I am originally from Sweden, but I’ve lived in Texas for more than 20 years and in the US for 30 years. Therefore, I forgot June 6, which is the Swedish National Day. It is still June 6 in California and Hawaii but not in Texas and certainly not in Sweden, so I am a day late. I forgot. A blogger who isn’t even Swedish incidentally reminded me. It is also a special National Day because it is the 500-year anniversary of Sweden’s independence from Denmark.
Christian the Tyrant, or as the Danes call him Christian the Good, was a very bad man who chopped people’s heads off. The Danish version of history is that Christian the Good was a very good man who tried to save the Union. He still chopped off heads though. Luckily, we had this guy Gustav Vasa (or Gustav Wasa) who resisted, and he became king of Sweden on June 6, 1523, which is 500 years ago. He was also really good at skiing.
Therefore, I have decided to post a couple of photos of the only Swedish Leonberger I’ve ever met personally, I haven’t been back to Sweden a lot. Her name is Amie, and she is from my neck of the woods, the high coast in northern Sweden. We met her at the top of a mountain, called the Skule mountain. Therefore, she is also the only Leonberger mountaineer I’ve ever met. To check out my original Amie post click here.
Amie was very happy and playful despite having climbed a mountain. Below is what Amie and we saw from the mountaintop.
I am also posting a few more photos from Sweden.
One thing that is pretty unique about Sweden is the different concept of private property. You can own the fruits of property, a farmer’s field, a mine, but the land belongs to everyone regardless of who owns it. Well almost everywhere, there are a few exceptions such as military reservations and you have stay at least 200 meters away from dwellings. It’s called “Allemansrätten”, or all-peoples-right translated roughly. This means that you can walk, hike, camp, pick berries and mushrooms, etc., anywhere without having to worry about trespassing. You just can’t walk off with the gold from a goldmine or a farmer’s crop. This is very different from how it works in Texas. However, everyone in Sweden love it and we certainly take advantage of it when we visit. In the picture below we were hiking, and we stopped at this small forest lake and someone had hung a tire from a branch.
I found out that today, or rather yesterday, that May 26 is World Dracula Day. It is celebrated to remember the day that the famous novel Dracula by Bram Stoker was published (1897). For most of you I am posting this one a day late. However, I found out about it a bit late. Check out VAMP JENN’S CORNER.
It reminded me of our trip to Romania and Transylvania in 2008. During that trip my son and I were inducted into the covenant of Dracula as special protectors of Dracula. Perhaps you could join as well? Viking Blood tastes pretty good and you can buy it at Specs. More on that later. (Photos by me).
First a little bit about Dracula. Prince Vlad “Tepes” Draculea (Vlad the Impaler) known as Dracula was born in Sighisoara, Transylvania, Romania, in 1431. He was the second son of Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Dragon), who became the ruler of Wallachia in 1436. Wallachia is the province to the south of Transylvania. He got the nickname Vlad the Impaler because his favorite method of execution was to impale people, and he is rumored to have impaled tens of thousands. In 1442 the Ottoman Empire tried to invade Transylvania and Vlad Dracul and Vlad Tepes Draculea were imprisoned by the Ottomans. They were able to flee, and Vlad Tepes became the Voivod (ruler) of Wallachia, defender of Transylvania and ultimately the defender of all of Europe. For this reason, Vlad Tepes alias Dracula is a local hero, despite his impalement activities and being rumored to be a vampire.
It was a Water polo team trip. In addition to the kids on the team, including my son Jacob, there was the coach Mihai, and two chaperones, me, and Jim Smith. We arrived in Bucharest (Wallachia) where the boys played water polo against other teams, and we also visited various tourist attractions such as the enormous Palace of the Parliament erected by Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. We also visited the Snagov island and the Snagov monastery located not far from Bucharest. The Snagov monastery is where Dracula’s grave is located and it is tended to by a monk, Dracula’s monk, and he was extremely happy to welcome us. He had been waiting for us.
