Archive for June, 2006

World Cup practice

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Max found this brilliant ad:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=t3SyNi4AtTk&search=soccer%20practice

I don’t know who to root for (or cheer for, depending on where you’re from in the world and exactly how you think I should encourage my team) now that Australia is out.

Blocks of time, Sunday evening

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

2247 CEST: “Ooh, I forgot to call my mum…” I look out the window and it’s still bright out. Something clicks and I remember to not trust the outside light. I’ll call her in the morrow.
2337 CEST: Diner is out of the way, it’s geek o’clock.
0030 CEST: Headed pubwards. It’s still not dark.
0055 CEST: We’re asked in Norwegian to hurry up with our drinks; they’re closing.
0057 CEST: My glass is not empty. If the bartender had not put ice cubes, the otherwise very tasty cider wouldn’t be so cold.
0100 CEST: We’re out of Colletts Cafe’, lingering in the company and smoking. I gaze upon the three or four stars that I can see in the not-dark-at-all middle of the night.
0112 CEST: It seems it’s getting brighter above us.
0121 CEST: We’re back. Still not dark.
0205 CEST: I sure seems to get brighter outside. No point waiting for a dark night. -> Zzz

Blocks of time – Saturday morning or “Still Life (with clown and mattress)”

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

7:34am: I wake up, it’s a grey day. I wander around the house a bit, see who is on IRC and decide go back to sleep.

9:15am: I wake up again, it’s still grey out. I eat, have some coffee and look at news, blogs and Flickr from my RSS reader

10:49am: I’ve been sitting with my laptop for more than an hour, a friend of my sister Marijke’s comes to see some of the furniture she is selling. Being one of Marijke’s friends, chances are fairly good she thinks I’m unfriendly and a bit odd. I wave from my chair but don’t get up.

11:20am I look up from the laptop and there’s a black-and-white movie on TV but I haven’t been paying attention so I’m not sure what’s going on. Ah, someone chokes a clown! This might be worth watching.

11:34am: I decide (yet again) that I like the make-up style from the 40s.

11:38am: Though I am not, in fact, 13 years old, I play with make-up. I don’t get the 40s look quite right.

1:11pm: Cereal for lunch. Convention can consider itself flouted! What a whirlwind life, eh?

2:04pm: Shower (yes, finally).

2:20pm: Driving – the red light is rather beautiful against the still grey sky.

2:34pm: At a coffee place, I have the iced mocha and Marijke has the lemonade. I hear a girl at a table near us say loudly at one point: “She’s a slutbag!” to her friend, who doesn’t say much.

3:25pm: We go to one of those huge, overwhelming mega-stores that sells 50 lb. tubs of mayonnaise and four weeks worth of cereal and I’m proud, now that I’m more used to it, to have pretty much stopped cringing and whimpering when I walk through the door.

5:03pm: I buy a new mattress at the mega-store! (they really do have everything). It’s one of those lovely, lovely memory foam ones I’ve been coveting for almost a year now. Yummm.

9:42pm: Cleaning, laundry, other house things done, I lay on the really quite delightful mattress and watch Poirot. Mischief (of a dull kind) managed.

Blocks of time, Saturday Morning

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Saturday morning. (goto:0936 CEST for the action bit, goto:1116 CEST for the bit about music, goto:1616 CEST to reach the end ;))

