Apr 30, 2006

83% brainwashworthy

I took the The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test and scored a whopping 83% brainwashable as compared to others my age and gender (53% on the actual test). Had I been a German in the 1930's, I would have stood idly by while the bagel shop closed, says the test. I don't disagree with that assessment. I pay so little attention to current events, that I wouldn't know something was afoot until the knock came at my door. Would I agree to my government wiping out a group of people, once I found out about it? No. But I'm not likely to be the one to be the first to discover such activity, nor to initiate a protest against it. I know that about myself. I'm still wondering if there will ever be anything in this life that would get me that fired up. In one way, I hope not.

Clean, spontaneous, light

So I took another online test (thanks, Beep). I rather like the results of this one: 47% dark and still clean, spontaneous and light. This test is from the same guy who came up with the "would you have been a Nazi" test. I'm gonna go retake that test and see if I come up 47% dark, and still clean, spontaneous and light there, too. And maybe take his best friend's test while I'm at it. If you have nothing better to do, either, stay tuned. I just may end up posting about those, too. Who knows, with this sense of humor that I have?

the Ham
(47% dark, 42% spontaneous, 21% vulgar)
your humor style:

Your style's goofy, innocent and feel-good. Perfect for parties and for the dads who chaperone them. You can actually get away with corny jokes, and I bet your sense of humor is a guilty pleasure for your friends. People of your type are often the most approachable and popular people in their circle. Your simple & silly good-naturedness is immediately recognizable, and it sets you apart in this sarcastic world.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Will Ferrell - Will Smith

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 60% on darkness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 43% on spontaneity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 13% on vulgarity
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Apr 28, 2006

Well, darn if they aren't right: I'm purple

Your Blog Should Be Purple
You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything. You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey. You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.

I really hope the first sentence is as true as I think it is. I know the second sentence is a lie. The third sentence is deadly accurate. So, to point out the purple, I've added a picture of bluebells (it was the purpliest thing I had on hand) to the header.

Alphabet meme

Found at http://barb76.blogspot.com/. Came across that blog by clicking on the "just updated" menu at Blogger.com. Anyway, the meme:

Accent: My American accent is generic. My Norwegian one, however, is pure Bergen accent and therefore very distinctive.
Bedtime: Always too late. I need 8 hours of sleep and prefer to be in bed by 10:00 pm so I can read for a while. Yeah, right.
Chore I Hate: I have to pick just one? OK, vacuum cleaning. I've never gotten the hang of that, even though I like my new vacuum cleaner.
Dog or Cat: Neither, currently. Over the years, I have shared life with one dog and umpteen cats.
Essential Electronics: My Mac, of course!!!
Favorite Clothing: Jeans and my Tiger Smile sweater. Not that it's my best look; I just like the clothes.
Gold or Silver: Silver-colored, like white gold.
Hometown: I have two: Los Angeles, California, and Bergen, Norway.
Insomnia: With age-related hormonal changes (that's perimenopause to you), I'm finally experiencing a bit of that, but not being able to sleep is very out of character for me.
Job Title: Gorgeous Babe Without Whom The Office Would Go To Hell. Well, that's almost true. According to my personell file, I'm a graphic designer.
Kids: None. Didn't plan on having any and that's one plan I've been able to stick to.
Living Arrangements: Chaotic. Cluttered. A 2-bedroom apartment furnished like a dorm room. But it's mine and I still love it after almost 20 years in it.
Most Admirable Trait: See the letter "J". ;-)
Number of Marriages: Quite a few, all of them somebody else's. No, seriously: Both sets of grandparents and my own parents have all been married at least twice. I'm opting for one only, if ever.
Overnight Camping Trips: No, thank you.
Phobias: Answering the letter M. Other than that, my fears are constantly diminishing with the years. I no longer panic around spiders.
Quote: "This too shall pass." Originally heard from my psychology teacher, and then recently learned that Abraham Lincoln said it.
Religion: Depends. If it's organized, I'm not interested.
Siblings: One dead sister and one half-sister, assumed alive. We're obviously not a close family.
Time I Wake Up Without an Alarm: Oh, anywhere between 7:30 am and 2 pm. 7:30 seems to be the norm.
Unusual Talent or Skill: Knowing how to make myself happy. A lot of people don't have the skill to make themselves happy.
Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: None, really. I will eat everything served me, but I never serve myself string beans.
Worst Habit: Spending too much time at the computer. Heh.
X-Rays: There are the ones I keep getting at the dentist's. Other than that, I've had two chest X-rays. One was to verify that bronchitis was not pneumonia when I was 13; the other was a requirement upon immigrating to Norway, to see if I had tuberculosis (I didn't).
Yummy Foods I Make: Omelets. I'm a whiz with eggs. Oh, maybe this should be under U?
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius. Or, according to some, Ophiuchus.

