Skip to main content

I'm known as Vitskapsdama, the Science Lady in Norwegian, and work as a medical writer and science educator in my own small social company called BlueDot.
When not writing medical stuff or visiting schools with messy and memorable science activities, I'd like to learn about and tinker with .... well, anything that captures my interest really!

Linda Liem

Awkward celebrations: Halloween

3 min read

It may be hard to believe, but Halloween was virtually unknown in Norway until the turn of the century. During the last 10-15 years though, Halloween has been adopted in Norway in a big, but not always in a good way.
Many Norwegians have used popular American culture, aka cartoons, movies and tv-series, to learn how to celebrate Halloween. Who can resist a festival where you are allowed to dress up, go round the neighborhood in the dark and get candy too? Retailers have jumped massively on the bandwagon. Sales in the Halloween period have increased with 500% in the last few years and some stores had to limit the number of customers in their shops.

The problem with the Norwegian adoption of Halloween is that not everything has made it to Norway. Some take “trick-or-treat” all too literally. For them, “tricking” means that one is allowed revenge, often by throwing eggs against houses and covering cars in toilet paper, when the door isn’t answered or you don’t get candy. Children sometimes ring at all the houses in the neighborhood, thereby scaring older folks who have no idea what Halloween is about and irritating others who don’t want to have anything to do with Halloween. Some have shouted at the kids to go away or called them beggars, which frightened smaller kids and infuriated their parents, and gave larger kids and some adults the perfect excuse to retaliate. Others have suggested that houses that want to receive trick-or-treaters could show this by decorating their front yard or door, but this has largely been ignored in discussions. Now opponents and proponents alike just throw mud and insults at each other in social media.

We have a Norwegian tradition called Julebukk that goes back to ancient times and has many similarities with Halloween. Between Christmas and New Years Eve, children dress up as nisser -goblin-like beings who are said to live close to humans and give protection -as long as they are properly taken care of-,  go Julebukk around the neighborhood and sing carols. In return they receive praise, cookies, candy and clementines. Sadly, Julebukk is all but extinct in urban areas, but the tradition is still very much alive in the countryside where we live.

For me, Halloween is an awkward celebration. I’m skeptical over the trick-or-treat aspect, even if it’s only for fun. It’s just too easy to be misunderstood and abused, especially when there are no traditions or roots to the origins of the celebration. However, I do understand that Halloween is exciting for the kids. So this year, I had a good discussion about Halloween and the importance of respecting others with my youngest daughter who's 9 years old. She got the opportunity to go trick-or-treating with a group of girls after a birthday party in our neighborhood and when they came to us, I had a surprise ready for them. First, they had to eat a jelly worm and only after they had eaten the worm, could they pick a pumpkin cookie. But they didn’t get candy, that is something for when they go julebukk!

 

Linda Liem

My life, fragmented

3 min read

I have been very busy with projects lately, but now I finished up the last project and wanted to use some time to plan my blogging journey. But just thinking about it had me kind of frozen in place for the last 2 weeks. I want to start blogging again, but get stuck thinking about the hurdles.

My main problem is language. I grew up in the Netherlands, live in Norway and blog internationally, which means 3 languages to reach all my audiences. This mainly affects my plans for a recipe blog, because I'd like to share my kitchen adventures and favorite recipes with my friends and family who live all over the world.

I did create a food blog called Enak Sekali on our private domain, but then started to change my mind about whether every post should contain a recipe, as a proper recipe blog, or if I could also write about kitchen disasters. Now I kind of amalgamated these thoughts in the design of my blog with an extra page for experiments. 

As a freelance science educator I also need a place to blog about my science actvities, show the world what I'm doing and get YOU interestested in my work. As main audiences er Norwegian and English, this should be a bilingual blog. I already have my updated my website, bluedot.no, to be able to write a mutlilingual blog, but I should get started. In addition, I have an account with a provider for education resources that caters both to the UK and the US. So, that's again two variations of English, as well as two different measurement systems.

I keep a private journal, in Dutch, and blog here on Tinkertown, my personal rambling blog, in (US) English. It pretty easy for me to switch between Dutch and English, but somewhat harder to switch to Norwegian, as there are actually 2 major forms of Norwegian and I've only learned the languages (both forms) about 9 years ago. 

Having to make choices what to do and not to do and who to cater for is enough to keep me awake at night and keep me putting off the actual writing process. But now it has been enough. I want to be out there, creating content and reaching out to others. So, I'll going to write in the language that feels most natutal for a certain text and worry about translations later.

NaBloPoMo at BlogHer sounds just like the kickstart I need. So, I've added this blog to the blogroll and hope to be able to welcome a few readers along my journey.

(Crossposted at Blogher.com)

Linda Liem

Welcome to Tinkertown

2 min read

End of summer and new digital start for me. After several more or less successful attempts to blog and share, I'd like to start again. While sharing is not a problem, I do need a place to chronicle my adventures in Tinkertown.

Although people usually think that I'm a Science Lady because I know a lot (apparently) and I'm good at explaining things, I'm actually a compulsive tinkerer. You see, I have this need to find out how things work and what I can change to make it work (better) for me. So, I like to use my spare time to experiment, tinker and tweak, make lots of mistakes and sometimes spectacular failures and learn from them to improve myself. This is, by far, the most enjoyable way to learn new things and develop new skills for me. It even makes me some money through BlueDot, which is all about educational tinkering.

Here in Tinkertown, I'd like to share my adventures with you, whether they're about science projects I'm working on, home improvement activities, new gadgets or consolidating twenty different recipes for the same dish. Although I'm writing mainly for myself, I welcome you, my reader, with open arms. May Tinkertown become one of your preferred destinations!