Dec 29, 2004

Over 70 000 dead.

I was telling my boss yesterday that this'll be the disaster of my lifetime. Not only are the nations directly hit by the tsunamis affected, but the tourists from other nations are also affected. 3 000 Norwegians were vacationing in Thailand, and as of this writing, 300 are still not accounted for. For Sweden, the numbers are much higher. Tamils living in Norway have lost many family members on Sri Lanka. And the earthquake was so huge, it even shifted the planet a little!

I'm trying to understand why this is affecting me so. There have been other disasters and – awful as this sounds – 70 000 is nothing compared to the millions that have died of hunger and disease in Africa over the years. So why is this particular event getting my attention?

The only thing I can say is, I'm not alone. Many Norwegians are choosing to spend less money on fireworks for this New Year's celebration, and giving money to various humanitarian organizations to help the victims of the tsunamis. Also, Norway's bishops have asked for one minute's silence at the stroke of midnight. So I am looking forward to a quiet New Year's Eve for more than one reason.

Dec 11, 2004

40 questions (as it turns out)

Stolen from Ultraviolet

1. Name the last four things you have bought:

Ack, my darned attention deficiency! Uhm, oh! Bejeweled 2 for my Zire 72, and, ah... Can we do last four things I actually remember? OK, new mouse with right button and scroll wheel and pretty little yellow and orange fishes on a blue background; Christmas decorations for my Mom and a friend and a big Christmas ornament showing Bryggen for me, and, er, oh, the groceries. (Hrmph. Nobody said it'd be on the test.)

2. Name four drinks you regularly drink:

Easy! Coffee, coffee, coffee and water.

3. Last time you cried?

If almost counts, last night. If actual tears, then day before yesterday, when I laughed so hard, I cried. Good ol' fashioned bawl? Last year, I think.

4. What's in your CD player?

Cat fur. CDs play well in spite of that.

5. What's under your bed?

You don't wanna go there. Trust me.

6. What time did you wake up today?

What? I was supposed to notice the time? I can tell you when I got up: 10:48 am.

7. Current hair?

See pic on homepage.

8. Current clothes?

Chocolate brown sweater with my gold dolphin pin and baggy beige pants not suitable for public appearances, but ever so comfy.

9. Current desktop picture?

*grin* A picture of Bryggen taken Wednesday.

10. Current worry?

Right this minute? Not a one.

11. Current hate?

The holiday season though it's more of a disgruntlement than a hate.

12. Favorite places to be?

In the sofa, with a good movie on the TV, and my cat in my lap, or having a great conversation with good friends. Or in the middle of a gorgeous landscape, watching a gorgeous sunset.

13. Least favorite place?

My own negative thoughts.

14. If you could play an instrument?

Whadya mean, "if"? I used to strum the gitar and blow a clarinet. Now I don't care if I can or not.

15. Favorite color?

A sort of lavender blue: #9988FF-ish

16. How tall are you?

5 feet 4 inches or 163 cm. Still.

17. Favorite expression?

Like motto or saying or just what pops out of my mouth without thinking? No motto, no saying, and that last is "cool".

18. One person from your past you wish you could go back and talk to:

My grandpa.

19. Favorite day?

Friday.

20. Where would you like to go?

To the kitchen, to get a glass of water.

21. Where do you want to live when you get married?

...Married?

22. Favorite food?

Spaghetti.

23. Color of most clothes you own:

Navy, dark brown, black, red.

24. Number of pillows you sleep with?

One plump, one flat, side by side and my head on the crack.

25. What do you wear when you go to sleep:

T-shirt, nightgown, anything that'll cover my shoulders.

26. What were you doing 12AM last night:

Buying a bus ticket.

27. How old will you be in 10 yrs:

54. Ooh, that looks weird!

28. What do you think you'll be doing in 10 years:

Who the he** knows. I can't even tell you what I'll be doing in 10 days!

29. Do you have braces?

No.

30. Are you paranoid?!

No. ...Is that extra exclamation point there trying to get me?

31. Do you burn or tan?

Both.

32. What is the brand of your wallet?

Brand? You made me go look. What brand has a horse's head and neck, kind of like a chess piece, as a logo? Considering how old my wallet is, are they even still in business?

33. First piercing/tattoo?

Ear lobes at age 13, the fun way, with a needle. Holes closed due to an infection, so I got pierced again at age 14, with a stud gun. Nothing else and wouldn't dream of it. Too much fuss and pain.

34. First enemy?

Don't know of any. Nor am I anyone's enemy. I was bullied in school but never thought of my bullyers as enemies. I mostly thought of them as utter nuisances, idiots and wastes of skin.

35. Last person you yelled at?

My cat. She's a person to me, and I took my frustrations last night out on her big time. I am so lucky, though. She never holds a grudge.

36. Last crush?

Last night. Suddenly made eye contact with a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Have no clue who he was.

37. Last thing you ate?

Spaghetti.

*

38. Does it bug you that this quiz ends at number 37?

No.

39. Why?

I was just starting to get bored.

40. How about 40?

Now I'm bored. 42'd be cool, though.

*

To relieve any boredom you may have experienced reading the above, here's some creativity to enjoy: http://zoomquilt.machwerk.ws/zoom.htm It's cool!

My thoughts about things not being what they were

I never thought I would "outgrow" company parties. When I started as a young thing, all generations were represented at the parties and no one was left out. I feel I've lost touch with people, and I wonder (yet again) if my future lays with this company.

I just turned 44 (on Dec 3rd), and though that feels like nothing to me (I still feel young inside), I realize my years of being the youngest must be nearing their end. You see, I have always been the youngest in class (with one exception), and in the various departments I've been in at work. Even when my current department was hiring a printer, my boss managed to hire an old friend about his age (50-ish), so I remain the youngest. (The other candidate considered for hiring was 29.) We now have a very high average age in my department, and sometimes I think I should leave it and take my weird "jinx" with me, so they can hire some younger folks and have a future.

Where would I go, though? That I haven't figured out. I do like my job and co-workers. Perhaps I'm just not desperate enough. Yet.

It sucks to be me

No, it doesn't, really. But right now it does. Rather, some parts of my life suck.

Every year, my employer throws a big Christmas ball. Attendance is voluntary and with a "deductible". With the exception of one year, our ball is held at the same hotel every year. I've been employed by the same company for over 21 years, and have attended the ball at least 10 times. It's a tradition and I love the elegant ladies and stylish gentlemen. Also, we are a dancing bunch. The folks from my firm love to boogie. A good band is more important than good food.

My body isn't what it used to be; I've lost my waistline completely. Now I'm going to try some a yoga programme to try to lose weight. (In case you're wondering, the positions are: Warrior, Candle, Bow, Plough, Fish, Pulling in the stomach, Pump and Twist.) Anyway, this meant shopping for new clothes for Christmas, and I found a long, satiny black skirt that fit well and which I wore with a black long-sleeved velvet top to the ball. I didn't feel as sexy as I used to, but I was elegant and felt comfortable.

So what sucked?

Well, struggling to try to get as elegant as I could left me in a less than favorable mood before going to the ball. I yelled at my cat and that bothered me. Then sitting at the dinner table, with a boring first course, then a main course with dry meat but a good sauce, then my least favorite type of dessert (ice cream) didn't help. As food goes, it was good. As dinners at a fine hotel for a Christmas ball goes, it was disappointingly plain. And why isn't white wine served chilled any more? Did I miss something?

I was restless during dinner. My dinner companions were sweet and interesting and I didn't lack for conversation, but the rest of it, with a choir singing and the CEO's speech, etc., just felt like an unwelcome interruption to me. I just wanted to finish my meal and start dancing.

Ah, yes, the dancing. As with last year, I was abandoned by the gentleman I was seated with, and found myself not the first on the dance floor. I usually am. As with last year, I had no patience, no one to go talk to while waiting to be asked up, and didn't spot anyone to ask for a dance. I felt invisible.

