Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why we have not bought a place in Norway

Here's an article in the NYT about Oslo house prices and the housing market.

AT $500++ a square foot, there is no way we can afford to buy a place here plus keep the house in Austin. Also, banks want a 25% down payment when you buy. I don't have 150k lying around, at least, not last time I checked my bank balance. And I'm not selling the Austin house to make a downpayment on something here!

Well, our apartment in Oslo is a great size, I like it, and I think we are getting a great deal renting it, so this article just makes me feel a little better about not owning in Norway (though we get asked every day why we haven't bought yet.)

Answer? Can't afford anything in a size we can live with!

Monday, March 29, 2010

things are strange

Apparently there have been big storms west of Oslo, and snow east. Where I am? Just some rain. However, the weather knocked out the trains and it took Rich over an hour to get home. He's CRANKY. I know how that feels.

The Oslo train system is so crappy and decrepit, that a bird farting in the near vicinity of a train will break it down. Seriously. They don't work for the following reasons: rain, snow, hot, cold, warm, leaves on tracks, hail, summer, winter, spring, signal problems, electrical problems, staff problems, another train passing, bird farts, and tonight was something with the phone system being down? I dunno. All I do know is that there are more reasons for the trains NOT to run than to run. SO glad I can walk to work now.

In other news: the snow has largely melted in town. What I've never really noticed, having not lived in a big city in a spring snow melt before, is that pavement snow banks are really just layered frozen repositories for dog shit. You think it's all white and clean? Hell no. When that snow melts, you are left with 6 months of dog shit that has been hidden in snow a yard deep, and cigarette butts. Butts and shit, shit and butts, everywhere you go. It's like some fucked up geological stratification, from Pre-Cambrian to Paleozoic and on up to Cenozoic, layer upon layer of poo. It all melts down down down until the sidewalks are just pockmarked everywhere with it and you have to walk gingerly, don't-step-on-a-crack-or-you-break-your-mama's-back, to avoid it (though, honestly, didn't we all end up breakin' mama's back?) I am amazed at the variety of Oslo City dog shit. Every color from black, through brown, to ochre and on to orangey red. I noticed the REALLY posh streets have redder poo, so I guess that means that those dogs get the more expensive food which turns their shit into more interesting colors.

(Kinda reminds me of the time my dog ate all the candles in the house, all at once? She crapped rainbows for days. Backyard was like a floral-and-patchouli scented crayon explosion.)

Luckily Norwegian tradition demands a Great Spring Clean before 17 May. Everything, and I do mean everything, gets picked up, swept up, spruced up, wiped up and shined up, in honor of Norway's Big Day. I think that is the most sensible tradition ever, and extremely necessary.

Now excuse me while I clean off my boots.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Foul Frozen Fowl Foot

"OW FUCK WHAT THE FUCK OW GODDAMNIT FUUCK!"

I have a certain deep throated and blues-y holler that I release only when I am suddenly and furiously enraged by great pain.

When Rich hears it, he knows I have been hurt, but not enough to need an ambulance or anything, just enough to get REALLY MAD. He's smartened up over the years, when he hears this yell emanating from my delicate self. He now waits until the yelling ceases and there is a 30-45 second window of silence, then he comes in to wherever I am to ask "Are you alright?" (If he comes in any sooner to check on me, I will still be in the throes of sudden blinding rage and will just include him in my flow of f-bombs. Best to avoid.)(I inherited this trait from my Mom, by the way. Thanks Mom.)

In this case, today, I was bent over double in the kitchen, holding a frozen chicken breast in one hand (Exhibit A) and my smashed middle toe on my left foot in the other (Exhibit B). I exhaled through my teeth and with jaw clenched said "This motherfucking piece of frozen fucking Norwegian IQF chicken just fell right onto the tip of my toe and I think it's broken. Fuck, that hurts". (I curse a lot when I am in pain, I inherited that from my Dad, thanks Dad.)

Rich suggests, helpfully, "Maybe you should put some ice on it?"

I'm all "The breast was frozen when it fell, I'm pretty sure that is all the ice I want right now, thanks."

Him, "Do you want to go the the doctor?"

Me, "Do you really think I want to tell a doctor that I destroyed my toe by means of a piece of white meat chicken breast? Can I BE any more of an idiot?"

