Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holmenkollen Diamanten for Sale to the Highest Bidder

If you remember about a month-and-a-half ago I posted about the closure of Holmenkollen and its impending demolition. Now, in a new, curious turn of events it appears that the Norwegian government is selling part of the world famous Holmenkollen ski jump on e-bay.

Yeah, according to news reports, the "Diamanten" has been placed for auction on e-bay, with a starting bid of $5,000 USD or about NOK 35,000. The diamenten is the diamond shaped cabin space at the top of the ski-jump and has been an iconic symbol of Norway's place as the inventor of skiing. As of the writing of this post, there have been 12 bids and the price is up to $6,500 already.

The e-bay description of the sale is:

Unique chance to buy the top of Norways national pride: Holmenkollen ski jump!

Holmenkollen is about to undergo a huge rebuilding, and in the process the old ski jump and its top "Diamanten" has been separated. The pavilion is filled with drawings and autographs from a lot of great ski jumpers throughout time and is a real collectors item . Holmenkollen is about to undergo a huge rebuilding, and in the process the old ski jump and its top "Diamanten" has been separated. The pavilion is filled with drawings and autographs from a lot of great ski jumper throughout time and is a real collectors item . It is in a great condition and can be used in any number of ways. "Diamanten" is now ready for a new home, so place a bid on this unique memorable, and impress your friends, collea gues or business partners by having the one and only "Diamanten"... It is in a great condition and can be used in any number of ways. "Diamanten" is now ready for a new home, so place a bid on this unique memorable, and impress your friends, Colleen gues or business partners by having the one and only "Diamanten" ...

"Diamanten" is ready to be picked up from the sight at any given moment. "Diamanten" is ready to be picked up from the sight at any given moment.

Getting to Know…District 4 International Director Elaine Nelson

Back from a great Thanksgiving we've got a great new profile of the International Director from District 4, Elaine Nelson, who has almost forty years of committed membership under her belt. After joining when she was just 19, Elaine has seen the organization change and grow. Read on to see what’s kept her involved all these years!

Q: What was your proudest moment in Sons of Norway?

A: I would have to say, when I made a presentation to a member where there had been a tornado. I was proud to be an international director and was proud of our Helping Hands to Members grants. I was proud that Sons of Norway does that for our members.

Q: How long have you held a Sons of Norway financial product?

A: Since the convention in Philadelphia. I was a delegate and I needed insurance.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to have one?

A: I feel it’s one of the benefits we have of being a Sons of Norway member, and it’s a quality product.

Q: What other positions have you held in Sons of Norway?

A: I came on the district board as district treasurer. I had four years as district counselor, four years as district vice president and four years as district president. I’ve also held positions in my local lodge. I haven’t been secretary and that’s a good position…

Q: What prompted you to join Sons of Norway at such a young age?

A: My parents and I joined 4-087 when our district was having a reorganization of lodges. We joined because of our Norwegian heritage. I didn’t become too active till 1983. My parents and I took our first trip to Norway to visit relatives. I saw the beautiful scenery and my connection to Norway and I came back and became lodge president.

Q: Throughout the years, what has Sons of Norway done to continually engage you?

A: The fraternal friendship from lodges in Canada, Norway and the United States; the heritage; I love the Viking magazine; the web site. We’ve had a lot of great changes. It’s a great organization.

Q: Why is recruitment so important to you?

A: I guess if you like an organization you belong to, you like to tell people the story of Sons of Norway. There’s a lot of people that don’t know about Sons of Norway, and we like to tell of our benefits and how it was started. People can join of all ages. One of the things that I think has really helped in the past few years is the family membership.

Q: What’s your favorite Norwegian food?

A: Oh boy, that’s a tough one. Probably lefse and krumkake.
Q: How do you eat your lefse?

A: Just sugar and butter.

Q: Where in Norway would you like to yet visit? Why?

A: Grimstad, Norway. I have a penpal there. I’ve met her, but I’ve never been to her city.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all our members and Norwegian-Americans, happy Thanksgiving! We'll return tomorrow with a new post profiling D4 International Director, Elaine Nelson. Until then enjoy the turkey, the lefse and time with loved ones!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is it summer yet?

