Category Archives: Activities, Travel, Vacations

My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Sights Part 2 (Copenhagen Denmark)

Copenhagen Denmark

Last week after speaking at the Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden, my wife and I had the opportunity to see some of the sights in nearby Copenhagen Denmark.

Copenhagen is just across the straight, or the sound, or the Øresund, from Malmo Sweden.  We took the train across, which only cost about 13 US dollars.  As we were travelling across the Øresund Bridge, we could see a really cool wind farm to the south.

Once we got to the Copenhagen airport, we took the Metro train to Kongens Nytorv or The King’s New Square.  There was a construction wall around the entire square, so we didn’t actually get to see it.  Here is what the new square looks like on Google 3D maps right now.

Right when you exit the underground Metro station in the King’s New Square, you are greeted by a grand department store called Magasin.  Here is a photo of the storefront.

In the above photo of the department store, you can see two pyramid shaped glass structures on street level.  Those are big skylights opening down into the underground Metro station.  Pretty cool.  And if you look closely you can see several large glass prisms mounted inside the glass pyramids.  On a sunny day I bet those prisms shine a rainbow of light down onto the Metro passengers below!

Directly across the street from this grand department storefront stands another big beautiful and distinguished building.  It’s the Det Kongelige Teater, or Royal Danish Theatre.  This photo is actually the side of the building.

And this is the front.  Quite elaborate.  Inside it seats 1,600 and as a theatre geek I really wanted to peek inside the auditorium.  The lobby was open and there was a small cafe inside, but everything else was closed.

This is a bar and some really neat architecture that we noticed behind the Royal Danish Theatre.  It’s almost an alleyway, but it’s quite beautiful.

Just around the corner from the Royal Danish Theatre is this bright and fun canal street called Nyhavn, or New Harbour.   I dare you to try and take a photo of this place that isn’t postcard or magazine quality!  It’s practically impossible!

Nyhavn is a walking street, not a driving street.  There are a ton of small shops and bars and restaurants.  And the street is filled with these little wooden sheds selling local goods.  It’s very much a street-fair atmosphere.

Many boats and small ships line the canal.  The vintage schooners are there on permanent display and some are quite historical.  The boat pictured below is actually an old lightship.  Think lighthouse, but actually on the water.  This particular lightship served Gedser Reef in southern Denmark for over 50 years.

This was new to us.  Love locks attached to a bridge railing.  Apparently it’s a relatively new tradition for younger folks to show their unbreakable love by attaching a lock to a bridge and then tossing the key into the water.  Interesting tradition.

Some municipalities consider it vandalism.  I’m torn on the subject.  It’s kind of beautiful.  But I can see how it could get out of hand.

We noticed quite a crowd continuing past the New Harbor canal and over a bridge beyond the river.  We had nowhere to be so we joined the crowd.  There had to be something good over there.

There was a big warehouse building across the river that most people were going to.  Out front these giant seagull statues looked to be made out of thin plywood sheets.  Pretty cool.

Then we saw some people eating food outside the building so we knew we were about to enjoy a surprise lunch.  The decor for this dining area was extremely industrial and warehouse-like.  Check out the 2 story shipping container dining area pictured below.  Amazing.

Yeah.  Now I totally see that guy smirking at me while I took that photo.  I’m just glad he didn’t do anything to completely ruin my photo!   🙂

We were pleasantly surprised when we went inside the building.  It was a large warehouse space filled with about 40 colorful and fun street food vendors selling some awesome street food!  It was pretty amazing!  It’s called Copenhagen Street Food.

It’s sort of like an American food court at a shopping mall, but way way better!  Way way more choices and super unique choices too!  It’s quite literally a food truck party!

My wife and I couldn’t decide between an ostrich burger or a pulled duck burger.  So we got one of each and then we shared!  Both were crazy good!  But I couldn’t get over how yummy and juicy the pulled duck was.  There was no sauce or anything.  I think it was just pulled and then simmered in some sort of light oil.  Or maybe grease.  Don’t care.  It was delicious.  I wonder what Thanksgiving turkey would taste like if you pulled it and then simmered it in oil or grease.