Him....crickets. (His way of saying, "Yes you are an idiot but I am not saying it because you already did and I am a SMART man, I know when to shut up." )

Seriously, y'all. One damned 6 ounce piece of frozen chicken breast falling on your toe, it's like a boulder or an iceberg or something. I had NO idea poultry could cause that much pain. My toe went numb and then it tingled and then it throbbed...I couldn't touch it the pain was so intense. Just on this tiny 1/4 inch spot on my iddle widdle toe.

Also...could I not hurt myself in a cool manner? You know, twist an ankle running from a lion, or an unfortunate-yet-great-story-for-later hang gliding episode? No, I have to drop frozen fowl on my foot, or bash my own head on the side of the bath tub, or trip on stairs in front of all my co workers, or some other such stupid shit.

I wish I was cool.

Well, at the very least, I am going to eat the hell out of that chicken breast tonight, I am gonna stab it with knives and burn it and sauteé it and make it my bitch. You don't get to hurt me without being revenged upon, 'yo. Don't be playin' chicken on MY ass.

Friday, March 26, 2010

This is freaking hilarious...boys you will love it.

The French are so clever...they think of everything!

Familiar sign from home

Daniel Johnston is coming to Oslo for a show!
I'm always amazed at the absolute appreciation for Austin music here, and this flyer, which I found last night at a little bar off Karl Johans gate, just goes to show how many ties there are between Norway and Texas, musically.
Such a thrill to see such an iconic Austin image right here in Oslo (that little froggy thing is imbedded in my brain from a mural on the side of the Sound Exchange, my favorite record store in college, on Guadalupe street by campus.) It's a vivid and evocative remembrance of home and all the good things about my beloved town.
I am never far from Austin in my heart. I think that goes for many Norwegians, too. They have good taste in music.

brief rant

TEA PARTIERS SHUT THE HELL UP AND QUIT YOUR STUPID ANTICS OVER THE HEALTH CARE BILL.

Seriously, physically attacking Democrats over this? Hate calls, threats, cutting gas lines...vitriol like this? All because they want to give all Americans the ability to have health care? I'm sorry, I will NEVER understand your unwillingness to help everyone have a chance at health.

To John McCain: If you call us 'the American People' one more fucking time, I am going to go ballistic on your ass. All this crap about the ''American People' don't want this and 'the American people' are against it and so on....sorry, but I am NOT your American person and you do NOT speak for me. Besides which, 49% of Americans support this bill, while something like 40% are against. Do you see where the bigger percentage is?

From the way McCain talks, the 'American people' are a bunch of intolerant, selfish, reactionary yutzes who can't see a good thing when it stares them in the face and I don't want to be lumped in with them. I am not McCain's American People. Just call me Karla, an American. I'm glad someone is trying to fix some problems at home for once. I am still firmly in Obama's camp. He's doing the best he can with what he has got.

That being said, Democrats in the US...get off your butts and start being as vocal as the loud mouth GOP, will ya? Speak up! Show your support! And I don't mean just answering some lame petition on 'move on .org', I mean be as vocal as these idiot tea party people and stand up and be heard! Let them know you think health care for all is a GOOD THING! Blog! Twitter! Facebook! Get the word out that we are the 49%, and I bet that number will increase once people see the good that will come from this.

People here in Norway just shake their heads at the furor. Why on earth would people become so angry about something that is a good thing? What is wrong with a 'European system' as one Republican pundit so scornfully put it? It's not socialism, it's just good sense. (And if we want to talk about 'socialism'...um, medicare/medicaid? We are already there, folks. Already there.)

America is disgracing itself in this. McCain and his 'American people'. Feh.

Friday, March 19, 2010

what's that wet stuff?

It's raining today.
 
The first rain I have seen in Norway in six months. All it has done is snow in that time.
 
Feels very odd to be in rain again. It's a bit messy, but it's nice to know I probably won't fall on my ass on ice today!
 
I saw a sad thing this morning. (Well, funny sad.)
 
As I walked to work I passed a lady coming in the opposite direction who was slowly walking her old and baggy Basset hound. This dog was a big droopy old boy, low to the ground and solid as a boulder.
 
The lady walked on the ice and snow free portion of the sidewalk, whilst the dog walked on the still snowy bank. Poor dog, he was rather uncomfortable. He was so low to the ground, and so droopy, that his saggy ol'  nuts were dragging on the icy snow. He looked exactly how you would expect anything dragging its balls to look...hangdog and miserable.
 
