Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Norwegian New Year's fireworks show as seen from our window overlooking the fjord.
This was just one part of the skyline, it went on for miles. Pretty damned awesome.
Rich took the pictures.


Now THAT'S more like it

I have always tried to be "man enough" to admit if I am wrong or if I need to rethink something. There's no point in stubbornly sticking to your guns if there is obvious proof that you might want to change your view. Life is too short to be a butthead.

After reading this article, I just want to say that my previous rant needs some amending.

Good for the US for ponying up. Good job indeed. That's more like it....

I may not like George Bush, and never will, but at times like this...well, it's good to know that the US still can do the right thing when it's called for. That is what America used to stand for, and it's nice to see vestiges of that grand tradition remaining.

Friday Q

Since I am a lazy sod, I have decided to steal (well, with permission and full linkage, etc.) an idea from another guy's blog.

It's called Friday Q and it's four questions posted every Friday that I then answer on my blog. Ostensibly it's to help you get over the "what do I write about?" hump. In my case, I tend to have plenty to write about but I just wonder if folks want to hear it. So it's nice to just answer someone else's questions and not worry about if what I write is lame, boring or borish.

Before I start, though, let me just tell you that I am a very slothful person today. It's 2pm on NYE and I am still in my jammies. So is Rich. We will have a quiet evening, watching the fireworks from our windows, looking out over the fjord. Unlike in the US, folks here buy and set off their own fireworks, so the effect is of being in the middle of the fireworks show rather than watching it from afar. You do have to be careful of stray rockets (they have been known to come in open windows). Everyone has tile roofs, no worries about catching fire there, and the snow tends to put out anything that goes astray. You can see the explosions anywhere from 30 feet away to over a mile away, it's pretty spectacular, especially reflected off the snow.

This year it is supposed to be a more subdued celebration, due to the events in the Indian Ocean. Tomorrow is declared a day of mourning nationwide.

OK, now for the Friday Q:


FQ1: What do you hope will be the big technology breakthrough in 2005?

Oh Jeez, I can tell that a guy asks these questions. For me, personally, I would wish for cd or dvd burning to be as easy as making a cassette tape used to be. I am a relative newbie to downloading music and burning cd's, but I have found making cd's to be onerous, persnickety and downright frustrating. I just want to push a button that says "record". Like on the old stereo systems we had in the 80's? Like that.
As for a large scale tech breakthrough, hell, um, better weather and natural warning systems to help prevent the huge losses of the past year to hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding and tornadoes.

FQ2: What do you hope will be the big medical breakthrough in 2005?

Making men be the ones to give birth, haha. Seriously, a cure for cancer. Always.

FQ3: What do you hope will be the big entertainment breakthrough in 2005?

Gwen Stefani and Paris Hilton will fall off the face of the Earth. Please? Also, people will finally recognize the true and complete brilliance of Gary Numan's music of the past few years. But he will still be my secret.....

FQ FUTURE: It's one year from now! What was your greatest accomplishment in 2005?

To have learned html, perfected my German and vastly increased my jewelry making skills. Also, to have become a more patient person. And paid off my debt. Yeah, so that's more than one. I'm a multi-tasker.

Happy New Year! May 2005 be the year when it all comes together, all your problems go away and all your dreams come true.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Our Hearts Go Out to Them All.

I am sure, by now, you have heard of the horrific tragedy in the Indian Ocean. I never really thought of tsunami as a real disaster, to me it was always something that was illustrated in ancient Japanese scrolls, but that was the extent of it. You know, art and nature, ancient style, like Kratatoa or something.

Boy was I wrong.

Of all the European countries, the tragedy has affected Scandinavia the most. Thailand is a very popular winter holiday destination for Norwegians and Swedes. Germans, too. They say that almost every Swede or Norwegian knows someone affected by this disaster.

Here is a link to a photo series of the wave coming in. It's in Norwegian, but you really get a sense of the event and the vulnerability of the people in it. Unbelievable. The people in the photos were Swedish, and I have just found out that everyone survived.

