Jun 30, 2007

Stop it!

Everybody's talking about it. Everybody. But to tell the truth, hearing about it is getting as tiring as that other piece of "news". And when Joy of Tech does three jokes in a row about it, I've had enough. There is no where to turn where it's not mentioned. Even iTunes is out in a new version solely so I can sync to it. And the darned thing may not even work in Norway when it finally gets here sometime in October. So can we talk about something else, please?

Jun 29, 2007


Making the rounds of some Norwegian blogs is a meme about what you remember from 1987 (a 20th anniversary).

I can't tell you anything about popular culture, fashion, top 40 hits, news items, or the year's best movies without looking it up, because I can't remember.

I do remember 1987, though, because that was the beginning of my first experience of a Saturn transit to my Sun and Moon and 12th and 6th houses. That's astrological symbolism for matters affecting the psyche, work, and ego with Saturn meaning time to throw out what doesn't work; the reality was being downsized at work and finding myself facing possible unemployment, making me feel depressed. It was at this time I rediscovered the power of affirmations, and managed to keep myself from continuing to worry about things I could do nothing about. I did eventually get placed in a different department at work. Not ideal, as it turned out, nor permanent, but I learned a skill that I did enjoy and that led me to work later (in 1990) that I've enjoyed since.

And another memory linked to the above (in the grab bag that is my memory) is of my grandma telling me Grandpa had been married before. And had a son. I fell silent at hearing this. And she correctly guessed, "Makes him seem more human, doesn't it." Yes, the stoic man who never talked about his past was made more human.

And for those of you who want to know about popular culture, fashion, top 40 hits, news items, or the best movies of 1987, Wikipedia offers this run-down of 1987 and I'm thinking that there are other years far better. But after learning in 2007 how to use iMDB's year search, I am happily reminded of television's "21 Jump Street" (can you say Johnny Depp?), "Airwolf" (like Star Trek's "Enterprise", the flying machine has a role all its own), "Inspector Morse" (I was sorry when John Thaw died), "Jake and the Fatman" (I always liked William Conrad), and (applause, please) Star Trek: The Next Generation. In movies, this was the year of "Fatal Attraction" (and no one was to ever look at rabbits the same way again), "Good Morning, Vietnam", a Robin Williams vehicle I actually liked, "Moonstruck", which absolutely delighted me and made me a Cher fan, and in the category they-don't-make-men-like-that-anymore (and I mean the agents, not the actors): "The Untouchables", one of the few Kevin Costner movies I liked, maybe because *swoon* Sean Connery was in it, too. Today's world could do with some untouchables. Corrupt seems to be acceptable behavior 20 years on, thought I know that at the time "The Untouchables" came out, we pretty much thought the world had gone to moral hell already. "The Untouchables" was a nostalgia piece for a time when people did the right thing, no matter what. Who knew it would get worse? Who knew 2007 would see a US vice-president claim his office isn't part of the executive branch so he can skirt uncomfortable issues, and the US involved in a war because, quite simply, our president lied?

Onwards to music: "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles, and I really do need to get a CD of their greatest hits or something. "Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen, which led to my first purchase of a Springsteen album since "Born in the USA", and another 1987 memory: Visiting a friend in Trondheim, and riding in the back of their family van, with that song playing on the car stereo. A song I am happy to do without: Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red". Much better to dance slow to Genesis' "In Too Deep". I still play that. Also still getting a spin in the CD player is Kylie Minogue's cover of "Locomotion". Yes, I know who Kylie Minogue is.

If I left something out, it was intentional, so no need to leave a list of cool stuff I forgot in the comments. The above is what jogs memories for me. But do let me know what you remember of 1987.

Jun 28, 2007

Cannibalism, cranks, and celestial stuff

The above quote is from Matthew Erwin's blogpost on one of three most pivotal discoveries of our time.

The Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy (Sag DEG) was discovered in 1994, replacing the Large Magellanic Cloud as the closest galaxy to ours. The Sagittarius DEG is currently circling the Milky Way in a dissolving loop. If we could see infrared, we would see our entire sky look like the Milky Way. In the years since Sag DEG was discovered, we have come to realize that it is actually being cannibalized by the Milky Way.

Matthew Erwin has used this information to come up with some theories for the following: Why our solar system is at a near 90 degree slant relative to the Milky, why the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, and why we are currently experiencing global warming. If we follow Erwin's theory, that right angle view is of someone else's galaxy, and we aren't being invaded, as APOD said in 1998. We are the invaders.

And this is Erwin's explanation for why the Mayan calendar ends in 2012:

This grand turning is also the root cause for the discontinuation of the Mayan calendar (the most accurate on the planet) because the 'read-point' of the Pleiades star cluster from Earth the calendar was based upon could no longer be a constant as we begin to steer away from the earlier chart-ably predictable movement.

I rather like that one. Far more cheering than hearing the world's going to end.

But why are we at a near 90 degree angle to our own Milky Way? One explanation is that [W]hen the Solar System was just a rotating, collapsing cloud of gas and dust, a passing star came close enough to change its axis of rotation.

Actually, there's nothing odd at all about our solar system being at an angle to the Milky Way, as the website Bad Astronomy points out as it debunks Erwin's theories.

