Sunday, May 31, 2009

Books I've read in 2009 - May

Den hvite rosen by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Økonomi på trikken by Erling Røed Larsen
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – AUDIO
Fisken by Erlend Loe - AUDIO
Gullsmedens hemmelighet by Elia Barceló
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Mig äger ingen by Åsa Linderborg
The Good Women of China by Xinran
Det Gud inte såg by Helena von Zweigbergk
Knutby-koden by Eva Lundgren
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - AUDIO
The Book of Salt by Monique Truong - AUDIO
Real World by Natsuo Kirino

9 printed books, 2,274 pages.
4 audiobooks, 46h 37m.

Best fiction:
Det Gud inte såg. An unusual thriller/crime novel about a young female cleric working in a prison. Very well written and good characters. I could hardly put it down and read it in two days.

Best nonfiction:
Mig äger ingen. Everybody says this, and they're right. :-) It really is just as moving and personal and touching and real as they say. A both depressing and wonderful read about a daughter's love for her far from perfect father.

Best audio:
Cloud Atlas, hands down, no question. An absolutely wonderful, brilliant, fantastic book. I knew nothing about it going in, I just picked it up on a whim, but it turned out to be the best audiobook I've ever listened to. I can't recommend it enough. I'll be writing a separate blog post on it later.

Quote of the Week

The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
George Bernard Shaw

This week's quote chosen because of an interesting series on religion started over on Shiva's blog, here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Norwegian Folk Museum

As promised, here are some more pictures from the Folk Museum at Bygdøy here in Oslo. All of these were taken on May 17th.

About the museum: It is the largest museum of cultural history anywhere in Norway. It is an open air museum, the most important collection of which is the many old buildings from many areas around the country. The museum was founded in 1894, inspired by the Nordic Museum in Stockholm. At the beginning it was indoors, but after only a few years it moved to the Bygdøy peninsula, the a location right next to the world's first open air museum - ie, the collection of old buildings belonging to HM King Oscar II. This collection was donated to the Folk Museum in 1907. Today, in addition to the open air sections - which comprise buildings from ca 1200 (Gol stave church) to a 20th century apartment house - the museum also has indoor exhibitions on various topics, some permanent (Norwegian arts and crafts, toys, traditional clothing) and some temporary, on all kinds of themes. There are several restaurants and of course a gift shop in addition to several crafts shops, and various activities take place around the area. In nice weather it is IMO the most beautiful place in Oslo. Future tourists: don't miss it. :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shoutout: unfiltered perception

Finally getting around to doing something I've been planning to do since forever ... ie, post a shoutout to a blog that I enjoy tremendously, one of my favorite blogs anywhere ever. I wish I remembered when I discovered it, but, alas, I'd be lying if I said I did. A year and a half ago maybe. I've been reading it regularly since then and have continually been impressed with the quality of this blog. See, this guy does serious research, and he writes well-balanced and informative posts about important issues. It kinda makes me a little embarrassed sometimes, cause his blog is so impressive, and here I am posting bad music and turtle videos and pictures of flowers and so on. But it takes all kinds, right? ;-)

Anyway, yesterday this wonderful blogger posted actually asking for a shoutout ... so of course I'm more than willing to give him one. Especially since I've come to consider him a friend, too, over the time that we've known each other. (He even asked me to marry him once. Aw. ;-) The internet is a wonderful place. :-) So, Gunnar, consider it done!! I would urge anyone & everyone who enjoys my blog to take a gander at Gunnar's as well - it's seriously impressive and has lots of food for thought. He writes about religion & atheism, science, consumer affairs (as in: debunking fraudulent advertising :-), superstition, alternative medicine, music, skepticism, politics, current affairs ... lots. Unfortunately for the foreigners among my readership *cough*, he writes mostly in Norwegian. But he posts some stuff in English too ... especially some great YouTube finds every so often. Like this.

Those of you who do read Norwegian, though, please check it out. unfiltered perception. Enjoy. :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some thoughts on the ESC

I was going to write this post tonight, but since I just heard that the venue for next year's contest will be announced in less than an hour, I just have to write a few lines about that ... just to see if I'm right. I'll update this post later.