I had a bit of schadenfreude for the poor old boy, I mean, I might have my problems, but at least I ain't draggin' my nuts on the ice every day when I go for a walk.
 
That rather cheered me up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I didn't see any of Munich this trip.

I saw beer halls.

I saw Schneider Weisse, I saw Augustiner Keller, I saw Paulaner am Nockherberg, I saw another Paulaner bar (this one that made its brews on premises). I saw a local pub/eatery called Der Dicke Man.

I got to Munich at 1pm on Friday and was at Schneider Weisse by 3. Stayed there until 10pm, when we moved on to Augustiner Keller. Back to hotel by about midnight.

Next morning, hung over, managed to get my ass up and do an hour's worth of shopping (hello Cos!) and found the obligatory Starbucks. Back to hotel to pretty up and wedge my bosoms (which you have seen below, sorry for that, I was drunk when I sent it and too late to retract now!) into the dirndl for our two o clock seating at Paulaner am Nockherberg. (If you don't show up in time for your table reservation, they give it away on a first come first served basis. 2pm IS a bit early to start an evening of drinking, but, hey when in Germany....). Drank. Danced both on floors, on benches and on tables. Flirted with boys. Got mooned. Got groped. Did some groping of my own. Laughed and laughed. Stumbled out of Nockherberg when they closed at 11pm. Talk about getting a second wind! By the way, you have not lived until you have heard a German oompah band do a rocking version of ACDC's Highway to Hell.

Next day...up (barely) and met cousins and friends at a place recommended by one of the cousins for lunch. Der Dicke Man (The Fat Man) had ALL YOU CAN EAT SCHNITZELS. This was pretty much my husband's idea of heaven. I really thought he was thinking he was dead and returning in his idea of Valhalla. All you can eat schnitzels, with your choice of sauce and potatoes. Even I was pretty psyched about that. I loves me some jaegerschnitzel. Washed down with, yep, more beer.

Back to hotel. Nap. Bitch moan.

Back out to ANOTHER beer hall Sunday night, a different Paulaner, they brew their beers on premises, yummy non filtered, unpasteurized beers. I had the lager, it was unfiltered and a bit cloudy. Now, I don't like lagers. They tend to be too wimpy or too hoppy for me. I like dark beers, ales, stouts, bocks. This lager? Perfection. The Zwickl. Oh yummy yum yum. Even in my beer addled, hungover, seriously toxified state, this beer got my attention.

Back to hotel at 11pm.

I saw the hotel room (we stayed at the Hilton, it was nice) while I recuperated from the beer halls. I really didn't see anything else of Munich this trip (in my defense I did cover the town pretty well the past two trips.)

Left the hotel around 10:30 the next morning. Had a beer at the airport before leaving.

I don't think I want any more beer for a little while.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

German hangover cure


German hangover cure, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Austin's got breakfast tacos and a coke. Bavaria has jägerschnitzel and a dark beer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New facebook profile pic?


New facebook profile pic?, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Teehee!

Ah


Ah, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Yes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A few beers into the evening


A few beers into the evening, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Argh. I am a German pirate.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

wonka

Well, it's been a helluva week. Busy as hell, no time for myself.

It's been interesting, though.

And last night? BEST NIGHT EVER.

I planned a night out for a big group of people at work, a bit of a reward for everyone for a long week of intense meetings. In Norwegian it was called a "Matkurs" or strictly translated a "Food Class".

But it was so much more.

There's this French chocolaterie here, Pascal's, and they have a few locations and they do food and coffee and French chocolates. I booked the cooking class there, at their original location, an old historically protected chocolate shop from the turn of the 20th century.

The shop is gorgeous. Original paintings on the walls and carved wood cabinets and reverse painted glass ceiling tiles. When we got there they started pouring the champagne. (Which honestly never stopped.) Then into the kitchens, where we got a brief tour of the chocolate production areas and a quick intro to what we would be learning to cook that night.

Then, I had a dream come true. It was amazing.

Pascal took us upstairs to a room filled with every kind of chocolate you can imagine. All freshly made, ready to be packaged, sitting in trays and plates and pans and tables. Chocolate everywhere, glistening and smelling of heaven.

And then, he said (Oh I get shivers here)..."Eat whatever you want".

