Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Books I've read in 2009 - September

High Society by Ben Elton – AUDIO
Summer of Love by Lisa Mason
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Juleoratoriet by Göran Tunström – AUDIO
The Crow Road by Iain Banks
Drottningens juvelsmycke by CJL Almqvist
Fitter by Juan Manuel de Prada
The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins
Katedralen vid havet by Ildefonso Falcones – AUDIO
Det ska bli ett sant nöje att döda dig by Magdalena Graaf
De gales hus by Karin Fossum
Paradiset by Liza Marklund
Muhajababes by Allegra Stratton
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – AUDIO
Michael K by JM Coetzee
Sekten by Peter Pohl
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

13 printed books, 4,038 pages
(+ one graphic novel which I have not counted in the page total).
4 audiobooks, 59h 50m.

Favorite fiction:
Summer of Love ... because it's taken me literally years to get around to reading it, and it turned out to be really great. :-)

Favorite nonfiction:
Ooh ... Sekten was really good, and I loved reading something by Pohl again, haven't done that in ages. He used to be one of my absolutely favorite writers when I was a teenager. But no, I think I have to say the Dawkins book. It was so well written and it explained things so beautifully. Everyone ought to read that book. :-)

Favorite audio:
I guess I have to say Katedralen vid havet ... I spent such an eternity reading it. :-D No, but it was just incredibly long ... more than 23 hours, I just felt like I was never getting to the end of it. But it was a really good book, very gripping, with great characters and a very vibrant setting. I'd recommend it, but you need some patience. ;-)

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 2006: Hari Mata Hari - Lejla

This month's ESC entry - one of the prettiest songs in the contest's history. :-) It was one of the top favorites to win in Athens three years ago. Alas, no such luck ... although it would have been a deserved winner, IMO this is the best entry the Bosnians have ever sent. (They've been competing most years since 1993.) And the performance was just wonderful too. But the song placed 3rd - a very good result, actually. They were only beat by Dima Bilan and, of course, the undefeatable monsters from Finland.

I love this song. It's one of my top favorites from 2006. It's beautiful. :-)

This is Hari Mata Hari, the nightingale of Sarajevo, performing Lejla by Željko Joksimović, Fahrudin Pecikoza-Peca and Dejan Ivanović - they competed for Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on May 20th, 2006.

Lyrics with translation here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My calendar wall, September 2009

About time ... before it's October. :-)

In other news, I need a favor ... I just don't know anyone who can do it for me. I've been asking around on some relevant forums, so fingers crossed. No luck so far though. In case anyone reading this could help me, I'll mention it here too: I need something transported from Stavanger to Oslo, relatively soon. It's something very small and harmless. If anyone's available to help, let me know. :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

A true Keanustory

Today's Keanupost: a true story. Told to me by a childhood friend; it happened to a friend of hers.

OK, so, my friend, let's call her E, went to university in Wales, in Cardiff. It's a pretty international school, so she made friends from around the world; one of them was a Canadian woman who before attending Cardiff U had been to college somewhere in the American midwest. She's the one this happened to. I don't remember that I ever heard her name ... let's call her Ms X.

The following took place, AFAIK, in the fall semester of 1994.

Ms X had as I say been a student at an American college, and while there had made various friends, unsurprisingly. One of them was another Canadian girl. At first they hit it off just because, you know, You're a Canadian?! I'm a Canadian!! :-D That type of thing. But they also had a lot in common, so they became pretty good friends. One weekend they had been invited to this party that they were really excited about. It was on the Saturday night. They were really looking forward to it, had talked a lot about it, about what they would wear, etc. Their plans were laid. :-) But then on the Friday night, Ms X gets a call from her friend who says that her brother's arrived for a surprise visit, and it's kind of awkward, since they have plans and all, but now he's here and he lives so far away and she hardly ever sees him, he doesn't know anyone else in town and she feels bad just ditching him to go to a party ... so is it OK with Ms X if he comes with them? Again, kind of awkward, he's a lot older than them, but on the plus side, he'll be driving, so they won't have to worry about finding a ride home. :-)

Ms X thinks having a driver sounds pretty good, and she's a nice person, so she says of course he can come, the more the merrier. She hangs up the phone and thinks no more of it. On Saturday night she gets ready, the dress, the hair, the makeup, and waits for them to arrive to pick her up. She sees the car pulling up, runs outside and jumps in the car ... her friend's in the back seat so she gets in the front passenger seat next to the driver. She immediately turns to the back to talk to her friend, OMG you look great, I love your hair, that dress just looks so good on you - the normal girlie stuff. ;-) While they're chatting the car starts up and pulls back into traffic. The mutual complimenting eventually winds down and she turns around in her seat again, and - of course - sticks out her hand to introduce herself to the brother. Hi, I'm X.

You'll have guessed this already, of course. He says Hi, I'm Keanu.

Apparently Ms X spent the rest of the drive sitting crushed up against the passenger side door chanting in her head something along the lines of This isn't happening, la la la la, this isn't happening ... :-D

I know from various fan stories that neither Karina, the sister in this story, nor Kim, the middle sibling, ever brag about having a brother who's a movie star. (Keanu and Kim have another half sister, Emma Rose, and she, well, she's mentioned it. ;-) But they don't know each other, in fact, have barely even met, so that situation is a bit different.) But this is kind of taking it to the opposite extreme, isn't it? I totally understand that you wouldn't want to broadcast something like this, but, seriously, you might warn people.

