Thursday, October 30, 2008

Egypt 2008: Cairo

We arrived in Cairo at what, 3pm? Ish. Someone was supposed to be there to pick us up, and indeed someone was. Explanatory note: we booked the trip with Egypt Reiser which, despite some minor incidents with their handling of our booking here at home, handled everything during our stay with pretty much total professionalism. They took great care of us and we were very happy with their service. We had booked a basic two week trip Cairo/Luxor/Cairo with cruise, and then they offer lots of extra excursions that you can pick and choose from. Just tell them what you want to see and they will draw up your itinerary. Everything in Egypt went smoothly and we had absolutely no hassle. Schedule-related hassle, anyway. >:-)

Back to the story ... when we got off the plane, a guy was there in the arrivals hall with a sign that had the yellow Egypt Reiser logo on it. We also had the logo as tags on our luggage, so we all three spotted each other. :-) I don't remember this guy's name, but he wasn't very important anyway, he was just there to take us out to our minibus where our coordinator was waiting with the other Norwegians who were booked into our hotel. There were four of these people and you will definitely hear more about them later. The coordinator was a nicely turned out young man called Wael who spoke good English and obviously could not possibly function without his cell phone.

A tiny piece of Cairo International Airport. It's currently undergoing reconstruction; a new international terminal, Terminal 3, will be ready ... maybe this fall, though it was originally supposed to open this spring. So ... not entirely on schedule. :-) It will have a capacity of around 11 million passengers.

A tiny oasis surrounded by a walkway going down to the parking lot.

As we drove to the city towards our hotel, which was in the Garden City district, Wael told us various facts and figures about famous landmarks that we were passing. The military stadion, the Egyptian Museum, etc. While we were driving I shot some videos. They aren't very long, but they may be fun to watch, maybe. :-)

This will be my last post till Sunday. My grandmother's funeral is tomorrow and we're driving up there this afternoon. Take care, everyone. Have a good weekend.

Books I've read in 2008 - October

I don't blog about books very much; that's because I write up my book reviews over at BookCrossing. Very slowly. :-) I do list the books I read here though. So far I've done it by posting one to-be-updated post at the beginning of each month, and then updating that with titles of and links to books as I finish them. That hasn't seemed to generate a lot of interest though. ;-) So from now on I will keep a list on my BC bookshelf and then write a post here at the end of the month. Let's see how that works out. :-)

If anyone has any thoughts on any of the books on the list, I'd love to hear them. I love to talk about books. :-) Click on the link to see the books' BookCrossing journals. I mostly haven't written my reviews on these books yet, shame on me, because ... I am slow. Coming up soon, though. Don't give up on me.

The Muse Asylum by David Czuchlewski
Anarkismen by Daniel Guérin
Without Reserve by Abigail Reynolds
Closely Observed Trains by Bohumil Hrabal
Escape by Carolyn Jessop BORROWED COPY! This was a pretty good read, relatively well-written, but first & foremost a fascinating story about an unusual life. A testament to the evils of organised religion.
Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn
Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan
Akhenaten. Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz
Your First Terrapin by David Green
Fortellinger ved peisen by André Bjerke LIBRARY COPY
Tortoises Including Turtles and Terrapins by David Robinson
An Unequal Marriage by Emma Tennant

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Egypt 2008: Arrival

This is all so depressing ... now snow to top it all off. :-( Time to post something cheering. Like ... some of my 2600 pictures from Egypt. I really am not kidding when I say that we took an enormous number of photos. Those 2600 are just my pictures. There are more. :-o

Anyway ... I can't post any cool pictures yet, because I want to write up the whole trip chronologically. Which, knowing me, will take about four months. ;-) But there you go ... you'll just have to suffer through it. I hope I can make it entertaining enough to be interesting to someone other than just me ... :-)

First, an important piece of background info: when I say 'we' in the following, I'm generally talking about me and my travelling companion; my friend CH who is also my makebelieve twin. Is that a concept that exists outside of Norway? I've never heard any foreigner use it. It's a term that children use in this country to denote someone who is just a friend but has the exact same date of birth as themselves. Ie, if we were sisters, we'd be twins ... but we're not, so we're just makebelieve twins. :-D Actually CH and I don't have the same date of birth - she was born on October 13th, at 11pm, and I on October 14th, at 12:15am. In the same night at the same hospital - and with the same very rare hip defect (now fixed). We also have the same first name, just spelled slightly differently. <-- Actually all true. Pretty weird when we met at university 20 years later and discovered all this. :-)

Anyway! Five years ago CH and I went to China together. We were there for three weeks and it was the best vacation ever. Now we've spent two weeks in Egypt and I have to say that this was actually probably even better. I'll explain why by and by. It was a fantastic trip and I hope that blogging about it here will be one way I can keep the memories fresh in my mind, as well as sharing it with all of you. :-)

To start at the beginning. We left on an early flight on Friday, October 10th. And yes, early flight does mean early - takeoff to Vienna at 7:05am, so we had to be there at 5am to check in. CH is kind of OCD about things like that, she gets really stressed about it. So the earlier the better. :-) Getting there might have been tricky if it hadn't been for CH's parents - her father especially, he drove her to the airport (and they all live in Vestby, on the other side of the city and kind of out in the boondocks - sorry - so that was really a bit of effort on his part) and they picked me up on the way. Which I so appreciated. :-) I met them outside the mall close to my house at about 4:15am. I'd only slept for about 3 hours but I felt surprisingly awake & alert. Must have been the cold air.

We got to the airport, stood in line, checked in, then said goodbye to CH's parents and went through the security check. Yawn. Then we whiled away the time until boarding by looking around the duty free shops and sitting around.

CH in the perfume & makeup section of the main departure duty free ... she's so high maintenance, only the best brands will do. ;-)

Me passing the time ... looking at books, what a surprise.

The stopover in Vienna was brief and boring. Then the next flight on to Cairo. I managed to sleep for most of it, although in uncomfortable positions. Arriving in Cairo was ... slightly surreal. It's so strange to just suddenly be in such a different place. But we were very excited about everything we knew we would see. :-)


Oh noes!! :-o

I woke up to an unpleasant surprise this morning - the winter's first snowfall. But it isn't winter yet, it's still October ... !! :-( Blech. I am not amused. kccat, I know you're looking forward to snow in your part of the world ;-) but I personally am not really a fan. At least not at this time of year. :-( Snow is for Christmas, not for October ... !!

Of course, as always, the first snowfall has created absolute havoc in the nation's capital. Never fails. :-) Kind of fun to watch actually, when you're not caught up in it yourself. As I was walking to the subway this morning, I was quite entertained by the sight of the main road that runs right by the station - normally you'll see a few cars just zipping by there at that time of the morning. But today the whole road was packed with cars as far as the eye could see, moving v e r y ... s l o w l y. The subway, on the other hand, was right on time. Suckers!! :-D

It's a really yucky snow though, heavy and wet. Not a lot of it, about half an inch when I went to work. But that's two hours ago and it's been snowing steadily since, so who knows what it looks like out there now. :-) This is actually really not so great for us, because we (= my parents and me) will be driving up to Alvdal on Thursday afternoon/evening, for the funeral, which is on Friday, and this is lousy driving weather. Coincidentally, on the news yesterday or the day before they were actually saying that drivers in the Oslo area should put on their winter tires asap ... and I thought about texting my father to remind him about that, but I didn't get around to it. And then this morning ... oops. I hope he does have the winter tires on the car - it would be a really awkward time to get in an accident. :-o

I wanted to take a picture of the snow-covered football field next to my house, but every single memory card I own (and even one I've only borrowed) is completely full. Imagine that. ;-) Maybe later ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another thought

One thing that I was forgetting yesterday did return to me. It’s about flea markets and how I missed some because of my trip. Well, actually, I missed a lot. Back when we were deciding on dates for the trip, it never occurred to me that I would be away during an important part of the flea market season. :-o Yeah, obviously, I would much rather go to Egypt than to a couple of flea markets. Goes without saying. :-) But ideally I would have been to both. >:-) Alas, it is an imperfect world.