(Hat tip to Tim for his post on the matter, and Sravana for reminding me of Bad Astronomy, a good place for lay people to get astronomy explained. And no, there's nothing weird about his blog post title. It is as relevant as mine.)

Jun 24, 2007

Comment policy

Elsewhere in Blogland (Blogdom, Blogovia, Blogostan, etc., take your pick) or at least that part of the Country of Blog I visit, the debate of freedom of speech and how far can you go in saying mean or threatening things to someone in a comments war has resurfaced. I've already given my opinion on the matter, and although several have told me that the right to free speech is meant to limit government censorship, not to keep people from lying about each other, I think my earlier post still makes my point in the debate.

Some other citizens of the Country of Blog have found it necessary to post a comment policy for their blogs. Understandably. I have seen the flame wars of Usenet make their way into comments of people's blogs. Same nastiness, same off-topic and personal attacks. And in some cases, same altering of the original comment.

But one reason is because the blog owner lets it happen. And why? Well, maybe because they want everyone to like them, or they have sworn in the nude while sitting on a stack of pineapples never, ever to delete a comment.

Bah to that. I still frequent Usenet. I'm used to flame wars and I've seen people driven off a newsgroup and into therapy, and I've seen people rally around and protect those who couldn't protect themselves from a vicious attacker. And in some cases, moderated groups were formed. And that means finding moderators. A "job" that has a high turnover.

To moderate a Usenet group you have to like rules, know how to use them, and be willing to enforce them. You cannot get upset when the writer of a banned post chooses to say the vilest things about you in another newsgroup or in e-mail to you. You cannot be the sort that worries about being liked. Your job is to protect fair and friendly discussion. You certainly can't whine on the moderated group about off-group attacks from the poster who didn't like getting his post rejected because he put another poster's name in the Subject.

Moderating Usenet groups is not for the faint-hearted or for those with misguided ideas of what's fair ("But so-and-so wasn't mean to me!"). Not if you want to keep everyone focused on reasonable, preferably on-topic discourse.

So here is my comment policy: I used to moderate a Usenet group.

More yr

Sravana and I have been having a discussion about using the new Norwegian weather website, yr.no, mentioned in my last post. She noted some oddnesses and I've noted them, too, but it is hard to tell if this is intentional or a bug. The site is still in beta.

So for those of you who don't speak Norwegian, here's some navigation help, if you want to check weather anywhere:

  • At the top of every page is a search field. "Værsøk" is the site's own combination of weather (vær) and search (søk). Click on that to start the search. The text under the search field is telling you to type a place name.
  • Norway has its own links by region under "Varsel for Norge" (forecast for Norway) in the sidebar at left. "Varsel for utlandet" (forecast abroad) is for the rest of the world. Pretty self-explanatory even with K's where C's would be. Nord = north, Sør = South. Asia covers everything from Israel to Japan.
  • Where Sravana ran into trouble was in going from my local map in the "Advanced Map" tab to a world map. Turns out that by removing choices under the region you are in (there are radio buttons to select things like temperature and precipitation), the map will update (perhaps a bit slowly) to the choices you've made in the new region. My local map goes automatically to "Europe" and "Precip 1h.". When I deselect "Precip 1h." and make a choice in, say, "Rest of World", the map updates, but will have the same geographic focus as in the previous map. But like with Google maps, you can zoom in and out and move up, down, left and right. Note: Refreshing the page just brings you back to the original map. (Not sure it that's the intention.)
  • Scrolling up and down moves the zoom up and down, not the map or page (at least with my set-up: Mighty Mouse and Safari).
  • To the left of the radio button choices under Europe, is something called "Tidspunkt" (time) and a date in Norwegian format below. This feature is linked to the radio button choices. I.e. choose "Precip. 1h." and the time shifts one hour ahead or back, depending on which arrow you click. "Precip 3h." makes a similar shift in 3-hour increments. I tried going ahead 24 hours but got nothing. Either no data, or no precipitation. I think this feature still has bugs.

Enough about the weather (and beta websites). On to the Norwegian lesson: Why is the site called "yr.no"? Well, "no" is Norway. "Yr" as a weather term (and noun) means drizzly or misty rain. The kind of rain that penetrates anything because the drops are so small. But "yr" has other meanings. One verb meaning is "mill around" as in the milling around of crowds of people. But "yr" as an adjective means excited, agitated or running wild, as in "yr og galen" ("wild and crazy"). "Våryr" ("spring crazy") is what a lot of animals and people get when winter finally releases its grip and the sun's heat can actually be felt. Letting the cows out of their shed for the first time in the spring usually means a bunch of jumping and dancing cows as they delight in the freedom and the fresh air. "Yr av glede" say the Norwegians, which basically means "jumping for joy". So, "yr" is a clever play on words for the new weather site, yes?

Jun 23, 2007

Cloud and Sun, meet Moon

Norway's main broadcasting company (wholly government operated) and Norway's meteorological institute have joined forces and produced a new website, with animated maps and stuff. It's still in beta, but I'm finding it a rather fascinating alternative to the institute's own pages.