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm already thinking about next summer. Why, you ask? Three words: Scandinavian. Hjemkomst. Festival. Yep, it's already time to start thinking about the 2009 festival and all the cool things that are going on. In the 8 or 9 years that I've been with Sons of Norway I've had the pleasure of traveling to a lot of different events and I must say that next to Nork Høstfest this is one of my absolute favorites. I suppose it helps that I spent about 13 years living in Fargo as a kid, so its like old home week. But I digress.

There's always something new and cool happening, the folks that run the festival are very nice and the attendees are great. All reasons why we decided to become the top-level Festival Sponsor for 2007-2009. This next year is definitely going to be awesome. We had a meeting with the festival director recently and she showed us what the upcoming theme is going to be. I wish I could tell you about it, but I'm not sure if Hjemkomst is ready to debut it yet (there's nothing on their website about so far) so I'll have to hold off for now. I will say this, though, I'm really excited about it because I think the festival has a great opportunity to tap into the youth if the Red River Valley this time. If you live in ND, SD, IA, or MN I definitely suggest you make plans to visit the 2009 Hjemkomst Festival. You won't be dissapointed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nordic American Thanksgivin Breakfast

Tomorrow is going to be a full day for sure.

It's time for the 24th Annual Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast (NATB). Always a great time, even if it does mean getting up early, and this year's event certainly won't disappoint. As always, the purpose of the NATB is for folks of the Scandinavian-American community to come together in the celebration of faith, freedom, family & friendship. It's also an opportunity for attendees to support important causes, like the Marie Sandvik Center and the Minnesota Military Family Foundation. Even if you can't make it to this year's event, check out the information on the breakfast here, and take a look at this year's charities.

We've got some great speakers this year, like Minnehaha Academy President John Engstrom, Jeanette Trompeter and Donna Erickson. Each of whom brings their own take on the important issues of faith, freedom, family & friendship, respectively. Personally, I can't wait to hear their thoughts.

Though, what I like even better about the event is the camaraderie. I've been to this event for the past 9 years and every time I'm always amazed to see folks from difference Scandinavian backgrounds coming together with hugs and handshakes. It's all for one good, a common cause if you will. It's a very cool thing to see and be part of, so if you can't make it this year, make sure to try next year.

Come back tomorrow and learn why my thoughts are already turning to next summer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Norway Chooses American Fighter

The Norwegian government announced this week that the Norwegian Ministry of Defense will recommend that Norway replace its fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft with the American-built F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The decision comes at the end of a long competition between the JSF and the Swedish-built SAAB Gripen NG fighter. The Prime Minister’s office sighted the JSF’s superior performance as the primary factor in their decision, as well as the lower initial and operating costs. You can read an English-language version of the press release announcing the decision here and the longer Norwegian version here.

The Ministry of Defense’s recommendation will still need to be approved by Parliament next year. According to the plan, the JSF will be phased in between 2016 and 2020, as the F-16s are gradually phased out.

The choice will likely bring some welcome warmth to US-Norway relations which have been decidedly chilly in the last few years. US Ambassador to Norway Benson K Whitney has advocated strongly for the JSF, and personally delivered the initial bid to Norwegian Minister of Defense Anne Grethe Strøm-Erichsen back in April. The US Embassy webpage has extensive information about JSF here.

The decision wasn’t scheduled to be made public until December 19th, and both the American and Swedish teams have reacted with surprise. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has been criticized from both the right and the left within Norway for the early announcement. The Socialist Left party, which is a member of Stoltenberg’s governing coalition, has expressed disappointment in the announcement. Jan Peterson, a Conservative Party member of parliament and a defense committee chair told Dagbladet “This is a majority government at its worst. There has been no attempt at dialog from the government’s side between them and the committee or the rest of Parliament.” However, Peterson added that he thought the JSF was a good choice, and said he was glad the government chose “the best plane, and not prioritized industrial cooperation.”

The project has been stalked by controversy almost since the beginning. About a year ago a Eurpoean consortium withdrew their bid for the Eurofighter Typhoon from consideration because they felt the process favored the Americans too heavily.