Both weekends that we were away were huge flea market weekends. No way would I ever have been able to get to them all. I don’t think I could have managed that even if I’d had a car. (Or a driver’s license, whatever. :-) I wouldn’t even have tried. But there were a couple that I normally always go to, that I’d planned to visit and review here. Two first and foremost. The one at Tåsen elementary I normally always go to, and usually with my friend Findabair. It’s her old school, and her baby sister goes there now, so we like to support them. :-) It’s also a really good flea market with lots of books and relatively good prices, and they normally have lots of interesting stuff in their auctions. And this spring they didn’t have their normal spring flea market because the school was being refurbished. So … a while since I’ve been there now.

I also would have gone to the one at Stenbråten elementary, which is usually a good place to find books. I’ve made some unusual finds there. They have several things going for them … one is that they’re very easy to get to, just get on the subway, and they’re very close to the station. They also do something rather unusual, which means that they normally have a great selection of items – they accept contributions throughout the year, every Wednesday I think, not just for a few weeks right before the event. And also – get this – they don’t throw away the books they don’t sell. Almost everyone does, but these people don’t. They have some storage facility at the school where they keep the books between flea markets. So they always have a big book section. The sellers are also really friendly when it comes to prices. I really recommend this flea market.

Anyway … I’m not heartbroken about missing these, because the two absolutely unmissable ones are on post-vacation dates :-) this fall – Grünerløkka and Bolteløkka elementaries. Reviews coming up … sooner or later. I know I should stop going to flea markets, I have too many books as it is, but I just can’t help myself. It’s a compulsion. Do not send help.

Blogger seems to be having some problems at the moment; pictures aren’t uploading correctly. They all turn out HUGE regardless of which size you specify. I’m going to try to put some pictures in this post, just to see if the solution I’ve had recommended to me will work. Completely unimportant pictures. :-) They’re from the cruise, that is, I took them during the cruise. My feet have tanned in an interesting pattern, look:

Because of these:

Best sandals ever, I luvz dem. I’m so happy that I accidentally bought them to while away some time while waiting for Anne Ida in Asker one afternoon this summer. Maybe I’ll tell that story sometime too. :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008


Today’s post – some random thoughts. Not necessarily connected or interesting.

It’s strange to be back home, but it feels really good too. Travelling is fun, but there is one part of it that I just think is … awful. The journey home. When you’re going to whatever place you’re going to, then you have something major to look forward to and the travelling is no big deal, cause you’re excited about arriving and about everything you’ll see. But going back is basically nothing but hassle. Sure, it’ll feel good to be home again. But it’ll hardly be a pinnacle of excitement. I am always SO grateful to be back home again. Because then the worst part is over.

The trip was amazing. Best vacation ever. We got to see so many fantastic things, and so much of it was so incredibly impressive. ‘Awesome’ isn’t a word I like to use, because it’s so overused – and inappropriately used – but it’s really the only adjective that fits. When you stop to think about what it really means. I am so happy that I got to go on this trip and have these experiences. And I’m so grateful that I brought such a big memory card for my camera … !

The turtles were just fine when I got back. As I was sure they would be. The little guys acted like they’d just seen me two hours ago. :-D Raphael on the other hand kind of freaked. I’m so happy that KAS and trilltrall have been by to check on them, because that way at least he’d seen some humans while I’d been away. He hadn’t entirely forgotten that we exist. :-) I think if he saw absolutely no humans at all for, let’s say a couple of months, he would go feral or something :-D and be way out there terrified when one of us did pop up. As it was he did not feel very comfortable in my presence. I took him out of his pond and into the hall with me while the little guys were eating – he’d be eating soon too – and as soon as I put him down he scurried away, tried to hide under the shoe shelf and just basically getawaygetaway!!omg!!1! :-) I’ll have to put in some major interaction with him now to get him used to me again. The little weirdo. I’ve missed the three of them, but they haven’t missed me. That’s part of what makes them such great pets. I usually phrase it this way: they’re happy to see me, but they’re not unhappy to not see me. :-)

In other news, not much had happened in our absence. Basically pretty much nothing. I checked in at Dagbladet online a few times during the trip, but found surprisingly little of interest. The crown princess had gotten a concussion, a farmer had dumped one of his sheep in the fjord with rocks tied to its legs, a few days of bad weather were expected, someone got voted off Strictly Come Dancing, Iceland was going to hell in a handbasket and we were going to help them, poor bastards, something had wreaked havoc with Gjønnes subway station. Watch my careface … It’s odd how you follow the news so closely when you’re at home, and really care about it and are genuinely interested in … current events, or whatever. Then when you get to somewhere where you just can’t follow it constantly, and you miss a lot … or do you? When you check back again it’s like … what, was this everything?? It’s like a soap opera on TV. While you’re watching, it looks like something’s happening … but if you stop following it for a while, you’ll see that nothing ever really happens. :-) I love Norway. :-)

I had some other thoughts too, but I can’t remember them exactly now. Hm.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quote of the Week

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen, Anthem

The expected update

My grandmother died at 2:05 this morning. :-(

When I woke up I had six missed calls from my mother, and also a text message where she said that she figured I was probably sleeping (correct - she knows me well ;-) and that my grandmother had passed away peacefully in the night. She never felt any pain. Which of course was exactly how we wanted it. She was always very healthy and strong and not used to being in pain or being helpless ... so it was hard to see her being dependent on care and feeling all that pain which no one was able to do much about. Now they have kept her quiet and free of pain until nature just took its course. That's how it goes. I'm glad they did what they could.

Now I feel ... sad, of course, but nowhere near as sad as I've always pictured myself being at her death. Because I really loved her so much and I know how much she always loved me. (I was her favorite grandchild. I really was. :-) But in a way she already passed away in May. Because the woman that we knew has in some ways been gone since then. So some of my grief I guess I have already dealt with. And I also feel relieved because these past few months life has not been worth living for her ... and it's also been hard for my mother, who has never felt that she has been able to do enough, even when she has done everything that she can possibly do. I'm really looking forward to seeing my mother again now. I'll call her once I'm done writing this.

Something pretty weird: yesterday and last night, the weather here was completely awful. Some rain, but mostly enormously windy ... like almost storm level winds. But it passed in the night and today the weather is perfect, brilliant ... the sun shining from an almost cloudless sky on the beautiful fall colors of the trees. Some coincidence, huh? I'm going to go out into this lovely weather now. My grandmother always loved nature and being outside. :-)

Grandma and me together:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Returning to bad news

Although not unexpected. But still. I'm sad.