Next the monk took us to Dracula’s well and he asked us if we were willing to join the covenant of Dracula as protectors of Dracula. I am not sure if that is the same as the order of the Dragon, the order that Dracula was part of. The monk said that my son was very special. He was the incarnation of the arch angel Gabriel and a special protector of Dracula. I am not sure if that had anything to do with me giving him a good tip earlier. I asked whom I was an incarnation of. The monk answered, no one special, you are just Pedro. I don’t know who Pedro is. Anyway, we drank from Dracula’s well and got inducted into the Dracula’s covenant.
Next, we headed off to Transylvania where we visited the cities of Brasov and Sibiu and the town of Sighisoara. We stayed at a hotel “Casa cu Cerb” built inside the three-story house, at “Piata Muzeului” number 6, where Dracula was born. It was an interesting experience and we got to know the owner well. It is a famous small hotel with only ten guestrooms. We also ate at Dracula’s restaurant next-door. We had brain, not human brains, but cow brains, we aren’t zombies.
We also climbed the Transylvanian mountains and visited the Bran castle. The Bran castle is allegedly Dracula’s castle, but it is not really true. It is more of a tourist trap. The Poienari Castle, which we also visited, was on the other hand built or rather renovated by Dracula.
In this post I am explaining how you measure the alcohol level in a home beer brew. You can find this information online and in books, but I am explaining it very succinctly. It is quite simple, and you don’t need to read a ten-page explanation. A few photos with a brief explanation will do.
When you brew beer at home you start by boiling the wort. You boil water and you add the malts and the hops for the flavoring and the aroma at specific times. This all depends on the recipe you are following. The wort easily boils over, which upsets my wife, but luckily my dog Rollo loves to lick the wort off the kitchen floor. He’ll lay there and wait for me to screw up. Don’t worry, the wort contains no alcohol at this point, which makes this a good point to measure what is called gravity. I should mention that you need to let the wort cool off before doing your measurements and before adding the yeast (or you’ll kill it). I use an ice bath to do this.
It is difficult to measure the alcohol directly. You need to set up a chemistry lab in the kitchen, which would upset your wife. Therefore, you use an indirect method using a hydrometer. During the fermentation process, yeast converts sugars into alcohol (and carbon dioxide). As the sugar is used up, the wort slowly becomes less dense. By measuring the density before and after fermentation, you can calculate how much alcohol is in the finished beer. In the beer world this is called measuring the gravity. You can buy a hydrometer in a lot of places including Amazon.
The density/gravity of water is used for reference as 1.000. To be exact, it also depends on the temperature, but for now we’ll ignore that. You measure the gravity before fermentation has started, just before you pitch (add) the yeast. The temperature at this point should be around room temperature, 72 degrees (60 to 75 degrees). This is called the original gravity (OG). Then after fermentation (in your container, carboy, whatever) you measure it again. This is called the final gravity (FG).
I should add that after the fermentation in your container/carboy is done you add a little bit more sugar (called priming sugar), you bottle the beer, and you let it ferment a little bit more, which will add a little bit more alcohol as well as carbon dioxide. You want some carbon dioxide in the beer but not too much. This extra amount of alcohol is not accounted for using the final gravity. However, it is typically around 0.2% and if you wish to include it, you can just add that number.
Using the original gravity (OG) and the final gravity (FG) you can now calculate the ABV, Alcohol By Volume, by using the formula below. For my latest brew, an IPA (India Pale Ale), which I bottled yesterday, I got OG = 1.072 and FG = 1.018. Ideally FG is around 1.010, but for whatever reason I did not get there.
ABV = (OG – FG) x 131.25 = 0.054 x 131.25 = 7.1%
So that would be 7.3% with the bottle fermentation.
