgot much since then unfortunately).

Bee said...

Hi Aka,
Reducing all your stuff to some suitcases plus 3 boxes is indeed a remarkable achievement! Best,

B.