I can search for my own little neck of the woods, Fyllingsdalen. I am informed that there is no other place on the planet called Fyllingsdalen, and we are part of a city. Going to Fyllingsdalen's own weather page, I learn that the weather station is 3.2 km (2 miles) away (and so likely not even in Fyllingsdalen), and that I am located at 60°21′42″N 05°17′45″E. I also learn that today, which is Midsummer's Eve or St. John's Eve, I can safely leave my umbrella at home if I intend to see the bonfire in my local neighborhood.

The meteogram delivered by the institute is a simple graph, with green bars showing precipitation and a red line showing temperature, moving in a straight line between data points, and the symbols for weather at the top and time and wind at the bottom. I have found it quite accurate, and it tells me when the weather will happen, not just what weather. It applies to all of Bergen.

The new site delivers a meteogram for my neighborhood only. While I love the colors and icon, I have to admit that seeing clouds and suns bouncing up and down along a squiggly temperature line is a tad - distracting. It doesn't look like weather any more, but rather like something I'd see in children's programming. "Cloud and Sun Go for a Walk in the Red Hills and Meet Moon". This may take some getting used to.

Jun 20, 2007

Thinks I like about Safari

No, not the swahili word, but the Mac OS (now also for Windows) web browser: I'm testing the version 3 beta, and I like that I can re-open a tab in a new window, move tabs around in an existing window, and that Safari will warn me before closing a window I've typed some text in. Like just now, when I replied in the comments to my own blog and clicked on the "close window" button, rather than "publish". Safari stopped me from having me a) think I've commented and end up wondering why the computer hates me, or b) having to retype everything all over again and that first draft was so brilliant - and impossible to remember exactly because of course I typed lots this time. ("Re-open last closed window" also rocks.)

Why do I close the window rather than press "Publish"? For that, you can blame another piece of Mac software: MacSOUP, wherein one simply closes the window when done typing to save your brilliant retort and await sending because it's an offline newsreader.

PS: Spellcheck in Safari is on automatically now. Why can't "blame" be spelled "blaim"? Hmmm???

What's in a name?

A good laugh. That's what. Spurred by the Webmiztris' comment on naming your kid Imola or Werdna (do read that one), I went looking for Imola. It's a town in Northern Italy. But that lead me to this blogger's category of bad baby names, and from that I laughed myself silly at this:

Qwuincey - Representing the finest in grammatical errors, Qwuincey’s parents decided to flaut hundreds of years of linguistical tradition and break up the Q-U marriage. But that’s not the worst of it: in the comments some imbecile named Quinsey managed to figure out how to use a keyboard and leave not one but three comments saying that “this is a stuiped webkite”.

My own fairly rare first name has its story. My mother saw it in an obituary years before I came along, and liked it. She and my father agreed she'd name the girls and he'd name the sons. So instead of John Henry, I got Keera Ann. My mother missed having a middle name, so she made sure to give me one. The convention was kept with my sister, Debra Lynn. First name of five letters ending in -ra (as does my mom's), and a short middle name with double-N. I think that would make naming daughter no. 3 challenging, but I've always liked the rhythm of my name and my sister's.

I never encountered any other Keera (regardless of spelling) growing up, and I'm still not sure of the name's etymology, though my mother figured it was Russian, and a woman from Bulgaria told me I had a very common name where she was from: The female variation of Cyrill (Kiril), which means "lordly". But "Keera" shows up also as a variant spelling of the Persian Kira ("Sun") or the Latin Kira ("Light"). Still, all three of those meanings can be seen as synonymous, at least to me with my knowledge of astrology.

"Ann" is so much easier. She was Jesus' grandma and her name means grace (as in mercy).

Having a name that is unique and stands out no matter where I am, must have defined me in some way, but since I've never had a "normal" name, I can't say how. More importantly, I really like my name; I am absolutely pleased with it. I have never wanted to change it even when it got mangled. Contrary to what many think, my name gave me more trouble in the US than it does here in Norway. When I worked as a receptionist in California, my name was constantly misheard as Kerry or Karen or Carol (how do you mishear something that rhymes with beer-a as Carol?), especially on the phone. I'd show people how it was spelled and they'd still read it as Kerry. In Norway, family here heard my grandparents call me Keera, and they mimicked that as best they could, to a very long ee, and the r moved to the second syllable: KEE-rah. In school, kids who saw my name spelled before they heard it, said, "KEH-rah". That fascinated me no end (and was a mini-lesson in Norwegian pronounciation) so I let them use that. And that is actually how I say my name when introducing myself to Norwegians: KEH-rah. And the Norwegians never think I'm saying something else.

When I spell my name, I pause after the double-E. Norwegians don't say "double-E" like Americans would, so "E, E, R" often leads to the E and the R in the right order, but not the right amount. By pausing after saying "E, E", they get a chance to realize I'm spelling something weird. (My last name is a cinch, because Norway has a tasty lemon caramel called Fox, so I just say "Fox, like the yellow caramels" and only once in 25 years have I encountered a Norwegian who had no clue what I was talking about.)

As a kid and teenager, it frustrated me that I never could find keychains, T-shirts, mugs, cards or necklaces with my name on them. Now I'm happy I couldn't. Less clutter. More uniqueness for me.