Since I prefer to actually be alone rather than feeling alone in a crowd, I left, and was home a little after midnight.

It was a relief to be home early, but that wasn't the point of going to the party!

I don't understand why this happens, if it's astrological or just times a-changing. One theory I have is based on my observations in how co-workers interact at the company parties now. In recent years, they have become far more cliqueish, hanging very closely together with people they work with daily, showing little interest in mingling with others.

At any rate, the Christmas ball will no longer be one of my traditions. I'll have to find somewhere else to be elegant.

Nov 3, 2004

All's hallow

The halfway point between the beginning of seasons (in this case autumn and winter) was also celebrated in the old days, and is remembered as today's Halloween, previously All Hallow's Eve. All Hallow's Day is remembrance of our dead loved ones.

It's all about spirits of the dead.

In my case, it's been all about the spirits of the living, too: Specifically mine.

I am reading a book by Emmet Fox, "Diagrams for Living: The Bible Unveiled", an interpretation of the Bible's stories as metaphors and allegories for how to handle human struggles. I recognized Fox's (no relative) take on Noah's ark as a parable for how to create peace of mind in the midst of big problems in my own experience in Aurlandsdalen: Build a place in your mind (ark) that helps you focus on the spiritual (stay afloat) instead of letting the problem get to you (drown in the flood). In Aurlandsdalen, I found myself worrying about this and that, and so had to put out the thought that God was in charge, and everything would be all right. Any doubts I had would be akin to Noah looking out of the ark and seeing there was still no dry land. So focus on God (the ark had only one window and the only thing to be seen from it, was the sky, i.e. look up).

That was a good period. October went to hell. Bad moods, feeling depressed, aggressive encounters with people. Aarrrgh!!! And I wondered if it was because I hadn't been reading Fox's book at night for a few weeks like I had. (There's something to be said for such positive and encouraging reading just before sleep.) However, spiritual focus can happen anywhere at anytime, so that's not the only thing, but not having some spiritual focus at all probably did trip me up. It's so amazing how quickly things deteriorate for me. (Happily, they are also quickly fixed.)

Bad situations can indeed be hidden blessings: They can usually get our complete attention and so remind us of stuff we still need to sort out, of hidden traps we still set for ourselves. In my case, an attitude adjustment that only now came to my attention, after having had it for years.

When I get cranky, I want to be left alone. I feel very non-social and I have trouble talking about my stuff then. But part of my depressive feelings were also because I felt so alone, not having anyone who can lift me up, and generally just missing some good friends I once had.

Helen Reddy has a song titled "Leave Me Alone". I started humming that. "Leave me alone, just leave me alone, oh, why don't ya just leave me alone."

Oh.

The Universe always delivers. And I have indeed been left alone.

(I should have a T-shirt that reads "I'm With Stupid" and an arrow pointing at my head.)

But, there's no point in chewing oneself out. Instead, be grateful for the discovery, for finally getting a problem defined. That means you can do something about it! So I was grateful.

Me, I said to myself "New tune!", and switched to humming a line from Cockney Rebel: "Come up and see me, make me smile." In my mind, I was saying, "I want to be seen."

This was Monday, a day where my storm cloud had reduced to a more normal looking cloud, but I didn't see any blue sky yet. On my way home, I passed a neighbor I have a nodding acquaintance with but never speak to. This time, though, he made it clear he wanted a chat, so we spent a few minutes exchanging views on his selling his car and then we parted ways.

Then it hit me: Someone did come up, see me, and make me smile! Oh, thank you, God!

PS: The astrology of the above: Any transit to the angles and their houses (especially Ascendant/1st house and Midheaven (MC)/10th house) gets a lot of focus. Squares are the most edgy in energy. My transits during my "down time" in late October included transitting Jupiter squaring natal Jupiter (Jupiter is our awareness of the gods and whatever they get up to), and transitting Mars (aggression, activity) passing over my Midheaven, bringing me a lot of attention and aggression, from other people and internally, since that means it also triggered my natal Mars-Saturn opposition by squaring those two planets. How this all resolves, with emphasis on 10th and 1st houses, is through awareness of self (1st house) and goals (10th house), which need not necessarily be worldly. Transitting Jupiter is still in my 9th house (house of philosophy and higher thinking), so I'll probably feel drawn to the reflective and spiritual for a while longer.

Oct 13, 2004

Autobiographical

I am feeling restless and have the urge to do something. I can't, however, seem to wrap my head around the weather astrology, that is, I can't seem to find the focus for it. And so, my goal of trying to make a weather forecast for the autumn in Bergen using astrology, is put on the back burner. I wonder sometimes if I should keep doing astrology.

Well, that's another matter.

Right now, the matter is the book I have inside of me. I attended the Raptus festival last weekend, Norway's comics convention, and observed that a lot of artists are actually drawing themselves. One artist's thick, short eyebrows show up in all his male characters. Another artist does large, round eyes, which he has. Yet another lends his thick, short hair to his characters, and a slight woman with small features and huge eyes is mirrored in her main female character.

Which all made me think of writers. It is said that every writer's first novel is actually an autobiography. Writing what you know, means drawing on yourself, for the new writer.

And that made me think that I have a book inside, that there's something autobiographical I could get down on paper, so why don't I?

So again, the urge to write is upon me, and I do think it has to do with Jupiter in Libra, because that transit triggers my Midheaven (goals, vocation) which is in Libra, an Air sign (and Air signs are prominent in writer's charts). Jupiter means expansion so the "hobby" wants expanding. My Midheaven (MC) also trines my Airy Gemini Moon, so a transit to one or the other gets me typing.

Jupiter won't stay long in Libra, but it will then transit my Mercury (also writing-related) in Scorpio, which sextiles the ruler of my MC (Venus) so I should have momentum for a while.

So I'm going to get cracking on "The Great American in Norway Novel". Or something.

PS: When I draw, all my characters have arched eyebrows and cupid's bow lips. Guess what I have? ;-)

Sep 23, 2004

Letting go, letting God

Some time in high school: 
A friend: "Let Jesus be in the driver's seat."
Me: "Naw, I'll drive. Jesus can be the navigator."

Keera hiking/på turJesus never did get to ride shotgun with me, but finally God did get to chauffeur. This past weekend.

My department of nine people is made of six men with outdoors interests and three women without. The annual social in our department therefore usually consists of hiking or fishing. This year's trip was no different. We were headed for Aurlandsdalen, a canyon carved by the Aurland river, starting at a mountain lodge called Østerbø Fjellstove and ending at the bottom in the village of Vassbygdi.

I'm not used to hiking and so was nervous about the trip. However, one of my female co-workers, G, is deaf, and she was determined to go. She bought herself new hiking boots, walking poles (her sense of balance is destroyed by her hearing loss), rucksack, Thermos and I guess some other gear. We discussed back and forth how to do this.

It was decided that we gals would follow the guys to a place called Nesbø, and then head back to Østerbø. Then what to do about transportation: Østerbø is a half hour's drive up the mountain to about 820 m (2690 ft) from Vassbygdi at 90 m (295 ft). The hike down Aurlandsdalen takes 5–7 hours. We needed a car at both ends. Solution: Drive one car down to Vassbygdi the evening before, and so have one car at either end of the trail and then drive up and get the "top" car after the hike. That's when I opened my mouth and said that I have a driver's license and since we ladies were going to be at Østerbø, we could drive the car down to Vassbygdi and meet the guys at the end of their hike.

Perfect!

I panicked.

Yes, I have a license, but I rarely drive, and this was going to be on an unfamiliar road in an unfamiliar car.

But I didn't tell anyone I was worried about that and the hike, too. I really wanted to do this trip, and if G could, so could I. (I'm a worry-wort, anyway.)

We were to leave work on Friday September 17, and hike on Saturday. Thursday night I tried my best to pack (not being used to hiking also means not being used to packing correctly though I had some idea). But I ended up going around in circles and that night woke myself thinking I'd packed everything wrong.

