Sunday, January 31, 2010

I don't think I understand America anymore.

I've lived outside the US for almost 8 years. (Well, 7 1/2.) I'm starting to realize that is a long time. When I left the States, Buffy Season 5 or maybe 6 was on and Sex and the City was still boiling hot. Six Feet Under was on. The Osbournes hadn't started yet, or maybe it had just barely started. That's where I left off. That's where my pop culture ends. Now? I'm just confused.

For instance, the vast majority of the 'celebrities' that get mentioned in the news? I have NO IDEA who they are.

Like, Nightline (I listen to lots of podcasts to keep up on the US news) just did an interview with some girl named Heidi Montag? She was on a show I've never seen, The Hills? Is that a reality show? Anyhow the sheer VAPIDITY of that girl is shocking. Apparently she had 10 hours of plastic surgery just because she wanted to be famouser? And she wants to be a pop star, not a singer, not a musician, no, but a 'pop star' and she has an album out right now, and she had all the same producers and sound teams as Michael Jackson. Can she sing something from the album, right now, she was asked. No, her throat was still weak from surgery (she had her throat done?) but you can go BUY the album which has ALL THE SAME PRODUCERS AS MICHAEL JACKSON. So, you know, it must be really good. Because it's got famous producers.

WHO the fuck IS this girl? Who CARES about her? How on earth can the US find someone like that interesting? I have never heard someone so vapid. Her whole goal is to be more famous. Not talented, not accomplished, not even successful in her career, but FAMOUS.

Then the Nightline episode went on to talk about other reality shows, something about people in New Jersey? These people can't be real, can they? I mean it was like "Married To The Mob" come to life. WTF WTF WTF?

Since moving to Norway I've missed the whole Idol thing, the thing with these Kardashian girls (who are they and why do they have a show?), these Jersey people, the Donald Trump Apprentice thing, the various 'reality' shows on MTV (do they ever show music anymore?), the myriad shows with multiple numbers of children in one family, and a bunch of series that involve housewives of various sizes, locations and wealth levels. Now there is also some show with Stephen Seagal that my dad ADORES. Is Seagal a real cop or isn't he? I don't get it. I don't get ANY OF IT. I've lost my American pop culture muscle!!!

I have managed to catch So You Think You Can Dance, and lately, I've seen some Biggest Losers. The dance show I love, the Losers is inspiring. But for the rest...WTF is going on?

As I listened to the Nightline podcast while cleaning my bathroom, Rich came in having heard the discussion about this Montag girl, and he sort of shook his head and said "I don't understand America anymore". I have to say, I agree with him. I don't either. I've lost the plot.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

T shirt

T shirt, originally uploaded by karlakp.

A t shirt my friend at work is wearing. Giggle.
Sent from mobile

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

just one thing.

Remember how I was all content and shit? Didn't want anything?

I've found a few things I want.

  1. A hot bath. Seems the hot water ran out today mid bath-filling. That was a new thing for this flat usually the water is BOILING.
  2. Internet. Our internet is "unstable". It was totally out all evening and I only hope this will post. This has been going on for weeks. I finally called, and they said "You must be patient, we hope to have it fixed on the 29th". Patient? I got yer patient right here, buddy.
  3. A crock pot. A plain old slow cooker. NOT TO BE FOUND ANYWHERE IN OSLO. I can have a fryer, a rice cooker, a potato peeler (WTF ? A potato peeler machine that looks rather like a crock pot?), an ice cream maker, an egg cooker (if you can't cook an egg without a machine, you officially suck), raclettes, fondue pots and waffle makers out the ASS. But no frikkin slow cookers AT ALL. What kills me is I had the perfect one. It was a combination fryer, rice cooker, slow cooker and something else, I forgot. Mags (over at This Corrosion) has it now as I just couldn't get an electrical transformer that could handle the wattage over here. Poor Mags took half her suitcase up with lugging that thing back to Texas, but she says she is 'saving' it for me, God love her. Even though I am pretty sure she uses the hell out of it. I sure did.
  4. I want my cooktop to work 100%. One of the cooking rings on the ceramic cooktop has an extension button on it that allows it to cook on the larger size ring, which I used ALL THE TIME until it broke and now I can only use small pots on it. I don't DO small pots, I do big ones.
I don't know, y'all. I think I am just going to work all the time and quit coming home because lately I am just TOO ANNOYED every time I come home. At least at work I feel like i have some control over what's going on. At home, I feel like I am just losing the plot.

