delicious remorse

Those who have known me for a while will probably be giggling by now. For the rest of you, I can let you in on a secret. You know old King Midas? Everything he touched turned into gold. Well, in the world of services I frequently assume the role of some inverted Midas. I've managed to join (or buy) lots of products and services over the years, only to discover that they soon get discontinued. Apparently, this time it took me five weeks to get Delicious swaying. When news broke about Yahoo allegedly sunsetting this bookmarking service I was disappointed but not exactly surprised...


deliciously yours

Being a student of Risk Management and Security Informatics implies quite a bit of reading. Ergo bookmarking. Once in a while I do come across a text which may or may not be of interest to others. Ergo Social Bookmarking. I try hard not to involve myself in more services and networks than necessary but have decided to make a tactical retreat now and join Delicious after all.

For now, my bookmarks collection can be found here.


a silent movie

Apparently, I'm now into silent movies. Or slide shows, to be precise. It's an experiment and I'd appreciate feedback. In case you recognize some photos, they have been published on pixels and plenty.


tunnel vision

Someone suggested that Risk Management takes place at the intersection of three disciplines: psychology, economy and technology. This is an important observation.


The recent, long-awaited breakthrough in the Hallandsås Ridge Tunnel highlights the tremendous challenges facing this infrastructure project which was originally launched way back in the 1990's.

Let's recall the issues.
1. Was it a good idea to have this new railroad through the notorious ridge?
2. Was it doable?
3. Was it economically viable?

At the outset, we knew the geology was tough. It turned out worse than expected. We knew we needed extraordinary technology. That still wasn't enough. Time schedules slipped, budgets evaporated and as the nervousness began to set in, the previous project management started cutting corners, introducing substances which would create an environmental scandal. The Rhoca-Gil pollution issue turned out to be grossly exaggerated but in the hearts and minds of the locals and the general public is was a complete PR catastrophe. Viewed through the respective lenses of technology, economy and psychology the halted project was a hopeless failure.

So, where does one go from there? First the technology. Means and methods for tunneling through hopeless "non-rock" had to be reinvented. Then the economy. A credible plan had to be laid out, setting the record straight on what the job would cost and when it would get done. Still, succeeding on those two difficult fronts wouldn't be worth a penny unless trust could be regained. Trust from the locals that the construction work would be pursued safely. Trust from the taxpayers that huge piles of additional money would in fact be well spent. Trust from decision-makers who once again had to go on record, actively supporting this ill-fated tunneling effort. And there you have it. Technology risk, environmental risk, financial risk and political risk - all intertwined.

I wouldn't open the real expensive champagne quite yet but the events of last week, the spectacular breakthrough, was an important psychological milestone.

Let's revisit the main issues.
1. Today hardly anyone would argue against the importance of investing in our railroads. The climate threat changes everything. So yes, it is a good idea to have this new railroad.
2. Having the first tunnel completed is a fact which speaks loudly for itself. Yes - although the geology of Hallandsås Ridge may still hold some surprises for us, this is in fact doable. Our means and methods are working - and in a safe way too. Through openness and engaging in public debate, the new project management has regained the confidence of those living and breathing around the ridge.
3. Which leaves us with the issues of time and money. Skanska-Vinci are now delivering on the new plan. They're on schedule for allowing trains into the tunnel in 2015. The economists will continue arguing on whether the huge cost-overruns have been justifiable. As always, the money you already spent will be lost if you give up and seal the tunnel. What matters is the marginal cost of the work remaining.

Now, this time let's stay on track.


compact living - revisited

OK, so it's official.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with my SLR camera but photography has become immensely boring. It's too heavy to carry around unless I have some specific shooting in mind. Consequently, the camera stays home six days a week and snapping photos has turned into a Planned Activity on Rare Occasions.

Clinging to a Point&Shoot is not supposed to be healthy for anyone aiming to take photography seriously. Still, I did cling for years and I miss those days. I suppose my photos are in some respect technically "better" these days but they're also rather uninspired. Creative moments are few and far between and I blame my heavy-weight SLR companion. In my world, a camera should be something handy to stick in your bag (or - even better - your pocket!) and forget about until the moment you encounter Something Worthy of Being Snapped.

