Saturday, June 29, 2019

Feeling the heat

After running Angel Island half marathon on 1 hour and 49 minutes, I had great expectations for Kalmar and its flat course. Pacing around 4:40 min/km for the first five kilometres, I seemed on track to set a new PR but as the sun was blazing down on the asphalt, I felt that my heart rate was way too high and that I needed to slow down. Which I did and decided to instead enjoy the views of my hometown, ultimately finishing 130 out of the 280 runners who completed the race.

This experience of course makes me very tempted to run Tavelsjö again in August. It also makes me better recognize what a really good job my colleague Rolf did when he ran Stockholm Marathon last year in the extreme heat.


Friday, June 28, 2019

Grand Bazaar

Eleven years ago, I was strolling through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul on my way back from Armenia. In one of the shops, I found a “Boss” black leather wallet that seemed to be of surprisingly good quality (ignoring the numerous grammatical errors on the accompanying piece of paper). 10 euros or so later I came into possession of what turned out to be the best wallet of my life and, as such, it has been following me since.

Yesterday evening on the flight down to Kalmar with Eddie that changed. As Eddie was falling aslep, I had just paid for an iconic SAS “polarrulle”. After that, somehow, my wallet fell out of my backpack and landed on the cabin floor. Which I did not notice until this morning when I was about to take the train to Copenhagen for the visa application. So, instead of a trip to Ghana’s embassy in Hellerup, I ended up with an extra summer day at the Baltic (and, luckily, SAS did find the wallet so I will get it back in Stockholm on Monday).

As for summer days, for my half marathon tomorrow, the forecast promises temperatures up to 28 degrees and abundant sushine so I guess I will have to plan accordingly and drink a lot in order to avoid dehydration.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Central Coast

As the temperature climbs up to 40 degrees in continental Europe, I feel a bit cold on the porch here in Umeå as I pour up a glass of “Troublemaker” from the Central Coast. With only one of three external examiners shortlisting me for the Lund job that I had applied for, I now have more certainty about the future than I have had in a long time so, for better or worse, it seems as if Rawls & Me will continue to document life in the #highnorth, including me making globally sourced salads.

When packing my bag for my trip to Kalmar, I am reminded of the fact that I have not posted a link to Ted Nordhaus’ recent piece in Issues in Science and Technology. As often with Ted, I feel like he is able to express my own thoughts much better than I am so, if you have not already done so, I highly recommend that you take a moment and read “The Empty Radicalism of the Climate Apocalypse”.

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Bay and bike

While I remember a red bridge in the fog from Växjö, this one is still the original somehow.

It may only have been 96 hours ago but, running around Nydalasjön this morning, it definitely felt like a world away. Looking through the final results, I am also a bit surprised to find that I finished 20 out of 150 runners. I guess biking every day does pay off in the long run.

As for biking, Eddie and I have been checking out his new school in the village Innertavle where he will start in the fall. This means that I will add another 12 kilometres to my daily biking routine. Being a much smaller school, I think it will be worth it though even as biking through the winter in Umeå can be a bit rough.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019


After being reunited with my glasses that I had forgotten in my Istanbul hotel room, I flew back to Sweden late last night aboard a Boeing 737 named “Yeşilirmak” after the green river in northern Turkey. Maybe it was the election of İmamoğlu or just in my imagination but for the first time in a long time I could sense some kind of optimism in Turkey, that the slide into darkness will not continue forever.

Now I have three days on the ground in Umeå before flying south again, this time with Eddie to Kalmar and Ghana’s embassy in Copenhagen. 


Monday, June 24, 2019

Polaris Lounge

After submitting my revised book chapter to the editors, I had a chance to finally check out the United Polaris Lounge at SFO with its sit-down dining section. Starting at the bar, I ordered one “On the rum” with Caña Brava, mint, lime juice and prosecco which was simply intoxicating good. Then, moving over to the “dining room”, I went for the cedar plank salmon with pea puree and a glass of the “The Crossings” from N.Z. before ordering the chocolate truffle cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Overall, I would say that the quality of the food was just as good as what you would find in a nice restaurant but that it did feel a bit strange to walk away without paying. Given that I may not return to California for years, this nevertheless felt like the perfect ending to a great adventure. Now I have about two hours until it is time to board TK80 for Istanbul where Ekrem İmamoğlu just won a landslide victory with his message of “radical love” which, esoteric as it may sound, may just be the way to overcome the divisive rhetoric of populism.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Angel Island

That was something different. I thought I was well prepared, I had even brushed my teeth this morning with my new Swiss toothbrush but Angel Island Half Marathon turned out to be far more technical than I had expected. I also completely forgot to stand close to the starting line (there was no seeding) which meant that I was unable to pass other runners on the many sections that were single track. Still, I guess I should be happy considering (a) I did not fall off a cliff and (b) I managed to run a half marathon on an official chip time of 1 hours and 49 minutes up a damn mountain while enjoying the most beautiful views of the Bay.

