Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Hidden Almond

A few days ago I presented my readers (yes, that's you! pad yourself on the back if you will!) with a recipe for the Danish Christmas dessert, "Ris a la Mande" (pronounced "Rees a la mang") and I hope some of you tried it out and found it as delicious as I do.

However, there was something I completely forgot to mention. This dessert can of course be used any time of the year, although it doesn't happen often here in Denmark. And the reason would probably be that there is a certain tradition connected to it:

The Hidden Almond

The tradition of the Hidden Almond is a simple game and it has a great way of bringing people closer together during the Christmas Dinner or during any other gathering in the time of Christmas. 

Note: In Denmark we have a tradition for Christmas Lunch, were colleagues, the widened family or a circle of friends or neighbours get together and share a meal during those dark days around Christmas (if you've been to Scandinavia during December you know how dark it can be with the sun rising round 7.40 in the morning and setting round 5.40 in the evening)

The Hidden Almond goes like this:

Making the Ris a la Mande the cook saves a single almond after they've all been unskinned. This almond is not to be chopped like the others, but is instead put into the dessert whole. Be sure to stir enough so that even the cook doesn't know where the whole almond is.

The rest is very simple: everyone digs in and the one who gets the whole almond wins the Almond Prize, which can really be anything you can think of. When I was a kid, the Almond Prize was usually chokolate or something else for the sweet tooth, but in our family we usually get some kind of game and wrap it in neatly like you would a Christmas Present. We've had "Partners," a game of working together, "Donkey," which is an old game anyone can play from the 5-year-old to great grand-pa. In other families I've heard they have the Almond Prize be decoration for the Christmas tree or something creative to pass time together.

Really there are no rules. The prize can be anything you like. Still, I find that the game is most fun if the prize is something we can all share during Christmas.

As a little side remark I'd like to share with you this great idea for an Almond Prize that will be a great idea if you don't have small children in the house: A goat! - not for the winner, but for an African family, who really need it. I'll make a post on that in the new year, because it doesn't have to be something you do during Christmas...

Borrowed from (I'll try to find an international equivalent to this organization for a post on helping those in need)

Oh, yes, I almost forgot: 

One of the fun things about this tradition is if the winner can wait to reveal that he or she has won. Hiding the almond in your mouth while keeping on eating your Ris a la Mande can make the game quite fun, because everyone is waiting for the winner to reveal himself.

A little additional funny thing: not everyone likes Ris a la Mande, but I've never heard about anyone completely refusing to eat it - those, who don't like this dessert, usually have one plate full to participate in the game. My wife is one of those people and in her family only a few actually like the dessert. So... the first few Christmases I had with her family, they all stared as I went in for seconds - after the winner had been found - and then someone would say (usually my wife) "You do know the Almond has already been found, right?"

But the truth is: I simply love this dessert!

If you tried out this dessert, please leave a comment below and tell me about it - even if you hated it, I'd like to know...

If you already tried the game of The Hidden Almond, I'd be happy if you could leave a comment and tell me about it as well... ;-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Recipe: Ris a la Mande

It's Christmas Morning where I live and I suppose I really shouldn't be blogging today. However, since the kids are entertaining themselves playing with their Christmas Presents, I thought I'd find a few moments to hand you all the recipe for a dessert, that has been a Danish Christmas tradition for I don't know how long: "Ris a la Mande" (prenounced "Rees a la mang")

The name suggests a French Connection, but that's completely off the main road. As it is often the case with Danish, we tend to use foreign terms for things that are meant to be of high quality. Typical Danish inferiority complex...

Anyway, this dessert is quite easy to make and in our house it's my job to make it. One of the advantages is that it's a two-step dessert that gives you an evening meal and from some of it you make the dessert. Ready? Here we go:

What you need:
500g Pudding Rice (Rice isn't just rice and if you use any other kind, you won't get anything that even resembles a dessert - or the evening meal, for that matter)
3,5 liters of high fat milk (app. 3,5% fat)
1/4 liter of cream (app. 38% fat - you need whipping cream at the least)
150g of almonds (hence "a la mande," which basically means "with almonds" - check your french vocabulary)
7,5 dl of water (a dl is 1/10 of a liter)
1/4 liter Cherry Sauce

What is nice to have, when making this dessert:
A towel
A bed (yes, that´s right: a bed. Just your ordinary bed, that you usually sleep in)
A sleeping blanket (the thicker, the better - multiple blankets is just as good)

What you do:
1: Put the water in a large cooking pot (I use a 5 liter pot, but it really can't be too big, unless you go into industrial mode)

2: When the water is boiling, put in the rice little by little while stirring (the stirring is very important, because if you don't stir, it'll burn at the bottom of the pot)

3: Let the rice boil for about 2 minutes while stirring (still very important - don't you ever let go of that cooking spoon)

4: Pour in the milk little by little, so that the pot will keep almost boiling (if it stops boiling, it really isn't a problem, it just means it'll take a little longer, before the temperature rises to the boiling point again and cooking this meal takes a bit longer)

Note: You need to be very careful with boiling milk, because it will very quickly boil over the top of the pot, if you're not careful - if this happens, there is only one way to stop the catastrophy: take the pot off of the stove to let the temperature fall.

5: When all the milk is in the pot and it is boiling, you have two options:

5a: Finish cooking on the stove
You can either leave it on the stove simmering with a lid on for about 30-45 minutes while constantly making sure that it won't boil over the top or stop simmering (not the option I would recommend, unless you're in such a hurry, that there is no other way to get it done)

5b: Finish cooking in bed
The better option might seem a bit strange, but I assure you that not only does it give the best end result. It also has these rather nice benefits:

1. It saves you a lot of grief
2. It saves you a lot of time
3. It saves you a lot of energy and thus it saves you money

Option 5b is this:
a. Put a lid on the pot

b. Wrap a towel around it (this is mostly to make cleaning an easier task - you will find out why)

c. Put the towel wrapped pot in your bed (yes, that's right: put it to bed)

d. Tug it in like you would a child and make sure the blanket(s) are covering the pot and towel completely

e. Leave the pot in bed for about 4-5 hours, but stir every hour or so

Note: What happens when you tug in the pot, is that the heat is kept in by the blanket(s) but the temperature never rises - this means that the meal will slowly cook and you don't have to worry about burning it. Stirring every hour ensures that every little grain of rice is cooked properly.

f. The Rice Pudding is done when it has the consistence of an old fashioned oat meal.

