Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Copmparison of Norway vs Austin food prices, part two

I'm back from the grocery store and have gotten the Norwegian prices for all the items on the Austin list. I tried to pick the cheapest storebrand and/or the most comparable to US standards. Exceptions noted below.

JANUARY FOOD PRICES (Austin vs Norway)


Austin Norway(USD/nok)
1-pound bag whole carrots 79 cents ($1.65/9nok)
1 head green leaf lettuce, conventional not organic $1.59 ($2.38/13nok)
2 pounds fresh broccoli $3.58 ($5.50/30nok)
2 pounds Red Delicious apples, medium $2.58 ($3.66/20nok)
1 dozen large eggs, Grade A $1.99 ($4.40/24nok)
1 gallon nonfat milk $4.29* ($8.80/48nok)
1 pound unsalted butter $1.99 ($3.66/ 20nok)
16-ounce loaf whole wheat bread $1.66 ($5.31/29nok)
4-pound bag granulated sugar $1.52** ($5.13/28nok)
12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate $1.39*** ($3.85/21nok)
15.5-ounce can kidney beans 48 cents ($2.75/15nok)
10-ounce can chicken noodle soup 75 cents# ($4.41/24nok)
18-ounce box corn flakes 99 cents ($3.66/20nok)
18-ounce jar smooth peanut butter $1.57 ($4.21/23nok)
1-pound bag dried lentils 59 cents ($4.59/25nok)
1-quart jar mayonnaise (Hellman's/Best Foods) $3.17 ($5.68/31nok)
1 pound ground beef, lowest fat percentage (per-pound price) $3.99 ($9.17/50nok)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts (per-pound price) $3.99 ($17.23/94nok)
1 (4-roll) package 2-ply toilet paper 99 cents ($4.59/25nok)
13-ounce can ground coffee, Folgers $2.99 ($3.49/19nok)
TOTAL $40.89 $104.12

*Milk is sold in litres, and 4 litres is around a gallon, so I did 4 of them at 12 nok each.
**Sugar sold in Kilos, around 2.2 lbs, so did two of those at 14 nok each.
***FCOJ not sold here, had to do a litre of fresh.
#They don't sell chicken noodle soup in cans ANYWHERE, so did cream of chicken.

Obviously it is very expensive to eat chicken, beef or lentils and to wipe your ass in Norway. It's not so expensive to drink coffee, or eat fruit and vegetables.

interesting price comparison challenge

I was reading the Austin American Statesman and they had an article about food prices having gone up in the past year, and how this was affecting a family of nine. I am posting their 20 item comparison list here. Tonight I will go to the grocery store here in Norway and see how much things cost as compared to Austin prices. I bet it will be interesting to see the difference! For right now, here are the Austin prices and I stuck the Austin price in kroners on the end. Wait til you see the Norwegian prices!

JANUARY FOOD PRICES (Austin)


2007 2008 usd/nok
1-pound bag whole carrots 68 cents 79 cents /4nok
1 head green leaf lettuce, conventional not organic $1.49 $1.59 /8nok
2 pounds fresh broccoli $3.84 $3.58 /18nok
2 pounds Red Delicious apples, medium $2.58 $2.58 /15nok
1 dozen large eggs, Grade A $1.32 $1.99 /11nok
1 gallon nonfat milk $3.17 $4.29 /24nok
1 pound unsalted butter $1.89 $1.99 /11nok
16-ounce loaf whole wheat bread $1.79 $1.66 /9nok
4-pound bag granulated sugar $1.56 $1.52 /8nok
12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate $1.29 $1.39 /7nok
15.5-ounce can kidney beans 44 cents 48 cents /3nok
10-ounce can chicken noodle soup 99 cents 75 cents /4nok
18-ounce box corn flakes 99 cents 99 cents /5.5nok
18-ounce jar smooth peanut butter $1.80 $1.57 /8nok
1-pound bag dried lentils 50 cents 59 cents /3nok
1-quart jar mayonnaise (Hellman's/Best Foods) $2.98 $3.17 /17nok
1 pound ground beef, lowest fat percentage (per-pound price) $3.89 $3.99 /22nok
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts (per-pound price) $3.99 $3.99 /22nok
1 (4-roll) package 2-ply toilet paper $1.14 99 cents /5.5nok
13-ounce can ground coffee, Folgers $3.19 $2.99 /16.5nok
TOTAL $39.52 $40.89 221nok
I can already tell that is ridiculously cheap by Norwegian standards. I wonder if I can even find peanut butter and a can of noodle soup?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Amster-Dam-Lutely! Mun-ificent!

I'm meeting a friend from Austin (Hi Patty!) in Amsterdam mid February. I'm also meeting another friend from Austin (Hi Julia!) in Munich end of the month. Two friends, two countries, one month!!!!!

Reunions! With good beer and stuff! (Stuff being the optimal word in Amsterdam.) (Evil grin.)

Turning out to be a good month, is February......

Lucky Dave

An unfortunate victim of our 'Pillow Series" of photos from Saturday night. Poor guy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dress 2


Image030.jpg, originally uploaded by karlakp.