There is a more exact formula:
ABV = (76.08 x (OG – FG) / (1.775 – OG)) * (FG/0.794) = which in my case yields ABV = 7.23% which would yield 7.43% with the bottling. I can add the recipe predicted ABV = 7.5%. There are also formulas that account for the temperature at the point of measurement of original gravity and the final gravity. But I think this is good enough.
Today (well actually yesterday by now) was the Eurovision final (from the UK) and Sweden won. For those who don’t know, Eurovision is the largest song contest in the world. Countries compete against each other, and the final typically has as many viewers as the Superbowl, about 200 million. You are allowed to sing in your native language or in English. Not all participating countries are European, for example, Turkey, Israel, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus are frequent participants, but they are not European countries, and this year Australia participated, The Eurovision is a huge cultural phenomenon that is not well known in the United States. I’ve noticed that the natively English-speaking countries often miss out on big worldwide cultural phenomena that are not entirely based on English. Typically, famous music groups do not participate, but many famous music groups got started or were propelled by the Eurovision, for example, ABBA (waterloo 1974) and Celine Dion (1988).
Anyway, this is a Leonberger blog but sometimes I post about other things and my home country Sweden winning the Eurovision is a big deal for me, so I made a post about it. I am also posting number two (Finland) and number three (Israel). Which one do you think is best? I won’t be offended if it is not Sweden.
Russia was banned from participating this year, and some other countries that usually do like Turkey, Bulgaria, and Hungary did not participate. These were the top seven.
This blog is focused on Leonbergers but every now and then I post about something else, typically a book I want to promote. This post is different. I have many hobbies and one of them is volunteering for a climate change organization called Citizens Climate Lobby
This post is about my journey towards becoming an advocate for a livable planet for future generations as well as the climate journey of my friend Larry Howe, who is a lifelong Texas Republican who became a climate activist (and he is still a Republican). Larry’s three-part article is focused mostly on solutions, and my post is focused mostly on how I got here. We both started out as “skeptical” of global warming and we both support the same solutions, so the two posts complement each other. CCL talks to both sides of the political spectrum, and we try to foster good relations with everyone. Below is a photo of us with Senator Ted Cruz.
Citizens Climate Lobby is a volunteer driven non-partisan organization focused on educating the public and lobbying/talking to politicians, industries and organizations. We are not professional lobbyists. We don’t bring a billion dollars to political offices, in fact not even one dollar. We just bring ourselves as voters and constituents, and a friendly and positive attitude. We present well researched proposals for solutions and ideas. We require that the proposals are effective in reducing emissions, good for the economy, market oriented, non-partisan and acceptable to both Democrats and Republicans. In addition, we listen to the concerns of the lawmakers. One of my volunteer positions within CCL is to be the CCL liaison to Senator Ted Cruz office. Climate Change may not be Senator Ted Cruz’ cup of tea, but he voted for one climate bill that we supported, the Growing Climate Solutions Act.
In June of 1988 I embarked on a journey with a friend and with my brother around the United States in an old Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 1976. I had just earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering and applied Physics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, as well as a degree in engineering physics from the University of Uppsala in Sweden (well they were really the same degree). It was an unusually hot summer. June 23, 1988 was the first time I heard the word “global warming”. I was watching some of Dr. James Hansen’s testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. I thought it made sense what he said. After all, I knew that greenhouse gases would increase the temperature of the atmosphere. It is hundreds of years old simple basic science and I had certainly not slept through my physics classes. It is why Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system and not Mercury.
As time went by (about 10-15 years ago), I became increasingly skeptical and doubtful of global warming or climate change as it was more commonly called later on. The reason was that I almost exclusively read and watched rightwing news media such as world-net-daily (tended to push conspiracy theories), Newsmax and Fox News. I believed in the concept of global warming, it is basic science after all, but I thought that it was exaggerated and that it was promoted and distorted by left-wing agendas, and I incorrectly believed that there was no scientific consensus on the issue. I also bought into the false narrative that this was about environmentalist ideology, politics, or even a sort of environmentalist religion, and not a real and serious problem. My disdain for environmentalists, my ideology, and my gut feelings certainly aided the propaganda in misleading me. In addition, I read a lot by Björn Lomborg and Patrick J. Michaels and I believed them. To clarify, I did not know it at the time, but I was wrong, very wrong. Below is a video from NASA showing the annual shrinkage of the arctic sea ice.