Obviously there isn't much to choose from. When cities like Trondheim and even Tromsø :-D have declared themselves ready to host the final I've just had to laugh. Dream on. The demands on the venue and on the host city are quite specific and pretty high ... there are very few places in this country that fulfill them. And as for this fancy idea about using the Opera roof ... well ... taking a look at the list of requirements would be a good idea before throwing out something like that. The show must be held indoors. Sorry.

OK, so, since we aren't going to build anything new - there isn't time and it'd be too expensive - there are only four places in this entire country that are even worth considering:
Telenor Arena
Oslo Spektrum

That's it. And seriously, looking at that list, what's to choose from? The Viking Ship - no, Hamar doesn't have the facilities for housing and feeding as many people as the EBU demands, and no way can we shuttle the reporters and fans between Oslo and Hamar. We're trying to give Europe a good impression of Norway, so let's not bring Norwegian Rail into it. ;-) Vallhall - pretty new and fancy, but it's built for football games. We can do better. Oslo Spektrum - despite what people think, not a good venue for concerts. Why use something old and so-so when we have something new and better? Telenor Arena is almost brand new, it's state-of-the-art, it's the best we've got. What's to choose from? Welcome to Bærum in 2010 ... !!! :-D

It's official: Oslo will be the host city for the second time. No contest. NRK boss Bjerkaas says it'll be either Spektrum or Telenor Arena. Oh, please, not Spektrum ... !! Either though will be v. convenient for yours truly. ;-) But I'm very disappointed because of something else - they've changed the dates. :-o They've moved it from May 22nd to the 29th. Oh noes!! That means that Constitution Day next year won't be part of the party as I'm sure we've all hoped that it would be. I mean, if we're going to show ourselves off to all of Europe anyway. :-( I hate football.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Something fun from MADtv

Last summer I posted a video (the first I ever posted here! all the ESC ones from last year were added later, when I'd figured out how :-) to entertain AudiX78 who at the time was bored out of her head working the night shift. :-) It's a skit from MADtv, one of my favorite comedy shows, making fun of the incredibly stupid reality show Laguna Beach. I just love that skit. Here's another one, more of the same. Listen to the intro song, it's hilarious. Airheads - we're all such stupid airheads ... LOL!! :-D

Monday, May 25, 2009

Haakon Lie 1905-2009

He died ... !! :-(

Yeah, I know, it's not a surprise and was bound to happen soon and he had an incredibly full life and so on and so forth. But still, this is so sad!! He was such an amazing person ... !! His life in so many ways embodied Norwegian history in the 20th century. He was the last of the giants. I wish he could have been with us through this year's elections. You know he would have had things to say. :-)

There's both good and bad to be said about Haakon Lie. But he was a giant. He lived an amazing life and Norway would have been a different place without him. There aren't a lot of people that can be said about without hyperbole.

This guy was born in Kristiania. I can't get over that. He campaigned for Labor in 1921. It boggles the mind.

Rest in peace, old man!! You've done your share. Thank you for everything.

Here we go again ... !! :-D

Seen at Platekompaniet at Byporten last week. I must resist, must resist ... !!! aaargh ... !!1

I can do it, I've done it before. ;-)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quote of the Week

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
Stephen F Roberts

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Turtle walkies May 2009

I was going to just write a lot today too, but then I figured that maybe it's time for some pictures, actually, after that long post yesterday. :-) So today's post will just be a bunch of pictures of my little four-legged friends on excursions to our front lawn. These were taken on two different occasions this month. I wonder how many pictures I've taken of the little guys over the three years that I've had them? No, scratch that, I don't want to know ... ;-)

Herman sniffing my shoe.

Hello, twolegs!

There were lots of seeds in the air today ... I guess they must have been dandelion seeds, although it seems pretty early for that, so I don't know. Herman walked into a tangle of them, and was not happy to get them in his eyes.


Henrik the explorer.

Making his way through the plant life.

