Friday, 30 June 2017

Midnight blue

Clear nights in June in Norway never cease to amaze me with their orange tinged horizon never really fading to full inky black. But somehow, after spending four years full time and many more years part time, I'm no longer surprised that it's well past bedtime, but still light out.

Reminds me of this talk I heard recently about just how well we can adapt to just about anything :-). It was part of a conference called Starmus that happens in Stavanger once a year. It partly reminded me how little time I spend thinking about Physics these days, and partly made me excited about letting my head just roam free with new ideas without them necessarily needing to lead anywhere :-).

The weather's actually warmed up a fair bit these last couple of weeks! Nothing like the heatwaves further south in Europe, but enough to make one confidently declare that summer is indeed here! Somehow I feel this isn't going to be a summer of great physical exertion :-P. But then again, who says every year needs to be the same?!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A dozen years and counting

Finally summer! :-) Well, at least it's made a start, even if a rather stuttering one. But that's just the last week and a bit. Before that, we ended up with some more snow! In May!!! It has been one strange year for weather so far. :-)

And now that the days are properly long and bright, I've started with the cycling! Which is exciting! But I'd love to be out on the bike more. Been running a bit too. Especially the days with me having switched to summer tyres and there being snow all over the roads! Good practice for the yearly relay race in Oslo. :-D

But before all that, there was the weekend trip to New York for the wedding! Meeting up with friends you haven't seen in years can be interesting I suppose, if you're wondering how the intervening years have changed them and you.

So it was fantastic to see that some things don't really change. Like the ease with which you can slip back into old conversational topics. Or how there doesn't seem to be any awkwardness of filling in the gaps that have inevitably appeared in the knowledge of each others' lives.

But with distances and time you also learn to accept the fact that you will draw apart. The thing is to keep trusting that with the real friendships, you'll always be able to pick up where you left off. :-)

The one not so great thing about the trip was realising that I've grown out of much of my familiarity with long distance travel, and the jet lag was pretty brutal. Maybe it's just the living in one place for too long thing. Or maybe I'm just getting old. :-P

Speaking of old, the French Open has been shaping up interestingly! I was discussing with someone today what it is that I find so captivating about the Roland Garros clay. And I realised that it was there that I started following tennis again after the four years of blindness to the outside world that was college. :-) And that was also when Nadal appeared.

I may just have been looking for someone to take over the mantle (of being my favourite active tennis player) from Agassi around the same time, and for the next few years, as his rivalry with Federer grew, Nadal firmly established himself as the one! :-) I guess it's too early to tell, but a tenth may just really be on! I guess we shall find out.

In the meantime, let's hope summer decides to stay a while!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

A rush of blood to the head

Another month another blink of the screen.

Hehe that's of course total plagiarism, but sounds good doesn't it?! A Blink of the Screen, in fact, is the name of an interesting collection of short stories by the late Terry Pratchett. With stories spanning many decades and each prefaced with an enlightening little bit of background by the author, it is almost autobiographical in a way. But I digress.

Another month gone by breathtakingly fast. Another trip to the UK over Easter. Back in Bath this time after over 6 months! To think that up until a couple of years ago I'd never actually been to England :-). (A night at Gatwick airport obviously doesn't count.) And this time the weather was exceptionally nice! Not a single day of rain while we were there! And spring in all its colourful glory!

And then we got back to Norway and there was snow! In fact it didn't stop there! Saturday last week, I decided it was finally far enough into the year for summer tyres, and promptly on Monday morning there was half a foot of snow outside!! At the end of April! I mean, where was all this snow in January?! Did it get lost? Like some of those packages that seem to get lost in transit sometimes, travelling round and round between warehouses where no one knows what to do with them...

Maybe not. But the weather's been very weird lately. Hopefully the warmth will appear soon and fill everywhere with colours and flowers and all that spectacular spring stuff :-).

The other thing to look forward to, a trip to the States! New York this time, after a gap of almost four years, and some long overdue meeting up with friends. Weddings are good for that :-D.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Sunny Sundays!

This has been, in many ways, an odd month. The first weekend, which we spent in England, seems like such a long time ago! Ok, so the fact that a month has passed in the blink of an eye is not in itself a strange thing, seems to have become the norm a bit. It's more just the sense that I can't seem to remember where it went that I find a bit unsettling. Although, I do have a nagging suspicion that I'm repeating myself :-).

Back to that weekend though! We ended up renting a car this time, and that got off to an interesting start. An Italian car in England, left with the language set to French. And trust the Italians to have hidden away the setting somewhere so weird that I can't even remember it now :-). After a long week it did rather put me off a bit.

