Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel?

September 11, 2017

Revised 23 September 2017.

The Parade newspaper supplement, September 10, 2017, on page 4 introduced The Four Tendencies, a book by Gretchen Rubin. This book is said to explore the ways we are “hard-wired” to act or behave as we do. By following this exploration online at  Parade.com/tendencies, further introduction sets up a quiz to “get a clearer reading on yourself.” Even though “this quiz isn’t dispositive” (that is, directed toward or affecting disposition – temperament, character, personality – it means to gain greater understanding of yourself and relationships with others and their tendencies.

The quiz consists of a four part series of parallel situations that intend to focus on the type or tendency that best describes you. I am always curious about the outcomes of such quizzes in coming to grips with my own typology. The diligent consideration of tendency statements helps determine which ones most clearly fit oneself.

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. Here I agreed to one statement: “I do what I want to do; I’m true to myself, not other people’s expectations.” Personally I’m high on self-examination to better understand myself and to do what is in my best interest. I cannot imagine doing something that I do not understand, regard as marginal, or is contrary to the best interests of myself and others. I even deplore supposed jokes that depend upon denigrating others to get a laugh. I am committed to seriousness to the extent that I understand and accept the worth of beliefs and actions.

Obligers respond to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. I do experience obligations in a couple areas. “People often turn to me for help.” These are usually family members, close friends or other associates with whom I have bonding and shared relationships. Over the years, I have tried to drop or cut back on what I regard as social responsibilities in order to prioritize and accomplish more projects of my own interest. Failing that, I think about moving away to separate myself from others’ expectations. Accordingly also, “I’ve adopted some good habits, but I often struggle without success to form others.” That is, I do not always or often carry through with matters or projects that I really and deeply want to accomplish.

Questioners question all expectations, but meet only those justified, that is by inner expectations. I am generally a thinker, primarily a theorist: I want to do those things that I understand as valuable to myself and others. In short, my decisions are carefully considered, not automatic. I thereby agree to two statements. “I like to hear from experts, but I decide for myself … according to my own judgement.” And, alas, “I question the validity of the Four Tendencies framework.” I question the limitation to four areas which seem to have overlap and in this presentation do not follow from necessary evidence.

Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations. In this tendencies quiz, the four areas have five or six determinative statements. Of the five for upholders, I agree in some measure with three. “I feel uncomfortable if I’m with someone who’s breaking a rule.” Yes, I am for law and order and appreciate rules, regulations, and social mores when they make sense, provide consistency, and benefit the common good. “I can meet a self-imposed deadline.” Actually, deadlines take priority for me even though I long for getting my own interests satisfied first: alas, I feel a losing struggle against time. “It’s just as important to keep promises to myself as to others.” Well, perhaps more to my self, but here the obligation to others overlaps with my own interests and prevails.

In the upholder category, I could not agree with a statement on fulfilling New Year’s resolutions because in past experience resolutions persist to turn out beyond my satisfaction in accomplishing them. Also, I could not agree that others are annoyed over my self-discipline. Everyone else seem ignorant of my level of discipline, therefore no one accuses me. Rather, I’m the one who is annoyed with myself. Basically, I found these two statements internally conflicted because of stated conditions that may or may not be pertinent to the issue.

Rubin’s book may give a better explanation of the tendencies and our alignment with them. Otherwise, I remain with Meyers-Briggs that I am your 100% INTJ which convincingly encompasses my conjunction of tendencies.

I (Introvert): I tend to live within myself, renewed in strength from day to day, a life of constant examination that mulls and decides how I should focus, believe and act. I do not follow ideas, values, behaviors or routines unless they make sense and satisfy me. Most of my waking hours are mental, reflective and rooted at being home.

N (Intuitive): I live by principles that I find basic, trustworthy, and fundamental to profitable and beneficial common interest.

T (Thinking): Thought and the formation of theory are the core of my active life,  dependent upon constant pursuit of inquiry and knowledge, as I endeavor to widen my intellectual reach and form foundations for rational (if not accurate) bases for action and practice.

J (Judging): I come to closure on most things with the proviso that further experience or information may lead to reexamination and revision. Also some areas remain tentative or open where decisions are largely based more on valuing than evidence.

Alas, these are my expectations, the ones I try to profit from the most.

© Copyright 2017 by Roger Sween.

I welcome comments on this article.