Colleen, my dear step-mother in law and world travelling buddy, was in the region too. Luckily, she was en route to a houseboat trip in the Kerala region of India on Boxing Day and was in the mountains at the time it happened. They had plans and hotel reservations on the beaches at Thailand for after their time in India. Their timing was very lucky. (The hotel has since been destroyed, as have all the others, and they are now casting about for somewhere to stay until they figure out what to do next. She is staying with friends in Bangkok.) She has been in Thailand for most of this month. So we, while in London over Christmas, were rather worried about Colleen and where she was. She managed to get a call to my brother in law and told him she was ok.

Now for the George Bush rant. If you are pro-GW, just stop right here. Go read the Fox news or something.

And then I read this, part of it quoted below, about that fucking useless George Bush and the US "generosity" of 35 million USD towards the victims of the disaster, on the MSNBC website:

"Another way to measure

Another yardstick of U.S. largesse stems from a comparison of how American money is used elsewhere in the world.

In hearings last month, the U.S. military reported to Congress that it is now spending more than $5.8 billion each month — an average of $8,055,555 an hour — in Iraq. So the $35 million in aid destined for the tsunami victims is equal to what the Pentagon spends on the average morning in Iraq — about four hours.

Put another way, the $35 million is less than the amount the U.S. military spent during the six hours it took for the tsunami to cross the Indian Ocean on Sunday.

President Bush mentioned the $2.4 billion that the U.S. provided this year in worldwide aid. That amount pales in comparison with the $13.6 billion that Bush requested and received in supplemental appropriations for the hurricanes that hit the southeastern United States and the Caribbean earlier this year.

Of that amount, $100 million, less than 1 percent, went to other countries for their hurricane relief efforts."


Yeah, because, you know, it's not OUR catastrophe or anything. I mean, really. Let's just keep killing people in Iraq and not worry about a natural disaster of Biblical proportions. Sending aid won't get him re-elected, will it, so why bother? Why bother coming out of your "ranch" in Crawford and saying or doing anything?

We can't afford Social Security, we can't afford better health care for the nation, we can't even afford to help victims of a natural disaster on a scale that is mind boggling, yet we can still spend billions in Iraq on a war no one wants.

Is the US supposed to be a friend to the world or not?

I am embarrassed that this man calls himself a Texan.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

True Glamour. Me in All My Fabulousness.

Happy New Year!

Practice Your Dancing Moves for New Year's Eve

Here's a primer for dancing.

Level one. (My signature move is very similar to the "old school".)

And level two, for advanced dancers only. Warning: you must have passed level one before proceeding to level two. You could hurt yourself otherwise. These moves are not for the faint of heart or the un-flexible.

Actually, go ahead and check out the whole website from whence these lessons come, it's a total hoot. I like the videos best.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

For Your Pop Cultural Edification

When in London, my cousins kept riffing on something called a "chav". I had no freaking clue what it was, so they explained that it was the new pop cultural nickname for yet another British social group. Remember Mods, Teds, Sloane Rangers, etc? In the US the equivalents would be Yuppies, Flappers, Goths or Grunge?

Meet the Chavs.

We saw some real live specimens (once we knew what to look for) and all I can say is that the Mods, Teds and Sloane Rangers were a helluvalot better dressed. These people all wear baggy track pants with large jewelry and plaid Burberry caps. Fake logo wear bought at markets. The girls, instead of wearing sneakers, like to wear dressy, cheapy looking heels with their track bottoms. Why, I dunno. I would think track suits meant athleticsm, so wearing heels with that seems odd. They can be found in East London and at most pubs that show sports.

The chavs are the complete opposite of what I call the New Euro Ho' Goddess, which are these women I see walking around all wearing the same thing (and all very expensive, of course):

Tight narrow jeans tucked into tall boots. (Alternately tiny flirty miniskirt with tall boots.) Furry barbarian style jacket a la Roberto Cavalli. Top that is definitley not warm enough. Stick straight long highlighted blonde hair. Big wide belt, worn low on too-narrow hips. Sunglasses. Gucci or Dior bag, cell phone attached to ear. Links of London or Tiffany silver bracelet.