I love this story. :-D

And in case you're wondering how the event it relates was even possible, well, Keanu and Karina don't have the same father, and since her father (like their mother) is Caucasian whereas his is Polynesian/Chinese, they don't look much alike, and they each have their father's last name, Reeves in his case and Miller in hers. (Their mother's last name is Taylor.) So on the face of it there really isn't that much to connect them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quote of the Week

What probably distorts everything in life is that one is convinced that one is speaking the truth because one says what one thinks.
Sacha Guitry

This seemed appropriate for today's quote as I have been surfing Youtube today and, among other things, gotten a good laugh out of that hopeless idiot, Lee Doren aka HowTheWorldWorks. OMG he is too funny!!1! He may be hard to understand sometimes but look here to see one of his videos subtitled with a translation from Moron into English. ;-)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rondane 2009

The second part of my summer vacation this year was the week and a half I spent at our cabin in the mountains, as usual. Not just there though, we were all over the place this year. :-) I took a gadzillion pictures, but I also shot a bunch of videos. Here's one of them ... just showing off the mountains and the beautiful nature in the area. Rondane is Norway's oldest national park, it was established in 1962, and now covers about 960 square kilometres. It's a fantastic area for hiking in summer and skiing in winter. There's hunting going on in the fall - in fact right now :-) - for grouse, moose and reindeer, and there's fishing opportunities all year round.

To my eyes this is a beautiful area ... it may seem barren at first glance, but, well, life finds a way. :-) There's so much to be seen if you know where to look. And it's important to remember, IMO, that the beauty of nature takes many forms.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This and that

Something I need to get off my chest ... and some other things that aren't very important. :-)

First things first. Canal Digital suck. Darn them all to heck! They're my cable company, not by choice but because my, what, housing coop has a deal with them. OK, whatever. Earlier this year it all went digital, so we all had to get decoders. Now yesterday they'd scheduled some software update on the damn thing, which I was told to install when I turned the thing on to watch an old episode of Futurama. So I did, and it all went well. Or so I thought. >:-( I had the choice at one point to not install it - alas, the beauty of hindsight - but I let the chance slip through my fingers. Damn my trusting nature! The next time I tried to use my DVD player, to set it up for a recording, the signal was gone. Or whatever it is. The player works just fine, but the screen is black. Nothing to see here. And it's the same thing if I try to watch a DVD. The player does its job but the TV shows nothing. Every cable is still connected and so on, I've checked that, of course. It's got to be the decoder. Which I never wanted in the first place! I tried calling their customer service, but, what a surprise, they can't do anything to help me. There's nothing they can do. Fuck that shit. I sent an angry email. And it won't be the last, till this is fixed. I asked the woman who claimed to be in customer service whether I couldn't just disconnect the fucking decoder, and she said, Well, yes, but then you'll miss out on ... whatever boring channels I get through that thing ... you'll only have the regular 15 channels. Oh no, only 15 channels!! How will I survive!! No matter how many channels you have there's hardly anything worth watching in any case. I never even wanted whatever channels I get through that stupid box! But of course when I try to disconnect it the TV image becomes all fuzzy ... and I still can't get anything from the player. Maybe I didn't do it right. I need someone to look at this who understands about TVs and cables and connections and things. trilltrall, I'm looking at you ... ;-)

I'm actually really mad about this, though. The one thing I really need, or at least want, the TV for is rendered impossible by something that I never wanted or needed or even asked for. And then they tell me that there's nothing they can do, even though they're the ones who caused it. Oh yes, of course: The update can't be uninstalled, that's impossible. Growl.

This is especially annoying because of a weird coinkydink: Has anyone seen the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy? It was on TV here last year or whenever, and I thought it was pretty funny ... and a few days ago I thought to myself that I wish I'd recorded it, because I would like to see it again. Well, guess what's on TV tonight?? And I'll have to stay up till like 2:30 in the morning to see the whole thing, because now I can't record it! Darn it all to heck! >:-(

Ahem. In other news, I saw something really weird yesterday afternoon - a wooden train. o_O I know, what the hell is that? But I really think I saw it. I was on another train leaving Skøyen station ... or was it Lysaker? No, I think it was Skøyen. Yeah, must have been. There was another train on one of the other sets of tracks, pulling into the station ... or maybe it was just going to pass by, I don't know, I couldn't tell, we were a bit too far away from the platform by then. I was on my way to Sandvika ... a friend of mine was part of the municipal revue out there, he acted and sang in it and he also wrote some of the skits, so I went with a couple of other friends to see him. It was fun, and pretty impressive ... I mean, they're obviously amateurs, but still, they've put this all together as amateurs and in their spare time, and it's really entertaining. Some really good music. I enjoyed it ... and of course it's fun to see a friend on stage. :-D

He's the one in the middle, obviously. :-) But where was I. Oh yeah.

