Saturday, October 31, 2009

Books I've read in 2009 - October

A Chocolate A Day Keeps the Doctor Away by Ashton/Ashton
På kjøret av Jack Kerouac – AUDIO
The Floating Brothel by Siân Rees
Frp-koden by Magnus E Marsdal
I den skogen by Harlan Coben – AUDIO
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James
The Broken Crown by Michelle West
Sula by Toni Morrison
Maria Q by Cecilie Løveid
Sky på flukt by Muniam Alfaker
Pol Pots leende by Peter Fröberg Idling
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst – AUDIO
Skryt og skrøner by unknown [Baron von Münchausen] – AUDIO
Kjærligheten skjærer dype sår by Helena von Zweigbergk
Hannah's Garden by Midori Snyder
The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper
Den ulende mølleren by Arto Paasilinna

13 printed books, 3,507 pages.
4 audiobooks, 42h 38m.

Favorite fiction:
The von Zweigbergk, I guess. I could hardly put it down ... just like the last book by her that I read. It's interesting, because the main character isn't that ... likeable, or however I should phrase it, but still the whole setting is so gripping, and I can't really put my finger on why. I really recommend these books to anyone who's interested in unusual crime fiction.

Favorite nonfiction:
Frp-koden, definitely ... even though there were other strong contenders too this month. It was so interesting, it really made me think things over and gave me new insight. Also quite well written. Don't know what more one could ask for in a book, really. :-)

Favorite audio:
The Line of Beauty. An interesting 80s retrospective ... convincing and moving. Very well read too IMO.

All the books that don't have links will be reviewed on my book blog shortly.

In other news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Anne Ida!! :-) She is 32 years old on this All Hallow's Eve. (Right? You're 32, right? o_O) I'm going over to her place later to cook her a birthday dinner and give her two birthday presents that I'm really pleased with myself for thinking up. One of them is specially made and I think it's brilliant ... if I do say so myself. ;-) Can't wait to hear what she thinks ... ! :-)

So, I remembered her birthday, but I forgot Raphael's. :-( He was 9 years old on October 20th. I was going to mention it, but I didn't. Alas. He seems not quite heartbroken. But still, I was going to mention it. My little grouch. Just look at him posing so uncomfortably there ...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Herman climbing and falling

I spent a lot of time outside with the turtles in September ... more time just in that month than in all of the preceding summer, in fact. Or maybe I should say 'summer'. :-) Now though there's no chance I would let them put even their little noses out of doors. Winter is coming. :-) So I'm glad I have all my photos and videos from their lawn adventures to tide me over till next spring.

Here's Herman climbing their favorite tree, and then trying to get out of it, with mixed results. (No, he wasn't hurt in any way. :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Animals at Nordens Ark 2009

Some of the animals we saw at the Nordic Ark this summer.

The last of the Southern pudús ... as I think I mentioned before (??) the Ark's female Pudu puda died this spring, and the calf from last year I guess had already been transferred to another zoo before that happened, so now the male is all alone in his enclosure. :-(

Aww, he's so adorable!! I remember that last year KAS said she wanted a pudú as a pet. I want one too ... !! :-D

Przewalski's horse, Equus caballus przewalski. See anything odd? :-)

Japanese cranes, Grus japonensis, wandering about ...

Along the side of their enclosure there was some info posted ... among other things this photo of how these birds look as hatchlings. Check out the grafitti on the picture; it's in Swedish and it says Adorable! and then there's a little heart. :-D

Wolves, Canis lupus, just after feeding time. Meat? Got meat?

Finnish forest reindeer, Rangifer tarandus fennicus. Impressive antlers on that buck there.

European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris. What a beautiful animal. C. and I were thrilled to see it as this was one of the species we didn't get to see last year.

Yup, got meat!! A young wolverine, Gulo gulo, who'd just 'caught' his dinner.

A Eurasian eagle owl, Bubo bubo. The biggest owl in Europe.

I love animals. :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Places I've been

I was writing a postcard about traveling today - kind of a long story and not important anyway, but I was thinking about traveling. I like to travel. See new places. This map of the world shows the countries I've been to in my life, marked out in blue:

Make yours @

Some of these I've been to more than once. I've been to Sweden and Denmark several times, unsurprisingly; I've been to Greece on four, or is it five, different trips, and I've been to the UK at least eight times. The Netherlands and Germany too, I've been there more than once.

I don't know if that's good or bad. I mean, I know that a lot of people my age have traveled more than this. Especially to places further away ... more countries outside of Europe. So sometimes I think this is really unimpressive. But then I get to thinking about how much the world has changed over the past ... not too many years. I think my mother was 18 years old before she ever left Norway. (Although she could have gone to Sweden once when she was about 8 or 9, but she didn't want to go because she always got so carsick back then, so her parents took her little brother and a neighbor with them instead. :-)

I think that I should just be happy that I have gotten to see all of these places, and just hope to get the chance to visit more strange and wonderful lands in the future. :-)

Any thoughts from teh intarwebs?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rant on stupidity

A pretty much pointless rant into the ether ... but I've just got to say this.