They can be found roaming King's Road, Walton Street, Bond Street and throughout Chelsea and Kensington. Fear them. They will hurt you if you pick up that cute Mulberry bag they had their eye on.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry and Happy and all that stuff

Please enjoy the holiday of your choice, be it religious, pagan or festivus.

We will be in London with my aunt, uncle and two cousins, whom I call my "young cousins" but are actually quite old now, being mid 20's, and rapidly becoming the British Donald Trumps of their generation. Or was that Richard Bransons?

I just write that so they bring me good presents. Harry Potter Book Five on CD read by Stephen Fry, perhaps?

Merry Holidays and I will post soonish about NYE in Norway and why it is so nutty.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

.......And Elvis begat Britney who begat Engelbert Humperdink

Go forth and religify.....

But first remind yourself of what adverbs and adjectives are, 'cuz it's kinda like MadLibs. I (to my great English major chagrin) have forgotten the parts of the sentence. Adverbs? Huh?

What I did in 2004

As this is ostensibly a travel blog, I thought it might be interesting to take stock of where I have been and what I have done in 2004. So, I made a list. Hell, I've done alot. Even I am a bit surprised.
Here is a bare bones list of where I went and when in 2004. I also linked to any posts I have made about it or complementary images on Rich's picture site.

Christmas 2003 and New Year's Eve 2004, London

Jan 14-Feb 2, Houston, Austin, Tulsa, Missouri

Feb 15-23rd, Morocco…..Marrakech, Essouira. London

March 17-23, New York City, upstate New York

April 8-13, London for Easter

May 17-June 10, Copenhagen, train to Bremerhaven, Northern Germany, ferry to London, flight to Prague, back to London then flight to Frankfurt, train to Amsterdam, train to Copenhagen, train thru Sweden back to Oslo.

July 10-21, London summer escape

July 31-Aug 7, Prague and Cesky Krumlov

Aug 27-Sept 7, Nile Cruise from Luxor to Edfu to Aswan and back, London

Sept 14-Oct 1, Houston, Austin, Missouri

Oct 11-21, Ireland...Dublin, Ring of Kerry, County Wicklow, Hill of Slane, etc.

Nov 5-9, Beautiful, Wonderful, Lively London

upcoming travel:

Dec 23-27th, London and Hornchurch

Jan 7-17th, 2005 Florida via Rekjavik, Iceland

In 2005 I am determined to get to Thailand, Italy, Istanbul, Edinburgh, a tropical island somewhere for a beachy lazy vacation, and to go back to Paris and decide once and for all how I feel about it. I have mixed emotions about that place, due to past scary experiences and the usual "treated like crap" tourist experience. I am older and wiser (?) now, maybe can hold my own a bit better.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


I don't have anything to write about today. Or maybe I have too much to write about and just can't decide. Or maybe I am just bored and can't be buggered to bother either way. Dunno. Who cares. Blah.

Oh, here, I know what.....

Go read someone else's blog for a bit. (It's really good.) Then you can come back here tomorrow and I am sure I will have something more interesting to say.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I Am Not Good at Winter.

This Norwegian commercial, shown frequently on TV and making me laugh every time I see it, pretty much sums up winter for many folks. It's really funny. (The tagline translates to "for a better start to the day" or something of that sort.)

It also reminds me that I am in idiot when it comes to winter myself.

The other day, it snowed really hard. I had to run a couple of errands, and when I came back outside, my car was covered in snow. I brushed off what I could, but there was this butthead waiting, impatiently, in the parking lot for me to back out so he could take my space. I shoulda waved him off, I know, but instead I hurried and got into the car and tried to back out. I realized I could not see out the side windows with all the snow, and so....I rolled them down to get the snow off.
Bad idea. I forgot that a) snow is not water or condensation and b) gravity tends to work. So all the snow fell INTO my car. Dammit.
I got back out of the car, waved off Mr. Butthead, (who made a semi-rude gesture which I am sure meant "Stupid Non-Norwegian Winter Amateur") and then proceeded to clean up the new mess.
Note to self: Snow melts quickly once inside your car. Science calls this new material "water". "Water" does not scoop, it soaks into the seats and the carpet. While trying to clean this, of course, more snow was falling on my back and down my neck. Shit. Cold. Ick. I gave up and just sat my wet ass in my wet car and went home.