Now back in Silicon Valley at my Aloft hotel which sadly has a new décor that does not bring back the same memories from China as the one in East London. But at 90 USD per night for a suite, it was a steal and, thinking more about it, the smell is in fact identical to the one in Xianglanqi :-)


Friday, June 21, 2019


Closing the hotel door behind me, I suddenly found myself looking into the eyes of a grey deer who was standing only a few metres away. We calmly observed each other for what felt like minutes, I even got to say good morning in Swedish before the deer decided to jump into the forest.

Afterwards, I decided to follow the shoreline to Sausalito for my morning run instead of crossing that red bridge over to the Presidio. The salt air helped clear my head a bit after all the intellectual frenzy and I am reminded that today is Midsummer's Eve; “midsommar med alla trolska krafter som hör därtill”.

Breakthrough Dialogue is ending with a plenary on ocean restoration and how to protect aquatic life. Ahead of me I now have two days on my own in the Bay Area that I plan to fill with a half marathon race on Angel Island and lots of article writing. Hopefully, I will be able bring some of the raw academic energy of the Dialogue into my writing.



This afternoon I attended a breakout session on “multiplanetary ecomodernism” which turned into one of the most heated but also intellectually stimulating experiences I have had in a long time. Clearly, a lot is a stake when we look to the future and the metaphors we employ may matter more than we think (I hear you Gabriel).

Afterwards, Jon and I went for a run up the Marin Headlands. If this is indeed the last time I am attending the Breakthrough Dialogue, I might still have to come back to these hills at some point just to experience the open vistas and see how the land ends.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019


Waking up to dense fog, I put on my Nike Pegasus and headed out for a run across the most iconic of bridges. Halfway through, the fog cleared enough to reveal the city of San Francisco bathing in golden morning light.

Now I am listening to the first plenary of the day, featuring among others Andrew McAfee talking evangelically about the promise of decoupling followed by more critical perspectives represented by Victor Galaz from the Stockholm Resilience Center and Ariane de Bremond from the Global Land Programme. As many times before, I feel incredibly grateful for being part of this community and its debates.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Lake Merritt

Last year I was up at the Lafayette Reservoir but this morning I am in Oakland racing around the tidal lagoon known as Lake Merritt. Despite a lingering sore throat holding me back a bit, I was able to set a new outdoor PR on 5k.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the columnist Kajsa Dovstad has written a story that has gone viral about her perceived loss of cultural homogeneity. While some, like Daniel Ogalde, have already tried to put things into perspective, the story would probably make George Lakoff feel vindicated in that so much comes down to the metaphors we use. I would of course also like to add a profound lack of moral imagination; that so few people seem able to take a future-oriented perspective, that they are so tied down by their own insecurities that they fail to see the bigger picture and what could be possible if we were to truly challenge ourselves.


The 101

Every time I do this I curse myself for trying to save money but with SFO airport hotels running at more than 300 USD per night, a free points stay in Union City on the other side of the Bay was simply irresistible. So, after flying for 13 hours straight and with my internal body clock telling me that it was 3 am in the morning, I set off along the 101 in my Chevrolet Cruze (one cannot drive a Mustang every time). Of course the traffic was mad following a couple of accidents earlier so I sure got my fun, ultimately spending 90 minutes driving those 45 kilometres over to Union City. But now I am safely parked and very much looking forward to some long overdue sleep.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

One million miles

In the 2009 film Up in the Air, the protagonist played by George Clooney passes the ten million miles threshold over the city of Dubuque, Iowa. Today, while enjoying a complimentary upgrade to business class across the Atlantic with Turkish Airlines, it is my turn to have flown one million miles (or two round trips to the Moon if you want). I know, in this age and time, that is something that few would dare to admit, with “smygflygning” (to fly in secret) even becoming a thing among social media influencers.

As I see it, global personal mobility should not be a privilege but something accessible for everyone, just like higher education or advanced medicine. Last night at Arlanda, I saw two young guys being deported to Afghanistan by a group of police officers. More than ever, it left me convinced about the need to broaden rather than narrow our imagination.