Apr 23, 2006


I read one of Norway's most popular bloggers, VamPus, and her post yesterday gave me a choice: To spread the word or shut up. Since I definitely would not be helping by saying nothing, I choose to spread the word.

Iran has sentenced a 17-year-old girl, Nazanin, to death for killing a man while defending herself and her niece from being raped. Iran allows the death penalty for girls down to age 9; for boys, the age limit is 12. So I'm doing as other bloggers have suggested: Writing about this on my blog, signing the petition, and passing on the relevant links, to you, my dear reader.

Apr 15, 2006

Buster pays me a surprise visit

My upstairs neighbor's huge castrate, Buster, is an amazing mix of laid back attitude and astute awareness - like a lot of cats. Today, I was about to wash the communal hallway and had set out my pail of soapy water in the stairwell. I turned back into my kitchen to get my mop, and Buster quietly entered through my open door. I wasn't aware he was out in the stairwell.

Well, what to do? He's a fairly phlegmatic creature, he'd paid me a visit before (looking for my cat), and I knew I could grab him and carry him out, but a better idea hit me - well, it seemed like a good idea at the time: I'd take his picture!

Ever try to take a picture of a cat? Heh. It's a lot like trying to herd them. A cranky, squirming two-year-old would be easier.

Buster heads for my bathroom - my rubber glove gets in the way - Buster heads for bedroom, hall, recliner, bookcase, chair, my fuzzy slipper, sofa, hall. His best pose? That last one, outdoors at the foot of the cherry tree. Sigh. So close, and yet so far.

Magpie skull

Speaking of birds, I found this skull outside my apartment building today. I thought it may be a crow's skull, but it belongs to a magpie. I assume a cat dragged it here. You can see a crow's skull here.


Norway shuts down for Easter, even more so than it does for Christmas. Easter always has four "Sundays": Mondy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (second day of Easter). Most also work a shorter day Wednesday. The three work days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are part of what is called "the quiet week". Many folks take a little vacation then, and at any rate have five straight days off work - depending on your job, of course.

This year, I've been home during the quiet week, and it has truly been quiet; there hasn't been much activity in the neighborhood. Just how quiet, was made obvious today: Today the grocery stores and some malls opened for a very short day of shopping. I live just a couple of doors down from our local grocery store, and there was a steady stream of people going to and from the store. I too wandered up to the store.

Pilgrims at Easter, headed for fresh milk, bread, a newspaper, more candy and other goodies, and more family-packs of Coca-Cola.

Tomorrow it will be quiet again.

Apr 14, 2006

Taking pictures and stuff

In my job as a graphic designer/typesetter I have to prepare photos for print. Sometimes that means scanning paper originals; nowadays it's adjusting digital "originals". It also means cropping the photos. I learned how to do that from Grandpa.

My maternal grandfather, originally a diesel engineer and a good mechanic, was given the suggestion to take up photography so he'd have a hobby when he retired. He turned out to be a natural, and won several prizes at some local amateur shows. He learned to develop his own black and white photos and there were times when Grandma told me I couldn't use the bathroom for the next half hour because Grandpa was developing photos. I don't remember that as being a nuisance. Instead, it became anticipation: We'd soon get to see his new pictures.

He was critical of his own work, but he achieved perfection several times. Grandma would paint from his landscape photographs, and somewhere in my stuff is a very descriptive black and white photo of a very young me getting drawn by a street artist. I took home dozens and dozens of his color slides as my "inheritance" and one day hope to go through them and hopefully transfer them to digital. Anyway, I watched him work, and he let me mess around with an old box camera, giving me pointers on framing my subject, lighting, exposure, etc. I even went as far as getting an SLR camera of my own, but it fell into disuse some time in the 80's.

I use my "eye" at work and for years didn't bother with much picture-taking beyond the usual vacation snaps. With the advent of digital cameras, I rekindled my old hobby, and also discovered that I had actually forgotten some of what I once knew about composition, and had to re-teach myself. During today's walk I took some pictures. The disappointment comes often from having a camera that just isn't able to "see" what I see. Cropping the photos afterwards can help put the idea I had back into the picture, though not always successfully. My two best efforts, pretty much right from the camera (a simple Canon ixus V2) from today's walk are here:

The green moss on the trunks stood out and fortunately my camera saw it, too.

Snowdrops. I put the camera on macro and I love the feel of depth because the background is out of focus (for a change).