Note: If you just want to serve the Rice Pudding, all you have to do now is add a bit of salt (careful, it really doesn't need all that much and you can easily destroy it if you add too much - and if you do, it's impossible to save it!)

If you want the dessert for the next day, put aside some of the Rice Pudding and put it in the fridge and then follow these instructions the following day:

1. Put the kettle on
2. Put the almonds in a container that can take boiling temperature
3. Pour the boiling water in with the almonds
4. With a spoon, take a few almonds and put them on a plate
5. Take the almonds one by one and press with your thumb, index finger and middle finger with one hand. This will pop the almond out of it's skin (be sure to catch them with your other hand)
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 till all the almonds are skinned
7. With a large and sharp knife, chop the almonds to small pieces about 3-6 mm
8. Whip the cream
9. Put the almonds into the Rice Pudding and stir
10. Put in the whipped cream little by little and carefully stir (if you're not careful enough, you'll kind of "unwhip" the cream, which is not what you want)
11. Finally, you heat up the cherry sauce and serve

That's it!

This is what it could look like:

If you try this out I would be thrilled to hear about your experience with it... So, please feel free to leave a comment...

Note: There is a great game connected to this dessert - read about it here

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Schoolyard Shootdown

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

We've heard this argument being used from NRA and others whenever there is been a debate on the use of firearms in the USA. Being from Europe I know I might be under then influence of a culture different from the American, but there is one thing I don't get:

Why would increasing the use of firearms ever solve the problem of kids being gunned down?

Do the NRA really think the solution is to give the kids a firearm of their own?

If every single kid in that school in Newtown had a rifle in their schoolbag, I seriously doubt the shooter would've been stopped by a 6-year-old girl pumping him full of lead with a Kalashnikov.

Of course, the above statement is correct: people do kill people and guns aren't guilty of anything, because they must be held by a human to be of any use. But the same thing can be said about cars, bombs and even weapons of mass destruction.

Will the NRA any time soon promote the idea that every nation in the world should have weapons of mass destruction? Why not go all the way and pass a bill to let the government equip every school kid with a nuclear arsenal? I mean: if the basic idea of having firearms widely spread among the population is to demotivate villains from using firearms, surely the knowledge that every school kid can press a button to obliviate those villains with a nuclear device would make any gang member think twice about going on a drive by shooting? Not?

Probably not...

The simple fact is that if that crazy guy had a knife instead of a semi-automatic, the death toll would've been much lower. Lives could've been saved. Lifes of children could've been spared. Is the right to have firearms really so important that it's worth the lives of defenseless children?

I don't think so... Do you?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Remote that will not disappear!

If you have kids, you may just recognize how the remote control for the TV can be a source of eternal conflict and suffering?

The everlasting fighting over TV-power can really rip a family apart and change an otherwise relaxed weekend to outright war between family members - especially if the kids get into the fight as well (joke...)

In this struggle for power my kids have a tendency to hide the remote in a place where other members of the family won't find it. Quite often they succeed so well that even the one hiding the thing can't remember where they put it.

This power struggle will probably always be there and I seriously doubt we can do away with it. But I actually think my wife found a solution to that other problem of the remote disappearing.

She bought us a JUMBO remote - and when I call it a JUMBO remote, I'm not just talking about the name of it. I'm giving you a very precise description of the thing.

I'm telling you: that remote is HUGE!

With a size of nearly 4" by 8" I can't even cover it using both of my hands!

This remote is NOT going to be lost any time soon!

The struggle for power will still remain. It's not an easy problem to solve, but at least now we can turn up the volume on the TV when the kids start arguing... Well... not really...

All of this made me think: maybe this would be an idea in the world of international politics? Not mass producing JUMBO remotes of course, but when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, one of the major problems has always been the ability to hide the fact that you have them.

If the JUMBO concept was introduced for weapons of mass destruction, maybe things would be a bit easier? I mean, even Iran wouldn't be able to hide away a nuclear bomb, if it was the size of Texas, would they?

So, if Obama, Cameron (the prime minister of the UK, if you are in doubt) or any of the other big players in international politics are reading this blog (and of course I do expect at least one of them does!) Please feel free to grab the idea and make it your own.

I won't patent the idea. I wont even take my fair share of royalties for it. Hey, you can even take the credit for all I care...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Danish Christmas Cookies

In Denmark we have some proud Christmas traditions. One of them is baking cookies and today I want to give you one of the most simple recipes you will ever know. So, without further ado, I give you:

Finnish Bread

What you need:
250g Margarine (or butter, if you prefer)
100g Sugar
375g Flower

What you do:

1. Make sure your butter or margarine has room temperature
2. Mix all the ingredients using your hands. This is important, because the warmth of your hands is necessary to get the margarine/butter to melt just enough to make the dow stick together. Keep kneading till you get a smooth surface
3. Put the dow in the fridge for a half hour
4. Turn on the oven at 200 degrees Celsius
5. Use a rolling pin to get a flat dow
6. Cut the dow in squares
7. With your fingers squeeze the squares on the side making small sticks like on the picture above
8. Bake the Finnish Bread for 3-7 minutes depending on their height
9. When they're done, let them cool of a bit before serving

When you take them out of the oven, they should be a bit soft, almost as if they haven't been completely baked. When they cool of they will be just right.

If you want to add something extra, spreading a bit of pearled sugar on the top is a fine touch (for it to stick, you can put a bit of raw egg on the top and springle the sugar before baking them)

That's it! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Prob.Math. = Mental Torture!