Monday, January 25, 2010

That's amoré

We went out for a birthday dinner on Saturday night, for my friend Gillian. I swear it was something out of "Moonstruck".

We went to an Italian place up the road, Amundsen and Nobile. It's a little bitty place, very koselig, you'd miss it if you weren't looking for it, but there is something wonderful about it. Is it the all-Italian staff? Is it the red and white checkered table clothes and the candles stuck in chianti bottles, all dripping with wax and so cliché yet charming? Is it the good quality food and the wine by the liter? Or, maybe, it was the band, complete with accordion, singing an interesting mix of Norg-talian, all the classics, such as "That's Amoré" which is now stuck in my head and won't come out? We all sang along and clapped and had a great time. Gilly was celebrating one of the BIG birthdays (those ending with a "0") yet she looked and acted like a teenager. As did I. And most of the other people there.

But I have had "That's Amoré" in my head for two days now. Brought home to me even more when I noticed the moon looking at me like a "big pizza pie"as I came home from work today. Which made me think of Italian food (a style of food I think of constantly when it is cold, I mean, is there ANYTHING better than Italian on a cold night?) Which meant that I had to make lasagna.

Which I did. I'd never made it before but thought, what the hell, and just threw it together, sans recipe, and I'll be damned if it wasn't AWESOME!!!!!

I so rule.

In other news, I think I like my new boss. I've decided that he is a pretty good guy, for a high level muckety muck manager. He's got his head on straight and while his standards are high, they are correct. One thing I've discovered about me is that I have to feel like I can learn from a boss or it is just not gonna work. I think I can learn from this guy. Might even learn a lot. Sweeet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

come to Oslo and party!

There's a blogger gathering happening in Oslo August 18-22.

Who's gonna join me? It looks pretty awesome!

(Also, one of those days is my birthday. So nice of them to throw me a party like this.)

(Ahem, Dave? Got some miles and some time??)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have a shitty little cold. You know, one of those ones that comes on suddenly and isn't so bad that you have to call in sick to work, but is just enough to annoy the hell out of you? Argh. Sniff, sniffle, achoo. I had too much to do to call in sick today, anyhow. I sniffled and snuffled in my big new office at the end of the hall. My big new office is very draughty and I think that might be contributing to my cold. I can't stay WARM in there.

Rich and I are sitting in our living room, watching something (though we don't know what) on BBC Prime, and each typing away on our own laptops. Me on this blog, him on some model airplane forum or other. Ah the modern many new ways to ignore one another. The neighbors upstairs are hollering and stomping, the snow outside falls in a wet slop of icy pellets, and I am vaguely and thoroughly dissatisfied with this week. This week has just generally pissed me off, though not in any way I can specify. It wasn't ALL bad, but just sort of I did have a very good meal last night at an interesting Oslo restaurant with some of my favorite coworkers. So that was good.

I have another chiro appointment tomorrow. My back does feel better after the first appointment, I should be back to rights after the one tomorrow. Yoga starts again on the 2nd, none too soon.

The news from Haiti continues to appall and sadden me. The problems seem insurmountable. Sure we can throw money at it...but then what? Those poor people.

I suppose I'll take a bath or something. I dunno.

We are going to Vienna next month. I haven't been there since I was 17. I am sure it survived without me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

very special request!

Hey y'all.

My young friend Georgia is fighting a winning battle with leukemia, and has started this blog to document her fight. She's collecting comments from around the world and the 50 states. Can you add to her collection by commenting on her blog and telling her where you live, especially if you live outside the Lower 48? Share this with people as you wish...

