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I haven't posted to any of my blogs for a while now. Things aren't really busy, just spread out enough so that I don't have a good block of time to sit down at the computer and process photos, or formulate any coherent thoughts about sustainability. I do have lots I want to write about on the sustainability blog, but I somehow feel compelled to put up some background info first, about what I am studying, and what is leading my to the more abstract, roaming thoughts I really want to explore. When it comes to simply regurgitating the info from class or from the book however, I find myself either bored or lacking confidence in my explanation. It's a real shame considering the quality of lecturers we have and will have, including the former president of Volvo and Ikea US who we have for the next three days. I also want to set a good example for the few others that i have convinced to start a blog as well.

I went to Lund this weekend to pick up some packages I had mailed from Japan over two months ago. despite being promised that they would arrive in a month, they only arrived last week. Inside them is my kayak. I was pretty piffed off to find that when I arrived back home in Karlskrona, one of the boxes holding important kayak parts had not yet arrived to my sister's place in Lund (I used her address because I didn't know what mine would be). I mailed them all at the same time, and I really don't know why only this one would be late. If it doesn't arrive it will screw my entire year, as I was planning to take my kayak up the east coast of Sweden next summer for a month once school is out.

My Swedish is coming along. I am meeting a great "speech tutor" three times a week, which is about the only time I really get a chance to speak Swedish for now. My hope is that after another month or so of this, I will be good enough that the other Swedes wont switch to English so soon. I'm not sure if I will meet the goal however, considering that I have not really had time to study on my own as much as I would like.

In fact, I am really disappointed in my whole time management skills since I got here. I was hoping that, since I usually only have classes in the mornings, I would have lots of time to read and research a lot about what I am studying, study Swedish on the side, go to the gym a couple days a week, and kayak once or twice on the weekends. Somehow none of that seems to be happening as much as I would like, but I can't think of where the time is going.

Canons and Kids
There Stands The Glass


There Stands the Glass
(Webb Pierce)

There stands the glass
Fill it up to the brim
'Til my troubles grow dim
It's my first one today

There stands the glass
That will ease all my pain
Make me forget your name
It's my first one today

I wonder where you are tonight
I wonder if you are all right
I wonder if you think of me
In my misery

There stands the glass
That will open the door
Like it once did before
It's my first one today

There stands the glass
Oh, how it beckons to me
How I long to be free
It's my first one today

I wonder where you are tonight
I wonder if you are all right
I wonder if you think of me
In my misery

There stands the glass
That will sure ease my mind
And will put you behind
It's my first one today

There stands the glass...

Out to Dry
Ferry Ride

The city has a free ferry that runs back and forth to Aspo once an hour.

Aspo

A little island which lies about a 30 min ferry ride from downtown Karlskrona.

When does religion become science?

At sustainability.bastish.net, Kevin (that's me) is confused about whether what he is learning is a religion, or a science. In the strictest sense, it is based on sound science which knows how ecosystems work, and what can destroy them, but in a social sense, it appears more like a religion because the science has not yet been fully accepted by the public.

I am not sure if it is a lack of understanding on my part, or because this is something that can only be understood by a believer.

There are enough "scientists" out there preaching politically motivated values, that doubt is created, despite our best instincts. As a result, instead of basing our views on science, we are freer to base it on our own mental frames and understanding of the world.

At what point does science differ from religion? Is it only when the science is overwhelmingly accepted? So long as *enough* people refuse to accept a truth, it will be always be considered simply a "view" or "belief". I hate to go back to the overused "flat world / round world" argument, but where was the tipping point that believing in a round world cease to be a "belief", and come to be accepted as fact?

Singapore Chairs

On the way to Sweden I had a 12 hour layover in Singapore, so I hit the streets with my camera.

Things are settling down. I joined a gym today. Another $30 / month I had hoped not to spend, but I look at as actually saving money. If I am working out at the gym, it is an extra hour or two that I am not drinking beer, and the beer costs more.

I am happy to finally be really using Swedish. The other day I struggled though a conversation with the staff of the second hand store who spoke no English (surprisingly). I was buying a pressure cooker that looked a little broken, but I wasn't sure. It took about five minutes, but we determined that it was not broken, but if I got home and it didn't work, they would buy it back from me anyway.

It's giving me a little more confidence to speak Swedish with people who *do* speak English. That is actually one of the reasons I broke in and joined the gym. The staff there are the first people who didn't switch to English even though they could have, and it would have made the whole process easier for them. It really left me feeling good about the whole experience.