I saw this other train that looked like it was wood-panelled. It was so fancy, it had decorations on it and everything. There was lettering on the side of the cars - three or four cars altogether - that said DINING CAR and whatnot. But who the hell has a wood-panelled train?? Isn't that incredibly impractical? I mean, maintenance and so on? Maybe it's the royal train ... but I thought that was red. o_O I've never seen a wooden train before. :-D

Also yesterday, Herman did something soo cute. He's spending a lot of time in the smallest travel cage these days, because of the treatment for his infection ... and he's not enjoying it, it's boring!! Yesterday it was so boring that he fell asleep in broad daylight. I've never seen him do that without being stuffed full of food. When I picked him up from the cage he was all sleepy and rubbing his eyes. Awww. <3

I spent this afternoon at Meny at Carl Berner, giving out free samples of Ubuntu Cola. The world's only fair trade cola. :-) Yeah, it was part of my volunteer work at Friends. It went pretty well, or according to the boss, very well. I was going to be there for two hours, it ended up being more like two and a half ... I decided when I got there that my goal was going to be 100, ie, to get 100 people to try this relatively new soft drink. (It's a UK product made with fair trade sugar from Malawi, and it's been on the market for only about two years; only 17 months in Norway.) I ended up with at least 117. There were little crowds at some points so I may have misremembered and missed counting some. Then when the boss arrived and said that it looked like I was doing well, I said I sure was and asked him to guess how many samples I'd given out ... and he guessed 20. o_O So I must be a natural. ;-)

Of course I did this out of the goodness of my heart and didn't expect anything for it, but I got something anyway. Unfortunately I don't drink cola, fair or unfair. But I know that I have friends who do. ;-) So those of you who are within reasonable distance (I'm not shipping this stuff through the mail), let me know, and one of these five cans of delicious Ubuntu Cola may just have your name on it. ;-)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is it ....

... that some people love, other people claim to hate, yet is watched by a huge slice of the population; that we've complained about not getting and now complain because we have got it; and that will cost 600,000 crowns per minute??

Yes, it's the Eurovision Song Contest Oslo 2010!! :-D

It's in the news today that next year's ESC will cost something like 211 million, ie 600,000 per minute, and it's not at all a given that NRK, our state-owned broadcasting corporation which is the contest's host (yes, that is in fact how it works), will be able to pay for it out of their ordinary budget. Only 40-45% of the total costs will be covered by the funding from the EBU (this is where the entrance fees go) and ticket sales and sponsorships. So ... still a ways to go. The Department of Culture says that they won't be coughing up any extra cash for it. Now NRK wants to get that money through more regular channels - by adding to the licensing fees that are their main financial support. Everyone who owns a TV in this country has to pay a fee, and that money goes to NRK. (A perfectly normal system, I might add ... most European countries have it, it isn't something that 'the socialists' have cooked up to be mean to us.) So, they want to increase that fee and get the extra money they need that way. 55 crowns from each eligible person. OMG what a staggering sum. :-D

Dagbladet online has a poll - I love their polls, it makes their articles so special, you feel like they're really trying so hard to connect to you, the reader! :-D - where you can say yes or no to whether this is OK. I said yes of course. The 'yes' pie slice turned out to be extremely small - only 4%! :-D So 96% think this is a horrible idea. I wonder how many of those 96% thought it was totally fantastic when we won in Moscow back in May. ;-) But of course it shouldn't cost anything for me, I'm so special. :-D These polls are actually pretty interesting, because they're very skewed ... like for instance, the poll they had on election night showed that more than 40% of the voters there were going to vote for FrP. But they ended up on slightly less than 23%. So when I hear people (often those with FrP leanings ;-) whining & complaining that Dagbladet is such a leftist socialist rag, I kinda lolz to myself a bit. Dagbladet staff may be socialist scum but their readers, methinks, are comprised to a significant degree of some other kind of scum. ;-) But that's another story.

Where was I. Oh yes, massive popular resistance to those extra 55 crowns. They've opened the article for debate and it's pretty hilarious. One person writes about 'the people's rage' against the licensing fee. I mean, rage? Seriously? The people's? :-D There's one guy who says that he's 'boiling' ... he must mean with rage too, I guess. Of course, most people fail to understand that it isn't NRK that's licensed, it's the TV set. That's why you pay, because you have a TV. If you fix your TV so you can't get signals on it, you don't have to pay. Personally I think the licensing system is fine and I very much appreciate having a channel like NRK. Three channels, actually. I don't watch it all that much, but I so appreciate having it. I always watch the news on NRK. I really like the fact that they aren't dependent on selling commercial time to get by ... and I really like not having to watch the damn commercials.

Anyway. There are so many complaints. Some sensible voices too, of course, but mostly not. :-D It's robbery, we're living in a communist regime, the license is anti-democratic ... In one way it's really entertaining. But in another way it's pretty scary. This is after all a pretty insignificant issue. I mean, compared to other problems we're having. Peak oil, anyone? Climate changes? Fundamentalism, culture crashes, environmental destruction? It's like the old saying goes, if this brownie is awesome, then what is the Grand Canyon? Just pay the damn 55 crowns and move on to more important things.

Personally I of course think we need to just do whatever it takes to put the show on. ;-) Not just because I'm such a crazy fan, actually. But the EBU's invitation to the winner to host next year's final has never been declined. Not by anyone ever. And our entry this year was the highest scoring in ESC history ... so of course we couldn't possibly be the first to ever decline. That goes without saying. But I do think that we ought to scale the whole thing down and make it a much more modest show. Moscow this year was totally off the charts. So yeah, scale it down, definitely. 211 million sounds like a lot. o_O But what do I know. It's going to cost money. And what do you think all these raging commenters and bloggers would say if NRK declined the invitation and we didn't get to have the final here after all? Something tells me that would be just as wrong. ;-)

Plus, people, we have to remember our friends. Cause you know what would have happened if we had declined the invitation? (Which now is not going to happen, that's right. All the haters out there, forget it, it's a done deal. Oslo 2010 woo-hoo!! :-D) If the winner declines, the runner-up gets the invitation. And seriously, is that a choice we would have wanted to force on Iceland in a situation like theirs? I'm pretty sure that if the situation had been reversed, they would have done everything they could to spare us that embarrassment. That's what friends are for. ;-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Am I a racist?