SAAB and others from the Swedish side have also expressed their disappointment. Their chances could not have been helped by this photo, which has appeared widely in the Norwegian press in the last week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting to Know…District Two International Director Bill Fosmoe

Today, Nichole Neuman had a very lively and lovely discussion with International Director Bill Fosmoe about why he joined Sons of Norway back in 1982, what makes his lodge (Bothell 2-106) so darned great and why he likes lutefisk more than any other Norwegian (ahem) delicacy. Enjoy getting to know Bill better!

Q: What was your first connection to Sons of Norway?

A: We had a friend who thought we should join the Sons of Norway and if we did, we should join her lodge, which we did. Actually, it’s not the closest lodge to us, but she convinced us. It’s really a nice organization, and we have a beautiful piece of property. If you ever do come out this way I’d love to show you. (ed: This membership coordinator is more than willing to journey to District 2!)

Q: What did it offer you that other organizations of its ilk did not?

A: I think it was the hospitality of the people in the lodge, and getting involved. When we first got into the lodge, we weren’t able to get involved. We thoroughly have enjoyed working with these people and we have a number of events with which we get involved. You really get to know people and having to work with them is really enjoyable.

Q: What positions have you held within Sons of Norway?

A: Well, I’ve been treasurer for our lodge and building association for a total of ten years, also on board of directors of Trollhaugen for six years. I was on the board of directors for Norse Home which is a retirement home for Scandinavians. Also, district president for four years and district treasurer for six years. Now I’ve been on the board for two years.
I’ve always enjoyed the relationship we had with the home office, too. One of the benefits of being district president is that you get to travel around to the various lodges throughout the district, and it’s great to meet the people.

Q: What compelled you to take on leadership roles?

A: When I retired I had more time than I knew what to do with, so I got more involved. I’ve mostly done the accounting part of it. It’s just something I enjoy doing, getting involved.

Q: What changes have you witnessed since you first joined?

A: I think the biggest change is the personnel at the office, how they’ve turned around to help anybody and everybody. And then the technology – the older people don’t have computers, so that’s very difficult to overcome. And also, the cultural. You’ve done a fantastic job with the culture end of it. And generating new ideas!

Q: What’s your favorite Norwegian food?

A: Lutefisk. I like some of the other things and krumkake, but that’s more fattening. Of course, I was brought up with, on Christmas Eve, for my dad and I to have lutefisk. There’s a lot of food that I really thoroughly enjoy.

Q: Is there a Norwegian holiday tradition you and your family observe?

A: Actually, the only thing we do observe is going to these lutefisk dinners particularly. We usually go out with another couple for a Norwegian dinner on Christmas Eve.

Q: Do you do any Norwegian Crafts?

A: I hate to admit this, but I don’t. Probably the simplest one, which would be reading. I don’t have any other talent….but as far as the sporting end of it, I’m a couch potato.

Sons of Norway on Facebook

This morning as I was sipping my first cup of decaffeinated brown water coffee and thinking about what's left to be done before the next issue of the Sons of Norway Adivsor goes to print I decided I needed a 5-minute mental vacation. So, I started doing some random searches for "Sons of Norway" on the internet and found some pretty interesting stuff.

For example, did you know that there are more than 20 different groups on Facebook that are dedicated to Sons of Norway? They range in membership from just one or two members into the hundreds. I think this is great. In fact, I even set up an international Sons of Norway group this morning. If you're interested, please join the group by clicking here. If you want to view all the Facebook groups for Sons of Norway, you can click here. What's more, there are even some lodges that have Facebook pages now. I think that's a great idea, especially for lodges who don't have a "web person" to create a lodge website. Kudos to Southern Star Lodge 3-360, Nordahl Grieg Lodge 6-052 and Northern Lights Lodge 4-493, among others!

After finding all that, I had to check out MySpace to see if there was more to be found. There sure were. For example, Edvard Grieg Lodge 6-074 has a Myspace page for lodge information and announcements, which is very nice looking with clean design. Good job.

It's nice to see our members are starting to embrace the social media channels. Whether you like them or not (I have a mixed opinion myself) they're most likely here to stay. That being the case, I'd love to hear if any of the readers have some ideas about how these websites could be used by lodges or districts for recruitment or retention purposes. If you have some thoughts, please leave a comment below so others can read it as well.

