Monthly Archives: June 2012

Four is a little, four is a LOT!

imageMy friend Cheska Komissar is quite a character. Not only does she make a peanut sauce that restores my faith in humanity, she is also the bubbliest person alive and, as of a few months ago, a children’s book author. Her delightful Four is a little, four is a lot is just the thing to get someone turning four – and wondering, as children do: Is four a lot or just a little?

The book has four illustrators (of course), but you would be hard pressed to see the difference in styles – though the collaboration has been remote, the drawings are remarkably close in coloring and style and the underscores the text excellently.

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So, count up the number of three-year-olds you know, surf you way over to the Four Dollar Books website and get the requisite number of books (at four dollars each, of course.) They also have birthday cards featuring illustrations from the book – and the combination will be both four-midable and four-tunate…

Highly recommended!

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Great apartment, car and furniture in Brookline

Update June 25th: The apartment is now rented, but the furniture/kitchen stuff and car is still for sale…

Update July 31st: All gone, I am afraid….

I am currently on a sabbatical at MIT, will go back to Norway around August 1. I’ve lived in Boston for a total of bout 8 years, so I have some experience procuring and furnishing apartments – and now I am looking for an academic family/couple/some friends/colleagues who would want to take over my (rented) apartment with furniture and all. I also have a great car for sale.

IMG_4056The apartment is, I think, about 1,700 square feet (158 square meters, gross figures, including a large walk-in closet / attic that can be used as a bedroom in a pinch.) The rent is $ 2400 a month (not including electricity / gas / oil, but my American friends think it is a bargain.) The apartment is located in the top two floors of a four-story house in a small dead-end street (18 East Milton Road, CambridgeBrookline, MA, but maps.google.com shows the wrong house, it is the second last on the north side of the street). Very safe area with an excellent “walk IMG_4057score“. The distance to Brookline High School, an excellent high school with many international students is a 5 minute walk. According to the landlord, there are two good grade schools nearby. The MBTA (subway) is four minutes away. It takes about 10 minutes to Boston University and the Longwood area (where all research hospitals), 25 minutes to MIT, 30 minutes to Harvard. I bike to MIT in 19 minutes, slow enough that I don’t break a sweat.

IMG_4067The apartment has two bathrooms (one with bathtub, the other with a shower cubicle with door,) a large bedroom downstairs, large and very nice living room / kitchen, two bedrooms (one with a slightly odd layout, loft-like, but private) high. Large loft / walk-in closet, which can also be used as a bedroom in a pinch (for short-term visitors, for example.) Reserved parking for one car on the street – nice, since renting IMG_4063a parking space in Brookline can cost $ 80-200 per month. Oil heating, fireplace, nice and toasty (and cheap!) pellets-oven in the kitchen, hardwood floors downstairs, carpets on top floor. Bright and airy, painted white, very nice for having guests and parties.

Kitchen with dishwasher, two ovens, microwave, gas stove, sink with in-sink grinder (or whatever they call those things that chew up food scraps). Washer and dryer IMG_4058the bathroom next to kitchen. Dryer and washing machines are relatively quiet, which is not a matter of course in the United States. We have bought kitchen utensils from IKEA, and various electric kitchen weapons (toaster oven, blender, etc.)

Very friendly landlord who lives in the 1st floor and helps if you have any questions or issues. The apartment is flexible – fits nicely for a couple with 1-2 children. But it’s perfectly possible to be many – for Christmas IMG_4059we were, we were seven people (me, wife, daughter #3, and daughters #1 and #2, each with boyfriend) + two dogs for four weeks, worked really well.

I am hoping for someone in the same situation as me to come in – the plan is that you take all our equipment (full kitchenware, sofa, two armchairs, a kitchen table with chairs for six, two wide comfortable beds, two leather office chairs, lamps, vacuum cleaner, toaster oven, etc.) Everything is bought at IKEA at considerably lower prices than we have in Norway, and my price is half of what we paid (I have most of the receipts).

imageThe car is a silver 2002 Mercedes E320 station wagon with four-wheel drive (big advantage when it snows here) with seven seats (folding seat in the back), leather interior, air conditioning, automatic, built-in GPS, heated seats in front, electric memory front seats, sunroof, everything one could wish for. It has 150000 miles and I have had it maintained by the best Mercedes garage in Massachusetts, European Auto Solutions (www.virtualeas.com) in Waltham – these guys are so good it is a reason to get a Mercedes in itself. (I am rather partial to Mercedeses, have a classic veteran MercedesI bought here a few years ago.)

The car I bought for $7200, and I am hoping to sell it for around the same price, since I have put in approx. $2200 (new alternator and water pump, a few more fixes). There is little rust (Mercedes had some rust problems from 1999 to 2004, this is completely clean except for a spot on the back door.) Runs like a dream, lots of horsepower and comfort. The only drawback is that the left channel of the stereo does not work, I have not bothered fixing it, but EAS told me that a new stereo part (the amplifier) would be about $550 to put in.

We also have a men’s hybrid bicycle and a retro lady bike for sale, bought used, in very good condition.

So there you are – if you are in for a sabbatical in Boston, here is your chance to take over a ready-made apartment and not have to spend time running around shopping for basics. The apartment is perfect for Harvard, MIT, BU, Northeastern, many other universities, all of the major research hospitals in the Longwood area, and downtown Boston.

Send me email (self@espen.com) is you are interested.

Introduction to GRA6834

This is an intro to a course (GRA6834 Business Development and Innovation Management) I am giving in the Fall, open to M.Sc. students at BI Norwegian School of Management, posted here because, well, I couldn’t be there to do the presentation myself. The course description is here, my presentation slides are here, I forgot to say when to turn to the next slide in the presentation (so you’ll have to guess from circumstance), and I do apologize for the rather booming voice, but this is what I could do on rather short notice…

If you have any questions, please email me.

The intellectual bodybuilder

Cover of: Muscle by Samuel Wilson Fussell Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder
by Sam Fussell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sam Fussell, a tall and scrawny son of two writers and academics (Paul and Betty Fussell) started bodybuilding in an effort to remake himself, and succeeded, to the point where, 4 years and 80 pounds later, he competed in and nearly won a bodybuilding competition. This is the hilarious story of how he did it and the outlandish characters he met on the way – all in search of size and definition. (Here is a blog post giving a fuller summary.)

A fun read, though there are occasionally too much detail on diet and training regimens – on the other hand, it nicely illustrates the obsessiveness needed. I understand Muscle has become something of a cult read in bodybuilding circles – the author, quitting after realizing the futility in it all, nevertheless leaves you with a feeling that for all the drugs and diets, he did enjoy being something different for a while – still comparatively safe that he had a somewhat privileged position to return to.

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