I'm a word person. And even though I do like math, there has always been one branch of math that has the potential to push me into a corner: probabilities! I think the reason is that I want to be able to explain everything using words and with probability this usually presents somewhat of a problem.

I haven't thought about it for a while, but a few days ago the issue sort of slapped me in the face again. I was watching "21" on our national TV-station and in this movie a math problem is presented like this:

You participate in a game show where you must choose one of three doors. Behind one of these doors is a major prize and behind the other two there is nothing.

You choose one of the doors and now the game host presents you with an opportunity to change your mind. He opens a door behind which there is nothing and he asks you if you want to hold on to the door you already chose or you want to switch to the other remaining door.

What is the best choice? Well, the best choice is to change your mind, because the probabilities have changed. I never got my head around this. It doesn't make any sense, does it?

Actually, I was thinking about writing a post on how this math problem has a flaw in it.

Never the less, after thinking about it for a few days, it suddenly occurred to me why this statement is not a flaw. But the only reason, I suddenly understood it was the fact that I can now explain it in words. So, if you would like to understand it as well, hold on and read on:

The math problem presented here states that the first choice holds a 33.33% chance of winning the prize because there are three doors and only one of them has the prize behind it. Like this:

Probability(door1) = 1/3
Probability(door2) = 1/3
Probability(door3) = 1/3

But everything happening after your choice is completely different. This is where all probabilities changes and this is where it gets a bit nerd like, so try to hold on.

The host knows which door has the prize behind it.
The game host will not open the door you selected.
Neither will he open the door that has the prize behind it.

This means that if you chose the right door, you also have chosen to grant the host a free choice between the remaining doors AND that if you change your mind you will loose. In other words: there is a 1/3 probability that you have chosen the wright door AND that changing your mind will make you loose.

However, if you chose one of the wrong doors, you have also chosen to take away the free will of the game host. If you chose the wrong door, the game host can only open one of the other two doors: the one without the prize!

So, the probability that you've made the wrong choice is 2/3 and if this is true the game host could not have chosen any other door to open than the one he opened. In other words: there is a 2/3 probability that you have made the wrong choice in which case the prize MUST be behind the door that neither you or the game host chose. By changing your mind you have grabbed that 2/3 probability of getting the prize.

Still confused? Try flipping the scenario bottom up: instead of thinking about the first round as choosing a door, you should think of it as disregarding a door. If you disregarded one of the wright doors (that is: disregarding one of the doors with no prize behind) you have actually disregarded BOTH of the doors with no prize, because your disregarding of one of the doors forces the game host to disregard the other wrong doors. Having a 2/3 probability of disregarding ONE of these wrong doors, you have actually a 2/3 probability of disregarding BOTH of the two wrong doors. The choice is simple after that: there's a 2/3 probability that you have disregarded BOTH of the wrong doors in collaboration with the game host and a 1/3 probability that you have disregarded the wrong door, in which case it doesn't matter which of the other doors the host has disregarded.

Still confused? Then I'm sorry for not being able to explain this...

Probability Math will never be my strong side, but if the above helped you to understand this math problem, I'd love to hear about it... Maybe you could explain it to me and the other readers of this blog in a better way and we would all have a laugh?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Soul Walker

As I wrote a few days ago, I will be participating in this year's NaNoWriMo and right now I've reached about 3300 words.

The story is a sort of sequel to my short story "The Mysterious Disappearance of McGrath." You can download the story for free here:

At the end of that story we left McGrath standing by his own grave stone with the inscription: "Thrifty - Missed by None."

Reading the inscription on his grave stone McGrath realizes that no living soul will ever miss him. Enters Gefaliel, who claims to be his Guardian Angel. Geff offers McGrath a second chance to reconsile himself with his ex wife and his daughter.
But how can McGrath change his view on life and death to accomplish a better after life reputation than the one he has already left?
And why would God and Geff even consider giving him this opportunity?

Well, all of that we will soon find out in the upcoming novel "Soul Walker" where McGrath learns about being unselfish and helping others.

You can keep yourself updated with the progress of the story by downloading the most recent version here:

Sorry there isn't a catching and spectacular cover yet. I'm still working on that one...

Monday, October 29, 2012


This year I will be participating in the National Novel Writing Month, in short known as NaNoWriMo.
The general idea of NaNoWriMo is to write a complete novel in just 30 days during the month of November.

If you make a living being an author, you just might be one of those nagging people, who says: "Oh, please.. Give me a break here - you can't write a novel in a month, come on! You're making the craftsmanship of authors look bad - as if you can really shake a complete, edited, proofread novel out of your sleeves in 30 days!!!"

If you think that, you're absolutely right! But you obviously didn't get the point either!

It's called NaNoWriMo, National Novel WRITING Month, not NaNoWriEdiMo or NaNoWriEdiProofReaMo or any of that sort.

Writing a Novel in one month really isn't that big of a deal.

The goal is merely 50,000 words in those 30 days. That's 1,666 words a day and frankly: if you can't write 1,666 words during an ordinary 8 hour day of work... well, don't quit your day job.. just saying.

When I sit down in front of my keyboard I can easily write 500 words in an hour. And of course, writing a novel is not only the work in front of the computer, I get that. But 1,666 should be doable, especially if you make a living being an author.

After finishing your novel in 30 days... well, that's when you begin editing, proof reading and making a cover for your book. And in most cases, those tasks are the ones that take the most time.

Writing the novel is the easy part. Making it a good one, on the other hand.. That's the real challenge!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Take me as I am

These past two weeks at work I've been listening to a song repeatedly on the radio. The song is catching and it has a text that really sticks:

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint, I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream, I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

The song is "IM A BITCH" performed by Meredith Brooks and you can read the rest of the lyrics here:

Although the song is catching and there is no doubt about its quality, I have to admit that I'm beginning to hate it because I believe it to be advocating for a poor mentality that has increasingly spread out in the western world since the first world war. This mentality seems to remove our responsibility for ourselves and for our actions. It´s basically a mentality that says: 'Take me as I am, because I'm not going to try better myself.'