If you've been in Norway and paying any attention to the news the past couple of days, you will have heard the story about the hapless smuggler who got caught getting off the boat from Denmark in Kristiansand on Sunday with 14 ball pythons and 10 leopard geckos taped to his body. And, idiot that he was, a tarantula in his bag that apparently led the customs officers to examine him more thoroughly. Although he must have looked pretty noticeably weird. I do agree with him that it's ridiculous that the reptiles were taken away from him, while he was allowed to keep the spider ... the only animal in the bunch that could actually have done serious harm to a human being. o_O But overall my feelings towards this man are ...

... intense annoyance and significant anger at his incredible stupidity!!! He supposedly is a reptile fan. FUCKWIT!!! What kind of complete & utter dumbass tries to pull off a smuggling operation like this on foot?? on the ferry .... ! and what kind of idiot doesn't consider the implications for a cause that he now alleges he believes in?? This story is EXACTLY the kind of thing that most hinders the progress of that cause. When the media get hold of stories like this, they run with it - everyone hears it - and people get freaked, for which I can't honestly say I entirely blame them, but it's always guaranteed to make things more difficult for the herpetological community as a whole and for our cause. >:-(

Just to make it clear, this guy was smuggling with intent to sell. Ten baby leos of pretty much identical morphs, and more than a dozen ball pythons hatched this summer ... nobody wants that. I mean, no one person. This wasn't for himself, he was going to sell. So this story, as I said, understandably freaks non-reptile people out. OMG there's a black market for dangerous animals!!1! Yeah, there's a black market. These particular animals weren't dangerous, though. But of course there is a black market. There's also a significant number of animals in captivity that are forced to do without proper medical care if they need it ... potentially a hundred thousand animals, at least. Many of them - as readers of this blog will know ;-) - do have access to a vet. But their owners take their pets' lives into their hands every time they make that contact. Animal welfare my shiny metal ass.

This is a really messy rant, sorry ... cases like this one just piss me off so much I can hardly talk about it coherently. It's just one setback after the other for a cause that I really feel strongly about. People like this guy do such a fantastic job of making the herpetological community look bad, it's like they actually set out to do it. Like that's their goal. If this guy really cares about the reptile cause, and he still went out and did this, he must just be incredibly stupid. :-(

I question whether he does cares, since he claims to VG that you can cuddle the geckos like any other pet. Growl. No, you cannot 'cuddle' reptiles like a mammal or a bird. If you think you can, you shouldn't have them.

You can read about the case in Norwegian here and here, and in English in various places ... The Guardian, The Sun, The Australian. Fascinating, I'm sure.

I am of course happy that the animals will not be put to death as they normally would have been, but that the Butterfly Park will take them in instead. But of course that is nothing but blind dumb luck. Maybe one small advantage of the media attention.

Rant over, thank you for listening.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I don't approve of paparazzi stalking celebrities - far from it, I think it's disgusting and that there should be some legal restrictions on that sort of activity - and I generally don't think it's healthy that people are so eager to see the pictures that result. *cough* Can you spot the key word in that paragraph ... ?

Because of course while I am uninterested in most celebrities, I don't always live up to my own standards. Because while paparazzi stalkers are bad people, without at least some photographers wasting their talent (such as it is), I wouldn't get to see pictures like this one.

Yup, it's a dilemma alright. o_O

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quote of the Week

Nothing is so easy as to deceive oneself; for what we wish, we readily believe.

And what an excellent example of just that we can see unfolding even as we speak - world class idiot Jan Guillou trying to explain away what is in fact high treason. I am deeply disgusted by these events. I don't believe in capital punishment, but I do feel that in certain situations, high treason can and must be punished that severely. No, I'm not at all advocating that for Guillou. Certainly not. But what he has done, be it however many years ago, is what it is, and I find it absolutely repulsive that he can even think of trying to make light of it as he is doing. He is a traitor to his country. I already knew that he's an idiot on a number of levels, and that he's a complete & total attention whore who will do & say pretty much anything to get in the papers. But this is unbelievably low. To do what he's done is bad enough. But to pretend that it's no big deal ... ??

Jan Guillou has committed high treason and is not even man enough to admit to it. Disgraceful in every way.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nothing but good news?

Well, mostly good, anyway. Mostly very good. First things first - as I mentioned yesterday, I'm back at work. At very short notice - my boss asked for a meeting on Tuesday, we did that on Thursday at 10am, and Friday at 7:30am I was back at work. o_O I know, happy happy ... but to be honest I'm not really that happy about it, I would actually have preferred to stay in school, finish my course. I was just starting to really learn something. And it was such short notice ... one day I'm thinking that it's totally in the blue, and the next day it's 'start tomorrow'. I was really geared towards the course now. So it's not the happy transition it might have been. >:-(

But, well, it's relatively good news. And I hadn't forgotten anything, everything came right back to me. Our computer system is not intuitive at any level, you just have to learn it, and I guess I really have ... I hadn't forgotten a thing in 3 months +. :-) Everyone was so happy to see me ... O. especially (have I mentioned him before? yes, I know I have :-) - he stopped in his tracks several times during the day and just looked at me and said It's so fantastic that you're back!! And apparently an 'incredible number' of customers have been asking for me. So that was nice to hear.

I'm not resting entirely easy, though ... I can't go into that in as public a forum as this, there are some confidential details and things, but, well, we'll just have to see what happens. I've got my strategy laid out, and we'll just have to see.