I should say that I had some lingering doubts about my own “climate skepticism”. During my travels to national parks, the great barrier reef, and other places, I encountered guides who were scientists, as well as others, and they told me about coral bleaching, ocean acidification, receding and disappearing glaciers, the pine beetle problem, white pine blister rust, the destruction of forests due to global warming, and I could see some of the effects with my own eyes in northern Sweden, which is close to the arctic and therefore the effects of global warming are more visible.
It also bothered me that my physics hero Stephen Hawking was a global warming alarmist and that other leading physicists and astrophysicists whom I admired, such as Michio Kaku, promoted and warned us about human caused global warming. Add that popular science magazines I subscribed to, such as Discover and Scientific American frequently wrote about global warming. I should say that I tended to skip those articles and I believed those magazines had a left leaning bias.
However, there were too many red flags regarding my “climate skepticism”. It seemed like a lot of people knew and understood something I didn’t. This prompted me to take a deep dive into the matter. I had a decent scientific background. I had a master’s degree in engineering physics and a PhD in electrical engineering / computer science/ robotics and I was used to reading and writing research papers, and I had been on both sides of the peer review process, and I love mathematics. Electrical engineering and robotics is certainly not atmospheric physics but I wasn’t going to judge or review papers, I just wanted to know what scientists in the field actually were saying, and due to my background I was able to understand the papers.
I read peer-reviewed research articles on the topic, I read several dozens of books on the topic, including climate skeptic books, I subscribed to Nature, a very respected science journal publishing peer reviewed articles, I conversed with or listened to climate scientists online. I found out that my cousin Per Wikman-Svahn was a physicist who worked as an expert on the ethics surrounding climate change, and I extracted information from him.
I learned that the evidence that climate change is happening is undeniable and overwhelming including these few examples. I learned that the current global warming is mainly caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. I learned that global warming is not caused by natural cycles, something the experts on natural climate cycles repeatedly stressed. It is not the sun, or volcanoes and as you can see in the hockey stick graph above, it isn’t a normal cycle, and the recent increase in temperature is disturbingly quick.
I also learned that warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions have a certain fingerprint; the arctic will warm faster, nights will warm faster, the tropopause would be pushing up the boundary with the stratosphere, the mesosphere would be cooling and contracting (think the troposphere as being a blanket). All of that has been observed. It was greenhouse gases, not something else. I learned that scientists had used spectral analysis to verify that most of the warming came from increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, and they had even used carbon isotopes (C-12, C-13, C-14) in corals and the atmosphere to verify that the new CO2 added to the atmosphere and oceans come from hundreds of millions of years old underground carbon.
I learned that satellite measurements agree with surface thermometers, contrary to what the rightwing media I had read claimed. I learned that nearly all actively publishing climate scientists say humans are causing climate change (~99%). I learned that no national or international scientific body in the world rejects the findings of human-induced effects on climate change. I learned that Rachel Carson was not a fraud and that she had not killed 500 million people. I learned that Dr. Michael Mann was not a fraud and that he was right about his hockey stick curve. I learned that the so-called climate gate scandal was manufactured.
I would later learn that among tens of thousands of climate change related papers only 38 are skeptical of the consensus and they all contain errors that if corrected for they ended up agreeing with consensus. I learned that the vast majority of climate skeptic papers originated with rightwing think tanks. I had foolheartedly donated to one of these organizations, the Heartland Institute. I realized that rightwing media engaged in defamation, harassment and attacks on climate scientists.