It was a comedy of errors, all told. I think I am the Norwegian equivalent of an Aggie, or at least, that's what my friend Lee seemed to think when I told him the above story. I told him that in Norway I think the equivalent of an Aggie is a Swede.

Ways People Find Me

The internet cracks me up.

One of the things my hit counter does is tell me the words people used in the search that lead them to my blog. I can tell you that folks are looking for some goofy stuff. For example, here are some search words/terms, that have lead people directly to my blog (I linked to where they ended up, it's humorous):

Norway Boobs
Boobs (see above)
Giving Head (does this make me the expert?) (haha)
Zit +
H&M Lagerfeld (look at me I am a fashion maven!)
Funny toilet door signage

And, of course, my favorite word, or at least, one that I use alot, Fuck!

I hope they weren't too disappointed when they found my little blog instead of the naughty things they were actually trying to find.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


This photo was taken by a friend of my brother's, her name is Eileen. It's pretty funny, she had no idea how it looked until after she downloaded it onto her computer. I think it speaks for itself.

Posting because.....

...that picture of Gunther is grossing me out and I want to see something other than his icky lips as the first thing when I open my blog. Yeuch. I went to buy a few of the CD singles to send as "gifts" today, but THEY WERE SOLD OUT.

Was it all people like me buying them, as jokes? Gunther is gonna be a rich man.

This post is nothing more than a space filler to move ol' "Sit On My Face" Gunther down a few notches.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Mind Gunther, Pleasureman.

I really don't quite understand Scandinavian/European music sometimes. Is it because I am American and the whole Eurovision thing escapes me? Have I been too well trained by my Rock Gods to Always Take Them Seriously As Artists?

Whatever, I keep seeing ads for an album called "Pleasureman" by Gunther. It's so bad I keep thinking it MUST be a joke. The cheese-ometer is going thru the roof. He looks like a woman in drag as a man, very bad mustache, mullet from hell, horrendous glasses, and these wierd pouty lips that only do the one expression, which I guess I would have to call the "Sit On Me".

He sings something called "The Ding Dong Song". With lyrics like "Oh.... you touch my tra la la, my ding ding dong". Seriously. That's the lyrics. It's like70's Burt Reynolds in an alternate Euro-universe, singing innuendos about chocolatey snack cakes. GAH!

Um, so, ok. It just gets worse. Here is some "press" on Gunther.

"Pleasureman Gunther...

Günther is a 29 years old gentleman style 2000 in his best years. Günther is from Sweden but he feels like a European. Günther has always been in the entertainment industry and now he feels it is time to change the attitude of the world to do something better. Günther wants to change the worlds look at the sexual way of thinking, so he have started a new trend to sexualise it more in the world. "A Günther trend".
He has only started his mission to go out in the world and spread the message of Love.
The four main things in Günthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Sex and Respect!"


Don't believe me? Here's the link. Click on the button for the video. Prepare to get chills....the bad kind.


Friday, December 10, 2004

My New Favorite TV Show...MythBusters

I realize I might be behind the times but I have a new favorite TV Show.

It's on Discovery. (Yes we get Discovery here, actually we get about 5 different Discovery channels, it's all about the informative documentary here. Go ahead, ask me about the mating habits of Southern Hemisphere Flightless Water Fowl, or perhaps the Five Most Ingeniously Engineered Superstructures Ever Created By Man. And how to build a chopper in the style of a fire engine. Yup, I know it all.)

It's called MythBusters. Ever seen it? Two guys, oddballs in a fairly obvious left-of-center "yes we are geniuses but we like latex and rubber" kind of way. (I only say that about the latex and rubber because they manage to work in a rubber or latex outfit or experiment into every show. Adam, the guy with the glasses and pierced tongue, is the one who REALLY likes rubber. The other guy, in the hat, Jamie, just kind of laughs amiably and does something scary with ballistics or bombs to explode, stretch or destroy the rubber in some way shape or form.)

