Thursday, 26 November 2009

News

Thank you captain obvious

In other News, Water is Wet.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Curious incident

"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

"The dog did nothing in the night-time."

"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.


Inspector Gregory and Holmes, in "Silver Blaze"

Sunday, 1 November 2009

On the subject of jobs...

Simon: So you're a bounty hunter.

Early: No, that ain't it at all.

Simon: Then what are you?

Early: I'm a bounty hunter.

On the subject of wives...

And again, with the Firefly-quotes:

Monty: Mal, I want you to meet my Bridget.


[Monty steps aside to reveal Saffron, aka Mrs. Malcolm Reynolds. She and Mal draw guns on each other, mexican stand-off style.]

Monty: So… you guys have met.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

And while on the subject of bibles

I am loving me my Firefly quotes these days:

Zoe: "Don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?"

Shepherd Book "Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Good bible indeed

As you may or may not already know, I think that Firefly is one of the best TV shows ever to come from the great creative mind that is Joss Whedon. Here's one of my favorite quotes from it:

Saffron: I do know my Bible, sir. "On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man as the furrow to the plow, and he shall work in her, in and again, till she bring him to his full, and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast."

Mal: Whoa. Good Bible.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A pretty great weekend - and my birthday to boot.

Last weekend, another instance of a tradition that I share with a few friends, took place. The tradition is the annual trip to Trondheim, when one of the aforementioned friends and myself go to Trondheim to visit friend number three. We usually do this in October, and have a great time. Every second year, we go for the bi-annual student festival "Uka".

(Photos here)

The goings-on at Uka are many and varied, and range from a cabaret and the Norwegian rock-paper-scissors championships to chamber music concertos, hip-hop concerts and rock concerts. Earlier festivals have sported names such as Muse, Pussycat Dolls, Seigmen, a-ha, 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean, Travis, Sputnik, Madrugada, Tom McRae, Turboneger, Cardigans, deLillos, Postgirobygget, Immortal and Prodigy.

I arrived in Trondheim thursday morning, went to work, then went to my friend's apartment. From there, we went to Samfundet, to see this years' cabaret, "Skabarè". After the show, we went to one of the rooms there where you can buy chips and play blackjack and roulette. After a couple of false starts, I did pretty well for myself at the Black Jack-table, and was up by quite a bit when we went to see the first band of the night, the Swedish girl duo First Aid Kit.

After First Aid Kit, the headliner of the evening went on stage in the great hall, former students in Trondheim, Postgirobygget. Having followed Postgirobygget for years, seeing them for the first time was really great. They delivered the goods just as expected, playing both their classic songs, and some songs off their new album. The audience loved what they gave, and joined inn on the top of their voices.

Friday night, Åge Aleksandersen og Samfundet took the stage in the tent in Dødens Dal (Valley of Death in Norwegian). We stood in the middle of what would be the mosh-pit if it was a metal concert. A lot of fun, and group singing ensued. Afterwards we went back to Samfundet, where the party continued. We hit the casino-room, where I continued to do pretty well for myself, enough so that I could spend the chips on a glass of Johnny Walker Blue label, after the clock had passed midnight.

Why after midnight you ask? Well, October 17th is my birthday. I have a thing for whisky, and had never tried that particular one. Being a rather expensive whisky, it's not exactly something I'll go for any day of the week. So, what with it being my birthday and all, I decided to treat myself. It was very nice, although I am not convinced I'd pay list price for it.

After we were done gambling, we went to the after-party in the "digs", the rooms in the wings of Samfundet, where we had a great time, and went home after having gotten thoroughly sloshed.

Saturday morning I woke up, then got back to sleep. A few hours later, we were all up, and hung over. A shower and a meal helped, and so, we went to see the cabaret for the second time; my friend who came up from Oslo didn't get there 'till friday, so he hadn't seen it. It was great, again, and I laughed so much my ribs hurt (again).