While writing my paper for the ISA conference in Accra, I have been sifting through tons of articles, working papers and conference proceedings, all telling poor people that, because of climate change, they can never be allowed to live a modern life. I would say the exact opposite, that climate change makes a high-growth high-energy future more urgent than ever, and that, only by fully integrating the world, can we simultaneously bring about a clean energy revolution, protect people from climate harms and stem the rising tide of national chauvinism.

Despite having flown one million miles, I have only been to about 70 of the world’s 195 countries so, if anything, my promise going forward will be to further widen my circles and to continue to explore what is unknown to me, starting with Ghana in August

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Monday, June 17, 2019


Shortly before ten, I board the SAS 737-700 "Hans Viking" that will take me down to Stockholm and Arlanda. Few things spell the beginning of summer as much as the start of my annual California adventure. Unbelievably, this is the fifth year in a row that I will spend midsummer at Cavallo Point. As good as it always is, I keep telling myself that this has to be the last year I am doing this given how disruptive it is to leave the kids for a whole week.

After take-off, I look down on Nydalasjön and Grössjön, on all the trails that await me through the summer, especially if I should have any chance to run Umeå Trail 50k in September. As a kid, I also played a lot next to lakes, one time even biking into Växjösjön and unleashing mayhem among the ducks, so I guess not much have changed over the years.

Once in the air, I read about Hong Kong in The Economist. Since the article was published, the Chief Executive Carie Lam has decided to actually listen to the protesters and not go forward with the extradition bill that would otherwise have removed one of the last firewalls separating Hong Kong from the mainland. While I have had mixed feelings about previous protests (believing that, rather than fighting Beijing head-on, activists would do better in focusing on building democracy from the bottom up and strengthening social welfare in particular) this one was about the very heart of the "one country, two systems" compromise, and as such it was incredible to see millions of people taking to the streets. While I remain a long-term optimist about democracy in China, it is nonetheless concerning how many people in the West, for instance at BISA last week, who seem to be attracted to the idea of eco-authoritarianism and who romanticize what they see as an “anti-capitalist alternative”...

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

In between

Late on Friday night, I made it back to Umeå. Frustratingly, my bag did not so I had to bike over to the airport today with William to pick it up. In between, I have been painting the neighbourhood carports, a slightly ironic activity for someone who does not own a car. Unfortunately, one of the neighbours fell from a ladder when painting and hurt himself quite badly so it was not the best of days but at least we managed to finish the job.

And now I am already checked in for my flight tomorrow that will eventually take me to the Pacific, although via the Bosporus. It may be cheap aesthetics but there is something with an SFO-tag that gets me every time.


Friday, June 14, 2019


After watching another Boeing 777 take off for Singapore, I am back above the white clouds with what is undoubtedly Europe's most civilized airline.

"Vi är vuxna men leker ändå"

Reading about lazy hazy summer, bare-brick walls in Oxfordshire and sun-drunk Cycladic seas, I have no problem seeing how shallow my imagination can be sometimes. But I should not worry, already tomorrow I will be painting a carport in Umeå together with the neighbours so I am sure there will be sufficient measures of reality soon enough.

Before leaving Heathrow, I actually managed to clear my inbox so now I only have the more intellectual pursuits left, i.e. the ones that often require a bit of Bodil Jönsson's famous "ställtid"; hence this blog post I guess. As always, black coffee helps with the sorting, to somehow know where reality begins and fiction ends, and to realize how few years that have actually passed like trains. Looking back, I just feel immensely grateful as we begin our approach towards the Alps and Kloten.


Wrapped up in time

For once, I think I was able to attend an academic conference without alienating someone. After working together on this book project for some time, it was also great to finally meet the editors and the other authors in person. And London is always London. So looking back on the last two days, I could not be any happier.

Now waiting to board the first of three flights today, I received an invitation to review a manuscript for The Anthropocene Review and a few dozen student e-mails so I guess I have my afternoon cut out for me.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019


There is something deeply ephemeral with an airport. Its flow of people, as one can imagine it captured through slow shutter speed photography. The next moment my coffee will be finished and I will have disappeared too, leaving no explanation or reason. Ghosts in the machine.

Tomorrow however I will be in London, presenting my forthcoming book chapter at the BISA conference. And already next Monday, I am off to the Bay Area to meet Jon and take part in the 2019 Breakthrough Dialogue. But first, time for some article writing and lounge hopping. 