Jun 17, 2007

Oh, so that's why the Bible

I like archaeology (can't spell it, but I like it). I like stuff about religion. I am fortunate enough to belong to a culture where the two get combined all the time, thanks to a book that's actually a collection of books, called The Bible.

Fact or fiction, God's actual words, or just men's. This is the debate about the Bible. Add to that debate the book "The Bible Unearthed", a very scholarly archaological look at the history of ancient Israel and the version of it that's in the Bible. Because it is such a scholarly read, it took me a while to get through it. Not exactly a page-turner, but for anyone who wants to know about the buried past of Israel, this book will tell all. With maps.

I finished the book because it had one hook: After all this archaeological digging around (no pun intended) in the Bible passages, the authors promise that there was a reason why the Bible was written after the fact, and therefore ended up with a screwy timeline and some folks doing some things at a time when they just couldn't have. (I'm sure I'm not revealing anything surprising if I say Solomon did not build the temple.)

The why of it, why those stories, why then, was to help to define a people. The interesting part is that the message is still universal: It's about the rights of the oppressed, the desire for fairness and democracy, while keeping society and traditions intact. Bet you didn't know that's what leaving Egypt and all that fighting was about. I didn't either.

So, God didn't write the Bible. People did (I'm sure I didn't reveal anything surprising there, either). So, does that invalidate the Bible? Or God? Or the religions that rely on the Bible? I don't think so. It does invalidate claims that the Bible's words should be taken literally, at absolute face value. It does not, however, invalidate the intention and message of the Bible. Myths, fables, allegories - all hold up a mirror to our human condition, our thoughts, our experiences, showing us the truth about ourselves without demanding that we assume the stories themselves are true. Same thing with the Bible: It contains every human condition, every human problem - and presents us with solutions and outcomes. In "The Bible Unearthed", the digging around found the seeds of democracy; the Bible is a legal and political mirror, too, and a timeless one.

If you want the alternative interpretations of the Bible, I recommend Emmet Fox's (no relation) metaphysical treatments. If you're interested in the archaeological interpretation, I'd be happy to give you my copy of "The Bible Unearthed". You can give me something else in return.

Jun 16, 2007

Heia Brann!

"Heia" is an encouraging shout in Norwegian, and "Heia Brann!" is of course what any decent citizen of Bergen shouts at a home football (soccer, to you leftpondians) match. Bergen's pride and joy and disappointment (a team for all eventualities) has just added a whole new section to their aging stadium, and it has turned out gorgeous.

My labor union treats local members to a monthly dinner and this time the venue was Brann Stadion (lit. Fire Stadium, fire being the bane of Bergen), referred to as "stadda'en" by the truly local. Its northern side now sports a brand-new section of choice seats, lounges, and the city's largest restaurant. The photo shows a bunch of insurance and banking people entering throught the new section. I'm the one with the camera. (Made you look, didn't I.)

Inside on the luxury side, we viewed the existing bleachers. If the team is to keep making money, and also have room for the regular folks, a similar expansion needs to be done on the opposite side. This will also mean closing the open corner. When that's done, our stadium will seat 30,000. As we stood looking down on the brilliant green grass contrasting with the red seats, we all felt like attending a game. The mood was there to sit in the bleachers and scream ourselves hoarse. And hopefully see our team win. (This year, they're actually doing well before summer! They usually don't pick up speed until the autumn.)

True supporters can purchase a 10-year lease on their very own seat and get their name or nickname stamped on the back of said seat. I spotted one named "Bench warmer" next to one named "Honey". I am not a true supporter, because as we stood outside waiting to go in for our tour, several team members walked by and were recognized and named in hushed but admiring voices by those around me. I, who never reads the sports pages and does not often watch the games on TV, had no clue who the nice, young (and tall) men were who walked past us. I do, however, recognize the team uniform, here recreated as an artistically folded napkin. That's the main sponsor's name you can read so well, by the way.

For the record, I have attended a few Brann matches, enjoying getting caught up in the moment. So when we left after the tour to go home, I knew the way to the bus stop. The stadium sits in a section of Bergen that experienced a huge housing boom right after the war (expanding the city center), which makes the surrounding neighborhood look rather charming today. Towering above the stadium is Bergen's highest mountain, Ulriken. Just thought you'd like to know. And see.

Jun 13, 2007

1978, the hits of

Paula was tagged to do a piece on the pop music of the year she turned 18. I turned 18 the year before her, in 1978. Luckily, 1978 wasn't a bad year for music. However, very little really stands out in my mind. Some of these songs I associate with driving to and from work in my car, which means they survived into 1979 and on. I bought my car in January 1979 (as I recall; I know it wasn't long after my 18th birthday). Here are my comments on the list (and to make it easy, * means I don't remember/recognize anything about the song):