I'd appreciate it a whole lot.



My back is an ongoing problem.

All my stress goes straight to the area around and between my shoulders. Seriously, masseuses are always SHOCKED at the tension I carry there, my shoulders and upper back are rock hard. (Like, if my ass had that kind of muscle definition, I'd wear a thong, full time, in public, even in winter.) I am constantly reminding myself to pull my shoulders DOWN, back and DOWN, but they always pop back up right to my ears within minutes, if not seconds. Rotating my shoulders is a symphony of bones and ligaments cracking and popping. I am NOISY.

Add to this that I have a particularly LONG back (I'm almost 6 feet tall and my inseam is barely 32 inches...all my height is in my back) and that I have a tendency towards a sway back (bootylicious, yo) which can go out of whack pretty easily and pretty much anyone would acknowledge that I am a chiropractors wet dream.

Sometimes the upper and lower back have a competition to see who can hurt most. Right now, they are neck and neck, but the lower back is winning slightly as it is trying to throw itself out. I'm used to the upper back hurting, but the lower can be a real bitch when it wants.

Problem is, I have a pretty big fear of chiropractors as my mom was pretty much wrecked by one when I was a kid. One too many snaps of her neck, badly done, and she was in for major surgery and a lifelong legacy of pain and discomfort. But yoga, while extremely helpful (for her and for me), can only go so far and sometimes I back. I can FEEL the bones needing a slight wrench back to where they belong. It becomes an obsession and I have to just suck it up and go to the chiro.

Which I did today. Before I go, I have to take a 'mothers little helper', in this case, a vicodine as the pain was also pretty fierce. My lower back is trying to go out, my upper back is totally ganked, and it just damned hurts. The vicodine not only helps the pain but also puts me in a nice fugue of contentment and quashes the chiro-panic. (I have a small stash, maybe 6?, left from a previous dentist appointment in the States, that I hoard for emergencies like this.)

I arrived at the chiro's ready for the inevitable, but I still have a minor moment of panic when he does my lower back as I am so afraid of fucking it up beyond all help. (Once you've thrown out your lower back and been flat out on the floor for three days, you don't want to repeat the experience.) My upper back, hey no problem, crack the shit out of that bitch, it wants it bad...pop it pop it POP IT BITCH!

The Norwegian chiropractors are very nice and professional. They take x rays and study the spine before they even touch you. They are always surprised just how tight my back is and tut-tut over how long I have let it go. I tell them I do yoga when I can and that my coming to them is an emergency thing. I also explain about my mom. (To this day, I would NEVER let a chiro touch my neck, no way no how.) It usually takes me two or three visits in a week to get back to a place where I don't want to moan all the time. They always tell me to take a walk 'in the woods' after an adjustment. Typisk Norsk.

Yoga starts again in February. I hope I can hold out until then after the chiro adjustments.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Way Back Photo: 2004-Egypt.

Camel Riders, originally uploaded by karlakp.

What I was thinking while taking this picture, "Ow my ass. Ow my ass. Ow my ass. Wow this is cool. I'm in EGYPT on a CAMEL! Ow my ass. "

Why is the guy to the right eating his shirt?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

pictures from Tallinn

Me in my new hat.

Next year's Christmas card. Tallinn city square at night with moon.

Church and alleyway (compare to previous picture I posted!)

Stained glass lamp, snow and stone.

Colorful alley.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Risks you just don't have in Texas

You know, there's different things that can kill you in different places.

Example 1:

In Norway we have all these outdoor toilets. They are usually in connection with a hytte, or holiday cabin. (You can go here for more info on those, as well as a picture of an "utedo" or outdoor toilet.)
So anyhow, in Texas, you'd NEVER EVER expose your bare ass in a wooden enclosure outside, as you don't know WHAT would be around to bite it. Snakes, bugs, critters of all sorts, hell no. Bare asses are not exposed in dark, wooden, unlit, and unknown places. So that is a risk of living in Texas that a Norwegian wouldn't really appropriately understand until it was either pointed out to them, or they got their ass bit.