Above all I learned that I had been bamboozled and misled and that I had believed maybe hundreds of false claims. I learned that there is a very powerful industry consisting of fossil fuel advocates and rightwing think tanks that are trying to confuse and mislead the public, attack and harass scientists, and that if you want the truth you need to trust the scientific evidence and the data, not arguments based on ideology and second guessing the motives of climate scientists is just nonsense.
Long story short, we know with certainty that global warming / climate change is real and that we are causing it, chiefly with our greenhouse emissions, and we have known this for several decades. The scientific debate is over, but the public is still confused due to propaganda. Again, I had been bamboozled by rightwing think tanks, like so many others, so I understand.
I do not think I was a “dismissive” but I was “doubtful” due to all the misinformation I had allowed myself to be fed. Again, we know with certainty that global warming / climate change is real and that we are causing it, chiefly with our greenhouse gas emissions, and we have known this for several decades. If you pay attention, there is no good reason to be doubtful, and certainly not dismissive. After reading a book by James Hansen (Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity) in 2013 I decided it was time for me to get involved.
At first, I tried to argue with those who were dismissive, either by inserting myself into a discussion or after they approached me, typically because of something I said either on-line or personally. This was a surreal experience. I remember trying to explain to an acquaintance who claimed to be an expert in science (he wasn’t) about the measurements made on the age of the added carbon using isotopes. He resolutely stated that isotopes did not exist, all atoms of the same element are identical, and the peer reviewed research article I provided was fake. He claimed to be an expert on science based on reading biased media (he had no degree) and he had not even heard of isotopes, neutrons, and radiometric dating. I sent him a link to Wikipedia explaining isotopes, just as a help, but that was a mistake. He thought that since Wikipedia is sometimes wrong it proved that I was making up the entire concept of isotopes.
I came across so many dismissive people who thought they understood climate change much better than the scientists themselves or believed that most or all climate scientists in every country on earth were liars. I came across a lot of conspiracy theories and many very strange arguments focusing on speculative assessments of the character of climate scientists or activists rather than focusing on the data and evidence. Many invoked Al Gore, as if it was him, who invented climate science, or the UN. It is nuttier to believe that Al Gore invented climate science than that he invented the internet. However, the worst part was the insults, the mockery, the rage, and the trolls. It became clear to me that dismissives tended not to be reasonable people and that they are louder than most. Considering that they tended to be older angry guys who were unable to convince anyone, especially not the younger and educated, I came to realize that arguing with them was a waste of time. You could not have good-faith arguments with them, and after all they did not matter. There are more productive ways to engage.
I felt I needed to do something for future generations, especially since I had been on the “wrong side” of the issue and also considering that I understood something many people did not, that climate change was a real and serious issue that we could do something about. In James Hansen’s book Storms of My Grandchildren, I had learned about solutions that seemed effective and doable, one of them being the carbon fee and dividend. I googled carbon fee and dividend and I stumbled upon Citizens Climate Lobby. I decided to join them and as it turns out so did James Hansen, as a board member. My first CCL volunteer position was as the CCL liaison to Congressman Pete Sessions office. He is one of the most conservative congressmen from Texas. In a meeting with the congressman, we asked him whom he trusted the most on the issue, and he answered Trammel Crow (the younger), one of the six children in the Trammel Crow Dallas real estate businesses (billionaires) who was also his biggest donor. Well, after talking to Trammel Crow we got the endorsement from Trammell Crow Company, which we handed to Pete Sessions.
Next is the climate journey of my friend Larry Howe, a lifelong Texas Republican and native Texan, and climate activist. We, 90 Texas CCL members to be specific, recently came back from Austin, Texas, where we lobbied (talked to) 67 Texas lawmakers for the first time in history. This was Larry Howe’s brainchild and doing. Larry is very active and a great leader. His post (in three parts) is more focused on solutions, whereas mine was about the how and why regarding my turn around on the issue.