Character Strengths

June 30, 2017

Going Beyond Self-Assessment

EducationPlanner, a service of the Pennsylvania Education Assistance Agency, offers in this program an entry to career requirements and possible employment planning. Its online system asks individuals to check off positive characters they have or want to have. Once completed, the system presents related results that include descriptive definition of the characteristic, ways to think about the characteristic, ways to practice in the desired direction, and possible career examples.

Following is how I see myself relating within each characteristic in past practice. Underlying my approach in these areas is my general understanding of and attitude to the vast and divergent public that exhibit differences in need of attention and assistance. I accept responsibility to do the best I can as a citizen of this world and as a professional in the fields of education and library services, both with an emphasis on learning how to learn and thereby continuous learning.

Caring/Compassionate: concern about people and the world, and wanting to help. However individuals vary in interests, abilities, and actions, all are welcome, respected, and to be served in their needs. Their gain and satisfaction within available resources is the primary measure of successful service.

Communicative: able and eager to listen and respond to others. Engagement in conversation to be profitable requires moving beyond the phatic level. Often to be successful in answering questions and other matters at issue, speaking and listening necessarily require negotiation: that is the process of fully relating to what the other wants or seeks so that the helper understands exactly and fully what is wanted for the desired use and purpose. Part of the process is iterating the context of the question so it aligns with the problem’s resolution as needed.

Confident: trust in one’s knowledge and abilities. Since knowledge is vast and full or specialization, providing information on an impromptu level requires a peculiar professionalism. The information professional may know, proportionately, not very much out of all knowledge. Instead the needed grasp is awareness how to readily and appropriately find the answer.

Cooperative/A Team Player: the will and ability to work with others in achieving a common goal.

Sixteen Personalities

June 14, 2017

Profiling by Neris Analytics Limited

Revised 3 July 2017

Except for book length treatments on personality typology, I have never experienced a profiling assessment as grounded and explicit as the Sixteen Personalities instrument from Neris. They start with a review of theory to “fit something as complex and fluid as human personality into a well- defined model.” Though reaching that goal is admittedly some way off, current models “often predict with a high degree of confidence how we are likely to behave” while “environment, experience, and individual goals” can also influence our actions. This view translates to how someone with a specific personality type is LIKELY to behave.

Findings on personality as shown by indicators and tendencies are not necessarily definitive. Presumably, we may hold greater confidence in an 80% score than a 10% one. Profile alignment information ought to inspire one’s personal awareness and growth and better understanding of others with more likelihood than certainty.

Neris blends the typology categories advanced by Carl Jung with the further developments from the findings of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, explained in Myers’ book, Gifts Differing (1980).  Neris, holding copyrights on its work since 2011, considers traits additional to the earlier established typologies by identifying five personality “aspects.”

  1. Mind shows how we interact with our surroundings.
  2. Energy shows how we see the world and process information.
  3. Nature shows how we make decisions and cope with emotions.
  4. Tactics show how we approach work, planning and decision making.
  5. Identity ranges between assertive and turbulent.

This approach shows my type (INTJ-A) with the role of Analyst (driven to understand and create while valuing intellect above all else). Consequent strategies are Confident Individualism and Constant Improvement.

Confident Individualists, like me, embrace solitude as much as possible to pursue their own interests: reading, research, and writing in my case. Self-reliance is the key. Pursuit of goals is for my own satisfaction without any need to prove myself to others. Inspiration is to be found within me in pursuit of positive substance and personal honesty. I hold to my own views without much desire or hope of convincing others on any kind of scale. Friendships for me are few, but dedicated, strong and honest. At my age, I have outlived many of my dearest friends; others have been lost to physical distance and lack of conversation.

Constant Improvement blossoms from my own habitation of space and freedom. The drive to do better often struggles against doubt: do I know enough; am I pertinent; can I express myself better; or, do I fail? I prefer ongoing projects; new knowledge, new means of self-expression for better results than socializing and other distractions in games or other entertainments. To be specific, I have not watched commercial television for decades and see only those films that promise to be most artistic and meaningful.

I took the inventory twice, a series of questions with 7 degrees of alignment from strongly agreeing to strongly disagreeing. Personality traits are expressed in resulting percentages that show the extent to which answers represent various aspects.