The dessert selections were also pretty great.  We decided on these yummy looking cheesecakes.

In the same warehouse building, next to Copenhagen Street Food, was the Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center.  It was inexpensive and we had the time, so we paid admission and checked it out.  There were quite a lot of displays that used multimedia technology.  Videos, audio, lasers, projectors, etc.

One of the art exhibitions was a virtual reality exhibit.  Each wooden room ran a different visual and audible virtual reality loop that you could interact with.  It was pretty interesting to interact with art in that manner.

As the sun was setting, at about 4pm, the Nyhavn canal started to become lit up for the evening street party.  During our leisurely walk back through the street-fair we bought some souvenirs and also some hot chocolate.  It was too early for us to eat dinner.  Plus we had just eaten lunch at the food trucks not much earlier.  But there are lots of restaurants and pubs to choose from on Nyhavn street.

One evening while we were there, we noticed all the TV’s at the pub we were eating at were showing a big World Cup qualifying game between Denmark and Ireland.  And that game was being played right there in Copenhagen!  We had no idea.  If I had known, I would have looked into tickets to attend the game.  Even though neither myself nor my wife are into soccer (football), it would have been a pretty cool thing to witness first hand right there in Denmark.

Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post all about the wonderful food that my wife and I got to experience while we were in Malmo and Copenhagen!

Thanks for your interest!


My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Sights

Malmo Sweden

Last week after speaking at the Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden, my wife and I had the opportunity to see some of the sights around town.

The weather there was pretty mild with highs around 45 of 50 degF and lows around 35 or 40.  It rained one afternoon and one full day while we were there, but the rest of the time it was partly sunny.  The cold wind never really settled down, though.  It was most definitely hat, gloves, and scarf weather.  And this “Florida boy” (Florida transplant, really) doesn’t even own a scarf!

Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden, but it’s not a huge city.  It’s about the same size as the city limits of Orlando Florida.  Not including the surrounding communities.  Just the city limits proper.  So imagine if you were driving away from downtown Orlando and as soon as you hit the city limit a few miles out, it became rural countryside.  That’s Malmo Sweden.

Malmo is located at the very southern tip of Sweden, which is a very very long country north to south.  Sweden is actually the same height as America, from the top of North Dakota to the southern tip of Texas!

This photo shows several hotels along the canal.  This area of town has lots of canals and waterways.

Here you can see the famous Øresund Bridge.  This bridge crosses between Sweden and Denmark.  Part of this bridge is over the sound (the strait) and part of it tunnels underground (and under the water).  We went over this bridge 4 times while we were in town.  It’s pretty cool.

The Øresund Bridge was the setting for the popular Swedish/Danish TV crime drama titled The Bridge.  I have not seen the TV show, but I’m told it is quite good.

Here is a photo taken from the beach of the famous Turning Torso building.  It is the first twisted skyscraper in the world!  It is mostly apartments, which is pretty cool for those residents!  It’s not cheap to live there!

Here is a closer view of the Turning Torso.

The below photo, taken from the beach, shows a building in the sound called Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, which is an open-air bath.  It’s basically a walled structure on the water with pool decks and stairs and ramps into the water for easy access  to swimming in the sound.  It also has saunas for quickly jumping from hot to cold and back.  Clothes are optional at places like this and my wife and I decided that it was not for us.    🙂

Also, it was quite cold.

I have one word for these people:  Pneumonia

Also I have one more word:  Shrinkage

Do women even know about shrinkage?

This is just a really cool looking office building that was across the street from our hotel.  It’s right outside the central train station entrance.

This bank building is also right outside the central train station entrance.  I thought it was a cool melding of modern or contemporary architecture and old or historic architecture.

