Monday, 10 December 2007

Overgrown Frat Boys

Does this freak anyone else out? The Republican candidates for America's presidency, at a debate sponsored by a Spanish-language TV channel -- essentially their only pro-immigration audience. Anyway, just look at them! Look at the camera angle! We look up at them, their reflections on the shiny floor make their frighteningly uniform be-suited figures look even taller. They look down at us like some sort of malevolent Big Brothers' club, promising to be Tough on Crime and eradicate social evils like gay marriage. Oh dear lord help us...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Six Reasons to Love Rafael Correa

Maybe you guys know that Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, is the love of my life. Maybe you don't. Anyway, he was elected president last year while I was in Ecuador to the great celebration of the people around me and all over the country, minus the rich ones who would have preferred Alvaro Noboa, the wealthiest man in Ecuador and George Bush's wet dream of a presidential candidate. (I suppose there were also some badly deceived ones who voted for Noboa, because he did manage about 44% of the vote, but the point is, Correa won and decisively too.) One of Correa's main platforms was that he would call for a referendum to create a Constituent Assembly to rewrite Ecuador's constitution and reorganize its political system, because the current one obviously wasn't working -- 9 presidents in 10 years, political instability, etc. This referendum passed last April with about 80% support, which leads me to my first reason why we should all love Correa:

1. Everyone else does; at least everyone who matters (the Ecuadorian people).
Not only did the referendum he called and which had been central to his campaign get 80% of the vote, when the elections were held to form the Constituent Assembly, Correa's party, Alianza PAIS, won 74 of the 130 seats. If that is not enough to indicate that everybody loves him, check out his approval ratings: depending on where you look, from 76 to 90%!
2. He speaks four languages. (Our president barely speaks one.)
Right, so how? Born and raised in coastal Ecuador, obviously he speaks Spanish; after college he did a year of volunteer work in Cotopaxi, a Sierra province right near where I was, where he learned Quechua; he got a Master's in Belgium and also learned French; finally, he got a Ph.D. here in the little ol' USA, where English is king.
3. He stood Bush up and called a speech he made retarded.
Back in September, after my illustrious president made some apparently smolderingly offensive comments about Cuba, Correa didn't go to Bush's UN dinner, explaining that he bailed in protest of what Bush had said in his speech, that "[Bush] has no right to give such a base, retarded speech now in the 21st century." Thank you!
4. He's rather dashing.

(Photo stolen from, as well as, like, everything.)
5. He proposed that Ecuador build a military base in Miami.
Our desperately unfortunate military has been rather outraged that Ecuador is not going to let them renew their lease on an air base at Manta, on the coast, come 2009 when it expires. I mean, ridiculous -- who wouldn't want the US military in their country?! So Correa, in the spirit of compromise, announced in Italy in October, "We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami -- an Ecuadorian base." Sounds fair enough to me. What do the good people of Miami say? Exactly what I would: "Absolutely YES!!!!"
6. He's way ahead of the Bali Conference.
When last April, Correa suggested that the international community help Ecuador preserve the air we all share by compensating this small, poor, relatively oil-rich country to leave the oil in the ground, we didn't hear much of it up here in Estados Unidos. (Norway, however, expressed interest, another example of how you Norwegians are more enlightened then us boorish Americans.) These days, it would seem that at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, an international carbon-trading plan called REDD is quite the hot topic. REDD is a plan, according to the New York times, that "would involve payments by wealthy countries to developing countries for every hectare of forest they do not cut down." Okay, so it's about forests, not oil, but does it sound at all familiar? Richer countries helping poorer countries save the planet by compensating them for not harvesting their natural non-resources? Too bad Correa's one of those dreadful Anti-American leftists, so he can't be in the New York Times...

Monday, 3 December 2007

things that should be blogged

first, i need to mention a new discovery i have made. you might already know about this show.
it is called 'trapped in the closet' and it is basically a soap opera in the format of a musical. r kelly wrote it, sings it and he is the man 'trapped in the closet' who can see everything which is going on, in a fly-on-the-wall kind of narrative.
if you're in the mood for something extremely silly, look it up on youtube.
we've had a bit of a debate going on here, whether r kelly is really stupid, or really a comedy genious, or something in between that results in a really funny show. i would like to hear your opinions on the matter.

on a more serious note, i have read a book lately, called 'louis i kahn - conversations with students', and this book is made up of questions that students asked him and his answers. (louis kahn is a famous american architect).
it makes me want to be smart, and it makes me think that maybe i should have studied philosophy instead. well at least louis kahn has some great thoughts about architecture that i wish i could be smart enough to implement into my designs at some point. i especially liked this part, where he is talking about the design of a school:

'i do not think that there should be rooms designated for seminars in a row on a certain floor, because a seminar is really an inspired thing, and you hold a seminar like this one, you sit around and hold it. as soon as you make it on the second floor, with all the seminars lined up, it is no longer a seminar. there isn't the spontaneity in the back of it.'

i wish i could be a bit more philosophical in my thinking about activity, and why and where and how events happen.

else, have you read any heidegger? he is next on my reading to do list.

Foot Fetish Anyone?

This is a hectic time of the year, and laundry has not been very high on my priority list. The situation has not become so very dire that the dirty laundry has become a teeming mass of mold as it did one monsoon in the Mulshi Valley, but it has reached the point where socks, especially tasteful ones, have become a rare luxury. This has led to some interesting anthropological discoveries.

Now, I assume you all know about the (hipster) trend of wearing cute little flat shoes with no socks and skinny jeans. It has been a sort of fall uniform at my (hipster infiltrated) school; I myself have partaken in it. To an extent: I always wear socks.

Well, almost always. Due to the current sock shortage, for a couple of days last week, I wore my cute little flat shoes with no socks (and leggings under a pencil skirt -- see, I can play the hipster game too). I was bewildered by the effects of this minute change: I got so much more attention from the opposite sex than I did with my socks on! There were boys opening doors for me, talking to me, smiling at me; I am not saying that there were so many of them, but certainly there were far more than usual. A couple of days later, my toes were cold and the socks went back on (under black wide-leg pants -- I know, I know, not quite keeping up with the hipsters). I had to open every door I walked through myself: it seems that bare feet are way sexier than socked ones.

So here are my questions:
(a) Am I imagining this phenomenon? I would like to propose a scientific experiment in which we each wear cute little flat shoes without socks for a week and then with socks for the next week, all the while systematically measuring the attention we get from stranger-boys. However, the snow has come (yesterday!) to New York, and I imagine to Glasgow and Tromso as well, so the cute little flat shoes will have to hibernate for the winter and going without socks is ludicrous. Perhaps next spring -- but then the little flat shoes won't be fashionable anymore, omg.
(b) Assuming that I am not imagining this, what is it all about? I have heard about foot fetishes, but I always thought they had to do with the overall shape of the foot. The plane of flesh left exposed by a sock-less flat is just mildly sloping, bony, and in my case, pale. I do not see how this can increase one's desirability. Then again, I also do not see how the numbers and letters my teacher is scratching on the blackboard imply a non-standard shifted ellipse. But apparently, they do.