I don't know how many of you reading this (who are not my RL friends from before) have bothered to read way back in the history of blog posts here, to where you may have come across posts about my grandmother. I mean, not that you should have done so :-) but then you'd know that she's had a stroke and is quite ill. Has been for months. She had one tiny stroke at home on May 15th, or was it the 16th, and was taken to hospital, where she recovered completely. But they kept her for observation, which I don't know how I feel about, whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. While she was in the hospital that weekend she had a second stroke, a much more severe one. She wouldn't have made it if she hadn't been in hospital. As it was she survived, but she was paralysed in her left side and generally quite reduced. It was touch and go for a while. But she made it, for better or worse, and after staying in the hospital till her condition was no longer critical, she was given a room at the local old folks' home. A place where she's always dreaded ending up. She's been there since what, early June. Her condition has been going up and down ... and she's been weirdly optimistic a lot of the time ... but she has been weak and helpless constantly. Exactly what she hoped would never happen to her. :-(

This past month she's been declining pretty steadily. A few days ago, while I was in Luxor, my mother texted me to say that she - my grandmother, that is - had gotten kidney failure on top of everything else. So ... only one way this was going. :-( On Friday, my parents were supposed to come pick me up at the airport. But only my father was there, because my mother had decided to go to Alvdal (her home 'town' where my grandmother still lives). It's about a 4-5 hour drive, depending on traffic. They'd called from the home to say that they didn't think it could be much longer. So she went, and my uncle, her younger brother, met her there. She's still there now. My uncle has been with her part of the time - most of the time, to be fair - and some other relatives have been there too. My second cousin, Elin, and my secret cousin, Mette, too. I talked to her this afternoon. We talked about whether I should go up there. I called my father a couple hours ago too, and talked about the same thing. I don't know what to do, I'm torn. I'll have to call my mother again tomorrow. They both said that I have to do what I feel is right. Which is soo helpful, isn't it. >:-( I'll talk to my mother about it tomorrow, and if she wants me there, I guess I'll go. If she thinks it'll mean anything to my grandmother to have me there. But she's sleeping almost constantly now, they're giving her morphine, the contact they've been making with her has been very random and extremely limited. So it doesn't sound like she'd even know I was there. And to be honest, I don't want to go. I don't want to see her like that. It's not the way I want to remember her. :-(

My grandmother's 91 years old and until this happened has lived on her own and been very active and independent. Young for her age. :-) That's always been my image of her. I don't want to see her practically comatose in bed like that. The times I've seen her in the home have been difficult enough, in a way. But those times I talked with her, she was obviously happy to see me, she was sort of herself, although she was weak. Now, if she's not even 'there', and she gets nothing out of seeing me, won't even know I'm there ... ?

The last time I saw her - so far, I guess I have to say, I haven't decided yet - was in mid-August. It was sad ... for both of us, I think. She's had this look she's given us, when we've said goodbye to her ... she sort of had it before she got sick too, for a couple of years or so, but it's become very obvious since her stroke. This very sad look in her eyes, on her face, which made it so obvious what she was thinking - that she might never see us again. She just broke my heart with that look. But it would be so much worse to see her and not even get that.

Well, I'll be thinking. I'll call my mother tomorrow morning. It's so sad. But at the same time it will be a relief too, when it does happen ... because her quality of life now is pretty much non-existent. And it has been for the past few months. There's no point to her living like that. She's just existing. And she's had quite a lot of pain, too - not anymore, but for months she had a lot of pain, a kind of phantom pain in her paralysed side. She said that whenever the nurses or whoever touched her, it hurt her so much that she just wanted to scream. But they've had to touch her, to lift her and help her with basically everything. So ... no getting around it. :-( But it's not been a good five months for her.

OK, this is starting to get confused now. I just had to vent a little. Thanks for metaphorically listening. :-) I'm sure an update will be coming very very soon ... :-(

Here she is at the cabin ... last summer, I think. This is how I want to remember her. :-)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Home sweet home ...

Well, I'm back home. For about an hour. It is such a weird feeling. This whole day has been weird. This morning I was in Cairo, this afternoon I was wandering around the Grande Place in Brussels, and tonight I'm back in Oslo. Weirdness.

More coming ... :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy 8th to Raphael!!

Happy hatching day, or whatever. My little chelonian grouch is 8 years old. Or close enough. ;-) I've also had him for two and a half years today. How the time does fly. I still remember the first time I met him - he didn't like me at all, didn't want anything to do with me. I tried holding him but he just wanted to get away and climb into his then owner's lap. But he likes me now. :-)

To celebrate, some pictures of the birthday creature. Here he is just having done one of his favorite things - climbing to the highest point. Of whatever. He really, really likes that. :-) The highest point is very important to him. :-)

Here he is in his pond out on the balcony - this must have been in the summer of 2006. His first summer with me. But he still looks the same. ;-) I was standing over him with the camera - maybe you can see my reflection - and he's looking up at me, curious to see what I'm doing. Turtles are very curious animals, always getting into things and clambering on things. :-)

In case anyone's wondering where they are now that I'm away, the answer is that they're home alone. Pretty good pets. :-) KAS and trilltrall are stopping by every few days to feed them and check on them. I've been receiving regular reports. Thanks, guys!! I really appreciate it, so much!! When you get your degus you'll know who to ask to petsit ... ;-)

In other news, I'm still in Egypt ... :-) We left the ship this morning, after an incredibly fun outing - seeing Luxor from the sky during a hot air balloon ride. :-D It rocked. :-) We've checked into our hotel, the Luxor Iberotel - not our first choice, but ... relatively acceptable. ;-) We had to get up at an insane hour this morning - 3:45am - so after getting here we had zero energy left and just lazed around by the pool all afternoon, sunning and swimming, and finally watching the sun set across the Nile. Life is good. :-) Tomorrow - another excursion to see yet another temple. The 12th, I think ... I've lost count. They're all so amazing though. Pictures have been taken. ;-)

Take care, everyone, and thanks for stopping by!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Non-illustrated update

No pictures this time, I'm sorry!! Even though we've taken SO MANY PICTURES ... ! :-o Really an insane number of pictures. But I'm writing this in a back street internet cafe in Aswan, and I can't seem to get anything to photobucket on this computer ... and since I don't feel up to experimenting a whole lot with this old jalopy I think I'm going to have to leave it till next time.

I'm still alive, anyway. :-)

Actually we're doing very well - no one has gotten sick yet ;-) and nothing else has gone wrong either. So fingers crossed that our luck will keep for the next week as well. We're being very well taken care of so I don't see why it shouldn't. :-)

Brief update: we've spent a couple of days in Cairo, as you've seen ;-) and we then flew on to Luxor, where we spent the day before boarding our cruise ship, the M/S L'aube Du Nile, in the afternoon. It's sailed, if that's the word I want, down to where we are now, in Aswan, stopping for some sightseeing on the way. Apart from that, we've been spending our time either eating, sunning ourselves on the sundeck and swimming in the pool there, or sitting in our airconditioned cabin watching the Nile glide by. Pretty sweet. Here in Aswan we've seen a lot of interesting sights too, and tomorrow has been set aside for a trip to Abu Simbel before the ship returns to Luxor, where we will stay for three days, and then fly back to Cairo for one more day there. So we've got quite a schedule to keep. :-)

I've got untold numbers of fantastic pictures to post, so those of you who have been asking for them, you'll get it. You will definitely get it. ;-) I can't wait to see them all on a computer screen.

But now I have to get back to my sunbed, so till next time, take care, everyone! Oh, one more thing: I was going to post on my birthday, which was on Tuesday, but I didn't get the chance to. My birthday was on October 14th, anyway. I am now 32 years old. In EGYPT!! Woo-hoo!!! :-D

Saturday, October 11, 2008

zomg i am in egypt!!!

I really am in Egypt!! :-D

Its kind of starting to sink in now. Sorry about any typos - Im not entirely conversant with this Arabic keyboard - but in any case I dont have time to write a whole lot. Just wanted to stop by and say hi to everyone. :-)

Check out the amazing view from the balcony of our room at the Cairo Grand Hyatt:

And look at this ... !! OK, its the shittiest picture ever - it was taken through the windshield of a moving car - but OMG LOOK!!!!

More later ... !! :-)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Last post for a while ...

Maybe, anyway.