Example 2:

In Texas, you'd never have to worry about chunks of ice falling from a high roof top and killing you. But in Norway? Clear and present danger. I saw a chunk of ice fall from a rooftop onto the SIDEWALK today, that was the size of my right thigh. In other words, HUGE. That chunk of ice could kill someone. I never really thought about the absolute risk of that (though I knew it intellectually, having seen signs for "Tak Ras" posted here and there in spring). But to see it, to REALLY SEE, that huge chunk of ice fall and go kerTHUNK down into the snowy I am so not going to walk under eaves anymore without first checking out the situation.

Example 3:

Fucking busses. the bus drivers around here are kamikaze assholes. The newest thing they seem to enjoy is skidding the bus on the snow into the stop. These fuckers already hit the brakes so hard that I am fairly certain they are trying to make people fall over. Now, they get the added fun of sliding those giant, double cab busses into the stop space. I watched one skid for a good 10 feet before it stopped. Dudes, that is DANGEROUS. Why don't you apply the brakes in a slow and firm manner instead of just jamming them down and activating your anti-lock brakes EVERY DAMN TIME? C'mon, we are paying customers who just want to get ot our destinations without falling onto your dirty muddy floors and knocking into people. A bus is not a snowboard, bitches!

Man I hate the bus.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Says it all

Says it all, originally uploaded by karlakp.

A Christmas present that makes me happy. You geeks like me will get it! Love this!

A conundrum

I find myself in a strange place in my life, right now.

I don't have any 'wants'.

Does that make any sense?

You know, your whole life, or at least, in my life, I have always striven for something. I always had a big WANT. I wanted to learn to make jewelry. I wanted to be a decorative painter. I wanted to learn how to use computers. I wanted to travel. I wanted to see large parts of the world. I wanted to save some money. I wanted to fully understand certain things and areas of interest. I wanted that perfect pair of black Doc Marten 20 hole lace up boots. I wanted a job that was interesting. I wanted a job where I was kind of important. I wanted to have love and give love. I wanted a 'grown up' home. I wanted to have a steak for dinner. I wanted sex. I wanted to go party. I wanted to get to know the people here in Norway. I wanted to give my Austin friends love and hugs. I wanted to lie around and read books for a whole weekend. I wanted that perfect set of sheets for my bed. I wanted to blog. I wanted to learn to cross country ski. I wanted to feel confident. I wanted Seasons 1-7 of Buffy, Seasons 1-5 of Angel, and all of Six Feet Under. I wanted to be a size 8.

I have all that stuff. I have achieved those goals (except the one about being a size 8, that escapes me always.) I have done those things. I seem to have become a fully realized human being with a job and a home and a sense of self. I've been to most of the places I really wanted to go, and I honestly might be too tired to try to think up more.

And so, right now, sitting here in my grown up apartment, and feeling a bit like a 13 year old in a 40 year old's body, I'm wondering, what do I want next? I'm not hungry. I wouldn't mind a glass of wine, but it's not urgent. Sex would be ok too, but sex is sort of something you always want (or is that just me?), so I've learned to deal with that. I don't want to go shopping. My closet is pretty full, and I just don't have that need to go buy stuff. I don't have that overwhelming urge I used to have to make jewelry or create something. It's the weekend so I won't go in to work where I do have a few interesting projects to wrap my brain around.

What do I want now? Is this contentment? Is this getting older? Have I turned the corner into being boring? Or maybe I need to make my goals bigger? What is this, this lack of wants and urges?

Anyone know?

Friday, January 08, 2010

same ol' shit

Cold cold cold cold.

That's pretty much all we are thinking about lately. So DAMNED cold. -6 F today, thereabouts.

Heat was out of order at work, I sat at my desk in my parka. I can't type in gloves, I've learned. I managed to get a lot done, but I was cold doing it.