  1. Last Dance - Donna Summer - I still like this song. Many of Summer's songs were my favorites in the 70's.
  2. Disco Inferno - Trammps - I still like this song, too, but I prefer the radio edit.
  3. Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton - I don't remember this from 1978. I associate it with dancing in Norway. Good to move slow and close to.
  4. Paradise By The Dashboard Light - Meatloaf - This was discovered later in life, but happily so.
  5. Just The Way You Are - Billy Joel - I discovered Billy Joel in the 70's and bought every album he came out with. This is one of the better love songs out there.
  6. Summer Nights - Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta - Never liked this song.
  7. We Are The Champions - Queen - I associate this song with picking my friend Ann up from work because one day when I did, she was alone in the office, and had the radio loudly playing this song.
  8. Stayin Alive - Bee Gees - Meh. OK. Not my favorite.
  9. We Will Rock You - Queen - Always played as the intro to No. 7 and way cool to stomp feet and clap hands to.
  10. Copacabana - Barry Manilow - Fun fluff. Never bothered owning a Barry Manilow album, though.
  11. Night Fever - Bee Gees - Better than No. 8, but my favorite Bee Gees song came out in 1975: Jive Talkin'.
  12. Only The Good Die Young - Billy Joel - Not a fave but good.
  13. Greased Lightnin' - John Travolta - @puke@
  14. She's Always A Woman - Billy Joel - An evergreen but not a fave in 1978. I do like it, though. Just not a favorite.
  15. You're the One That I Want - Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta - This is the only song from "Grease" I've ever liked. I still like it.
  16. Macho Man - Village People - Typical VP. I can survive without, but at the time I actually went to a VP concert and they wanted to know who in the audience was macho and only half the guys answered. Then they explained their meaning of macho and got all everybody in the audience to yell "I'm macho!" So now you know: I'm macho.
  17. You Needed Me - Anne Murray - Gorgeous voice, boring songs. Whatever happened to her?
  18. Two Tickets To Paradise - Eddie Money - *
  19. Dance (Disco Heat) - Sylvester - I may recognize this if I hear it.
  20. Always And Forever - Heatwave - Didn't own it then, won't own it now.
  21. Shaker Song - Spiro Gyra - I remember liking Spiro Gyra but I don't know what their songs are called.
  22. My Best Friend's Girl - The Cars - *
  23. Who Are You - The Who - Funny thing is, I never heard this song until it became the theme for "CSI". I like it.
  24. Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) - Chic - *
  25. Anytime - Journey - *
  26. Le Freak - Chic - OK number. I have no clue what the dance itself was like.
  27. Deacon Blues - Steely Dan - I appreciate Steely Dan more now than I did then. Deacon Blues is a classic now, but back then I found it boring.
  28. You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim) - Rod Stewart - One of Rod's better ballads but no sentimental value.
  29. Follow You Follow Me - Genesis - OK. Never became a favorite.
  30. Life's Been Good - Joe Walsh - This wonderfully witty poke at the music industry is one I'm hoping will appear in the iTunes Store so I can own it. I remember listening to it driving home on Sunset Blvd, through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood - the perfect backdrop for the song, especially the day a stretch limo was cruising beside me.
  31. Josie - Steely Dan - *
  32. What's Your Name - Lynyrd Skynyrd - *
  33. Can't Smile Without You - Barry Manilow - What the Norwegians would call a "prune". You can figure that out if you keep in mind the cliché diet at a nursing home. Update June 16: In my comments I noted that the music I came of age with is still played on the radio, and so I just re-heard this song. And I found it better than I remembered. Still goes down easy, though.
  34. Boogie Shoes - K.C. and the Sunshine Band - I still love K.C. and the Sunshine Band so this is in my collection.
  35. You Really Got Me - Van Halen - *
  36. Just What I Needed - The Cars - *
  37. Lights - Journey - *
  38. Fantasy - Earth Wind and Fire - My favorite EWF number is their cover of "Got to Get You into My Life". Not much else grabbed me.
  39. Blame It On The Boogie - Jacksons - This one I love and still play.
  40. Shame - Evelyn Champagne King - One of disco's better offerings.
  41. Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys - Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson - I don't remember this coming out in 1978, though I am familiar with the song.
  42. Cheeseburger In Paradise - Jimmy Buffett - *
  43. Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad - Meatloaf - One of the few power ballads I truly like.
  44. Can We Still Be Friends - Todd Rundgren - *
  45. Dust In The Wind - Kansas - I bought their whole album ("Point of Know Return") just because of this song. The best part was the album cover art.
  46. Take A Chance On Me - Abba - One of Abba's songs that I'll regularly play but not my favorite. My mom and I attended their concert in Anaheim in 1979. They were a huge disappointment live.
  47. Wheel In The Sky - Journey - *
  48. Shadow Dancing - Andy Gibb - OK for the Bee Gees fans which is also why I found it OK to listen to.
  49. Miss You - Rolling Stones - *
  50. Ca Plane Pour Moi - Plastic Bertrand - *
  51. Movin' Out - Billy Joel - A favorite!
  52. Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man) - Styx - I think I owned this. I loved Styx back in the 70's.
  53. Thank You For Being A Friend - Andrew Gold - I always loved hearing this song on the radio. Never got around to owning my own copy, but I want to. And that's why I loved hearing it on the radio: Because that's the only time I heard it.
  54. More Than a Woman - Tavares - As nice a version as Bee Gees', but not a fave.
  55. Lovely Day - Bill Withers - I don't remember this song from 1978. I discovered it in the 80's. I like it.
  56. Let's All Chant - Michael Zager Band - Typical disco fluff. I could and can live without.
  57. You Don't Bring Me Flowers - Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond - She did a version, he did a version, some DJ discovered they were singing in the same key and mixed the two songs together. That sent the pair into the studio to actually do the duet and drive me batty every time I heard it on the radio. I still skip that track whenever I play my Neil Diamond Greatest Hits CDs. If you're in a dying relationship, this is the song for you. If you're in a coma, it isn't. I mean, you want to wake up, don't you?
  58. What A Difference You've Made In My Life - Ronnie Milsap - *
  59. Werewolves Of London - Warren Zevon - I never heard any of this song except the refrain and since I became aware of it after the movie "An American Werewolf in London", I thought the two were related. (They just showed AAWIL over again on TV and I recorded it. I wonder if I'll enjoy it as much this time as I did back when.)
  60. Shout It Out Loud - Kiss - *
  61. Boogie Oogie Oogie - A Taste Of Honey - One of the better disco offerings though it's not my favorite.
  62. Roll With The Changes - REO Speedwagon - *
  63. Flash Light - Parliament - *
  64. Portrait (He Knew) - Kansas - *
  65. Three Times A Lady - Commodores - In spite of it being a slow song, I did enjoy listening to it. I like Lionel Ritchie's voice.
  66. Hot Shot - Karen Young - *
  67. In The Bush - Musique - *
  68. You Got That Right - Lynyrd Skynyrd - *
  69. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Santa Esmeralda - I never could get into Latin beats. This particular song annoys/ed me.
  70. # 1 Dee Jay - Goody Goody - *
  71. Listen Too Her Heart - Tom Petty - *
  72. Psycho Killer - Talking Heads - *
  73. The Groove Line - Heatwave - *
  74. Soft and Wet - Prince - *
  75. Surrender - Cheap Trick - Rediscovered very recently and thoroughly enjoying it. I remember I wanted to own it back then, but didn't dare because I thought that sort of music was for, well, bad kids. Rebellious kids. Kids who broke curfew and smoked post. Kids who partied instead of doing homework. Because there was something about parents in the lyrics, y'know? Gawd, I was such a prude when I was young(er)! I mean, this song ROCKS! Well, thanks to the internet, I now own it!