OK, so, there's a story in the news here right now about a young girl - she was only 15 at the time - who was raped by four young men, 3-4 years older than her, here in Oslo almost two years ago. Our courts work ridiculously slowly, so the case has only come to trial now. The guys hit her and pulled her hair, threatened to beat her and called her a whore, then forced her to go down on all four of them in a shed. What's almost worst - I mean, obviously the girl's experiences were the worst, but this is the part that really breaks my heart - is that her mother actually heard part of the assault as it happened. :-o Her mother called her on her cell phone, completely by coincidence, while it was going on, and somehow the cover on the phone got pushed up so that the call was connected. So the mother had to sit there and listen to her daughter screaming and crying and shouting No! No, please!! and who knows what sounds the guys were making. I'm sure she understood what was going on. Has anyone seen that movie, Eye for an Eye? It's basically the opening scene of that movie, in real life. I can't even imagine how this woman must have felt when she realized what was happening to her child ... and there was nothing on earth she could possibly do to stop it. :-(

Anyway ... back to my question. Am I a racist? Because hearing about this case - just seeing the headline was enough - my immediate thought was that whoever did that were immigrants. In fact, it's wrong to even call it a thought. It's my first instinct. The idea is just in my head fully formed as soon as I hear the basic facts of the case. Gang rape in Oslo = it must be immigrants. The first real thought I guess is who would call me a racist because of my reaction?

Now, granted, I don't know much about this case. I only know what I've read in the paper ... there's an article here. So I'm just assuming something right off the cuff, just making random assumptions based on pretty much nothing. Right? Oh, I'm such an awful racist. Aren't I?

Has everyone heard about Norway Cup? It's the biggest football tournament for children and young people in the world (when I say football, I of course mean European, aka real, football ;-) and it's held every summer here in Oslo. It usually goes pretty smoothly ... everyone's happy to be playing and there's very little violence and things like that. But this summer there was a fracas, one team made a lot of trouble. They were disqualified - they didn't have their papers in order, a whole bunch of paperwork that they had ignored, whataver - and they started fights after that. My question came up then too. I thought about writing this blog post then, but I didn't get around to it. (Quel surprise. :-) I was going to write it though ... because as soon as I heard about that story too - football team creates fights & trouble at Norway Cup - that same instinct kicked in, and the same thought, or whatever, came into my head - Oh, those guys must be immigrants.

And then we're back to my initial question - am I a racist? I think a lot of people would call me one ... because if that's my instinctive reaction, I must just dislike immigrants. Mustn't I? But then, in the Norway Cup story, more information came to light, and guess what ... they were immigrants. It was a team made up entirely of immigrants. So what does that make me?

I don't consider myself a racist. I like to think that I give people the benefit of the doubt and judge each individual on his or her merits. But I am willing to bet a lot of money that these four guys in the rape case are all immigrants. Not one ethnic Norwegian in the bunch. And I'll go further. I'm also willing to bet money that they are members of a particular group of immigrants - Muslim immigrants. I'd bet a lot of money on that.

Now, am I a racist, or where do you figure this comes from?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Carcassonne 2009: London Zoo, part 1

I mentioned that I travelled to France via England, and met up with Anne Ida in London. I spent a day in the city on my own before meeting up with her and our friends that she was staying with, and I decided to spend that day at the zoo. :-) I'm not a big fan of London and I wanted to find just one place where I could spend the whole day and just more or less relax ... so I picked the zoo. Where of course I took lots and lots of pictures. :-)

From the Aquarium ... which is the oldest of its kind in the entire world, in fact. Many pretty waterscapes. :-)

And some very pretty fish, like this one. I love the colors ... and it also had a gorgeous iridescence that doesn't really show up in the photo ... but it was quite beautiful.

Some really wonderful setups to be seen ...

Raja, the zoo's Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis. Paz, he seems a bit lazy, doesn't he? ;-)

The zoo has added three Gálapagos tortoises, Geochelone nigra, to their collection this year as part of their celebration of the Darwin bicentennial.

Zaïre, the matriarch of the zoo's troop of western lowland gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gorilla. She was eating something and quite busy with that, so seeing her up close was out of the question.

But Effie, the other adult female in the troop, was sitting by the glass watching us watching her. Oh, look at her face, it breaks my heart. :-( I do enjoy zoos if they're well constructed and maintained, but deep down I always know that it just isn't right. :-( Except at the Nordic Ark ... :-)

A lazy tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae. In fact they have two. :-)

Some ... pigs ... of some kind ... Wild boar from somewhere. I honestly don't remember exactly what these were. :-) But this is a pretty good shot. And it's interesting to think that our domesticated pigs probably were something like this once ... :-)

An eastern white pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus, grooming itself.

Adult large flamingos, Phoenicopterus roseus ...

... and a flamingo baby. Aww. :-)

Feeding time in the penguin pond. The one getting all the attention is Ricky the Rockhopper ... I already posted a picture of him. He was just too cute. :-)

I mean, just look at him. :-D

This twolegs seems to be in possession of MAH BUKKIT!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I wish I could draw like this. :-) Take a look:

Is this guy talented or what?? Yeah, I really wish I could draw even half as well as him.

