Max Whirlpool: A tidbit

Max Whirlpool (16) shown immediately after being unplugged, and waiting to be escorted outside of the kitchen, for smoking.

Max Whirlpool (16) has been expelled from the kitchen for smoking. A representative from the kitchen, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is unauthorized to speak on behalf of management, stated: “We practice tough love. There is no discrimination. Any electrical appliance caught smoking will be treated exactly the same way as Whirlpool. It will be removed from service. ” He added that Whirlpool has worked in the kitchen since 2003.

Our next microwave oven will not be a Whirlpool. That is not because of any dissatisfaction with Max, until the smoking incident. It is more related to Whirlpool as a corporation. It does not appear to take the health and safety of consumers seriously. In fact, even when one of its products was clearly to blame for a massive loss of life, 72 people, it attempted to blame others.

Recently, the Guardian reported that the Grenfell fire report “… went further than many expected, as did Moore-Bick’s dismissal of attempts by corporate groups to delay or prevent findings that might count against them, such as the “fanciful” claim by Whirlpool – the manufacturer of the Hotpoint fridge-freezer – that the fire could have been started by a cigarette.”

Earlier, the Guardian had reported on another fire, where MP Andy Slaughter said “… the government should learn from a serious fire in his constituency in 2016, when a faulty Indesit tumble dryer started a blaze in the Shepherds Court tower block in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. Residents escaped with minor injuries. Twenty fire engines and 120 firefighters attended the scene.

The same article cited a letter to UK business secretary Larry Clark, where Slaughter stated “that Whirlpool – which owns both Hotpoint and Indesit brands – had “a poor history of fire safety”.

Wikipedia, in a section titled UK Dryer Fire Risk, in its article about Whirlpool Corporation, writes: “Safety warnings about tumble dryers published on the Indesit and Hotpoint websites in 2015 advised customers that “In some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire.” Condensers and vented tumble dryers sold under the brands Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline and manufactured over an 11-year period between April 2004 and September 2015 present a fire risk. An estimated 5.3 million tumble dryers were bought in the UK over the time period. Originally, and even after several fires were confirmed as being caused by faulty devices, Whirlpool advised customers that using such devices was safe provided they were not left unattended but would not issue a product recall. Whirlpool offered to fix faulty machines or replace tumble dryers at a cost of £99 – an offer met with derision with consumer groups and in the press. Parliament discussed widespread difficulties with getting faulty machines fixed or replaced, including long wait times and poor service.”

Max’s replacement Sam, a Samsung MS23K3515AW purchased for NOK 900, has arrived in Inderøy. We have spent some time learning how to operate Sam. We are looking forward to working with him to serve our modest microwaving needs in the coming years: reheating food/ beverages and defrosting. Sam is originally from Malaysia.


Originally written: 2018.01.01 20:46;Updated 2019.05.03 15:00

20/20 vision is just so 19th century. In many locations it is referred to as 6/6, in Europe as 1.0. Vision acuity tests originate with their invention in 1843 by ophthalmologist Heinrich Kuechler (1811–1873), in Darmstadt, Germany.

Snellen Chart (Artwork: Jeff Dahl, based on public domain document)

In 1862, Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen (1834 – 1908) developed an optotype to estimate visual acuity. Optotype? Most people call it by its synonym, eye chart. In full size, the E at the top will be 88.7 mm (3.5 inches) tall. The other letters are proportionately smaller. When viewed at a distance of 20 feet = 6096 mm, normally rounded down to six meters, acuity can be estimated based on the smallest line a person can read.

In 1888, Swiss born/ Paris resident Edmund Landolt (1846-1926) improved upon this with the Landolt C, a broken ring that uses the Snellen letter C. Both the stroke width and the gap are 1/5 of the diameter. The gap can be oriented in various positions. Normally, there are eight different alignments, each 45° apart. The person being examined must decide where the gap is. The size of the ring is reduced until a specified error rate is exceeded. The Landolt C is the standard chart used for acuity measurement in most European countries. It is specified in ISO standard 8596.

A Landolt C optotype. Not easy to find on the Internet, because many charts only show four positions, rather than the official eight.

In the first paragraph, 20/20 vision (and two equivalents) were referred to. 20/20 is just an American reference value for visual acuity. In the rest of the world this norm was called 6/6 vision. In Europe, they actually perform division on the numbers and end up with 1.0 to describe a condition where, at 6 meters distance, a human eye is able to separate contours that are approximately 1.75 mm apart. Vision of 20/40, 6/12 or 0.5 corresponds to lower, vision of 20/10, 6/3 or 2.0 to better performance.

Normal individuals have an acuity of, or better than, 20/13.3, 6/4 or 1.5, but it is dependent on age and many other factors. 20/20, 6/6 or 1.0 vision is not perfect or even particularly good acuity. It is simply good enough. To drive smaller commercial vehicles in Norway, 20/25, 6/7.5 or 0.8 acuity is required. For passenger vehicles the requirement is 20/40, 6/12 or 0.5.

Special-needs Technology

This weblog post continues the story about men’s sheds. See: Here, the focus is on how a shed can be used so that men can be of service to their community. As this current post is being written, a makerspace is being constructed in Inderøy, and I am looking forward to it becoming part of a world-embracing network. Locally, there are many target groups for this workshop, including that group of men who need a men’s shed. Another target group consists of pupils at Inderøy lower secondary school. Even the local Friends of the Earth group is intending to use the workshop to make controllers for a 15 square meter geodesic dome greenhouse, equipped with hydroponic gardening facilities. Full disclosure: The author is the chairperson of the Inderøy chapter of Friends of the Earth.