After the cabaret, we had a little more to drink, and then went back to the great hall, to see "Uka Wonder Hits". The lineup consisted of artists from the last three decades; the 80's represented by Lars Kilevold, the 90's by Infinity and the millenium by Wig Wam. After they had played a few songs each, we voted for what song to hear again (Infinity - Happy).

After the show ended, we were ushered out of the great hall, so that the chairs and tables could be removed, and then Wig Wam took the stage (again). They were a great disappointment during the Wonder Hits show, and the concert was no better, which also explains why we left it about halfway through the concert, to go back to the digs.

Sunday morning we got up, and started carrying boxes and bags, as our friend who lives in Trondheim, was moving. We got to see his new apartment, a very nice, and beautifully done three-room place, with a nice, glassed-in veranda. Of course, the flipside was that we helped him move in, but it was all worth it.

I had a very nice weekend, and am already looking forward to next years' trip.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A-ma-zing!

Over the last two or so years, I have seen more than a few great concerts, among them Leonard Cohen (Bislet Stadion, Oslo, 2008), Metallica (Koengen, Bergen, 2008) and Muse (Dødens dal, Trondheim, 2007). All of these, and many others that I have seen in the same period of time, have been cool experiences, and these three are the three best concerts I've ever attended.

Well, they were.

As of three hours ago, they were collectively relegated to second place. See, three hours ago, Green Day went on stage at Oslo Spektrum.

Now, my expectations of this concert, were not so much great as unattainably high. I knew that I had most likely (I put the odds at 10:1 against) set myself up to be disappointed.

I wasn't. Within less than five minutes, any level of expectation I might have set, were not only met, but greatly exceeded.

After opening with the first few tracks off 21st Century Breakdown, they started mixing it up, playing songs from their entire catalog. Teasing the audience with classic Green Day hits as well as their newest material, they also made sure that noone in the audience left the arena without a sore throat, enticing shouts of "Hey! Hey! Hey!", "one-two-one-two-three-four" and "Heeeey-Oh!".

Billie-Joe Armstrong is in as good shape as ever, and shows it off by running around the stage like a kid on serious amounts of sugar and speed.

As usual, it all culminated with "Time of your life (Good Riddance)", to unison singing from the audience.

Billie-Joe Armstrong, Trè Cool and Mike Dirnt have given me one of the finest musical experiences I can ever remember.

Edit: Here's the set list for the concert

Monday, 3 August 2009

Lenge siden sist

Men bedre sent enn aldri, sier nå jeg.

Siden sist bloggpost, har jeg altså holdt tale ved Wergelands grav på 17.mai. Talen stod på trykk i Hatikwa kort tid etter.

Storparten av juni gikk med til å forberede Arcon 25, i år i nye lokaler på Sogn VGS. Foruten de forberedelsene, brukte jeg mye tid på å få ordnet med håndverkere som kunne fikse gulvet på soverommet etter at det hadde vært lekkasje fra radiatoranlegget.

Arcon var nok en gang en strålende suksess, og markerte første con da vi hadde mer enn en MIB (promotør fra Steve Jackson Games) tilstede, da jeg nylig var blitt tatt opp som MIB.

Blant høydepunktene fra Arcon for min del kan nevnes spilling av Serenity RPG, et svært kjært gjensyn med Margrete Somerville's Call of Cthulhu-modul Rachel West's hevn. Auksjonen innbragte mange penger til minnefondet, og dessuten var deler av styrene til både Regncon og Hexcon på besøk.

Mer eller mindre umiddelbart etter Arcon, dro Panda og jeg til London, hvor vi tilbragte en uke. Før vi kunne reise, måtte vi dog pakke oss ut av soverommet for at håndverkerene skulle kunne komme til for å bytte ut gulv og skap.

Etter at vi kom tilbake, flyttet Panda det siste av sitt til min (nå vår) leilighet, og har med det flyttet inn! Utenom det brukte vi mye tid på å flytte tilbake inn på soverommet, der ikke alt er ferdig, rørleggeren har nemlig ikke vært innom og fikset radiatoranlegget ennå...