You can see some more of his work on his Youtube channel, here. And while we're on the subject of Youtube, will someone do me a favor and watch my kitteh video that I posted on Thursday?? If you go to my channel, it's the one in the bottom right hand corner of the 'front page'. I have issues. Thanks. :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quote of the Week

It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
Mark Twain

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Excellent blog post

Not this one, no. ;-) This is a shoutout to a blog I read, The Atheist Experience (thanks to Margo and OTD for tipping me off about it :-) which is a great blog in every possible way and so worth reading for any sceptic. So many great posts there, and fantastic discussions in the comments. Today's post is the best post I think I've ever read there. Kudos to tracieh, so much. Go read the post, you won't be sorry. An excellent blog post. :-)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Turtles at the vet's

I took the turtles to the vet today ... something I've been meaning to do for ages, but haven't gotten around to (what else is new), but then I finally got the push I needed, on Monday I think it was, to get up off my butt and actually do it. I wanted just a checkup on Henrik and Raphael, because I haven't been to the vet with them at all since I got them, and there were a few little things that I wanted her to look at. Then Herman, he's had this weird little patch of ... I don't know what exactly, or at least I didn't until today ... on his shell above the back of his neck. When I was handling him on Monday, at feeding time, and I started to think that maybe this little patch had gotten a little bit bigger. :-o So I thought that as soon as I can get in, I'm going to the vet now. And this morning I put them all in the travel cage and off we went. :-)

Raphael behaved badly at the vet's office, alas. His desperate and endless attempts to escape the cage got everyone's attention. I finally had to let him out to walk it off a little. :-) He just hates that cage so much, I don't know what it is. He absolutely flat out refuses to settle down in it. He was constantly just trying to escape the whole time we were there. But the vet praised him though, she said that he seemed like such a sweetie because although he was clearly unhappy with the situation, and wanted very much to get away from the place and from her, he didn't show the least hint of aggression. And that's true, he's not at all aggressive, he never bites from anger. He'll hiss at you if he gets really mad, that's the worst he's done. :-) So yeah, she's right, he's a grouch, but he's a sweetie deep down. ;-)

Henrik was a little anxious, he didn't enjoy the subway ride at all, but wasn't too upset at being there, and Herman of course took it all in his stride like always. That little critter just knows no fear. :-) The vet examined all of them and I was reassured about most of the issues I've been ... not worried about, I guess, but thinking about. Raphael has some small 'pockmarks' on his shell that get better incredibly slowly but don't get any worse either ... that's apparently well within the normal range and nothing to worry about as long as they stay completely hard and are completely dry when, well, dry. :-) The weird little hard thingummy in the side of his neck is basically some of the cartilage in his larynx that's been displaced somehow ... either he just hatched like that, or it's the result of some injury ... I'm thinking the latter, because I don't remember that he had this condition when I got him, and he's had a lot of little accidents in the time that I've had him. He's taken a lot of falls. :-) But he obviously has no pain from it, and he has no problems withdrawing his head completely, so it's not an issue. But at least now I know what it is. :-)

The vet didn't think that Henrik is too fat - of course this was the morning of a feeding day when she saw him, so he hadn't eaten, but she said that he seems to be a very healthy weight, and he just looks fat sometimes because his skin is so thick. The other issue with him she didn't get to see, it's the way that he sometimes foams at the mouth a bit when he's walked a lot in the sun, and how his eyes tear sometimes too, again, in the same situations. But she wasn't worried, because he breathes normally, his nose isn't runny, he never wheezes or squeaks when he breathes. So, he got a clean bill of health. :-)

The real issue was Herman and his little mystery. I've worried a bit about his shell, but the vet says it looks fine except for that little patch. His nuchal scute, get this, fell off (!!) a while back ... now that really had me worried, and then that little weird spot showed up. The vet said that the scute falling off isn't normal but also isn't dangerous. As long as the shell is hard and solid it's nothing to worry about. She took two scrapings of the patch on his shell - one of them she's going to send in to wherever they make cultures of these things, and the other one she looked at under her own microscope. Turns out that it is a small fungal infection. :-o My precious!! Regardless of whatever the culture shows - it'll take about a week to hear back on that - that infection has got to go, so I got a prescription for a fungicide which I'll use in combination with iodine twice a day for two weeks. (So it's actually a pretty good thing that I'm not working right now. ;-) I did the first treatment this afternoon and it was boring for a little turtle to have to stay cooped up in the smaller of the two travel cages for two whole hours, which is how long he'll have to be drydocked after every single treatment, morning and afternoon. Alas, my precious!! But hopefully we'll get rid of that little infected patch, which is exactly what I set out to do this morning. :-)

The poor unfortunate prisoner languishes in his cell ...


See, here's what I mean, he foams at the mouth. And you can see his eyes are very moist too, they're running. But this only happens when he's walked a lot in the heat and is dry and tired and breathing hard, so I guess that's the reason. The vet thinks so, anyway. :-)

I made a video, too. :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another new OBCZ in Oslo

You may remember that I mentioned plans I was making to set up a new BookCrossing zone ... another new zone ... in that fair trade store I'm volunteering at. The owner of the store asked me to do it, so of course I was eager to oblige. :-) I think it's a great place for a zone, I really do ... looking back at my files and notes and what not I see that I've considered it a great place for a zone for at least two years. o_O I am slow. But better late than never. I set the zone up today, I donated ten books to it from my own shelf and they were released this afternoon. Of course I took some pictures. :-) If you're ever in Oslo, stop by! It's a really cool store, they have all kinds of things ... chocolate, for instance, the absolutely delicious Divine brand ... and you can shop with a clear conscience. :-) More info on the zone's own shelf, here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She's back ... !!!