0700 CEST: The alarm clock blares. I slap it quiet. I’ve had a mere five-hour sleep. That’s not enough by my standards.
0709 CEST: The alarm clock reminds me I have to get up. I slap it quiet. It *so* deserves it.
0719 CEST: The alarm clock reminds me I really must get up. I slap it quiet and I get up.
0720 CEST: The backup on precious has finished during the night. That was expected but given the four-hour troubles last night w/ backing up, one can never be sure.
0725 CEST: Must. Have. Coffee. While I was at it, I ate breakfast.
0755 CEST: Must. Take. Shower.
0810 CEST: Unpack some clothes, replace with others, fewer.
0820 CEST: Must. Have. Coffee.
0830 CEST: Chill out in front of Precious.
0850 CEST: Put Precious to sleep and get going. My backpack weighs 6.5 kg (Precious inclusive). I’m leaving for nine days.
0907 CEST: I’m in the car, a little behind schedule; I’m 7 minute late.
0917 CEST: I’ve passed the villages and am now on the speedway.
0925 CEST: I’m now on the motorway. Sped as fast as 160 km/h.
0932 CEST: Take the airport exit. If people had not hogged the left lane at frustratingly low speed, I would have been there much quicker.
0934 CEST: Kiss my Dad goodbye.
0935 CEST: Check flight info on screen: NCE-OSL, check-in zone B. Delayed 11:05. Oh good, I’ll have time for shopping and a coffee.
0936 CEST: The desks in zone B are deserted. People are packing themselves *outside*. Somebody has left their luggage unattended. The security people made the travellers clear zones A, B and C (for good measure), secured a perimeter and brought in the “démineur” ;) He asks whether an announcement has been made. None has been made. Meanwhile people have packed tightly as close as to the perimeter lines as physically possible. The démineur decides the perimeter is not big enough. Security people motion travellers to go further away. What a dense crowd. They’re real slow. Also they’re really close to me. Too *close*. I apologise to two old ladies and pass them to make a quick exit. Outside. Air. Space. I’ll notice when people pour back into the Terminal.
1005 CEST: I’m in line for checking in a tent and a backpack. The line is surprisingly short. In front of me are two guys travelling together. One of them wishes to bring his 12 kilo suitcase onboard. He’s told that the weight limit is 8 kilos. So he opens it. It’s almost empty. I see very little clothes and 5 bottles of wine. The guy takes three bottles out, places them on the floor, closes his suitcase again and places it back on the belt. 9 kilos or so. The Sterling attendant asks him whether he’s carrying bottles. He lies “no”. The attendant yields and nods that he may bring his suitcase with him. Both guys leave, suitcases in one hand, bottles in the other. My turn.
1013 CEST: I’m done, headed through security w/ my purse and Precious.
1016 CEST: Security is out of the way. Must. Have. Coffee. Doh! the cafe’ is closed! Am I cursed or what?
1018 CEST: Oh well, may as well sit in the smoking tank.
1032 CEST: Boarding time.
1044 CEST: I’m on board.
1056 CEST: Boarding is finished.
1100 CEST: Security announcement. Ah, must put Precious to sleep for take-off. ttyl.
1116 CEST: The “fasten you seatbelt” sign has been switched off. I read an article about Sigur Ròs in the Sterling inflight Magazine. It made me think of Amy who made me discover them last January. I find their music really enjoyable and beautiful. The band started in Iceland in 1994 on the same day the singer’s sister, Sigurròs, was born. Sigur Ròs means “victory rose”. They sing in Icelandic and sometimes in Hopelandic, a language which is their own creation. Their music has a way of finding its way into the soul of the listeners rather than appealing to their intellectual and rational conception. (last sentence copied from the interview I just read, naturally). The singer, Jönsi, says “it is nice and inspiring when the audience shows that they like our music, but as long as they are moved by it, then we don’t care whether they faint, fall asleep or react negatively.” The article starts with: “Time stands still when you listen to Sigur Ròs. At least it feels that way. you automatically get a desire to close your eyes and disappear into their sound universe which can be both beautiful, raw, sad, funny, dignified, vulnerable, robust, light, dark, quiet and thundering, but never indiferent and always very fervent”. +1! From the same article, I see they’re playing at the Oslo Spektrum on Tuesday (June 27). I *so* wish I could go. But we’re doing OSL-DUB-OSL on 26-29jun. We’ll see a different singer ;), Wendy Rule, not Icelandic, she’s Australian. Her music too find its way to the soul of the listeners, imo.
1141 CEST: I’m done rambling on music. Peeking outside the window, I see clouds below us. Clouds everywhere. They’re white and fluffy. The pilot tells us we’re soon going to fly over Germany.
1200 CEST: Boy are the babies and infants unhappy today. And loud. There’s a particularly obnoxious kid behind me who kicks in my seat every now and then. Zen… /me fishes out earbuds and listens to Sigur Ròs.
1206 CEST: Sigur Ròs’ music is indeed calming.
1209 CEST: I’m bored!
1225 CEST: More clouds. Those are grey and look almost liquid. Still bored.
1312 CEST: &lt:sigh />… Bored. And hungry. We’ll begin our descent in 15 minutes at the latest. Can’t wait till we *have* descended ;)
1320 CEST: Yay, we’re beginning our descent. 17 degrees Celsius at our destination and partly clouded.
1341 CEST: We’ve landed.
1345 CEST: We’ve taxied to gate 36.
1616 CEST: Found network! (in the meantime, I waited an eternity for the luggage to appear on the belt, took a train a bus and took my shoes off).

Cheers!

Butterflies

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

The thing with butterflies is that they just can’t fly in a straight line. You think you’re avoiding them, or not in their path and all of a sudden they are at you.

For that reason, I don’t much like them. Well I like them, they’re lovely, it’s just that they scare me.

So this entry is in the “Funny” category so that you feel free to make fun of me. Naturally, it’s also in the “useless crap” category, for good measure.

Grazie Signore Poggi

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Italy, Bologna, Hotel Holiday near via dell’Indipendenza. It’s well after midnight. I’m at the window. I light a cigarette and as I place the lighter back in the pack, both escape my clumsy hands –dumb me!– and fall noisily in the corner of the inner courtyard, a few stories below.

This is a roof, really. And it seems there are only windows around it; only one is lit. Alerted by the noise, somebody downstairs looks out their window; I see an arm pushing a shutter wide open.