Etter å ha fått flyttet inn på soverommet har vi forsøkt å ta det med ro, slappe av og nyte å være kjærester, hvilket har blitt avbrutt fra tid til tid av at Panda driver og pakker for å dra på folkehøyskole. Hun skal til Øytun, som ligger ca 6 kilometer utenfor Alta. Hun kunne med andre ord dratt til Roma, og det hadde vært kortere vei til henne...

Ellers har vi tatt endel dagsturer, en til Tjøme for å besøke min familie og en til Blaafarveverket med mamma, pappa, søster og svoger. Hyggelig, og morsomt!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

17.mai-taleren


I år har jeg blitt gitt det ærefulle oppdrag å tale ved Henrik Wergelands grav. Her er talen:

Kjære Henrik - Gratulerer med dagen!

Det er få dager i løpet av året jeg er så stolt av å være nordmann som nettopp dagen i dag. Vi har ikke militærparader; vi har barnetog. Det er ikke mange land som kan skryte av at de aller fleste innbyggerne på nasjonaldagen er en turistattraksjon i seg selv. Folket kler seg i dress, i paradeuniform, i bunad og i andre nasjonaldrakter på grunn av dagen i dag. Dette er en dag samtlige innbyggere i Norge, om de er født og oppvokst her, eller nylig innvandret, trykker til sitt bryst.
Det er da også passende at Henrik Wergeland er en av de som har inspirert måten vi feirer på. Med sitt dikt "Vi ere en Nation, vi med", fremhever han nettopp barnas plass i feiringen av nasjonaldagen. Samtidig gjør han det klart at den frihet vi nyter i dag, skal barna etter oss ivareta;

"Gid jeg da snart maa blive stor —
- jeg har saa længe biet —
at tappert jeg kan verne for
min Faders dyre Frihed!"

Frihet er et av menneskets høyeste mål, og vi mennesker bruker store deler av livene våre i søken etter nettopp frihet. Det være seg frihet til å tro det man tror, til å være den du er, eller til å ytre det jeg mener. Disse frihetene, og mange fler, nyter vi som innbyggere i Norge godt av. Det er lett å ta dem for gitt. Men vi må aldri glemme at det har kostet tid, energi, heftig offentlig debatt og også liv.

Henrik Wergeland er en av de mange som kjempet kampen for frihet. For ham var det religionsfriheten som var belønningen for mange års utrettelig arbeid mot paragraf 2 i den norske grunnloven. I den amerikanske uavhengighetserklæringen skrev Thomas Jefferson: "Vi mener at disse sannheter er åpenbare; at alle mennesker er skapt like, at de av sin Skaper er gitt enkelte ufravikelige rettigheter, og at blant disse er Liv, Frihet og søken etter lykke".
Nettopp denne erklæringen var en viktig kilde når Eidsvollsmennene i 1814 satte seg ned for å forfatte en Norsk Grunnlov. Med dette i bakhodet, synes det rart at vår egen grunnlov nektet jøder og jesuitter adgang til riket. Men slik var det den gangen i Norge. Blant de som vedtok grunnloven, var Nicolai Wergeland, far til Henrik. Dette var på en og samme tid noe Henrik var svært stolt av, og noe som skulle skape splid mellom far og sønn. Nicolai mente nemlig lenge at paragrafen, slik den fremstod i 1814, var riktig.

Bakgrunnen for Henriks engasjement, var ikke en særskilt kjærlighet til det jødiske folk, men en grunnleggende tro på at religionsfrihet er riktig og viktig. Han så grunnlovens paragraf to som en trussel mot alles frihet, stilte seg opp og sa ifra.
Med stor frihet kommer også stort ansvar. Ansvar for å benytte friheten og ansvar for å respektere andres frihet. Det sies at den franske filosofen Voltaire en gang sa "Jeg er uenig med det du sier, men jeg vil forsvare til min død din rett til å si det." Denne grunnleggende respekten for andres meninger var også tilstede når Wergeland kjempet for religionsfrihet, og når Abid Raja tidligere i år inviterte til dialogmøter. Uenighet er ikke farlig, men det som gjør at vi blir bedre og mer kunnskapsrike mennesker.