Malmo’s Old City Hall building was beautiful inside and out.  We were honored to have dinner there one night with the other conference speakers.  But the facade was undergoing renovation, so it was mostly covered up.  We could only get a view of the below small portion of the historic and beautiful building.

This photo shows a typical view of the downtown area of Malmo.  We noticed that bicyclists in Malmo are highly regarded by city planners.  In many areas of the city, the bike lanes were quite impressive.  Most intersections even had a set of stoplights for the cars, plus a smaller set of stoplights for the bikes, and then a third set of crossing lights for the pedestrians.

Pedestrians are definitely third class citizens to the bikers.  If you accidentally walk in a bike lane, you are likely to get run over by a speeding bike!

Here is an example of the super fancy and super expensive desserts that you might find only at the most extravagant of dinner parties or expensive restaurants in Sweden.

Just kidding! This was just the display at a small bakery at the central train station!  Yeah.  Super fancy!

Below is a photo, at dusk, of Malmo Castle.  It’s basically right in the middle of downtown.  It’s surrounded by a moat.  And there is a museum inside.  Sadly, we arrived too late to experience it.

Speaking of arriving late.  We were in Malmo in early November and it got dark at like 4pm!  Southern Sweden and Denmark are at the same latitude as the southern parts of Alaska.  During the day, I never saw the sun get above what I would consider the 10am position in the sky!  By the time 6 or 7pm rolled around, we felt like it was 10 or 11pm!  Crazy!  This extremely early darkness hampered some of our tourism in the area.  And it definitely hampered a lot of our photography of the area.

There are several different open-air squares in Malmo.  In the square below, there were some nice big trees that were decorated for the holidays with large lights and large ornaments.

There are quite a few grassy parks in Malmo.  I noticed that many of them are actually cemeteries.  But unlike the cemeteries in the US that I’ve experienced, these cemeteries sequester their burial plots into small squares and leave room for walking and playing in between.  Interesting concept, sharing the grassy park with the deceased.  It seemed a little strange at first.  But I think I like the idea.

A large percentage of Malmo’s residents live in apartment buildings.  So gardening is totally out of the question for most residents.  Except for those that buy one of these garden plots.  It’s an area with small plots of land that you can build a tiny house or a shed on and you can grow grass or trees and bushes or even a full blown garden.

This is a beautiful church called St. John’s Church.  It has a very smooth and rounded architecture style.  I find it soothing to look at.

We went inside to see more beauty and were surprised that there was a wedding in progress.  I quickly and quietly snapped a photo of the interior before leaving quiet as a mouse.

This awesome church is St Pauli Church.  It has a large central tower surrounded by 12 smaller towers which represent Jesus and the disciples.  It has a very sharp and rigid and angular architecture.  It’s almost shocking to look at.

This is the Caroli Church.  It was created for the German population that was living in Malmo in the 17th century.  At that time, the Germans didn’t have a church in Malmo and had to attend church across the sound in Copenhagen Denmark.  Which back then was probably not real easy to get to.  This church was designed by the same architect as the St Pauli Church above and you can see the similarities.

One place that we tried but failed to see while we were in town was the Malmo Chocolate Factory and Museum.  But we got there sort of late.  Well, it was only 3pm on a Saturday.  But they had just closed.  So we missed that, which would have been pretty cool, we think.

Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post about some more of the fun sightseeing that my wife and I did in Copenhagen Denmark!

Thanks for your interest!


My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Students

Cool Minds

Last week after I finished speaking at the Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden, I had the opportunity to give a talk to students at the Cool Minds Play and Knowledge Center.

Cool Minds holds organized activities for school aged children after school and also on weekends.  The facility is very open and playful and welcoming.  The students are encouraged to explore their own ideas and be creative during the sessions.  Cool Minds makes it fun and exciting for students to learn about concepts such as creative ceramics & candles, electronics/robotics, programming/gaming, biology/chemistry, and film/media.

