Jan 31, 2006

Security guards, screens, and Norway

When I first became a professional (i.e. got paid for finding my way around a file cabinet) in California, the stereotyped security guard posted in the reception area would watch TV on the one screen not watching the building. Yesterday, when I left work, I heard our security guard chuckling at his single screen and since I knew it wasn't TV (we don't have any), it had to be the internet. Ah, yes, times have changed.

Upon inquiry as to the source of the merriment, I was informed that Jeremy Clarkson's description of Norway was an absolute riot. It is. See for yourself. (Don't let the part about the Mercedes throw you.)

Jan 27, 2006

Sorting nails

For a while I gave up Blogger, recreated my blog a Geocities webpage, and then started fresh at Blogger again. Tonight I did my version of what a friend calls "sorting nails": A relatively mindless though not useless job that keeps you occupied and gives you a break from worries or allows you (and other family members) a bit of alone-time. My friend would go into the garage and sort nails, hence the name of the activity.

So now my nails are sorted: All posts from the Geocities page are now here and archived. And boy, does Blogger look different in Firefox! I usually use Safari.

The Bird Woman of Ortuvann

I had seen her once before, a tad incongruous with her grocery cart, fur coat and purple-brown hair, and sunglasses, feeding the ducks. When she left, I took this picture:

Today I saw her again, her grocery cart full of bread. I stopped and looked at the huge crowd of mallards surrounding her, and she noticed me. "Enjoying the view?" she cheerfully asked and I said yes. When she was done feeding the birds, she started to chat with me. I learned that she started feeding the ducks when the cold weather came, that she came twice a week and chose days when she knew others wouldn't be feeding the birds (like on Fridays), and that she had regular contact with the local ornithological association. As we chit-chatted about the regulars that inhabit Ortuvann, the pond we were standing by, we realized there were no gulls, and Bird Woman said she hadn't seen any gulls since Christmas. I wondered why; they are everywhere (also in my picture above).

The ducks surrounded us while we were talking, staying close to their benefactor, being thorough about finding any and all crumbs, and also being quite relaxed. When we said goodbye and she turned to leave, most of the ducks immediately set off after her, following her for several yards, until they realized that she was definitely leaving. I had moved on down the path a bit, crossing a little wooden bridge, and turned back to watch the ducks. Suddenly, a good number of them took flight and flew the few feet to the little stream. I was amused at how they could find a spot to land in crowded water and not crash into other ducks. After all, it takes them a few feet to come to a stop.

I would be very happy to come across the duck lover again. Standing still, enjoying a chat, let me discover some details in the mallards I hadn't really been aware of before. Beautiful birds!

Jan 25, 2006

!?

Reading other people's blogs, and clicking on links without knowing what they lead to, can lead to this.

Jan 22, 2006

It's freezing

Or perhaps it's more accurate to say: It's frozen. Today was one of those bitter, cold days that midwinter can cough up. A leaden sky cast gloom all day and made the air feel raw. The wind was so cold and strong that it has polished the thin layer of snow on rocks and parking lots into ice. What was I doing out in this weather, freezing my ears off? Heading for the gas station to buy batteries for a remote, while dropping off metal, glass and plastic at the recycling bins, skidding across a beforementioned parking lot. And discovering this icicle.

Jan 21, 2006

A series of little, happy things

My hairdresser, Trond, is out sick. He caught the extremely contagious strain of pneumonia that has reached epidemic proportions in Bergen, and is on sickleave until February 1. So my hair was cut today by one of his other employees, Sonja. The only one who can cut my hair to my satisfaction, is Trond himself, but last fall I felt like a change was due. Sonja did a decent job (just a cut), but more importantly, we hit it off chit-chat wise. I feel at ease in her company, so I'll be talking to Trond about bringing her up to speed with my hair so that he has a "stand-in", and I'll have more options. Trond himself is always so busy.

So there I was in the city, with a fresh haircut, and realized that I'd left my camera at home. There are things to photograph that most people don't notice: Like the green, corrugated metal sheds on the wharf that have incongruous, carved, stone pillars. Or the handwritten "SALE" sign in an oriental shop done in such a way as to look like a Chinese pictograph. Or the many "zebra" pedestrian crossings made with cobblestones and other types of stone; I found myself wondering where the black stone comes from.

I was looking for pruning shears so I can hack off a dying branch of my yucca palm, and wandered into the rest of the hardware store and found some other items which add to the series of little, happy things. Like wooden clothes pins. I don't use them to hang up clothes, but to close bags (twisty ties and rubber bands are too much work) and tie back curtains. The plastic in some I've been using, has gone brittle so I've been breaking the clothes pins. But wood is so much nicer, and more suited to interior use.

I eventually found my way to the bus stop, and ended up waiting for over 25 minutes for the bus. I don't know if I had just missed a bus because my mood was such that I was in no hurry and didn't care to check the schedule. In fact, the 25 minutes passed and left me a bit surprised that I could just be standing around like that, observing people around me, and not once get restless or bored. But people are so interesting to watch. Like the young father tossing his little boy in the air; the boy laughed with delight. It took me a bit to figure out what the pattern was on his rubber pants, but then I saw it was brightly colored dinosaurs wearing equally brightly, but opposite colored rubber boots. I got a kick out of that pattern.

