Archive for March, 2010

The Norwegian company AquaFence (www.aquafence.com) has set up a demonstration flood protection system in the city of Fargo, North Dakota. Fargo with it’s large population of Norwegian decedents is under 100 year flood alert for the second year in a row.

Helge Krøgenes, chairman of the Norwegian company AquaFence, flew out to Fargo to demonstrate his companies flood protection system. “They can be more effective than sandbags”, said Helge Krøgenes. He says it takes 2000 volunteers 12 hours to build a 500 meter long wall of sandbags. Twenty five installers take one and a half hours to set up 500 meters of the Norwegian flood protection system.

Already protecting the city hall

“But already now, the water is up by the walls we have erected”, said Krøgenes. “A wall is protecting the town hall in the city, and another is set up at the riverbank.”

Source: NRK

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Don Hoganson receives his diploma and insignia of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit: Officer gentlemen, from His Majesty King Harald V of Norway via Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen in a ceremony in Chicago on March 16, 2010. Mr. Hoganson is a good friend to the Norwegian community not only in Chicago but throughout the United States and in Norway. He has worked tirelessly to foster relationships between the US and Norway.

Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen pins the insignia of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit: Officer gentlemen on Don Hoganson

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I like to make a habit of learning something new everyday, be that thing small or large. Today I learned that reading Ibsen can make you feel better, much in the same way that “The Blues” can make you feel happy. I was told that no matter how bad you have it, the singer of a blues song or a character in an Ibsen play has it much worse.

Lee Hoofnagle and Sara Gmitro

Last Saturday I learned to enjoy the sound of a Finnish Kantele. A Finnish Kantele is a traditional plucked string instrument of the zither family. It is sometimes called a lap or table harp and has a long history. The earliest forms of the instrument date from pre-historic times and had only 5 strings. The earliest references are found in ancient Finnish poems and were attributed to a mythical Finnish sage and shaman by the name of Väinämöinen. He built the first one from the jawbone of a giant fish with strings made from the long hair of a young Finnish women.

A closeup look at the Finnish Kantele sound board

The Sons of Norway Polar Star Lodge invited Sara Gmitro and Lee Hoofnagle, two accomplished Kantele players to perform for the members. I was impressed by the clear tones these instruments produced. Sara and Lee played several traditional Finnish songs as well as a few hymns. Sara told me that she also plays contemporary Christian music for church services at the Our Saviours Lutheran Church in Naperville, something I think I need to check out one day. Lee enjoys playing folk music and has a repertoire from many different countries including songs she plays with an Estonian group.

It was great to hear these interesting instruments and I think I would like to listen to some more Finnish and Estonian folk songs in the future. If you or your group would like to have these ladies play I’m sure they would like to introduce you to the Finnish Kantele. Sara can be reached through the Our Saviours Church in Naperville.

I usually take my own picture at event like these but when I saw the photos that Frank Krawczyk was taking at the event I thought I would ask him to use his work. So I’d like to thank Frank for sharing with us his photos of Lee and Sara.

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