People like to be of service to others, as long as they are treated fairly and with respect. At a men’s shed, it would be helpful if participants knew the type of products that people want made, using the technology that is available at the shed or makerspace. This includes, especially, products for people who have special needs, including those who feel they lack the income to keep up with changing pace of technology, or who have unique needs, not normally met with off the shelf components.

With the possession of this information secured, shedders could spend time designing low-cost products, the systems to make them, and the plans to effect their manufacture and distribution. This includes products that can enhance everyone’s enjoyment of life, as well as those that improve the life of just one single person.

While some men may have many of the necessary skill set to design, make and distribute meaningful products, others may have only some or even none of the skills. So a first step is to assess the totality of skills possessed by the men’s shed group, the specific skills each person wants to learn, and what each person wants to do with his current and future skill sets. Just because someone is an expert, or best in a group, does not mean that that person should be selected to do that specific job. Perhaps they should teach others, or learn new skills, or improve old ones.

While the current focus is to get a men’s shed up and running in Inderøy, the great thing about open source development is that development can be forked, separated into two or more branches. Locally, my interest is to ensure that people with mobility issues can have men’s sheds close to them, including in hamlets such as Mosvik (20 km from Straumen) and Beitstad (20 km from Steinkjer). In addition, I am hoping that some of these designs/ products can be of interest to men living further away, so that people can work together on them, regionally or internationally.

This requires complete documentation of each and every project, so that they can be localized. Localization is techno-speak for translating a project into the culture of a different area. For example, a project originating in the Americas, may have to have all dimensions and components metricized for use in Asia. Tools that may be legally used in USA, may be illegal in the EU and Norway, so that substitutes may have to be found. Localization becomes much more than a linguistic translation.


At a men’s shed many different projects will be presented for the contemplation of participants. Some will be so simple, that a single person may be able to start and complete it in a matter of minutes. Others may require the efforts of many different people, over a longer period of time. When several complex projects are available, it is important that the men’s shed community, be able to prioritize, even reject. Sometimes some projects can demand skills that are not available. Sometimes they are too long, or require too many people. Regardless of the project, there must be an overview giving a reliable project timeline for people with specific skills sets, as well as other resources that are needed. In other words, one needs a project plan.

With a project plan one knows where to begin. Yet, not all projects will begin at the same place. The Open Builds project, tracks a large number of technical projects, many equipment related. When a new person or group builds a new iteration of a project, improvements can be incorporated. Again, some solutions are simple, others are incredibly complex. Fortunately, because many people throughout the world document these open source solutions, reinvention is unnecessary, Instead one can often make a generic product directly, or adapt it for a specific user.

Life can be a struggle. As trust builds in a men’s shed community, people will gradually, perhaps even reluctantly, share insights into what they are struggling with. Sometimes people need to be alone. Sometimes they need to work alone. Sometimes they need to work alone in the proximity of others. Sometimes they need to work co-operatively (but silently) with others. Sometimes they need to work co-operatively, while talking shoulder to shoulder.

This design and make process is not always easy. Many people have special needs, and insights into solving their own struggles. With a little help, they should be able to transfer those insights over to other people. Yet sometimes, indeed often, this doesn’t happen. One major reason is that mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, divert attention.

Not all product development will deal with rocket science or cutting-edge technology. Much of it will simply involve skills with traditional equipment that shedders have used before, and feel comfortable with: Woodworking/ carpentry tools and blacksmithing/ metalworking/ welding tools. People who feel comfortable in this analog world should be encouraged to remain there, if this is what they want.

On the other hand, if they want to enter the digital world there should be a place for them there too. Much digital work at an introductory level, simply involves the copying of files, and the running of those files on a 3D printer/ CNC mill/ laser cutter, etc.

At intermediate levels, there may be a greater mismatch between the skills that are needed, and the skills that people have, so that additional training may have to be offered.

A great many different equipment related projects can be found at:

Sometimes experts will undertake the druggery necessary to bring a complex project to life. The NeuroTechnology Exploration Team lab at Rochester Institute of Technology, Henrietta, NY provides an example of how technology can be developed, then transferred throughout the world. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), where an individual controls computers and other devices using only their mind, is a rapidly-expanding field with a wide range of potential applications. BCI devices are especially desirable as assistive technologies for those with impaired motor or communicative capabilities. Everything the team uses in their projects is sourced and produced as cheaply as possible. The technologies used are noninvasive, relying either on electroencephalograms attached to the scalp or on localized muscle contractions, to convey signals to the computers and devices. The software is open-source and can be downloaded to any computer. For further information see:

Colin Fausnaught (left), wears the Ultracortex head piece and holds the prosthetic arm, and Harrison Canning (right), wears the Ultracortex headpiece and fabric electrode sleeve at NeuroTechnology Exploration Team lab at Rochester Institute of Technology, Henrietta, N.Y. on 2019-02-01. Photo by Natalie Whitton

If open source solutions aren’t available off the shelf, a client may have to be open about his or her struggles to start the design process. This normally requires interaction, so that insights can be transferred, then developed and applied to specific problems. However that interaction does not have to be face to face. Shelagh McLellan’s bachelor degree project, On Trac (2011), was an iPad application that helped facilitate communication between teens and doctors. Teens were often able to communicate things on a tablet, that they would be too embarrassed to say directly to a doctor. For further information, see:

Many of the struggles facing people can be mitigated/ resolved through the construction of some sort of physical device (including clothing) that incorporates mechanical and electrical components, then programmed with software, to do a specific job.

An example

As stated previously, not all challenges are leading-edge. Here is an example of a widespread problem, that has multiple solutions.