I was a little drunkered when I took this shot. There are more to come, taken by other people with real cameras. .

The evenings entertainment was provided by me and my friend Gilly. We would hijack a man, sit him down in the Chair of Honor and then we each would lean over one of his shoulders, thus providing a platform upon which to rest our bosoms. Look up, smile and "Click" photo history. Happy man's head nestling between pillows of warmth. The men's expressions are priceless, ranging from angelic innocence, bemusement all the way to 'wow how did I get here and can I stay forever?'.

It seemed no men were offended by this photographic artistry on our part, and indeed most sat down with swift alacrity when presented with our idea. (One man excepted, and he happens to be my husband. It's obvious my charms are not working on him anymore. Must either find new husband or new charms. Thinking new husband might be easier, considering charms are attached. )

Evening two was very similar to evening 1, with the exception of the entertainment (which ranged from charming and sweet to "ohmygodkillmenow!") and the venue. The meal was fish followed by beef served with millions of different kinds of wines and cognacs. everyone looked loverly and everyone had a great time.

We left the hotel at 2:20am in a company provided bus. It was snowing heavily. We had some problems getting home once again when the bus driver decided to take the LONGEST route home possible and offered special stops for the opportunists who asked. It took an hour to get home and we all almost rioted when he tried to pass the main bus station in our town to drop people off at the office and *then* backtrack back to the bus station. Everyone (we pretty much all wanted off at the bust station not at the office!) was all "Aw HELL no, you stop here FIRST, THEN go on". However this sentiment was voiced caveman style with a roar of displeasure as he passed the turning to the bus station, and luckily he got the hint and came back.

We finally got home at 3:30 am. Were awakened at 9:45 am by our neighbor blasting AC/DC "Back in Black". I asked him to turn it down. If I can clearly hear the lyrics through two rooms and a firewall, that is TOO LOUD.

I am now about to make Hangover French Toast. I am wearing a wifebeater tank top and stretchy pants. Yesterday's dress left me a little worse for wear.... I have bruises on my shoulders from the weight of the bra straps groaning to hoist the girls up to the proper level required by the dress. Breasts do not naturally sit that high. (Friday's dress was much more comfortable and au natural). So today is soft clothes only. My hair still has hairpins in it from my makeshift yet successful updo of last night. I thought i got them all but keep finding more. I have leftover eyeliner on, it is giving me a rock and roll edge. That coupled with the wifebeater and wild hair is definitely giving me a "last night's groupie" look.

I need a nap.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

all dressed up


Image040.jpg, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Phone cam shot of me getting ready for Friday's party at the grand. I never did manage a full length shot.

1 down 1 to go

Oh good God. I do NOT know how socialites and fancy people do this. I've been to one of my two fancy dress events this weekend and I really just don't know HOW I am going to do it all again tonight. It's not merely the hangover ( I really DID try to go easy, but it all caught up to me!). It's the staying up late and the trying to make yourself look different and better than usual and the fuss and bother with the clothes and the overcoming the TIREDNESS!

Last night's do was at the Grand Hotel and it was very lovely. The food was very good, even though the first course was called "Dampet Piggvar"which sounds horrible to an English speaker. It turned out to be a very yummy steamed fish. The main was nice rare beef, thank god they didn't mangle it by overcooking it. It was yummy.

I ended up wearing the brown dress (Dress Two) LAST night on the request of Richard, who thought my other dress would be better for his do. (I'm thinking it's because it's a bit more titulicious, if you get my meaning. His party tends to be a bit of a boob competition, who can hoist 'em highest and show the most cleavage without showing any pink bits. My company event was a bit more demure in that respect. ) I felt like a princess in my brown flowing dress, even though it seemed to have a disturbing tendency to get longer as the night progressed. Or was I just slouching?

We spent the night at the Grand, which was very nice. The room was small but well appointed. Only problem was the pillows. In a room that cost that much, with such a comfy bed, you'd expect pillows that were less board like and more, I dunno, pillowy. God the pillows SUCKED. Felt like someone folded a towel and shoved them in a pillow case. The bathroom was gorgeous, tiny tiles in black and white, very nicely done.

Best bit was getting to have breakfast in the Grand Cafe. It's this gorgeous old cafe that was Ibsen's hangout, and it is very elegant. The breakfast buffet was huge and varied and so we totally pigged out and it helped our heads alot. I'd stay there again just for the breakfast.

Anyhow, last night was fun, getting home was heinous because the trains were all messed up AGAIN and so my nap was delayed by over an hour as we hopped from train to train trying to get somewhere, ANYWHERE near home. Finally managed a nap.

I am once again showered and am about to embark on the hair debacle again. I really am a hair idiot. By some miracle it turned out ok last night but I was having a minor freak out getting ready because I could not believe my hair turned l out hat wonky. Something fell into place at the end though. Let's hope for another such miracle tonight. Oh and I do have pics from last night, though they are in someone else's camera. I hope to have them soon. I'll post one that I took with my cell phone in a mo'.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

party weekend and purty dresses

I've got two formal events to go to this weekend. One Friday night (my work party)  and one Saturday night (his work party). Sunday I've marked 'hangover' on the calendar.
 