A third effort is this view, which looked striking as I stood on the path, but which just didn't translate through the lens, and cropping wasn't enough. Using iPhoto's vignette feature made the picture work, if not perfectly. (I notice that scaling the picture down also detracts from it.)

For more of my photos, I have a bunch of albums on my dot Mac site.

Friday's creature

Perhaps it had to do with the weather or something, because after yesterday's constant downpour - with ponds filled to the brim, trees standing in water, and all the ducks I passed acting very cagey - today's fearlessness or perhaps laziness in most critters was striking (as was the now clearly lower waters and absence of deep puddles). Mallards were napping right next to the footpath, hardly opening their eyes when I came by. And I got within two meters of a crow, which was calling and calling, and I managed to take three pictures of it before it decided it had had enough of me. But it didn't fly away, which would be normal for a crow near a human; it just hopped off its branch and walked away. So with a nod to Alice's regular Friday feature at her blog, here's the common crow, as seen in Norway:

Apr 8, 2006


Coot. The name fits, I think. It's such an odd-looking bird, so the odd name suits. My friend Alice posted pictures and a video of the American coot on her website, so here's the European cousin: The black coot. In this photo, you see two in the water and one ashore with a mallard couple, taken at a stream near where I live. The Norwegian name is sothøne ("soot hen").

I really wish I had a camera with a good zoom lens for bird photography. Had I gotten closer, you could have better seen the striking white ridge on their beak, and the oversized, webby feet. They are very clownish on land because their bodies seem disproportioned, but are very graceful and quick in the water. Their call is a very sweet (IMO), single "flute" note, and if you listen carefully, you'll hear the American coot's call once on Alice's video (about 1/3 in).

In case you were wondering, the brown version of the bird, called sivhøne ("reed hen") in Norwegian, is called a moorhen in English. I saw one once at Ortuvann pond, but in recent years, it's the black coot that has become a permanent resident of the pond.

Apr 4, 2006

Address labels

I get a kick out of making address labels. I'm good at the layout and have a sharp eye for errors, and I get the added benefit of catching glimpses of the different names of streets, towns and people, and also different addressing customs. And the occassional giggle (like "Garbage Dump Road").

I sometimes forget how to address envelopes to folks in the US. Differences between the US and Norway involve where to put the zip code (in the US, after the city and state; in Norway, before the city) and whether or not the street name comes before the house number (again, Norway does the opposite of the US).

As part of my job, I make business cards for Danes and Norwegians, and both Denmark and Norway use four-digit postal codes, while Sweden uses five, and Greenland apparantly uses none. I have also been helping a marketing department with address labels, and the most fascinating part about that, has been in seeing the increase in non-Norwegian names compared to when I first started working in Norway, over 24 years ago.

Apr 3, 2006

Free advice

You have to figure that if you're looking for something, the topmost link on the results page after a Google search, is going to be a commercial site. The one I stumbled across just now promises me that "If you can spare just 10 minutes a day - I'll show you the secret of living the life you dream of!" Farther down the page, I see it involves 10 minutes at the computer daily with some software I can buy.

So I've decided to give you some free advice. It costs you only the calories it takes to read this and the bit of electricity running your computer right now. Here it is:

Be happy.

That's it.

No, it's no joke. April Fool's was Saturday. If you read enough self-help stuff, they all tell you to behave the way you want to be (a feat I find darned hard to do, myself). But look at the phrase "Be happy". Don't think happy, don't become happy, but be happy. It's not easy to do, and I keep having to remind myself to be happy, too. What it is, is living in the moment, of simply existing without all kinds of thoughts running through your head. It's a state of mind, a focus on the here and now. Being in the moment. And letting that moment be happy.

Many have suggested counting blessings in order to discover happiness. It does work. I've tried it. It helps to remind yourself of the stuff in your life that isn't a source of worry or dissatisfaction. Like having a roof over your head, regular meals, clothes on your back, the ability to stay warm when it's cold and vice-versa, someone who cares about you, a pet, all the free stuff to download from the internet. Those sorts of things. Be grateful for the basics. Then expand the list. It may not expand today, but it will eventually.

The other thing to keep in mind is that happiness is like an excellent meal: You have to enjoy it right then and there, and once you're done, it's gone. And that's all right. Happiness is not a constant; it's like everything else in our lives: Something that comes and goes (I can't tell you how happy I was to discover we're not meant to be happy constantly). The point to seeking out happiness in the first place, is to notice your happy moments, to keep track of them, add them up, create more. Like saving in a piggy bank, one coin at a time.

After a while, achieving happiness becomes a habit. It becomes easier and quicker to find that moment of utter bliss and peace and knowing all is well in your world.

And next thing you know, you are happy.