I don’t like the way fruits and vegetables are sold. I dislike other people having the opportunity to handle produce/ vegetables/ fruit that I am expected to eat. I see four solutions to this problem. The first involves seeking psychological help and learning to live with the current situation. The second involves political action to ban consumers from stores and using self-driving delivery vans, packed by robots. The third involves the status quo, which means I leave the shopping to someone else. The fourth, and my preferred solution, is to grow fruit and vegetables at home. There could be many ways to do this, but I am most attracted to building a geodesic dome greenhouse, and equipping it with hydroponic gardening facilities. Personally, I would prefer to spend my time building greenhouses, and hydroponic equipment, than working in the greenhouse growing plants. My hope is to find someone to work with me on this project, someone more interested in growing and tending plants, perhaps the same person who currently does my shopping. This is the same solution that is being explored by the local Friends of the Earth chapter in Inderøy.


One issue that cannot be ignored is that of poverty. Many of the challenges people face are caused by being unable to afford the products that will solve their problems. There are different degrees of poverty. Extreme poverty can result in emaciation and homelessness; more moderate poverty results in obesity and sub-standard living conditions. People put on weight, because the food they need is just too expensive. Thus, they feel they don’t have the economic freedom or economic opportunities that they would like. Some younger people feel that they don’t have the opportunity to purchase a house, and will end up being life-long renters, or worse. Some older people feel that they do not have the resources to buy even necessities, such as heat, because energy cost too much.


I don’t want to know anything about a client/ readers’ personal situation. That is a private matter. If someone wants a men’s shed to help with a struggle please wait until a men’s shed is established, or (help) start one yourself.

Here is the information I think a men’s shed would need to know in order to work on an extensive project for a potential client. A simple one or two day project involving a few people making something simple, does not need this level of detail.

  1. Please describe the client in general terms: Approximate age and gender; living environment – urban or rural, living alone or with others (yes, dogs are included in the others category); type of housing and area; income source such as part-time or full-time employment, pension, reliance on savings, etc. This helps the men’s shed understand the client’s circumstances.
  2. What high priority physical, emotional or social challenges is this person facing? Please try to describe them in as much detail as necessary.
  3. What are the economic implications of these challenges?
  4. What solutions does this person envision that will assist her or him to resolve or mitigate the challenge?

Many proposed solutions will involve the integration of smart house or internet of things technology into a residence or workplace. If so, it may be appropriate to solicit additional information. It has been my experience that many solutions are device dependent. At the same time clients are unable to use new or different devices or technologies. This is why in question 1, such specific information is requested.

  1. What devices is the client using? Phone – clamshell, smartphone; other personal devices – tablet, laptop, desktop; servers; input devices such as keyboards, mice and scanners; output devices, such as televisions, screens and printers; Everything else that is hooked up to the internet with a cable, or without. If you have any idea about make and models and features, that would be helpful, as would any prices actually paid – new or used.
  2. What is this person using these devices for? This is an important question, and arbitrary limits should not be put on it.
  3. What communications and related services are being purchased/ provided? How are they being delivered? What do they cost? For example, some people have a landline incurring a monthly charge; some people are visiting coffee shops to use wifi connections; some people have cable television and/ or broadband and/ or dial-up internet and/ or alarm systems and/ or ???
  4. What would this person want to use devices for, if a device had the necessary attributes, and service providers made services available either free, or at an affordable price? The essence of this question is, what does this person really want from his or her devices?

Men’s Sheds

V1 2018-07-16, V2 2019-03-03

The Shed in Malmö, A Place to go. Something to do and Someone to talk to.
The Shed in Malmö.

Men are human. This simple, three word sentence may come as a surprise to many, be they male or female. Women affected by #MeToo! misuse, may find it difficult to accept that men can be anything but low-life. Members of another gender may regard themselves as Übermenschen,  supermen.

Some members of this male half of humanity, can be confused by the mixed signals they receive. On the one hand, they should suppress emotion and be strong, independent, stoic and tough. On the other, they should express their feelings openly and work co-operatively.

Admittedly, the stronger sex may also receive mixed signals, and sometimes they even give them – I’m told. However, this weblog post is (mostly) about the weaker sex, men.

Shoulder To Shoulder = slogan, shortened from: Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder.

Shedder = user of a men’s shed

Shedagogy = term coined by Barry Golding in 2014, to describe a distinctive, new way of acknowledging, describing and addressing the way some men prefer to learn informally in shed-like spaces mainly with other men.

Having worked with men in prison, when I came across the Men’s Sheds movement, I knew instantly that this was an important institution. I also started to read a section of a 2008 report prepared by Gary Misan that outlined some of the health problems encountered by men:

In referencing this report it was difficult to know what to quote, mention or dismiss. It is ten years old and Australia specific, but includes nuggets of insight that have application elsewhere. Compared with women, men live shorter lives, have worse health, suffer 70% of injuries, commit 75% of suicides, access health services less and delay seeking health services more, spend less time with doctors, focus on physical problems, avoid discussing mental and emotional problems and ….

These facts are mixed with myths. Men are to blame for the world’s evils, including their own poor health and health outcomes. Men control social, occupational, political, environmental and economic environments. Men experience health services as a service for women and children. Men are socially conditioned to engage in risky behaviours from an early age

Sheds are important in male culture. Traditionally, sheds are spaces
where men have retreated from work, life and family to make or repair things and to enjoy the company of other men. Unfortunately, the backyard shed is on the decline. Combined with other factors, such as retirement or loss of a partner, this results in loss of social networks, self-esteem, sense of purpose and identity, and can cause adverse social and emotional health and well-being issues for many men.

Sheds have in common that they are spaces for men, but may be diverse in organisation, structure and function. They can offer socialisation (friendship, camaraderie), self-esteem and purposeful activity for a large cross-section of men: young men, unemployed men, older men, retired men, men with mental health problems, disengaged men, indigenous men and immigrant men.