So, the big question is, of course, what to wear? Yes, boys,  this is a girl's blog and clothes are very important to me. My girlfriends and I that are attending these events have been twittering about what to wear for weeks. My decision was made over Christmas when I found some dresses at those miraculous outlets at Woodbury Commons outside New Yawk. It was a foregone conclusion that of COURSE I would not wear the same dress on both nights. I mean, yuck!
 
Night one, which is my work party, I figure I should mind my p's and q's a bit and not go full on va va voom. I mean I do WORK with these people after all. So I've decided on a dress I've had for a while (that I asked my mom to send me as it was in storage with her), that I wore previously to some gala event in Austin. It's a long black velvet column by Carmen Mark Valvo, edged around the arms and the deep v neck in gold. It has a matching shawl in black velvet with gold edging. It's very simple, classically elegant and curvy, though it will require a certain amount of  supportive lycra in strategic places.  
 
I found some cute gold shoes to wear with it, after a fairly exhaustive search where I kept saying, 'I want shoes like the ones I saw in that shop window in the next town'.  Then it dawned on me, why don't I just BUY the shoes in the shop window in the next town? So I did. They are not too high heeled, not too shiny and simple enough to wear with my formals or with cute sundresses in summer, so score for me. Also, I can wear them on Saturday night with Dress Two. See me being all economical and shit?
 
Dress Two was one of the two I got in New Yawk over Christmas. It's BCBG, a warm brown color in a stretchy halter neck style.  The bodice is very drapey and tight, almost like a swimming suit that Esther Williams would have worn, and then it all merges into this fantastic very full skirt that I can hold up to shoulder height with both hands and still have lots of drape left in the skirt. A dancing dress for sure. It was on deep deep discount, mostly because I am pretty sure people picked it up and thought it was too long and thin to be wearable...but I am tall and that dress stretches like a mother fucker. (This tactic has served me well in the past, picking up the thing that looks impossibly long and skinny on the hanger but it has stretch out the wazoo.) I'll wear it with gold accessories as well. (I'm testing out nail polish as we speak...and no I did not spill any of it in the bathroom this time.)
 
The other question is, what to do with my hair? I'm a hair idiot, in that if it takes more than a quick blow dry and some goo it ain't gonna happen. So I thought I would make an appointment with a hairdresser for one of the nights and get my hair done by a pro. But then, considering costs, and the fact that all the hairdressers ever do with me is to dry my hair with a diffuser to max the curls out and not get frizz, I decided to just go buy myself a hairdryer that had a diffuser, learn to use that sucker, and do my own big curly hair for the nights. Thus the amount I would have spent on a hairdresser is now sitting in my bathroom in the form of a Vidal Sassoon hairdryer with diffuser. I used it this morning and can see how that thingy does make a difference. Is this the beginning of Karla's Good Hair Era? I dunno. It's sort of a long boring way to dry my hair. I don't know if iIhave patience to do it every day.
 
Of course, all this depends on me not falling and breaking my ass on the ice. It is SLIPPERY out there. One of my co workers fell and badly broke his leg last night. A cast just would NOT match my outfits, so I need to be careful not to follow his example.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

to my scottish friends

The title of this article cracks me up. Somebody at Yahoo has a sense of humor.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I heart Dave and here's why


I'm sure by now most of you have, at some time or another, checked out one of my favorite bloggers, Dave, who writes and illustrates Blogography.com.

Today he had me spitting my cereal out all over my computer in laughter. What a hilarious post. I too have never understood that "I can haz cheezburger" stuff, and I think Dave skewered it dead on with this image. I am posting it here and only hope I am crediting it right. Don't wanna piss Dave off. I like him too much.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Further research on Nacreous clouds

Everyone in the offfice today was agog at the beauteous sunset we had yesterday. I did a bit more research on them, and here is an interesting article in the Guardian UK about them...and why, though still rare, they are not as rare as they once were.


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no excuses about voting now, expats!

American expats can now vote online.
 
Go to Democrats Abroad and join up by Feb 1 so you can vote too. And it does not cost anything to be a member.....so no excuses not to joIn!
 
My honest hope is that Obama and Clinton will join up and run as Prez and Vice Prez...and I honestly don't care all that much who is what (though I lean towards Obama as Prez), as long as we don't have another Republican. Ron Paul is interesting, my Dad sure likes him, but I don't think he will get enough votes, no matter how high the hopes are. The US is a two party system and people are too afraid to vote any other way. And the system doesn't really support any other way anyhow.
 
I won't come home if another Republican gets voted in, so if you want me to ever move back to Texas, ya better get your vote on! (This means of course, if you hate me, vote Republican. Kick your own self in the ass!)


___________________

 
Routines are alright, I guess. I just don't want them every day.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

amazing sunset

I mean seriously.....

Tonight we had one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've ever seen. It's called a nacreous cloud formation and only happens in cold (very cold) conditions. It's pretty rare...not as rare as the Northern Lights, but just as specific in where it can be seen. Apparently it's also not very good to see them as they show ozone formation...I couldn't quite get the technical jargon but it seems like they are implicated in the formation of ozone holes!