→ Mind: Interaction:        Extrovert 30/38           Introvert 70/62

→ Energy: Direction:        INtuitive 79/60            Observant 21/38

→ Nature: Decisions:        Thinking 64/55            Feeling 36/45

→ Tactics: Approach:        Judging 84/84              Prospecting 16/16

→ Identity: Confidence:    Assertive 92/92           Turbulent 8/8

In the first try, I spent more time analyzing my choices and often taking the middle position out of a “neither,” “sometimes,” or not sure what the question asks position. For the Neris results In both Judging and Assertive, the percentages did not vary from first to second test. In these aspects, I am the strongest in response and therefor most sure. In short, I am INTJ-A and by Neris casting fit the Architect Personality, calculated to be 2% of the population (or 1% of the U.S. population). This grouping is imaginative while decisive, ambitious yet private, curious though husbanding energy. The Architect Personality thirsts for knowledge even from childhood when called a “bookworm,” even as I was then and later nick-named “professor” in high school. I abhor games, most jokes, gossip, mass market culture, and other trivial distractions from more significant and essential pursuits.

We Architect types tend towards idealism on one hand and criticism on the other, believing that with intelligence, consideration, and effort nothing is impossible, while noting that most people lack these strengths, fail, and blame others. Another way to see this self-rootedness is that the Architect Personality exhibits wanting to achieve the best there is to accomplish within their provenance. When you travel alone, that singular opportunity makes room for more reflection regardless of others’ notice, expectation or desire.

I feel fortunate to have quit employment when I was 60. I was in a position to develop library systems to enlarge and extend services through the cooperation of libraries of different types. My approach was the invention of mechanisms to do this based on a theory of the domains under which multi-type library cooperative systems seek to operate. That approach did not go over well.

I feel more fortunate now when I have major time for my own pursuits.


Personality Type from 41 Questions

June 12, 2017

41q: The 41 Questions Personality Test Under Review

Revised 3 July 2017

41q cites various reasons for taking a personality test because, in short, different people can have differing needs or interests. At basis is knowing oneself better and thereby making one’s way beneficially into the environment. Likely, in examining the self, findings may be multiple and raise or answer or guide responses to several questions.

Who am I really? How might I change? What do I want out of life? What values do I have and want to pursue? How do I relate to others? What social connections would work for me. In what career path would I do well? What’s my best fit for satisfaction, success, happiness, or whatever?

Put simply, personality probing and conclusions derive from aligning one’s self with a series of personal inventory enquiries. Questions may seek a yes or no polarity or some response range in between strongly agree and strongly disagree with agreement neutrality or ambiguity in the middle. Often personality explorations discourage landing midway between extremes.

Over my years, I find participating in personality inventories enjoyable, ascertaining how they work and how they compare with previous examinations. While inventory directions routinely call for honest responses, the major challenge for me is determining answers by how I understand the questions. I have found too many questions imprecise. Some examples in the 41q inventory follow.

  1. Is depressed, blue? Sometimes yes, sometimes no and for various lengths of time. Therefore, between extremes.
  2. Generates a lot of enthusiasm? What do a lot, generate, and enthusiasm mean? Again, in the middle.
  3. Has an assertive personality? What does assertive mean and how is it exercised. Middle.
  4. Can be moody? What is moody? Middle.
  5. Makes plans and follows through with them. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Middle.
  6. Is easily distracted? What do easily or distracted mean? Middle.

Of 47 questions, I strongly disagreed with 5 (find fault, careless, quarrels, lazy, rude) and strongly agreed with 12 (relaxed, curious, deep thinker, forgiving, quiet, trusting, stable, aesthetic, inhibited, reflective, cooperative, intelligent).

Based on Carl Jung’s identification of ranges in personality types, I am in rank order, closest to Judging (I organize, plan, control, and decide); Thinking (I am logical, consistent, analytical, process driven); Introvert (attentive to ideas and the inner self); and Intuitive (introspective, following patterns and possibilities, focused on meanings).

As in other inventory findings stemming from Jung, I am INTJ, this time called “Independent Thinker.” The characteristics given are independent, original, analytical, determined, and able to turn theories into solid plans for action. I highly value knowledge, competence and structure, and derive meaning from what might be and ought to be. As such, I am a long-range thinker with high standards of performance for myself and others. Such people are potential leaders at least in their field of occupation or interest.

Q41 identifies a long string of fitting careers including scientists, engineers, professors, lawyers, judges, psychologists, researchers, and university instructors. This leaves out architects, archivists, librarians, and philosophers offered in other INTJ profiles.