I probably won't be posting to the blog for a while. Maybe, if I totally strike out, not for two weeks. I hope I will be able to stop by. But I make no promises. I may not be able to get online ... and if so, I probably won't care, because I'll have better things to do. Sorry, nothing personal to anyone! But! You would feel like you had better things to do too, if you were going to be spending the next two weeks in ...


Indeed, I speak the truth! I kid you not! I am totally going to be in Egypt for the next two weeks. As of tomorrow. Our plane's taking off at 7:05 am tomorrow ... so we have to be at the airport at around 5am. That's gonna hurt. But it'll be worth it. SO worth it. This will be my summer vacation this year - I didn't really go anywhere this summer - because we'd decided we'd go to Egypt and obviously we couldn't go there in July or whenever. We'd cook our little brains. So I've had to wait all year till now for a real vacation. All summer I was stuck at work ... being bored, so awfully bored ... while the others jetted off to California, Spain, Denmark, I don't know where they all went. But I was stuck at work. Alas. But now the time has come for my revenge ... !!! Bwahahaha!! :-D

So, where was I ... yeah ... I'll try to stop by with an update or two. I'm pretty sure I can get online in our 5 star luxury hotels in first Cairo, then Luxor, then Cairo again. Not so sure about the Nile cruise liner that we'll be spending a week on ... but I'll just have to wait and see. I will of course be taking a million pictures, so brace yourselves for when I get back. ;-) I won't be able to respond to a lot of comments until I get back, I shouldn't think ... so try to mind your manners while I'm gone. ;-) That applies mainly to those people bitching on the Obama/damsel in distress post - hope that doesn't totally implode in my absense. :-o I may have to pull some moderating shit on that one. But what can you do. I'm going on vacation, you guys will just have to think of something to entertain yourselves. ;-)

I'll be back on October 24th. Till then, I'll leave you with something pretty for you to look at.

Take care and play nice!! :-)

One man's loss is another's gain!

So goes the old saying. It is very true. And that's something we, Norway, that ancient state, should be keeping at the forefront of our minds right now.

I'll explain. Ahem.

OK, what the hell is going on with Iceland?! I mean, WTF is that about?? The whole place is totally falling apart. I'm astonished. Or am I? I remember reading, like a year and a half ago, in places like Dagens Næringsliv, about how Glitnir (the other Icelandic banks as well, but Glitnir first and foremost - they have been the most visibly present in this country) were biting over more than they could chew, this could never last, only a matter of time before things would go haywire, etc. And now it's happened ... and how. The whole country is teetering. It's amazing to see it. I mean, I understand it's awful for the Icelanders. I'm not entirely devoid of human emotions. But it's fascinating in a lot of ways. I was watching the Daily Review a few days ago, and there was this guy there from somewhere in the current administration in Reykjavik and he was saying that there are basically some specific individuals - between 20 and 30 people - who are to blame for this. Who have speculated so wildly and have risked all that money and so on. Can you believe that?? A group of less than 30 people who have put the country in this situation. Out of a population of 300 000. That is just completely mindboggling.

Anyway. Now they're all up shit creek without pretty much even a canoe. Poor saps. I mean, it's awful that these people, who have remained nameless so far AFAIK, have done these things and created, or at least contributed significantly towards creating, this terrible situation. But obviously, the government should be given their fair share of the blame too. There are regulations in place that are supposed to control these things. But that's totally not worked at all ... so somebody in some high places have dropped the ball over there somewhere. And now it looks as if they're all screwed. Gordon Brown wants to sue the Icelandic government to make sure all those voters won't lose their savings. I mean ... things are seriously incredibly unbelievably bad for Iceland right now.

But like I said, one man's loss is another's gain. It sucks for the Icelanders. But for us, for Norway, this is a golden opportunity!! This is a chance that will never come again!! They got away from us once, and they swore they'd never be in our power again - our empire shrank, then collapsed, then the Danes swallowed us up ... and when we finally escaped their clutches, they kept Iceland. :-( We thought we would never be a colonial power again. But just think what we have the chance for now!!!

I'm just saying it. OK? I just want to throw this out there. We've got the petroleum fund, right? Which we pretty much can never use, cause if we do it'll create endless inflation and ruin our economy forever. And now we can't be sure how much longer we'll even have it, because the whole stock market (where we've invested I don't know how much of the fund, maybe all of it :-o) is more or less collapsing and taking so many investments with it that no one can tell where it will all end. So how smart is it really to be holding on to that money now? And Iceland's desperate! The whole country could go bankrupt any day! Do you see where I'm going with this? They need money, we've got money ... they're independent now, but they haven't always been (far from it!) ... and is it really written in stone that they always should be? Is it?

I'm just saying. This could be a really special chance for us. My fellow countrymen: think about it. This could be the chance of all our lifetimes. The North Sea Empire can rise again! Icelanders, I don't have anything against you (but you are all really weird, sorry) but that useless piece of rock you're sitting on ... that was ours once. All ... completely ... ours. Once upon a time. And you know all that oil's made us all so puffed up and big-headed. I can't help what I'm thinking. It's such a natural thought.

I hope Jens Stoltenberg is thinking really hard right now.

Terry Pratchett, in his own words

He feels himself 'slipping away a bit at a time'. It makes me so sad. I really have nothing more to say than that. Words fail me. :-(

You can read about it in his own words here.


... in Saera Khan right now. What is going on in her head?? That would actually apply to politicians generally - how do their minds work that they think they can get away with things like this? Especially in Norway - this is such a tiny place, everything is so transparent, you cannot get away with anything if you're a public person ... like an MP, for pete's sake. It's happened again and again. Something strange is discovered, something seems a little off. Someone looks into it, a newspaper prints an article. The person in question denies and explains. Then some new info comes out - they back down on previous statements, we get more denials and explanations. Repeat as necessary until subject is totally backed into a corner and forced to admit the truth. It boggles the mind. It ALWAYS happens like that and the tactic NEVER works.

I'm not sure if I think Khan should withdraw from her position. Certainly she should not accept her renomination for next year's election (she is 6th on the list, I think). Sure, we're all human, we all make mistakes. But some mistakes you are just not allowed to make as a politician. She has been making these ridiculous phone calls - to clairvoyants, give me a fucking break! - and charging it to Parliament - that means she has been stealing taxpayers' money. What else can it be called? And then - as if that wasn't bad enough, but it was forgivable, but then she lies about it. OK, maybe this boyfriend of hers does exist, and that accounts for part of her outrageous phone bills, but 793 phone calls to various so-called psychics seem to be an undisputed fact. 793 ... !! :-o So if there is a boyfriend, and why shouldn't there be, that seems irrelevant to me now, to be honest. She lied to Parliament, she lied to the press. That shows a lack of judgment on her part that seriously makes me question her suitability for her position.

Not to mention that becoming 'addicted' to telemarketing scams like these in itself doesn't show the best kind of judgment ... and believing in clairvoyants is something I would rather have our MPs be a little too clever for.

But actually, what really gets to me is this: When the whole Ramin-Osmundsen affair blew up, my feelings were that I was disappointed in Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen and I felt that this was a setback for immigrants in Norway as a group. I felt that I so hadn't wanted it to happen this way. I felt that it was a shame that it was MRO who was the first immigrant to make it all the way to government. I thought - and I said to people - that ideally, it should have been Saera Khan who should have been that first immigrant cabinet minister, and if it had been, we would not have seen the kind of scandal that ruined so much for MRO.

Well ... that shows you how much I know.

I am so disappointed. :-(

Update, 4:15pm: She's stepping down.

Bill Maher on The Daily Show

Bill Maher was on The Daily Show recently, promoting his new movie, Religulous. It was on, let's see, September 30th in the US, but we're obviously a little behind schedule here :-) so it was broadcast here on October 7th.

