Lawrie's Christmas Letter - 1997 in Review

Merry Christmas everyone. This has been a pretty eventful and unusual year for me, so I thought perhaps I'd put together a highlights letter with a few photos to try and give you a bit of its flavor. As I think most of you know, I spent this year on sabbatical - which means I could concentrate on research without having to worry about teaching or administration.

I started the year in Melbourne, living at home. Its been quite some time since I've been able to see Mum, David & Robyn for more than a few days at a time, so that was nice. I was commuting into the city, and working at the Software Engineering Research Centre (SERC, part of RMIT). There I started a project looking at mobile code security in the functional language Erlang. I also managed to get down to Geelong a couple of times to see my grandmother. That was really great, since I'm very fond of her, but as she was very frail we knew I'd probably not see her again after I left (she died on Mar 1, just as I was arriving in Norway). I flew out mid Feb heading for the US. I spent a few days in Salt Lake City, visiting Debra Venables, and getting a days downhill skiing in at Alta (photo). Then a had a few days in Ann Arbor with Lyz Hindmarsh, before flying on to the UK to visit my cousins in Haworth, Yorkshire. It was great to meet the family (including my cousin Eric, the SF writer) there (photo).

Then it was on to Norway. I arrived on Mar 1 in Trondheim, where I'd be working at NTNU (photo). I had 8 month there, with the full gamut of weather from snow to fine and sunny and back to snow again. It was a very busy time. At work I continued the work on mobile code security, which also involved collaboration with people at Ericsson's CS labs in Stockholm (which I visited 3 times). Personally I was also keeping busy. My colleague Svein Knapskog took my out cross-country skiing (having loaned me a set of skis for my stay) several times (photo). That was great fun, and I got to tour a number of areas around Trondheim during Mar-Apr. I also went along to the monthly Anglican service, and met a really nice group of people there, whom I socialised with for the rest of my stay. Apart from the monthly service, I also joined their Mon night study group - which was a relaxed and enjoyable evening spent discussing assorted issues and becoming friends. We also went out together on assorted activities during my stay there. I also went skiing with them a number of times. I also got in touch with the local Scottish Country dance group through them, and went along a number of times. It was nice to have a familiar activity, though they finished up mid-April.

Whilst in Norway I managed a fair amount of travelling. In April, I flew to Stockholm to visit CSlabs for a few days. Later I went on a trip to Östersund, a 4 hour coach trip with students from NTNU. On the way back we had time for some downhill skiing at Åre, which is a great alpine resort. In May I did my first big trip, round the SW part of Norway. I visited a couple of former students Per and Martin, in Arendal, and then drove to Stavanger with Martin. There we walked into Preikestolen (photo), a magnificant rock outcropping, 600 metres over the fjord, with an awesome view. This is one of my favorite memories from my time in Norway. We then spent a few days at Martin's family hytta on the island of Karmøy (photo). I then continued on to Bergen, Oslo and back home. Shortly after I did another trip to Stockholm, and then toured Gøteborg in Sweden, and Lillahammer (of winter olympics fame) in Norway, on the way back.

In July I a trip up to see the midnight sun with Lynda Guest (a friend from the study group - see photo). We travelled by train to Fauske, bus to Narvik and then Harstad, boat down through the awesomely rugged Lofoten Islands to Bodø, and then train back home. The scenary was just magnificent (photo), and saw the midnight sun on 3 nights in Narvik, Harstad and cruising back to Bodø. In the Lofoten's we saw Troll fjord, a tiny narrow and very spectacular fjord which they eased the boat in and out of! It was a memorable trip.

It was also a great year to be in Trondheim as the city was celebrating its 1000 year anniversary. The May 17 National day celebrations were as colorful as always, with everyone in national costume (photo). Then in June they had the 1000 year festival with lots of activities, parades and events, and a couple of weeks later, the Royal birthday parties. In July the Cutty Sark Tall Ship race (photo) was in town. So the place was pretty lively. Over the summer (which turned out to be the warmest on record!) I enjoyed quite a bit of sun-bathing and swimming by the fjord. I was also introduced to the local folk music and dance group BUL. I went along to a number of their Wed evenings at their hytta near Lian and learnt some of the tradiitonal dances which was fun.

In Aug my sister flew in for a weeks holiday from England, where she'd been working. I travelled around to Bergen to meet her via Arendal and Stavanger again. We had a day in Bergen (photo), then took a 5 hour high-speed ferry trip up Sognefjord (photo) and then a trip up the Flåm railway. The views were just magnificent. We then continued to Oslo, Lillahammer, Trondheim and back. We had a lovely time together, and Robyn enjoyed her break.

Later I flew to Stockholm for the last time, and presented a talk about my work to a conference there. To finish a busy month, I took a day trip on the coastal boat to Ålesund, and from there did a trip to see Gieranger fjord (photo), spent a day sightseeing in the town (photo), before a bus-train trip back to Trondheim. Life was a little quieter after that. At work I started on the redesign of the LOKI encryption algorithm as my second project. At the start of Oct I did a weekend course with BUL to learn the Røros Pols, which is the favorite couples dance here, and a lot of fun. I enjoyed the rest of my stay in Trondheim, and just to let me know, it dumped snow so I left 1/2 a metre behind when I flew out at the end of Oct.

I flew back into Melbourne. Had a few days to recover before driving to Canberra for a week. Then on to Wollongong (via Melbourne to collect my car which was playing up, sigh!) where I spent the remainder of the year. I ended up staying in Kiama, boarding just a minutes walk from the beach, which was really hard to take! I was working at UOW with my former PhD supervisors on the LOKI redesign. Enjoyed dancing ballroom in Nowra, and bush at Wongawilli whilst there. On 21 Dec it was time to drive back to Canberra, and then on to Melbourne for Christmas, after a very memorable year.

Lawrie Brown / 8 Dec 97