Whatever, Asshole; or, Funny Things that Have Happened to Me at NYU

You know, it seems I am becoming a regular old Miss Manners. I am slightly worried about how bitchy and judgmental(1) I seem to be:
- Every time I go into the lower level study area of the library, I remark disapprovingly to myself about the way people leave trash on the desks -- unspeakable, I think! I mean it is sort of a universally basic principle of EVERYTHING to clean up after oneself. Jeez.
- Last night in that lower level study area of the library I certainly did raise an eyebrow at a girl plugging her laptop into the unoccupied plug on my desk without a word to me, then just leaving the computer there with a whispered, "I'm just going to leave this here while it charges." "Okay..." I whispered back, but she was long gone. Of course, it was fine; there was no problem. Her laptop was not in my way and in any case my charger was in Brooklyn (oh absentminded me) so I wasn't going to use the plug anyway. But usually you would expect someone to ask, out of courtesy. I mean I would just never do what she did. It's amazing how much the four little words "Do you mind if..." would have changed my wrathful feelings to the Entitled Laptop Girl.
-Entitled Laptop Girl is right up there on the sneering shock scale with the time I saw a girl in one of the dining halls break off a chunk of one of the cookies on the common plate, and walk away, munching on it happily. The rest of the cookie sat there looking like a rat had munched on it, her greasy little finger prints allover it. Now this is not just disrespectful to everyone else in the cafeteria, it is gross.
-A more overt and funny form of rudeness appeared in my social work class last week, when a girl with a permanently sour expression on her face was bitching to the oh-so-sympathetic teacher (the one who says that there are eight million people in Norway) about the evil New York public school system(2): her desperately unfortunate eight-year-old brother is forced to practice cursive for "like three hours a day," and she did not see any good reason for that. I pointed out that at his age, learning cursive is also about developing motor skills not just learning an archaic style of writing. She cut me off: "Oh, I know. I'm going to school for occupational therapy. Believe me, I know." Excuuuuuuuuse me.

Aaaaagh what is going on here? It's the demise of common courtesy. Bitches.

(1) This is an interesting word. It has two acceptable spellings! "Judgmental" is the more common one, but "judgemental" is also technically correct according to my dictionary, although the Blogger spell-check disagrees. I use them both, but I have recently started to favor "judgmental", because many people might mistake "judgemental" for a misspelling. Another word with two different spellings that I particularly like is "kerb" -- or should I say "curb"? I think that technically "kerb" is British and "curb" is American, but they are both considered correct over here. I learned this incredulously during a game of Scrabble with my dad. Now I use "kerb" exclusively (even though my Blogger spell-check continues to disagree) because I think it is cool and it is so different from the common spelling that it could not be interpreted as a simple error. Hoho, bringing back the footnotes! Sofie, remember when we got really into footnotes? And how I had like 3000 words of them on my EE?
(2)The NY public school system is, if I may add, one of the best in the country, with an average student:faculty ration of 13:1 as opposed to California's 21:1. These numbers are from my sociology teacher, who actually does check his statistics before broadcasting them.

Dance in the street

So, what has been up beloved ones, in the big apple and in rock city? I'll start this post by trying to create a little atmophere discription of the Paris of the north. Key words are darkness, snow, northern lights and Christmas decorations. That's for the visual description. This Saturday we had a little party, (a three-people-party, so can hardly be called a party but anyway) and then we went to town to get some drinks and see some peeps. I hadn't been out for a long time because of my exams, so it was really nice. And the nice thing about Tromsø is that it's such a small town, but still kind of big, and all the pubs and bars are concentrated in one small area, pretty much. This Saturday the street was full of people everywhere and there were street musicians with accordions and guitars and everybody were dancing around in the street! That was my perception anyway, but I was slightly drunk. But people were dancing, that's for sure, and it is just so nice; darkness, snow and the warmth of people. But now it's time to travel down south again. This Saturday I'm flying to Oslo, but before I go home to Mandal I'm going to visit Sigrid and Christopher in their homes. And then comes family time and Sofie time around new years eve.

Exams aren't over yet unfortunately. This week I am writing my home exam in philosophy which is far far beyond me. So that is what I should be doing this very moment, but in stead I'm writing a rather lousy blog post which doesn't really evolve around important issues of the world. But one ting I can tell you: if you don't have one already, get yourself this device (which I don't know the name of in English) to steam milk with! It increases your life quality to have steamed milk in your coffee (especially if it is espresso coffee). But I think my coffee consumption, which has been rather extensive lately, is giving me yellow teeth.

And it you haven't guessed already – the picture is of the transsibirian railway which I definitely think we should hop on and go to India.

Monday, 12 November 2007

In a way, I am like Larry Craig

Really, I should be studying for the mid-term exam I have tomorrow: Pre-calculus. I'm pathetic. I've only done one section of the review questions so far, and out of these questions, I've been unable to answer a good three-quarters of them! Factor this, graph that -- I can't. My brain was simply not built that way. But I'm not stupid! I'm good at other things: just now, I've been straying from the immediate math to read up for a sociology essay that's due Tuesday; I'm doing well in my social work and writing classes. No, I'm not stupid -- I'm just an utterly stereotypical girl, and it pisses me off.

(Here comes the rage: Are you saying, Shane, that girls can't be good at math? Or politics or economics or physics? No, of course not! Many are; many excel in these male-dominated fields. I don't.)

Once, our friend Jordan and I were talking about the gender composition of our respective fields of study. He studies interior design, I study social work; they are both heavily female-dominated fields. He was telling me that often, it's possible to see the difference between his designs and those of the girls in his class -- not that his are better, simply that they are different. People will look and be able to say: "A man designed that," or "a woman designed that." (I wonder if you have had that experience Sofie, and how you felt about it.) I said, "You know, it would bother me if someone looked at something I designed and was able to guess correctly my gender because of it." He said, "Really? It doesn't bother me." Hm.

Now, my mother is a staunch feminist. I am too: I use her last name as well as my father's; I know that I am as capable and entitled as any man; once I got in a fight with a guy in Chandigarh because he called me "honey" (remember Else?). I know that our cultural devaluation of the feminine is wrong! I know that traditionally female fields are just as intellectually and practically valuable as traditionally male fields! I've seen the Vagina Monologues three times! So I can't explain why it bothers me so much that in my social work class of twenty, there are no male students, and in my sociology class of about the same number, there are two. Nor can I explain why when choosing courses for next semester, I have purposely and consciously disregarded courses I find interesting that I know will be filled with girls. It's not because I want to meet guys, no! Despite my feminist consciousness, I absolutely hate it that my interests and my strengths are so stereotypically feminine.

Paula England, in an article about gender desegregation in US universities, writes about our "cultural devaluation" of all things feminine. I guess I'm a good example of its effects -- although I know intellectually that women are as smart and as capable of men, I devalue my own self and interests on basis of their femininity. I know that's bad, but I can't help it. I also feel that there are bigger issues in this world for me to think about, but it seemed particularly relevant to me after reading this article. Sofie, you're in a field I associate more with men -- what do you think? Else, what is your philosophical view point?

Back to pre-calculus, time to whip my feminine brain into shape.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Legitimate blog-passiveness (?)

These days I am studying for my exams like a little propeller (I am more studious than ever before in my life I think)! So that unables be to spend much time blogging. But I'll come back strong in very few weeks. However, I can report that Max Weber was a nice man, Keynes is a role-model and Karl Marx was misinterpreted in many ways. Peace out dear friends - for now.

(Hannah Arendt had to join the company to compensate for the male domination)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Viva la revolucion! One tray at a time...

I found this picture on the internet, but it could very well be taken from the downstairs dining hall in NYU's Weinstein residence hall. Every time I visit this all-you-can-eat dining hall, I am absolutely shocked at the amount of food people throw away -- slices of pizza with one bite taken out of them, melting ice cream that's hardly been picked at, hamburgers that have been ever-so- slightly nibbled. It's decadent and disgusting, and I'm truly bewildered by it. Earlier this evening, I went to a discussion on sustainable dining at NYU (part of Footprint Forward); NYU head chef Jeramie Garlick said, if I understood him correctly, that in just one NYU dining hall, students throw away about 300 pounds of food waste daily. Didn't anyone else's mother tell her not to put any more food on her plate than she thought she could eat? If we keep on like this, pretty soon we will be drowning in garbage, wading through half eaten slices of pizza to get to class and slipping on melted ice cream on our way home. Shock, shock! Horror, horror!

Seriously, though, this wastefulness is pretty darn atrocious. So what can we do about it? This weekend at the Real Food Summit, I learned that when they got rid of trays in the all-you-can-eat dining halls at St. Joseph's College, food waste decreased two to three ounces per student! It may not seem like much, but it certainly adds up. It makes sense: when you can only take as much food as you can put on one plate, you will think before going back for seconds, and be more likely to finish all that you take. The water saved by not having to wash the trays is merely the icing on the cake.
It's time for all-you-can-eat NYU dining halls to go tray-less. So simple, so subtle -- and a considerable decrease in wasted food!