OK, after all that seriousness and political analysis and so on, it's time for something a bit lighter. Something else that I'm psyched about, besides the election results. :-) Check this out (and click to enlarge!!):

Yes, Lisbeth Salander is back! Or she will be in two days, anyway. Oh, I can't hardly wait!! The first movie was so cool, I loved it, even though it of course wasn't perfect and the book is better. I mean, obviously. That pretty much goes without saying. And I'm sure it's true for this second part of the trilogy too, but I still strongly doubt whether I'm going to be as displeased with The Girl Who Played With Fire as this reviewer was. A reviewer whose opinions I can't possibly take seriously, when she actually doesn't understand why a great many women everywhere would be eager to jump in the sack with almost any character played by Michael Nyqvist. (I mean, come on, look at the guy. ;-)

I am all over the place excited about seeing this movie; it opens on Friday (this time we're getting the same premiere date as the Swedes, so yay :-) but, alas, I won't get to see it then ... Friday is the annual 'Culture Night' here in Oslo and there's way too much cool stuff going on for me to waste any time in a movie theater. I mean, sorry, but there it is. The movie's going to be the same the next day. And if I'm lucky I'll get to see the movie on the Opera roof on Saturday - this weekend sees the second annual Bookfest in the Opera, and this will be their Saturday night screening. Absolutely free of charge. Anne Ida and I plan to be there in plenty of time. :-)

In the meantime, here's the trailer. Lookin' pretty damn good IMO. My translation is below.

-If you ever touch me again, I’m going to kill you. Is that understood?
-There are some patients who ought to be in care facilities, instead of moving freely in our society.
-You think she’s guilty too, don’t you?
-I’m not saying anything.
-She’s in a lot of trouble, isn’t she?
-She’s in a hell of a lot of trouble.
-I’m going to come up with evidence. I’m going to come up with an alternative killer, and I’m also going to write an article that you and your colleagues are going to find pretty hard to swallow.
-I’m going to find her before the police do, I’m going to stand by her side till the end. I owe her that.

And here's another trailer type thing ... it doesn't look entirely official but it has more footage, anyway.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some analysis

Some thoughts on the election now that the first rush of elation is over. :-) An election that the left won fair and square, despite what you may think from all the whining going on in newspaper debates and in blogs and what not. It's true that we don't have a direct democracy in Norway. But who the hell does - Switzerland is the only one I can think of. Our current system, with the evening out that means that my friend Elin's vote counts for more than mine, because she lives in Finnmark and I live in Oslo, is actually the fairest system possible if one wants all the parts of the country to have an equal say. I know that there are those who don't want that ... but the majority does want it, so they can just take their arrogant presumptions and shove 'em. >:-( Anyway. This system is reviewed every eight years, and will be reviewed again in this coming parliamentary session. Which means that the last time it was reviewed, it was the right who were in power, and they accepted it completely and agreed that it was the best system. But now they're whining about it anyway. In other words, they're whining because they lost, not because there's anything wrong with the system. If they'd won, no doubt they'd be singing its praises.

Anyway ... any FrP voter who's complaining now is quite simply being a dumbass, because this system rewards those who appeal to the village idiots, and we all know who's leading the field on that score. The Socialist Left and Red Alliance are the ones who are most severely penalized by the current system, but do you hear them whining? No, because they won ;-) but you also didn't hear them arguing against the system before the election. Oh, that's right - no one argued against the system then. I wonder why.

So, the left won and we're keeping the same government that we've had for the past four years. (Another thing people should try to keep in mind: This was a parliamentary election, not a government election.) The party making the biggest progress was Høyre, so its leader Erna Solberg basically declared herself the winner last night. But then again they did do extraordinarily badly four years ago, so how big an achievement was it really? Not so much IMO. The real winner in this election is Labor. I don't think most people will really comprehend what an amazing feat they have accomplished.

Labor did very badly in 2001, leading to a government from the right as the result of that election. Four years later they had made progress - excellent progress - and ended up in government. Over the next four years they have had to deal with almost endless mudslinging from the blue camp - primarily from the FrP camp who apparently think we're living in a third world warzone. (Obviously without having ever been to any third world warzones.) Now, in this country in recent years, what basically always happens is that the incumbent government loses. IMO we just have it too good here. :-) This time, though, the government was reelected. The three government parties got different results - Center roughly maintained their 2005 level, which is where they're normally at. The Socialist Left did pretty badly, but considering that this was their first term in office that was only to be expected. It's what we call 'governmental wear and tear'. :-) Labor made progress from 2005, ie they've improved their results two elections running, and they've been reelected. You have to go back to the early 80s to see that happening. And they've managed this in the middle of the worst financial crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression. It is a monumental achievement and I am proud now to say that I gave them my vote. :-)

Why did the blues lose? Because most people in this country actually aren't as stupid as the Progress Party think. :-) No, but seriously - the redgreens are staying in power because FrP are too arrogant. They are now blaming everyone else ... Lars Sponheim and Venstre especially. But Sponheim did what any politician with true integrity would have done (so no surprise that FrP are having so much trouble understanding his actions ;-). He stood up for his party's values and for the wishes of its voters. His job as party leader is not to ensure a government from the right, but to safeguard the interests of his party's voters ... and those voters did emphatically not want any collaboration with FrP. It's pathetic to see how the latter are now struggling to pin the blame on Sponheim ... and it was disgraceful to see them laughing at and enjoying his misfortune last night. This is the party that wants to bring good manners back to Norwegian schools?? Don't make me laugh.