Q41 names persons with INTJ personality types, a few of them that I favor or could identify with: especially Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English mathematician, astronomer, and  physicist, a key figure in the scientific revolution; Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) an Enlightenment intellectual and founding father of the United States; and Jane Austen (1775-1817) champion of the novel as a critique of sensibility and shift to literary realism. Also named is Julius Caesar Augustus from which it is not clear who is meant: Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) or Gaius Octavianus Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE), whom I think is the more likely. Among others named, I cannot see myself aligning with Donald Rumsfeld, Rudy Giuliani, or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Generally, for an inventory that I find very problematic, I generally agree with the results and am satisfied with the profile.



One More Day

May 15, 2017

Any Day in the Life of Roger David Sween

Revised 3 July 2017

Based on an interview with Robyn Dochterman, by Andy Lien, Lavender Magazine (#573, May 11-24, 1917) 24.

Age: 77

Where did you grow up? Granite Falls MN, 1940-1958; then, Saint Olaf and the wider world.

Where do you live? Since 2011 in Maplewood MN, after various places in between and 35 years mostly in Red Wing MN.

Who do you live with? Patricia Anne (Worringer) Sween, married since 1962.

What is your occupation? After a 40-year career in library and information services, I say that beyond employment my work is reading, writing, and freelance thinking.

When did you come out? Yes, I am INTJ: see MY TYPE.

How’d that go? I’ve become a fan of personality typing for almost 40 years, and my various personality profiles cluster together, showing the same or related behavior.

When do you wake up? Usually 5 a.m.; sometimes before that.

Phone alarm or alarm clock? The radio near my bed comes on with pleasing, soft, tranquil music from Minnesota Public Radio’s classic music station.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Visit the bathroom, drink water, wash dishes left over from previous day, make coffee.

Breakfast? First breakfast is often something to go with my coffee, often a sweet bread, energy bar, or healthy cookie, as oatmeal or peanut butter. In the fuller second breakfast about two hours later, I rotate between cereals, toast with peanut butter, waffles, or eggs prepared in some way. I almost always have fruit, usually a combination of bananas, strawberries and blueberries.

Coffee? Cream or no? Most days, I have one full 14-ounce cup of dark French roast after first pouring a base of  half & half in the cup.

How do you spend your commute? At home, going up and down stairs, from my office plus outside when the temperature rises to allow shorts and sandals. On the road, listening to public radio news or classical music.

If your job were a yearbook, how would you be voted? Most likely to continue in my own ideas.

What inspires you? Philosophy, theory, and serious imaginative literature.

Do you eat your lunch while working or take a break? Never at work, unless you include random thoughts as work. I don’t lunch in a routine or regular way, but I do need to take breaks.

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess? After years of attempting the imperative “file, don’t pile.” I tend to pile, even lose things in the morass of the unfiled. I crave variety and after four hours on a project without finishing, I go on to some other preoccupation, promising myself to shortly go back to the pieces left behind.

What’s been your favorite job? In employment, it was learning more than I was giving. After employment, its pursuing the foundations and explorations of story logic.

Who are your heroes? From a young age, it was Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Later, it was Voltaire, Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Abraham Lincoln. It’s still Aristotle and in my maturity Ursula K. Le Guin.

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in? I prefer going out if it’s a family gathering or we are celebrating something. In house, I’m the sous-chef unless alone.

Most embarrassing moment? I guess I have repressed them all.

On a usual weekend, you are doing what? Leftover projects from the days before, grocery shopping, church, writing a round robin to my three siblings, watching Masterpiece if it is a good one, which usually means a classic one.

Bedtime? I try for 9p.m., but it’s usually later. Sometimes, I need to read awhile to relax myself, but not as lengthy a time as an earlier past when reading books kept me awake.

Words of wisdom to share? We all have limits and imperfections: our challenge is to become our best and strive for the will to do so.

My Ph.D.

March 22, 2017

How I Obtained It

Revised 3 July 2017

Thanks to my habit of perpetual self-examination, surveys and quizzes can attract me when they might show something about me that I did not recognize or have doubted in the past. Some of these curiosity provokers have come on Facebook. Although my current time on Fb is now infrequent and irregular, I recently went back to it to post an experience stumbled on from Bing listings.

“Can we guess your highest education level” it begged, “in 10 questions?” Well 10 turned into something in the high seventies. My first try wound up aborted after a slow connection with my responses whether correct or incorrect and a subsequent explanation why. But the invitation showed up again on 9 March 2017, that morning. This time we managed to reach all the way through. I had failed on one question, which I do not remember, and with a score of 98% equivalent to a Ph.D.