I brought it up in the discussion I mentioned earlier, and Jeramie Garlick said that they had actually talked to the NYU about this idea before, but that it had been shot down out of consideration for people with disabilities who might have a hard time without trays. I do not fully understand this, but in any case it's important to take into account. However, I think it's an obstacle that could be pretty easily avoided if there were a few trays available on request behind the counter at the entrance to the dining hall where meal cards are swiped. This way, students who needed trays would be able to use them, and students who didn't wouldn't simply take them out of habit.

So this is my new plan. This is my new revolution. Maybe it is petty and insignificant, but is important to start small. Next stop: ANARCHY.

Monday, 5 November 2007

hello friends,

yesterday i went to see elvis perkins and it was great. the venue is really small and so it was nice and intimate.
today, i am pissed off and sad and frustrated. i guess i have myself to blame, but now i'm blaiming the fucked up janitors of my school, who refused to let me in to the studio today, because it is "bank holiday" and so the school is closed. i didn't know that it would be closed, and so i had left all my drawings, my drawing board and my drawing utensils in the studio. thing is, i have my final review for this project tomorrow morning, and i fucking need those drawings!!! i tried to expain the situation, but they said no, no, no, and then i started crying and went and sat in the car while anthony tried to persuade them to let him in to pick up my stuff. then one guy said yeah, i'll let you in when the other guy comes back. the "other guy" turned out to be the one we had talked to first, and he said: "when i said no, i meant NO!" and so now i am sat in my room, trying to squeeze out one months worth of work in less than 24 hours. and what am i doing? writing on my blog. i am a loser.

but, at least i am not an authoritarian fucker of a janitor!!!

Friday, 2 November 2007

"Eating Breakfast on the Moon"

Lately I have been quite amused by my own dreams. A few nights ago I dreamt that I was in India, but with no permission to be there, so I was constantly hiding and running form the government.  

I recently made a new acquaintance with whom I had a conversation about dreams - in general. He recommended that I wrote down my dreams, since this after a while would make me able to consciously design my own dreams and thus being able to do really funky stuff; like flying. He had personally acquired this ability after keeping a dream journal for some time. The dream had to written down the moment you woke up. Not after for example eating breakfast, because then you have forgotten so much of what you dreamt that it no longer would be any use.

This morning I woke up quite puzzled by the dream I had just dreamt. I was not in the mood of getting out of bed, so I decided to write down my dream in my diary. I created a new section in my diary labelled: Dream diary. Here follows a short summary.

In my dream it was possible to visit the moon. Sigrid and I decided to go there. We packed food and clothes and flew up to the moon in a funeral casket. When we reached there we were met by Ella and one other girl. We exchanged a few words. There was no gravity on the moon, which made me scared of disappearing into the universe. Sigrid told me that the moon existed long before anything else: all the stars, the earth and the sun. On the moon there was a digital device which informed us of how far away form the earth we were. The moon (or the earth) seemed to move around fast because this number changed in the speed of the light, up and down. We ate the food we had brought with us, and then we travelled back down to earth. To get down again one person had to sit in front in the casket and put forth her arms, just like when you're diving. If you wanted to go up again, you had to stretch your arms towards the moon. I sat in front. It was fun so I kept doing this for a while, going up and down, up and down.

Back down on earth we met a big group of people, amongst them many MUWCI people, who were all talking excitedly about this new phenomenon of going to the moon. I was especially happy because I was going to make my new blog-post be about this (I thought this in the dream). I was going to call it: " Eating Breakfast on the Moon". I felt so content, because this was really going to be about the world AND OTHER ISSUES. I met Neta among all these people, but he didn't find the possibility of visiting the moon very intriguing.

Later in the dream I was required to do two assessments for some sort of educational institution; one was written and the other was practical. For the written one I handed in my blog: "Eating breakfast on the moon". The practical one was about how I handled life on a ship. I spent some days on a ship, where there was an examiner who observed the behaviour of me and the rest of the group that was also there. A few days later, when the ship had gone back to shore and the test was over, Sofie and I went to check our scores which had been put up on a board. Sofie had scored '6' in both assessments (which was out of the IB 1-7 scale), while I got an 'F' (A-F scale) in both the written and the practical! I was devastated. The examiner on the boat told me that I hadn't put the hood on my safety vest on properly and that he didn't approve of the soup I had had been drinking every day during the trip.  

My ambition is to keep up the dream log, and if the theory works, maybe I'll be able to conduct miracles in the end.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

so many lovelinesses

this is very exciting indeed. i love living in glasgow.
on sunday i am going to see elvis perkins at nice'n'sleazy (a bar), and i just found out that his opening act is andrea, a guy from my class! how cool is that.
also, andrew bird is playing on monday, and beirut is playing on wednesday. should i ditch volleyball practice on monday and go catch andrew bird in the oran mor, a church turned bar/nightclub/concert venue?

what is going on in the further northern hemisphere and on the merry east coast of the usa?

Thursday, 18 October 2007

About World War III, or, Assorted Memories

It's funny because when I was little, we used to learn about World War II and pantyhose rationing and patriotic women working and the like, and I thought it seemed a little bit glamorous. Of course, it frightened me too: to imagine that my father could be drafted; to imagine that my life could become like Annemarie's in Number the Stars. But war, in general, was a far off and mystical concept, a bit like Queen Victoria. It was just another story. I never would have dreamed that my country would have gone to war within my lifetime.

Then again, it's not like I've really noticed it. It's been more than four-and-a-half years now since the usually-silent television turned on to bring us news we'd been expecting with consternation, reluctance, and dread for quite awhile: that we had finally begun our attack on Iraq. The next day, San Francisco's streets screamed; I left school at lunchtime to add my voice to the choir, to tell whomever could hear that hell, no, I wouldn't go, I wouldn't fight for Texaco. Then I went home to the suburbs for supper, and my life went on. It's been four-and-a-half years and I haven't heard a single air-raid siren, thank god. No one's been drafted; I don't know anyone, closely, who's in Iraq. Much less anyone who's died there. My food has not been rationed, nor has my pantyhose (not that I wear pantyhose), no! On the contrary! We've been told to buy more, more, more: after all, the way the common man can support the war effort is to Keep America Open for Business. Is this wartime life?

I guess if I were from Baghdad and not San Francisco, I'd have a pretty different story. My contributions to this blog would probably be a little bit less along the lines of "so like omg the other day on the elliptical machine..." and a little bit more along the lines of, "We then decided it was time to go out and wait for dad. On our way downstairs we heard a loud explosion, seemed like a close bomb car. We went out and saw the smoke, everybody was saying the explosion was in region A, exactly where I'd usually wait for dad." And maybe if my life were like that I would feel a bit more like the people in this video, and maybe if I felt so invaded and subjugated and angry, I would really resent someone like me.

But that's not the point. (Coherence has never been my forte; anyway this is perspective heaven, not the IB.) The point is that we Americans, even those of us who spend all their time reading the New York Times on the internet, have no real tangible sense of being at war. It's rather unfathomable, so headlines like "Bush: 'World War III' Possible If Iran Goes Nuclear" are more than just slightly surreal. World War III. It sounds like a bad science fiction novel. Listen to my illustrious president: "I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." And how might we prevent that, Mr. President? If weapons of mass destruction can be found, so can "knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon". If war with Iran is deemed opportune, we'll probably find a way to word it.