I can´t say where this mentality comes from, but the problem is that it seems to be a mix of truth and lies making it almost impossible to prove wrong. This 'take me as I am' mentality is based on the truth: none of us are perfect and we never will be. But then enters a lie: that because we are not perfect and because everyone has flaws and shortcomings, then all of those flaws and shortcoming are not bad. They´re just part of human nature and being human in nature can´t be all that bad, can it?

The main character in the song believes herself to be just the way she should be. Flaws and shortcomings are not bad, because they are parts of who she is. There is more depth to it than that, but I´ll get back to this in a little while.

Here´s the thing: there is a major difference between forgiveness and acceptance. We need to be forgiven for our flaws, but that doesn't mean it is okay to have them and that we don't have to try bettering ourselves. On the contrary, forgiveness is something that can help us in our effort to do something about them.

The 'Take me as I am' mentality is nothing more than laziness.

The funny thing is (not funny like: ha ha, but funny like: hmmm...? is that so?) that even inside of the lyrics from the song, the main character gives us hints that point to her still knowing that she´s wrong.

First, she is crying because of how she behaves...
Secondly, she states that she doesn´t envy her boyfriend/husband

We should listen to that voice inside of us saying 'this is wrong' and take it as a wake up call to try bettering ourselves. Not by covering ourselves in self pitty and self loathing, but simply by stating to ourselves that we want to do better. The real power of forgiveness (forgiveness from others, but mostly when we forgive ourselves) comes from this: when our trespasses are forgiven, our thankfulness is what drives our will to change. Is it easy? I doubt it!

But it´s probably the most significant message we can send to our loved ones: I love you so much that I want to change my poor sides and be a better person!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dreadful NO!

Sometimes I find myself in a situation, where people who don't know me all that well get the impression that I'm in a bad mood, dislike them or even worse: that I'm simply an arrogant sod just waiting for a chance to belittle others.

When I was younger I couldn't wrap my head around it and I felt like the most misunderstood kid in the entire world. Today, I'd like to think I know better. Over the years I've realised that the way I speak, the words I use and the posture of my body has much more impact than I thought when I was young.

However, there is still much I can learn about communication. I've always had a way with the written word, but when it comes to communication eye-to-eye, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean...

A little while ago I learned a new lesson. Sort of... come to think about it, I may have come across that very lesson before, but maybe it didn't sink in as well as it should.

I was at work and found myself getting more and more angry at one of my colleagues  I felt mistreated, but couldn't figure out what made me feel this way. Then, suddenly, it struck me:

Whenever I made a mistake (I'm the new guy and have a lot to learn) he "NOed" me. That is: he used the word "NO!" in a kind of agressive, snarring way - You know: just like a parent trying to control a toddler:

"NO! don´t touch the stereo!" - "NO! Knives are not toys!" - "NO! Plates are not meant for throwing!"


Words have a power build in to them and whenever we speak or write words we unleash some of that power. That single word: "NO!" has a lot of negative energy and I´ve witnessed first hand how some mentally handicapped people can even respond with violence just hearing the word.

So, I've decided to try not using that word so much. Instead of saying "No, don't touch the stereo!" to my kids, I'd like to be able to change it to: "Please leave the stereo alone."

Maybe... just maybe... My children and I will have bettered our communication this way?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Danish Amanda Todd lives life to the fullest

Amanda Todd was a Canadian girl, who killed herself after being harassed on the internet.

I don't know anything about the case whatsoever and this post really isn't about her at all.

Instead, it's a post on how such a story can go in a completely different direction. It's a story on coming out the other side of the tunnel with a smile on your face. This post is about the positive and life confirming story.

Fie Laursen is a Danish girl, who was harassed on FaceBook and other social media in the past years. She was on TV the other day and I'd have to say: I was very impressed with her!

Fie was 16 years old when she started blogging about her experiences being bullied by boys and girls her own age. 16 years old and being compared to a zoo monkey. As you can see on her picture below, that comparison is somewhat off the tracks:

Fie Laursen (photo taken from
And yes, internet harassment and harassment in general may have turned into the new black in terms of having the political correct opinions. Nevertheless it's a problem, if even a single kid has to deal with being the one whom everyone else is turning to for letting out their frustrations.
I have personal experience in this matter. As a kid, I was lonely. I was the one, no one wanted to play with. I was the one who took the punches for other kids' lack of confidence and self esteem. I know what it feels like, when all the things you say and do are ignored (best case) or ridiculed - and then see other people being cheered and encouraged for the exact same things.

If there's one thing very few people get, it is that being the bullied kid is much more than being the subject for other peoples pranks and ill conceived jokes. It's much more than stupid remarks and inconsiderate language. Being bullied goes much deeper than your ordinary teasing and fight for social status.

Basically, being bullied is about being lonely. Being outside the group...

If you are being bullied, your are not a part of the group. You won't get invited to slumber parties, your class mates won't send you that warming smile when you enter the room, you are the last to be picked in sports and no one wants to have you in their working group, unless they know your expertise will grant them victory in a competition - and even if this is the case, you will be used and thrown away like yesterdays news paper.

Being bullied means that even your funniest jokes won't bring laughter, untill they are repeated by someone else, who then get the cheers for your wits.

Being bullied means that all of the sudden the empty chair in the dining hall is taken.

Being bullied means that you can have the looks of a super model and still people will call you ugly and disgusting.

In short: being bullied means that everything you say and do will result in negative response if any at all!

Such an experience really has the potential to make you bitter. To make you hate life and hate people...

That's why I am so impressed by the way Fie Laursen handles it all. Two years ago she was the most courageous girl in Denmark. Today, she is 18 and the most courageous woman in Denmark.
That's what I think!


Because of the way she deals with it. There is no name calling, no retaliation, no anger and when she speaks of the people who hurt her, one word describes it clearly: forgiveness and moving on!

It is clear, that Fie has used her experiences in a good way. She has used it all to become an amazing woman with a big heart and a strength of a leader. She is, in my not so humble opinion, someone to be proud to know.