I like Bill Maher, I think he's intelligent and very funny. I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie ... I hope it will be in theaters here. On The Daily Show, he had a lot of good points about religion. And he was really funny too. :-)

Part one.

Part two.

For some reason I can't post the videos here. Blogger won't let me, I'm not internet savvy enough to figure out why. Growl. I'll look into it ...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Henrik has broken his claw again!

Why, that little ... !! >:-(

I just fed them (Raphael is still eating) and when I looked Henrik over before letting him back in the tank, I noticed that he has broken his claw again. Yeah, the same one. Now it's shorter than ever. >:-( And it was growing back so nicely, too. Stupid little critter. >:-(

It's all his own fault, because he keeps digging and rooting around in the rocks on the bottom of the tank. I wish he wouldn't. But I guess at least I should be grateful that it's the same one he keeps breaking, and not a new one every time ...

Confused about candidates? Need a crib sheet?

Got this in an email from my friend KAS tonight. Too good not to share. :-D

More here and here (but this is the funniest (that I've seen)).

KAS: thanks for sending it, I hadn't seen it. :-)

Why I don't like Sarah Palin, &c

I mean, apart from the obvious.

One of the main things that really stick in my craw about this person is one of the same things that I resent about George W Bush. It’s something that isn’t really relevant to me, except that whoever is president of the US, I have to see a lot of that person in the media, whether I want to or not. But it is something that ought to be extremely relevant to the American people. It’s hardly ever brought up and I genuinely don’t understand why.

It boils down to one word: Dignity. Being head of state is a huge responsibility. It makes a person the leader of his nation – the head of his nation – someone that, for better or worse, the nation looks up to. An American reading this may not think that s/he looks up to GWB, but in a way, regardless of whatever antipathy you may feel towards him, I think you do. Because he is the president. Like it or not, there he is. You see him. He influences you, all of you. Any leader of any state has an effect on his people.

And this is why, as a Norwegian, I don’t need to worry that I will ever see king Harald V in a position where he appears to the nation as ridiculous. I will not see him giving foreign heads of state unasked-for neck rubs. I will not see him dancing a little jig while waiting for a press conference to start. I will never see anything remotely like that. Because our king understands that in order for him to maintain in his office the respect and affection of his people, he must maintain in his person the dignity that induces us to feel that way towards him. I don’t think president Bush has ever understood that. And I don’t think Sarah Palin does either.

If you are American and you disagree – please leave a comment to that effect and explain why. I would really like to know. I see the office of president of your country as having an inherent dignity. This is not related to political affiliation. But being president, being leader of government and head of state, brings with it an inherent dignity. That is a quality that I feel has been degraded and squandered by the holder of the office over the past eight years. Sometimes, seeing president Bush, I cringe with embarrassment. I really do. And I’m a citizen of another country, far away. I dread to think what you, having this man as your head of state, must feel – or ought to feel.

Respect isn’t something one automatically gets. It’s something that has to be earned, and that we all must earn through our words, our actions and behavior. I think it must be difficult for Americans to respect their president. That is very sad … but at the same time, very understandable. For the American people to truly respect their president, that president must be a man – or woman – with competence and dignity. One important reason why I, personally, would be so delighted to see Barack Obama as president of the United States is that I believe, strongly, that he would bring back that dignity to the country’s highest office. I would love to see that happen, and I’m pretty sure McCain can’t do it. I know Palin can’t do it. But Obama probably can. I would love to see it. And I think that the American people, as a nation, would benefit tremendously by it.

The United States is seen by many as the bully in the playground of the world. But can we blame them? A fish rots from the head on down … and if their leader is a bully, what can we expect the people to become? The American people do have it in them to be a great nation. But for that to happen, they need a great leader. At the moment, I personally do not see more than one person who can conceivably perform that task.

Good luck to the inexperienced Illinois senator. Your country needs you … in more ways than one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Some political stuff

A very interesting article about the personal history of John McCain, from Rolling Stone magazine.

A comment on the most recent developments in the Republican campaign, from Time magazine.

This latter really brings up some of what I myself resent about Sarah Palin ... but I don't have the energy to get into that now, it's getting on towards midnight here. I'll get back to it.

Finally, a fantastic segment from Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Keith Olbermann rocks. :-) Watch this video.

Tomas Alfredson: Låt den rätte komma in

English title: Let the Right One In.

One down and six to go … :-)

I saw this movie on Sunday, September 21st – I’m just really slow to blog about stuff. Better late than never. It was a fun event – the first ever movie screening on the roof of the new Opera here in Oslo, and I think I can say that it was a resounding success. A huge crowd turned out for the screening and a good time seemed to be had by all.

First of all, I have to say that I love the book that this movie is based on. I think it’s a fantastic, unique, original, brilliant novel. So obviously my thoughts on the movie will be colored by that. Someone who hasn’t read the book would probably see things differently. Låt den rätte komma in was my first ever BookCrossing book … which in itself was so great, because it really showed me why BookCrossing is such a brilliant idea. I got the book from my friend findabair, who had read it … or at least most of it … and totally hated it. She gave it to me because she thought it sucked so much that she didn’t want it in her house. :-D I read it and I loved it. I thought it was completely fantastic, it was one of the best books I read that whole year. So … one person’s trash is another’s treasure. :-) I strongly recommend the book, don’t listen to findabair. ;-) I released a copy of the book during the screening – haven’t heard from it yet, but hope springs eternal (it got picked up almost immediately :-).

Anyway … the movie.

Brief plot summary: The year is 1981, the place is Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm. Our hero Oskar is 12 years old and lives alone with his mother. He is bullied at school, has no real friends, and dreams of revenge. Not entirely a nice kid … but the other kids are all worse. >:-) It’s winter. Suddenly, a girl Oskar’s age and her creepy father move into the building. The girl, Eli, is weird – like no one Oskar’s ever met – but the two of them hit it off. Then things start happening. A young boy is brutally killed, the body drained of blood, strange equipment found on the scene. A man disappears. Oskar begins to discover Eli’s secrets. Håkan isn’t her father. And she isn’t a girl. Or even human.

OK, first, what was good about the movie? The setting. The recreation of 1981 is totally convincing and a lot of fun to watch. Many of the actors are very good, the two leads especially … the girl who plays Eli is a real find, she’s fantastic. I was very impressed with her. The plot … the concept is still very original, it’s a pretty unique take on the vampire legend, and I do think this is a must see for any vampire movie fan. The plot is intriguing and the story is sound – a little underdeveloped, IMO, but sound. A number of really good scenes.

What’s not good? Well, one thing that Anéa pointed out (we were at the screening together) that is very true is that there are a lot of ‘mood setting scenes’ – ie, long, drawn-out shots of snowflakes in the wind, period furniture, etc. Yeah, it’s a long time ago, we get it. There’s only so much of that type of thing that is actually useful in establishing your setting and after that it gets annoying more than anything. Somewhat stricter editing might have been in order.

Apart from that, what I didn’t like about the movie has to do with character and plot. The latter has been condensed, of course, into only part of what it is in the book. Now it’s mainly a freaky love story between Oskar and Eli. A lot has been ‘lost in translation’ … which I accept, and expect, it’s part of the deal when a book is turned into a movie. But I think that unfortunately, what has been lost in this case … is a lot of what makes the book so unique. So anyone who likes this movie absolutely must read the book.