But I had a good day at work, and it got even better when I came home. In the mailbox there was a letter from the vet - Herman's test result, finally. The infection was nothing more than what the vet originally diagnosed and which, of course, I've already treated him for. :-) And it does look much better now, it's pretty much gone. What's left is kind of a scar, if that makes sense. So he's doing fine and doesn't need any more treatment. Aw, my special little guy!! Just what I wanted to hear. :-)

Then at 5:30 KAS, trilltrall and Anne Ida came over - we had a hot dog party and then played my latest board game acquisition, Carcassonne: New World. I bought it on the 14th as a present for myself. :-) It was pretty cool once we figured out how to work the twist that they've introduced into this edition. I won, even ... I lagged behind for a long time, but when push came to shove my trappers won the day for me. :-) Thanks, guys, it was great - hot dog party ftw ... !! :-D

My little green trapper, struggling to make it in the wilderness ...

This would have been a good enough day in itself. More than good enough. :-) But you haven't heard it all.

When I was on the bus going home from work my mother called. She'd talked to her doctor. She had some tests done on Tuesday, they did a serious head scan where she had to ... be injected, I guess, with some kind of contrast fluid and wait around for hours till it had been distributed around the system, then lie in the machine for 45 minutes without moving a muscle. She has a cough right now and she was so worried that she'd start coughing and they'd have to start all over again ... but she didn't and it all went swimmingly. Her doctor - not the GP, but the specialist - had told her to let her know when she'd had the test, because then she - the doctor :-) - could start badgering them for results and hopefully we'd hear back quicker. That was nice of her, but we still thought it would take, what, weeks, probably, to get the results. But I guess the Norwegian health care system isn't as run down and inefficient as people say >:-) because the results came back on Friday - yesterday - ie in only three days. And this is my main piece of good news.

My mother does NOT have Parkinson's disease.

Happy happy, joy joy ... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-D

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to the grind

Well, I'm back at work. First day back today. Weird. I have mixed feelings. But I don't really care right now, because this has been such a wonderful day. I'm rolling in good news. :-) More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

ICELAND 2005: Selma - If I Had Your Love

This is my favorite Icelandic entry ever. I dig this song. It's one of the 2005 entries I listen to the most. Maybe my ... #2 favorite from that year. :-) It's catchy, it has a great beat, and I really like her voice. Selma Björnsdóttir has participated in the ESC twice, the first time was in 1999 when the song she competed with, All Out of Luck, was one of the top favorites but was beaten by the Swedish entry, Take Me To Your Heaven, the last ABBA ripoff to make it big in the contest. (But she did come second, which was Iceland's best ESC result until this year ... and actually still is, because they came second in Moscow too. :-) In Kyiv in 2005 Selma returned with this song, yet another big favorite. She was tipped as the winner all over the place. I personally was convinced that Iceland would kick ass that year. Not that they'd win ... I was thinking Malta to win that year, although I would have preferred Hungary, but I was really worried about Greece since they had a song I didn't like at all but were sure to do very well with ... and, indeed, they won. >:-( But where was I.

Oh yes, Selma &co. were favorites to win with this entry. Everyone thought they would do so well. So of course Europe was shocked!! to see it get beaten out in the semi. :-o This fantastic song ended up getting the worst result ever for Iceland. V. sad. I blame it on three things: First of all my theory that songs that are too professional generally don't do well. Songs that are too slick, too overproduced ... that's not really what the ESC audience wants. The voting audience usually wants something with more personal charm (like our little hobbit this year :-). Second, this song may have been too good ... in the sense that people thought that everyone's gonna vote for this, so I don't have to, it'll do so well anyway. But if everyone thinks like that, well, that's not good for that entry that everyone likes. :-)

The third reason, and I realize I sound totally shallow in saying this, I think was her outfit. I know!! But I really think her stage costume screwed this song over. I was really looking forward to seeing this in the semi, but as soon as I saw her on stage I was sitting there thinking ... WTF??! What the hell is she wearing?? And trust me, I am not fashion conscious. But that was just too weird.

Don't take my word for it, though, see for yourselves. :-) This is Selma performing If I Had Your Love, composed by Þorvaldur Bjarni Þorvaldsson & Vignir Snær Vigfusson and with lyrics by Selma herself, cowritten with Linda Thompson. This intrepid foursome competed for Iceland in Kyiv's Palace of Sports on Thursday, May 19th, 2005.

Lyrics here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I vote for making today ...

'National Snooping Day'. Den nasjonale snokedagen. Isn't that a great idea? We can make it a holiday, maybe swap it for one of the Christian ones ... so many people spend the whole day snooping in other people's tax records that it's wasted as a working day anyway. >:-)

Explanation for foreign readers: Everyone's tax records (except the royal family's, I think? those members who pay taxes, anyway) is a matter of public record in this country. Supposedly it's so important for transparency and what not. But I think it's mostly used to see what celebrities and your neighbors make. ;-) It's actually pretty creepy sometimes - in online debates people will suddenly bring this up, if it's even vaguely relevant to the matter being discussed ... ie, you see people throwing it in others' faces that 'obviously you would think so because like your typical socialist you've got nothing in your bank account to worry about' and things like that. In all directions. It's never happened to me, but I've seen it lots of times. Ridiculous IMO.

I'm proud to say that I've never used this search function even once. :-)

Anyway, in honor of National Snooping Day, and since I coincidentally posted (?) my 100th tweet yesterday, here's a very informational video on how parents of grown children can stalk their offspring online.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Warsaw 2009: Downtown

We passed through the downtown area a number of times, several times a day in fact ... our hotel (centrally located :-) was sort of on the wrong side relative to most of what we wanted to see. :-) But Warsaw is an easy city to make your way around in - the public transport system is wonderful, with lots of streetcars and buses. There's also a metro covering part of the city. We used the streetcar mostly. I love watching a strange city go by through the window of a moving streetcar or bus ... it makes me feel I'm getting to know the place a little. :-)

These are some of the pictures I took from around the city center.

The Palace of Culture, and a streetcar, on a foggy day.

The Palace of Culture by night. One of my previous Warsaw posts has more pictures of the Palace; look here.

The Muzeum Narodowe, ie, the National Museum. It houses a collection of various art treasures from different periods. The most impressive things we saw there were the enormous paintings by Jan Matejko ... these were kept concealed from the Nazis during WWII, so that they never left Poland, in fact AFAIK never left the city. That sounded reasonable when I read about it in the guide book, but when I saw the paintings ... !! o_O The biggest one of them is bigger than my living room. And I'm not exaggerating. It's deeply impressive to me that they managed to conceal and preserve these priceless treasures for years under such horrible conditions.

A peculiar building along a street that we passed daily. I don't remember what it was now ... if I ever knew. And looking at it I really can't begin to guess. :-D

And if only I could remember what this building was ... !! We were told what it was like three times but immediately forgot it every time. :-D It's something important, anyway, as I'm sure you can tell. ;-)

My mother outside the famous Fotoplastikon ... of which I had never heard before our visit. :-) But it was pretty cool though, I'm glad we went to see it. And the price was unbeatable. :-) Unfortunately all the pictures I took inside totally suck ... but we both really liked this old water fount set in the wall outside the entrance. Fancy. :-) There are a couple of interior shots on the site I linked to if you're curious.

There were several fancy-looking multiplexes, and we did want to go to a movie, but because the Poles dub all foreign movies it would have been pointless. :-( That's something we Scandinavians aren't used to; only movies for children are dubbed here. If you come to Oslo, or any other Norwegian city or town big enough to have a movie theater, you can safely go to any movie screening except the most babyish ones ... they'll only be subtitled. If you're here in the summer and there's a big Norwegian blockbuster on (such as they are ;-) you may be in luck and it may be subtitled in English for your viewing pleasure. :-)

In the courtyard of a random apartment building.

Many buildings were beautifully lit after dark ... and there were lots of billboards and other ads all over the place. Not very Eastern bloc to my eyes. :-) I wished I could have gone to see Coraline, but again, pointless.

One of the main streets crossing the main square, close to the main railway station, and one of the biggest malls in the city. And of course people waiting for the streetcar. :-)

To see the rest of my shots from downtown Warsaw, go here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

KeanuLOL w/o picture

This is in really bad taste but really funny too. On Wednesday I watched a documentary on TV about Billy Robbins, the world's fattest teenager. Poor bastard. His mother ought to be locked up, I can't believe someone would do that to their own child. >:-( But that's not what this post is about.

The fat kid went through some surgical procedures in order to make him less grotesquely fat. The first operation was to remove this ... I don't know ... giant bag of flab from his stomach. They cut it off - and I just have to point out that the kid was completely under when the following happened, so he didn't hear it - and then they weighed it to see how much of his more than 800 pounds they had now succeeded in removing. They put the whole thing in a plastic bag and then on the scale. The picture just showed the scale with the bag on it and three or four pairs of legs standing around it. Someone said from the background, How much is it? One of the people by the scale said Sixty-nine pounds. I think someone else kind of echoed, Wow, sixty-nine pounds. And then one member of the medical staff said, clearly audible from out of frame, Sixty-nine, dude!!!

I know, what awfully bad taste. But bwahahahahaha!!!! zomg rotfl :-D

I bet any Norwegian person reading this can guess which channel this documentary was shown on. >:-)

In other news, I watched Psychoville on Friday night. Finally had the time to hog Anne Ida's TV set for three hours. :-) We really enjoyed it, it was great ... we were impressed with the guys, they'd done a fantastic job. At least that's what we thought up until the ending, which was ... disappointing. Unfortunately. I really hope they will make a second series and 'save' it that way.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quote of the Week

I don't normally quote the bible on this blog, but this is just too good to pass up. Check out this tattoo:

The guy who's got this is friends with some other guy who's one of the perps behind a brutal attack on a gay man. In case you have problems reading it, it's the quote from Leviticus which famously says that you shouldn't 'lie with a man as you would with a woman' (but for all you anal sex fans out there, there is fortunately nothing in the book that says you can't lie with a woman as you would with a man ;-). Now that is amazingly ironic. Fantastic.

Ironic because it's in chapter 18 in Leviticus that it says you can't have gay sex, and then in chapter 19 it says that you're not allowed to get tattooed. :-D As I say: Fantastic.

Thanks to Findabair for the tip!! :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Egypt 2008: Alexandria - Kom el Shoqafa

October 12th.

The first place we visited upon arriving in Alexandria was a place I for my part had never heard about before I got to Egypt. Shame on me, I guess. The catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa - an underground necropolis that was in use from the 2nd through the 4th century AD, and then, upon becoming disused, was lost to human knowledge before being rediscovered in supposedly a rather surprising way in 1900.

Because of the specific period in which this burial site was being used, it is unusual in its iconography; a confluence point for many cultural influences. There is evidence of the Pharaonic funeral cult, but there are also very strong Hellenistic influences, as well as early Imperial Roman stylistic features. It's quite amazing - you'll see Egyptian statues, for instance, that wear Roman clothes. :-) The styles are blended in many ways. A very special sight.

The history of the catacombs is somewhat unclear. It's believed that it was originally constructed as a burial site for only one family - a very rich and powerful one, of course. :-) Eventually it was expanded to also make room for other families. There are a lot of chambers in this underground labyrinth, and graves of various sizes. Some are very elaborate and others much simpler. There are also rooms where living family members could assemble to celebrate their lost loved ones, and of course the place was set up for divine worship.

As I said, the catacombs were forgotten for many centuries. They were rediscovered supposedly by accident many many years after they had fallen out of use. The name of the place, Kom el Shoqafa, means 'potshards', and the circumstances of rediscovery were in a way what gave it this name. Basically the area became a landfill ... when the site was an active necropolis, those visiting the graves would bring gifts to the deceased, often food, in terracotta and other clay containers, which they then would not want to be bothered carrying back home, since they'd be empty. So a kind of dump developed on the site. Later, no one remembered what was underground, and it was to them just a mound of potshards. :-) The 'official' story of the discovery goes like this: One day in late September 1900 a man was passing across this dump with his donkey, and was quite startled when the animal suddenly fell into a hole in the ground. In the process of extracting his four-legged friend he realized that this wasn't just any dinky little hole ... this was some serious shit right here. :-) He alerted others to his discovery, and the rest is history. In reality, excavations had been ongoing on the site for some years, but they hadn't found anything until the fall of 1900. As you can imagine, archaeologists worldwide were very excited when news broke that the excavations had finally begun to yield results.

On many lists of great wonders of the medieval world, Kom el Shoqafa is named as one of the seven. It has only been open to the public since 1995, since there's been a lot of problems with water in the lower levels.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from inside the catacombs, as we weren't allowed to take any there. I've just got a few from the outside - they have some statues and sarcophagi and things on display there. But keep reading ...

The entrance gate. It looks deceptively humble.

A closer view ...

Officers from the tourist police guard the entrance, of course. But they were relaxing in the shade when we arrived. :-)

Some of the sarcophagi ... which have been used as coffins at some points and as bathtubs at others. :-D *

Another coffin. *

Statues and pillars are among the other artifacts on display outside, or rather above, the necropolis. *

A bit of the lovely little park that surrounds the display area of the site.

CH taking some pictures.

If you want to see some pictures of the interior, and also read some more about Kom el Shoqafa, you can go here.

The photos in this post marked with an asterisk are by CH, the others are by me. :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's wrong with people?

Or to be more specific, what is wrong with the way people think? I'm quite often confounded by the way something seems obvious to me, yet others - many others - perceive the same thing in a different way, and are then upset and/or even angered by this incorrect view. I wonder if there is any way in which this can be remedied ... eg, via the education system. Should we as a society be educating our children in logic and deduction?

For instance, there was the infamous hijab debate. Any Norwegians reading this, I'm sure you remember that kerfuffle ... and any foreigners who don't remember it, Google is as always your friend. ;-) (If you follow the label 'rant' under this blog post you will probably find some of my previous thoughts on the subject, too. ;-) People were all up in arms about it, and the debate raged for weeks. But it was mostly based on a false assumption. All these women who were talking about how they were being discriminated against and how it was so terribly unfair that the hijab was banned for police officers ... they were so totally missing the point that it was really confusing. Because to me it was so obvious.

The hijab isn't banned on the police force. Far from it. No headgear is banned. The point is that there is a certain uniform that is mandatory in that profession, and the wearing of this mandatory uniform means that there are a number of other things that the wearer cannot also wear at the same time. Eg, the uniform includes a cap, and therefore one cannot wear a hijab, a turban, a baseball cap, etc while in uniform. The uniform includes trousers, and therefore one cannot wear bermuda shorts while in uniform. That is a completely different principle from what we actually discussed in the hijab debate.

Now there's another similar issue. There's a new law in the works in this country which will make it more difficult for Norwegian citizens to bring spouses with foreign citizenship to this country. Or, rather, not foreigners, but people from outside the Schengen area. We already have a system where you have to prove that you can support the person you want to import ... now they want to establish a new rule which will mean that you will have to have been either working or studying for at least four years before you can import someone. You start 'working up credit' in this system when you start in our high school equivalent.

Of course the critics - more or less the usual suspects - have popped out of the woodwork. They don't like this because it's an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of the individual and bla bla bla. But again, there's this ... mental malfunction. They look at the issue from this totally weird angle which is so obviously wrong. The argument goes, Why does the government want to deny us the right to marry whoever we want? And that's just ... I mean, what?

No one's denying anyone the right to marry whoever they want. That would be something of an intrusion, if it were true. But it absolutely isn't. Everyone has, and should have, the right to marry the partner of their choice. However, not everyone automatically has the right to come live in Norway just because they want to. And why should they? If a Norwegian citizen marries a foreigner, why is it that they must live here? If some Norwegian-Pakistani girl is so desperate to marry her second cousin from the boondocks, then what on earth is stopping her from going to Pakistan to be with him? If it's true love, then why can't they wait until they meet the requirements? And in any case, the requirements are so mild. Regular high school + one year either at college or university or working, and you're done. With normal progression, by the time you're 19, you'll be set. Still too young for most people to marry, IMO, but they'll be able to. And let's face it, any Norwegian citizen who marries before they're 18 is a Near or Middle Eastern immigrant who is being either forced to marry or has had it 'arranged' for them (often just a more subtle form of force). And for them, this can only be good news.

Why is it a problem that people are getting the wrong end of the stick like this? Because it skews the entire debate. How are we going to get anywhere if we start off from the wrong - in fact, from non-existent - premises?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It'sss my birthday

Yes, today's my birthday, I'm 33 years old today. Here's something that means that I'm really grown up now: A couple of days ago I was thinking about my birthday, and how I haven't really been much concerned with it this year ... another side effect of all the free time, I think; like how weekends lose their meaning when you have all week off anyway. I was thinking about how old I was going to be this year, and for a while I had myself convinced that I would be 34. o_O Then I started thinking, No, that doesn't sound right ... and I did a little math, 2009-1976=33. Oh, right.

So, that's how you know you're a grownup - when you need to count back to the year you were born to figure out how old you are. :-D

It's been a pretty good day, nothing spectacular, but what do you expect on a Wednesday. :-) School was good ... today was the first day of class where we actually learned something. So that's a good thing. I think I'm going to like this course. I certainly like our primary teacher (who we met for the first time today) a lot. He's about my father's age, and as far as I can tell at this point he's a very good teacher. There's only about 15 students in the class so it's a pretty good learning environment ... except for the couple of random idiots who I hope will drop out soon. (Especially one, on whom probably more later. >:-) After class I went out to have dinner with my best friend C. at the latest reincarnation of my favorite Lebanese restaurant, and then we did a little bit of shopping afterwards. Thanks for spending the afternoon with me, C. :-) And thanks for my presents! Another book and another turtle figurine, that's exactly what I needed. Just like I'm sure you needed more DVDs. ;-)

Now I'm at home and one of my current TV favorites, The Mentalist, is on. So I'm relaxing in my comfy chair with the incomparable Patrick Jane ... and with a few presents waiting to be opened, of course. :-) And I've gotten so many text messages today. Aw. Oh, and miketroll started a thread on the BookCrossing forum to wish me happy birthday!! That is too sweet! Normally he hangs out in the Chit-Chat forum mostly, but since I so rarely go there he came to the Scandinavian forum to say it. :-) And he also sent me a book last week. BookCrossers are the best. :-)

But bloggers are wonderful people too. The first person to wish me happy birthday this year was Paz ... really late at night yesterday. :-D He was kind enough to send me an email informing me, among other things, that 33 is the chemical symbol of arsenic. Thank you, I really appreciated that. ;-)

Ooh, and here's something pretty crazy: One year ago today, I was in Egypt. o_O I seriously cannot believe it's been a whole year since that trip.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oslo Reptilpark again

And this time, moving images. :-) These are the videos I mentioned in my previous post about the park. I had planned to just make one, but there was a bit too much footage and I wanted to use it all ... so since the park is over two floors in the building I made one video from each floor. They're not all that good, since I wasn't really there to film but mainly because the girls wanted to go there ... but it does show a lot of the animals and you get an impression of the place. Enjoy. :-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Too much spare time ...

... is bad for you. As proof of this I submit the following. I was playing around at BigHugeLabs the other day, and look what I made! How utterly useless! :-D

(Click to enlarge, otherwise you won't really see what this is exactly. I mean, apart from the obvious. :-)

Someone please give me a job ... !!

But it isn't actually as bad as it sounds. I'm trying to make good use of all this free time, so I'm going back to school, more or less ... I'm going to take a course to learn some useful skills, trying to build on some of the things I already do anyway in my current job but don't have any formal knowledge of. Started today. Here's hoping I can keep up. But judging by at least the majority of my classmates I don't think that ought to be a problem. >:-)

In other news, my decoder problem has been sorted out. trilltrall fixed it as I knew he would. :-) Thank you, I so appreciate it!! I've got a can of Ubuntu Cola here with your name on it ... ;-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quote of the Week

I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A man does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards, but when I was notified that I had won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Mr de Klerk, I was deeply moved. The Nobel Peace Prize had a special meaning to me because of its involvement with South African history. [...] The award was a tribute to all South Africans and especially to those who fought in the struggle; I would accept it on their behalf.
Nelson Mandela

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Nobel bitching

Sorry, I just can't let this go yet.

The more I read about this shit the more annoyed I get. (So, stop reading about it. Yeah, I'll try.) WTF were they thinking?? Thorbjørn Jagland is a real piece of work. I really want to like that guy, but he's doing everything he can to make that damn near impossible. It's like whenever he opens his mouth some new dumbassery comes out of it, and every time it's stupider than the last. Argh. I really hope it isn't true that a nation gets the politicians it deserves. At least now the EU will be taking him off our hands mostly. I couldn't believe what he was saying on the news tonight about how there's no conceivable conflict whatsoever between being head of the Nobel Committe and Secretary General of the Council of Europe. I mean, seriously ... you've gotta be pretty full of yourself to manage to think that. o_O

Anyway. Next year, I think that I should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I feel that I am a worthy candidate, as I also am not George W Bush. As far as I can tell, this seems to be the main criterion on which this year's choice was based, so why not, I ask you. But seriously: What I feel first and foremost about this is anger at the Committee and pity for Obama. I really do pity the guy. Kinda funny: I tweeted that I pitied him because there's no way he could possibly feel that he deserves this ... and like two hours later the guy comes out on the White House lawn and says I don't deserve this. It would be funny if it wasn't so embarrassing.

It's like the Committee is actually actively trying to make the Peace Prize irrelevant. Which is incredibly sad ... but that's what this choice is going to mean. It is so blatantly obvious that Barack Obama does not deserve this award. They're saying that they chose him because of his 'efforts' to strengthen diplomacy and cooperation. But 'effort' isn't the same as 'achievement', and the Peace Prize is set up specifially to award achievement. 'Effort' means 'talk' ... and sure, Obama does talk. But talk is cheap and essentially means nothing. Yes, he's given the world new hope for a new direction and a better US. But isn't that something that even a goldfish could have managed after GWB?? Yes, he talks a lot about wanting to do good things for the US. But he's their president, that's his job!! That's not something he deserves an award for. He talks about wanting to do good things for the world. But so far all he's done is talk. Talk, talk, talk. It sounds good but it does not equate to actual achievement!

The Nobel Committe look like they're sucking up to the American president, don't they? And isn't that embarrassing for both them and him? Yes. Yesterday and today there's been all this talk about how they see him as an obviously worthy candidate and these are the reasons, yada yada. But it all just boils down to this cringe-inducing sycophancy. And it's the Prize that has to suffer for it. So fucking what if they admire his ideas and his visions for the world? This has nothing to do with the terms of Nobel's will. The Committee has chosen strategically this year, they have chosen politically, and that is not their place. The result of this type of candidate selection will be that the Prize will be more and more sidelined. :-( Barack Obama is being awarded on expectations and not achievements ... that is not at all what Nobel wanted and for Norway this is embarrassing and harmful to our standing in the world. Basically this year's choice is Obama because Jagland thinks he's so cool and wants to shake his hand, and it would be so great if they could be buddies. Or to phrase it less flippantly: The Committee want to be an active political force, and that is what they think they will achieve by this choice. But that is, by my interpretation at least, in direct contradiction to the terms of the will. IMO it's nothing short of a disgrace.

Another thing that I really resent is that now he will apparently come here in person to accept the Prize. Argh. I really think that Oslo PD have better things to do with their time and resources than to waste them protecting the American president. The Americans can take care of that themselves if it's so important ... it's not our fault if everyone hates them. >:-( I do realize that I'm sounding rather petty saying this, but I really resent my tax money being spent on security for Obama. (When we ought to spend it on hiring some snipers in Brussels to take out ... no, don't listen to me, it's getting late. Sheesh, what am I saying. >:-)

Nobel's Peace Prize has been a force to be reckoned with on the international stage for many years. Many deserving men and women have been honored with this prestigious award - such as, to name but two, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. Awarding it at this point to Barack Obama is an insult to the president ... but worse, it is also an insult to Mandela and Dr King and the other worthy laureates, and not least a tremendous insult to Alfred Nobel, who I'm sure must be spinning in his grave right now.

There were 205 nominees for the Prize this year, 172 individuals and 33 organizations. Jagland claims he can't think of anyone who can be said to have done more to deserve the Prize than Obama. Are you fucking kidding me??! If among 205 nominees they really truly cannot find one single person who is more deserving than Barack Obama, then it's time to close this show down for good. Seriously.

I say call Obama back and say that we've screwed up the paperwork ... then give the Prize to Morgan Tsvangirai. Him we'll be able to keep perfectly safe at a fraction of the cost, and, guess what, he has actually accomplished something. Would you look at that. Sorry, Barack, come back in five years.

Alfred Nobel gave the Peace Prize to Norway because he believed that in our hands it would be safe from political machinations and corruption. Well, we've had a good run, but nothing lasts forever. Mr Nobel, if something of you is out there, I apologize on my country's behalf. Right now I'm ashamed to be Norwegian.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Barack Obama WTF??!

Respect for Nobel Committee and very prestigious award fading, fading ...