Friday morning I did what I should've done sooner: I laid everything in God's hands. I affirmed/prayed something like, "I am Divinely guided to pack exactly what I need and correctly. This trip is a joy and blessing for all, and everything about it is done with ease and comfort. God is in charge. I now leave everything up to God."

I switched rucksacks, choosing an older one that my back was familiar with. I exchanged one jacket for a windbreaker. I polished and rainproofed my bootlets. I felt better. I kept reminding myself at every decision that it was up to God.

I wore my raingear to work. It was raining that much. It kept raining the whole rest of the day, too. It had some of us worried, but not me. I was no longer anxious, but instead curious about how the trip would unfold.

ØsterbøOne car, E's, headed out at 2:00 pm and arrived at Østerbø a little past 5:00 pm. I was in that car and enjoyed the company of my co-workers. And didn't get car sick! Huh. "Ease and comfort." Yes, I was getting my prayer answered.

We unloaded the car, then E drove back down the mountain to pick up our other four co-workers, who'd parked in Vassbygdi. By 6:30 everyone was checked in and we were ready to have a little pre-dinner drink in one of our tiny rooms. We all got a little silly and boisterous but not drunk. That we have so much fun is one reason why I want to take trips with my co-workers.

At 8:00 pm, dinner was served. We sat at a dining table with a top made from a huge slab of wood. We had a delicious three-course meal. The main course was a perfect reindeer steak, and the service was excellent. We also had the place to ourselves (not a bad idea, since we were loud).

Then it was back to the tiny room for nightcaps. By 11:30 pm we were all ready to go to bed and get a good night's rest for the next day. We had originally planned to set off at 10:00 am the next day, but this was changed to 9:30 am. As I got ready for bed, I looked out my window and saw stars. So far this day, I had felt blessed. Everything went so smoothly and easily. Nobody had any problems with anything. I thanked God for this day and reminded myself that He was still in charge of this weekend. The starry night was a promise of continued goodness.

The next morning, we were all up by 7:00 am (partly awokened by G, who needed to see us, since she couldn't hear us), and pretty much ready to check out by 7:30 am. We actually hung around just yacking for a bit, since breakfast wasn't served until 8:00 am.

E gave me the keys to his car, showed me how to turn on the lights and windshield wipers, etc. Again, I reminded myself that God was in charge, and put the drive out of my mind.

The moment the dining room opened, we helped ourselves to the buffet (typical Norwegian-style). I rarely get a soft-boiled egg in a hotel that is actually soft-boiled but I did here. God was reminding me that He was still making sure it was a good trip. The bread was dry so I didn't feel like eating more than two slices. Fixings for a lunch on the trail was included in the price, so we ended breakfast by making lots of open-faced sandwiches for the trail. I had brought a plastic container I usually use on hikes and my four slices fit just right.

The sun rose over a mountain top and shone brightly though watery on us, promising far better weather than the meteorologists had. We were all so fast that it was decided to start our hike at 9:00 am.

First hike/første turThose of us who had delivered our Thermoses the night before with instructions on what we wanted them filled with (mine read "Black coffee" – in Norwegian, of course), collected the Thermoses and then we were all ready to go. At 9 on the dot, we headed out, passing some new cabins, stopping for a group photo, and then getting onto the trail proper along the lake.

The guys quickly realized that we girls were moving too slowly for them, and they wanted to break away immediately. I wasn't happy about that at first, but they showed me how the trail was marked and I sent them off. Again, I had to remind myself that God was in charge. In one way I was in charge of G, since I was walking point and scouting the trail for her, helping her pick routes that were easier for her to manage. Without those walking poles, she could only walk on roads.

Our pace was relaxed and the surroundings quiet except for the constant rush from a waterfall across the lake from us and the lodge. Birds were rarely heard. It was very peaceful and I absolutely enjoyed it. We were overtaken by several groups of other hikers but for the most part, it was just G and me and Mother Nature.

View of/Utsikt over NesbøCivilization did intrude at one point: E called me on my cell phone. Beyond a gate the path became like a narrow ledge, carved into the side of the mountain. He didn't think we girls would like or manage that, since he, with his own problem with heights had found it difficult. We girls were both grateful for his warning and concern. When we got to the gate, we could see what he meant. Nothing between us and the lake way below except air. We enjoyed the view for a bit, then turned around, seeing our original destination of Nesbø only as a small collection of buildings way off in the distance.

I realized our initial plan had been too ambitious for us. It took us an hour just to get to that point (including a short coffee break and some general sightseeing), and another hour getting ourselves back to the lodge (during which God teased my faith with 5 minutes of high wind and misty rain). There I had a slice of bread from my lunch, we took a potty break, then we got into the car.

That car was a quick vehicle. I found myself racing down the dirt road to the main road. The road had no line down the middle and I was unsure of how far to the right edge I could go with this car. Except for one spooky moment inside one tunnel, when a truck came towards me, forcing me to hug the right, I pretty much didn't have to worry about that. But I'm sure that by all counts I drove like an idiot. I kept thinking of Mr. Toad's wild ride. I had to keep reminding myself to let God drive. For once, let God drive, no delegating Him to be just the navigator.

G was very calm (and aware) during all this. Thankfully.

I was overtaken by a police car (hah!) who did pass me, which turned out to be a blessing: His break lights in the next tunnels told me where the tunnels turned. I was actually having a little trouble seeing the turns properly. (This road was originally built as a construction road, hence the sharp turns inside tunnels.)

I was grateful when we finally reached the bottom and the 6% grade levelled off. We parked next to our other car, and got ourselves ready for the hike up the trail, to meet the guys on their way down. I had called earlier and knew they were making very good time.

At 12:10 pm G and I set off, up a road parallelling the river, past farms and homes. Suddenly, the road narrowed to a rocky track and it was hard going for G. After another brief shower (another test of faith), we were accompanied by a warm breezed coming down the valley. The trail got steeper and rockier. It was actually going across old rock slides. After almost an hour of heavy breathing and careful walking, with no end to this type of trail in sight, G and I agreed to eat lunch, and then head back. It was too much for us.

We sat amidst huge rocks that had tumbled down the mountainside centuries earlier. The coffee from the lodge was delicious. My bread slices had apparantly gotten some moisture from the cold cuts on them, because they were no longer dry. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Halfway back down the trail, I heard somebody hollering behind us. It was our boss, leading the pack down the mountain. The timing was perfect! They had had a wonderful hike, moving past all the other groups and enjoying views unhindered by clouds or fog.

We all got back to the cars by 2:15 pm. That's when it started to rain, and it didn't stop raining until two days ago (Wednesday). I'm not kidding. Even my boss, on Monday, said that it was as if God had a hand in our good fortune weatherwise Saturday.

I smiled to myself.

I have had a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful weekend, with both broad strokes and little details working out to perfect enjoyment.

I'm glad I let go and let God.

See all my photos from my Aurland trip.

Sep 13, 2004

Interesting times

"May you live in interesting times" say the Chinese – and mean it as a curse. If things are constantly changing around you, there is no peace.

As usual, my own little life is not interesting. (More about that farther down.) But the news is currently full of all kinds reports about lives elsewhere being far too interesting. Terrorists killing school children in Chechnya, one hurricane after another pummeling the Caribbean, Florida and soon the Mexican Gulf, odd-ball accidents (traffic and otherwise) and tragic murders (like the report in Sweden of a 16 year old stabbing a 14 year old). And of all things, a mosquito problem in Arizona (arid Arizona!), spreading the West Nile virus (the mosquitos breed in neglected swimming pools). I'm sure I've missed something, but that'll do. It's enough interesting times.

Why did I say "as usual" about my "uninteresting" life? Well, when I was a kid, I was in the Brownies and my grandma was driving several of us home after an outing. We passed a car accident on the way. It had just happened and one of the other moms with a carload of Brownies had stopped to help. I wanted us to stop, too, but Grandma said there was nothing we could do to help. I was disappointed; I was envious of the girls in the other car who got to "catch all the action".