Those dandelions didn't seem that big before I plopped Henrik down in the middle of them.

Peeping around the corner.


Raphael dusted with a little pollen from walking in the grass.

A turtle's-eye view.

Here I am!!

Out the other side ...

Aw, look at his little mustache-looking thing that he's got there. :-D

In other news, today is kind of a date to remember for me. It's 20 years since I got my dog. My first and so far only dog ... and since I'm quite allergic to them she may well have been the first and last. :-( She was a wonderful dog though. Her name was Ronja and she was just so sweet and good-tempered and adorable. She died in September 2001, when she was twelve and a half years old. I still miss her every now and then. My little sweetie. :-) Here's a picture of us together that my friend M. took. Aw, my little doggie ... :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

What does 'progress' mean?

I'm starting to think that it doesn't mean what I've been under the impression that it means. For those of you who can read Norwegian, there's an interesting article here.

To sum up: Parliamentary elections will be held in this country this fall (September 14th). I haven't mentioned it much so far, but I will definitely be posting quite a bit about it. Right now one of our biggest parties (which I am not voting for) is having its national convention. They call themselves, for some reason, Fremskrittspartiet - the Progress Party. Hence my confusion. The article is about a change in their party programme ... basically they want to change the way Norwegian libraries work, they want to get rid of all the 'extraneous' stuff and just get back to the good ol' books. Or so they say. I'm not buying it. Here's why.

They claim to want to 'strengthen the core activities' of the libraries, but to 'reduce activity related to pure entertainment' (bad translation, sorry, it's getting late). But let's be honest. We all know that that isn't what they want. Not really. What they want is to get us to pay for everything we borrow at the library. A fee for every loan. That's what they've always been aiming for up to now. But in typical Progress Party style, after realizing that most of us voters out here don't actually want that setup, they've changed the wording. But they still give themselves away.

The reasoning behind this is deeply flawed. Allegedly, the non-book bit at the libraries - 'CDs, DVDs, computer games, etc' - ought to go, because in relation to these things the libraries are competing with business interests. o_O I mean ... what? Do they seriously think people are that stupid?? You can drive a truck through the hole in that logic. Who is expected to buy this shit?

News flash, Progressives: There are stores where they sell books too. Your local library is competing with business interests on everything they lend. That is entirely beside the point. If we're going to base our library policy on that, we may as well close them all down right now. This 'problem' is a complete construct. Libraries seem to be something that the Progress Party (PP from now on, maybe) just don't understand. Which is why they apparently feel so free to attack them. Because that is what they're really doing. Don't be fooled. They'll start with the music CDs, the movies on DVD, those violent computer games that just screw your mind up anyway ... and then what? Libraries' 'core activities' my shiny metal ass. A library's core activity is to make culture in as many forms as possible accessible to as many members of our society as possible. This is why they are free.

If libraries in this country were ever forced to start charging borrowing fees, that wouldn't stop me from using my library. I would just pay the fees. Because I can do that. I can afford it. In fact, if I want to read a book, I can buy it. If I want to watch a movie, I can buy the DVD. Even at full price. ;-) I've got a computer at home with online access 24/7. I don't have an encyclopedia, but I could afford one if I wanted to buy one. If I wanted a newspaper subscription, no problem. I can afford it. What does that tell you? That even though I do use the library, it is an institution that is not really intended for me.

There are people in this country who can't just go out and buy a book whenever they feel like it. People who don't have computers at home and can't go online at the drop of a hat. People who can't afford to subscribe to any newspapers. But you know what, those people may want to read the paper anyway. Their kids may need to use the internet for school. They may feel that it's rewarding to read a book from time to time. Or that it's nice to have watched that movie that everyone's been talking about. It is one of the wonderful things about our society that those options really are available to anyone and everyone. The Progress Party claim to be for the little man, for the regular working joe ... but in this, like in so many other things, they show their true colors. I don't want to live in the society they want to create.

There are so many things that bother me about this. And it's starting to get really late, I don't have the energy to go into all of it now. But this is just so wrong on so many levels.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

My blog's first anniversary!!