In Australian, where the men’s sheds movement is most highly developed, it is still an under-acknowledged, under-resourced, grassroots movement, that remains (mostly) unintegrated with any form of health system. They emerged despite an absence of any policy framework, government support or co-ordination.

Misan writes, “…key criteria for success of men’s sheds include: ensuring local support; learning from others, including affiliation with a men’s shed support organisation from the outset; having multiple partners and supporters; a suitable location; secure funding; a skilled manager and management group; a good business plan together with a sound marketing, recruitment, and communication strategy; a wide range of activities for men to take part in; extended opening hours; and links with a larger organisation, including a health service that can provide support for health programs. Ensuring documentation and evaluation of outcomes is also helpful to demonstrating benefit and increasing the likelihood of attracting future funding.” (p. 13)

While every men’s shed is unique, they can be lumped into four categories: work, clinical, educational and recreational.

For those who want to remain active, work sheds focus on repair, restoration and construction. At the same time much of the work is directed to helping the local community. Clinical focused sheds help the local male community interact and discuss their health/ wellbeing issues. Educational sheds focus on improving skills and life qualities, often around a specific skill, such as cooking. Recreational men’s sheds promote more social activity in the local area

Virtual sheds also exist, and provide an online capability where members from all men’s sheds or living in more remote communities can actively communicate and be involved in numerous research, writing and photographic activities. For example, The International Historians Association has created a community shed for veteran responders which include police officers, firefighters, paramedics, rescue workers and the military who have injuries, in-capacities or disfigurements that make them immobile or unwilling to join local work sheds.

The roots of The Men’s Sheds movement go back to the 1980s in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia and the former miners. There is also mention of the Albury Manual Activities Centre, also known as “Albury Men’s Shed” which opened in 1978. The focus in Adelaide, South Australia was on gender-biased and inappropriate care of older men living with dementia in care settings, as well as with Ausralia’s Vietnam War Veterans.

Mensheds Australia was established as an institution in 2002, by Peter Sergeant and Ron Fox as an outcome of their Economic Gardening activities.

An increasing number of Men’s Shed are being started. While the movement began in Australia in (>900 locations) and quickly moved on to New Zealand (>50). In Europe there are shed organizations in England, Finland, Greece, Ireland (>200 sheds), Scotland, Sweden (Malmö) and Wales.

In USA there are sheds in Hawaii (3), Michigan (1), Minnesota (5), Ohio (1) and Wisconsin (2). See:

In Canada they are found in Alberta (2), British Columbia (7), Manitoba (2), Ontario (3) and Quebec (2). See:

It is the fondest hope that the makerspace now being constructed in Straumen, will become a part-time Men’s Shed. On the other hand, it is also hoped that this space will offer time and space to many divergent groups of people: young and old, male and female, immigrant and native, experienced and inexperienced, practical and theoretical.

The Shed in Malmö will be given the opportunity to end this post with a description of themselves: Shed i Malmö is a space where people come together to do stuff, but more importantly, socialise. It’s like a hobby room, only bigger and better equiped. It’s like a lounge room, only more durable. It’s like a social club, but with more activities than just cards. Sometimes life isn’t always positive or even a continuation of the past. There is a new message now, 2019 is going to be a year of rediscovery for Shed i Malmö: we’ve had to move out of our location and we’re still assessing our options. We are currently ‘closed for business’. Sorry.


In a few weeks the festive season will be upon us: this conjoined event stretches from Christmas to New Year’s day, or – for some – Hanukkah, which starts and ends even earlier, from sunset,  2018-12-02 to nightfall, 2018-12-10.

Thomas Nast, 1881 Merry Old Santa Claus, the iconic image of Santa Claus

The social costs of this festive season are extraordinarily high. There is a peak in drug offenses, drunk driving and other forms of anti-social behavior. Traffic accidents increase, not just because of increased drug and alcohol consumption, but because people are driving tired.

Another challenge with Christmas is that people attempt to buy happiness, through expensive gifts. These do not make people feel any better, but can put people into debt.

Overeating is another factor that has a negative impact on health. While in many countries suicide rates are at their lowest in December, mental health issues peak. Once Christmas is over, there is a sharp rise in suicides, often peaking on New Year’s day. Excessive eating and drinking combined with inadequate exercise erodes physical and mental health, including but not restricted to  insomnia, depression and stress.

If that is not enough, then the Christmas season signals a time to file for divorce, or in other ways end relationships, including friendships.

Perhaps the best introduction to an American Christmas is Penne Restad’s  Christmas in America. (Oxford University Press, 1995).

The celebration of Christmas is not an old tradition. It was not even a holiday until the middle of the 19th century. In the United States, the American Civil War combined with urbanization and industrialization helped to promote it as a means of creating social unity. Prior to this, people of different denominations followed traditions brought with them from Europe. With improved communication and transportation, there was a greater awareness of ethnic and religious pluralism. At the same time, there was increased political and economic tension between regions, and groups. Soon Darwinism and science were  challenging religion.

This 19th century Christmas gradually transformed itself into a family gathering that merged faith with commercialism. Yes, people may attend church services, but it was not the church, but the house that was the focal point of the holiday.

Christmas trees were in use by 1832. By the 1850s, Christmas was fully entrenched in Northern cities. After the Civil War,  it captured the South.

Christmas tree ornaments emerged about  1870, with imports from Germany.  While there were some Christmas cards in the early 1850s, demand exploded by about 1875. These soon replaced the more traditional Christmas letter.

Christmas gift-giving had its origins in the 1870s. Part of this was related to problems of extreme economic inequality that threatened social relationships. Thus, many of the gifts were  charitable.