Beauty with a dark implication. Hmm. I will call them Goth clouds.

There are more pics on my Flickr page. (Link on left.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

window of death, freak magnets and two dicks.

Window of death: On the way home I pass this very posh store with dresses in the range of $500 and up. (And honestly, how fucked up is it that it doesn't seem all that bad to me anymore? I mean, 3000nok for a dress? Eh. Seems doable! (slaps forehead) I've been here too long!) Today, I noticed, the window of this posh store had been changed and was all about the death of some animal or another. They had bone bracelets, some coral, fur coats, fur vests, fur throws, flokatis, sheepskin lined boots, fur lined boots and a chair made out of antlers for it all to sit on. I have to say, it gave me the willies. Big time.

Freak Magnet: Of course, before I could even GET home I had to face the fact that I am the freak magnet of all freak magnets. Today I had the misfortune of sitting next to a guy who decided he was going to singlehandedly save Africa from itself....by responding to EVERY Nigerian spam message he ever got, and roping in other people to "help". Seriously, he had all the emails printed out. He was on the phone ALL the TIME, acting very important and nattering on about needing the 35k Euro IMMEDIATELY and to "make sure they are all printed in correct color and do not smear" (!!??). (I'm now thinking that maybe he was the guy on the European end of the scams, the one you are supposed to meet in Amsterdam or wherever and feel like it's all trustworthy and on the up and up and whatever?) In between pompous authoritarian phone calls he tried to pull me in to a discussion about conspiracies, exactly HOW he was going to save Africa, and how Africa has been screwed by the US and Europe for centuries. (True, I suppose, but I don't want to hear about it on the train from a scam artist.) He wouldn't leave me alone. Even though I did the international sign of "fuck off" which is to put your iPod buds in your ears. Damn thick headed scammer idiot.

Dick One: It was inevitable, I suppose, that I got the George Bush question from Mr. Thick. As any American who travels knows, the question is always carefully worded at first.... "So, what do you think about George Bush?"..... and then it goes into a diatribe against America rapidly from there, always ending in, "But I don't fault the American people though I do wonder why they voted for him a second time." Then they always look at you as though you, the token American on the train (bus restaurant, street, whatever) has the answer. Which I don't. And they always wonder why the Americans they meet in Europe all hate GWB too. (That I do have an answer for...it's the intelligent, liberal Americans who tend to travel and experience other cultures. The Bush voters stay home, trust Homeland Security and build bomb shelters for the coming Act of Terrorism. Cuz there's scary folks out there in the world, tryin' to kill all us fine upstandin' "murcans!)

Dick Two: Text message I got from a beer buddy today:

Good reasons not to be a penis!
1)You're bald your whole life.
2) You have a hole in your head.
3)Your neighbors are nuts.
4) The guy behind you is an asshole.
5) Every time you get excited, you throw up and then faint!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

rant

I feel like a good ol' fashioned rant. If you don't feel like reading it, bugger off. I'm releasing some angst here.

1) To clothing designers:
Hi. Just so you know, I hereby refuse to wear any of the following:
Smocks. Tunics. Baby Doll Dresses. Things that hang from the shoulders with no definition for the body underneath. Skinny jeans. Low rise jeans. Bubble skirts. Empire waists.

Seriously, people, baby doll dresses are just insulting. I am neither a baby nor a doll and I don't want to dress like a 5 year old. I know making these shapeless clothes is cheap and easy as you designers don't waste time and labor with tailoring and such, but judging by how many baby doll dresses I see on the deep discount racks, you better shape the hell up and get some clothes out that women want to wear and FAST. None of us like that shit and we aren't buying it anymore. And PS MAKE ROOM FOR BOOBS!

2) Apple. I am pissed at Apple. Send out a fix ASAP for my wireless that will not work. Or at least, it won't STAY working. It will come on for a bit and then just drop the wireless signal like a hot potato. I've researched it, I've called Apple and I've read many many forums. I've tried every suggested fix (that I understand). You guys at Apple put out an OS upgrade somewhere down the line that has made my wireless on my iMac unstable and it's annoying the FUCK out of me. Seriously, this computer? Pretty much a brick unless I want to be tied to a cable coming from the wall. (And no it's not my wireless router because it works fine via cable and other computers work fine on it.) SEND OUT A FIX FOR THIS! Why would I buy any of your other stuff if you don't support what I have already got?

3) The weather. Seriously, this sucks. Snow, then rain. Snow, then rain. Wet or ice. Wet or ice. I'm tired of ugly shoes, ugly coats and feeling ugly in weatherproof clothes.

4) I want sun.

5) I feel fat and pasty and too pale and sluggish and I hate winter. I have a zit on my chin. I want to sleep.

6) There's nothing good to eat in the this damned flat. The flat in which there is STILL a giant hole in the wall and ceiling and there has been NO WORD as to when they are going to fix it.