Watch this short promotional video about Cool Minds.  It’s pretty great.  We need some more places like this here in the US.  Large children’s museums and large science centers are great, but a small intimate instructor-led hands-on activity center like Cool Minds has several benefits over those others.

Here is the Cool Minds website link to my speaking event:


First I gave an introduction about myself and where I grew up and how I was always bent towards science and engineering.  Then I talked to the students about Mars and gave them fun facts, like the length of a year, the length of a day, and the average temperature.

I had some NASA patches and pins, so I gave those away to students who raised their hands and guessed some of these fun Mars facts.

Then I talked a little bit about the Mars rovers and described what they are doing there and what their capabilities are.

Hands-On Activity

And then we went into the fun hands-on activity.  I’m really excited about this particular activity because it’s easy enough for them to repeat at home with their parents and siblings.  And they can add to it and improve it at home too.

The activity has each student create a robotic finger for a Mars robot using common everyday items like a drinking straw, some string, a button, and a washer.  And then at the end, we combine students and they combine 4 robotic fingers to make a working robotic hand.


The students really seemed to enjoy this hands-on activity.  And they were pretty excited to have someone from NASA come to talk to them.

It was a great experience for me too.  I enjoyed seeing the Cool Minds facility and meeting its creator, Farzin Saber.  Farzin is passionate about exposing kids to fun learning activities that they might never otherwise experience.

Here is a 15 minute Ted talk about Cool Minds that Farzin gave back in January of 2017:

Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post about some of the sightseeing my wife and I did in Malmo Sweden.

Thanks for your interest!


My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Conference


Last week I had the honor of giving the closing keynote presentation at the 13th annual Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden!

Here is the Öredev conference website!  (Check it out!  It actually has my face on it!)


Öredev is a 3 day conference for software developers with an attendance of a maximum of 1200 developers.  It is pretty popular in Scandinavia and has sold out for the past several years now.  During those 3 days, Öredev packed in 8 separate keynotes and a total of 140 separate technical sessions!  The schedule each day was jam packed with 7 simultaneous speakers every hour all day long with no scheduled breaks!  It was a pretty great event and the organizers did a wonderful job!

The Öredev organizers feel strongly enough about using only live speakers, that they pay for their airfare,  hotel,  and food.  The venue for the conference is an old slaughterhouse that has been cleaned up and converted into a performance theater and meeting place.  The theater seats 900, I believe.


My keynote presentation is story-based and it is called “Pioneering Mars!”  It presents the story of how we will get to Mars in the year 2034.  It describes all the missions that will pave the way and all the technologies that have to be invented first.  This version of my presentation is nearly an hour long, but I plan to create several versions of various lengths that I can pull out and present to various audience types.

Here is the official Öredev 2017 video of my 60 minute keynote on Vimeo:


My keynote presentation was very well received and I got a ton of compliments from both attendees and from other speakers!


I also gave a 40 minute technical presentation called “Writing Apps For Mars” which compares common mobile apps to the software running onboard the Mars rovers.  It was a very fun talk to create and to present.

Here is the official Öredev 2017 video of my 40 minute technical presentation on Vimeo:


Full videos of all the keynotes and talks, will be posted soon on the Öredev Vimeo channel.  And if you’re really into it, you can even scroll through and watch keynotes and technical talks from prior years!


Also, this was only the second time I’d ever left the United States.  I had a really great experience!  Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post about a children’s activity center that I got to visit while I was in Malmo.

Thanks for your interest!


How to make your own car-top kayak rack

I designed and built what I think turned out to be a pretty decent car-top carrier rack for my kayaks.  Here is a photo of the final product mounted on the roof of my PT Cruiser.

I built the rack out of PVC pipe bought from my local home improvement store.  I designed the rack so that it can be attached to the roof of my car using standard ratcheting straps that loop around the car roof with the doors open.  The ratchets are inside the cab of the car.