What the blue side should have done, which FrP were too arrogant to accept, was to have pushed Erna Solberg as their candidate for prime minister, and not have brought Siv Jensen into it at all. That was their big mistake. Because let's face it, Jensen never stood a chance. Obviously no one on the red side wanted her as PM. Voters for Venstre and KrF in all likelihood didn't either, at least the vast majority of them. I also think that it's safe to say that almost no one, or in fact no one whatsoever, who voted for Høyre wanted her. And in fact, I question whether all FrP's own voters wanted Jensen for PM either. What, does that sound too weird? I don't think so. Because obviously FrP got a lot of basically racist votes - people who are freaking over the immigration issue and voted FrP just because of that, but in actuality they would have preferred to go with, most likely, Høyre. And those people I'm pretty sure would have wanted Solberg and not Jensen for PM.

So what the blues should have done was to unite behind Erna Solberg as their candidate and push that issue to the forefront. Jens vs Erna. :-) Now that would have been a genuine contest ... because although I disagree with Solberg politically, I have a lot of respect for her - she is an intelligent, articulate and cool-headed woman, she has integrity and dignity. She would have made a worthy prime minister, and I think that's an opinion that's shared across most of the political spectrum. Whereas Jensen, sheesh. No contest.

In other words, FrP can whine about the unfair vote tallying system and the big bad wolf Sponheim all they want, but the fact is that their own ambition has cost them a share in government this time. Boo fucking hoo. Better luck next time, crybabies.


Yes!! Yes yes yes yes!! Redgreen victory!! WOO-HOO!!!

OK, it's very even, 86 seats for the left versus 83 for the right. But still, it is a victory. It means that the current government will stay in power for the next four years. YES!! :-D

I've been watching TV (NRK of course ;-) all night and it's been so exciting, such an even race constantly, nerve-wracking for everyone involved. The broadcast has more than anything else confirmed my prejudices. Kristin Halvorsen (Socialist Left) was a bit hysterical, Liv Signe Navarsete (Center Party) was calm and collected, Dagfinn Høybråten (Christian People's Party - yeah, I know) was a disgusting slimeball, Lars Sponheim (Left, which is actually on the right :-) was depressed by their lousy results but held his head up, Siv Jensen (the Progress Party) lied through her teeth and blamed everyone else, Erna Solberg (Right) was disappointed but dignified. And Jens Stoltenberg (Labor - and still PM!!) was very impressive. I loved his victory speech. Which, incidentally, really highlighted the difference between his party and FrP.

Stoltenberg thanked all his supporters and so on, of course, and he also thanked everyone who voted for his party, and he thanked everyone else who voted for other parties. Because, and I'm quoting from memory here, it's so important for our democracy that we all do our duty and let our voices be heard ... so thank you to all the voters tonight, whatever party you voted for. Now that's classy. Whereas Jensen, sheesh!! She actually had the gall to say that she was grateful to those who had voted for FrP and that she appreciated how those voters have had the guts to stand up for their convictions and what they really believe in, etc, and do the right thing for Norway. WTF?? I would like to say the following to her: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!!! Where the hell does that bitch get off telling 77% of the voters in this country that we're cowards who don't follow our convictions and don't want the best for our country?? Cause believe me, those of you who didn't see it, that's what she was saying.

What a fucking liberty. >:-( But this is no time to think of petty irrelevancies like Siv Jensen's opinions. >:-) Let's think about Stoltenberg the statesman instead. And VICTORY!! :-D

Monday, September 14, 2009

Election day!!!

The voting booths are closed ... now. o_O

OMG I am so nervous!! I feel like I have no earthly idea how this is going to go. Fingers crossed for the red & green side ... !!

They just revealed the exit poll and the result is extremely even, 86 seats to the left and 83 to the right. Labor significantly bigger than Frp. Whew. :-) That's one of my biggest fears, that they - or, slightly better, the right generally - will manage some unprecedented landslide. I don't think they will, I've never thought so, but it's like a nightmare that I can't quite shake. One thing this election will make clear once and for all, namely, just how stupid Norwegians really are.

Anyway ... I'm glued to the TV screen now, and I will be all night. No way am I going to bed until I know what's what here. :-) I voted on my way home this afternoon (I've worked a shift at Friends) and I was so confused, as I stood in the booth I hardly knew what to do. What I felt - still feel - is that the number one priority has got to be to make Labor as big as they can possibly get. They're like the levee holding back the flood. :-) On the other hand, oil drilling in Lofoten and Vesterålen (ie a very important and potentially fragile coastal area up north, for the foreigners reading this) is an extremely important issue to me. I'm against it, obviously. So theoretically I ought to vote for the Socialist Left (SV) because they're the one party of any significance that are really standing up against that. Also, in all the test-your-vote thingummies on line I've ended up with them. (All except one, which thought I ought to vote for the Center Party. Dream on, wolfkillers.) But then again they have disappointed me in government this term ... and, more importantly, I'm worried that they'll do quite badly this year and won't be in a position to actually do anything. But that's of course a vicious circle, because of course they'll do badly if everyone thinks like me ... !! Aargh ... !

Anyway. My mother voted for SV because she also thinks the oil project is so important and she thinks we should all do what we can to support SV. But again I think we need Labor as big as possible. Because even though they haven't said whether they will drill or not - they want to do the research, and so do most of Parliament generally, before they decide - one thing that's for damn sure is that we've got to keep a government from the left, because the right will just drill, baby, drill. So I feel like I should basically support the carrying wall first and foremost. Then again, I have been seeing all those flyers and what not all over the place saying that Red Alliance needed only 659 votes, or whatever, here in Oslo to get Erling Folkvord into Parliament. And hey, yeah, I definitely would like to see Folkvord in Parliament. Argh ...