The American Christmas is incomplete without Clement Moore’s An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicholas in the 1820s. Here is the spirit of Christmas in the persona of Santa Claus, with fur-trimmed red suit, sack of toys, reindeer, sleigh and home at the North Pole.

Christmas dinner is so notable that it warrants its own Wikipedia article. See:

So how should Christmas be managed to avoid its negative aspects? The answer is to build more work-like attributes into it.

Activities should be planned, and scheduled. People should know what is happening, and what they personally are expected to do.

In the build-up to Christmas, people can be asked to design Christmas cards, to write an annual Christmas letter and/ or to plan meal menus. They should also use their skills to design and make decorations and presents. To reduce costs, guidelines can be given that make these more appropriate. For example, gifts are to be made from re-purposed materials.

Alcohol is not part of a normal work week, and (for me) there is no reason why it should be part of a leisure event, such as Christmas. Avoiding alcohol is yet another way to reduce costs, and to ensure relationships endure. To prevent meals from expanding waistlines, there should be calorie limits in place, and moderate quantities. At Cliff Cottage, the permanent residents weigh themselves daily. Some people make their weight publicly available, while others keep it private.

When families get together to celebrate, there should be fixed times to arise, and to head off to sleep. There should be opportunities for exercise, and opportunities for every individual to be alone. Child-minding should be an activity distributed among the adults.

While there may be a desire to spend some time listening to music, or watching a film, moderation is also a key here. In fact, it could be more fun to sing, or perform musically together, rather than to listen to someone else’s efforts. Perhaps, the entire family could have fun making a video, rather than watching someone else’s.

Let us all make Christmas fun again, but putting structure and moderation in place during Christmas, 2018!

Down to Earth

V1 2018-06-24 18:09; V2 2018-06-24 23:37 Some minor changes, including names/descriptions of courses.

English version, Norwegian version follows

The Intergalactic Rocket Science Academy (IRSA) has hovered over everyone’s heads, in outer space, far too long. Now, it needs your help to launch a one week workshop, Down to Earth.

Target group: Earthlings, especially those with physical or mental health issues. OK, that includes all of them.

Earthling at a café in Prague, Czechia (photo: Anders Nord 2018 in Unsplash)

Principles: Fun First! “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t part of IRSA.”

Location: Space Station Straumen [that is Inderøy’s municipal centre. More specifically, at Hastighet, Inderøys teknogarasje = Velocity, Inderøy’s techno garage,  being constructed – at least in theory – as this weblog is being written. It has received a grant of NOK 250 000, about CAD 40 000 to equip a 70m2 former classroom with production machinery, such as 3D printers and a laser cutter, not to mention electronic equipment.]

Arrival Sunday evening; Departure Saturday morning. Information about the specific movement of space shuttles from various planets will be provided later. [Actual dates and years? Petty details like those will be worked out later.]

Groups: There are three groups earthlings can choose between.

Clothing: Functional clothing for everyone [Replaces: Fashionable and functional adaptive clothing for the elderly and disabled.] At the end of the week, each participant will have one garment that they can take with them to their home planet.

Food: Tasty and nutritious food for everyone [Replaces: for the elderly and allergic.] At the end of the week, each participant will have (at least) five recipes they can take home with them. They will also prepare food for the evening meal.

Technology: Home automation for everyone [replaces, for the elderly and disabled.] At the end of the week, each participant will have one device that they can take with them to their home planet. Involves programming, electronics, 3D-printing.


Earthlings have lost the ability to photosynthesize, and must “eat”. They gather together for a “meal” several times during an earth day. Earth friendly food will be served, and a food group will be formed in advance to make sure that all participants are able to eat the food served.

Earthlings need to “reflect”, “rest” and “sleep”. These are time periods when they need to be alone. To put it in terms a robot would understand, they need to recharge their batteries.

Remember, Earthlings are primitive. They cannot theorize, practicize and exercise simultaneously, but need separate sessions devoted to each one. They have no capacity for brain to brain communication, but must rely on “speech” (sound making) and “hearing” (sound sensing) for communication. Because of variations in sound sensing capabilities, sound makers have to use artificial amplifiers, especially in the presence of old earthlings.

Earthlings use “breaks” for informal communication, and fluid exchange. Fluid intake of water, coffee or tea is public. Fluid outtake is private, and is undertaken in rooms especially designed for the purpose.

Daily program

Morning meal 9:00 – 10:00.

Theory session: 10:00 – 10:45; break; 11:00 – 11:45; break.

Time for reflection: 12:00 – 13:00.

Common main meal: 13:00 – 14:00.

Practical session: 14:00 – 14:45; break; 15:00 – 15:45; break.

Time for reflection, exercise (walk): 16:00 – 18:00.

Evening meal: 18:00 – 19:00.

Optional cooperative projects: 19:00 – 20:00.

Theory sessions:

First hour

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: Coping with life. Strategies for enhanced survival as an earthling.

Wednesday: Clowning. Expressing emotions without words. Extends over two hours.

Second hour

Separate sessions for each of the groups, every day but Wednesday. Here, theoretical information related to the specific group will be presented.

Practical sessions:

Separate sessions for each of the groups. Here, earthlings will use their hands to make things related to the goals of their specific group.

Exercise sessions:

Walks need to be selected, so that people, either alone or with others can walk sufficiently.

Stop the Press!

While it might be fun to start off with a five-day workshop, the entire event might also turn out to be a catastrophe. Perhaps the correct approach is doing what the IRSA does best: build a three stage workshop rocket!

Y0 (Year Zero)

Stage 1. An experimental session. Each teacher makes a lesson plan for a single 45 minute theory hour, plus a single 45 minute practical hour. These two hours are offered as a separate event.