In a way, I feel like the Iraq war is a bit like a mild urinary tract infection: you know it's there, but it doesn't bother you much, so you go about your business and try not to drink too much coffee in hopes that it will go away soon. The notion that it could become something as serious as a kidney infection is utterly absurd, kind of like a bad version of winning a raffle. One night, you wake up shivering, you can't sleep because you're so cold, you've got a tremendous fever, you try to drink a glass of water and throw up from the effort; the next day the doctor orders a CT scan which shows that your inflamed right kidney is wreaking havoc on your body. Sometimes I feel like I'm sixteen again (I don't mean in that I'm terribly, terribly awkward but that is true too): every now and then I get a sense that something very strange, very unfathomable, very distant, and very sinister is going to happen before too long, but for the most part, all I care about is boys, and Iraq and Iran are just names of places I read about in the news. I hope that the Iraq war will not spread to our kidneys, but I guess it will not be a surprise if it does.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

'energy vibrations' or 'dear friends'

yesterday i spoke to gavin, anthony's flatmate, and he told me (out of the blue) that gyms around the world are being powered by the people running on treadmills and elliptical machines. this is very cool. even cooler is the fact that, according to gavin, there are nightclubs which derive power from the vibrations in the dance floor which happen when people dance! how cool is that! this gives me a reason to dance more; it is environmentally friendly. and it gives me some cool ideas for how to design environmentally friendly buildings. imagine all the things we can do!

dear friends;
i miss you to fucking pieces and i am about to go insane.
yesterday i had a bit of a bad night. i had two glasses of wine, but they made me tired and emotional, and i was supposed to finish this cubist drawing thing that i presented in school today. i didn't finish the drawing and i didn't really sleep either.
and it didn't help that anthony seemed to be in the mood for a DTR*. this resulted in me crying and crying, basically because i want my friends back. HERE, NOW. i want to go to fishing parties and i want to sit in my room with the two of you, crying because sufjan stevens songs are so sad. i tried to tell anthony this, and he said that eventually i will make friends and that i am not a stupid friendless person. i think the worst feeling in the world is to be lonely, and right now i am.
how can this be, i've been here for a year, and still i can't sit down with anyone and cry to sufjan stevens. i am a sociable person! this is weird! and it sucks!

hmm... i guess the whole world can read this, so i won't go on.

i will, however, tell you about something amazing that happened today! approximately 1 hour ago i went down to the canteen (the refectory) to get my daily panini (they had a new version today, roast chicken and veggies, mmm). as i was waiting for my coffee to brew and my panini to heat up, i turned around and i saw...who? PER! do you know per? the swedish guy from RCN, who organised the human rights forum?
well, it took me a couple of seconds to realize where i knew this guy from, and then i was extremely happy that a little UWC just popped into my day in an extremely random fashion. turns out that his first year, silja from the faroe islands, is studying here in the painting department. weeee, i have another UWC person!
also, i don't know if i've told you this, but our third year eduardo is in the year above me in the architecture school, and we're in the same studio! very nice!
i have a picture of else, daniel and daniel, pedro, arthur and sebas on my wall, from our trip to the holy beach, and one day eduardo came over and then he said; oh, daniel daniel and sebas! aaaah, i miss muwci! and then i realized how many friends we have in common, and how amazing all these people are, and i don't know. it gave me a bit of hope that one day, we will all be together again. i miss muwci.

so on saturday i'm going to a party with per and silja and simon (from south africa, he was also at roskilde, and now he lives in edinburgh!)

i love that there's a little UWC network forming around me.

i love you guys and i think else is right, we should move to a kibbutz and raise each other's babies.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Norwegian College of Fishery Science

This branch of my university amazes me. It has been a new experience for me to meet people with a burning interest in fish. This was previously not a part of my horizon. Last night I was at a party arranged by ”The Norwegian College of Fishery Science” and this Sunday is very much marked by the fact that I had a little much to drink there. So I am afraid that will also mark this post. But I’ll do my best. I shall now tell you some incoherent stories related to the Norwegian College of Fishery Science.

Earlier this fall me and my friend Sigrid joined ”fjellgruppa” – the mountain group, and went hiking in Indre Troms. It was stunningly beautiful. Two of our fellow hikers on this trip studied deseases of fish (at the Norwegian School of Fishery Science). I don’t think their whole degree was only about this matter, but I got the impression that this was the main thing. One of them was a Swedish girl who came as an exchange student to study this in Tromsø because they are experts on this here. So I asked her what in heavens name got her interested in fish and more spcifically their diseases? She answered: ”Jag vil bara at döm skal mä bra liksom! Jag vil inte at fisken skal mä illa.” which means: ”I just want them to be okay! I don’t want the fish to feel bad.” I found this very charming, and I think about this often. She had a fishing pole with her on the trip.

Funny thing about the Norwegian College of Fishery Science is that it is full of African students. I don’t know the number but they are so many. They come all the way form Africa to educate them selves about fish. Which makes sense since fishing is an important industry in coastal African countries.

Norwegian College of Fishery Science is the prettiest building on my campus. It looks a bit like a ship and inside there is an artificial waterfall. I take my economics classes here (all economics courses are run by the Norwegian College of Fishery Science, so to be a student there doesn’t necessarily involve studying fish so much). So this weekend some enthusiastic students initiated a spectacular party. They put up posters of all over advertising ”FÆST!” which means, ”PARTY!” in the funny northern Norwegian dialect. The menu looked amazing so Sigrid, her friend Hannah from home who were visiting and I could do nothing but show up. Full of expectations we came there, with our nice big box of white wine in one hand and pleny of prejudgies about what kind of people we would meet this evening in the other. We entered the building and saw that (even though we were an hour late) there were approximately twenty guests there and the atmosphere a little pressured. We met a cute welcoming committee that insisted that we drink their welcoming drink, which was homemade licqour. A good start. We helped our selves at the buffet, which had all sorts of fish, and shellfish and other heavenly dishes. Even whale! It was delicious. After a few minutes two gentlemen kindly asked if they could sit down at out table and so they did. They didn't really meet with my pre-made picuture of the geeky ’Norwegian College of Fishery Science’-student, since one of them was a trash-metal musician. A little disappointed that the picture had been spoiled we decided foster the geeky atmosphere our selves, and invited the others of join us in a maritime drinking game. The game was in the form where one person makes a statement and the others say whether they believe this statement or not. Usually this tends to evolve around sex and such things that the youth like to talk about, but we confined the scope to things concerning the ocean. Examples of statements were “I am a fish” and “The fishes’ inner wish is to evolve to be come a panda”. This went on for some hours. At the end we all held hands and danced around in a circle to the tunes of Bruce Springsteen. Even though the organizers came by all the tables every fifteen minutes with nostalgic complaints such as: “Dænne fæsten e en fiasko, det kom jo ingen mænneska. Å, fæst på fiskerihøyskolen for noen år sia: da var det liv! Da kom det hundrevis av menneska!”, which means “This party is a fiasco, no people came. Oh, party at Norwegian College of Fishery Science a few years ago: that was something different. Then hundreds of people came!”, it was a memorable evening.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

this blog seems to be all about norway

and here comes another post on the topic.

this weekend, anthony and i went to norway. we flew from "glasgow" (prestwick) to "oslo" (sandefjord) - that's right, ryanair.
so we spent quite some time on buses/trains to and from airports. then we walked around oslo, friday was a beautiful day. we had dinner with mum and then got on the night bus to aalesund (10 hours). in the middle of the night the bus stops in "mors kro" ("mother's inn"), in the middle of nowhere, and "mother" provides us with waffles and hot chocolate and various norwegian specialities such as "vestlandslefse". we opted for pizza though.
anthony was amazed that we can pay by credit card on the bus.
then we came to aalesund, and basically we spent the whole of saturday and sunday visiting people and having food and wine and beer and more food and more beer. saturday night was my dad's 50th birthday celebration, so we went by bus down to the beach where we made hot dogs on a bonfire (another very norwegian experience for anthony). then we got back on the bus and went to a mountain, took the ski lift up, and had a big party at the top. the party involved wellie boot throwing, nail hammering, music quizzing, drinking, eating and even a visit from elvis in the late hours.
very strange, yes.
the best part was taking the lift down in the middle of the night, together with a bunch of drunken 50 year olds. the wind was strong and we bumped into bushes/trees on the way, but it was such a beautiful night and we could see all the way out to aalesund town and all the lights were nice and bright.

we took the night bus back on sunday night, so it was quite a travel-intense weekend, but also a lot of fun.

norway is rather weird.

how do your parents celebrate their birthdays?