Years later, after many "missed disasters" (happened on my day off, I arrived a half hour after it happened, etc.), I came to appreciate my natural knack for avoiding trouble. Whatever interesting times I have lived in, have also always turned out for the best for me.

I just came across this: http://greatday.com/ and I hope it can inspire both you and me to perhaps keep an eye on the good things in our lives, no matter how interesting other things may be. :-)

Aug 31, 2004

Memes and chain letters

In my last blog, I participated in a meme. I followed the link (Minding the Planet) to discover that this particular meme is now "closed" and another one has started in its place. Did I want to participate in this next incarnation as well?

That's when it hit me: This is just like chain letters! In my childhood, I would get a carefully copied, handwritten letter usually stating that this chain had started in 1959 in some other country, so please don't break it! After one attempt at doing my part and deciding it wasn't worth the bother, I have since taken great pride in breaking chains.

So no more memes for me. Not that the idea is invalid or that watching ideas catch on and spread is uninteresting; I just was never any good at following the crowd.

Aug 15, 2004

I'm becoming part of a meme

Thusly:

This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs (and aggregation sites) are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).

The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink: http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2004/08/a_sonar_ping_of.html) – results and commentary will appear there in the future.

Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate -- the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.

The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google or other search engines for all blogs that participate in this experiment, once they have indexed the sites that participate). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)

INSTRUCTIONS

To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).

REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)

(1) I found this experiment at URL: http://www.livejournal.com/users/alcielj/

(2) I found it via "Newsreader Software" or "Browsing the Web" or "Searching the Web" or "An E-Mail Message": Browsing the Web

(3) I posted this experiment at URL: http://home.online.no/~kafox/blogfiles/

(4) I posted this on date (day/month/year): 15/08/04

(5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 19:53:00

(6) My posting location is (city, state, country): Bergen, Norway

OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):

(7) My blog is hosted by: Blogger.com

(8) My age is: 43

(9) My gender is: Female

(10) My occupation is: Graphic designer

(11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: None, yet

(12) I use the following software to post to my blog: Blogger's web-interface

(13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 23/07/2002

(14) My web browser is: Safari

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Aug 6, 2004

43

Ran into the cousin of a friend today – A.B. Last fall she started to train to be a home nurse's aid, a two-year education. She dropped out after one semester, she told me. She had second thoughts about her choice of future.

I met A.B. several years ago when she was bartending at a night club in town. My friend introduced us. A.B. no longer wants to work at waitressing or bartending, and decided to try the line of work my friend got into: In-house nurse's aid (meaning people who go to people's homes to assist them with bathing, diapering, medicating, feeding, etc. My Grandma received such services for a few years). Such nurse's aids also work in nursing homes. But that last was not for A.B. She said she didn't want to work some place where co-workers don't even greet you when you arrive for work. I totally agreed with her that that wasn't a desirable work situation.

Now A.B. was trying to figure out what to do next. She did enjoy going to people's homes and helping them there, and said fellow home nurse's aids were far friendlier in that situation. But she just wasn't sure that this was what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She kind of missed the service business, and was very attracted to training as a hotel receptionist, but again, wasn't entirely sure.

I pulled out my book "The 12 Principles Of The Work We Were Born To Do" by Nick Williams (see previous blog post) and told A.B. I was reading it because I was in the same spot as A.B. – asking myself what I want to do with the rest of my life. The answers eluded both of us.

I was so fascinated by the complete parallell of our stories that I asked A.B. how old she was. "43," she answered. "So am I," I said.

Aug 1, 2004

In limbo

This summer has been a bit odd for me. I feel like I've been in limbo, but after transitting Saturn (astrology's wet blanket) moved away from it's conjunction to my natal Mars (astrology's Dennis the Menace), some of that feeling of limbo lifted. One effect is that I now feel like blogging.

It's not like I haven't experienced anything worth blogging about this summer. Or that I haven't had a reason to be in limbo besides the astrological one. So what follows is my version of "What I Did This Summer":

Tradition

Midsummer's Eve's bonfireOne tradition in Norway is to celebrate Midsummer's Eve (June 23), also called St. John's Eve (Christianity's version of a merger). One especially traditional way to celebrate said eve is by attending the Laksevåg bonfire. Laksevåg is a municipality across the harbor from downtown Bergen and was incorporated into Bergen in 1972. It is the venue for Norway's largest barrel bonfire and this year was its 101st anniversary. My friend Torleif and I made an attempt to attend the 100th anniversary last year, but the weather decided to be extremely wet, so we changed our minds. This year, though, we had hazy but warm weather, and an incredibly wonderful evening by the seaside, watching the huge bonfire burn down in the sunset, and boats of all sizes and shapes converging by the molo protecting the marina. Torleif got completely nostalgic, remembering the long, pleasant summer evenings of his youth. We don't have midnight sun here in Bergen, but we have midnight sunsets/sunrises where the glow of the sun never completely leaves us throughout the night. A magical light, coloring the world in soft pastels.

Vocation

At work, things have also been in limbo. Our company is now a subsidiary of a Danish insurance company and we are now feeling the Danish influence. Their approach to work routines and decision-making is different from the Norwegian way, so we're trying to adjust to a new corporate culture. For me and my department, this means doing things last minute and with very tight deadlines. Our company magazine is yet again getting a new look, a new name and a new approach. We will be doing the layout and printing for both Denmark and Norway and the Danes like a hectic schedule (apparantly). I can't say that deep down inside I'm all that enthusiastic about the pressure I expect this will bring. And we have a bit to loose: Once again a consultant is to see if there's any point to my employer having an in-house print shop. If we goof in any way with any job for our Danish owners/colleagues, we hammer a nail in our own coffin.

Seagull babies on office roofNormally, I'd just take this sort of challenge as a game – "Let's show 'em". But since we've had very little work so far this year (and I've been doing an awful lot of web surfing on company time), and the company magazine is now going to be an 8-page monthly rather than the current 24-page monthly, I'm wondering if there is any future for me at our in-house print shop. So, I've re-read a book I bought a few years ago (Venus in Capricorn is always thinking about work), "The 12 Principles Of The Work We Were Born To Do" by Nick Williams. Basically, it's a book full of affirmations, meditations, and a way to approach work from an attitude of work as blessing, not chore. I don't have a problem with that, but I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up and thought the book would help me with that. Starting tomorrow, I'm embarking on a 12 workday plan (1 workday per principle) to see if I don't dislodge a few good ideas. I'm thinking that this autumn, I should be either looking for another job or taking classes that will give me the necessary skills to be eligible for another job. So there will be daily affirmations now where I try to find my purpose – and get rid of my aversion to service (!).

In the meantime, I am trying to remember the blessings I do have at my current place of employment: A good and considerate boss, fun co-workers, at times challenging and rewarding work, a nice office, convenience, seniority, security – and the joy of yet again seeing baby seagulls growing up on the roof outside our office windows (the two smudges on the picture are two of the babies). Everything around me carries on as if there is a future, and it's a nice reminder to me to follow that example and not stay in limbo.

Vacation

This summer has been the coolest in Southern Norway in 10 years. Although it hasn't rained much, there's been a lot of clouds, so it hasn't felt like a proper summer. The upside is that there are fewer bugs than usual.

I tried to get off my butt and take a trip. Called a travel agent regarding a charter trip to the island of Jersey and actually got that old thrill I used to get at the idea of travelling. But when I didn't hear from the agent, I put the trip out of my mind and couldn't work up any interest or enthusiasm for alternatives. So yet another summer vacation spent at home. (Part of the reason for that is my cat, who hasn't been feeling well this summer.)

