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Rebooting the website

My own website has been somewhat neglected after the latest spamhack, but I have finally found the time for a full cleanup. It’s been a while since I changed from shared hosting to a VPS solution with Dreamhost, which seems to have worked well for security issues. Now I exported the content of the old website, reinstalled WordPress from scratch, hardened the install as much as possible, and imported the old contents with a new theme. I know several other scholars who use the same theme (Basic Maths), but I have at tweaked it quite a lot for looks and functionality.

More importantly, I plan to do more writing around here, partly by following some advice from Jason Heppler – “Give yourself permission to write poorly” – and partly by pulling in some content from the other places around the web where I write. I also want to include more photography (Instagram counts!). So, this site will become somewhat of a hub for my online activities.

Anyway, let me know if you come across any issues with the new install!


From the Ratan guest harbor

We try to be good microtourists, exploring the region where we live. Inbetween all the trees there are actually a few interesting things to see. Today we visited Ratan between the rainshowers – a tiny village (about 50 people live there) that used to be the customs harbor for all of Västerbotten starting in 1767. The harbor has lost this importance, but the guest harbor is still used by tourists and visitors. Ratan is also known for being the site of a 1809 battle between Russia and Sweden, which ended when Sweden ceded Finland to Russia.

Of more interest to environmental historians, perhaps, are the mareographs, tide gauges marking the sea levels going back all the way until the 1700s. Having long data series are particularly important in this region – the High Coast – with exceptionally high levels of land uplift.

Discovering space in Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture

I’m a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, and I have my conference schedule to thank for that. At the 2009 SHOT meeting in Pittsburgh, one of the conference excursions took me to Fallingwater, which was the first FLW building I visited. I had already seen pictures of the building, which is why I signed up for the tour. While it of course does look spectacular from the outside, what you don’t get from the pictures is the feeling of space inside the buildings, of this particular relationship between the body and the room around you. The space simply feels right. This is where Wright truly excelled. Pictures can’t convey this feeling, at least not the ones I’ve taken.

ASEH in Phoenix in 2011 had an excursion to Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home in Arizona, and the 2012 ASEH meeting in Wisconsin gave me the opportunity to both get a special tour of his summer home in Taliesin and to stop in his Oak Park Studio and to see the classic Robie House in Chicago. Here are a few pictures from some of the buildings I’ve visited.


Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Guggenheim Museum

Hillside Studio & Theater



Tree at Taliesin

Robie House

Classic cantilever

Oak Park Studio

Moore-Dugal Residence, FLW’s first independent commission from 1895. Redesigned and partly rebuilt after a fire in 1923.

Stained Glass

Our LEGO Robie House!

The Environmental Humanities movie(star)

Last year, at the NIES Environmental Humanities symposium at Sigtuna, I was interviewed for an environmental humanities movie/multimedia installation, a collaborative work by filmmaker and video artist Peter Norrman, writer and researcher Steven Hartman (leader of NIES at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm) and the designer and director Anders Birgersson (founder of the Zoo People media collective). I got to see an early version before my interview, where all kinds of senior scholars in the field (David Nye, Donald Worster, and Ursula Heise, among others) got to talk about the environmental humanities. And then it was my turn… I have not seen the result, but these two pictures are from the NIES meeting in Iceland in May.

Supposedly saying smart things (photo by Dolly Jørgensen).

When I do this with my hands, it looks like I’m saying something important (photo by Christian Hummelsund Voie).

Oh, and here is a 41-minute version of the pilot installation that I got to see – it’s made for three screens, which makes a bit difficult to put on a standard online video:

Writing retreat

I was fortunate enough that I could take a week away from home to write, write, write on my book manuscript this summer. I rented a small and simple cabin in Nyvik, about 45 minutes south of Umeå, right on the coast, loaded up with food, books, coffee, chocolate, and one good bottle of beer for each night, and had my wife drive me down there.

My view through the window

Such writing binges are certainly not sustainable in the long run, as I was quite exhausted when I came back home, but I made some serious progress on the book. The problem so far is that I have done tons of writing on the cabin project, but most of it is not book-shaped. So I have spent much time structuring what I have, rewriting it for style and content, and generally stitching it together. Scrivener was very helpful at this stage, making it very easy to see the overall structure and to move things around.

Working in Scrivener

In order to finish the book this fall, I need to continue with a regular writing schedule, taking one bit at a time. I will launch an online writing group using the pomodoro technique over at Ant, Spider, Bee when the semester starts, hopefully that will keep me on track!

Surprisingly good company after a while