7) I want to go home to Austin and live in my OWN house in my OWN state and get back to my normal life. Yes there is much I like about this expat life, but sometimes I miss home so much it makes me hyperventilate. Lately it's been very strong, the missing my house. The fact that I have to rent out the house in Austin gives me bad dreams at least once a week. It's my biggest point of stress. I love my job, the friends I have here, the apartment I live in, etc., but none of it is permanent, none of it is where I will be in 5 years, and I would really like to be able to feel settled and not worry that the rug is going to be pulled out from underneath me at some point without my being able to do anything about it. The most frustrating question I get asked is "Where (and when) are you moving next?" I never have an answer. And people look at you funny when you can't answer such an important question as that. I hate that lack of control in my own life. Shouldn't I have some control somewhere? It's not too much to ask to get a polite heads up somewhere?

8) A big "fuck you" to the following:
The IRS, for your lame tax raises on expats and invasive paperwork. The US for making expats pay taxes, when no one else in the world does that to its expat citizens. Homeland Security. What a joke. Mike Huckabee, because you suck. George Bush because you suck more. Hillary, because you really should be better than you are and I want to like you but just find myself not trusting you. And I am ALL about the woman power, believe me. My period. I really hate that. Why have a period when it's not doing anything for me anyhow? I don't really appreciate the constant reminder that yes, I am not pregnant and probably will never be again. Microsoft for not being better than Apple so I can tell Apple to go fuck themselves. Outlook, I hate Outlook. Fundamentalists of all sorts. DVDs that do long ads and previews at the start of the DVD that you can't fast forward through or cut out of to go directly to the menu. (HBO this means you.) Carbs. Fuck you carbs, I love you and you make my ass bigger. Companies that send me constant emails even when I opt out of their subscription services. My genetic disposition to get stressed out. My ass. Rude old Norwegian ladies, some of whom I met today. (Seriously, learn how to queue bitches!) Everyone on my afternoon train home. I hate you all. Paris Hilton. You just annoy me. Being 39. Because everyone just assumes that you are REALLY over 40 and just lying about your age. As if.

Ok this is getting bigger than I meant it too. There is a dog or a very loud child howling outside. I sort of wish I could too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Omid Djalili

If you have read my blog for a while, you might remember that a year or so ago I went to London and managed to catch an Iranian/British comedian named Omid Djalili perform live. He is seriously one of the funniest comedians ever, he skewers every race, color creed and social strata and makes it all funny and charming. I especially love it when he belly dances.

Anyhow, he has a show on the BBC and I am very happy that they are showing it here in Norway on one of the Swedish channels.

You can go to You Tube for some clips, like this one:


Search him out and watch some more. In his own words, he is "the man who puts the fat into fatwa, the fun into fundamentalism and the ham into Hamas".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Proof that I am smarter than my husband*

An evening of quaffing wine of many colors starts winding down. We are all three sheets to the wind and it is a breezy evening.

Someone brings out a bottle of Jagermeister and says "Hey! Let's do shots!"

Which is the smart choice:

To say.... "Aw hell yeah, bitches, let's drink the shit out of that!", and start pounding shots of Jagermeister, Bailey's and Kahlua;

.... or....

To demur with a comment along the lines of, "Um, I'll pass. I like my brain cells in the somewhat cohesive format in which they now reside".

I think we know who did what in this scenario.

*Smartness mainly applies to instinct for self preservation, which I apparently have, and he does not.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Starkbierzeit

"Strong Beer Time".

I'm researching our next trip.

Munich here we come!

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm in LURVE

Oh people. People people people!

I'm in love. With a pair of speakers. Who knew a love could be so strong? So full of glorious high notes? So full of bass?

I always thought our old speakers were good. They were big. They were loud. There was bass. What else do ya want?

Oh. Yeah. Maybe things like details and high notes and low notes and that ineffable quality of clarity where you can hear the singer take a breath or the guitarist's fingers on the string a split second before he hits the note?

Holy CRAP these new speakers are nice. They are considered fairly entry level in the whole audiophilic universe.....can you imagine what more expensive ones can do? I'm pretty sure my downstairs neighbors hate us already!

I can only compare the old speakers to a 70's American muscle car. Thumpy, rumbly, powerful...but finesse? Not so much. There's fast or not fast, loud or not so loud. Pick one. There's the button.

The new speakers? Ah. A finely tuned turbo Audi A-6 that keens on the downshifts and roars when you pass that slow guy on the autobahn....all while you hear the whisper of your own breath add the subtle hum of your air conditioner. (Hmm....I think I need to go driving sometime soon.)

Anyhow, this new system has worked a treat. I can totally listen to the iPod, the turntable (I only buy sound systems that have a dedicated "phono" setting, I will never give up on vinyl, baby!), the DVD or the CD and all sound great. I haven't reached the full loudness of the speakers yet, though I think they go to 11. Unfortunately, I think our neighbors probably only go to 6.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Insatiable Lust

Heh. How's that for a title that will grab your attention?
 
Last night I could hardly sleep because I wanted my mochachocalattayaya coffee so much. Seriously. I couldn't wait to get up and have one. My 'kafe mocha med lett melk og vanilla' is so addictive. I especially like the ones made by the guy at the local mall, his coffee is the best.  I think he puts crack in it. I really do. I'm like a whore on penicillin.....I just gotta have my shot!
 