But of course I didn't vote for Red Alliance, hello. I'm not crazy. I ended up going with Labor. But I'm still not sure whether I did the right thing. Oh, me so nervous ... !! The exit poll doesn't tell me anything much, this could go absolutely any which way. And it's been what, 26 years since an incumbent government has won an election. (Evidence that Norwegians are pretty dang stupid, alas.) So even though it looks good for the left right now, who knows??

This is definitely what you'd call an election thriller. Even if the campaign has been painfully boring. There was a little debate on NRK just now about what issue has been dominant in this campaign, and they decided on none ... you know, like the campaign in such a year was the environment campaign, in such a year it was the jobs campaign, etc ... because one issue was very dominant. They decided there had been no such issue this year. But in fact there was. The issue dominating this year's election campaign has been WHINING. >:-(

What we should have talked about, what the politicians should have talked about - or at least the ones on the left; the right side of course want to keep this out of the debate - is the fact that this election is about basically a choice between systems. Do we want our tried and tested social democratic system that isn't perfect but actually works pretty fucking well (people in this country seem to be barely noticing the credit crunch!!) or do we want, and I apologize in advance to any Americans reading this, an Americanized system which has been proved to work really really badly (to in fact have created that very same financial crisis!). The conservative solutions just don't work. We've seen that this year. So are we still going to choose those solutions?? That's been the big question. Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I definitely feel like this question has been significantly underemphasized this fall. Unfortunately.

One thing seems obvious, though. The next prime minister of Norway will have a last name that starts with an S and ends with -berg. ;-) (Siv Jensen, eat your cold little heart out.) I have my fingers crossed that that person's first name will be Jens ... but if it turns out to be Erna, I'll still be optimistic, because I don't think there will be a blue wave sweeping the country anytime soon. Whew.

More later, I'm sure ...

'The Private Lives of Pippa Lee'

Coming up ...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

Was Fergus Urvill anywhere, still? Apart from the body - whatever was left of him physically, down there in that dark, cold pressure - was there anything else? Was his personality intact somehow, somewhere?

I found that I couldn't believe that it was. Neither was dad's, neither was Rory's, nor Aunt Fiona's, nor Darren Watt's. There was no such continuation; it just didn't work that way, and there should even be a sort of relief in the comprehension that it didn't. We continue in our children, and in our works and in the memories of others; we continue in our dust and ash. To want more was not just childish, but cowardly, and somehow constipatory, too. Death was change; it led to new chances, new vacancies, new niches and opportunities; it was not all loss.

The belief that we somehow moved on to something else - whether still recognisably ourselves, or quite thoroughly changed - might be a tribute to our evolutionary tenacity and our animal thirst for life, but not to our wisdom. That saw a value beyond itself; in intelligence, knowledge and wit as concepts - wherever and by whoever expressed - not just in its own personal manifestation of those qualities, and so could contemplate its own annihilation with equanimity, and suffer it with grace; it was only a sort of sad selfishness that demanded the continuation of the individual spirit in the vanity and frivolity of a heaven.

Iain Banks, The Crow Road
(Scribners, 1992)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Warsaw 2009: the Royal Castle

Warsaw's Royal Castle is of course no longer in use, since Poland is a republic. The Castle is a museum, open to the public and beautifully restored. It's been damaged a number of times over the centuries of its existence - in 1944 it was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis who were in power at the time. They did it deliberately. :-( But as part of the reconstruction of the Old Town after the war, the Castle was also rebuilt. Now you can't see that it was torn down to the ground floor just some decades ago. It's a beautiful place ... extremely impressive in many of its reception rooms and decoration. Gorgeous and sumptuous. Take a look. :-)

A view of the facade ...

... which is also quite impressively decorated.

The tower in the center of the facade.

The interior courtyard.

One of several throne rooms.

Beautifully decorated ceilings and other interiors.

One of the most impressive things were the gorgeous inlaid wooden floors. So many beautiful patterns.

One room is hung with old tapestries that have been saved from the various fires and destructions ...

... and one of them has a turtle in it. Aww. I bought a bookmark version of it. Of course. :-)

You can see more pictures from the Royal Castle and the Old Town generally here ... and you can read more about the Castle here. :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oslo Open Houses 2008: the Nobel Institute

So, this weekend a year ago - I know!! - KAS and I went to this Oslo Open Houses thing that apparently isn't happening this year ... how odd. Check out what I wrote in the comments last time I posted about the event, here. I know, it's ages ago. I haven't gotten around to doing the second half of it till now, I should be ashamed of myself. I am too, a little. But better late than never.

The second place we went to that day was the Nobel Institute. This is where the Nobel Committee works and where the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is announced every year. It was cool to get in and see the inside of the building ... some of it we see on TV every so often, but it's so cool to see places like that for real. Although it did feel a bit unreal to be standing around the table where they actually sit to discuss the nominees and decide who gets the Prize ... o_O

The entrance.

The bust of Nobel that stands on the lawn to the right of the entrance.

Ooh, shiny ...

The hall where the Committe's important announcements are made. The press room, I guess. :-)

The table where the discussions happen. o_O (KAS pretty psyched to be there; some random stranger on the way out.)

Some photos of famous Nobel laureates of the past.

Copies of some of the diplomas that are part of the prize. The artwork is unique to each winner.

Of course, it's not all hard work at the Nobel Institute. Sometimes they sit in the sun and relax. :-D

You can see some more pictures from the event here.