Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Four days since my last post and so much has happened. Theresa May got voted down in the House of Commons while Stefan Löfven secured a second term as prime minister of Sweden. Meanwhile, I have been writing day and night on my book chapter which I am now almost ready to submit to the reviewers. Over lunch today I also received my acceptance notice for the BISA conference in London in mid-June which I am very excited about.

Outside, we are having some of the coldest days so far this winter. Biking to work in -23 degrees this morning was a bit of challenge and, with temperatures this low, I do not really feel like running outdoors. In any case, now it is just 11 days left until my big race in Morocco so it is about time that I reduce my weekly volume anyhow.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

New hat

While I try to keep a slower pace for my longer outdoor runs to build aerobic capacity and endurance, I decided to run 15 km in my planned marathon race pace for a change to see what it would feel like. Equipped with a new running cap that I picked up for 3 EUR at Sportamore’s sale, it turned into one of my best runs in a long time, probably because I have taken a few days away from running this week. The weather after the storm could not be better with calm blue skies.

In the outside world, it seems as if my prediction from the morning after the election is coming true and that Stefan Löfven will once again be the prime minister of Sweden. As expected, it will come at a considerable price, like tax cuts for the rich, further privatization of public services and yet more money to prevent structural change... but if that it was it takes to limit the political influence of the Sweden Democrats, it is of course worth it.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Winter storm

With the storm "Jan" bringing hurricane strength winds to the High North, it did not feel safe to run in the forest so I took my bike down to USM instead. Trying to keep my planned marathon pace of 5:15 min/km, I was happy to see that my heart rate stayed just above 140 so hopefully I will not kill myself by running those 42 km in two weeks’ time.

In the evening, I made a mushroom risotto with cavolo nero accompanied by a glass of Malbec from Chile. As always, the Pacific exercises an irresistible draw on my imagination. Looking at my calendar, I realize that WPSA and San Diego are only three months away. As for WPSA, I was happy to discover that my friend Manuel will give a paper on "Domination in the Anthropocene", a topic which seems highly related to the book chapter that I am currently working on. For all the space-nerds out there, here is a short excerpt from said chapter (without the references):

Beyond such elementary misunderstandings, ecomodernists diverge from traditional environmentalists in how they understand the broader cosmic setting of the human enterprise. Early pioneers of what is today known as ecomodernism, such as the 2019 recipient of the “Breakthrough Paradigm Award” Stewart Brand, expressed a keen interest in space colonisation, a prospect that fundamentally alters the ethical context in which the ecological crisis is to be understood. Rather than accepting the subtractionist understanding of traditional environmental ethics in which the best would be for humanity not to exist, the possibility of humanity becoming a multi-planetary species and thereby securing not only its own long-term survival but that of life more generally, profoundly recasts the terms of the debate.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Grüner Silvaner

I think the first time that I, at least consciously, discovered the Silvaner grape was on a Lufthansa flight from Düsseldorf to New York back in 2009. I can still remember the crisp taste as I was having lunch looking down on the Scottish Highlands. Recreating a Lufthansa appetizer favourite with oven-roasted tomatoes, the Keller Grüner Silvaner turns out to be a good match with a taste of white flowers, peach and citrus that blasts out of the glass and puts me right back there high above the blue Atlantic.

Otherwise, I spent an icy afternoon running down to the Ume River and then back through the city, adding another 14 kilometres to my Marrakech race preparations. Already tomorrow, the temperature is expected to drop further to -15 degrees but hopefully I will be able to go for another long run over the weekend when milder winds are expected to return. But before that, formal work life is making a reappearance on Thursday in the form of a pedagogical workshop that I am very much looking forward to.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Endurance fuel

Beyond the chocolate, I ordered some other things from the newly-opened Moonvalley store back in December that I have been eager to try. With milder air returning this afternoon, I went for a long run to explore Tavelån and some of the small hamlets outside Umeå. 16 km into my run I had a bottle with the “endurance fuel” which really propelled me for the remaining 10 km. While perhaps not the most memorable of culinary treats, the mix of blueberries and raspberries was a true energy punch.


Saturday, January 05, 2019

Three weeks

In exactly 21 days, I will cross this white bridge and fly down to Africa. All assuming that Norwegian Air Shuttle does not go bankrupt before that. Today I was just biking back from the gym, taking in the breath-taking beauty along the river, thinking that I would probably miss Norrland if I ever were to leave.

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

The Lost Diamond

With the memory of captivating afternoons in the late 1980’s, we just invested in the classic Finnish board game “The Lost Diamond” to Eddie's overwhelming joy. Considering that 2019 seems on track to be a year of great Africa adventures, it is hard to think of a more appropriate investment (any post-colonial critique notwithstanding).


Biking down to USM in -18 degrees, I decided that yesterday’s long run was enough and that I should do some anaerobic exercises for a change. More specifically, reading about Desiree Linden in Runner’s World, I felt inspire to try to run one kilometre in the same pace that she kept through all of the Boston Marathon in 2011. So, setting the treadmill at an insane 17.7 km/h or a 3:23 min/km pace, I gave it all, only to find myself running out of breath shortly after 500 metres. After some strength training, I gave it another shot but again I had to give up half-way through.

With new appreciation for my post-flu limitations, and deep frozen after 13 km of biking, I made my own version of a pasta dish from Apulia which turned out really great. Unfortunately, I cannot say anything about the “Bolla” sparkling wine as it was just props that I put into the picture to reinforce the alcohol norm ;-) But I promise to return with a review at some point.

Otherwise, I am realizing that the Christmas break is quickly coming to an end and that I have more than a few exams to construct. At least, I received my certificate for the course “Theories of learning” that I took in the fall so now I am at seven pedagogical courses in total.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The road to Marrakech

With 26 days left until Marrakech International Marathon, I made full use of the calm after the storm and went for my first 10 km of running in 2019. Considering all the snow that had fallen over night, keeping a 5:20/km pace was not the easiest thing to do so the scrambled pancakes afterwards felt well deserved. For the rest of my preparations, I am a little worried that it will be too cold for long runs and that I will remain pretty much confined to the treadmill which is far from optimal. Still better than nothing I guess.

Otherwise, I have now submitted an abstract to the ISA conference in Accra. Even if I would end up not being accepted, I feel very good about writing the paper as it will allow me to finally engage more fully with the literature on premature deindustrialization and how it relates to energy access issues.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Salmon sins

As the snowstorm rages outside, it is time for the most sacred of traditions here on Rawls & Me, i.e. the New Year’s Lunch. This year, I looked to India and South Africa for inspiration, arriving at a crispy salmon fillet with coconut and peri-peri rice, served with cucumber pickle and, unlike last year, the house champagne Pol Roger.