Nettopp debatten som kampform var det som preget Wergelands utrettelige arbeid mot paragraf 2. Også i dag er den offentlige debatt viktig og riktig, uavhengig av om emnet er militære aksjoner, ny lovgivning eller ytringsfriheten selv.

Friheten trues til stadighet og på mange fronter. Vi husker opptøyer rundt om i verden på grunn av respektløse karikaturtegninger, men innenfor ytringsfrihetens grenser. Men også her hjemme har voldelige opptøyer hindret ytringsfriheten, som i forbindelse med en demonstrasjon til støtte for Israel foran Stortinget. Det førte til at tilsvarende markeringer i andre byer ble avlyst, fordi politiet mente det ikke ville være mulig å sikre tryggheten til demonstrantene.
I den siste tiden har det dukket opp begrep som snikislamisering og kulturer som bærer turban eller hijab blir stigmatisert som unorske, ofte med klare anti-muslimske undertoner. Human halal- og kosherslakting blir omtalt i sterkt nedsettende og rå ordelag. Også vi jøder blir rammet, både her hjemme og over hele Europa. Senest i uken som gikk har vi sett anti-semittisk hærverk mot en jødisk gravlund i Oslo. Jeg vil advare mot faren for en voksende fremmedfrykt og fremmedhat i Norge. Dette er ikke en kamp som muslimer, sikher og jøder skal behøve å kjempe alene. Dette dreier seg ikke om friheten for noen små minoriteter. For naboens frihet vil til syvende og siste dreie seg også om din og min, om vår alles frihet.
Benjamin Franklin sa en gang "De som gir fra seg grunnleggende friheter for å kjøpe seg midlertidig sikkerhet, fortjener hverken frihet eller sikkerhet." Underforstått i dette ligger det at til tross for at vi i dag har frihet, kom den ikke gratis, og tar vi ikke vare på den, vil vi miste den igjen. Våre forfedre har fortalt oss hva som har skjedd før, slik at vi, i vår tid, kan fortelle våre barn. Ved å formidle historien, fremmer vi kunnskap, forståelse og vilje til å fortsette kampen.

Kjære Henrik! Takk for at du gjorde det mulig for meg, på vegne av oss norske jøder, å stå her på denne dagen som vi setter så høyt, og ta levende del i den tros- og ytringsfriheten som du kjempet så hardt for!

Kjære Henrik! Kjære alle sammen: Gratulerer med dagen!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Allergies

Pollen. Cute buggers, ain't they?I'm allergic to birchwood pollen, and let me tell you - it sucks! It really blows so bad, I ant even begin to express how much it blows. First off, there's no way of knowing when the pollen season will begin or when it will end, never mind how severe it will be.

It all started when I was 18, and a Russ. Living in Oslo, the celebrations took place at Tryvann, an area more or less surrounded by a forest of birchwood.

Not knowing what was going on, or why my throat was constricting, I had more than a few panic attacks (which only served to exacerbate the situation). Eventually, the meds my doctor prescribed kicked in, but I still remember the horror I felt at the thought of not living to see my 19th birthday.

These days, I get a shot before the season starts, then medicate more or less heavily to survive the days. Of course, the meds make me drowsy as all heck, seriously impairing my performance at just about anything that requires any sort of concentration at all.

To add insult to injury, there are other side effects as well; for example, when I go to the dentist to have work done, the dentist has to use way more local anaesthetic than she normally does, and even then, there's no guarantee that it'll actually take effect.