Digging in our Heels & Giggling

I think that when you are putting off editing a terrible terrible midterm essay, it is nice to find a morbid little reason to giggle. These Norwegians have come up with an "ingenious solution" to get at a gas field called Snow White, & before too long Snow White's black, oily blood will be "crossing the ocean in specially designed ships, feeding into the pipeline network for the American East Coast." (It makes me feel a little bit closer to you, Else, all the way up there beyond the Arctic Circle: at least we are connected somehow.) But the best part is, it's got potential! Lucrative, lucrative potential! Thanks to global warming, the Artic is fast becoming "more accessible for oil and gas production" -- so really, it's self-sustaining, at least in the medium-to-short run.

Oh, you sweet, shrewd Norwegians & your natural gas.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Living Politely

The other day, after a lovely elliptical machine session, I was walking home and I passed a homeless man on 14th Street stretching out for the night; propped up next to him was a cardboard sign reading "Live Politely". At the risk of sounding even nerdier than I already do, I thought that I definitely agreed with him, that we should all be more polite, especially nasty border officials. After all, courtesy is the jelly that makes the pb&j swallowable, right? And I patted myself on the back for being, in my own opinion, generally quite polite.

So imagine my shock and dismay today on the elliptical machine, happily listening to a Grammar Girl podcast, when Mr. Manners came on to instruct listeners about the most polite way to correct someone else's grammar. Mr. Manners emphasized that you should make sure that the person whose grammar you are correcting would "welcome and appreciate the correction". This, I must confess, is something I am very, very guilty of neglecting.

It's not that I'm some sort of expert; in fact, I'm not even sure if I placed the period correctly in the penultimate sentence of the above paragraph and until I read it over I didn't notice an extremely egregious error I'd made regarding the proper spelling of "whose" in this context! (Swallowable, on the other hand, I looked up: it's correct.) And while bad spelling irks me to no end (especially if the person writing to me is writing in THEIR native language which is not MY native language), small grammar mistakes and pronunciation idiosyncrasies really don't. So why do I keep correcting? Have you guys noticed that about me? Does it bother you like it bothers another Norwegian I know?

Maybe because it makes me feel smart; maybe also because I feel like I would wish to be corrected if someone knew my wording to be incorrect. But maybe I should learn to respect other people's wishes to live in ignorance, I mean, not be corrected. It's important, after all, to live politely, and not step on too many unnecessary toes.

(PS: Sofie, a couple of weekends I lost a game of Scrabble drastically!)

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Oh Mahogany! Oh Ikea!

So the other night, I attended a presentation about the illegal timber trade called Faces of Forest Loss. In NYU School of Law's beautiful, mahogany-paneled Lipton Hall, we heard from such impressive forest defenders as Anne Kajir , of Papua New Guinea; Julio Cusurichi , of Peru; and Arbi Valentinus, of Indonesia. Each of them told us a little bit about the disastrous effects of illegal logging in their countries and what is being done to fight against it.

Here is the general story about illegal timber trade according to Ari Herkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council , who moderated the panel: an armed, often state-backed mafia, enters a forest that is ostensibly off-limits to harvest timber for the international market. This is, of course, an environmental issue: 18% of global greenhouse emissions come from deforestation, Cusurichi told us, but it is also a very serious human rights issue. Illegal forest destruction tends to have the worst, most direct impact on indigenous communities who call the forest home; furthermore, those who try to speak up against it often become the victims of serious intimidation and violence from those who stand to make a profit from the illegal timber trade.

Arbi Valentinus emphasized that the responsibility for this falls both on the supplier and the consumer -- these timber mafias wouldn't be making such profits if we weren't buying their stolen wood. The US is a major market for illegal timber, because due to a loophole in the Lacey Act of 1981, which focuses on plant and wildlife protection, it is not illegal to import illegally harvested timber into this country! An importer could literally announce to a customs officer that he had a load of illegally harvested wood, and there would be nothing the official could do about it. In August, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced the Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007 , which would amend the Lacey Act to actually prevent illegal logging practices. Valentinus said that it would be up for debate in October, but I couldn't find anything on the internet about that.

Legislation sounds fabulous, but we as consumers also need to think about our power and our impact. A man from the organization Rainforest Relief raised his hand to point out the irony of all of progressive-minded folk sitting on mahogany chairs there applauding this good work; he added that New York City is the single largest consumer of tropical hardwoods in North America! We should also remember that illegal logging happens not only in order to create timber goods for the international market, but also in order to clear lands for agribusiness.

When I worked at Greenpeace a couple of summers ago as an intern for their forest campaign, I did a lot of research towards putting together a 'wood-purchasing guide' for conscious consumers who did not want to participate in the illegal timber trade in any way. I'm not sure if the guide was ever finished, but I remember being particularly excited that Ikea, as far as I could tell, had a pretty good reputation timber-wise. Yay Ikea!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Praise the social democracy

What kind of a professor is this? I think these things we talk about here have more to do with historical development and political priorities as a result of systems or paradigms or something, than human evolvment.

The debate about using taxes for social programmes is intense and will (according to Peter H. Lindert´s ”Growing Public”) continue to be so. He states that ”The future debate seems to follow naturally form the flow of history, the logic of self-interest, and the inevitable help-vesus-incentives quandary.” In the classic economies of Adam Smith and Malthus there wasn't much room for the public sector, the role of the state should be minimal not to mess with the competition of the market. But since 1850 or something like that, the public sector, especially in western Europe, has just kept expanding bit by bit, and than radically after the first and second world war. And it is still on increase. So at least in Norway the role of the state is big, and it keeps getting bigger, and the state is thus dependent on the tax payers (and the oil fund).

The case in norway is that after World War two there was a general wish to ”rebuild the country”, especially encouraged by the labour party wich was in power at the with Einar Gerhardsen as the prime minister. The governance was led by modern social dempcratic thought, with ideals such as welfarism, redistribution and social justice. The father of the social democracy, it is said, is Keynes which developed an idea of social democracy that on a general basis came to be widely accepted after the second world war. There was a desire the ´humanize´capitalism through state interevention.

2. I think then, following on what has previously been said, that the taxing is justified by this genereal celebration of the social democracy. Of course there is a debate, as Sofie says, about how much taxes people should pay and so on, but the most left wing and the most right wing opinions on the matter only vary by a few percentages. There is a general awareness the the system pays you back, and people are willing to invest in that.

3. When in comes to the incentives to work, that is one of the major criticisms from Adam Smith and such, that you have the ”free riders” which will benefit from the welfare system without contributing. But the system is quite good, and even though a few people do it, and it is hard to get economic support if you don't qualify for it.

4. The social differences in his country are in fact not big at all. Poverty, though it does exist, is not prominent. You do have an elite of people who earn lots more than others, but generally we’re just a bunch of middleclass people.

5. The government gives us free education, and yeah.. things I can’t remember right now. I am falling a sleep here. Yes, Sofie mentioned subsidizing on lots of things. And most public services are staterun (was that a pleonasm?), though not entirely free but a lot cheaper than what they would be if they were private. It is true that we send old people to Mediterranean countries for rehabilitation!

6. Yes, I also heard that the northern regions have relatively high suicide rates (not the whole country perhaps, but the region). And I suppose it has to do with the darkness, but probably many other factors as well. On Saturday, when we had a big party, I talked to one guy who lives in my flat, and he was doing research on ‘traumatic deaths’, which are deaths cased by an external factor, in the northernmost province in Norway. Suicide was a big issue but it can be due to the fact that the region has different social problems. There are very few people living there (to tempt people to live there you get to pay less tax if you live in the northern regions, and you get higher vages!!), and a lot of discontent since opportunities in terms of work are few. Okay, I am babbleing on with little grounds for what I am saying, so I think I should say good night. This was a horrible post.

I don’t have one of those lamps by the way. It is not very dark here yet. I think I should get a lamp when it starts being dark 24/7. But they are expensive!!

One more question...