Finally a little encouragement for those of you out there, who experiences some of what Fie and Amanda has experienced: Those being bullied as kids mostly turn out being successful beyond those, who bullied you!

If you hold on to the good heart inside of you and fight the urge of having revenge, your experiences WILL work in your favour!

Amanda Tood ended up killing herself...
Fie Laursen has made a life for herself...

Don't be an Amanda (God rest her soul)
Be Fie!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Burn your luggage!

Being married for more than 17 years I know how bad communication between my wife and I can go.
Even the most positive and praising things we say to each other can be received as criticism or worse.

Why is it so hard to communicate with those you know best?

It really is somewhat of a mystery that when you speak with people who don´t know you all that well, the things you say are much more well received than when you are with people you've known for years - at least sometimes it can be that way...

It's a paradox and I personally wonder how it can be, that the people I share a common history with and thus should be the people who understand me best, sometimes seem to be misunderstanding what I say in a way that does not happen with people I've just met or people I don't see so often.

Your luggage makes you lopsided

The reason for this is rather simple - or it seems to me to be quite simple...
I think it has something to do with our common history.

As two people get to know each other, we move constantly closer to one another. And as time passes and as we tend to open up more and more to the inner chambers of our heart, we let that other person see more and more of who we really are. The daily face we put up in public to let other people see only our most positive sides isn't worn at home or when we are in such company that we feel at home. Then our mask falls and the people closest to us get to see our less benevolent character. They get to see the darker sides of our personality.

Don't misunderstand me here: this is a good thing! We must open up to someone or we will die inside. And even more importantly: opening up to someone is a way of telling that someone how much we trust them.

The flip side of that coin, however, is that when we show the people closest to our hearts that we can be nasty and angry and unreasonable, it does to some extend open a gap between what they see when we are alone with them and what they see when we are out in the public.

This gap can create some sort of confusion in the other person and make them uneasy as to what we really think and what we really mean when we say the things we say.

Imagine it as if we all have luggage in our hands. An empty suitcase without wheels. As we get to know someone, we put our experience with that person in the suitcase and we carry that suitcase around every second we are with that person. And as we put more and more heavy stuff in that suitcase: anger, critisism, shouting and the likes; those darker sides make the suitcase so heavy that our whole body gets lopsided. Following this we will find it harder and harder to focus our eyes in the other persons heart. The heavy suitcase simply takes our focus away from what we share in this particular moment and instead we tend to focus on the contents of the heavy suitcase...

Burn your luggage!

What to do? - Well, I think opening the suitcase from time to time and dealing with it's contents can be a good thing. This way you and your spouse or friend can talk about these darker sides of your personalities and maybe find out that some of the content in your suitcases are more based on your own misconception than it was based on what really happened and what was really said...

But still, I don't think this will be enough...

Sometimes you need to burn the contents and the suitcase along with it. Make a decision to burn your luggage and start over with a fresh suitcase... Some of the contents of the old one will quickly jump inside the new suitcase almost by itself, but the new suitcase will in itself help you to focus on each piece you put inside of it and give you time to wonder if it really belongs in that suitcase... 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Skrymers Glove

The Aseir and the Yetten are at war in the Milky Way Galaxy and the Aseir are fighting to keep their technological advantage. They have sent an expedition to Earth to convey experiments with the Fyrkat device to obtain the ability to move between planets through wormholes. During a Yetten attack, the expeditions command ship, Svalinn, is shot down with Thor and his friend, Loke in it. They crash land in the Baltic Sea (hence the inspiration from the ocean x team) and as they cannot get in contact with the rest of the expedition, who have evacuated, they set out to secure two important objects from Fyrkat, so that the new technology does not fall in enemy hands. When arriving at Fyrkat, they engage the Yetten and rescue two earth children, Tjalfe and his sister Røskva, but Loke disappears immidiately and shortly after the Yetten obducts Røskva and Tjalfe. Even though evidence points towards someone from the crew being a spy for the Yetten, Thor is determined to find Loke, Røskva and Tjalfe and a crazy rescue attempt begins in the dangerous black hole cluster, Skrymers Glove. But how can Thor know for sure that Loke is not the traitor and how will they manage to get through the fields of extreme gravity without being crushed in both space and time?

Expected Publishing date: 15th of January 2013

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to give your wife some sugar

Many husbands are accused by their wives that they don't give flowers often enough. I'm not one of them...

Not because I have a no limit spending account at the local florist and present my wife with bundles of colorful plants every other week.

In fact, I remember every single occasion, where my wife has received such a symbol of affection, because I can count them using less fingers than I have on one hand...

No, my wife doesn't suffer from allergy and no, I don't not care about my wife knowing that I love her.

The reason is quite simple: my wife doesn't speak 'gifts' very well.

If I have any understanding of the natural reaction to such a statement out of context, you may have the facial expression of a question mark right now. How do you speak 'gifts' ?

Well, I believe we all express our affection for one another in terms of what we appreciate ourselves. If I appreciate gifts I will present gifts as a sign of love. If I appreciate it when someone does things for me, then serving others would be the most natural way for me to show my love for them...

Personally, my primary love language is praise. That is: I feel appreciated when someone tells me that they like me or that they like what I can do.

My wife, on the other hand, feels appreciated when I do things for her.

The past two weeks I've been working night shifts and because I recognize my wife's love language to be that of doing something for her, when I come home in the morning, the first thing I do is to make her coffee...

It might seem like a small thing to do and I suppose it is. It doesn't cost me anything (except for the coffee itself, which we would have used anyway...) and it takes no time to do it.

Still, the way this tiny gesture is received by my wife makes it anything but tiny. Just by observing her body language and her smile I know she feels appreciated and loved.

Other things demand more effort, but is equally valued as a token of my love for her. Mowing the lawn, doing laundries, making her a sandwich for lunch or fixing things (I really, really am not a handyman, which makes fixing things even more valuable to her!) are all ways of sending her a simple, but extremely important message: I love you so much that I make an effort to speak your love language!

What is the love language of YOUR loved ones and in which ways do you make an effort to speak them?