So, let it be known. I miss my P&S.


thanks for asking

Monday 2.30AM among high-rise buildings in the eastern, commercial part of Kista. Silence. Next to a quiet, empty six-lane road, a man is squatting. A police car drives up and the officers realize what's going on.

- Hi! Are you getting any good photographs tonight?

As a matter of fact I wasn't. The sky was boring and the mood wasn't right. But thanks for asking. Thanks for being there for us.


one picture at a time

Half a century of creative imagery by Swedish photographer Gunnar Smoliansky has been summarized in the exhibition One picture at a time ("En bild i taget") which can be seen in Dunkers kulturhus, Helsingborg. Always in monochrome, often minimalistic compositions in soft gray-scales, sometimes grainy, he explores his neighborhood, conceptualizing everyday scenes in Stockholm. The same street intersection gets revisited time and time again, decade after decade.

This is artistic photography at a level I cannot even relate to. How could I? I don't have his talent, I don't have his technical skills, I don't have 50+ years of experience in the field.

Smoliansky has been dubbed a "strolling photographer". In my opinion, that has got to be misleading. Just because we recognize the street where a photo has been taken does not mean it was snapped while passing by, the way we do. Far from it. This man has spent a lifetime patiently awaiting the right moment, exploring what we don't even notice, carefully capturing it - one picture at a time.

- If it's one thing I can't stand it's having others within view while I'm working with a picture, asking what I'm doing - Smoliansky explains.

There, finally, is something even I can relate to! I so recognize spending hours chasing a particular image, wanting to be left alone while pursuing this strange activity. Now, whether you're an amateur (like me) or not, be sure not to miss the work of Gunnar Smoliansky.


know me by my work

- This is so yummy.

The cook looks at me and smiles. I shouldn't say that - he adds - since I cooked this myself but there's just so much love behind this dish.

He's an artist in his own right, trying to make a living in a competitive climate where not every restaurant will comply with taxation laws. Somehow, his words moved me. Pure, simple pride in a work well done. I wish him a successful year and many delighted lunch guests in the golf restaurant.


Kafka by bus

Bus 540 heading for Universitetet makes a stop at Råsta by the bus garage. Our driver will go off his shift and someone will replace him. Four (4) drivers wait at the bus stop, cheerfully chatting about this and that. One by one they enter the bus asking each other which one of them is going to drive this bus. Negative. They're all passengers-to-be, going home after a long day at work or just commuting to another place where they will pick up another bus.

Picture this: a bus with some thirty frustrated passengers, four drivers and no one takes the wheel.

Two of the non-drivers moan about missing their train connections in Ulriksdal. So did I.

Enter modern technology. The administrative staff in the garage suddenly receive scores of messages over radio and cell phone, each of them evidently emanating from this same bus. The administrative lady subjected to this burst of information successfully dispatches a fifth driver (the one who should have been here from the beginning) and he makes a run across snow and ice. By the time he arrives one of the four non-drivers has decided that enough is enough and assumed the driver's position. The real driver barely manages to catch the bus (as a passenger) when it finally continues from Råsta.

A minute later the garage calls to check that all is well and the real driver confirms that he has successfully taken the wheel. Which he has not, he is standing among all the other non-drivers at the front of the bus but now we're finally under way. And after a few more dare-devil runs across snow and ice plus the additional benefit of a two-minute delay for the commuter train I believe we all made it.

A surreal moment in the life of a commuter.


home sweet home

Meanwhile in a small house, life goes on.
Days are still short so the lights go on and off. One of them stays on all night until sunrise.
The house signals warmth and comfort in the coldest of months.
No doubt busy residents are happily pursuing their daily routines.

There's just one thing.

Outside, around the little house and all the way up to the small road nearby lays a thick blanket of untouched snow. Half a meter of accumulated precipitation is proof beyond reasonable doubt that noone has been walking to or from the house for a month. At least.

So, who are you kidding?