And once home again and surfing my regular daily diet of websites, another little, happy thing was today's APOD picture. You get that in lieu of a picture from me since I forgot my camera...

Jan 19, 2006

Meming (is that a word?) again

I knew I needed to blog because it's been a while, but what about? So I came across this meme at ultraviolet's. No, she ain't tagging and neither am I. Anyway:

1. When you look at someone what is the first thing that you notice?

The little things, like a stray lock of hair.

2. What is your favorite, if any: dark, milk or white chocolate?

White.

3. River, lake or ocean?

Ocean.

4. Have you ever been streaking?

I'm going with ultraviolet's answer on this one: God, no. I'd freeze to death!

5. What music do you like to hear when on a romantic date?

Music?

6. Do you ride horses?

Versus eating them, you mean?

7. If you could own three vehicles of your choice what would they be?

A Segway, an industrial strength helicopter, and a Toyota Prius.

8. Do you hate your job?

Not once.

9. Do you like the nine to five grind?

Yes! If only it actually was 9 to 5, but my boss would rather I show up around 8.

10. What would be your dream job?

Retired. Or guru.

11. Paper or plastic?

Oh, the bag thing. In Norway, all bags are plastic and that suits me fine.

12. The Earth is a living organism and if we keep mistreating the earth it will no longer sustain life?

Yes. It'll no longer sustain human life. The bacteria, rats and cockroaches will always manage.

13. When you cook (you do cook don't you?), do you wash pots and pans as you go or do you wait until everything is done?

I'm a clean-as-I-go sort of cook, i.e. wiping off counters and putting stuff in the sink. I don't actually wash up until done, though.

14. If you are hot and want to drink some water, do you like it cold, ice cold or lukewarm?

Cool, not cold.

15. Do you enjoy going to the gym?

Never.

16. What type of movies do you like?

Good ones. What kind of question is this? Oh, you mean genre. Sci-fi, mystery/action/thriller, comedy.

17. It is raining and cold, you are alone, the fire place is burning and the electricity is out, what do you do?

Well, except for having a fire place, that's pretty much what it's like around here. Oh, except that I have electricity. But if the power goes out, it's usually because of a thunderstorm, so I'd light some candles, grab a wool blanket, and park myself next to the window and watch the show.

18. Do you think this meme is too long?

No, because I skipped ahead and I know that there's only 20 questions.

19. Why do you think that I put so many questions on this meme?

I'm wondering why you put in so few.

20. Will you ever do a meme again?

Probably. I'm doing one now, aren't I?

Det brenner hos deg

En kollega som surfet på Bergens Tidende kunne fortelle at det brant hos meg. Hjertet hoppet i halsen på meg, men heldigvis kunne jeg se av bildene på bt.no at det ikke var min blokk. Men kollegaen lovte aldri å ordlegge seg akkurat slik igjen.

Jan 8, 2006

Page-A-Day Calendar

I bought a Page-A-Day Calendar for myself. I decided that I wanted to excercise the noggin' (to stave off memory loss, Alzheimer, his misspelled twin Altzheimers, and general brain-leakage) and picked up one that read Mensa Puzzles. (I've already discovered I've forgotten all my algebra and that used to be my favorite type of math.) The publishers let you sign up for an online version of same or for another calendar, using the special code that you don't discover until you unwrap the printed calendar. (I did open it on January 2nd; I keep it at work.)

So I'm browsing all the other Page-A-Day calendars, trying to make up my mind. I finally settled on these two calendars and am now trying to decide which one to subscribe to:

Duct Tape 2006: "From Jim and Tim, the guys who turned duct tape into a publishing phenomenon, it’s a nutty new year of tribute. Celebrate The Tape with hundreds of quotes, tips, Stump the Duct Tape Guys challenges, Wacky Duct Tape Uses, Duct Tape Sightings, and more. Mess-free eating on the go—bind your sandwich or taco in duct tape, then eat down to the tape and squeeze. Kite loss prevention: Duct tape kite string to your arm (not recommended for people who weigh less than 100 pounds). Plus the Duct Tape Book Club, how to make a belt-loop duct tape dispenser, getting the word out on National Tell-Somebody-About-the-Virtues-of-Duct-Tape Day, and more."

or:

Zen 2006: "Ahhh! A moment of understanding. A glimpse of beauty. Truth that unfurls in the mind like a flower. Zen is East. Zen is West. Zen is a wake-up call for the spirit. Filled with gems of unexpected insight from Zen masters, philosophers, sages, iconoclasts, saints, poets, basketball coaches, and even silly movies, Zen offers a year of clarity and wisdom, and, of course, the paradoxical. Basho. Lao-tzu. The Buddha himself. Kafka, Wilde, Proust, Thelonious Monk, and Jerry Garcia. And Niels Bohr to Albert Einstein: 'You are not thinking. You are merely being logical.'"

Y'know, I'll bet zen goes well with duct tape.

Jan 2, 2006

A beautiful start to 2006

A rather unusual light column drew extra attention to New Year Day's gorgeous sunset, photographed over Lysefjorden, south of Bergen.

UPDATE: I've just learned that it's a phenomenon known as a sun pillar.