I decided that this was my favorite show after watching last night's episode, where they addressed the myth of the fat lady stuck by vaccuum suction onto the airplane toilet seat. First they created a big ol' fake (but texturally accurate due to space age fake fat ass rubber!) hiney and weighted it to approximate a fat lady butt, then stuck it to the toilet seat. It worked, and was scarily authentic as far as fat bums go, with Adam even smacking it a bit for added rubber fetishists pleasure.

The funny part was when Adam decided to ratchet things up a bit and stuck his own bum on the toilet seat. They turned that vaccuum suction up high. Yep,his bum stuck and I think (judging by his almost maniacal and giddy laughter) that he really enjoyed it. He was crying for joy or pain, I am not 100% sure, but I think joy.

And that would be the reason why I really like that show. You can just tell that these guys are some truly oddball creative wierd fuckers, you know? I bet they know where all the really cool bars are in San Francisco. The hat that Jamie wears and those, "I'm cool and trendy yet smart" glasses Adam wears, tells you the whole story. Anyone that is going to sacrifice his own bum to test out a vaccuum toilet seat, wear gold paint a la "Goldfinger" from head to toe to test whether his body temperature will go up too high for safety, and then explode cans of biscuits in his sun-heated car just to see if it's possible, is somebody I need to have a beer with.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jon Stewart , You F*cked Up!

Dear Jon Stewart,

We get your Daily Show here in Norway, one day after you are broadcast in the US. I feel compelled to correct you one on thing from today's (yesterday's) show:

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo Norway, not Stockholm Sweden!!!!!!!! Tell Samantha Bee to get her facts checked!

This is Oslo's major claim to fame, and honestly, it's also my one big exciting event every year in this cold-assed Nordic town, so please don't take it away from me by sending it to Sweden!!!!!

I repeat:

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IS ALWAYS, ONLY AND EVER, AWARDED IN OSLO NORWAY! (Dude, Oprah is even bringing her multi-million dollar-guru ass over here for the big Peace Prize Concert...Ask her if you don't believe me!!!!!!)

Yeah yeah, I know to the rest of the world all Scandinavians look alike, but honestly, the Norwegians are pretty damn proud of the Nobel Peace Prize, so don't go giving that honor to the Swedes. That would be like thinking that OU and UT actually like each other or something. Regionally, that is a MAJOR Faux Pas!

I certainly hope that the Powers That Be at the Daily Show get this. We rely on you, Mr. Stewart, whom my friend Karla May wants to marry, for our Daily News, and would hate to feel that you are geographically, um, deficient. I am available for further, tequila fueled, commentary.

The Texpatriate

I Went Out Last Night

Yeah, I know. I actually left the house at night. In Oslo. Shocking isn't it?

For those of you who don't understand my immense joy at the fact of leaving the house after 6 pm, let me explain. Basically, it just does not happen much anymore. Yeah, I know, in Austin I was ALWAYS out. But here...well it's different. First of all, it's VERY expensive to go out. A dinner out is about $50 a person. Beers (wine or mixed drinks are more) cost average of $9 to $10 each. Add to that the hassle of do we drive (which means I can't drink ANYTHING because of the ludicrously strict drink/drive laws here), or take the train or a cab? (We live on a hill in the suburbs.) A cab ride home from my friend Jennifer's the night of the Thanksgiving dinner cost $60, one way. Taking the train is the cheaper route, but then you have to bring the snow boots for walking to the train and the cute shoes for when you get where you are going, then trundle up and down the hill in the snow or, quite possibly, ice. Also, make sure you don't miss the last train back, or you are in for yet another very expensive cab ride. Making sure you make the last train back usually means missing the end of whatever show you might want to see, as it leaves before 1am. Blah de blah de blah. So, we just don't go out much.

But I braved all that and actually went out last night. I went into Oslo to my friend Julia's club, called Garage Oslo. Well, it's not HER club, but she is the "booking chief", or the one who does all the stuff pertaining to getting the bands that play there. So she invited me to come see this band last night, called The Hidden Cameras. She, as the one in charge, got me in for free and I also found that the beer there was cheaper, about $4-$5 a pint, so that was nice. They had Kilkenny and Guinness, which made my little recently-in-Ireland-heart very happy. Julia bought me a couple of pints, and so I say THANKS here, out on the world wide web, for all to see! I also met her boyfriend, Harald, who is a member of a very popular jazz band here called Jaga Jazzist.