This time, I made sure to get out of the house a bit more than usual. I took a long Sunday drive with my friend Torleif and his kids. We initially wanted to take a boat trip but literally missed the boat, and so went for a long drive in the country, picnicking on an old boat landing, and ending up at one couple's self-created "bird garden": A lush two acres contained several aviaries and flower beds, with a small gravel path winding its way from one picturesque spot to another, all the labor of love of a couple in their 30's. Their home sat in the middle of all this beauty, and every window was filled with plants. Life was abundant in many ways there! Other places we stopped at reminded me of my childhood. Some places were the places of my childhood, like the now rusted and disused ferry landing across the fjord from where I grew up, watching the ferries crossing.

OsterfjordI did get myself off on a boat trip, a 4 hour round trip north of Bergen in the Osterfjord, and into landscape that was dramatic, wild and virtually untouched. In many places, the only sign of human activity were the ubiquitous power lines. I had just read about the computer game "Myst" and as we sailed into the narrowing Osterfjord, it occurred to me that if anyone wants a landscape for a fantasy game, this would be perfect inspiration. Steep, tree-covered mountains rose above the narrowing fjord, with clouds above adding dramatic light. In some places the cliff was sheer, naked rock. Way off in the distance, sitting on a glen by itself, was a large white house. It looked almost like a castle of some kind, isolated in all the dramatic green and blue, shadow and light. I could definitely see something other-worldly about the whole setting.

Routine got broken by meeting other Usenet users in town and getting to show them around. I finally went to the movies (haven't done that in a long while), and saw "Super Size Me". What got me was what school children were allowed to eat. Every once in a while, I'd visit Grandma, who's becoming less and less happy about being in the nursing home, the better and better she feels (understandably). Three weeks have passed and I don't have much to show for them. Did find a nice use for iTunes Music Store although residents of Norway cannot yet purchase music via iTunes: I got to listen to all sorts of bands I never heard before or were wondering about. I ended up buying a Blue Öyster Cult album, among others, and was surprised to find out that their song "Don't Fear (The Reaper)" was a hit in October 1976 in the States. I was living in California then, but can't remember the song. Anyway, I'm enjoying a new (if old) acquaintance. Phish is my next project; they are a favorite of my friend, Alice, who now has a blog – "10,000 monkeys & a camera" (see links). I'm also enjoying a completely new acquaintance: The Norwegian band Dadafon. For a change, I tuned into some music videos on TV and discovered a fascinating female voice and melodies I could like. I like breaking out of my musical mold every so often. Most of my collection are "Greatest Hits" albums with performers who were big in the 70's and 80's, and sometimes I think it would be nice to actually get something new.

So it's Sunday evening, and I have to get up early tomorrow and go to work. I haven't missed it, I don't care if I do go back. Not the optimum attitude, but I'm sure that once I'm back in a routine again, I'll enjoy myself. I do like my job, you see. Anyway, let me tell you about my last "splash": On Thursday, I took a boat trip around the island of Bømlo (more or less). Part of the trip was with an old boat about 100 years old, the "MS Granvin". We started in questionable weather but ended up in bright sunshine and on a calm fjord. Even the North Sea was flat as a table. The trip's highlight for me was the tiny and idyllic island village of Espevær. On such a beautiful summer's day, Espevær appeared as one huge garden.

One thing I kept trying to get a hold of this summer was floppy waffles. Norwegian waffles are served hot or cold, but soft, and usually with jam on. But hardly anyone offers them nowadays. It used be, that wherever you went, someone was making waffles; every café offered them. The closest I've come to that experience this summer, were the thick cooked-on-the-spot pancakes (so-called "lapper") on the "MS Granvin". They were good!

Jun 2, 2004

My date with Bergen

I watch the TV-show "Sex and the City" and am catching up on older episodes. In one I saw this weekend, Carrie says no single person is alone in New York City; the whole city's your date. I thought of that today as I walked around in Bergen, alone. Thinking it as a date with the city, rather than being alone in the city, changed my perspective of my day ahead to a much more positive view.

I may have mentioned before that I have every second Wednesday off from work. This time, in brilliant summer weather, I had an appointment to get my hair cut (finally!). That nice short cut you see on my main page has grown out a bit, to tuck-behind-the-ears length. And I like it that way. (Also practical for the sunglasses-on-top-of-head look.) Today my hairdresser's was a cheerful, joking place and so was a great start to my day in the city. The coffee was just right, too; not so strong I missed having milk in it.

After getting my usual great haircut (Trond is a genius), I took "Beffen" across the bay. It's an old, diesel-driven passengerboat, and when you sit in it, you're about 2 feet above the water surface. Today, the boat had to manouver around a barge being towed into place, no. 3 of 4 (I think) being placed in the innermost bay to become a stage Friday for A-ha, David Bowie and some local bands.

At the other side, I ran an errand for my grandma, and then decided to head for the bookstore. Grandma wanted short stories to read; she can no longer concentrate long enough to read a whole novel. I struck paydirt: Three short story collections, two featuring several current and/or famous crime writers, and a third featuring only Ruth Rendell stories. And all cheap! Both Grandma and I will have plenty of good reading ahead.

My next stop was the tourist information office, located in what was originally Bergen's stock exchange, and still decorated with the huge frescos on three walls. I picked up this year's Bergen Guide, which is just as useful for us locals as it is for tourists. One thing I want to do, is take the old boat "Bruvik" around the gorgeous inland island of Osterøy. I haven't taken that trip since I was 12 years old. "Bruvik" sails every Sunday in the summer, the guide says.

Next stop: My favorite coffee shop, right on the wharf, next to the fishmarket. En route, I got peckish and found a stand selling openfaced, simple sandwiches with salmon. I ate it by the quayside, watching them shove the third barge into place. Not much manouvering room!

At the coffee shop, Lille Zachen, the customers were sitting outside, by the sidewalk. The coffee shop sells only liquid refreshment: Coffee and booze. Today's special was Ethiopian coffee. Another customer asked what it was called. "Ethiopian coffee," was the answer. Sometimes life is that simple. And the coffee was good! Another cup of just right strength. I listened to German-speaking tourists as I sipped.

Then it was time to finish my last errand and get home in time to enjoy the sun on my balcony (starts to arrive around 2:30 pm this time of year). I dropped off a present for a friend at the café I used to give readings at and bought one of their home-made brownies. I then had a little wait for the bus next to some gorgeous rhododendrons and a lot of people sun-worshiping on the lawn (you never see "Keep Off Grass" signs in Norway; you do, however, see garbage, not coins, tossed in the fountains).

The bus driver was a bit distracted (possibly) because he turned down the wrong street after we left the bus station. He had enough humor to announce over the loudspeaker that we would be having a bit of sightseeing – and since we were already at it, why not the rest of the city? He did get the pasengers to laugh, and after driving around the block, got on the right track.

He continued to announce the stops over the loudspeaker and I got a good laugh when he started to announce one, then realized he didn't know the name of it. "And the next stop is...uh...the next stop is a bus stop!"

Nice save!

And a nice end to my date with Bergen.

Back at home, I met the neighbor's pie tom, who was feeling very friendly today, so he got a lot of head scritches. (Right now he's wondering about a kid and his dog. A minute ago, it was magpies.) I picked some grass for my cat Sammy (she appreciated that), and now I am out here on my balcony, listening to the sounds of the baby great tits in the bird box only a few feet away from me. Directly next to me is a window box with sprouting geraniums that I sowed over two weeks ago.

The good weather brings out the best in people here in Bergen, including me.

Right now I feel peace. And the signs of new life, of young life, give me hope for the future.

May 25, 2004

Triumph

I had to do something this morning that I haven't done in years: Go through my own dirty laundry to get what I needed to wear.

Today's clingy fabrics look best over a smooth bra. Lacy bras make the fabric look lumpy. But I had absolutely no smooth bras left that a) were clean and (more to the point) b) fit me. Those will be donated to the Salvation Army. But the dive into the laundry hamper told me that I had to buy new bras today.

My new bras/mine nye bh-erIn order not to forget, I set an alarm on my new Zire72 (yes! I have a new toy and I'm very pleased with it) so I wouldn't go straight home out of habit, but stop at the store. Since things got hectic at work and there was a deadline, I had to keep resetting the alarm, but finally, at 6 pm, I left the office and headed for the lingerie.