Thanks a lot: you have boosted my ego. However, I do not really have that degree. Consequently, I went to explain on Facebook.

No, I do not have a Ph.D., but an M.A. in Library Science and some further graduate courses in history, humanities, and library services. Instead, I have read continuously since third grade and pursued several research projects while attempting to keep up to date with matters that are not trivial. I am a member of the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum. Two questions were not precisely correct, but I chose the closest acceptable answer.

Though some questions may have been tricky, very few of them took a lot of thought or levels of expertise beyond general knowledge. Questions came mostly from the fields of culture, history, literature, or science. Probably, I could have answered a majority when in high school or at least prior to graduate school.

Here are the first ten questions and why I got them right. An x marks the correct answer.

  1. In what Shakespeare tragedy does Ophelia appear? Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, xHamlet. I did not read Hamlet or see a stage performance of it until into my sixties, but did see the film (1996). When I read and saw Hamlet, I was surprised how familiar the play became. I had read a Classic Comic Book of it in my early teens, but the rest came from many past years of dialogue and character reiterations.
  2. The first World War ended in … x1918, 1945, 1944, 1888 I fell in love with history at 15, subsequent to enjoying historical novels. In college, I majored in history. Dates to me are rudimentary markers – 4 B.C.E., 476, 800, 1066, 1453, 1485, 1492, 1603, 1620, 1776, etc.
  3. What does H stand for in H2O? Helium, Hydration, Halogen, xHydrogen. People frequently use H20 as a synonym for water. How much more basic can you get than that?
  4. What is the capitol of Kenya? Accra, Addis Ababa. Lagos, xNairobi. In college, my cluster of friends played a lot of general knowledge games, one of which asked for the capitals of foreign countries. Besides that, almost every movie that features Kenya in some respect relates to Nairobi.
  5. Frogs belong to which of these animal groups? xAmphibians, Reptiles, Invertebrates, Mammals When I was pre-school, we had a small swamp at the back of a neighboring lot, full of tadpoles that became frogs. I think I knew what an amphibian was since then, thanks to my Dad who seemed to know everything. Of course, I also had 10th grade biology, where Mr. Espeland had us memorize each phylum in its sequence so we could recite them.
  6. True or false: the Soviet Union was a U.S. enemy in WWII? xFalse. Born in 1940, I had four uncles in the war and we had Life magazine at our house. I remember the pictures of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin sitting down together at Yalta.
  7. What language has the most native speakers? Hindi, English, xMandarin Chinese, Spanish. While English may be the most widely spoken, not all are native speakers, and Hindi is only one of hundreds of languages in India; it’s China that has the largest population.
  8. How many chambers are there in the human heart? Three, xFour, Two, One 10th grade biology once more to the rescue. Besides, I have minor reverse blood flow into the left ventricle from the vascular system.
  9. “Call Me Ishmael” is the opening line of which American novel? xMoby Dick, by Herman Melville; Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck; Catch-22, by Joseph Heller; Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Though I’ve owned a copy of Moby Dick since Junior High, I have yet to read all the chapters, but I have read the beginning, seen the film (1956), and know the symbolic meaning of Ishmael.
  10. How many events are there in a decathlon? 12, 6, 3, x10. While I know next to nothing about sports, I had two years of Latin in high school and a semester of Cicero in college. Ten is English for deca in Latin taken from deka in Greek (transliterated), which appears in decade, Decalogue, decahedron, decapod, etc.

Besides seeming easy to anyone who is paying attention, multiple choice questions aid answering correctly when one knows when the wrong choices do not fit the question asked but are true for something else. Perhaps the trickiest question was asking which element is most plentiful in the atmosphere. The proclivity may to answer oxygen which we need but it’s nitrogen. Too much oxygen would burn us up.

Also, it helps to be older with more opportunity for the accumulation and refreshing of knowledge.

The online company that forwards these “fun” questionnaires is Topix, founded in 2002, which at the start aggregated news into various categories or topics. They subsequently created content and other amusements. Offbeat is the subsidiary for this particular quiz and others. See also www.topix.com. A general article appears on Wikipedia as Topix (website).

Travel Times

March 15, 2017

An Update on What’s New or Recent?