The site also mentions the number 1's on Billboard for the year. One was Wings' "With A Little Luck", a song I still love. Another was Donna Summer's "MacArthur Park". I was crazy about that song, and I still like it. And I always wondered which MacArthur Park she meant. Los Angeles' business district was centered around the part of Wilshire Boulevard that runs from Alvarado Street in the east to Crenshaw Blvd. in the west, with its own zip code of 90010. Just that street and that stretch of street. And a MacArthur Park sits at the corner of Wilshire and Alvarado. I ate lunch there sometimes and drove by often on my way to the Glendale freeway to go home.

Jun 12, 2007

500th post!

This is supposed to be another slacker report, but I'm not really slacking. It's just that I'm not blogging. So what am I doing that's not blogging? Here's a list:

  • Mulling this "tag" from another blogger over in my mind, looking for some way to respond, because I think it's worth responding to.
  • Downloading podcasts from this site (via iTunes) to try to make sense of some anger I've been venting lately, as well as learn about buddhism.
  • Helping a friend in frequent e-mails sort out her break-up with a boyfriend of 7 years, as well as discussing buddhism, spirit guides, and some childhood/emotional stuff, which also concerns my own development. And which brought up some of the above mentioned anger.
  • The spirit guide discussion has brought back one spirit guide I used to have as well as my current one, and my frustration/anger seems to be the moment before change. It's time to move on, move forwards and I can feel I must. I just hadn't identified it. Must get back to that discussion. (Yes, I have spirit guides. You may find that silly, and that's OK, as long as you don't find me silly[1].)
  • Tanning myself (that's when I listen to audiobooks and podcasts). Today it's raining but today I'm going on a tour of the city's revamped football (soccer, to you leftpondians) stadium. They now have VIP lounges!!! (I'll refrain from commenting on how down-home athletic wholesomeness and team spirit has become multi-million your-favorite-currency businesses, totally eclipsing any other activities. Uh, that was me refraining.) Truly, I am looking forward to seeing the new stadium. I'm curious by nature and like having my curiosity satisfied.
  • Planning an Alaskan cruise. So many excursions to do onshore! Takes time to wade throught the choices and make a decision, especially since I have no idea what anything is like in Alaska.
  • Reading everybody else's RSS feed, which has given me the idea that I should monitor my own so I don't forget to blog regularly.
  • Now that I've blogged, it turns out that this is my 500th blogpost! YAY!

[1] I'm getting tired of the knee-jerk reaction from some "atheist because I'm rational" types to anything that involves the unseen, the not-verifiable-by-somebody-else stuff that an individual can experience. I can accept disbelief, skepticism and critical questions. I cannot accept having everything I say called into question because of a former use of astrology or a current belief in God (or just as bad: never questioned, only made the worst assumptions about). Atheists of that ilk have some gall claiming "believers" are closed-minded. Happily, none of that kind of atheist are my friends.