First shock of the day: My tits seem to be huge! They refuse to fit in a 75C/34C (Norwegian and US size). I oozed out on the sides and tops of all the C-cups. I oozed out around the strap in back (yuck!). For a moment I thought my future was going to be specialty stores in town. Then I checked the size on the dirty (and worn) bra I was wearing. 80B/36B. Well, worth a try although I remembered 80 cm/36 inches feeling a bit loose the last time I bought bras. (When was that?)

I grabbed a bunch of 80B/36B's. I tried 'em on. Heaven!

I kid you not. There's something about slipping into a garment meant to hold bits of you rather firmly in place, straps running around your ribs and over your shoulders – and not feel a thing! Absolute heaven! Bliss! Amazement! (And a bit of embarrassment over myself for not having noticed I needed new bras sooner. My goodness, did my old one look awful and not feel too good!)

Next challenge: To find as many 80B/36B's as I could since I knew I was going to toss some old bras, and finding a bra that fits wonderfully isn't all that easy. The type I was wearing was still available and I got two of those. I got three of another kind, and 3 other bras all different (one even without trying it on first).

At the cash register, one bra after another was rung up. 8 bras. At NOK 2361[1] (currently USD 346) I surprised both the sales clerk and myself. I have never spent that much on bras at once in my entire life! It was quite a first!

I got my bras home, took a picture of them, then decided to try on the one I hadn't tried in the store. It fit perfectly, without any binding, oozing or adjusting. I thought it would. I have found the size and brand that fits me perfectly: 80B/36B Triumph.

PS: To the gang at Blogger: Love your reworked, both the look and use!

May 9, 2004

Suddenly...spring!

My stomach acted up this week, after the weekend at my friend's place, celebrating his daughter's confirmation. Much rich food – or perhaps not all that rich, just not what I'm used to. And so for a week, my stomach has not been normal. I've been waking up with a slight tummy ache almost every morning. Time to take my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) more seriously.

Anyway, the result was ending up staying at home from work and a related party. And this same weekend, a heatwave came. Temperatures in the shade of 66F/19C or higher at this time of year, are not the norm, but they seem to becoming the norm. So while I stayed inside, not wanting to brave the heat (heat to me, and also a bit humid), spring arrived in full force.

Today I finally had such an urge to get out and walk (and tummy was willing), so I did. I took some pictures, which you can see here: homepage.mac.com/kafox/PhotoAlbum3.html. I was greatly surprised to see that the cherry trees (three in front of my building) were in full bloom! That's what I get for not looking out my own window.

Apr 30, 2004

No longer "demoralizing or confusing"

Yesterday, my dentist replaced a cracked filling. Such things have to be filed down and I had to keep biting on carbon paper. But my mouth hurt and I told the dentist that was as good as it was going to get. She said to come back in if the filling needed further filing; it would take only a minute, no appointment necessary.

This morning, I was late for work – again. (I'm sort of "on report" for it, too). I stood outside my apartment building, not looking forward to clocking in late. My mouth no longer hurt and I could feel my bite better. So, I finally decided to go back to my dentist and get the filling filed. (This meant clocking in late with a good excuse.)

I took the same bus I took yesterday. This time, my bus card was renewed and I got on in the rear. I didn't notice if the woman who sat next to me yesterday came on the bus.

I got off in town at the same bus stop as yesterday. Now I was wondering what would happen if the bum was standing on the same corner as before. But he wasn't. I felt a little silly worrying about a thing like that.

I got to my dentist's office, only to find it was locked. I had just assumed that by 9:30, it would be open, there would be a patient getting treatment already (my appointment yesterday was at 9:45). So I decided to wait. No sooner had I thought that thought, when my dentist showed up, very surprised to see me. It turns out she doesn't work Fridays and had come in today only to finish the taxes (due April 30 in Norway). But it was no problem to take care of my filling, which she did. In 5 minutes I was done, bite feeling just like it did before the filling was changed. I was quite amazed at my luck, too, since normally my dentist wouldn't have been there at all.

On my way back to the bus, I met my bum; he'd moved a couple of blocks. He looked straight at me, moved towards me, and I could hear him clearly asking if I had anything to spare. "Do you want money today, too?" I asked with a smile. He said, "Tomorrow's the first of May." (International Labor Day and a holiday.) While getting my wallet out of my purse, I saw more details about him: His navy blue coat and his shoes were shabbier than I realized. I stuck a 100-kroner bill in his hand with the yellow fingers, and he thanked me. I wondered idly what anyone would make of us two because he was almost two heads taller than me. I wished him happy celebrating and felt a tad stupid right afterwards for that, but was very happy that the whole exchange with him went far more smoothly – almost automatically – today than yesterday.

Somehow, I feel like I was given a second chance.

May you too have a happy May Day celebration!

Apr 29, 2004

Sun Opposition Neptune

My "Personal Daily Horoscope" today from Astrodienst, a serious website and astrological service for both amateurs and professionals:

Surreptitious acts

This may be a day of considerable confusion and uncertainty. On the other hand, you may gain new awareness of and sensitivity to others and their needs and how they relate to your own. Your encounters with others today may be demoralizing or confusing. Your ego energies are not very high, and you are not in a self-assertive mood for vigorous competition. If someone comes at you aggressively, your natural inclination today is to avoid the confrontation...

The interpretation above is for your transit selected for today: Sun Opposition Neptune, activity period from 29 April 2004 to 1 May 2004.

Aggression wasn't a problem, but that first paragraph described a couple of incidents that were unusual for me:

I had a dentist's appointment this morning, and so was taking the bus. My bus card had expired, so I sat down on a seat right behind the driver to fish out some money. I remained on that seat. A woman came on a couple of stops later, and locked eyes with me before sitting down next to me. I then realized that she was mentally handicapped. Then I had a thought that normally wouldn't occur to me: Perhaps I had "taken" her regular seat, disrupting her routine. I was wondering if I should ask her, but decided that if she didn't say anything, neither would I.

But it was what happened after I got off the bus that really echoed today's horoscope: A tall, gaunt, gray-haired man with bright yellow smoker's fingers – looking like the city's "loose birds" as we say in Norwegian – said something to me, but I just shook my head and kept going. Then I had a second thought. Some of the questions that determined whether or not I'd go to some level of Dante's hell were about giving to beggars. I was early for my dentist's appointment, so I stopped around the corner from the man, and fished around for money. I didn't have a 50 kroner bill, but found four 10 kroner coins which I then backtracked to give the man. He took them with his yellow stained fingers, looking confused. As I walked away, I wondered if I had offended him, if maybe he hadn't been asking for money at all. Then I felt cheap, that my sudden bout of generosity hadn't really been that generous because I hadn't wanted to give him my smallest bill, 200 kroner. And then I remembered I had a 100 kroner bill tucked in my keychain (the kind that looks like a small coin purse) and was irritated that I hadn't thought of it. I really couldn't make up my mind about my action or the whole situation.

Definitely "[how] their needs...relate to your own" and "demoralizing or confusing".

PS: No cavities, no problems, a cracked filling got replaced, and even the local anaesthetic felt good. Sun isn't just opposing my Neptune, but also trining all my first house Capricorn (teeth) planets.

Apr 24, 2004

Hell and such

I've always joked about wanting to go to Hell when I die because I want to be with all my friends in the afterlife. Well, it turns out friends may be scattered, anyway – if this questionnaire about which level of Dante's hell you'll end up in is anything to go by. Here are my results after two tries:

First try

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Second try:

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

What religion?

Next question: What religion am I? There's a questionnaire for that, too. My results with Belief-O-Matic's comments:

Remember: The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.

Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in the order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.