I'm very curious about Scandinavia (Norway, at least) today!

7. So I seem to remember someone implying that you all have composting toilets. This, I know, is not true, although in ten days in Norway I probably peed in as many composting toilets as I have in this country. How prevalent are composting toilets exactly? And what is the story with recycling and compost? In San Francisco, the city comes and picks up our organic waste for us. In New York, recycling is considered revolutionary and if you say compost no one knows what you're talking about. So what is it like in Norway? What about environmental awareness/environmentally friendly lifestyles in general? (Once I told Ola I would drive him wherever he wanted. He said, "Well, I'm not American. I'd rather take the bus." Hehe.)

Answers About Scandinavia (Norway, at Least)

Dear Shane.

I am sitting here with my fellow norwegian and flatmate helene. i read your post out loud for her, and her immediate reponse was; "i don't get the people who don't understand why they have to pay taxes! norwegians i mean!" and i do share her opinion. but, then again i probably wouldn't understand if i wasn't from norway, this country where taxes are just a part of what you have to deal with, and so you do it. i mean, what can we do about taxes? yeah i guess it sucks to pay them, but then again they are the reason why our country was ranked as the no. 1 place to live by the UN (a couple of years ago, i think).


1. it might be right that people pay up to 56 % tax, though i'm not entirely sure. you pay taxes based on your income and "general wealth", ie. your shares and money in the bank. (not the ones under your pillow). it works like this; you start paying taxes when you start earning more than about $5000 a year. from then on you pay 10%, but if you start earning a lot more, your taxes get calculated in accordance with this table that shows what income gives what tax level. oh and you don't start paying taxes until a year after you've earned over $5000, because the tax level is based on your income from the year before.

2. as i said, i think the level of taxation doesn't really need justification anymore, because it is such a well run institution, inherent to the norwegian society. so people just have to deal with it. but then again, i am writing this from the point of view of a socialist, and there are plenty of epople in norway who vote for the blue parties, just because part of their agendas are to lower the taxes. and, we all see that taxation works, and everyone does benefit from it, whether they are aware of it or not.

3. well, this sounds slightly shallow, but why did i work? because if i hadn't worked i wouldn't have gotten any money at all. yeah, it sucked to work double the hours of last year, only to receive the same amount of money, but then again, this is just a fact of life that i have to deal with. plus i like working in the fish market.

4. there are rich norwegians and normal norwegians and poor norwegians. there are beggars on the streets. but i guess the standard norwegian would be rich in almost any other country in the world, just because the wages are higher, be it taxated or not. i don't know. but i think that there are so many opportunities in norway. education is free, even university, so maybe that's why most norwegians are normal, not poor. because most of them are well educated.

5. baards civil service was not something he got from the government, it was something he did for the government. what do we get? well, free healthcare, free dentist, (though both of these are only for under 18's) our farmers are subsidised so we don't have to pay $3 for milk, because farming is a dying activity, the government pays them to keep going, and hmm what else do we get. clean(ish) streets, fairly well run communal transport. many things. but there is so much room for improvement.

6. i've never had a sun lamp, but according to my flatmate helene, who's brother lives in tromso' "everyone" sits in front of this sunlight provider about 30 minutes every morning. hmmm... they get the northern ligh sometimes though, maybe that's special enough to keep them going for ages. and, according to wikipedia, the country with the highes suicide rate is lithuania, norway being ranked 44.

ps. i don;t think we are more highly evolved.

pps. even though this post seems to be portraying norway as some kind of heaven, i moved out of the country of a reason.

dear shane, i hope you can raise your hand the next time your lecturer speaks about scandinavian greatness.

much love.

oh by the way, i just went to an open mic and i sag john wayne gacy junior (sufjan) with my mate louis. helene said it sounded nice.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Questions about Scandinavia

It seems that everywhere I go these days, someone comments on Scandinavia, and what an amazingly enlightened, developed place it is. The other night someone spoke of Scandinavian environmental habits with almost religious reverence; my social work professor the other day went so far as to imply that Scandinavians are more highly evolved as human beings than Americans(1). Progressive intellectual America has a Scandi-complex; we all want to be like you!

So, I thought I would take advantage of this blog to ask some questions; non-Scandinavian readers, please feel free to chime in with any questions of your own (comments are now available to EVERYONE). And my dear Norwegian cohorts, won't you please enlighten us?

1. First of all, will you please clarify a little bit about the tax law? Up to 56%, said my social work professor (the class bristled). At what point do you have to start paying taxes? I know this was a relevant issue to your summer, Sofie. What are the tax brackets like; ie, who has to pay how much?

2. How does the government justify taxing so much? How do people accept it? Is there a clear general awareness of where exactly the taxes go? Is there a major sense of collective responsibility in Norway? Is it because you are more highly evolved?

3. What, then, is the incentive to work? For example, Sofie, why did you even work the extra hours at Fiskebrygga this summer if you knew that you'd have to work more than double the amount of time for only a little bit more money than you got last summer?

4. It can't be that Scandinavia is without social stratification. There are rich Norwegians and poor Norwegians, right? Or are there just rich Norwegians and richer Norwegians? What is the difference between a rich Norwegian and a poor Norwegian?

5. What exactly do you get from your government? Baard's civil service deal sounded pretty sweet. But Else, are you getting a free education? Sofie, are they giving you money for Glasgow? What about healthcare? Also, is it true that the Norwegian government sends old people on vacation to the Mediterranean in the winter months so that they won't get sick?

6. Finally, Else, I have heard that the Scandinavian countries have the highest suicide rate due to lack of sunlight in the northern regions. Do you have one of those sun lamps up there in Tromso? I certainly hope so.

So, stay tuned for answers to these questions, & feel free to comment with your own!

(1) Or at least that's what I understood. Then I text messaged Ola to ask if it was true, and he replied that it definitely was. Asshole.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Energy & the Elliptical Machine

These days, I have taken to periodically visiting NYU's beautiful gym facilities. Please don't laugh. I like the elliptical machine best: I smoothly propel the pedals up and down to the beat of Mahi Ve; I sweat and I sweat and I go nowhere. There are always a lot of other people there, sleek fitness-type people pushing the handles of their elliptical machines back and forth or running to nowhere on the treadmills; we stare up at the wall of TV screens and pour our energy out, in place. The machine tells me (a) how many calories I have spent, and (b) how many miles I would have gone if I had been running in the real world. Sometimes I imagine it to be a small energy factory: I picture all of our burned calories running the subway system, and we seem very mighty indeed. Of course, this has no basis in fact.

Doesn't it seem completely counterintuitive and unnatural to rid yourself of your body's precious energy on a machine that in turn demands more energy, in a building that demands still more? Isn't it funny to think of all of this machinery dedicated simply to burning calories? Shouldn't the sweat of our brow be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself? Silly kids, stop running on your hamster wheels! Go out and plow a field or something! Hunt down a turkey!

Well, maybe. Find me a field to plow in New York City and I'll plow it for you. But honestly, I'd rather move my legs back and forth, back and forth, to nowhere on the elliptical machine. I've never felt so good running in the real world as I do on the elliptical machine (not even running with Christie!). The feeling of my feet connecting with Mother Earth just hurts my knees and gives me cramps; I'd much prefer the smooth plastic and gratifying calorie count and I imagine the sleek fitness-types who shame me into five more minutes every time would agree. Is this deplorable? Have we lost touch with our natural selves?

Maybe. Perhaps a primitivist would say so. But I don't really think so. Actually, I think it's perfectly natural, a logical step in our adaptation to our changing environment. By 2050, says Wikipedia, "over 6 billion people, over two thirds of humanity, will be living in towns or cities." It's rather unavoidable: as human beings we are becoming more and more detached from the earth, and more and more attached to the plastic of the elliptical machine. We still have to live on the earth, though, and that's what we need to remember. Instead of denouncing urbanization, I think we need to accept it and work with it. Like my friend Adam (who's a lot smarter than I am and writes far more intelligent things on his blog) said the other day, we need to think about how we can make cities sustainable rather than decrying their very existence.