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Sunday, June 09, 2019

Spaghetti al nero di seppia con scaloppine

In the week after Marrakech, I ran 16.8 km. This week, I was able to bring my post-marathon mileage up to 91.7 km, setting a new all-time record in the process. On the other hand, considering the number of flights I have scheduled over the next two weeks, I guess I will still get plenty of rest days until it is time to take the ferry out to Angel Island for my 21k trail race on 22 June.

Yesterday, I was at the library with Eddie, telling him that there was such a thing as black spaghetti and that squid ink was used to make it black. He clearly did not believe me so I went down to DUÅ and bought some spaghetti al nero di seppia to his great surprise. While he still did not dare tasting it, I for my part was quite happy with the result.


Saturday, June 08, 2019

Lodge Hill

Given that antipodean escapism is somewhat of a recurrent theme here on Rawls & Me, I was happy to find a newly released #småparti bottle of riesling grown at 480 meters of altitude in South Australia. Together with some summer food for dinner, it made the world feel more like late July, despite the number of outstanding items on my to-do list.

With the image of the National Mall in D.C. fresh on my mind, I also had to smile today when I discovered that the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has invited Strava runners to log 50 miles in 50 days in celebration of the Apollo 11 landing. Given that I have already run 67 miles this month, I instantly received the digital finisher badge when I signed up for the challenge. Still, just as it took the collective effort of 400,000 people to make the moon landing reality, 244,323 miles remain to be run in order to reach the Moon so feel free to chip in...

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Friday, June 07, 2019


At last, it is summer also in Umeå. As the beaches of Nydalasjön fill up with brave six-year-olds, I follow my old Ann Arbor routine and go for a lunch run followed by one of those rare cold showers to fight off the afternoon heat.

The other day at work, Elias talked about running Växjö Marathon which is made up of eight lapses around Växjösjön. Since I got intensely bored from running just three lapses around Nydalasjön, I guess that would represent a particular kind of psychological challenge. Taking away the sense of exploration that comes with running 42k through a city like Marrakech, I guess it would really only be about endurance and being present in one’s body.

Otherwise, when not racing, I often find myself drifting off in my mind during my running, which I guess is kind of expected given how prone I always been to daydreaming. With 100+ hours of running already this year, that is a lot of time to ponder the intractability of climate policy discourse, the relative remoteness of the Gili Islands and the fact that I will get to run around Lake Merritt in less than two weeks...

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Thursday, June 06, 2019


Three years ago, Jon and I started working on a co-authored book about ecomodernism. While Jon ended up writing the book alone, I feel very emotional about holding the final product in my hand, knowing all the hours of work that has gone into this volume.

With the 6th of June being a public holiday in Sweden, I have to take care of the kids rather than writing something that would not anyway make the book justice but, obviously, I think it is really worth reading so if you are looking for something for the hammock, here you have it!

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Alone through Iran

Every month, the Strava distance running challenge quickly becomes dominated by people who have chosen to run across whole countries or even continents. Seeing the stats of such ultra-runners makes my own indecisiveness over whether or not to go for an evening run seem rather cute. It also makes me feel a bit stupid when I think about how physically impaired I felt just after running Stockholm Marathon and how I struggled to navigate the stairs in the subway, all to Ally’s great amusement.

Ultimately, I decided to not run last night, and instead spend my time in bed reading Kristina Paltén’s book “Den rädda löparen” about her experiences of running alone through Iran. Reading this book made me again dream of running Beirut Marathon and reminded me of how much we all have a responsibility to bring the world together rather than dividing it.


Sunday, June 02, 2019

World on a plate

Vile Viking flew me back to Umeå just after lunch, bringing my Stockholm marathon adventure to an end. With my thighs still hurting, I signed up for a new grand challenge, a 50k ultra trail marathon on the 7th of September. After searching the world for a suitable location, it is somewhat ironic that I found the perfect race right here in Umeå. Formerly part of Salomon Trail Tour, the course will take me in a big circle around Umeå along some known, and some less known, trails.

To celebrate my Stockholm marathon run, I found a playful recipe with lemon grass and Danish mussels in Condé Nast Traveller. Now I have ten days on the ground until it is time to jet off to London for BISA.

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3x Asics Stockholm Marathon


Saturday, June 01, 2019

Bon courage

35k in, when passing over Västerbron, someone yelled “Bon courage” and I had to smile despite all the pain I was feeling. After my week of tapering, I felt incredibly strong as the start went off and I was even able to set a new half marathon personal record of 1:45:35 out on Djurgården. Then, Södermalm came with its steep climbs.

In the end, I missed my unofficial goal of running in under 3 hours and 45 minutes with a mere 32 seconds but I really could not be any happier. Now time for a night out with Ally.