Updated 5 July 2017

We leave in 3 days for a warmer experience in Tucson where we have never been. We always drive to see more country. This time the stops along the way from Maplewood MN are Emporia KS, Amarillo TX, and Las Cruces NM. We’ve gone several winters to San Antonio TX, but we decided for something different. We’ll be gone for three weeks.

Since relocating in Maplewood six years ago, we have heightened our time with our children and grandchildren. Each of us lives about 20 miles from the other two, forming the points of a triangle We try to have a family gathering every Sunday evening but that at times does not work thanks to a multiplicity of activities. We have been active in Pilgrim Lutheran in Saint Paul where our son, Kristo(fer), has recently ended his term on the Church Council.

Benjamin, 24 in July, continues with Epic and lives in Madison WI with Carol Daniels, together through high school, university, and after. They are marrying on August 20. Anna, 21 in July, finished her Junior year at St Olaf college with study in London for 10 weeks and 7 more in Florence, living with an Italian family to learn the language and spending her time with 97 museums.

Hannah, 16 going on 30, continues as a competitive Irish dancer plus all of her other pursuits such as joining the Young Democrats once she got to high school. The twins, now 11, continue in Minnesota Boychoir, Irish dance, and are learning classical guitar besides French horn (Austin) and cello (Henry). Their birthdays are all in November. They all read a lot.

Of course, Pat and I have felt besieged by the past and current political season. We follow a lot of analysis but it is hard for us to believe that so many could be so astray from good sense and democratic foundations and values. I am at odds with myself over the rising tide of selfish desire and authoritarianism. What bothers me the most is the seeming openness to learning and loss of education.

At 77 years, I feel the loss of relevant time. So many things are yet to be finished, at least to my satisfaction.

In the midst of all this furious quandary, we took the proverbial trip of a lifetime, two years in the planning. In 2014, we signed up for a Viking Cruise 15-day tour of the Baltic. Since we would leave from Bergen and end in Stockholm, we decided to spend time before and after in Norway.

The Vikings had an expression that goes like this –

Benre dem som vandar finn nye vagar. Only one who wanders finds new paths.

We found populations in metro areas are mixed. European countries have been receiving immigrants for many years. Today’s refugee situation has accelerated this mixture. New populations come from the Middle East and Africa, as well as India and Asia. Also with the European Union, Europeans are on the move, often for better employment, but also tourism. Although European tourists generally make their individual way, organized busloads of Japanese tourists are most noticeable. We saw one group tour of Indonesians.

Because Europe has a much longer history of settlement, it has more to show and therefore more to preserve. The oldest surviving church in Bergen is Mariakirken (St. Mary’s Church) that replaced an earlier unfinished church on the site beginning about 1130. Though made of stone, it suffered various fires. When the Hanseatic League was a force in Bergen, Germans took over the church in the 1400s, and German-language services continued until after WWI. Today the Bergen Anglican Church holds English language services there. More modest older buildings are protected with metal or tile roofs. Old town areas of historic interest maintain their cobble streets. Roads are built with stone aggregate and seem new although roads in more rural areas are narrow to one lane with pull off points when meeting oncoming traffic. In Demark, half the population gets to work on bicycles.

Noted preservation includes wooden stavkirken so called because of their corner posts. At one time thousands existed throughout northern Europe, Norway had at least a thousand; perhaps as many as two thousand. Today 28 remain in Norway.

Though Pat and I have Norwegian ancestry, and know lite grand norske, we intended to learn more before our trip. However, that did not happen. Instead, almost everywhere we went we encountered fluent speakers of English. Even some who apologized for their English did well. Since WWII, English has been taught in schools (along with other languages). I was most surprised with the prevalence of reading material, the number of book stores, and English language material. A lot of this was the standard noted authors – but with surprises. One of the first was a title that jumped out at me: Tatt av vinden, that is – Gone with the wind. English language books included those for children and other special collections. The very large store at the Oslo International Airport had a Krim section and next to it in English a Crime section.

Thanks to English we had conversations, not only with our native tour guides, but also with airlines, car rentals, wait staff in restaurants, hotel desk clerks, bus drivers, museum attendants. When we visited the Urnes stav church, the guide answered a question in Norwegian only when it had been asked in Norwegian and then said it again in English.

We gained a different perspective on party politics because most of the countries have a parliamentary system in which the prime minister is elected by the parliament. Four major parties seemed a common number – Denmark currently has nine. Consequently no one has a majority and they have to bargain with one another if they want to accomplish anything. We don’t recognize the need for compromise, especially today.