I have more cigarettes in my backpack. But no spare lighter. I’d prefer to act now. I hope the people in the room downstairs will open their door when I knock. It’s almost 1 am.

“Buona sera, ” I announce when a man opens the door enough to show his face and let the TV sound flow out of the room. “Sono nella camera al terzo piano e le mie sigarette sono cadutte dalla finestra.”

I’m in the room on the third floor and I dropped my cigarettes through the window. He raises his eyebrows and remains quiet.

“E possibile che vado fuori dalla vostra finestra?” I ask while my hand is pointing at myself first and then in the general direction of beyond those walls.

Is it possible for me to go outside through your window? The man remains silent as he nods.

“Grazie!” I thank him as he opens the door to let me in. As I pass him I notice he’s wearing boxer shorts and that’s it.

The room is smaller than mine. There is a woman on the bed. I smile apologetically at her. She looks very perplexed as I cross the room. Below the waist she’s wearing panties, and above, she’s wearing… an open book…

I dash to the window that is already open, sit on the window sill, pivot outside, walk a few steps, pick up my pack of cigarettes and soon I pivot again inside the room. I make sure they see the cigarettes as I re-enter their room.

Not much has changed in the minute it took me. The man is now on the bed, lying next to the woman who hasn’t moved at all. The door is closed.

“Grazie milla, e scusa.” Thanks a lot, and sorry.

One last embarassed smile and I’m out of here.

As I was reliving the event in my own room, I thought of Mister Poggi. He was my Italian teacher at school some fifteen years ago. And I imagined writing him a letter to describe how his lessons had just been useful to me.

Guantanamo suicides

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

Three men committed suicide at Guantanamo Bay earlier this week.

There have been at least 40 officially acknowledged suicide attempts at the camp. Out of the 759 people detained since 2002, approximately 465 people are still being held. Some have been imprisoned there for more than four years and many have had no access to legal counsel or their families. Only 10 have been charged with any offense. In January 2004, the US released three children between 13 and 15 years old.

There have been widespread reports of abuse from prisoners and the Red Cross cited activities it said were “tantamount to torture.” According to Wikipedia ‘A report based on data supplied by the Defense Department showed that 86% of the prisoners were handed over by Afghan and other local bounty-hunters rather than as the result of any American investigation or collection of intelligence. It is alleged that because the bounty-hunters were compensated per-capita, they detained innocent civilians in order to maximize their profits.’

The BBC stated that one of the men who committed suicide was due to be freed but had not been informed.

The EU and UN, amongst many others, have called for the closing of Guantanamo.

Ali Abdullah Ahmed, was 28, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi was 30 years old. Yassar Talal al-Zahrani was 21 years old.

Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
del.icio.us

on the dangers of not liking something (for Coralie)

Friday, June 9th, 2006

from Mind Over Matters by Mike Nelson:

…It usually starts innocently enough, a friend remarking to you that the co-op has a nice new crop of grapefruit. “Hmm, I don’t really care for grapefruit myself,” you say, entirely without malice. She seems startled, “Really?” she says.

If you had a tendency to be sarcastic, you might say, “No, I deliberately misrepresent my taste in citrus to gain the upper hand in conversation.” But you are not sarcastic, so you restate your dislike, a little more timidly now. “Yeah, I just don’t care for grapefruit. It tastes bitter to me.”

“Bitter! How can you think grapefruit tastes bitter?” she demands.

“I find that difficult to answer — ” you say.

“Grapefruit is the single least bitter thing in the world! Sugar is more bitter than grapefruit!” she continues.

“Sugar is deliberately bitter,” you say, trying to calm her. “Sugar is pure white hate.”

“You want bitter? Radicchio is bitter. Dandelion greens — they’re bitter!”

“I hate them. They’re mean,” you say as the situation death-rolls out of control.

“I’m going to get you some of that grapefruit right now and show you that it’s not bitter,” she says, marching to the refrigerator. You have apparently run afoul of a committed grapefruit apologist. Soon you are eating extremely bitter chunks of fruit you loathe.

“Tell me, is that bitter? Is it?” she asks, leaving you no wiggle room.

“Unbelievably not-bitter. Sweet, sure. Sour, you bet. Salty, powerfully so — but bitter? No and again, no. All bitterness has vanished from existence. Even the concept of bitterness has been conquered and bows down before this grapefruit,” you say, nearly gagging from the bitterness.

We are who we are. Good and bad.

Friday, June 9th, 2006

So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. but even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.

I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad.

The perks of being a wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

far away, so close

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

The other night I took a candle with me outside to sit in the garden. It flickered in the wind. It was tiny against the blackness of the night. And when I brought it back in my room, the light shone differently. It was comprised between walls that revealed its brightness. So I thought about the stars I had just been gazing upon. How they would shine so much more if there were walls around to bring their magnitude to view. And then I thought about love and how it’s a tiny bit like that.