What really is too bad about this movie is what has become of the character Håkan. He is a middle-aged man, a rather pathetic person, who poses as Eli’s father, but is in fact her renfield. Their relationship is pretty unhealthy – she needs him, and he wants her. He is a pedophile and Eli is the object of his affection – an ideal object, really; a child who never ages. But Eli doesn’t really understand human emotion any more. Håkan wants her to love him and feels used by her, she depends on him and resents it. It’s a twisted relationship … and IMO it’s one of the most memorable elements in the book. The conversations between them – no descriptive text, just their lines back and forth – are extremely striking and memorable. We get to hear about some of Håkan’s back story and experiences, and we share his thoughts and emotions in a number of ‘his’ scenes. It’s rare to come across a character in a novel who is a pedophile … and who, what’s more, is treated by the author as a fully rounded human being, not just a one-dimensional villain. It’s a real achievement on Lindqvist’s part and a vital part of the book’s originality.

In the movie, though, Håkan is basically a cardboard cutout. The relationship between him and Eli is not at all explored, and if I had known nothing about how it was originally written I think I would have struggled to see why Eli even needs him around. Just to provide an adult presence to the outside world, since a 12 year old kid can’t live on her own. But he is absolutely no use to her beyond that. In the movie, he even botches the first murder, which in the book he has no practical difficulties with. The entirety of his attraction to Eli has been written out. I can guess why – without Håkan’s internal monologue it would be difficult bordering on impossible to portray his character sympathetically. So instead of trying, they chickened out. A real shame, since IMO this character is one of the absolutely strongest features of the book.

The screenplay to this movie was written by John Ajvide Lindqvist himself. He claims to be absolutely delighted, completely utterly fantastically thrilled, beyond ecstatically happy with the finished result. I’m not even exaggerating. ;-) I unfortunately don’t feel the same way. It’s a really good movie – very original, well crafted, excellent performances. But I personally felt that there was a lot missing. So for me it was a letdown in some ways. Not unexpectedly, but still. Even so, though, if you’re only going to see one socialdemocratic-realistic 1980s suburban Swedish vampire horror mystery thriller this year … you definitely need to make it Let the Right One In. ;-)

The trailer:

If you read Swedish, you can get a little inside info on the trailer here.

A scene from the movie:

Monday, October 6, 2008

I've been discovered!! :-o

OK, so you're just an innocent blogger, minding your business, posting your random thoughts of silly and serious things ... you got your politics, you got your turtles, you got your vacation pictures and you got your wrongly attributed quotes. Pretty much the usual. You go to bed at night expecting things to rattle along as they normally do in your absence. Then the next day you get to work, check your email, and ... what?? You've got more than eighty new comments on your blog! Which has like eleven readers. I mean ... woot??

Right, so then you read some comments and follow some links and basically figure out what's happened. Pretty crazy. I guess I'm glad all these comments and stuff didn't start pouring in until after I'd gone to bed, cause if it had I don't think I would have gotten any sleep last night. ;-) I have no specific idea as to how, but I did post the url for the VG story on a couple of blogs, and on the BookCrossing forum, so who may have seen it I really don't know. And there are what seems to be ... two? other people who have done their bit to get it across the pond too (although I will not accept that this is a better translation than mine ;-). Someone's obviously run with it. There's a link on The Daily Kos and the story has almost 500 comments ... it has 7238 recommendations on and more than 800 comments. :-o And lots of people are saying that they're going to email the story to others. I hope they do, it's a good story. :-) But what total weirdness for this to happen, from where I'm standing. I will never underestimate the power of the internet again.

I normally respond specifically to almost every comment I get here - because I hardly get any, so it's easy ;-) - but obviously I won't be able to do that now. Sorry, guys. :-) I so appreciate everyone who's taken the time to visit and comment - thank you everyone - and special thanks to those of you who posted links and info about how you got here. I would have been kind of confused otherwise, I think. ;-) Keep sending the story out if you want. :-)

I do want to make a few further comments, though, in relation to what I've seen people saying here and elsewhere. Just so I can consider it said. :-) Let's see, where to start. Well, some have been questioning the trustworthiness of VG. My opinion - I don't like that paper, I hardly ever read it, and I'm a little embarrassed now that so many people know that I actually bought it on Saturday. I pride myself on never buying VG. (Except this one time last summer they had an interview with Keanu ;-) ... and then they ran a review of the new Which Witch production recently too ... but ... almost never.) I think VG is a piece of shit, because I don't like gossipy tabloids, the VG style of writing doesn't appeal to me, and I think that being a nation's largest newspaper carries with it a certain responsibility when it comes to educating that nation, rather than dumbing it down. But. VG is a reputable newspaper, their circulation covers over one fifth of the entire population of this country, and I am convinced that they would not run a story like this without thoroughly checking it first. They would be SO INTENSELY MOCKED if they printed this and it was fake. It's not a big enough story to warrant that risk.

Do I think it matters? Yes, I think it does - just not in a big way. I don't think anyone should be voting for a person - be it Barack Obama or John McCain, or Jens Stoltenberg or Siv Jensen. All of us who live in democracies and have the right to vote should have enough appreciation for our own ability to think rationally to disregard the person behind the political platform, and focus on the actual politics being put forward. So ... I really hope no one will vote for Obama because he's such a nice guy. :-) Vote for the political standpoints that you agree with the most. However, these things are intertwined. I think everyone should also try to educate ourselves a bit about the politicans we are considering voting for. Not pry into every detail of their lives. But some things cast an interesting light. In small ways, they may enlighten us as to what we think and believe. What I would wish for in a leader is someone who will practice what they preach.

Beggars In Spain is not my #1 favorite book, but it's pretty high on the list. :-) I'm a big fan of Nancy Kress.

As for this particular story, I know nothing about it more than any of you who have read my blog post. No point in questioning me, I just read it in the paper. I am not Mary Menth Andersen, nor do I have any connection with her in any way. I believe that the story's true - I see no reason not to - and you can read about my reasoning in one of the top comments under that post. Does it make sense 100%? No. I thought the address in Kansas thing was a little weird too. But I honestly don't know who everyone in Obama's family is and where they live ... and I doubt that those who have commented to that effect know either. ;-) Plus, it's been twenty years, maybe she's remembering it wrong and it was Hawaii and not Kansas. I don't think it's a big deal. Was this woman the sharpest knife in the drawer 20 years ago - um, no, probably not. To be honest, if it had been me, I would have checked ahead to see how much luggage I could bring, and no way in hell would I have gone on a trip across the Atlantic carrying absolutely no money. But on the other hand, what do I know, maybe she had no money to bring. And in any case, no matter what she'd done to land herself in that position, this was an awful awful situation to be in. I'm kind of a pack rat myself so I would have been falling apart. :-) So that's one side of it. And another side is that this is not something that just anyone would do. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you totally sure that in that situation, standing in a crowd and witnessing a stranger in distress, that you would have been certain to step forward and help, with absolutely no guarantee you'd get your money back or anything in return? Or even with such a guarantee? I think that almost everyone reading this - and me included - are kidding ourselves if we think that we would. It's kind of sad, but it's a pretty safe bet that almost all of us would just have stood there and pretended like we didn't notice.

So. Barack Obama is a pretty special person. I really think he is. I would never have voted for him if he was running for anything in this country, with the political views he has now. Because let's face it, from a Scandinavian perspective, the guy's a right wing nutcase just like every other American politician. (<-- Not a joke.) But for his own country, he could do great things. I hope he gets the chance. I wish him all the best. :-)

What I really want to know is, does this mean that my blog has some actual readers? Who aren't just my RL friends (Paz, I haven't forgotten you, you're a special case ;-)? And does that mean that I'll have to write about serious things and do research and post relevant ... stuff ... instead of just turtle stories and pictures of Keanu and ... random thoughts and ponderings.