Jun 10, 2007

People who take pictures

Many people have photo blogs or publish photos to their blogs. Some are happy amateurs and will forever remain so (like yours truly), while some happy amateurs have the makings of going pro. My good friend Alice is one. She has the "eye" for photography, and captures birds and other critters especially well.

Another natural talent is Hanne (who I know from the Norwegian Mac Usenet group). You won't understand what she writes unless you're Norwegian, but you can certainly appreciate her pictures, especially her macro photography, like a rabbit's eye and the hidden beauty of a dandelion.

Jun 9, 2007

Modern nostalgia

June days are perfect for gathering people for almost anything. My trip to the city today to get my hair cut, had me getting off the bus one stop sooner than planned because I saw all this color on our "festival square" - Festplassen. It turned out to be a huge collection of Corvettes, handled with much care and love. I noticed models from 1966 - and 2007. In Norway, old American cars (mainly cars from my childhood) are a huge hobby, but are seen only in the summer, when they no longer salt the roads. In fact, seeing a classic Buick on the road is a sure sign of spring.

Over on Fisketorget - the fish market - an old tradition had been reinstated: Torgdag (Market Day). People came in on the old-style boats they used 100 or so years ago, and some dressed in period clothes. In the old days, country folk would row into the city to sell their wares, mainly fresh fish and produce. They rowed because going by boat was actually easier than walking those same miles, and also because that was the only way to cross the fjord. On a day like this, some other items besides the regular were also sold, like rhubarb jam on one boat, and hand-painted slabs of slate and fruit bowls at a booth. The market area was crowded, but the worst crowd turned out to be the long line, four deep, in front of the ice cream parlor. In the heat we were having, that line was understandable. Me, I had brought up a bottle of water with a bit of lemon in it from home to keep me company.

Feeding time

Some of my favorite reads don't update daily. I don't, either. I don't mind the daily checking of blogs that update maybe every 2 or 3 days, but thanks to you guys who let it go a week or more before finally remembering you have a blog and a reader, I have taken the dive into RSS-feeds and the attendant software to let it tell me when you (other) slackers update. And I've opted for RSS-feed software because I want all the new feeds in one window, more or less. But seeing the number of unread feeds in the application icon is helpful, too.

Downside: The software I downloaded (Lite version) has about a thousand pre-defined feeds to subscribe to and of course I want to surf them all.

So update your blogs, so I can see the little red number in the application icon in my dock. (And those of you who don't have RSS-feeds, get one! This means you, PJ so I know when you're done fishing.)

Jun 8, 2007

To-dos done Friday June 8

  • Complained to employee ombudsman about Norwegians' propensity to fire up the barbecue at the first sign of hot weather because co-workers chose to do right outside my office window today and the lighter fluid fumes actually made their way indoors. My sinuses hurt for several minutes after just a minute of exposure to that. Other (Norwegian) co-worker agreed that it is a shame that lovely summer days are constantly ruined by stinky cooking methods.
  • Had ice cream with chocolate and nuts and got chocolate stains on new shirt. For some reason, that made it truly feel like summer.
  • Argued with teensy spider on balcony. After I broke her web and her three silky attempts to rebuild said web, she finally got the hint and just stayed on the side of the flower pot until I left my tanning session on the balcony. New web is in place, going at a diagonal to avoid perpendicular spot where it kept breaking earlier today. I think I can live with that.
  • Returned some clothes ordered by mail to mail order company's "service office" which happens to be our local gas station (rather than using postal service). Gas station employees must like being a "service office", because both times I've been there (to pick up and to deliver), they've been deliriously happy about giving me service. I never get that response when I buy gum.
  • Looked up "deliriously" in dictionary.
  • Shopped for groceries. Bought lovely pink roses for myself and some smoothies.
  • Observed Oreo cookies in grocery store. That's a first! Didn't buy.
  • Read newspapers online and learned that Norway hasn't experienced this kind of heat this early in June since 1887.
  • Put pink roses in hot water.

Jun 7, 2007

We're having a heatwave!

Except nobody calls it that here. A record 26.6 C (79.9 F) in the shade during the first week of June in Bergen (60N23 latitude) is not a heatwave; it's SUMMER and is to be celebrated, enjoyed, marvelled at and hoped to last. It is nice compensation for last winter's three months straight of overcast and wet weather.

I'm not unaffected. I'm actually overly cheerful. I get out on my balcony every afternoon and tan myself. I sweat if I walk fast. I find it a little harder to sleep at night. This country has no air conditioning anywhere. The upside: I can go to work or shopping without a jacket because there is no cold blast of air indoors. The downside: No cold blast of air on stuffy, crowded city buses.

I had a point to this weather report. Oh, yes: Who can be bothered updating a blog when there's SUMMER to be enjoyed?

In other news: Today marks the 102nd anniversary of Norway's independence from Sweden.

Jun 6, 2007

Explaining bad luck

An insurance company in Norway has interviewed people about bad luck. Is it your own fault when you trip or when you spill or break something? When that happens, how do you explain it? You're clumsy? You're stressed or distracted? Or it's just one of those things?