Note: if you want to read more about love languages, the book beneath is a great tool:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Balance of work and family

We, that is us, who are parents; we all want to provide for our family. I don't know how it works in your country and culture, but here in Denmark, where I live with my wife and four children, most couples are both providers. To tell you the truth, I'm not so sure it is a good idea. If both parents go to work, their children are the ones who must bare the consequences.

Now, I know it is a question of upsides and downsides to whatever arrangement every family decides on and there are benefits, when both parents go to work. And... this is not a post about emancipation. As I see it, it might as well be the husband as the wife, who takes care of the kids, while the other parent works.

Furthermore it isn't always possible for the family to have only one provider. In Denmark it usually isn't, because our society is based on both parents working, financially speaking and I'm sure there are many other societies where this is the case.

So, even though I do believe that our children suffer if both parents work, I also know there is really nothing we can do about it, so how do we deal with this issue?

Or said in another way: how do we balance work and family in the most beneficial way for all?

Well, it is a tough one... and I seriously doubt there is a general answer. Still, I've found a three-way perspective to be quite useful. This perspective is not in any way a step-by-step guide and frankly I believe such guides would be useless. Every family has to figure this out for themselves in such a way that it fits the way that family works. As I see it, finding this balance is like travelling through unknown territory. And with unknown territory there are no maps, no roads to follow and no sign post to help you on your way. But even in unknown and unchartered territory there is one thing you can do to help you find your way: using some kind of tool to get your barings! A sort of compass, if you like. The following three-way perspective is such a compass and it has, as you might already have guessed, three elements. These are:

#1: Courage
#2: Acceptance
#3: Wisdom

Courage is the basic tool for being able to change things. If we cannot find the courage to go into unknown and unchartered territory, the rest of this perspective is meaningless

Acceptance is both about accepting each other, accepting each other's strengths and weaknesses and accepting that some things are just out of our control

And finally, wisdom is about knowing the difference between the things we can change and the things we cannot change - and also wisdom is about knowing how to make the changes we want and how to accept the discouragement of not being able to change some of the things we want to change.

The founder of the Franscican order, Frans of Assisi, expresses this in a prayer. Maybe you heard it before. It goes something like this:

Lord, please grant me the courage to change the things I can, teach me to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.

When trying to balance work life and family life, I believe in periodically revising the way we live.

Right now, for example, I work night shifts at a factory and sleep in the morning. This way I am ready for the kids, when they come home from school, which is really a privilege. The downside is that I may not be able to keep healthy doing night shifts (since being awake at night really is not for humans...)

With me working at night we have a higher income and thus the question is: is it worth it? Or would it work better for our family with morning shifts and a smaller income?

And what my wife? Is it best if she works as an executive in a day care center accepting the late office hours that comes with the territory? Or should she work less and have a smaller salary?

What about the balance between us? Should she work the most? Should I?

Asking questions like these grants an opportunity to change the way we arrange our lives as individuals and as a family, but for changes to take place, the above-mentioned threefold angle must be applied.

That is: which parts are possible to change, which are not and do we have the courage to change?

All that is left is to try different solutions. Sometimes one solution is best, but then, as our lives change (our kids grow older, we grow older, new opportunities arise, other opportunities are not there anymore...) - then what was before best, is not anymore.

Do you have the courage to change your family life? Is it possible? Do you have the wisdom to know the difference?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sleep your way to a good relation

This post is going to be without any kind of pictures and there will be no formatting either...

It's not that I've gotten lazy (even if it was, you probably wouldn't have noticed anything different since this is actually a very important trade of mine: being lazy...)

No, the reason for this rather dull looking post is that I'm writing it in bed with my two youngest kids lying beside me. On my right I observe how my daughter's eyes seem to be made out of led and on the left I'm trying to avoid being whirled away by my son's heavy snoring.

Using Blogger-droid really isn't my favorite way of posting, but since my computer would be in the way...

The reason for writing this post is not that I am bored and need something to pass the time (probably I will soon engage in a snoring contest with my son)

No, I just had to share this moment with you and point out that being together creating relations is not so much about what you do. It is about doing it together!

Good night - sleep tight...
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.4

Friday, June 22, 2012

Building up your child - Self Awareness

In my first post about building up your child I defined three building blocks:

Self Awareness
Self Confidence
Self Esteem

Today I´ll be going deeper into the first building block: Self Awareness

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said that a human being doesn´t really exist before he chooses himself. This may sound strange, but what I´ve found to Kierkegaard´s point really isn´t rocket science. Of course, I cannot claim to be Kierkegaard´s true vessel and my interpretation might not be accurate, but this is what I´ve benefited from reading Kierkegaard: Choosing yourself is all about taking control of your own person. Choosing yourself simply means to make your own choices and those choices determine who you are.

Picture yourself as an empty shell. From the day you were born, you were nothing more than a biological robot. You needed sustenance for your body to work and you needed to get rid of the waste. But from day one and as you grew older you began to learn. A baby´s first lesson is that crying gives you what you want. If a baby is hungry it cries and mum or dad comes to assistance. Feeding the baby or changing the baby´s diapers mum or dad fulfill the baby´s needs, but the baby probably doesn´t understand all of this. The only thing the baby understands is that crying makes the uncomfortable notion of hunger in the stomach or waste in the rear end go away. So whenever the baby is uncomfortable it cries.

But still the baby isn´t self aware. It doesn´t know who it is. The baby doesn´t begin it´s journey to self awareness before experiencing disappointment. That is: sometimes crying doesn´t make the uncomfortable go away. This is when the baby has to learn about its own feelings and emotions. It needs to become aware of itself, before it can interact with others.

Self Awareness is, rather simply put, knowing yourself. It´s about recognizing your emotions, knowing your strengths and weaknesses and understanding what it is that makes you 'YOU' and not someone else.

But to recognize your emotions, you need to have them confirmed by someone who recognizes them in you. This is where many a parent takes a wrong turn. Because most of us have a tendency to praise our children for what they accomplish instead of focusing on strengthening their personality and Self Awareness. Now, there is nothing wrong with praising your kids for what they accomplish. In fact, you should do so.