The Hidden Cameras are one hell of a fun band. They are based in Toronto. Sort of pop-meets-REM-meets-a drunk orchestra- meets a big old mob of happy dancy people. They are a large band, about 9 people, and they had violins and stand up bass and guitar and keyboards and xylophones and drums and lots of stuff going on. It was fun watching the violin players somehow manage to dance and hop around yet still play their instruments. Ditto the retro mod xylophone did she manage to pogo while hitting just the right key with the stick? That's talent! At one point in the evening the band all put on blindfolds, and proceeded to play AND dance AND sing with red scarves tied over their faces. That was impressive as hell. I had a really great time, and the show ended at 12:15, having started bang on time as well, so I made it to my train with penty of time to spare. I do like the promptness of the Scandinavians. When they say something will start at a certain time, damn if it does not start RIGHT ON TIME. As a gal who has a thing about promptness, I do find that very satisfying.

One thing I have noticed about Norwegian (or just Oslo-ian?) audiences is: They don't dance. When I saw Moby here, having also seen him in Austin, nobody danced. I was almost literally the only one. In Austin, at the SAME SHOW, there was not a person in the audience standing still. It was practically a rave. How could anybody NOT dance when the music is blasting you so hard? Yet they did not dance at the Moby show in Oslo.
So last night, at the Hidden Cameras, Julia and I were in the back of the room, gently hopping and bopping about. We are from Texas, we are allowed. Looking over the audience there were about 5 folks flailing about directly in front of the stage, but everyone else just stood there, arms crossed, like they were too cool to move. Why? What is this stoicism in the face of fun? I don't get it. Harald told me that he thinks it is only the Oslo-ites who don't dance. When his band plays in the west of Norway, those folks dance. Are Oslo-wegians just the jaded urbanites of Norway? The been-there, done-that scenesters?

DANCE , PEOPLE!!!! Move your bums! Life is too short to not dance when you feel like it!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Window. Snow. Fog. Tree. Roof. Norway.

A view of the, I mean, a view of the view out the window with the, er, there is the snow and the view and the window and stuff. Right, I apparently have lost all cognizant modes of communication and so will just stop now. Geh. Buh.

Blue Light and Fog

This is what a typical Norwegian winter day looks like. It's a view from our window, looking towards the fjord. (It's much prettier when the snow sticks to the tree branches, which is not the case here.) This was taken at about three in the afternoon. By 4:30 it's dark.

Today, though, we had some sun. Yes, we do get sunshine in winter.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

An Ode To The Zit On My Chin

I wrote this ode to my zit a while ago...but it seems appropriate now. Yes, I have a wierd gift I call the "Insta-Poem" whereby I can write a fully functional poem in minutes flat. Now, whether it is a good poem or not is a whole 'nuther question, but they usually rhyme and are semi-humorous. Or so I like to flatter myself. (If anyone from Hallmark or American Greetings is readng this, I am willing to be tested on my Insta-Poem (tm) abilities on a moment's notice. Just give me a topic......Really.)


The zit on my chin
Is impairing my grin.
It's causing me pain......
It's the size of Spain!

The zit on my face
Seems to ignore time and place.
I'm 36 years old
Haven't my sebaceous glands been told?

The crater on my mug
Has a crusty white plug
And a red sort of...hue.
Am I making you spew?

Yes the hobby for today
Is to endlessly play
With the hard painful lump
That when pressed makes me jump.

I thought at my age
I was done with this plague
But I guess that's not true
Hey...quit staring, enjoy the view????????

Friday, December 03, 2004

It Ain't All Happy and Bright

The Norwegian Press is always really big on advertising how great it is in Norway, how the country always wins "Best Quality of Life" awards and such.

Here is another side of that. I've seen it, walked thru it numerous times. It's right there in the middle of town.

No place is perfect, no matter how much they try and make you believe it is.

Yeah, I am kinda cranky today.