Rankings:

  1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
  2. New Age (98%)
  3. Unitarian Universalism (94%)
  4. New Thought (88%)
  5. Liberal Quakers (80%)
  6. Mahayana Buddhism (78%)
  7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (77%)
  8. Scientology (73%)
  9. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (66%)
  10. Hinduism (63%)
  11. Reform Judaism (63%)
  12. Theravada Buddhism (62%)
  13. Taoism (59%)
  14. Secular Humanism (50%)
  15. Sikhism (50%)
  16. Orthodox Quaker (42%)
  17. Bahá'í Faith (41%)
  18. Jainism (40%)
  19. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (31%)
  20. Nontheist (25%)
  21. Orthodox Judaism (25%)
  22. Jehovah's Witness (23%)
  23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (22%)
  24. Seventh Day Adventist (19%)
  25. Eastern Orthodox (12%)
  26. Islam (12%)
  27. Roman Catholic (12%)

I have no idea what a Neo-Pagan is, and the only faith I ever joined, is Religious Science. Anyway, I have a friend who's been answering these same questions, and she blogs, too (hi, beep!), so her blog has been added to my list.

Apr 11, 2004

Magic

Dawn over Bergen There is magic in our mundane little lives. Too bad so many people don't see it. But I'm happy to be your guide for a few minutes.

I attended a stargazing class in March, learning a lot about our nightskies before they got too light. It also clarified a few terms I've used in astrology, like sidereal time. I've discovered that most people don't look up any more. Light pollution can be partially to blame; you can't see much with street lights in your eyes. But mainly it seems that a lot of people just can't be bothered, just don't understand what's so interesting. They no longer know the name of the constellations they once looked at as children.

My stargazing teacher was apparantly a man of science: A medical doctor by day and an amateur astronomer by night. He told us about Bodes' Law and my mind made the connection from that mathematical regularity to the science fiction book "Calculating God" by Robert J. Sawyer (where science is used to prove God's existence). The expression on my teacher's face as I told him what the book was about, told me my teacher thought science fiction was rubbish. I felt sorry for him. He apparantly was not able to let his mind wonder and wander beyond what his senses could tell him. He didn't know how to explore, only to observe. You'll find magic, if you explore.

I attended a weekend class in reiki healing the last weekend of March. Reiki is a method of healing where you allow yourself to be a conduit for the healing life force that is found in everything. No hocus-pocus or religion, which was why I took an interest. But that doesn't mean it didn't bring magic into some people's lives: Several of my fellow students had epiphanies of various kinds, and the shedding of stress and getting grounded also let them see the world literally more clearly. One even said she was amazed at the colors she saw on Sunday versus Saturday.

Our thoughts are constantly somewhere other than where our bodies are. Once we connect the two, we can achieve a meditative state while still doing regular activities. Meditation is just another word for complete concentration. I'm sure you're already familiar with how time ceases to exist when you are completely absorbed in what you are doing. That sort of thing. And being present is also a way to find magic.

I experienced that suspension of time just a few days ago. It was a perfect moment that lasted more than 4 hours, when a friend and I decided to wake up with the birds. That experience was so special, I gave it its own page.

Matter has reached the point of beginning to know itself...
[Man is] a star's way of knowing about stars. --George Wald

Mar 19, 2004

Lighter days

This was the week the snow melted. Granted, there's still snow in the mountains, which should keep the snow bunnies during Easter vacation happy. But here, at sea level, the snow has gone. The rain came and washed away the winter.

This morning I heard the seagulls. One sign of spring is the 4 am squawking of seagulls eating worms on the lawns. Or whatever the heck it is the seagulls are doing.

I enjoy spring, I like the slow awakening after 3 months or so of gray, naked nature. In February the magpies start to build their nests, and I've been observing several great tits fighting over the bird box my friend Torleif hung up last year. But now I can see the green grass and the ground. I can see a hint of green in trees and bushes as the sap rises. I can even smell the earth.

This spring's different for me, though. I have hungered for it. I have longed for the light, the lengthening days, the lessening of storms and bitter cold. I don't quite know why, though I suspect it has to do with my passage through this past autumn and winter being "dark" in emotional ways.

In the midst of seeing a loved one through her autumn into her winter, I have been desperate for something to counteract that ending. Something that would lift me and keep me going. A sort of hope or reprieve.

The arrival of spring is one less thing to dampen my spirits. And although the truth is that things – such as they are – are all right, I prefer to walk home from the nursing home in fading daylight rather than complete dark.

Mar 8, 2004

Where does time go?

Recently my Grandma wanted to know if I was the one who had told her that her mother had died. I am the one who has to remind her that her mother died – way back in the 1960's, but I'm not the one who told her originally.

Moments like those make it clear to me that time and memory are linked. One does not function or exist without the other. Time helps us organize our memories; remembering what date it is or how old we were (age as time-keeper), helps us sort events. Lose track of time, and the events no longer line up in sequence, but start to happen all at once. At the very same moment my grandma is talking to her adult granddaughter, I am also my mother and my great-grandmother may or may not still be living. The memories pile on top of each other, and with as much order as any pile (last in, first out).

Memory also helps us keep track of time. Remembering what you did today and that it was different from what you did yesterday, actually helps you keep track of the days. Even a calendar is no use if you can't remember some starting point, like remembering you looked at it last on Saturday and that was two days ago, so that makes today Monday and March 8 on the calendar.

There are two signs in astrology that stand opposite each other and so represent two sides of the same thing: Cancer and Capricorn. Cancer is ruled by the Moon and Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. The Moon/Cancer side is known for its memory; Cancers never forget. The Capricorn/Saturn side is associated with time and functions of time (like experience and karma). Saturn's Greek name is Chronos, from which we get words like chronological (in sequence according to time).

The Moon is our past (our memories) and Saturn is our future (utilizing time). Neither exists in the here and now. Instead, they are about how we relate to the abstracts as past and future. Any guru will tell you not to dwell on the past or to count on the future, since neither exists. And any ordinary human will tell you that letting go of the past and not worrying about the future is damned difficult.

Neither children nor the very old have any clear concept of time. Nothing exists for them except right now. They may remember the afternoon if something extraordinary happened, else one day is like the next, and so are the weeks. The very old have some idea of consequences of their actions, which is a memory of how events are sequenced, while children have yet to learn this. Understanding that cause has an effect is a matter for Saturn, and one reason why Saturn is associated with karma and maturity, and why the Moon is associated with childhood. The Moon is associated with emotions as well as memory, and our memories do stir up emotions in us (another reason it's associated with children).

An avid student of astrology once said that Neptune (planet of fog and other things that lack substance, like imagination and illusion) rules high old age, that time in life when your mind wanders off and gets lost. But I wonder if we aren't going back to the Moon phase. People with dementia have very strong emotions, especially when frustrated by not understanding what's going on around them. Old age is also often referred to as a second childhood, and the similarities are plenty: Old people lose their pubic hair (sometimes the rest of their hair, too), they shrink in size, some wear diapers, they live in the now, lose their ability to reason in an advanced (higher intellect) fashion, and mood variations become clearer and more frequent. Some types of dementia lead to a childlike type of misbehaving, like protesting against anything the adults want you to do, and perhaps even giggling while doing it. The roles get reversed and the children now have to look after their parents.

Live long enough and time goes – to the Moon, apparantly. Grandma's droll comment on a gathering around the supper table at the nursing home was "The meeting of the maniacs". Perhaps "lunatics" is the more correct term.

Feb 26, 2004

Subtle mourning

I have discovered that when my mind is scattered, I can't focus on things like writing something sensible in my blog. For what it's worth, I can't focus on things like answering friends in e-mail properly, either, when my mind is like that.

I feel like I'm being pulled in umpteen directions emotionally and it's been like that since before Christmas. The main reason is Grandma. Still, yet.

I didn't realize until this month why.

I didn't realize that I had gone into mourning.

It's not the same as actually losing someone in death, and attending a funeral and realizing the finality of it all and just getting used to the idea.