So, scientists, what about my energy factory idea?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

i need help

well, i don't really NEED help, but i do want help.
in uni, this whole term is dedicated to studying an activity, involving around 10 people. we are going to make cubist paintings, collages, video montages and digital representations of this activity, and after christmas, our two terms are dedicated to designing a building to house the activity. it seems that most of my class want to do some form of dancing, because it should be an activity with a distinct pattern that we can make diagrams of and eventually draw in plans and sections. AND it should be an activity that we are interested in, because after all we will be spending half a year studying it. which does sound really interesting, but you know, i don't feel up to drawing salsa dancing every day.
AND, it can not be a sport, because sport arenas are too big for the scope of the project, so there's volleyball out the window.
i need your creative input on this one! i was thinking about kathakali dancing, which i think would be pretty cool, but how on earth will i find a kathakali group in glasgow?

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Summary (Montreal! Americans!)

Now this was a lovely weekend: I went to Montreal! Oh it's such a beautiful place; I try on cities like I try on clothing, and Montreal is my new favorite dress. I visited Sukanya, & Srishti & Alissa, and my cousin Jamie, and the colors were really bright, essentially. And the feeling of being in motion again (& my first overnight bus ride on American Soil) was pretty fucking lovely, too.

I won't narrate too much, but here's what happened after all the fun was over and I was sleeping my way south:
Coming back over the border was hilarious: an overweight, pink-faced, crabby female customs officer got on the bus and jarred me from my sleep with her squeaky & repulsive voice. "TAKE ALL OF YOUR BELONGINGS WITH YOU. LEAVE THEM ON THE KERB OUTSIDE AND PROCEED DIRECTLY THROUGH THE GLASS DOORS. THERE IS NO RESTROOM INSIDE; DO NOT ASK." I briefly entertained the notion that it could have been an ironic joke, but then I looked at all the French Canadians giving each other knowing looks, and I realized, no, it is not an ironic joke. It's just America at its best.

Which city is your favorite dress? Or pair of sunglasses? Etc?

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Sinful joy

The two of you are very active, and I must say I am enjoying to read and to peek into your lives that are being lived far away. First of all I must ask (asking questions) what are hula hoops? Is it “rokkering”?

Oh! Now the Internet tells me; YES, that is exactly what it is. I love the image I have in my mind of this man with the hula hoops on the subway. Makes we want to go to the store right now and get hula hoops my self. But where do they sell hula hoops these days? Haven’t seen any in years

Talking of plastic, today I experienced how much joy material things can give me! Made me feel sinful! We all know how elegantly the Macintosh business works (shrewdly works its way around the neo-liberal system and we all love it). Push a few buttons on your keyboard, and whoops – there’s a brand new beautiful machine on your doorstep a few days later! Today I was as privileged as to receive this toy of a laptop. A brand new, black MacBook, smiling at me. I sat for a long time playing with the photoBoth, and even playing with the advanced new Office version (I had no idea Word could be so much fun), being amazed how this product had developed since my last iBook, which left the surface of this earth a little while ago. So now I have New York- and Edinburgh-time on my desktop. It was funny because last night I was out at a concert, and I had a few drinks and it got a little late. Besides the point really, but therefore today hasn’t been a productive day. So when I looked at the New-York time on my screen a thought: aah, the day is passing and I haven’t done anything and Shane has the whole day ahead of her! And right now even more of the day has passed and Shane sill has a lot of the day left. But I like the contrast between having days with intensity and productivity (in whatever form) and those days where you sort of drift. This is one of them, and I think my ability to properly reason is drifting as well today because I was planning to write a response to Sofie’s post about travelling. But I keep loosing my argument the moment I start formulating it. So what is the point. I shall rather do it one of those awaken days.

Tonight I am also going to a concert. To listen to man sing about shoes, scouts and asphalt (Bare Egil Band). That will probably fuel some useful insights about the world and other issues. So long.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Questions of Travel

i decided to post my reply to shane's school assignment here.
i also decided to focus on the Questions of Travel

i think this is what it all comes down to, questions. yes, i think that if we had stayed at home, we would have asked questions, and yes, we might have found answers to them. the difference, i think, is the kind of questions we ask.

i find this really hard, i have deleted and re-written this paragraph about four times now.
in essence i think that shane, you are right, we are better off with the experience. even though when it comes to questions, i still tend to wonder "when will i have enough money to buy those nice winter boots?" rather than "when will the genocide in sudan stop?"
i think i am, in a way, defending my worries about silly mundane things by thinking that, well at least now i am educated enough to think of the genocide in sudan once in a while. like, now at least i kind of know what it is. there may be many better examples of this, and i do still feel rather uneducated.

i have so many things to say and such bad organisation of my thoughts!!!
i think i will continue in bullet point form

1. the other day i was at a dinner party and i was talking to a middle aged american woman who was "very worried" about the fact that american high school students don't even have to study world history. i agree, that is rather worrying, but you don't have to study history in high school in norway either, or britain for that matter (i think), and (sorry, american kids, i'm sure there are many exceptions to this one) europeans still seem to generally be more aware of what's been going down around the world in the past. so maybe education is not the problem? maybe it's the media, maybe not, maybe it's the conversations you have with your friends, maybe it is what is talked about around the dinner table.
i remember going to ola's house, sitting around the dinner table talking about politics and history and whatever (this was pre-muwci) and i remember thinking that "this is how kids learn. why isn't my dinner table like this?" ok i realize i am digressing here, but i guess my point is that you learn so much from the people around you and that maybe, yes, you learn stuff in school, but unless you learn to think critically (as you might learn from discussions around the dinner table, maybe even over a beer in paud) that knowledge is worth nothing.

2. at this afore mentioned dinner party, i disagreed with most of what the american lady was saying, but i was really appreciating the conversation! (it helped that there was a very intelligent guy from bangladesh there, and one from germany and one from england and an american girl) i think this is the essence; we were from all over the world and so we had so many things to learn from each other, and so many things to tell. i think this is how we learned in muwci.

3. a guy just walked by, outside the internet cafe window in glasgow, wearing a "same same but different" shirt. i wonder if he went to india, and i wonder is he asked many questions while he was there, and i wonder if he asks different questions now than he did before. (maybe he went to thailand or morrocco for that matter)

4 this is the most incoherent thing i have written in a long time. shane, i think it's good that you're the one taking a writing class.

5. i am listening to sufjan stevens, he is talking about running out of springfield, maybe he wants to go out and learn about stuff so he can ask new questions.

hmm i think that when you're in a place for too long, you kind of run out of questions to ask and things to talk to people about, so you start talking about the new, modern roof of the local shell-station and forget that there's a world out there. it's dangerous, and i feel myself falling into that trap! i'm forgetting to ask questions and i forget to remember what i've learned, and when the news come on, i switch to "america's next top model".

where will this end.
thank you girls for making me think at least a little bit.

Monday, 17 September 2007

An Angel

This is the story about my subway ride home on Friday night. The first part is a funny anecdote and the second part is the meat of the story:

So I wandered/tottered, ecstatic, into the subway near where my friend Raia lives; it was about three in the morning and I have to confess to some problems with my Metrocard. But eventually I made it through the revolving gates (everything in fucking New York City REVOLVES), and as I walked in, three very disgruntled Frenchmen walked out: 'Well,' they said, 'you can wait but ze train eez not goeeng to come.' They obviously thought that America sucked. They were right in many ways, but wrong in a very crucial one, because five minutes later, the train came! & I got on.

Somewhere in the seventies, I believe, a tall thin man with red-rimmed eyes, long white pants, and a shimmery pink shirt got on, carrying a pair of hula hoops. I was getting pretty into the Side Brok I was listening to at the moment, so I didn't ask what the hula hoops were for, I just looked at him: he had a sympathetic face. He pointed to where a watch would be so I showed him with my fingers 3 0 4. And then I thought, I can listen to Side Brok later, so I asked: 'What are the hula hoops for?'