In other news, yesterday I went out and bought our first piece of electronic equipment in AGES. I bought a new (and very tiny) reciever so that I could listen to my records, connect my iPod, watch dvd's with better sound and play cd's. Up until now we had been using my birthday present to me circa 1995...the old Sony system with the five cd revolving disc changer. I will say that stereo sounded AWESOME and gave us many years of good service, but it was time to move on. Ol' Bessie was sent to the charnel house. As were the speakers. Our house was silent and we had a big hole in the bookshelf to fill (though it matched the big friggin' hole in the wall....).
 
So I went to the local audiophile store (I'm old enough now that I want SERVICE and someone knowledgeable to talk to, not the take a number and take what you can get approach of so many of the stores here). I was the only chick in the whole joint, the place was all full of nerdy guys and one wierd nose-picker who were practically wetting themselves over audiophilic minutia. (Stereophile wanking.)
 
Of course, getting someone to help me took a while, I mean, everyone knows GIRLS aren't into stereos, so I stood around and pouted for a bit, but I finally flagged down a guy to help me (Thor!) and he totally was awesome. He knew the products, understood what I wanted and managed to keep me within budget. (Ok so I splurged on the speakers a bit, but they just sounded so much better than the lower level ones I had thought I would get.)
 
One thing I like about Norway, when you DO get service, it's not about how much money  you spend, it's about getting the best choice for you, and they will help you get just the right thing whether you spend five kroner or five thousand kroner. (That's probably a symptom of them generally not working on commission.) Plus I figured the place vetted the products they sold pretty thoroughly anyhow, music and sound quality being a religion in some circles, so I knew I was starting off from a pretty high level of quality. Whatever, it was a very pleasant experience.
 
And so I got a Denon F102 receiver and some Dali Concept 2 speakers. (As I found out later, the speakers had been voted *Bookshelf Speakers of the Year* by some German audiophile magazine or other.)
 
Let the dancing begin!


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Monday, January 07, 2008

How age can change a viewpoint

This weekend I watched the movie "Educating Rita". Remember that one? It came out in 1983 and was about a married lower class woman who wanted to go back to school to learn about literature, to 'better herself'.
 
When I saw it was 16, maybe 17. I saw it in late high school,  a few years after it had come out. I remember, when I saw it, thinking a few life changing things simultaneously. First, I thought how sophisticated this movie was, what with Michael Caine being such an erudite professor and all,  and how much I wanted to study literature as well.  Study literature, mind you, in the BRITISH way, not the boring old American way. Second, I remember thinking how OLD Rita was, how grown up and obviously over the hill she was. I seriously remember thinking how admirable it was for such an older woman to want to restart her life like that. Poor old thing. I would never do that, I was so sure where I wanted to be in life and how to go about it.
 
Imagine my surprise when, on seeing it after so long, I discover that Rita, in the movie, is 27 years old. Twenty fucking seven. A baby!
 
So, looking at that movie now, as many years older than the main character as I was younger when I first saw it, the movie is completely different to me.  Rita, my 'elderly muse' when I was 16, seems now, at my age 39, so young and confused in the film, so at odds with herself and her world. So restless and bent on achieving a dream that seems so empty. (She's also a hottie. Granted, a hottie with a really bad haircut, but still a hottie.So much for fusty old lady!)  Michael Caine, my former British sophisticate, the epitome of all I wanted in a professor, always sneaking a drink, spitting out wise bon mots and lounging about in such an intriguing way, now seems a completely sad spineless drunk who is afraid of the world and spends his time hiding behind his books.He knows the other side of what Rita wants and is helpless to make her see the darkness of it.
 
I did manage to realize my dream of studying literature in the British style, both in college at UT and at Oxford. I've never gotten a job using my degree, except in a very roundabout, 'yes I can write' sort of way. My surety of my future all changed when I met Rich, when I didn't get in to graduate school to study literature, when life took me in different directions, when I didn't move to New York to assume instant editorship of Glamour magazine.
 
 Looking back on it now, I am glad I got the degree I did, but I also sort of see the silliness of it all, the endless discussions of minutia in books that are based in dead times by dead people. What was so important to Rita was important to me then, that whole idea of understanding the unsaid bits of the book and thus the writer, but now I just read for the story and not any subtext or hidden meanings. I don't question the motivations or the meaning of the story anymore. (Hell, I read the whole 'His Dark Materials' trilogy and NEVER ONCE got the blatant anti-religious undercurrents! I just thought, Kick ass! Talking bears!)
 
Of course, the English major in me also understands that it was my training in thinking critically that allows me to write about this at all...and that in some wierd Karla way I am still thinking critically and always will. Just, I guess, not about literature so much anymore, but more about life.  Now, I think about life just as I did books, wondering what the subtext of this is, should I rethink this idea, and why should I believe this when obviously my gut tells me to go with that.
 
Hmm. Critical thinking. I can see why Caine's character drank so much.