Some negative aspects of living here.... This weekend my sister and her boyfriend came from Lund to visit. We went out to the bar, and I finally visited the blackjack table in the corner of all bars. I had been eyeing it since I got here, but so far resisted. I am not a fan of betting on sports games or poker, or horse races, but I really love to play black-jack. Needless to say, I lost the money I would need to go to the bar and just get a beer next week. It wasn't so much, but I have to be really careful next time.

Sustainability.bastish.net

I have never really written much about what exactly I am doing here in Sweden. Mostly because I wasn't sure I really understood. I am in a Masters Program called "Strategic Leadership Toward Sustainability", but when people ask, I generally say "environmental studies", which isn't exactly correct, but I think it fits more into the frames of understanding that most people can relate with.

One of the overly-ambitious projects I had started several months ago, but never made live, was to to write a blog which followed my own self-study in the area of environmental science and sustainability. The blog had a few posts, but never took off for several reasons.

  1. I was too busy making money. I had more work than I anticipated after "quitting" my job last November.
  2. The subject was too overwhelming. While I did have more time to read and study than before I quit, I was learning so much. I would start what was supposed to be a short blog article, but I would over-research it, and the articles never reached a point where I felt it was complete, because I wanted to convey everything I was learning.
  3. Insecurity. I'm not an intellectual writer. I don't use big words (but at least I can use bigger words than the president) and I felt incredibly insecure writing about such an important topic. I wanted what I wrote to be more factual and less emotional ranting that tends to take over important issues. I wanted to present scientific facts for people to read, without giving the feeling that I was preaching a new religion. I felt that in order to be taken seriously, I had to write like a professor... something I'm not used to.

Well, I am still pretty busy, but at least now writing a blog about this is much more closely tied in with my "job" as a student. The subject is still overwhelming, but being around others to discuss it with will hopefully allow me to focus a bit more. I am still incredibly insecure, but one thing I really want to do while I am here is to get all forty of my classmates to begin writing as well. I can't really ask them to do it if I don't.

There are so many blogs about the war, or criticizing the president, or the latest gadgets from Apple, but so few writing about the big picture. While some of these are very important parts of the whole, and have huge repercussions, If we destroy the very system that keeps us alive, whatever happens in Iraq wont matter, whoever is president wont matter, bad copyright laws wont matter, and certainly the coolest new iPod wont matter.



I have written a little in the past about why people don't seem to care, or take the time to read about environmental issues, and one comment that stuck out was when Paul wrote

so you should start a blog and make me read it a bit everyday day as well as talk to me more about those issues. I would read it. but can t read the book. I read blogs cos I have some time at work and am in front of a computer but can t just pull out a book at work and don t commute cos I leave 10 mins from work by bicyle. and don t read when I get home...

So, a few months later, I have started doing just that. Sustainability.Bastish.net The pressure is on *you* now Paul. I expect to see at least one bloglines referrer in my log file each day ;)

I will be following my studies, as well as trying to cover some of the fundamental scientific points of sustainability, both reviewing and further researching what led me here in the first place, as well as hopefully giving the reader regular bite-sized doses so they can read it at work.

I have spent only 20 minutes on the design, so if it looks crappy in your browser, let me know. I am using Textpattern for the first time, so I don't know how to do cool stuff like make a list of the recent posts on the left-hand navigation, so if you know, tell me. I would rather spend my time on the subject than the technical stuff this time around.

Karlskrona

I am finally catching up. Until now, the photos have been from the first week I arrived in Sweden, in which I visited my sister in Lund, and then traveled with my family for a week.

The photos from today, however, will come mostly from Karlskrona, the small city I live in the the southern coast of Sweden. Pictured above are the waters where I have been kayaking so much lately.

Family at Castle

Mom, dad, sister, sister's boyfriend, cannons.

I have been kayaking again now several times. I really wish I could take my camera with me, but there is no way I'm letting it get near the water.

Wednesday night was beautiful, calm, relatively warm, the sun setting as we come across an old ship right out of an old pirate movie. It was just amazing floating out there at water level as this big boat sailed by. I saw some really great photos in patterns cast by the dusky shadows of the ropes and sails.

Yesterday also, the wind was a little stiff, but just enough to make us work when we were out in the open, and just enough to make us really glad when we would find a calmer, sheltered spot. I was out there for four hours yesterday, and I could have stayed out four more.