Had some friends over on Wednesday evening and the heat in our apartment (usually so over heated) was not working so well. I felt bad that everyone was chilly. Apparently the apartment manager figured out the heat problem yesterday, because when I got home it was like a SAUNA in here. I went from freeze to sweat in about 2 minutes flat. Wow.

I went out last night with some of the boys from work. I swear at times it feels like a cultural anthropological experiment, hanging out with my boys from work. They are all a bunch of ruffty tuffty guys who have all been around the world many times and have seen it all. I enjoy hanging with them...they are funny and sweet and earthy. However, they are also pretty filthy, which I guess some people would find offensive. It just makes me laugh, however, as I enjoy the earthy salty talks, you know? Around them, I am an honorary boy but one that they also can tell some of their hurts and life stories to and they can show me, a little bit, their softer sides. It's sweet. I am very safe with them, they are gentlemanly in their own ways. They are a good bunch. Even if they do drink lager and not Guiness. (wimps)

But I have to laugh because whenever a cute girl walks by, their eyes have to follow her and they lose their train of thought instantly. Seriously, the attention span of a gnat. What is UP with that?

Boys. I don't understand them but I like them nevertheless.

UPDATE: I did a trace for the boots and it seems that Norwegian (evil) customs has held them up. Norway charges duties and fees for anything imported over 200 nok (a tiny amount here, worth about $35). You end up paying at least that much in fees and tolls, so your $35 item ends up costing double. Joy. I refuse to pay for MY OWN BOOTS though. I'll have to fight it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010



One pair of much loved Lucchese Boots.

Last seen in Austin Texas, after I took them in for their check up at Allen's Boots. They got cleaned and buffed, and then were mailed to me via US post on December 5th.

Which is when it all went to hell in a handbasket.

Boots last heard from on December 11th, when they left the sorting station in New Jersey.

My babies are gone!!!! Lost somewhere between New Jersey and Norway! Surrounded by (eek!) YANKEES!!!!!!

My BABIES!!!!!!!

UPDATE: My boots finally arrived January 15th. They were delayed in shipping and then the Norwegian Toll Trolls tried to charge me import tax on them. A little bit of wrangling and they were home. Lucchese, however, didn't do any work on them as I had a rubber bottom glued over the original leather soles to protect them from the snow and salt. They said that nullified any warranty. Bit of a bummer. All that time and money spent for nothing. I'll wear them until they fall apart and then pony up for a new pair.

Monday, January 04, 2010

a link for you....

Great article on Americans and British.

Read that, and I'll get back with pictures soon.


Friday, January 01, 2010

2009, you were a decent year.

2009 was a decent year for me. Here's a list of stuff I did, not comprehensive but a good outline:
  • Started 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand, having just been to Bali, Cambodia, Malaysia and Java.
  • Went to the US twice (at Easter and at Thanksgiving.)
  • Went to Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, London, Aberdeen and Tallinn.
  • Went to Bodø (for work) and the Sjøa valley, and some other beautiful Norwegian places.
  • Went white water rafting in Sjøa. Faced fears.
  • Project managed a project at work. Faced fears.
  • Learned how to cross country ski (mostly, thanks to patient friends). Faced fears.
  • Sang karaoke. Oh shit did I face fears.
  • Remembered how much I love Austin.
  • Learned the Oslo tram system and am now also rather good with busses. Busses, as you know, not being my favorite thing.
  • Got offered a new job at the very tail end of the year, accepted, and was all sorted in a week from start to finish.
  • Moved twice, first into temporary apartment while old apartment was being 'reworked', and then moved for real to the gorgeous new apartment in Oslo when our old landlord kicked us out.
  • June and July kind of sucked as there were some stressful things going on. But we managed to pull through and I think we are gonna be ok.
  • Got a year older, a year goofier and a year more fearless.
In 2010 I think I am going to post more pictures on this blog. I realized I still haven't posted any photos from our big trip to SE Asia LAST Christmas, and that I have tons of stuff that I want to show off. Y'all cool with pictures? I'll still post stories as they come to me, of course.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and may 2010 be a "10".