The hula hoops? he said, They are for dancing. This is how I make a living. Well, one quarter of a living. You can only make one quarter of a living dancing with hula hoops, but it is worth it if dancing with hula hoops is what you love. And he explained to me how he makes the other 3/4 of his living; I have since forgotten.

This was an introduction to a fifteen minute motivational speech on the importance of following your dreams and doing what you love. Security, he told me, is overrated. It is important, you need to pay the bills, you should not get into too much debt, but sometimes it is worth it to get into a little bit of debt if it means that you are more alive as a person. If you follow your dreams, he told me, the most likely outcome is that you will be disappointed. Probably, your dreams will not come true. But there will be the tiniest sliver of a chance they might, and, he said, in his opinion it is better that there be a tiny sliver of a chance that they might come true than certainty that they won't. Because although at the end of the day you will probably go to bed in the same bed you would have had you walked the safe line, at least you will be able to sleep peacefully, not wondering what if? What if? So, he said, follow your dreams. Do crazy things. Probably, it won't work out, but maybe it will. And he got off at 14th Street and he was gone.

Happy I danced home in the rain. The end.

Friday, 14 September 2007


dear friends, thank you for helping reviving the blog!
we are bringing back the muwci conversation, in internet format! it is indeed about time for some creative and critical thinking and writing.
i am not going to make this sentimental, though i do agree, i miss muwci.

my life is quite A4 at the moment, working 9-5 for service and devotion, going to the pub in the evenings.
i work in the other end of the city, so i get a nice long bike ride in the mornings. biking is so good! i like looking at all the suit-clad gentlemen and the fat, pale glasgow gals in their tracksuits, golden earrings and high ponytails, often pushing a pram around, alternatively a man, in a similar tracksuit, just black instead of white, wearing silver jewellery instead of gold. arguing, screaming "aye man, what shait!". glasgow is quite funny. there is so much comedy on the streets! the other day i overheard a conversation between three old men outside a pub, at about 5 in the afternoon. one of them was quite angry about something, and chatted with the other man and he said; what the fuck is going on here?" and the third guy said; what do i know, i'm jus' 'avin me fag!
it's mostly the accent that does it for me. so funny.

ah talking about what's going on on the streets, the other day day i had my first driving lesson on the wrong side of the road! all went well until i drove back to my house and entered the one way street in the wrong direction! what shait man. also they have some weirdo rules about how you're allowed to hold the wheel when you steer, the PUSH AND PULL method which i've never even heard of. it looks silly and it feels even more silly for my hands to try and do it when they know pretty well how to steer a car anyway. oh well.

well this was not really about the world and other issues but i do have one issue to raise, related to my story; we need more cycling lanes! in all streets! and cars need to be fined for driving or parking on them!
cars are big and ugly and bikes are small and sexy and so cheap and air-frendly. shall we start a campaign for more bike lanes in this world?

(how ironic i am working on getting my lisence)

The wonders of those big black bags!

Now there is an old adage that says that one man's trash is another man's treasure. This, I have realized tonight, is very true, especially when one of the men is a store or supermarket owner!!

Earlier, I went to a panel called "Extreme Green," about people who are so environmentally friendly that if I had a more developed conscience they would make me feel terrible about myself. One of the panelists was a woman who is a freegan: she lives, to the extent possible, off of what our society discards; we are American so we discard a lot!! (See for more.) After the panel she took some of us wide-eyed listeners on a walk around the neighborhood for an informal "trash tour". This is what I brought home with me:

-A whole bag full of soft, fresh bagels.
-Three 'snack packs' of carrots, baby tomatoes, broccoli, and ranch dressing.
-Two 'party packs' of sliced carrots and celery.
-Some strawberries (packaged, do not fear) yum yum yum.
-An adorable little chair which I am sitting on right now!!!

Much of the food I think I will have to give to my friend Raia, for most unfortunately, I do not have a kitchen. But if I had a kitchen, I could have brought home even more, and it would have been a week's worth of groceries!

The point of this all, though, is not for an over-privileged little girl like me to get free groceries. The point is, of course, that we are so terribly wasteful, that there has to be some sort of way of re-distributing this food, or of not creating all that waste in the first place. This is, I suppose, what the freegans are struggling toward, and I applaud them for it, although I am not sure yet if I am so very dedicated to their movement. Re-distribution, certainly, to bring those bagels to soup kitchens: this seems very practical and possible and I would like to see if I could get involved with it in the future. Actually, I was told, much potential waste already is redistributed like that.

But we must get to the root of the problem, the wastefulness of the consumer culture of my beautiful nation, say the freegans. And this, I think, is hard. Social work is often criticized for being a band-aid type of social change; Jane Addams (the mother of social work in this country) wrote of being frustrated by fixing things that should not have even needed fixing in the first place: isn't it futile to fix a situation that is the result of a larger problem if you don't fix the larger problem itself? Maybe. And maybe I am just a band-aid type of a person, because I feel like our culture's wastefulness is such a huge problem that it would take lifetimes to even address, and in those lifetimes would exponentially multiply to the point of being simply unsolvable. Re-distribution, on the other hand, seems relatively doable, not quite so lofty, but a good way to remedy a fucked up situation.

And to get me free groceries!!!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

I ain't got no one to be gussied up with (except that Vietnamese woman sitting next to me, but that was a long time ago)

Dearest, most precious, friends.

I just spent the past hour reading Sofie’s blog. It provoked sentiments and even tears! I am moody these days. The image of Sofie, always sitting out there on that stony floor, smoking too many cigarettes, producing, oh so many, wisdom words. It’s been a long time since I missed, and treasured the value of, MUWCI as much as in this very moment. And strangely, what I most feel the urge of doing right now, is to stand outside the Bombay airport in the humid, polluted, air and hear Sofie shout at the jeep drivers. It is like I am floating in that air, but not being able to inhale it.

So, the world and other issues? Does anyone really write/read blogs anymore? Well, I think we should. I also think we should all move together to, say, Vienna (open for other suggestions, I don’t think Vienna is the best idea. In Vienna there’s ten pretty women, and we’re only three. But we probably count as ten. Or we could make seven pretty female friends). Alternatively we could establish an organization constructing and managing buildings (Sofie, the architect) where various forms of social work (Shane) could take place (and I can deal with the philosophical/political/economical aspects). And if we can’t wait that long to interact and cuddle we can meet in London (Glasgow?) this spring! And we can even travel to India the summer of 2010. Inhale that dusty air. I feel it.

I don’t know which part of my rational mind that convinced me to go and study at the worlds northern most university. Shane tells me she loves New York, and it stings my heart and my urge for the urban. Sofie is in Glasgow, which is also urban. No, it’s not the urban thing, urban enough it is here, at least for me. I think it’s more a matter of gravity. It sometimes feels unnatural, against the way nature has meant for it to be, to be on top of the world, miles away from the continent. It is like I am being dragged down. Okay, I know gravity doesn’t work like that: we are pulled towards the core of the planet earth (at least we think so). But before I remembered that, it seemed like a very likely theory. And if the theory is altered a little, it still works; because it is more of a sentimental gravity where my body pains because you are so far away. Thus dragged down.

If you don’t want to make our relationship a professional one, like in the building of social work and philosophy (which doesn’t necessarily need to be professional), we can group up in an Israel-style kibbutz and raise each others babies!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

dear friends,

all of a sudden i can access this shit!! let's do it, a else sofie shane blog would make me so happy. even if it is just every now and then.

so. where am i & what am i doing? back in san francisco, re-discovering the consumerist american i really am, and loving it. and feeling guilty for loving it, but that is kind of the charm. life is a corporate sponsored event (i came up with that myself!!!), yes it is. pretty soon, i am going to go to new york, and study. and learn. it is time. no more childrens.

my fellows are at the roskilde festival in denmark, i think. tell us, tell the internet world! and pretty soon we will think of some interesting, insightful topics, and this blog will be forever famous. i'm going to go write on my other blog now.


Sunday, 4 February 2007

the new first challenge:

where are you and what are you doing?