I can't think of the last time I felt "ok" to be doing something for so long without feeling like I should be reading or working or taking a picture or studying. Even going for a long bike-ride through the country I always feel like I have to get more value out of the time by doing something else... usually taking photos, but also glancing down at a vocabulary list every once in a while to study. It's great not to feel like I have to multi-task.

I think I have to move someplace like this.

Other People's Photos

Because I don't have any photos ready to post, please enjoy these photos taken by Oli Studholme of Boblet.net. I was looking through his photos, and felt moved to play with them in Photoshop a bit. These are the results (posted with his permission of course).

Holding Back Tears

Today was the first real lecture. No more of this getting to know each other crap (that was sarcastic.. I loved the getting to know each other crap). Our lecturer was Karl Henrik, the founder of the Natural Step, which we are all here to study, and there were several times where I fought the tears. I was just so happy to finally be among a group that felt like I felt, and hearing his inspirational talk about his experience, and how The Natural Step has helped companies become better corporate citizens. Helped people inside the companies integrate their own human values into their work, and still make a profit. This is the most exciting thing I have ever done. All 50 of us are an experiment of sorts, and I am amazed that I get to be a part of it.

He talked about how even a week before the Berlin wall fell, there were meetings of dissidents who would get together discussing the usual topics, probably filled with doubts, thinking it was hopeless, because no one seemed to care.... no idea that a week week later, somehow, something would reach a critical mass, a tipping point, and two weeks later, an entire way of thinking had been toppled.

It is inspiring first of all to be with 50 people who recognize and care about the way we are destroying the very system that gives us life. And even more so to think that any day, month, year now, a tipping point could occur, and even without total consensus among all the people of the world, (Karl Henrik presented 11% of the population as the "tipping point") the whole system could change.

He talked about Ikea, the first adopter of The Natural Step, he talked about McDonald's Sweden, whose CEO, after following the Natural Step, called him up one day to ask "Does the world really need hamburgers?"

I can't express how great this is. I realize I am still in the "honeymoon phase" of the program, the period where everything looks great, and we love all our classmates/co-workers. but I have moved around enough to realize that this this "honeymoon phase" is much different than anything I have ever experienced.

There is so much more I would say, but I am soo late for an appointment. I am in the process of getting a new blog going that is sharing the specifics of what we are learning. The link will be here soon. I am also hoping to get as many of the 50 classmates set up with their own blogs to share their views as well.

Oh yeah... I also met the Crown Princess of Sweden today. She was here attending the lecture. I have a photo of her and a friend which I will post some day in the future. (not bad looking... not bad at all. - the Crown Princess I mean.. the friend is so-so.)

fantasy come true

In high school I had daydreams of running into someone Swedish on the street so I could try out the Swedish I had spent so long studying in the summer. That never happened. In university, I was in a boating store one day looking at and dreaming about sailboats, when I saw a sea-kayak for the first time. From that day on I all but forgot about sailboats, and have had dreams of kayaking into the sunset, surrounded by nothing but trees and nature. That happened a few times, but my dream then changed to living someplace were I could do that whenever I wanted. When I started working, I read business books and had dreams of working with a competent group of smart, ambitious people, people who shared a common goal which we all cared about, working great together as a team. That never happened. A few years ago I started having day-dreams of being more-or-less my own boss, working on my own schedule, only taking on as much as I wanted.

This morning I woke up early, logged on to chat with a client in Japan, did a little work before I called it quits and headed to class where fifty smart, ambitions people who share a common goal which we all care deeply about worked together on a group project with little or no problems. It was a simple introductory project, but the energy was amazing. I finally know what it feels like to work as a team with people I can trust. After class, I came back, did a little more work, before heading out by bike to the local kayak club where we paddled around the beautiful archipelago I live on. We paddled for two hours literally into the sunset, all the while as I practiced my Swedish (I practiced listening more than speaking, but...)

It's amazing how so many dreams have suddenly come true, and to think, just a year ago I was miserable with my job and my life (other than Tomoe). So what do I have daydreams about now? Are my current daydreams an indication of what is to come... even if it takes ten more years?

Now I have daydreams of living exactly this life, (except in the dream I am no longer in school, I am working for myself full time) here in Karlskrona, or somewhere just like it, with my Kayak, and the birds, and Tomoe, in one of the many little houses on one of the many little surrounding islands.

Stockholm

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