A teaching session should be more than a single organism, creating sound bytes in front of other organisms. The teacher will have to assess whether materials should be read, before the session starts. If so, what is the teacher going to do if there are students with reading difficulties (hint: make audio files of the materials.) Photographs, illustrations, videos, simulations and demonstrations may all be used to enhance learning.

A quiz at the end of the session, can help determine if participants have learned what has been expected of them. At the end of this event, participants are asked for feedback, about the event they have just attended.

Stage 2. A course over several weeks. The feedback from the experimental session will allow the teacher to make adjustments to the lesson plan for the first session, or scrap it entirely. The teacher can now make continue to make lesson plans for the entire course, along with assorted aids, and to implement them on a weekly basis, making adjustments each week as needed. At the end of the course, participants – once again – are asked for feedback.

Stage 3. A workshop! Now we are back to where we started from, but with one major difference. The teacher has experience and, hopefully, confidence.

Y1 (Year One)

If one decides that the workshop has value for other people than the initial participants, additional workshops can be made. These can be located in different cities and held in different languages.

At the same time, new topics can be developed for different target groups. Three of these groups could be 1) parents, 2) immigrants and 3) youth.

If you would like further information about workshop participation, or if you would like to host a similar workshop on your planet, contact brock at mclellan dot no.

Ned til Jorden: Den norske versjonen/ Down to Earth: The Norwegian version.

Intergalaktisk Rakettvitenskaps Academy (IRVA) har svevet over alles hoder, i det ytre rom, altfor lenge. Nå trenger den din hjelp til å starte en ukes workshop, ned til jorden.

Målgruppe: Jordboerne, spesielt de med fysiske eller psykiske problemer. OK, det inkluderer alle av dem.

Prinsipper: Moro først! “Hvis det ikke er morsomt, er det ikke en del av IRVA.”

Sted: Romstasjon Straumen [det er Inderøys kommunale sentrum. Nærmere bestemt Hastighet, Inderøys teknogarasje konstruert – i det minste teoretisk – da denne bloggen blir skrevet. Det har mottatt en gave på NOK 250 000 for å utstyre et 70m2 tidligere klasserom med produksjonsmaskiner, for eksempel 3D-skrivere og laserkutter, og ikke minst elektronisk utstyr.]

Ankomst søndag kveld; avreise lørdag morgen. Informasjon om de nøyaktige bevegelser av romskip fra de ulike planeter vil bli gitt senere. [Faktiske datoer og år? Små detaljer som disse vil også bli utarbeidet senere.]

Undervisningsgrupper: Det er tre grupper jordboerne kan velge mellom.

Klær: Funksjenelle klær for alle. [Erstatter, Fasjonable og funksjonelle, adaptive klær til eldre og funksjonshemmede.] På slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha ett plagg som de kan ta med seg til deres hjemme planet.

Mat: Velsmakende og næringsrik mat for alle. [Erstatter, til eldre og allergiskere.] Ved slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha (minst) fem oppskrifter de kan ta med seg. De vil også tilberede mat til kveldsmåltid.

Teknologi: Hjemmautomatisering for alle [Erstatter, for eldre og funksjonshemmede.] Ved slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha en enhet som de kan ta med seg til deres hjemmeplan. Involver programmering, elektronikk, 3D-utskrift.


Jordboerne har mistet muligheten til å fotosyntetisere, og må “spise”. De samles sammen for et “måltid” flere ganger i løpet av en jorddag. Jordvennlig mat serveres, og en matvaregruppe vil bli dannet på forhånd for å sikre at alle deltakere kan spise maten.

Jordboerne trenger å “reflektere”, “hvile” og “sove”. Disse er tidsperioder når de trenger å være alene. For å si det som en robot ville forstå, må de lade opp batteriene.

Husk at jordenboerne er primitive. De kan ikke teoretisere, praktisere og trene samtidig, men trenger separate økter viet til hver enkelt aktivitet. De har ingen kapasitet til hjernekommunikasjon, men må stole på “tale” (lydfremstilling) og “hørsel” (lydfølelse) for kommunikasjon. På grunn av variasjoner i lydavkjenningsegenskapene, må lydprodusenter bruke kunstige forsterkere, spesielt i nærvær av gamle jordboerne.

Jordboerne bruker “pauser” for uformell kommunikasjon, og fluidutveksling. Væskeinntak av vann, kaffe eller te er offentlig. Væskeutslipp er privat og foregår i rom spesielt egnet til formålet.

Daglig program

Frokost 9:00 – 10:00.

Teoriøkt: 10:00 – 10:45; pause; 11:00 – 11:45; pause.

Tid for refleksjon: 12:00 – 13:00.

Felles hovedmåltid: 13:00 – 14:00.

Praktiskøkt: 14:00 – 14:45; pause; 15:00 – 15:45; pause.

Tid for refleksjon, mosjon (gange): 16:00 – 18:00.

Kveldsmat: 18:00 – 19:00.

Valgfrie samarbeidsprosjekter: 19:00 – 20:00.

Teori økter:

Første time

Mandag, tirsdag, torsdag, fredag: Løft med livet. Strategier for forbedret overlevelse som jordboende.

Onsdag: Klovne. Å uttrykke følelser uten ord.  Strekker seg over to timer.

Andre time

Separate økter for hver av gruppene, hver dag bortsatt fra onsdag. Her vil teoretisk informasjon relatert til den spesifikke gruppen bli presentert.

Praktiske økter:

Separate økter for hver av gruppene. Her vil jordboere bruke hendene til å gjøre ting relatert til målene til deres spesifikke gruppe.


Vandringer må velges, slik at folk, enten alene eller med andre, kan gå tilstrekkelig.

Stopp pressen!