Another thing about allergies; they tend to move in packes. In addition to my main allergy, birchwood pollen, I am allergic to furry animals, nuts, strawberries and apples (to mention but a few). Really, the list goes on an onl, and the above are things I really like.

Still, it's not all for nothing; with all this cortisone in my body, which I get in the shot I mentioned earlier, outside of the pollen season, I am mostly free of cross allergies for the next few months, which at least means I can eat strawberries in summer.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

New coffee machine

As I have written elsewhere, I love coffee. The heady smell, the fragrant taste, the warmth, all of these are part of my affection for coffee. A few years back, I bought a Senseo, a single or double serving machine that has served me very well since. I have, however, been searching for something else.

Last weekend, I found it.

That last sentence isn't, strictly speaking, true. I have known for some time now, what this "something else" is. A nifty little machine called Nespresso. Catchy name, eh? I first encountered the concept in Israel, but at the time didn't actually consider buying one of my own. The machine just seemed too big and bulky.

This all changed when a friend of mine showed me the very sleek one he'd gotten a hold of. Compact, simple and efficient, and with a design that appealed to me, I knew I'd found what I was looking for. A Nespresso Essenza.

Since I saw the one my friend had, I'd been thinking of getting one of my own for some time. Then, last weekend, I went shopping with my parents, and found that Nespresso had started a campaign to promote their products which included a discount in the form of a cash-back for almost a third of the price of the model I was getting. I thought this was an offer too good to give up, and went for it.

Since I plugged it in, I've been very pleased with my purchase, and I can say that it was definitely worth the money. Now, my Nespresso machine and my Senseo are living life side by side, both dedicated to serving good coffee.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

A wonderful week

For my birthday, my amazing girlfriend not only gathered my friends for a surprise party, she also gave me a trip to a spa. A beer spa. In the Czech Republic. This of course meant we had to go to Prague. I know. Really sad, isn't it?

Well, over christmas, we ordered tickets and a hotel room, and then she started on finalizing the plans. As it turned out, the guy who arranges the spa, is also a tour guide in Prague, and offered to pick us up at the airport, take us to the hotel, and then take us on a guided tour of the city.

Arriving in Prague after a slightly delayed flight from Oslo, we met our guide, Filip. He's a local, but speaks fluent Norwegian. After leaving our luggage in the Hotel, we drove to the top of the old town, and started our tour at Klasterny Strahov, the Strahov monastery. The monastery brews beer, an excellent amber lager called Sv. Norbert.

Castle Cathedral, Prague, InteriorHaving sampled Sv. Norbert, we went to the Castle, and saw its amazing cathedral. After that, we went to the "Little side", where we stopped for our second pit stop at another of Filip's favorite haunts, that served the best gulasch I've ever had, with traditional Czech steamed knödel bread, along with a very nice lager called Svijany, and grog.

That's right, grog. Not unrelated to the drink sailors have drunk for time immemorial, it is a real heater, as it's served hot, and based on a rum-like liquor. The pub, ancient as it looked, had a theatre stage in the back. Apparently, this is where anti-communist meetings were held during the communist times. Being in there was like breathing history.

Following the heater, food and beer, we went back outside, to cross the beautiful and ancient Charles bridge. Unfortunately, parts of it were under restoration. Even so, it was gorgeous, and immediately after crossing it, we went into the Klementinum, the old city library. From the Klementinum, we went on to the old town square and its beautiful town hall.

Leaving the town hall behind, we went on to Prague's kubist house. In the second floor of the house, there's an amazing 20's style kubist cafè called Grand Cafè Orient, a very nice and charming place, full of atmosphere.

When we left Grand Cafè Orient, it was getting late, and so we headed towards our hotel.

The next day, Tuesday, Anne and I grabbed our cameras, and went to town. Some of the results for my shoots of the day can be seen on Flickr. We started out in the Prague City museum, at the Florenc station on the Prague subway. Among more or less interesting exhibits are two pieces that stand out. One is a gorgeous mural by Salvador Dali. The other, and the key piece of the museum, a huge, intricate, detailed paper model of the city made in the years 1826-1834 by Antonin Langweil.