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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Looking forward to spring

As I sit here in our flat, with two feet of snow accumulated outside from this weekend's "snow event", a glass of wine in my hand and wearing my not-worked-out-in workout clothes (You Go Karla on spectacularly failing your NYE resolutions in the FIRST WEEK!), I can only look forward to spring.

In spring I have lots to look forward to. Wedding festivities and associated parties for two of my favorite people in the world in April....my cousin Carl in Germany and my bad assed (literally as that girl can FART) buddy Karla May in Austin.

Three count 'em THREE concerts in May and June....Dolly Parton (in Kristiansand, so ROADTRIP! woo!), The Police, and ohmygod I can't wait Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. (Robert Plant, I publicly announce that you are my all time Rock God and I could die happy if I could just meet you and have a beer and a chat. Every interview with you is intelligent, funny and good humored and you flirt like a pro. So can I...we'd have a good time, I can hold a conversation about all sorts of things too! Oslo is small and what else are you going to do here after your show anyhow? Hell, the beer is on me, no small offer with Norwegian prices!) I am memorizing the album (I bought the cd) on my iTunes so I can sing along and bask in the warmth of his Robertness. Wonder of anyone ever calls him Bob? I hope not. Bob is not a worthy name for one so talented as Himself. His Plant Self.

Spring. 5 months. To Spring.

January. February. March. April. May. June.

I can make it I know I can.

Friday, January 04, 2008

oh how very very t rue, and a bit scary t oo.

I recieved this email from my friend Hanna, and it is a bit scary how true it is.

You know you have been too long in Norway when...

....you start believe that if it wasn't for Norway's efforts the world would collapse.

....you only buy your own drink at the bar even when you are with a  group of people.

....you can't remember when to say "please" and "excuse me".

....you always prepare to catch the closing door if following closely  behind somebody.

....a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume that:
a) he is drunk
b) insane
c) American
d) all of the above

....silence is fun.

....you use "Mmmm" as conversation filler.

....you actually believe that there is no such thing as bad weather,  only bad clothing.

....you know Norway's results in the last three years in the "Melodi  Grand Prix" song contest.

....it seems nice to spend a week in a small wooden cottage up in the mountains, with no running water and no electricity.

....you know at least five different words for describing different  kinds of snow.

....an outside temperature of 9 degrees Celsius ( 45F ) is mild in mid  June.

....you know the difference between Blue and Red ski wax.

....you don't fall over when walking on ice.

....you associate Friday afternoon with a trip to the Government liquor store.

....you think nothing of paying $50 for a bottle of 'cheap' spirits at Vinmonopolet ("the wine monopoly").

....it's acceptable to eat lunch at 11.00 and dinner at 15.00.

....it no longer seems excessive to spend $100 on drinks one night.

....you know that "religious holiday" means "let's get pissed".

....you find yourself more interested in the alcohol content than in  the name of the wine.

....you enjoy the taste of lutefisk (jelly-like, bad-smelling fish).

....you like to wrap your hotdog in a cold pancake.

....you associate warm rice porridge with Saturday and Xmas-eve.

....you can prepare fish in five different ways without cooking it.

....you wear sandals with socks.

....your wardrobe no longer has suits but blue shirts and mustard  coloured sportjackets.

....you don't look twice at business men in dark suits wearing sport socks.

....it feels natural to wear sport clothes and backpack in the cinema  (as well as everywhere else.)

....you find yourself speaking halfway Swedish with Swedes.

....you can't understand why foreigners haven't heard about Bjorn  Daehlie.


___________________

 
Routines are alright, I guess. I just don't want them every day.


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

housing hell....with update

Right now there is a guy cutting a rather large hole in our ceiling with a saw. In order for him to do this, I had to move our whole entertainment center set up. I don't know how we are going to put it back together. To say I am unhappy about this is an understatement.

Apparently, our new building may not have been built right and they have to check if this is the case. A beam may not have been connected right. A BEAM. On the the FIFTH FLOOR. Is the building going to collapse and us with it? Thus, the hole. If everything is ok, then no worries, they will repaint and fix it all back up. At some point.

If NOT? Then we gots worries. Bigger hole, repairs and God knows what. This pisses me off because, as renters, we get all the hassle and no recompense. (ACK! He's making the hole bigger! The saw is cartoonishly big! AAACCKKK!!!!)

Why couldn't they have discovered this when the BUILT that place is my wonder? So we got these guys on the inside cutting a hole, and on the other side of the same wall, is another guy, on a scaffolding, doing something on the OUTSIDE. Is this wall ok? Will it fall? I told the guys inside to just go ahead and cut through and say hi to the guy on the other side....that would be funny. Not.

This is not my only house worry, right now. The night before we left for the US, a bottle of blue fast dry nail polish fell on the tile floor of our bathroom and broke, spattering all over the floor. (Rich went ballistic. I hung my head like a dog caught chewing your favorite slippers.) I can tell you there is NO way to clean up nail polish easily. Best is to wait for it to dry and use lots of acetone nail polish remover and paper towels, which luckily works a treat. If you try ANY OTHER WAY, you will have a mess the likes of which you can't imagine. I had to forcibly stop a panicked Neat Freak Rich from grabbing bath towels to wipe it up...they would be ruined forever.