And I forgot it!! Dagnabbit!! This is soo typically me. I was going to write a celebratory post, and, I don't know, mark the occasion somehow. I was at least going to mention it. At the beginning of May I checked the blog archive to see when I'd made my first post and then made a mental note to remember that date and post something relevant on, yes, May 15th. And then I totally forgot until today, May 21st. Duh. That is SO me ... !!

May 15th has been and gone, so, alas, nothing I can do. Just try harder to remember it next year. :-) I wanted to do something special on the anniversary, but, well, it seems a little pointless now, since I missed it. Sheesh. I never learn. :-) I always do this.

I've had the day off today, since it's Ascencion Day (yeah, Norway is the most secularized society in western Europe, but we still have a shitload of religious holidays - anything to get a day off work ;-) and I've basically been lazing around doing almost nothing all day. I'm reading a rather interesting book about the Knutby murders, so I've been reading a lot. And I've been fiddling around with my computer, sorting through pictures and what not. And I made a count of something, get this:

I've been blogging for one year and six days, and I've written 675 blog posts. This is the 676th. That's kind of crazy. But what's done is done. I'm in too deep to quit now. Also, 2,303 comments have been left on the blog. (A bunch of those are my own, of course. I do tend to talk back a bit. I'm nowhere near crazy enough to go through all of that to find out the percentage. Unless there is some Blogger feature I'm unaware of that lets you do that easily??) I have no idea whether that is pretty good or pathetic or whatever it is, but it's a number, anyway. I've been really good today about avoiding doing anything useful. ;-)

Anyway ... I was going to write a serious post today, but I guess that's out the window. I'll just celebrate belatedly instead by getting a movie rating on my blog. It's rated R cause I said fuck. Oops. Congratulations to me!! :-D

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Constitution Day 2009

The entire country celebrates on May 17th. Even inanimate objects! All the buses and streetcars are decorated with flags, that's normal ... but this one was even switching back and forth between its line number and destination and Gratulerer med dagen which is the traditional Constitution Day greeting. Its literal meaning is 'congratulations on the day', but we use it to express the sentiment 'happy birthday'. And May 17th is modern Norway's birthday. :-)

My friends and I have a tradition of celebrating by going to the Folk Museum at Bygdøy, where you get away from the crowds downtown and into an environment that is almost nauseatingly Norwegian. ;-) But that's what we want on that day. If the weather's good it's just perfect out there ... perfect for a picnic. :-)

I say 'get away from the crowds', but it's pretty crowded at the Museum too. Celebrating people of course, and Bygdøy elementary school's marching band and choir.

I love the hat on the guy front and center!! :-D

Bunads come in all sizes, and everyone dresses up on Constitution Day!

Even little puppy dogs. Aww.

The birthday girl! Whee! :-D

Children in bunads dancing a traditional folk dance.

A picnic lunch in the sun with Gol stave church in the background. Doesn't get much more idyllic than this. :-)

Toasting the Constitution in my traditional May 17th jello ... !! :-D

My mother's bunad shoes that I borrowed since I don't have any of my own yet. Oh, the agony ... !!

As promised, this is me in my bunad. My grandmother's Folldal bunad. :-) When I put it on, I noticed that it still had her smell on it. A little sad. But I am so happy to have the bunad. :-) Anne Ida is in her Lundeby bunad. White shirts, white shirts ... !!! :-D

I took a picture of AudiX78 taking a picture of her friend N. Meta ... ! That building in the center there used to look so much better - two years ago when we were there, the roof was completely overgrown with lily of the valley. We were so disappointed to see it like this. I hope it's just in preparation for turfing it over again.

trilltrall gazing upon the beauteous scenery. I'm really happy with this shot, I think it came out great. :-)

KAS and trilltrall posing for me. Check out all the heartsease growing on the roof of the building behind them ... !! It was soo pretty. I want that roof on my house. :-)

National romanticism all the way ... !! :-D

I will be posting more pictures from the Folk Museum later, so don't be a stranger. :-)