Europeans are interested in U.S. politics, as shown in their media. Trump received a lot of coverage there. On board our dinner companions wanted to talk about this crazy guy. By accident, we sat one evening next to Robert Donaldson, who is an authority on international politics, and advises the state and defense departments. He wondered aloud with us as to issues related to one presidential candidate and whether the military would object to some of his potential orders.

Were we in Oslo twice. Once when we landed and transferred to a plane to Bergen. And at the end of the cruise when we took a train from Stockholm to Oslo for a few days before we went on to Sogndahl.

We were astounded by its airport which sprawls for a long distance, looks like a super mall and is full of convivial people all very well dressed in a business casual way and one person with a tie – me. When we came back to Oslo from Stockholm, we were in line for the next day’s big event. By sheer accident, we were in Oslo for Norway’s Constitution Day – Syttende Mai, the 17th of May. Norway.

It is the big dress up day, and now the ties are out on every man and boy. And a large portion of the celebrants wear their bunader. The biggest event is of course in Oslo. And we joined in. A group of police lead the way from the start up Karl Johans Gade to the palace. They carry flags but not guns. Everyone carries flags, especially the children who follow. Every school child from Oslo and surrounding area make up the parade, some have bands, but most shout slogans. No guns, no fire engines or tractors, no fireworks – just children taking up their sense of patriotism.

A large crowd assembles at the palace and at an appointed time the king and the royal family come out on the second floor balcony. The audience sings the national anthem – Jeg Vi Elsker dette landet/ Yes, we love this land. King Harald, as his father Olaf, and grandfather Haakon before him, waves to the crowd, the crowd waves back, cheers, and waves their flags. He and his family keep this going for the five hours it takes.

Following these festivities, people have picnics. We met Ole friends – Kari Berit from Red Wing and John Chaplin who married last summer and lived then on the peninsula south of Oslo – and went by ferry and bus to their house. His daughters and a boyfriend joined and we had the traditional fare featuring shrimp on bread slices. When we returned to our hotel, we noted that other neighbors were also having picnics.

Subsequently we flew to a more rural area, Sogndal, a community of 10,000 of whom 2,000 are students. We chose this stop because three of our ancestral families came from this area. With our rented car we made side trips into the surrounding area.

One day we went to Fjaerland which includes the National Glacier Museum. The museum is on the fringe of the Jostedalen Ice Cap, the largest glacier in continental Europe. The museum features glacier-related experiences including a multiscreen 20-minute view of the glacier as experienced by skiers, hikers, and ice-climbers. Then our crawl through a simulated ice cave under a glacier – not a comfortable feeling – and a very thorough display on Otzi, the freeze-dried man from 5300 years ago found in the Alps in September 1991.

Another reason for going to Fjaerland is that it is Norway’s Book Town. When commerce came to an end there, an entrepreneur established a used book business in 8 or 9 rehabilitated buildings, otherwise abandoned. In total there are 8 linear miles of books on display. We looked at a few.

Within Fjaerland is another community, Mundahl. Pat’s maternal grandfather’s grandmother came from this area. Brithe Mundal she was, born in 1854. After lunch at the Hotel Mundal, we went across the road to the church and its graveyard and read every stone, but found no one we could link to. Another descendant from the Mundal area is former Vice President Mondale. He has visited in the area and is very highly respected in Sogndal.

One other day we went to Balestrand which meant taking a ferry across a fjord finger. Balestrand in the late 19th and early 20th century was a noted resort for wealthy travelers of the time. Kaiser Wilhelm was an annual visitor for several years including 1913, his last. We ate in the hotel where he had stayed.

Sogndal where we had based for these few days was on the inner reach of the Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. When we left, we took a high speed ferry the length of the fjord back to Bergen in a little over four hours.

In summary, a few words about “the trip of a lifetime.” It was horribly costly which deterred me. Yet, I consented on account that it would be out of our systems. The exposure to Europe had great benefits, chiefly how patriotism is understood in Norway, how technology and the arts have replaced manufacturing, how multiple party systems have been able to work as a coalition, how multi-lingual many Europeans are – at least in metropolitan areas. And how impressive reading appears with the wide availability of bookstores and material in other outlets. Not to be forgotten, how conscious people are of history and historic preservation.


Previously posted 30 January 2017 on the Saint Olaf College Alumni Directory: Class Page 1962.(1962) where access requires registration as an Ole.