Ok, back to the Advisor. Have a great day and be sure to check back later today or tomorrow morning for the Bill Fosmoe interview!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DIY with Sons of Norway

With experts expecting a bleak economic landscape this holiday season many Americans are looking for ways to cut expenses. If you're like me, you may be looking for some DIY (Do It Yourself) projects that would make for decent Christmas presents. There are a number of places for us like minded folks to look, like the DIY Network, where you'll find do it yourself instruction on everything from quilting to crafts to jewelry making. All of which can be made into easy, inexpensive yet meaningful gifts.

Now, you may be wondering why is the Sons of Norway Blog running a piece on something non-Norwegian? Well there's a couple of reasons.

First, the DIY mentality is very Scandinavian and very, very,very Norwegian. For centuries people in Norway, and their descendants who immigrated to the United States, were proud of their ability to be self sustaining while doing more with less (the cornerstone of the DIY movement). So much so that I'd argue Scandinavians were more proficient at it than almost any other culture.

Also, did you know that Sons of Norway offers some great DIY projects that can be turned into the perfect Christmas gift? We do, and that's the second reason for today's post. All members of Sons of Norway have access to a number of different Cultural Skills lessons that can teach you how to rosemal, chip carve, knit or make a hardanger embroidery piece (among other things). I've personally seen what members are capable of making after going through a CS program and these items can make the best gifts imaginable. Not only are they hand-made, but they are also one-of-a-kind gifts that can have more meaning than a store-bought gift.

Another DIY offering from Sons of Norway, which could be very helpful this holiday season, is our recipe collection. Often, gifts of food are the most practical and cherished. Consider making some lefse or krumkake to give as gifts this year. Just remember that many baked goods, like krumkake are very fragile, so they don't do well if you are planning on mailing them to a loved one who lives far away. If that's the situation you find yourself in, I suggest you check out Viking magazine to see if there is a Scandinavian food seller closer to your loved one and order from them.

Well that's all for now, but be sure to check back tomorrow when I'll have a post from Nichole Neumann where she interviews District 2 International Director Bill Fosmoe.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Norwegian Musicians on Myspace

This week the Sons of Norway culture desk brings you some new Norwegian music that you can sample for free on Myspace.

Valkyrien Allstars consists of three young Hardanger fiddle players from Eastern Norway. Three unaccompanied Hardanger fiddles grinding away at the same time could be excessive under the direction of less creative musicians, but Valkyrien Allstars keep things fresh by blending in elements of blues and jazz to keep things fresh. One of the members also sings, and her throaty, soulful voice fits perfectly in the mix of old and new sounds.

Sami musician Mari Boine has been re-interpreting the traditional music of her people for almost twenty years. Never a strict traditionalist, Boine became an international star with the release of her debut album in 1989 which blended classic Sami joik signing with electronic music and other modern styles. Boine has never stopped pursuing her original vision and has collaborated widely with artists from around the world.

Hanne Hukkelberg is one of our favorite musical discoveries of the last few years. She’s a singer, but beyond that it’s almost impossible to say what genre her music belongs to. Some writers call it jazz, others say it’s alternative or indie, but to our way of thinking Hukkelberg is an excellent case in point of why those genre labels are so meaningless. Her voice is unique, but what really sets her apart is how she uses it – she has this strange, unhurried way of teasing expressive gestures out of a simple phrase or line. Her producer, fellow Norwegian Kåre Vestrheim also makes a major contribution, most importantly by staying out of the way of the vocals, but also by including unexpected sounds to the instrumentation, like the sound of a typewriter clacking in one song, or the sound of a boat passing through water in another.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting to Know…New International Director Jon Tehven

A member only since 1996, John Tehven from Iowa in District One, has quickly rose to the recently elected position of International Director. Let’s find out a little more about this motivated man.

Q: Compared to some of our other officers, you’re a relatively new member of Sons of Norway. What drew you to the organization?

A: My job was training director for an insurance company, so I was on the airplane and traveling all the time. I didn’t belong to much besides church and I had friends that kept saying you need to join Sons of Norway. When my traveling stopped, I did.

Q: What positions have you held besides district president?

A: Lodge vice president, lodge president and then zone director. After that, district secretary and then district president. I had some significant encouragement.

Q: And why did you get involved after just a few years with district leadership?

A: I have never actively sought office; others have come to me and said, “You should do this.” I had some very good mentors.

Q: What has the transition been like from district president to international director?