Of course we did not have enough nail polish remover to clean it up that night. And the stores were closed. And it was bedtime (had to get up early for the flight!). And so the splattered blue polish is sitting there, waiting for me, to clean it up with the four BIG bottles of remover I brought back with me. I will be high on fumes for the rest of the day.

Oh God, he's using the saw again. HELLLP!!!!!!!!!

_____________
5 hours later
_____________

....We have not only a hole in the ceiling but also a hole in the WALL. The hole in the ceiling is covered with a hatch they brought that opens and closes. It looks ok. The one in the wall is covered with white paper they taped up. NICE. NICE in a totally NOT NICE, sarcastic, it looks like ASS way.

...The nail polish came up with a minimum of fuss and bother and took less than half a bottle of remover along with some deft toothbrush manoueverings. However, it smelled so strong that I am fairly sure I have just fried whatever eggs I have left in my ovaries. Sorry, Mom, you won't ever be a grandmother (at least from me, go bother Kit) now. I burned my eggs in a haze of remover fumes. I think I am ace-stoned. (Get it? Acetone? Acestoned? Maybe the fumes are just making things funnier. Hey....is that tomato blue?)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

like mother like daughter



My Dad sent me this picture today of me and my Mom at a 'kaffe klatsch' at her friend Edith's house. This was taken in September.

Of course I know my mom and I have similarities, but it's sort of freaking me out how much we do look alike, especially in this photo. Note the poofy hair, same face shape, the same tops we are wearing (didn't notice that AT ALL that day), the same length necklaces (we both prefer that length).

I only hope I can look as good as her as I get older. Not, of course, that she IS older, I mean, she is only 39. Which is also my age. Which, actually, makes us twins. My Twin Mom.

back

We are back in Norway. Our flight (both directions) was very smooth. (Unlike the experiences of my friend Grant. He was put through HELL by KLM trying to get home to Edinburgh.) And, blessedly, short. We got exit row seats but they did not recline, so we had leg room but the seats were so upright that we felt like we were sitting pushed forward. I sat on the floor for a while, leaning against the wall of the plane. That was more comfortable until my ass fell asleep then froze from the cold. Ever had a frozen sleeping ass? Don't recommend it.

Before the flight we had a very good steak at Galllagher's Steak House in Newark Airport. Flavor wise it was a bit bland (just cooked meat, no salt or nuthin') but the steak itself (small filet mignon)(small being the 10 ounce which was HUGE) was excellent, cooked just right and fork tender. If I could somehow have that steak with the Smith and Wollensky sides and atmosphere, we would have something really amazing.

I was told we had Norwegian celebrities sitting in front of us on the flight. Some ski champion or other.

On the flight back I watched a movie filmed in Austin, the Wendell Baker Story. It was ok, and I didn't get to finish it as we landed too soon, but oh my God did it make me homesick for Texas. Every location was in Austin or thereabouts and the main body of the story happened at Laguna Gloria. Sometimes I could hear the locusts humming in the background and it just sounded like those hot lazy summer days back home. It totally reminded me of why I love Austin. It captured the funk of the place perfectly. Sigh. Texas is part of me and watching that movie made my blood sing for home. I could FEEL the humid air and smell the trees and the grass.

And now I am back and have to face reality and unpack. I HATE unpacking. The only thing I hate more is....packing. At least with unpacking I can look at all my new goodies.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!

We had a very quiet one, just hung around chatting and snoozing, then I caught the last two minutes of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve. Though, judging by the way ol' Dick is tottering around, I think the "rockin' " now refers to him in a chair or swaying on his unsteady geriatric feet rather than anything relating to music. We considered being in the city for the dropping of the ball in Times Square, but will leave that for another time. My dad told me that he and my Mom did that in 1964.....very cool.

We fly back to Oslo today. I managed to score exit row seats all the way, so rock on with my bad online check in self!

Not much else to report. We went to Woodbury Commons outlets on Sunday and let me tell you...that is an outlet worth checking out. Once, of course, you manage to get past all the frenzied, rude and pushy Europeans and Chinese running around looking for bargains like they are the most important people in the world and you are a mere obstacle in their path to the Perfect Purchase, that is. Seriously, people, MANNERS!!!!! In the US of Freakin' A we say "excuse me", "please" and "thank you" AND we observe niceties like door holdings, personal space, queueing and not pummeling your fellow man over a bargain priced Gucci bag. Being at the outlets was like having all the worst mannered people in the world put on a sinking ship....every man for himself and screw you if you get in my way! Once I got over my annoyance at the rudeness, the bargains were outstanding and they had every outlet shop you could ever wish for. And I do mean EVERY shop. There were even queues for some...especially Gucci and Coach. (I'd never queue for Coach, I can get that any time in Austin. I didn't queue for Gucci either.)

I got a couple of dresses (90% off!) and some stuff at BCBG and Neiman's, and Rich had to drag me away just as was getting into my shopping mojo. Oh well, just means more to carry anyhow.

We are all packed and ready to go. Two suitcases each and a backpack as well. NOT a small amount of luggage. Target made alot of money off of us this trip.