Before I built this rack, my best solution for hauling my kayak to the river was just to strap the kayak itself to the roof of my car.

One problem with that scenario was that I could only haul a single kayak that way.  Another problem was that the ratcheting straps outside the cab would vibrate and buzz loudly when I was driving down the road at highway speeds.  But the rack I designed and built solved both of these problems.

Below is a photo of the rack after I glued all the PVC pieces together.  I designed the left side of the rack with a single upright that sits up into the seat hole in the first kayak which will hold it at the angle I want.  Then the other two kayaks lean up against the first one.  The right side of the rack has 2 uprights to cradle the bottom side of the third kayak.

I used T’s rather than 90’s for the 4 corners so that I could feed the ratcheting straps through the pipe and keep the straps out of the winds, thus keeping them from vibrating and buzzing.

I’m not going to give specific parts lists and specific measurements because this rack needs to be custom sized for your kayaks and also custom sized for your car.  But cutting these PVC pipes and gluing them together is very very easy.  So this is a project that just about anyone should be able to take on.

The below photo shows how 3 kayaks fit perfectly into this rack.

But I actually own 4 kayaks, and occasionally I will want to haul all 4 of them to the river.  It turns out that my SUV has a roof wide enough to hold all 4 kayaks, so I designed my kayak rack to be expandable from 3 kayaks to 4 kayaks.  So now I can use the rack on my car or on my SUV.

You can see in the below photo that the rack is now wider.  The PVC pipes on the left are all 2 inch pipes and the PVC pipes on the right are all 1 and 1/2 inch pipes.  The 1.5 inch pipes fit nicely inside the 2 inch pipes with not very much wiggle room, so that worked out nicely for this application.

If I was making a single size rack that didn’t expand, I would probably just use the 1 and 1/2 inch PVC pipe for the entire rack.  It feels to me like it is strong enough to do the job of holding up these 10 foot kayaks, but also flexible enough to bend a bit around the contour of the car’s roof.  In my case, the 2 inch PVC pipe I used for most of the rack doesn’t give very much and it ended up denting part of the roof of my car a bit when I torqued the rack down using the ratcheting straps.

Here is a photo of the rack holding 4 kayaks.

The detail photo below shows you the single upright on the rack that fits up into the seat hole of the first kayak and basically holds the first kayak upright at a slight tilt from vertical which is good for leaning the other kayaks up against the first kayak.

The photo below details the other side of the rack where the two uprights are there supporting the bottom of the third kayak.  This photo also shows my solution for holding the kayaks down.  I used black rubber bungee cords.

The photo below details the attachment points of the bungee cords.  I bought a bungee cord that was the right length to go all the way around each kayak.  And I drilled holes into my PVC pipes to attach the bungee cords.  These bungee cords hold the kayaks down tight to the rack and they also keep the kayaks from moving very much left and right.  And also, thankfully, these bungee cords don’t vibrate and buzz at highway speeds.

IMPORTANT:  This photo shows the PVC sitting down directly onto my roof.  Do not do this!  The PVC is plastic, but it’s a very hard plastic and it WILL damage your paint job!  Make sure you put something soft or rubbery between the PVC and your vehicle!  My suggestion is to buy 2 inch wide self-stick Velcro in bulk rolls and apply the soft side to the bottom surface of your PVC rack!  Also don’t ratchet it down so tight that it dents your roof!  The idea is to use PVC that is flexible and conforms to the contour of your roof!

This photo shows you the inside of one of the PVC pipes.  You can see the ratcheting strap and also the bungee cord attachments.

And here is the final rack.  I tested it at highway speeds and it worked quite well.

Another photo of the final rack.

And one last photo of the final rack.

And just for fun.  Here are a couple drawings I drew up during the process to help me decide on the design and to help me come up with a parts list to go buy.

Thanks for your interest!  Please leave questions or comments below!  Or use the “Email Us” link at the bottom of the website!