Mourning the loss of someone when that someone is still around, living and breathing, is not so obvious. That's why it took me by surprise and still does. But the usual reactions of grief are there: The shock, the disbelief, the anger, the pain of loss.

It's a new process for me and I realize that I just have to get used to it. This is my life right now: Letting go of what was, of 43 years with a woman who was always the strong and dependable one for me, whom I could discuss anything with. It's reduced to explaining (now patiently) that I am not Mom, but Mom's daughter, and to explaining over and over again that this is a nursing home and that she's here to stay.

There's nothing new here. Millions of other people are going or have been through this very same experience: Watching elderly relatives fade away. It's just new to me.

I'm learning to laugh at the situation now. To see the humor in constantly being introduced over and over again to the same fellow patients who all respond as if meeting me for the very first time. I'm rather fascinated by what happens to the human mind at such an advanced age, by how loss of memory affects sense of time and circumstance. In one way, it's not funny when Grandma is upset one day because she doesn't remember any of the other days. I have to remind myself (not her) that this too shall pass and not to worry about her. The truth is, she's fine. Well cared for, well fed, and safe.

I was telling another woman who was having trouble sleeping at night to do the yoga pose called the Universal Spine Twist, since muscle tension can affect sleep. It's time I took my own advice. It would probably help me pull myself together and not be so scattered. Or mourning.

Jan 31, 2004

Update on blog of January 21

Updated the princess's chart. It seemed it was hard to see what the aspects were. They weren't reflecting their true geometric place. So this new version of the chart has squishy houses and accurate relative placement of the planets. Same URL as before.

Jan 26, 2004

The body knows

It's been a crazy month. I have felt like a teenager again. I have been totally disorganized, scatter-brained, tired, and lazy. It reminds me of myself when I was in my teens.

I have had fun searching the Internet for answers. Came up with a whole bunch:

I have ADD (attention deficiency disorder).

Well, that explains why I never get any work done around the house! So I ordered a book about housekeeping for messies and signed up for an ADD mailing list. Which lead me to conclude I'm:

Hypoglycemic. Or was it hyperglycemic.

Since I'd already been sniffing around the low-carb diet thing I figured this fit. So I ordered a book called "Sugar Blues" explaining why sugar is a poison (an excerpt can be read here). And I'd been eating a lot more carbs/sugar this past month. Hrm. But one article about hypoglycemia also mentioned hypoadrenocorticism.

So I am hypoadrenocortical or something.

Yeah, that's it, because that explains the IBS, too. And here's the astrology of that. Considering that I have Mars opposition Saturn (mentioned in the linked article) and my Mars is in the natural house of Libra (the 7th), it's no wonder my adrenals finally reacted. (I'm sure there's something ayurvedic going on here, too.) Well, Amazon.co.uk has been my friend thoughout and coughed up "You are all Sanpaku" as a book bought by others who bought what I bought. So:

I'm Sanpaku!

Yes, that's it! The blurb on Amazon.co.uk reads: "The revolutionary book that first launched the Macrobiotic revolution in 1965 is now back to reintroduce the condition called Sanpaku, a grave physical and spiritual imbalance that can lead to chronic fatigue, bad humour, inability to sleep soundly and a lack of precision in thought." Well, gee, that's me! Sanpaku.

And the penny dropped. I had increased my sugar intake this past month, neglected to take my Omega 3-capsules and stopped adding nuts to my breakfast cereal. What gets me is how quickly my body responds to these changes, and how forcefully it says, "Not back to the old ways. No good." Moon (changeable) in Gemini (changeable) in house of health and mutable (changeable) signs ruling house of health (6th) and general constitution (1st).

I used to try to lean towards macrobiotics. One of the first virtually vegetarian diets I tried. And I loved the emphasis on whole grains and vegetables because those are food groups I truly enjoy. I'm not really a meat or fruit person. I would rather eat bread and carrots. So I should have listened to my body from the get-go. Personal preference is a good guide.

I've been told that if you leave kids to pick food for themselves, after a while, they'll pick healthy stuff. I think anyone can do this, but only if their own sense of appetite isn't destroyed. I'm amazed at how many people have no contact with their own stomachs. They eat according to mood or the time, not because they are hungry – and they don't/can't stop eating when they are full, because they are eating according to mood or the time. And there's this "carb addiction" thing. I think I had a dose of that this month. It really does make a difference to cut back on the sweets.

But I ain't giving up coffee. Not yet.

Jan 21, 2004

A princess is born

The next one in line for the throne in Norway was born today. A girl. Her name will be announced tomorrow. She's already historical, since Norway hasn't had a queen in 600 years, and because until 1990, no female could be heir apparent to the throne. In 1990, the constitution was changed so that the first-born would be heir apparent, regardless of gender.

Anyway, here's the kid's chart. Born in Rikshospitalet (National hospital), Oslo, Norway, at 9:13 am CET.

And since I mouthed off on Usenet, I may as well repeat what I said there about my first take on the chart:

My take: Not only will she be queen, she'll probably be a lesbian, too. ;-)

Seriously: 12th house Sun and Saturn retrograde suggest an absent father. With a Capricorn Moon conjunct Sun in 12th, this little girl may find both of her parents emotionally unavailable. She may end up a party-girl like her mother, or maybe that 1st house Venus-Uranus conjunction will have more "hard-wired" effect. She certainly will hold her own with Mars in Aries, though the Neptune rising may keep people from seeing that side initially. She also may never ascend the throne or have to fight for it somehow, since ruler of her MC is retrograde and it squares her 10th house Pluto (interesting configuration for a future monarch, yes?).

I personally wonder if her father won't abdicate and (possibly) end the monarchy. The people aren't that keen on royals anymore.

Jan 15, 2004

Grabbed and tickled

Every once in a while, I come across something that really grabs my attention or tickles me in some way. A couple of things I've come across are a picture of a hole in the clouds (as well as the word virga[1]) at NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site, which also offered this 360 degree view from the Moon in glorious 1970's black and white, followed by a similar, current view from Mars.

The clouds fascinated me. I have never seen or heard of such a phenomenon. And the Moon photograph fascinated me. I spent a good while looking at it, thinking how lovely the Moon looked, and probably subconsciously remembering the excitement of the lunar missions from my childhood. I can't say the picture of Mars grabbed me in the same way. I looked at it and thought, "Well, we finally get a good look – and it's boring." I may feel differently later, but that was my first impression.

Finally, this last tickle from the Internet Movie Database site. I was watching "The Maltese Falcon" on TV and looked it up on IMDb. What grabbed me is this statement from the goofs page: "Cairo's tie changes from polka-dotted to striped when Sam Spade hits him." What a hit!

Self-sabotaging update

I think the Universe heard me: My VCR just up and quit on me Monday night. I thought I'd be rushing around yesterday (since I had the day off work), trying to get it fixed, but no. I probably need to live without so much viewing right now.

Jan 12, 2004

New Year's Resolution?

I have a note hanging on my wall next to my desk. It reads, "Discipline is doing what is important to you." It's meant to be a reminder to me to get off my butt and not waste time. However, it's not working. I don't have the discipline necessary to follow the advice.

I could speculate on why not. Some things that discipline would help me with are routines for giving myself a nice home (basically: Take time to toss the clutter) and to write The Great American Novel Or Something Close. I sit at the computer a lot, but it's mostly surfing and e-mail and Usenet. Addicting, that. But it don't write no novel.

And I have ideas. I have something to type onto an electronic page. I have all the tools I need. But I don't do the discipline part. There's always something I've gotta do first. Yesterday, I finally found the urge to write – just as I realized that I had better go visit my grandma at the nursing home.

Funny thing, someone else in the family does similar stuff: My aforementioned grandma. Every time she starts to feel her oats again and has ideas to paint and wants to paint them, she falls or something and is chained to a bed for weeks.

There's some odd self-sabotaging going on here. I'm sure that if I just give myself the time to meditate and ask my inner self, I'll find out what subconscious bad habit or belief is stopping me.

I've just gotta finish playing at the computer first...