But if you praise your kids for their accomplishments and never focus on their self awareness the result will be kids who seem to be very confident of themselves, but inside they´re nervous and self loathing.

So, what to do?

Imagine your daughter is enjoying herself on a swing in the garden or in a park. She laughs and smiles and has a wonderful time. "Daddy!" she yells happily, "Daddy, look, I´m swinging!"

Usually most of us would say something like: "I can see that, darling, you´re so good at it. Look how tall you can go. I´m so proud of you!"

But if this is what we say, we praise the girl for her accomplishment: she is good at it. She has a talent for using the swing.

What would happen, if instead you said something like this:

"Oh, yeah, I can see that. You´re really enjoying yourself, aren´t you. It´s great fun. I love to see you smile and have fun!"

See, how the focus suddenly went away from what she can do and instead went to what she is, what she is feeling and most important: what she means to you!

By focusing on her as a person and as my daughter, whom I love and whom I therefore enjoy seeing happy, I can strengthen her Self Awareness - and believe me when I say that she is going to need it as she grows up!

How do you help your kids to get that Self Awareness growing?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wake up, little Suzy

Have you ever come across the terms A-people and B-people?

These terms are a way to describe if you´re the kind of person who goes to sleep early in the evening and get up early in the morning (an A-person) - or - the kind of person who goes to sleep late and wake up late in the morning (a B-person)

I always thought I was a B-person and for years I´ve found myself writing or watching TV till the middle of the night, before I went to sleep. And then in the morning it would take me quite some time to really wake up and be the kind of man you would actually want to be with. But lately I´ve found that my family is much better of if I go to bed early in the evening and get out of bed early in the morning.

This gives me the time in the morning I need to really wake up. Get a cup of coffee (very important) and maybe write a few lines.

Recently I´ve started doing just that. I get up at 4 or 5 in the morning, start brewing coffee, go to the bath room and then I go outside to get some fresh air. After that I go back to the kitchen and start up the computer, make lunch for my wife and kids and then I have just a little more than half an hour to write before I have to go to work.

All of this means that this is in the past:

The benefits a clear as crystal:

#1: I get some time to wake up without having wife and kids to chatter and rumble
#2: Because there´s no time for anything else than writing, I don´t get distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or mails that ticked in during the night
#3: I get to have my coffee for myself and I don´t have to share!

To sum it all up: It´s brilliant! And my mood is much better in the morning when I get up this early and this benefits both myself and my family.

Why haven´t I done this before? Why did I believe for so many years that I was the kind of guy who got to and out off bed late? Frankly, I don´t know... I´m just glad I found out!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

And now to something completely different

Usually I write about family and culture on this blog, but being an author I sometimes post a preview of what I´m writing at the moment.

This is some of what I wrote today. It´s for the upcoming novel 'Fyrkat' about how Norse Mythology is really derived from aliens visiting our planet 1000 years ago - I bet you didn´t know that, did you?? ;-)

Anyway, this is part of Chapter 15: The Aseir Watchmen, so sit back and relax. If you get to the end, please tell me what you think...


Thor was sitting in his chair aboard ‘The Mjolner’ looking at his screens when Loke appeared in the door. “Everything should be in place,” Loke said and approached his commander. They both had a feeling of awe being here again after all that time. “So much pain and suffering,” Thor sighed. He had his eyes fixed on the virtual screen, where he could follow almost every move of every living thing down on the planet surface. 

“Some times I wonder, if it was all worth it,” Loke replied. This statement made Thor turn his head in anger. “What?” he said, “Of course it´s worth it. Where would we be, if we hadn´t done, what we did?” He calmed down and lowered his voice. “Where would they be?” he muttered. Loke was used to Thor´s temper and was probably the only one on the ship, who wasn´t intimidated by it. “Well, I don´t know where we would be,” he said, “but chances are... they wouldn´t be at all. The Yetten fleet would most certainly have destroyed them. Maybe even demolished the whole planet to bits and pieces.”

There was a short silent moment before Loke asked the question that had been burning inside of him for more than a millenium. “I still don´t get it, Thor,” he said, “why do the Yetten see these people as such a threat? I mean, come on...! When we first discovered them, they had barely figured out how to make fire, let alone weapons.” He shook his head while speaking his mind and he hoped Thor would at least try to answer his question this time, though he never had before. It was almost as if the answer to that simple question hurt Thor physically.

In all the years, Loke and Thor had commanded ‘The Mjolner’ together, Thor had a thing for these humans, but ever since they left a millenium ago, he hadn´t wanted to talk about it - ever. Not a single word. Loke had a feeling that Thor knew much more about the humans than he wanted to share. And it was rather likely to be true. Thor had had access to time travel on a level that noone else in the entire Aseir civilization could even dream of having.

Thor turned off the screen and faced Loke. He had an expession on his face that Loke hadn´t seen before. As if he was sad and happy at the same time. Thor padded Loke once on his shoulder. “All in good time, Loke,” he said, “all in good time.”

Thor started walking to the door and they both walked down the corridor together. Loke felt a sort of relief when he realized that everything was going to change soon. It was almost as in the old days where he and Thor fought fierce battles against the Yetten fleet and Loke hadn´t had that feeling for a very long time. He felt it in every bone and his body seemed to react on it straightening up and walking tall and proud down the corridors.

The crew seemed to notice as well and as they passed groups of two or three Aseir warriors many of the crew stopped to turn their heads and follow their comanders with their eyes. Quite a few of them even showed smiles as they felt the warm flooding of a coming battle. Loke was both pleased and annoyed. He knew, what the crew didn´t: that even though a battle was coming, it was not for the Aseir warriors to fight. 

Thor hadn´t told him. Not in so many words. But still, Loke knew that this battle would be fought on Earth mostly by the humans and he felt bad about not being able to tell his fellow warriors the truth. After all, they were warriors and they had a right to be right in the center of this fight.