Does it?? :-o

Naah ... !! :-D

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Something to think about maybe

Hannah Armstrong

I wrote him a letter asking him for old times' sake
To discharge my sick boy from the army;
But maybe he couldn't read it.
Then I went to town and had James Garber,
Who wrote beautifully, write him a letter.
But maybe that was lost in the mails.
So I traveled all the way to Washington.
I was more than an hour finding the White House.
And when I found it they turned me away,
Hiding their smiles.
Then I thought: "Oh, well, he ain't the same as when I boarded him
And he and my husband worked together
And all of us called him Abe, there in Menard."
As a last attempt I turned to a guard and said:
"Please say it's old Aunt Hannah Armstrong
From Illinois, come to see him about her sick boy
In the army.
"Well, just in a moment they let me in!
And when he saw me he broke in a laugh,
And dropped his business as president,
And wrote in his own hand Doug's discharge,
Talking the while of the early days,
And telling stories.

Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

Saturday Night Live is funny.

I wish it was on TV here.

Quote of the Week

The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.
Ferdinand Magellan

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happy 5th to Herman!!!

I would say birthday, but that wouldn't be quite right since he wasn't born, but hatched. ;-) It was five years ago, though, close enough as makes no matter. I don't know whether it was actually on the 4th, I just know that he was hatched sometime in early October 2003. Anne Ida and I decided that it'd be the 4th. :-)

I've had him for two and a half years, that's one thing I know for sure. Actually one month longer than that. I got him on March 4th, 2006. His previous owner brought him here in an old ice cream container that she'd punched some holes in and lined with a wet cloth. She lives about a two hour drive away, so he'd been in there for a while ... but he wasn't any worse for wear, he was his normal happy self. :-) Just as energetic as always and of course not at all nervous or afraid. He never is. He was just happy to meet some new two-legs. Got food?? Got some food?? :-D

It was so much fun to meet him, I'd never seen a Chinemys reevesii in real life before. He was soo adorable :-) and of course it was amazing that he was so totally unafraid. Such a tiny little creature, and there were these two in comparison enormous humans, he'd never seen us before, the entire place was new to him, all the smells were strange, there was another turtle in the room that he didn't know, he'd travelled in that box for two hours ... but he just knows no fear. Coolest turtle ever. :-)

To celebrate, these are the first pictures I ever saw of him. His previous owner emailed them to me. Isn't he the cutest?? :-)

He's changed quite a bit since I got him; his carapace has darkened so much, it's so weird to compare these old pictures to how he looks now.

Just look at that face. Aww.

My precious ... !! :-)

Not that it matters ...

Or does it?

This is a story from the Norwegian newspaper VG, the biggest newspaper in the country, from today's edition. Not that these things matter in today's dog-eat-dog world, but I found it quite touching, and I want to share.

Clarification for the literally minded: I do think these things matter, but I'm sure many will say that they don't. Anecdotal evidence, just a sappy human interest story, bla bla. Whatever. I think that this is a story that some may be interested in hearing. If you're not interested, cork it. I've translated the story into English and am posting it here. The original, in Norwegian, is here.

I'll be cross-posting this to the BookCrossing forum, since I'm sure there are some members there who will appreciate reading it.

I'm sorry about the annoyingly sappy language - this is a speculative tabloid so that's just how all their articles are.

Mary lacked money to fly home to Norway – he saved her love

ÅSGÅRDSTRAND (VG): Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn’t have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.
At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.
-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.
Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.
-I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, That’s OK, I’ll pay for her.
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.
She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.
-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.
She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.
In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.
In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes**:
‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator’.
The parents sent the letter on to Mary.

This week VG met her and her husband in the café that she runs with her friend Lisbeth Tollefsrud in Åsgårdstrand.
-It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president, says Mary delightedly.
She has already voted for Obama. She recently donated 100 dollars to his campaign.
She often tells the story from Miami airport, both when race issues are raised and when the conversation turns to the presidential elections.
-I sincerely hope the Americans will see reason and understand that Obama means change, says Mary.

*Not at all sure about this part of the translation. The Norwegian word used is 'miljøarbeider', I don't know what the exact English word for that is or even if there is one, and I don't know enough about Obama to say what job of his they're talking about.
**This is my translation of the reporter's translation of the letter. From English to Norwegian and back to English. So obviously it is not correct word for word.

And here she is with her husband and the letter.

This is not a big or important story. But it is a nice story and if one is voting for a person, and not just for a political platform, it might be interesting to hear it. Somehow I don't see this story being covered in American media much, so let's count this as one blogger's contribution to the news coverage of the 2008 election. :-)

If anyone wants to post this anywhere else, be my guest.

It haunts me ... !!

I was out shopping for a new DVD recorder today, and look ... !!

There is no escape ... !

But I DID NOT BUY IT. My strength is as that of ten because my heart is pure!

I actually hardly bought anything in that store. They didn't have what I wanted at a price that I wanted to pay, so ... if you're sold out, you'll miss a sale. Don't I know it. I just got a case for my new camera, and then I went down the street to a competing store and got my new recorder there. Serves them right. >:-) I did see another thing in the first store that I really liked, though:

I don't know what it is, but I want it ... !

Is it some kind of an mp3 player? If it is, then maybe I can get it, because I don't have an mp3 player, but I could probably use one, right? Hmmm ...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Election news - this just in

Yeah, it's just a fake news story. At least no one would use this actual wording. >:-)

I just think this is really funny right now. TGIF.

McCain Losing Core Supporters

WASHINGTON, October 2 – John McCain appears to be losing support among a key group of voters who had hitherto stood firmly with him and Governor Palin, even as his poll numbers among other groups fell dramatically.

A new Gallup poll shows that, for the first time, McCain's approval rating has fallen below 70% among total fucking morons, and now stands at 64%. This represents a dramatic drop compared to a poll taken just last July, when 92% of total fucking morons expressed support for McCain and his policies.

Faltering approval ratings for McCain among a group once thought to be a reliable source of loyal support gives Republicans one more reason to be nervous about the upcoming elections. "If we can't depend on the support of total fucking morons," says Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), "then we've got a big problem. They're a key factor in our electoral strategy, and an important part of today's Republican coalition."

Not all Republican lawmakers are concerned about the poll. While Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) agrees that his party should not take total fucking morons for granted, they "really don't have anywhere else to go. They're never going to be able to understand someone intelligent and articulate like Barack Obama who wants to talk about issues. Just try having a conversation with them about global warming. They'll say, 'Oh, but Rush says volcanoes consume more ozone than humans do.' I mean, come on! They're total fucking morons!"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Look what I found ... !!

ZOMG ... !!!

I stopped by Platekompaniet in Sandvika Storsenter this afternoon, just whiling away some time, and I found this. I knew it was out - September 26th, I think - but I hadn't seen it anywhere before today. Haven't looked, either, but still. :-)

But get this. I didn't buy it. :-o Yeah, believe it! I'm going to wait till the price drops. Which never takes long. See, I can too restrain my impulses!!

Crisis & rescue? Yeah, right, whatever.

I will believe that the US Congress will 'save' their country’s economy from the current financial crisis when I see it, and not before. 'Bush begs Congress to vote yes on rescue bill' – but George W Bush is a habitual liar. He is the proverbial boy who cried wolf. None of us can trust a single word coming out of his mouth anymore. So why trust him on this one? I certainly don't.

I'm hearing people claim that this crisis is Bill Clinton's fault. Cause it was under his presidency that the floodgates were opened on deregulations. Umm … is the US president really that super powerful? Aren't they like really proud of their, whatjamacallit, system of checks and balances? With Congress against him, as Clinton had from 1994 onwards, wouldn't there have been severe limits on what he could do? Could not, in fact, Congress pass laws against the president's wishes? Putting enough pressure on him that he'd comply with their wishes? Congress was under Republican control up until 2006. Somehow I don’t think it's entirely fair to just blame the Democrats.

