Archive for August, 2007

Cycling induction

0102095076900.jpgI could have done with some cycling lessons when I first came to Copenhagen. The last time I cycled, was around a safe suburban lawn on trainer wheels and I was unsteady as a beginner type-rope-walker.

Coming down Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen on rush-hour morning was my first induction into cycling and it quickly (with a jolt) pulled me up to speed. ‘Foreigner with innate tenancies to veer to the left-side, just about causes collision with passing commuters one fine Autumn morning and receives verbal abuse for disturbing the general flow’.

For hesitant cyclists arriving in Copenhagen there is a solution. Free cycling lessons are offered by the Danish red cross to teach foreigners how to participate in the fundamental norms and values of Danish society. Its called ‘creative integration ‘according to an article in Speigel Online (thanks to an observant friend here in Denmark who pointed it to me).

role playing

rollespils-icon.jpgThis weekend I have spotted numerous kids on their way to the forest.

Boys frighten damsels with their plastic swords and their goblin-like masks. Girls learn how to be princesses.

Hide and seek with added accessories. Nostalgia and medieval dress-up. Runes, dungeons and dragons.

Roleplaying, it’s organized recreation taken seriously in Denmark. Just type ‘rollespils forenings’ into google and find a group to join. I’m sure if would bore me to tears, but then again I have never tried.


In view of an impending trip to Helsinki next week. I have begun pondering over the meaning of ‘Scandinavia’. What geographical and cultural areas does this term actually encompass? Apart from an association with blonde hair, blue eyes and liberal (lack of prudishness) attitudes to nudity, it seems there are no real official borders in using this term. Lingistically, it seems to encompass areas where Old Norse was spoken and where the North Germanic languages are now dominant. Thus in addition to the three kingdoms, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Scandinavia also includes Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The name Scandinavia could actually mean “dangerous island”, which is considered to be a reference to the treacherous sandbanks surrounding Scania.

However despite obvious linguistic differences, many sources also include Finland under the Scandinavian umbrella. Furthermore, Åland (an autonomus province of Finland since 1920), Jan Mayen (an integrated geographical body of Norway), Svalbard (under Norwegian sovereignty since 1920) and the vast continent of Greenland ( self governing Danish territory since 1979). Until now, some of these are places I have never heard of.

Despite extensive web searching and investigations, there is no real conclusion on ‘Scandinavia’ and what it encompasses. It could be, and its my suggestion, that it is a term invented by settlers and immigrants that traveled to distant lands. Dislocated from a usual familiarity, they united together as ‘Scandinavians’ to gain a sense of home. The small differences between Nordic relatives that were normally the brunt of jokes back in the homeland didn’t matter anymore to the lonely settlers out on the vast frontier.


wear sunscreen

I was recently moaning about the expectations and disappointments of everyday life to a friend. He told me to listen to this song by Buz Luhrmann. It has stopped my complaining for the time being. 

hvor er min computer?

Your most treasured possession, your primary source of information, your link with the outside world and bridge to communication. Without it, you are nothing, you are unaccountable and fuddled-up seagull that has forgotten how to fly.

After loosing my trusty laptop and six months of work to a diligent thief one evening in July, I’m learning how to return to essentials. Its a steep learning curve but not without the benefit, all of a sudden, of being more self aware.

Danish mood of the day

Today, the news in Denmark seems to be remarking on a more global way of seeing things. Traditional domestic spirits such as Gammel Dansk and Akvavit are being replaced by liquors of ‘foreign’ origin. ‘We want to drink in a more sophisticated manner’ said a researcher interviewed in the Copenhagen post this week.

Furthermore the primeminister Anders Fogh Rasmussen returning from holiday, has proposed a loosening of immigration policies to allow a wider range of employees access to Denmark’s labour market. ‘I don’t envision a Denmark where everybody is the same,’ said Rasmussen. ‘It’s exciting to have a society where people with various backgrounds are here as long as they work, provide for themselves and contribute to Danish society.’

So this is the Danish mood of the day.

Salmonella dub – Ease on by

Whilst on the subject of the warmer days, Salmonella dub springs to mind. Here follows the story of the wandering goat, in search of better pastures…..

Summer days

We have had a small window of sunshine in Copenhagen the last few days so there has been a mass migration to the parks. When I got there too, I spyed through my bicycle spokes.


Opportunity missed

Major scientific journals this week, are again covering the work of the South Korean Scientist who fraudulently claimed in 2005 to have produced stem cells from cloned human embryos.

In fact, what he did inadvertently achieve, was something far less ethically challenging and still with vast therapeutic value; that is to produce stem cells from human eggs alone, and no nasty cloning involved. The eggs are produced by parthenogenesis, or ‘virgin birth’ and without fertilisation by sperm (…more food for thought). It is a form of asexual reproduction found in insects, lizards and sharks, but not naturally in mammals — all the cell’s DNA comes from the mother. Am I loosing you here?

stem_cells.jpgEmbryotic stem cells that are the ‘body’s master cells’ with the potential to differentiate into any cell type in the body. They can be used to replace lost, diseased or aging cells and therefore carry their weight in gold (… or diamonds) for therapeutic disease research. For stem cells to survive however, they need to be genetically matched to the patient. This would mean, in effect, cloning that person, as an embryo— all of which raises difficult ethical questions. The ability to produce stem cells from human eggs alone avoids this problem.

As always, life just doesn’t seem fair. While Hwang awaits trial for admittedly one of the most notorius scientific scandals of our time, other scientists reap the benefits of his breakthough. Nevertheless, your stem cells will be out there, in the future, helping you to overcome whatever life and nature throws at you.

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The WeatherPixie

‘here I collect thoughts and images of Copenhagen, things in the news, share experiences and explore identities; the sorts of things that come to mind when you live abroad and adapt to new surroundings’

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