More photos from Oslo … and hula

by admin on March 26, 2009

Okay, we’re going to go off-topic for today, as I am going to post a few more photographs from my trip to Oslo last week. No chess in these pictures. And since someone requested a picture of me doing a hula dance, I’ve put one hula picture at the end.

Hey! No fair scrolling to the bottom! Come back here!

Here are three churches that I photographed in Oslo. I’m not ordinarily a big fan of churches, but it’s hard to resist taking a picture of a beautiful old church in a city, because it is always so different architecturally from the buildings around it. First, St. Olav’s church, built in 1856:

I picked this angle so that I could catch the setting sun reflecting off the sign in front (in the shadow, next to the red traffic light). In this tiny version you can’t read it, but in the full-size picture it says the name of the church in gold letters (St. Olav Domkirke).

The next church, built in 1903, is called Fagerborg. It is located right next to a park that seemed to be one of the highest points in downtown Oslo. I’m taking the picture from the hill overlooking the church, and so there isn’t as much distortion due to perspective as in the last photo.

Finally, here is my favorite. This church, called Bakkehaugen, was built in 1959 (the year after my birth). I can just imagine the architect asking himself, how can I take the tired old metaphors of the cross and the church steeple and bring them into the modern world? He has succeeded amazingly, in my opinion, with a design that is homey and inviting and at the same time very contemporary. Thanks to the Internet, which knows everything, I can tell you that the architect’s name was Erling Viksjø and that he was a pioneer in making concrete a decorative material.

While we’re in an artistic mood, here is a picture I took at the Munch Museum. The famous artist Edvard Munch bequeathed thousands of his paintings to the city of Oslo, which then built a special museum to display them. One thing I didn’t realize is that Munch did many versions of his most famous paintings, in different materials and colors. Here is a black-and-white version of his Madonna. Not all the versions of this picture have the fetus in the left-hand corner. Also, my wife thinks that those decorative things around the outside of the picture are supposed to be sperm. What does it all mean?! Help! I don’t know! I’m just a mathematician, I don’t do art!

I also went to a geology museum and learned a little bit about the geology of Oslo, although none of the placards were translated into English — an exception to the rule in Oslo that almost everything is bilingual. Co-writing a textbook with two geologists has made me pay more attention to rocks and landforms than I ever did before. Here’s a picture of a nice outcrop that I walked by every day on the way from the hotel to work.

According to the geology museum (if I understood the Norwegian right!) most of the rocks in Oslo are shale and limestone from the Cambrian and Ordovician epochs. So that’s probably what we are seeing here. Although it would be fun if they were Cambrian, because that was when animal life first emerged on Earth, it’s more likely that they are from the Ordovician, the epoch that followed the Cambrian. Note how the strata, which were originally horizontal, have been turned on their side by tectonic processes. If you want to learn more, read the textbook that I helped write, Visualizing Geology! Even better, ask my co-authors, because they are the professional geologists, not me.

On Saturday, the first day of spring, I went to a little island called Kalvøya, which you can only get to by walking over a foot bridge. I think that in the summertime it is used a lot for camping and rowing. At this time of year there was nothing going on there except for families going on a walk with their little children, enjoying the springlike temperatures (6 or 7 degrees Celsius — or 43 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Here’s a picture I took of the fjord seen from the island. I call it “First Day of Spring.”

If you look really hard, you can see that the ice on the fjord has melted in the distance, so spring really is coming.

Finally, here are some girls in Aker Brygge (a touristy part of Oslo by the waterfront) who were taking advantage of the warm temperatures to do some sunbathing.

I don’t think they need to worry about putting on suntan lotion!

Now, changing the subject from Norway to Hawaii, here’s the picture that I know you’ve been dying to see: me doing a hula dance. I dance with the Hula School of Santa Cruz, whose Hawaiian name is Ka Lei Wehi O Ka Mailelauloa. Last October we celebrated our tenth anniversary with a big performance in Watsonville that drew an audience of more than 600 people. This picture shows us after we have just finished a kahiko (ancient-style dance), which is distinguished from the auana (modern-style dances) by the fact that the only music is percussion and chanting. The dance is called He’eia, and it commemorates King David Kalakaua’s favorite surfing spot. (Kalakaua, the “Merrie Monarch,” was Hawaii’s last king, who ruled from 1874 to 1891. He revived the hula after it had been banned by American missionaries, and so there are tons of dances written in his honor.)

As you’ve probably figured out, I’m on the left side of the picture in the grass skirt. Ironically, the woman next to me is also named Dana! Next to her is Ori. They are two of our best dancers, and I was thrilled to be in the front row with them for this dance. However, I wish I had seen this photo (or a videotape) of us before the performance, because look at how much better they look than me. They have a good wide stance, powerful and assertive, while I just kind of look like I’m standing on some street corner in a grass skirt. Not very powerful and assertive.

Oh well.

A couple other comments. Yes, men did traditionally dance hula, along with women. The concept of hula as a “sexy” women’s dance is a complete misinterpretation from the soldiers and tourists who came to Hawaii and saw what they wanted to see. It was only in the 1970s that hula groups began reclaiming what the hula was originally supposed to be about — a way of telling stories and honoring the heritage and lands of Hawaii.

However, I would say that the ratio of female to male hula dancers is still about 10 to 1. Single men, take notice! What a great way to meet women! And no, you won’t necessarily have to wear a grass skirt. Normally the men in our group just wear dark pants for performances. But because the tenth anniversary was such a big occasion, the women all got several new outfits, and it seemed only fair for the men to have to wear something special too, so our kumu (teacher), Leolani, decided on the grass skirts.

Okay, that’s the end of this off-topic post! For those of you who come to this blog for chess, fear not, we will get back to the chess next time.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

henry March 27, 2009 at 4:29 am

Thank you for the photo 🙂
Now for a chess question.
Say you showed an early middle game position to Jesse,David and Eugene would the analysis by the four of you be the same and would the plan of action be the same?


Rob March 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Hi Dana.

Very interesting Blog.
Here is my 2nd favorite hula performance on YouTube…you might find it inspiring.




Michael Aigner April 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Check out the USCF homepage for more hula news.


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