A: As district president, there is a huge amount of functional things that have to happen, and the international board will be more visionary.

Q: What would you like to see for Sons of Norway in the next decade?

A: I think we need to have greater insurance participation, need to grow and retain our membership and keep building the Foundation.

I’m very encouraged by the proactiveness of the Sons of Norway and the strategic planning committees of the board. I think that they’re very effective and a good way to build our organization.

I think that we need to continue workshops that train our leaders in the many parts of the Sons of Norway.

Q: What is a characteristic of our fraternal benefit society unique to Sons of Norway?

A: I think that there are some parts here. I think that what happens here at the international office, that the leadership here is individually and collectively as good a leadership experience as I’ve had anywhere.

And in our lodges, I think we have, as a volunteer organization, exceptional leaders. We ask a lot of them and they respond because they think it’s important.

Q: Favorite Norwegian food?

A: My mother’s lefse, but I like rommegrøt also.

Q: Favorite skol?

A: Every year at our house we have a Superbowl party, so that’s our favorite party. Go Bears!

Q: Most amazing experience in Norway?

A: It was visiting my cousins in the Lofoten Islands. We stayed with them, and they came and stayed with us.

Q: Favorite convention memory?

A: Solglimt lodge getting Lodge of the Year; I’m very proud of it. We celebrated at our lodge.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back to Normal

Well, things are back to normal this week at the Sons of Norway Headquarters. Last week we played host to the biannual International Board of Directors meeting. The meetings, which occur in the fall and spring of every year, are a great opportunity for all the board member to meet face to face and discuss the pressing issues of the organization. This being the end of a convention year, the board met and discussed a lot of the resolutions that resulted from our time in San Diego this past August.

It was also a time for the District Presidents to get together and talk about issues that affect lodges and ways for districts to work together towards common goals. With four new District Presidents and four returning presidents it sounds like the perfect combination of experience and new ideas to result in good progress.

For the staffers who work at the Headquarters Office, the Board Meetings can make for a very hectic week. You have board members from all over North America and Norway coming together for a few days and they want to make the most of the time. This means their schedules are very full, meeting with staff members, the rest of the Board of Directors and the District Presidents. Typically, for those of us in the Fraternal Department, there are lots of requests for materials and information related to new initiatives, questions about current programs and time spent discussing various issues with the committees that have been assigned. It makes for a very hectic week balancing all these things with our day-to-day job duties, but in the end the stress isn't so bad because it's all for the good of Sons of Norway.

Overall it sounds like the time spent was very successful and International President Dan Rude ran the meetings very well. I haven't heard, yet about what new initiatives have come out of this fall's meeting, but as soon as I do I'll be sure to share.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Oslo in 3D

This week we stumbled across a cool new high-resolution map of Oslo. Developed by Sesam, a Norwegian search engine and based on missile-guidance technology, the map looks and feels like Google Earth but has far better 3D images.

The map uses up a lot of bandwidth, so you will definitely need high-speed internet service to use it. You will also need to install a custom plug-in (a mini-application that works from inside your browser). Click here and you’ll be taken to a demo page with a button that says “Installer.” Click that button and follow your browser’s instructions to either run or install the plug-in. The map will then either automatically load, or you’ll have to hit your browser’s “refresh” button.

You can zoom in and out, and also change the angle from which you view the city. This is a “beta” or test version so it does have some bugs, and it does not include street names or a search function. According to this article, the map will one day be expanded to include several other cities in Norway.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Aftenposten English Goes Dark.

In what was stated to be a “cost-cutting move,” Aftenposten announced on Monday, November 03, 2008 that it would be closing its News in English desk, effective Friday. It’s a sad state for those of us who do not read Norwegian, but still carry an interest in the current social, political and moose happenings in the old country.

On the upside, the site promises to keep a searchable archive of their previously published English stories for those who want to relive the drunken moose rampage heydays. For those interested, simply click through to and enter a search term in the “søk” field.

What a great opportunity, however, to take advantage of the Sons of Norway Norwegian-learning resources! Twenty-four hours a day, members can access our online language lessons. For those who wish to continue reading their daily news from Norway, members can get a great start with Sons of Norway’s Norwegian for Reading Comprehension guide, also available in the members section of

To read the full story: