Monday, August 31, 2009

New stuff

I got some new stuff this weekend. On the trip to Nordens Ark, we stopped by Nordby mall on the way back. There were soo many Norwegians there ... ! More Norwegians than Swedes. I guess that shouldn't surprise me, really. But still. Anyway. One of the stores we went to was a DVD store. They had so much stuff ... !! I could have spent WAY too much money there easily. But I managed to restrain myself. Mostly. Look what I found ... !!

When the price is right and so on ... and since it's in Swedish crowns it was even cheaper than it looks. Yay. :-)

And then on Sunday there was the annual Open day in Bjørvika - they let people walk through the new tunnel, coolness!! - and among other things, the Water and Sewage Works were there giving away ... water bottles!! :-o Remember that I lost mine, it disappeared mysteriously at work? KAS lost hers too, trilltrall forgot it at the gym. We've really been missing them, they were great water bottles. But now look what we've got ... !! :-D

Happy happy, joy joy!! :-D

Books I've read in 2009 - August

En såkalt drittjobb by Lotta Elstad
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Hemma hos Martina by Martina Haag
Linda - som i Lindamordet by Leif GW Persson AUDIO
Tatt av kvinnen by Erlend Loe
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë AUDIO
Meningen med livet by Bradley Trevor Greive
The Island by Peter Benchley
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
Dette visste vi ikke noe om! by Peter Longerich
Pemberley Shades by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt
Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
Don’t Smell the Balloons by Stewart Clark
Madonna-gåten by Nærum/Botterli/Udnæs
En plutselig frigjørende tanke by Kjell Askildsen AUDIO

15 printed books, 3,829 pages.
3 audiobooks, 32h 26m.

Best fiction:
Pemberley Shades ... because it's always such a relief to come across a Pride & Prejudice sequel that is actually genuinely good. This one was also a very interesting read because it's so old ... it was first published in 1913. o_O Well worth reading, and not just for Austen fans.

Best nonfiction:
Dette visste vi ikke noe om! - the result of an examination of a great many sources from the 1930s and early 1940s, which shows that the German people of the Third Reich were not all burning anti-Semites, but on the contrary felt not a little compassion for the suffering of the Jews; that they were surprisingly well-informed about the scope and intention of the Nazi persecutions; and, not least, gives tremendous insight into exactly why the regime was able to carry out these persecutions in the face of what ought to have been public opposition. I learned so much from this book.

Best audio:
Jane Eyre. A total classic of course, but actually the first time I'd read the entire thing. Since I already knew the plot so well it's pretty impressive that I was still very moved by the story of the unfortunate but plucky young orphan. Well read too by some woman whose name I don't remember.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quote of the Week

He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; he that dares not reason is a slave.
William Drummond

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guess where I've been today!

Wheeee!! :-D

Yes, to that wonderful place Nordens Ark again. Does anyone remember that C. and KAS and trilltrall and I went there last summer? Today it was C. and Anne Ida and I who went. We saw so many amazing animals ... !! Like ...

... Siberian tiger Uri relaxing in the shade ...

... his future mate Sparta checking out some stupid twolegs whistling to get her attention ... no idea who those chicks were *cough* ...

... a wolf who'd just gotten a bite to eat ...

... two Emys orbicularis basking under their sun lamp ...

... more adorable salamanders ...

... a wolverine working for his dinner ...

... and ... can you spot what we saw here??

No prizes for guessing that in the reptile house, I did it again. Shame on me, etc. But they're just so cute ... !!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bookcrossing in Berlin

Check out this article from Aftenposten earlier this month (click to enlarge):

It's about a non-official BookCrossing zone in Berlin, where you can leave and pick up books from the hollowed out trunks of the trees you see in the picture. What a great idea. I'd love to see that one day. The article's in Norwegian, obviously; I tried googling around a bit but all I could find in English was pretty much this. Weird. I may be doing the wrong searches, I guess. But it's a great idea, anyway. :-)

Thank you so much to my friends KAS and trilltrall for clipping and saving the article for me while I was on vacation!! It's so appreciated, thank you so much. :-)

In other news, Tronsmo are having their annual backyard sale this weekend. It rocks, check it out if you're in Oslo. More info on my book blog, here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Open letter to Lars Peder Brekk ...

SHUT THEM DOWN.

I seriously don't know why we're even having the debate.

FYI for the non-Norwegians among us: Lars Peder Brekk is our Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and 'they' are the ... I think 330 fur farmers in this country. Last week, Dagsrevyen went public with a series of images taken by animal rights activists - who I normally have little to no respect for, but this time it seems they've done something worthwhile - during their illicit visits to 45 fur farms across the country. (Here's hoping that the pictures and videos really are from a number of farms and not just one like last time.) This is not the first time conditions like these have been documented. The industry have been told time and again to get their act together, but nothing seems to happen. This is quite awkward for the government - and during the election campaign too!! >:-) - since the FA presented a report not too long ago saying that basically everything was fine in the fur industry in this country. Obviously not true by a long shot. You can see the Dagsrevyen report online here, but I warn you, there are some very strong images. Like, animals with legs chewed off and the wounds left untended. I'm not kidding.

Some articles, in Norwegian.

The debate now is about what should be done. Brekk says that the industry is teetering on a knife's edge now, this is their very last chance, etc. Activists and also some politicians - and, thankfully, the Veterinarians' Association - want to just shut it all down, the whole industry. You already know where I stand.

IMO the whole debate is misguided. What we're discussing now is how the farms should be set up in order for the animals to be treated ethically, what kind of guidelines the authorities should provide, etc. I don't understand why we're discussing these details. What the debate should be about is something far more fundamental - whether or not it is in fact possible at all to run fur farms in a way that does not automatically entail unacceptable levels of pain and stress for these animals.

I obviously believe that this is not possible. I firmly believe that this industry in and of itself is unethical, that it cannot possibly be run in a way that makes it ethical.

I also believe that developments on this issue in Italy provide all necessary evidence to support my belief.

I say Brekk should do not only what he's threatening - withdraw all financial support from the fur farm industry - but the government of which he is part should also make this disgusting excuse for a business illegal. The sooner the better. Letting the industry die on its own would be a good thing, but killing it swiftly would be even better. Although a death by slow torture is obviously what these so-called farmers understand best. >:-(

I am deeply disgusted by the fact that my tax money is being used to fund this systemic and entirely unnecessary cruelty to animals. If you are too, contact your MP or, even better, Secretary Brekk himself. He can be contacted via email at postmottak@lmd.dep.no or by phone at 22 24 91 00.

And as for the fur farmers, they should be ashamed of themselves. I don't know how they have the stomach to even try to argue their case. They basically have no arguments whatsoever. The only one that holds even a drop of water is that the industry provides jobs in rural areas. But seriously, so what? What kind of logic is that? Should the state have spent our tax money all these years to keep the cannonball factories in business, because they provided jobs in rural areas?

Fuck that shit. SHUT THEM DOWN.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back home ...

... and staying up way past my bedtime ... (It's not really ten to midnight. ;-)

Did I say that I wasn't going to take 2,500 photos and videos in one week? Well, I didn't. Only about 1,950 in a week and a half. So there.

Some of the shots were really cool though, like this one:

Ooh. :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

As it is in London ...

... so it is in Warsaw. I can't believe I've forgotten to post this picture. One of the reasons why it's such a great idea to always hold your camera ready in your hand at all times. ;-) We were on a streetcar and I suddenly saw this billboard flash by outside. OMG OMG i have to take a picture!!!1!

This picture was taken back in March, obviously.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quote of the Week

When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life.
Sigmund Freud

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carcassonne 2009: Leaving Norway

So, we travelled to France via England ... and, boringly, we did not travel together. Anne Ida went to England a week ahead of me, because her best friend lives in London and it was her 30th birthday that week. So she went there to celebrate with her, and we met up in London on Thursday, August 6th, after I'd travelled from Oslo to Torp Airport in Sandefjord and from there to Stansted all on my lonesome. I was bored. But at least I got a window seat. So I made this video. Pointless or what. Don't worry, there's better stuff coming up ... !! ;-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some pictures from London ...

One for Anéa ...

... and one for me ... ;-)

Seen in some tube station or other on August 6th.

And in closing, a totally unrelated picture for my best friend C. because it is her birthday today!! Hooray!! She is 33 years old today and I hope I will be able to get to somewhere where I can call her and wish her a happy birthday. (Phones don't work so well in the mountains. :-)

C., I also hope you will have a wonderful day today!! Whether I get to talk to you or not. :-) This picture shows how I feel about you, or rather us:

Kjempeklem til deg!!! :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quote of the Week

... the likelihood is that, in 100,000 years time, we shall either have reverted to wild barbarism, or else civilisation will have advanced beyond all recognition--into colonies in outer space ...
Richard Dawkins

Since I am currently reading his book The Ancestor's Tale. It's fantastic, you should all read it if you haven't already. :-)

As for the point he makes in the quote, gee, I wonder which one it'll be ... >:-(

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Oh, all the things I've seen ... !!

I'm back home, although not for long. I'll get to that. Just let me say that I've had a wonderful trip and I'm so happy that we didn't just talk about this, but actually made it happen. :-) Anne Ida, thanks for sharing this great experience with me. :-)

It's only been a week, but I've seen so much ... !!!

I've seen my first ever pancake tortoise in real life. It looked fascinating, even more so - unsurprisingly, of course - than in the pictures that I've seen.

I've seen an animal I never knew existed, the Himalayan newt. These little critters were just too adorable. I wanted to break the glass down and take them with me. This picture doesn't even do them justice. I have a video coming up that will show what I mean much better. Just too cute for words. :-)

We've seen the Canal du Midi, a marvel of engineering which nine days ago neither one of us (ie, Anne Ida and me ;-) even knew existed.

We've seen strange and wonderful flowers and plants. :-)

We've seen kangaroos!! :-D

We've seen not one, not two, but three amazing cemeteries, whole little cities of the dead. As un-Norwegian as it can possibly get.

And of course, we've seen the gorgeous, beautiful, amazing, astonishing old town of Carcassonne - la Cité.

This was our first glimpse of it. I had the great good luck to be able to take this shot through the window of our plane, even though I wasn't sure when I would see it or even if I would, and I only had a moment in which to take a picture. What a sight from so far away.

And even more impressive up close. We've seen it!! :-D

And of course, we have played Carcassonne in Carcassonne ... !

The trip home was kind of exhausting ... it took so long, even though the distance isn't that great. We had to change planes at Stansted, that awful, awful place, and our stopover was about four hours. (Actually more like five, but we got delayed in France, big surprise.) So, not long enough to leave the airport and actually do anything, but long enough to get soundly bored. And since they constantly changed the gates on us we didn't really get to settle down to wait anywhere either. Plus of course we had to wait in long lines lots of times. What fun. We left our hotel at 11:45am, yet by the time we touched down in Sandefjord the time was nearing 10:30pm. Whew. Fortunately Anne Ida's parents were waiting for us with their car ready to whisk us off to their cabin just outside of town. It was great to get to stay the night with them and not have to go all the way to Oslo ... we wouldn't have gotten there till past midnight. So it was good to put that off till today. We took the train back to the city and I got home at about 4pm. Whew, again. The turtles were fine, the little guys were happy to see me and Raphael quite skeptical (although he did come out into the living room to look for his dinner eventually ;-). I'm kind of sad to have to leave them again so soon. They may not miss me, but I miss them. :-)

My vacation isn't over, though - I'm leaving tomorrow for another week, or thereabouts. I will be spending it at our cabin in the mountains ... so I've got my fingers crossed for nice weather. I'm sure it won't be anything like what we had in the south of France, of course, but I'm hoping for a few sunny days at least. :-)

A few blog posts will probably pop up, but apart from that I really will be incommunicado this time. Kind of a relief. And as picturesque as that landscape is, I don't think I will be taking more than 2,500 pictures and videos in a week ... o_O

When I get back I will finally have time to check out everybody's blogs and whatnot. Thanks for stopping by here. I hope you're all enjoying your summer. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We're here!!

Alive and well but having trouble with this damn French keyboard. :-D

Big thanks to KAS and trilltrall for feeding the turtles!!

Anne Ida says hi to whoever. :-)

I've taken SO MANY PICTURES... !! o_O

Monday, August 10, 2009

A long time ago ...

... in a galaxy pretty close to here ...



From The Tracey Ullman Show, 1989. Adorable or what. :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

By the time you read this ...

... I'll be here:

OK, so, obviously, not here, but here. :-) Anne Ida and I will be there - here - for a week, till Friday the 14th. We'll be playing Carcassonne in Carcassonne. That's pretty much all the plans we have. But I'm sure we'll think of something. :-)

There will be a few updates while I'm gone, not sure how interesting they'll be, but, well, everything slows down when it's vacation time. :-) I can't promise I'll manage to post anything while I'm in France, but we'll see. I certainly have plans for a very silly post when I get back. ;-)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

GEORGIA 2007: Sopho - Visionary Dream

Hey, you know there has to be one every month. And this month, well, I won't have as many chances as I normally would to present you with one of my past favorites. You'll see. ;-)

Georgia debuted in the ESC with this song. It's a really good song in this context ... it's original and unusual, and the singer performed it well. They did pretty well too, they ended up 12th in the final. Hey, just getting to the final isn't a given. :-) KAS really dug this song, she was rooting for it the whole night and was determined to have it win. Alas. :-)

This is Sopho Khalvashi performing Visionary Dream by Beqa Jafaridze and Bibi Kvachadze (I love Georgian names!! :-D) - they competed for Georgia in Helsinki on May 10th and 12th, 2007.



Lyrics here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In a hundred years ...

... a lot of things will be forgotten*, but obviously not everything. :-) Our greatest Nobel laureate** Knut Hamsun was born 150 years ago today. Considering how incredibly influential he was in his lifetime and has remained since he died in 1952, the anniversary has been celebrated very little here in Norway. We have our reasons. 57 years after his death he remains a deeply controversial figure in this country - and it's a controversy that IMO will not be resolved any time soon. Did you know, foreigners, that in our nation's capital there isn't so much as a little lane named after 'the father of modern literature'? We've been arguing for decades about whether or not this great writer should be honored in this way - a Knut Hamsun Street, or Knut Hamsun Square. Personally, I think this disagreement is very easy to solve - we simply rename St Olav Square, we call it Ylajali Square and if anyone's still up in arms after that, they're arguing for the sake of the argument and not because they care. So there.

Was he a Nazi? Yes, he was. Absolutely no question. If you're not a Nazi, then you don't give your Nobel Prize medal as a gift to Joseph Goebbels. End of story. Was he a tremendously gifted and very skilled writer who touched the hearts and minds of his countrymen and of readers all over the world? Yes, he was that too, no question.

It's tricky. I won't deny that. But it's taking it too far to say that if one stands by the latter statement above, then one must also think that Nazism is great and Hitler was cool. That does not follow. (Israel, are you listening, I'm looking at you.)

Happy birthday, old man, wherever you are. >:-)

* A famous Hamsun quote says that 'in a hundred years everything will be forgotten'. Ie, don't worry, be happy. :-)
** For literature, at any rate. >:-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

Ved å undersøke ikke bare den kristne, men også andre religioner, vil man hurtig være på det rene med, at der ikke gis noen grenser for, hvad der er mulig å få folk til å tro. Der kan ikke utpønses noen urimelighet så grov, at folk nekter å tro på den, og intet er lettere enn å få en kamel til å gå gjennem et nåleøie.
Ingen forlanger at dogmene skal ha noe skinn av tilforlatelighet, ingen generes av at de med logisk nødvendighet gjensidig utelukker hverandre.

Arnulf Øverland, Kristendommen - den tiende landeplage (1933).

By examining not only Christianity, but also other religions, one will soon come to realize that there is no limit to what it is possible to make people believe. It is impossible to invent an absurdity so extreme that people will refuse to believe it, and nothing is easier than to make a camel pass through the eye of a needle.
No one demands that the dogma should have a veneer of plausibility, no one is embarrassed by the fact that by logical necessity they mutually exclude each other.
Arnulf Øverland, Christianity - the Tenth Plague (1933).

My translation.

And here's a good example of just how fucked up and crazy people can get when the trick of religion is worked on their minds. The religion of peace my shiny metal ass. >:-(

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Warsaw 2009: food!

Food in Poland is hearty and - at least I found it so - delicious, and by Norwegian standards very cheap. Even in the capital restaurant prices were very reasonable. Portions were very generous. :-) We picked restaurants mostly at random - although we tried to eat in places serving Polish cuisine whenever we could - and were happy with all of them.

Here's my mother checking out one of the great many restaurants in the Old Town ... but we ended up not going to this one, for some rather vague reason that I don't remember any more. :-) But the exterior was certainly pretty.

The menu posted outside the restaurant we did end up eating lunch at that first day. Reading it I felt quite sorry for poor Ed ... !! ;-)

Our meal. Very solid portions and absolutely delicious.

Hot chocolate in the almost deserted café tucked away in a corner upstairs in the Royal Castle. It was good, but not as good as the one you get at Hotel Bristol here in Oslo. ;-)

Magda Gessler is a famous Polish restaurateur, she has several restaurants around Warsaw. We read about her in our guide book and wanted to try one of these places. I know, so touristy!! But we had a good meal here ...

... and the interior was certainly very pretty and charming. :-)

At Arkadia mall we sat down for something to drink and a bit of food ... of course I had to take a picture of this sign on the table advertising a 'turtle latte' - neither of us ordered it, so I have no idea what it was, but it does sound slightly suspicous IMO. The guy in the background is a local man that we talked to over coffee, he was really nice. Told us about his trip to Norway. :-)

One night during our stay the weather was so bad that we decided not to go far for our dinner, and instead tried the Czech restaurant on the same block as our hotel. It was part of a chain that as you can see is inspired by Jaroslav Hašek's popular character, The Good Soldier Švejk. They had a really cool interior, I really liked it there.

And the portions were enormous ... !! :-D

Check out the decorative sausage. :-D Very tasty it was too.

On our last night there we picked a really fancy restaurant. It was decorated in a hunting lodge kind of style with lots of stuffed animals and so on. One of the things they had was a wild boar's head ... this was right by our table. Sorry about the blurry picture, but flash would have made it look totally crazy.

Anyway ... the boar's head inspired us in our choice of food; we chose the wild boar goulash that you can see listed in the menu here. I love how they have little symbols to denote the contents of the dishes. In this country you will often see that on restaurant menus to show which dishes are suitable for vegetarians ... ie, a little plant symbol or whatever will be on the menu next to whichever dishes are meat-free. But on this menu, well, they're using the symbology differently. :-D

Our soup! It was so cool how they served it. And no worries about it getting cold before we had finished. :-)

It was absolutely delicious, I can heartily recommend wild boar goulash if you're ever in Poland.

Here we are at our table ready to eat. Again, a blurry shot, but the best we could do without the flash which would have made it look totally different than what it was really like. That is so annoying. Oh well. :-)