I GOT TO EAT MY WAY THROUGH A CHOCOLATE FACTORY LAST NIGHT. While drinking champagne. And this was part of MY JOB. I was at work!

This evening had already become one of the best nights of my life, right at that second.

Then we went back downstairs, 15 big excited 40 year old kids, to cook (with chef assistance) and amazing meal of seared scallops with cauliflower cream, bok choi and vinegar soy chili sauce, lightly grilled trout with broccoli cream soup and fresh tomato salsa, duck confit with root veggies and FOUR different desserts (lemon cream, caramel, chocolate mousse and little puff pastries; dipping those pastries into the caramel and eating them warm was a lesson in how not to have an orgasm in public, in front of my bosses. Oh So Good). Wine with each course and then...more chocolate. We broke into teams and each team cooked a course.

It was a very very fun night. (Yes I am hungover by the way, I had a lot of champagne and wine and chocolate. There has to be some sort of payment for such a great night. It's an ok price to pay, actually.)

It gets better, now. Munich here I come!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Busier than a pig covering shit

That title would be one of my Dad's "Dadisms". He has tons of them.

"Busier than a one armed paper hanger in a windstorm".
"Weaker than a sick whore on a pisspot".
"Throw the baby out with the bath water".
"Bright eyed and bushy tailed".
Etc.

I fear I must offer more apologies than blog posts lately. Its just been busy, you know? My new job, while exhilarating, interesting and rather fun, is also tiring, exhausting and all consuming. I get home from work, and then run around with the cooking dinner for the husband, catching up on personal affairs, family stuff, and the small daily home and self maintenance items that seem to accrue the older you and your flat get. I will also admit that I keep this flat cleaner than the previous one; I don't know if its because I respect it more, it having a history and a definite personality, or if it just needs more cleaning to keep its showplace appearance. It's just such a GROWN UP apartment, it needs grown up treatment. (Richard is rather helpful with the cleaning, he does dishes and today he vacuumed the whole joint, which was nice. I ran ahead and dusted hoping to knock some soot off some shelves.)

All of this makes me tired. So much to keep track of and so little time. (Also, sleep? High priority. Nothing gets in the way of me and my sleep. My name is Karla. I am a sleepaholic.)

The past few days we have had SUN. Glorious, bright, warm, golden sun. It's still ass cold outside, but you can fool yourself into thinking spring might, some day, eventually, arrive, as it is almost kinda sorta warm if you stand full on in the sun and point your face at it. By 'warm' I mean it's still 25F out there, but the sun is really quite nice.

Ah the sun. It streams in the windows, warming the flat, glowing on all the old wood floors and showing you how dirty your windows are and how desperately you need to swiffer the floors. So you grab the windex and spray it on the windows so that you can towel it off....and it FREEZES on the window. So much for spring cleaning. Well, at least you can vaccuum and get rid of the dust.

The windows, they can wait. I didn't know windex could freeze....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Oddness

A few out of the ordinary things over the last few days.

1) The lady at the post office on Friday? SO NICE. It was like she just couldn't help me enough. I am not used to that in a postal setting.
2) A homeless guy on the tram was playing music loud on his jambox. (Who uses jamboxes anymore?) Anyhow, I felt right at home as he was blasting some sweet Stevie Ray Vaughn. RIP SRV. Really rather nice to hear my music from home on the tram. People were kind of enjoying it too, even though the driver told him to turn it down.
3) In another public transport related note, a lady on the platform next to me awaiting the tram rather impressed me with her multi-tasking skills. She somehow managed to talk on her cell phone (it was on speaker setting so I could hear every word she and the person on the other end screamed at each other) while PLUCKING HER CHIN WITH TWEEZERS sans mirror. I repeat, PUBLIC PLUCKING. Of her chin. On the street. Waiting for a tram. If she started plucking on her nose hairs, I would have had to take a different tram.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Fish and chips


Fish and chips, originally uploaded by karlakp.

Post England vs ireland rugby game (Yeay Ireland!) we headed over to the Dubliner for what are reputed to be Oslo's best fish and chips. They did not disappoint. The mushy peas were a pleasant surprise, quite savory and well flavored. (there is no way mushy peas can look appetizing.)

The fish was battered in Guinness batter, and was yummylicious.

As was the Guinness itself in the pint.

And yeay, a little less than two weeks before Starkbeirfest in Munich!