Selv om det kan være morsomt å starte med en fem-dagers verksted, kan hele arrangementet også vise seg å være en katastrofe. Kanskje er riktig tilnærming det som IRVA gjør best: bygge et tre-trinns verkstedrakkett!

Y0 (År Null)

Fase 1. En eksperimentell økt. Hver lærer gjør en leksjon plan for en 45 minutters teori time, pluss en 45 minutters praktisk time. Disse to timene tilbys som et separat arrangement.

En undervisningssesjon bør være mer enn en enkelt organisme som produserer lydbyter foran andre organismer. Læreren må vurdere om materialet skal leses før sesjonen starter. Hvis så, hva skal læreren gjøre hvis det er studenter med lesevansker (hint: lag lydfiler av materialet.) Fotografier, illustrasjoner, videoer, simuleringer og demonstrasjoner kan alle brukes til å forbedre læringen.

En quiz i slutten av sesjonen, kan bidra til å avgjøre om deltakerne har lært hva som er forventet av dem. På slutten av denne hendelsen blir deltakerne bedt om tilbakemelding, om hendelsen de nettopp har deltatt på.

Fase 2. Et kurs over flere uker. Tilbakemeldingen fra eksperimentell økt vil gi læreren mulighet til å gjøre justeringer til leksjonsplanen for den første økten, eller skrap den helt. Læreren kan nå fortsette å lage lektionsplaner for hele kurset, sammen med assisterte hjelpemidler, og å implementere dem på ukentlig basis, foreta justeringer hver uke etter behov. På slutten av kurset blir deltakerne – igjen – bedt om tilbakemelding.

Fase 3. Et verksted! Nå er vi tilbake til hvor vi startet fra, men med en stor forskjell. Læreren har erfaring og, forhåpentligvis, tillit.

Y1 (År Ett)

Hvis man bestemmer seg for at verkstedet har verdi for andre enn de opprinnelige deltakerne, kan det opprettes flere workshops. Disse kan lokaliseres i forskjellige byer og holdes på forskjellige språk.

Samtidig kan nye emner utvikles for ulike målgrupper. Tre av disse gruppene er 1) foreldre, 2) innvandrere og 3) ungdom.

Hvis du vil ha mer informasjon om workshopdeltakelse, eller hvis du ønsker å være vert for et lignende verksted på din planet, ta kontakt med brock på mclellan dot no.

The Charm of the Skarnsund Bridge Run

All of the Charm posts on this weblog are meant to be fun. Today’s post is no exception, and details the 27th (Skarnsund) Bridge Run from Vangshylla (where we live) to Mosvik, about 6 km away, on Sunday 2018-06-17, starting at 10:00.

When we first moved here in 1988, Vangshylla was a ferry terminal that connected Inderøy to the neighbouring municipality of Mosvik. The ferry was replaced by Skarnsund Bridge on 1991-12-17, when it was opened by King Harald. Skarnsund Bridge is the only bridge crossing of Trondheim Fjord. For further information see:

Trondheim Fjord and the Fosen Peninsula. Near the centre of the map lengthwise, you will find Mosvik marked on the map, on highway 755. It is about five kilometers west of Skarnsund Bridge, the only bridge crossing of the fjord. Vangshylla is on the eastern side of the fjord. The two dots on the highway between Mosvik and Verdal are Straumen and Røra, respectively. (CC BY-SA 2.5 Ørland, Fosenportalen)

Run officials have a spreadsheet detailing all participants, past and present, and can with certainty tell anyone which walks/ runs they have participated in. Readers may notice a dual personality tendency in the writing of this post. While most participants walk starting at 10:00 in the morning, there is also a more elite group that runs across the bridge, starting at 13:00 in the afternoon.

Our neighbour, Astrid Stømberg, is one of few who has completed all 27 walks/ runs. Trish usually walks with her, while my responsibility is to drive to Mosvik, and to pick the two of them up. A free bus ride is also available, but only at the end of the day.

Because of privacy concerns, we have not included pictures of people. All photos by Trish McLellan.

The former ferry terminal at Vangshylla, the start of the walk/ run.

Skarnsund Bridge, taken from the former ferry terminal at Vangshylla.

Some of the walk takes place along tractor paths through a forest.

Most of the walk is along Highway 755.

Along the way, 12 questions were asked. Here is one of them: In which country is this photo taken? 1. Greece X. Turkey 2. Italy.

There can be illegal aliens hiding in the tall vegetation. In this case, a black-listed plant, the lupin.

The half-way point.

Here, a fisher is more concerned about catching a tasty dinner, than worrying about walkers.

End of the walk, at Mosvik school.

The Charm of Border Crossings

Today, we crossed the border between Inderøy and Steinkjer six times, twice driving and four times walking. We live in Inderøy municipality (population 6 800, area 366 square kilometers), part of Trøndelag county, in central Norway. Steinkjer municipality (population 22 000, area 1 565 square kilometers) is the capital of Trøndelag county, contains the geographical centre of Norway, and is located immediately to the north of Inderøy, except when it isn’t because the border is complex and follows boundaries between many different farms.

Today, we were walking to Bergsmarka. While a circular ski trail has existed here for countless years, it has been widened and improved this summer. It is jointly managed by the Sparbu and Røra sports clubs. In 1962, during the great municipal amalgamation, Sparbu became part of Steinkjer, while Røra became part of Inderøy. However, local identity remains intense, and it is common to have sports clubs that predate the amalgamations.

The walk is one of 28 this year, organized by Inderøy municipality, designed to encourage physical activity.  These walks end at posts, that can be visited any time during the summer months from 21 May to 13 October. In addition, there are 8 events on specific dates during the season, with their own posts. A description of each walk is available in a printed brochure, as well as online (in Norwegian, but fun to look at): There is also an app for the walks. Today’s walk is short (2.8 km forward and back), but has medium demands.