There's a fourth explanation they don't list: It's a message. That's how I interpret things breaking. Breaking something is symbolic. If you are destroying things in your life, it could because things are getting broken inside of you. I know of several people, besides myself, who experienced more breakage after the death of a loved one. Things just went to pieces, as if to emphasize the loss.

I have a cookie jar that sat forever on the top of Grandma's refrigerator. It is shaped like a big cabbage with a characterized bunny on its lid. When I was little, she kept Fig Newtons in it and she'd sometimes offer me one. She'd take one, too, and it always felt like she and I were conspiring together. I took that cookie jar home to my own refrigerator, years before Grandma died. It had survived shipping to Europe and many moves. For a while it sat on a small table in front of my living room windows and radiator. A few days after her death, I brushed against the little bunny and the lid slid off and hit the radiator. The bunny broke off from the lid. I screamed because of the symbolism that held for me.

I was able to glue the bunny back on, but for the first time in its history, the cookie jar had cracks and nicks, and now required careful handling. Much like my longing, empty heart. It was also telling me that nothing would ever be the same again.

By the way, I'm not sure I believe in luck, per se. I sort of understand those who claim you make your own luck. I think your own attitude and expectations go a long way in explaining whether or not accidents happen to you (sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy), and whether or not they have disastrous results.

Jun 3, 2007

Blogrolls and such

I do like blogrolls. During more bored moments, I will surf the entire menu of links on someone's blog and sometimes discover a few gems. But I did like Paula's idea about not having a blogroll for two reasons: 1) It's no longer a list of who's in and who's out (for those folks saddled with such problems), and 2) Less maintainance. I manage my template manually and that's one reason why I don't tweak links and such all that often.

So instead: I give you the link to my del.icio.us page o' blogs (some are in Norwegian, too, and a lot have to do with web design). As of this writing, there are 64 links under that tag. (And already I can see I need to update.)

Jun 2, 2007

Slacker report

I'm a slacker, apparantly. I don't update daily. (Actually, I'm considerate. I don't want to bore my readers.) Life is so not-worth-writing about that what I really need is some stupid blog test but my sources (other slackers) have not provided me with any inspiration lately. Therefore I offer random thoughts from this week past:

  • The best hugs are given with one arm over the other person's shoulder, and the other arm around their waist. Meet in the middle of their back for that extra squeeze.
  • Women stalked by ex-husbands get no police protection, in spite of the Norwegian government asking them to. In fact, some women seeking help are told to just get used to the idea that they may be killed. (Yes, I'm shocked and outraged.)
  • Norwegian newspapers suck. There's no news in them.
  • iTunes has updated itself with an iTunes Plus feature (when they start adding "Plus" to a feature, I get skeptical). After three days of frustration (interrupted downloads), my previously DRM-ed songs are now DRM-free and uncompressed.
  • I'm eating coconut oil and drinking apple cider vinegar, and not eating bread, and maybe it's all helping or maybe I'll be sorry. At any rate, waistband not's cutting into my middle.
  • Living room's almost completely decluttered. There's one pile left but that's for the next time I sit down in front of the TV.
  • George Harrison had a wicked sense of humor. His songs are funny.
  • I'm finally rating all my iTunes songs.
  • I will no longer sync my PDA to my computer. Must consolidate all these calendars, so since I no longer use my PDA for anything else but playing Sudoku (total addiction, that), iCal syncing to my Nokia N73 it is.
  • About 3 out of 4 Norwegian drivers don't use their directional signals. This is a major reason for accidents, according to the insurance industry. (Ya think?)
  • My Raggedy Anne doll, one of the few things I have from my childhood (and like me, she left the US for the Norway in 1969), is getting laundered for the first time in both her and my life. In one of those mesh bags for fine washables. I'm risk-taking but not completely stupid. 'Sides, her left eye is ready to pop out.
  • Whoa, the DRM-free and uncompressed version of Andrew Strong's "Out of Time" sounds good!
  • The neighbor's cat is getting skinny.
  • I like that Blogger now autosaves drafts.
  • "Ugly Betty" is becoming the week's highlight on TV.
  • I washed my hair in the morning and chose not to dry it. It rained on me on my way to work and I put up my umbrella. Why? My hair was already wet.
  • I dreamt about a little house spider (a brown one, they don't scare me like black ones), and in my dream it fell onto my bed and I backed up 50 yards (or tried to) but wasn't freaking like I usually do, and then the spider was on my bottom lip. I calmly blew it off. I'm still trying to figure out what that dream means.
  • I ordered clothes in size "Large" (I used to need XS panties) and will pick up package later today.
  • I'm not going back to the masseur I was seeing at work. Chemistry's not right, though the massage itself was.
  • I'm thinking about cutting my hair short and whispy again, even if straight bobs (which is what I have) are in this season. My hair appointment's in a week.
  • Sparrows with nests are noisy. The magpies in the birch trees have babies. They aren't noisy.
  • McDonald's Fajita salad was pleasant new acquaintance. And for some reason, the Coke regular just didn't appeal.

Any questions? Google 'em. I'm such a slacker I can't be bothered giving you links.