Following the museum, we took the subway a few stops, and then switched to the city's tram line number 22. Forget any other tram line, the number 22 is the way to get around town. We literally only used that, and our feet, to get around town. We went back up to the Castle, from there moving back to the Charles bridge, and then to the other side of town, where we took photos around the town square before heading back to the Grand Cafè Orient for some hot drinks.

In the evening, we went to a restaurant called Cowboys. It's a nice enough place, but there are better places, even for their specialty, steak. The next day was spent walking around town without cameras, doing a little light shopping, and enjoying the town. Among other things, we picked up a few very nice pashminas.

Thursday morning, Filip picked us up at our hotel, taking us to the Chodovar brewery where the spa I mentioned a while back is located. The spa treatment started with a bath in a mix between hot water and dark beer, with cold beer served on the side to go with the bath. We were then taken to a room to relax, before we had a massage.

This was followed by lunch, nice pike in a rather strange curry-ish sauce. Following lunch, we went to Plzn, the home of Pilsner Urquell. We were taken on a tour of the brewery, and served some of their famous beer.

On our way back, Filip recommended a place for steak called Ambiente - the living restaurant, and even made reservations for us. Although the steak at Cowboys was nice, this was something else entirely, and at half the price to top it all off.

Friday morning was spent finishing our packing, before we checked out of our hotel room, waiting for our transport to the airport in the lobby.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

An auspicious evening

In 1952, the Norwegian chapter of B'nai Brith International was established. My grandfather was a member while he was alive, and my father has been a member for many years, serving in the council.

Some years ago, my father asked me whether I wanted to attend the lecture and dinner accompanying the meetings, and I accepted. Since then, I've attended most meetings. A year and a half or so back, I was first approached with regards to membership, but being too young, I wasn't eligible.

That all changed October last, with my 25th birthday.

Today, I was initiated as a member, with my father as one of my sponsors. An auspicious evening indeed!

Monday, 2 February 2009

She got in!

My gorgeous, lovely, caring girfriend had an email waiting for her today. It told her that she'd been accepted to the folkehøyskole she wants to attend. In short, folkehøyskole is a year off, doing whatever, but within a somewhat curricular manner.

I was never in doubt that she'd be accepted, but knowing is a great relief. While there (far to the north of Norway), she'll be spending her time taking photos, and gaining technical skills in photography. I am proud and happy for her!

Congratulations babe!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Violence - It's not the answer

Following the Israeli attack on Gaza, there have been two major demonstrations against Israel in Oslo that have turned very violent. The first demonstration was a counter-demonstration against a peaceful, pro-israeli demonstration.

First off; I am certain that Israel is in the right in acting against Hamas. If this had been anywhere else, a military response would have happened MUCH sooner. There's something about having fifty to seventy rockets fired into civilian cities, that just doesn't sit right. I have a serious problem with civilians being targeted, never mind blindly firing rockets in the general direction of civilians.

That being said, I can't - and won't - answer for the methods used. I feel saddened at the thought of innocent civilians losing their lives. Even so, the problem with fighting organisations like Hamas is that they do not follow any conventional rules of warfare; they do not consistently wear uniforms, they hide among the civilian population and so on.

I may disagree with the people demonstrating in support of Hamas, but as long as they choose to do so within the limits of law, I will fight for their right to voice their opinion. When they do not; when they attack people more or less indiscriminately, when they break windows and generally wreak havoc, they should pay the consequences.

I also think that these consequences should be severe. A criminal record, and a hole in ones resume of two to ten years, would probably be a deterrent to many of these people. Heavy fines should also deter them.

I do not claim to have the answers to the conflict in Israel, although I do think that Israel has a right and a duty to repel attacks. I think that, broadly speaking, the answer lays in dialog, in diplomacy, and in mutual respect. I do not think I will see true peace in the middle east while I am alive.