The Outdoor Recreation Act of 1957 governs the use of the countryside. An English translation of this act can be found here: The purpose of the act is:

to protect the natural basis for outdoor recreation and to safeguard the public right of access to and passage through the countryside and the right to spend time there, etc, so that opportunities for outdoor recreation as a leisure activity that is healthy, environmentally sound and gives a sense of well-being are maintained and promoted. (Article 1)

Equipment storage for the ski trail.

Warming hut

Looking North from Inderøy into Steinkjer. The circular ski trail is closed off in the summer to allow for grazing animals.

This is where we climb from one municipality into the next. Taken in Inderøy, with Steinkjer on the far side.

The border with Inderøy, taken from Steinkjer. Kommune is the Norwegian term for municipality.

The border from Steinkjer, looking south into Inderøy.

Yet another border between Inderøy and Steinkjer, several hundred meters from the first. Taken from Inderøy, looking across to Steinkjer. Note the trail marking, indicating that this is part of an Inderøy walk.

The goal of today’s walk, with a view of Steinkjer to the right of the photo. There is an unprotected cliff a few meters from the bench Trish is sitting on.

This sign indicates that we have arrived at Bergsmarka. Inside the box is a book for us to date and sign. We were the 885th and 886th people to sign the book this year.  In addition you can see Skarnsund Bridge as the motif for the layout. Our house is about 500 meters from the bridge. In addition, the Inderøy Coat of Arms was granted on 5 October 1984. The arms show four European plaice on a red background. This fish was once plentiful and was one of the main sources of income for the area until around 1940. The municipal motto, best i lag, means best together, dates from the municipality’s amalgamation with Mosvik in 2012.

Protective Gloves

While everyone knows that a glove is a garment covering the whole hand, not everyone is familiar with gloves as Personal Protective Equipment. There are 3 categories of gloves specifying levels of risk. Category 1 is for simple gloves, for minimal risks only. Cleaning and gardening gloves are often found here. Category 2 is for intermediate risks, those that are neither minimal nor deadly/ irreversible. This includes gloves offering good puncture and abrasion performance. Category 3 is for irreversible or deadly risks, and gloves in this category must be designed to protect against the highest levels of risk.

Work gloves for woodworking are classified in category 2. Some of the functions that that can be important are: protection against cold, protection against cuts, and water protection – either water resistant or waterproof. Durability and versatility are also important considerations. In addition, gloves should fit! Poor fit can reduce performance and/or protection, and increase the risk of chafing and injury.

The Guide 5002 glove for outdoor workers in fields as divergent as construction and kindergartens.

Glove size is dependent on hand width and length. To find circumference, wrap a measuring tape around dominant hand (without thumb) just below knuckles, and make a fist. To find length measure from the bottom edge of the palm to the tip of the middle finger. Despite standards, measurements don’t always help.

Personally, I have a circumference of 275 mm (EU-10), but a length of 210 mm (EU-11). However, after spending an hour at a local store selling PPE and attempting to try on several pairs, the results were: Size 10 was hopeless; size 11 felt tight; I ended up with a size 12, as shown in the photo below.

These red gloves, suitable for woodworking, were only available in one colour combination red and black. They were the only work gloves sold by the shop in size 12.


In Europe, there are a number of standards (EN = European Norm) for gloves. EN 420 provides general specifications, EN 388 defines levels of protection against mechanical risks (abrasion / cut / tear / puncture) and electronic discharge, while EN 511 addresses cold and wet issues. Other standards extend requirements for special uses, such as welding EN 12477.

EN 420 specifies some general requirements for protective gloves. For example, it requires that the gloves themselves should not impose a risk or cause injury; that their pH be as close as possible to neutral. It also addresses allergy issues. For example, chromium content is limited to a maximum of 3 mg/kg (chrome VI). It also specifies hand size requirements.

1. Resistance to abrasion

Based on the number of cycles required to abrade through the sample glove (abrasion by sandpaper under a stipulated pressure). Performance level 1 to 4, depending on how many revolutions are required to make a hole in the material. The higher the number, the better the glove. See table below.

2 Blade cut resistance

Based on the number of cycles required to cut through the sample at a constant speed. Performance level 1 to 4.

3 Tear resistance

Based on the amount of force required to tear the sample.
Performance level 1 to 4.

4 Puncture resistance

Working with electronic components can require that gloves be used to reduce the risk of electrostatic discharge. A pictogram will indicate if gloves have passed the relevant test.

EN 511 measures how the glove’s material leads cold (first digit, convective cold with performance level 0-4 where a higher number is better ), as well as its the material’s insulating capacity, with contact (second digit, contact cold with performance level 0-4). A third digit shows if water penetrates the glove after 30 minutes.

Many glove manufacturers have detailed information about their products, and protection standards. This is true of Australian Ansell Limited and the Swedish, Skydda Protecting People Europe AB, which markets products under the name Guide.

Living in Norway, I try to support Scandinavian companies.  Skydde PPE has its own YouTube channel. Most videos on the channel are in Swedish, unfortunately: At least two of their videos are made in Bergen to emphasize gloves that protect against wet and cold (in a kindergarden) in addition to mechanical injury (carpentry). Here the spoken Bergen dialect is texted into Swedish.


Workshop Tools: Gloves

Take a close look at the following photo, and you will see the hands of an idiot who was not following safety procedures. He was not wearing gloves.  Yes, he can find extenuating circumstances to explain away both incidents. The injuries are minor. That is not the point. Both incidents could have been avoided if gloves had been used.

Unnecessary injuries caused by not wearing gloves.

People who work with sharp tools should wear gloves. It should be part of the kit!

A glove, part of the safety equipment every woodworker should learn to wear.