The both of them finally arrived at the destination on the ship and entered the transportation room. Thor opened the virtual screen by waving his hand over the console and up came a clear view of a small Island in the northern hemisphere of the planet. He drew a circle around a white stone building on the Island and zoomed in. Looking up at Loke, who had placed himself on the opposite side of the console he punched in the code for down transportation. “Ready?” he asked. Loke nodded and Thor punched the red button on the console.

There was a bright white light and their bodies began dissolving like a cloud of smoke on a windy day till they finally disappeared.


”Come on, guys!” Jeppe was eager to get inside the church and tried hurrying up the others. ”Where are you going?” Jenny asked in confusion as Jeppe went away from the church instead of toward it. ”We need to get the key first,” he replied with his back to them, ”I would prefer not to break in through a three inch thick door, if you don´t mind.” Jenny looked at Mike, who shrugged and picked up his bag to follow their Danish friend to a small house a few hundred yards down the road. ”Coming?” Jenny addressed Jim, who hadn´t moved.

He shook his head. ”No, I´d like to wait here, if that´s okay?” he said, ”I want to have a look at the church from the outside before we go in.” She started running to catch up with Jeppe and Mike with a ”suit yourself, Jim. See ya in a while” and Jim approached the church to have a look around.

It was by far the smallest church he had ever seen in his life and he couldn´t for the world understand why anyone would want to build such a thing instead of just having services at the inn or something. The church walls were white from top to one foot from the buttom and the lowest foot was painted pitch black. In many ways it was exactly like some of the old farm building on the Island and on the mainland for that matter. The sun was shining bright from the sky, but as a cloud gathered around the Island it was a bit darker than before.

Jim welcomed it, because the white church walls almost hurt his eyes when he looked at them and he really wanted to have a closer look at the markings on the walls. From a distance they seemed to be only small iron crosses, but as he came closer he saw there was something more to it. Most of the crosses were nothing special and probably had the purpose of holding the wall together in its weakest spots, but with a few of them the tips of the two strings weren´t inward bent as you would expect. Instead, these few crosses´ tips bent outwards and behind them were two small rings carved into the wall in such a way that the bending of the strings were exactly in the middle between the two rings. He touched one of them and jolted his hand back.

It wasn´t sharp, but the tip felt like it was connected to electricity and he had a small electric chock. He took of his rucksack and searched inside it. Then he found what he was looking for: a pencil. He held the pencil in his hand and approached the tip again, this time using the tip of the pencil.

Tsscichtz! He didn´t even touch it before it sent sparks out and he automatically jumped back a bit. The two rings behind the iron cross started glowing and it wasn´t before now that he realized how dark it was around him.

The glowing cross lit up a spherical shaped area about 10 feet from it and grew in size while shifting color from dim red over dark yellow, light yellow and further over to a white continously brightening light till his eyes hurt. He backstepped and hit a stone with his foot tripping backwards and landing on the other side of the stone still with his eyes fixed on the church wall. Though he couldn´t see the circles nor the iron cross there was no question that they were the origin of the light. Then something started to take form inside the light. As if a cloud of dust swirled together and kept intensifying pressure and the shape of a person began to take form right in front of him. 

Then he realized it wasn´t just one person, but two. Both of them rather tall and musculous. Swiisjch! The sound like a rock ´n roll CD being played backwards extremely fast accompanied the shrinking bubble of light and everything disappeared. Everything but two red bearded men with strange clothes, who looked right at him...

”Did you see that, Jimmy?” he heard Jenny shout somewhere behind him as she ran up the gravel path of the church, ”It was dark all of the sudden and then there was this strange bright light and....” Then she stopped talking and there was a short silence, before they could both hear Mike´s voice savouring the moment. 

”Wauw...” he said eyes wide open leaving his jaw on his chin. Then he seemed to pick himself up just enough to make a joke. ”This... this is exactly like playing ’World of Warcraft’... Wauw!”

Monday, June 18, 2012

If Muhammad won´t come to the mountain...

These last few weeks I´ve started to notice how my oldest son has begun to withdraw from the rest of the family. He comes home in the afternoon, says 'Hi!" grabs his iPad and goes to his room or the guest room, where he sort of 'hides out' for the rest of the day, if we don´t tell him to come join us. And it´s not enough to invite him to join us. We actually have to tell him (read: order him) to come be with us.

It´s rather frustrating and I was beginning to wonder, what in the world I´d done wrong. What could´ve brought my boy to flee from his family and hide away in his own world? Is there something in the way I´m being a father that is completely out of order or what?

I tried talking to him about it and told him that I want to be the best Dad in the entire universe and that I´m trying my best to be that, so if there is anything, he wanted me to think about, he really had to say so.

"No" he said, "not really... it´s fine"

Hmm... Okay...? So, he´s running away from his family in such a hurry that the mud is splashing up his back, but everything is A Okay?

Then I turned up the pressure a bit and asked him directly, why he didn´t spend time with his family, but instead kept so much to himself.

He didn´t even look at me, when he answered the question as if it was obvious: "The three others are so noisy and I just need some peace and quiet," he replied.

I thought about it for a while and two things occurred to me:

1. Why didn´t I just ask him from the very beginning why he kept to himself instead of trying to ask him, if it was me? (I felt a stupid, I have to admit)
2. If he needs the quiet (and he seems to know himself that he does) and he also needs to be with his family so that he doesn´t sort of 'grow into his own world' (and though I don´t think he knows this himself, I know I do!) - well, then we have a challenge that we need to attend to.

#1 Wasn´t easy to answer, but the lesson was clear cut: ask without inserting your own guesses in the question! (Duh!)

#2 Actually was quite easy to do something about and the answer came to me two days ago:

If Muhammad won´t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Muhammad! So, that´s what I, the mountain, did:

I decided to join him for an hour watching him play games on his iPad and watching youtube videos with him on his iPad. The result came at once and we had a marvelous time together. I just think I might repeat it!

Wouldn´t it be great, if we, as Daddies, tried giving our kids what we always wanted our own dads to give us when we were kids ourselves?