Or is it? Maybe one of the lessons the rest of the world should take away from these events is that the perceived gap between the Republicans and the Democrats is to a large extent a false dichotomy, and that they are in fact both a bunch of right wing loonies??

Some are saying that this crisis has come about because of 'socialism'. Say what now? The US is the most liberalistic country (as in: adhering to the economic theory of liberalism) and pretty much the least socialistic country in the world – blaming socialism is blatantly ridiculous. If US government/s had really practiced any kind of socialism, ever, it's a good bet that they would not now have had tens of millions of homeless people and working poor who'd need loans they could not afford.

The reason why US banks got such free reins on these loans to poor people who could not afford such expensive financial commitments was not any desire to help the poor, but to give the banks an easy way to short term profit. Those who govern the United States of America don’t care one whit about helping those who are poor or ill or otherwise weak. For anyone thinking that anything about the US system is socialistic, I’d recommend looking into a brain transplant. You need it.

Full socialism has been tried, and it failed. The US has proved to the world, on several occasions, that full liberalism doesn't really work either. Various times of economic trouble in which pretty much everyone suffered – the Great Depression, the 1980s bustup, the dotcom bubble, the current crisis – all originated in the US, ie, in the purest form of liberalism ever practiced. Let's face it, it doesn’t work in the long run.

Let's say that we had a real Ayn Rand-style democracy where the state interfered in pretty much nothing. Where the state didn't force any traffic regulations on us, and didn't do anything about garbage collection and disposal. Just as a couple of examples. Would that society be a better place than this? Would there be fewer traffic accidents? Would things be better if people could just throw their trash wherever they pleased? Cause you know that they would. If the answer's no, it wouldn't be better, then what on earth is so wrong with some state control over the economic sector??

I understand that it's very easy to blame this whole thing on ignorant borrowers who can't pay back their mortgages and other loans. But come on, where did they all get their loans from?? Only yesterday I got a letter from Citibank offering me what in Norwegian terms is called a 'consumption loan'. I think I could have gotten a quarter of a million Norwegian crowns (roughly $45,000) 'quickly and easily', with no security :-o and just to spend on whatever I wanted. Now that is disgusting. Even setting the current crisis aside, that really is disgusting. These loans have been developed by the American banking industry to prey on more and less ignorant potential customers in the 18-25 demographic (inexperienced, uneducated or just graduated, low understanding of economics) and for those unfortunates the financial institutions set their sights on, there's supposed to be just one goal: Buy more! Move product! It's completely crazy. It's a scheme that cannot possibly work in the long run; someone will and must suffer. And these loans really should be illegal. In terms of ethics, these practices are completely reprehensible.

Our entire shitty system today – I say ours, because it's true now of the entire first world – is based on one premise: Shop, shop, shop till you drop. Shop, spend, consume!! When we stop shopping, our economies will collapse. This is the real & major problem. Because everyone with even the slightest bit of common sense understands that the current overconsumption going on has got to stop, or the planet will collapse on us. It can't take the abuse it's being put through. Those amounts of resources don't exist. But the American people have been well trained to disregard this simple fact. Remember September 11th? After the attack, one of the first things New York's creepy mayor Giuliani had to say to the American public was something like this – Don't be afraid of the terrorists, come to New York, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants. Cause he knew damn well that something much more significant than the WTC could collapse if people started thinking too hard about the bigger picture. What a goddamn fucking idiot. But the American system has been constructed by people just like him. And that's why it may well collapse in the foreseeable future.

Bush has lied to his people for eight years, but he isn't the only one. I really wonder how large a percentage of the American population is aware of what is really wrong with their economy. They don't produce anything. I mean, really hardly anything, compared to the volume of goods they consume. A lot of Americans – let's not name names - seem to think that the US economy is fundamentally strong. I don't think it is. I think it was, once … back in the day when the US was the world's biggest exporter of goods. Back when they really created things. But that was long ago. Today, they are the world's biggest importer of goods. Most of what they consume has been produced somewhere else, by other people who pay taxes elsewhere. And now they're going to pump more money into that system, to boost the economy? What? No. Aren't they just going to print more money that they don't actually have … then trading that money back and forth between each other for services rendered … until they actually buy something real, something they can touch and feel and hold in their hands, at which time they will be giving this money to China too, like all the other hundreds of billions of dollars that have gone that way in the past. 'Money' doesn’t exist. We all just pretend that it does – it is a tacit agreement between governments and the governed, because we all need a measuring unit to regulate our consumption and their taxation. Regardless of level. We trust them, and they trust us, and that's why the money system works. (Which is part of why there are big problems coming in the US now – they're losing trust in their government. And about bloody time too if you ask me.) But in order for these measuring units to be actually worth anything, you have to produce something. They have no value in and of themselves. (Galloping inflation, anyone??) The US produce so little and consume so much. This was bound to happen.

Then you gotta ask how come they've gotten to this point where someone else just makes all their stuff for them … but that’s another discussion.

The United States have a long and rocky road ahead of them, I think. One that I'm sorry to say will be a well deserved ride. This so-called 'rescue' will probably do nothing more than to put the worst of it off for a while. (But hey, maybe long enough for the current administration to hand over the reins to someone else, so he can take the fall for their wrongdoings.)

George W Bush has spent a not insignificant amount of time over the past eight years asking God to bless America. Well, now it’s time to see if his prayers have been heard up there in the sky. Doesn’t look too likely at the moment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mountain vacation 2008. Bjørneborg & Bjørnhollia

Time for some pictures of our cabin and of Bjørnhollia. (Which I wrote about rather extensively here.) Starting with the latter ...

This is a view of Bjørnhollia from the shortcut, a path that I normally use to get down there ... the road curves and takes up to several minutes more to walk. ;-) The red T is the symbol of the Norwegian Tourist Association; they use it to mark the accepted tracks through the various wildernesses in our lovely country. :-)

Front left: the managers' house; front right: the old sleeping quarters. Back left: the employees' residence. Center: the main building, which houses the kitchens, the common room, cellars, dining hall, various sleeping quarters.

Front: the byre; back: employees' residence and main building; center: the dormitory building.

A view of the whole place, seen from across the valley, ie, the slope of mount Musvollkampen.

These pictures (above) were all taken in the summer of 2005. But nothing's changed since then. :-)

This is our cabin; the front view when you come walking down the path from the road. This entire side of it is the new addition. Well, 'new' addition. :-) The tiny building in the background is the new outhouse.

The back of the building. That's my mother you see putting some fresh varnish on the window frames in the kitchen. :-)

The old outhouse (left), now part woodshed and part storage shed, and the new woodshed (right). The new outhouse also doubles as an extra woodshed. We like to know we have plenty of wood to burn. :-)

Side view of the old outhouse. My grandfather built this in the fifties.

The new outhouse, right, and the new woodshed. (Yeah, they're not new, we just call them that ... cause everything else is so much older.)

The cabin seen from outside the new outhouse. The old outhouse in the foreground ... as you see.

A couple of views of the living room. We spend most of our time either outside or in this room.

The kitchen. Not entirely tidy ... this was taken on the day we were leaving.

My grandmother's room. My room now, I guess. :-(

Mount Musvollkampen seen from our property.

The cabin seen from the path from the road. When you're standing where I was when I took the picture, you're literally a few seconds' walk away from the house. So it's pretty well concealed. From the road you have no idea that it's there. :-)

You can see the house in this photo, but just barely ...

In closing, another view of Bjørnhollia - a very charming one if I do say so myself - with mount Musvollkampen in the background. This picture was taken this year. Doesn't it look wonderful there? Don't you just want to walk in there and put your feet up and get a nice cup of coffee? :-)

You'd be more than welcome to!! :-)