Nobel laureate Barack Obama??! WTF is that about?? When I checked the news this morning I almost thought it must be April 1st. Cause this sounds like a joke. >:-(

If they are so determined to suck up to the Americans as they appear to be, why not give Obama the literature prize?? (That's a rhetorical question, I already know why not, so don't answer.) Because as it is they're basically giving him the Peace Prize for his speeches. The guy hasn't done jack shit.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against Obama ... in fact I like the guy. But he hasn't done anything!! In some years he may come to deserve the prize. But he sure as hell doesn't deserve it now. All he's done is talk. I want to run for office too, and I'll tell people that I'm going to do all kinds of great stuff and then they'll give me the Peace Prize too. Right? >:-(

The nominees for the Prize must be submitted by February 1st, so that means Obama was nominated after 11 days in office. That is a joke. At least they could have waited till he'd completed his first term.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oslo Reptilpark

Have I ever mentioned that there is a zoo here in Oslo? I mean, to those of you who aren't from around here and don't already know it. :-) Well, there is ... but rather a small and modest one. IMO it's kind of a disgrace that we don't have anything more than that, considering that this is the capital. And also, considering that this is a very important harbor in this country, and has been for many centuries, and on top of that is being profiled as the 'fjord city', it's a disgrace that we don't have an aquarium. I mean, they have one in Ålesund, for pete's sake. We really ought to have one in Oslo. But now that the harbor's being redone we're supposed to be getting one. That whole area will look completely different in five years' time ... and one of the changes is that they're going to build an Oslo Aquarium. So, fingers crossed. :-) But where was I ...

OK, we have a zoo. And for me it's the best kind of zoo we could have - a reptile park. :-D I'm always interested in the reptile sections in any zoo I visit ... partly because I'm into reptiles personally, and partly because reptiles are among the easiest animals to care for in captivity. They have low intelligence and specific physical requirements. Ie, they need such and such types and amounts of food, a certain temperature, access to things like water to swim in, branches to climb or sand or earth to dig in, etc ... and they don't need to be intellectually challenged like birds and many mammals. So when zoos have reptiles, they are very often animals that are well cared for and comfortable in their habitat. That's a big reason why I enjoy seeing them ... unlike big mammals and large birds, for instance; they are often frustrated by captivity. But reptiles are generally too stupid to care. :-D

This afternoon I went to the reptile park with my secret cousin's eldest daughters and a friend of theirs - they're visiting my parents during their fall break. And what a surprise, my mother didn't want to take them to a place with snakes ... actually a very good thing that she wasn't with us, because we got to hold one of the snakes, and I think my mother would have passed out before it got to be her turn. ;-) In today's post I will share the best pictures I took today.

To find out more about Oslo Reptilpark, visit their website here. They have almost 80 animals on exhibit - snakes, turtles, lizards, insects, frogs, toads, fish, a caiman and even a macaw parrot. :-) They're open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-6pm; during the summer they're open on Mondays as well. On Tuesdays at 5pm they feed the animals, and you can watch. If you ask nicely you may be allowed to handle some of the animals. Definitely make a stop here if & when you are in Oslo. :-)

One of five tiny green anoles that share their enclosure with Brutus the caiman and the alligator snapper.

A green snake. I didn't think to check what species it was. Snakes aren't my thing. But this one was very pretty. :-)

Two Fiji banded iguanas, Brachylophus fasciatus. The one to the left is almost done shedding its skin, look. :-)

A Mata mata turtle, Chelus fimbriatus. The world's weirdest-looking turtle? I was psyched to see this little critter, I'd never seen one of them in the flesh before and I didn't even know they had it. :-D Sorry about the poor quality of the picture, but it was through glass and water, so it was kind of tricky.

Junior the greenwing macaw, Ara chloropterus.

A Chilean rose, Grammostola rosea.

One Tokay gecko hanging on the wall ... (Gekko gecko, sticky fingers. :-)

A black widow, some Latrodectus species. It is there, look closely in the center of the picture.

Me holding a ball python, Python regius, and the girls slightly shocked in the background. They were all brave enough to hold it though. :-)

Snake poop! :-D

African land snails, some Achatina species or other. These can grow to 20 centimeters (8 inches) in length. OMG squash them squash them!!!1

Some totally adorable little lizards. Really small and so cute piled up like this. :-)

Alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys temminckii, trying to catch some dinner with its baited tongue. Alas, no luck.

A bearded dragon, Pogona vitticeps. They have three of these on display currently ... I took pictures of all of them, but this one posed the best. :-) I'm really happy with this shot, especially considering that it's taken through glass.

Charlie the green iguana, Iguana iguana. Also through glass. Pretty good if I do say so myself. :-)

Tigergutt the Indian rock python, Python molurus biuittatus. He's an albino specimen, obviously. Yuck, albino reptiles creep me out. Sorry, but these things aren't meant to live, knock 'em on the head and get it over with. His name may seem weird, it means 'tiger boy', but it's AA Milne's character Tigger's name in Norwegian, and this species of snake is called tiger python in Norwegian. So that's how he got his name. Doesn't make him any less creepy though. But he is actually AFAIK the largest python in this country. o_O He is going on four meters in length now ... of course that's not very big, since this species can get up to six meters, but on the other hand he is only 12 years old, and could well live to be 100 ... so he still has some time to grow. :-) But of course in the jungle this freak wouldn't have lasted a week. >:-)

I'm making a couple of videos from the visit as well, they'll be coming up later at some point. :-) And you can see the rest of my photos (except the really shitty ones ;-) here.