The rest of the weekend in contrast was just lovely!! The weather was fantastic! Probably felt even better than it was, given that spring was all around, compared to the frigid end of winter in Norway.

I managed to pack in a trip to Brighton! A first, and hopefully not my last. Though my visit was extremely brief, I was rather charmed by the fun mix of casual and bustling and the proximity of waves with their crests being snatched off by the wind :-).

I can't help but relapse into a spot of nostalgic reminiscing about my sunrises and sunsets spent on the bridge wings of the Trident at this point :-D. Thinking back, that is probably what I miss the most from all the years spent offshore. Yes, all the travelling and visiting new places had its moments, but the dreary regularity of long distance travel did get very tiring. And the massive amounts of time off was a big plus, but that came at a price. It was the few minutes each day spent watching the unending play of the water and wind that I look back on with no buts attached :-).

I suppose meeting an old friend from the boats may have had a bit to do with that! But yes, Brighton was fun! As was the supposedly clandestine cake baking :-D. We even managed a longish run in the sunshine! All in all a big tick. Except for the continuing distress of the rental car situation in the UK :-P.

Then there was the other weekend away in the middle of the month, to Trysil! Over the period of my stay in Norway, it has become pretty much my favourite place to go for a weekend (or more :-)) of downhill. A couple of years ago we even managed two trips in the same season! Or maybe it was the year before. But last year I didn't go at all!

Now, I feel my snowboarding skills have come a fair way in these last few winters when I've had my own board. So it was great fun to spend two full days practically racing down the hillsides non stop in the best weather possible :-). Yup! There's not a whole lot that can beat a weekend of almost constant sunshine in weather just warm enough to keep you from freezing on snow covered hillsides!

In the end it served as a rather nice way to sign off on the winter. And even though it was just the week in Geilo around Christmas and this weekend, I feel rather satisfied with my snowboarding this season. I suppose it's been one of those years where there never seemed to be the promise of a lot of snow.

And then as if on cue, the weather warmed up brilliantly to give us the first day of temperatures hitting 20 degrees this year! Only for spring to then choose to turn over and hit the snooze button! It actually snowed yesterday! Loads! Yes, it was the kind that was more wet than anything else and disappeared by evening, still, for a day it looked like we had been transported back in time by a month!

So those were a few highlights I suppose, and in between there has been planning for the summer. Many lazy evenings and quiet days at work blending into each other. Not the worst thing really :-).

Monday, 20 February 2017

The magical and the mystifying

Having regressed to the end of month catch up post schedule, I've been missing out on writing about some of the little things that have been happening in life. Books for instance. I can't remember writing about a book since Shantaram, and that one got a mention mainly because of the pain it caused me to drag myself to the end :). 

(OK, so I checked, and books seem to be something I have been writing about regularly enough :) oh well.)

Last month however, I read a very different sort of a book. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It was one of those, hey, this is a new book none of us have read sort of a pick at the book club :). So I dutifully got a copy and found the green pages and the hole in the front cover of the paper back version a touch odd, but the blurb in the back seemed harmless enough.

I think it was at the clockwork octopus that I really got into it :).

It was an odd sort of a book in the end. Varying pace throwing me off sometimes while reeling me in at others. A story that was very happy treading the line between just your usual fiction and wild fantasy. Characters that seemed to form slowly out of shadows and smoke.

But then the ending happened. To say it was a bit of a let down would be to miss the point. Which was that I felt this story had so much potential :). It's like watching someone play an amazing knock against a proper bowling attack and then throw it all away five away from a century. It doesn't qualify as a bad inning, of course, but you are left wanting.

And then there was the book we read this month. So we rotate the person proposing the books every month at our book club. (Which, seeing as it has dwindled from a pretty solid 10 down to 3 members since I joined three and a bit years ago, is more of a - let's hang out once a month and if we've managed to read the book we were supposed to in the mean time, all the better - sort of a thing. So the rules are pretty relaxed :). ) I only mention this to deflect any judgement about the choice of book, i.e. left to my own devices I wouldn't get anywhere close to The Woman and The Ape

I suppose every now and then it's good to explore a bit outside one's comfort zone. Otherwise I'd never end up reading anything other than sci-fi or Gaiman :). But this was one of those times where I somewhat acutely felt that life is probably too short to be reading books that baffle you. And yet. 

I managed to finish reading it in record time. (Being cooped up at home with a cold might have helped with that, but still.) There's a weird sense of morbid curiosity that kept me turning the pages. Until at the very end even that gave way to leave me wanting to forget the pomposity of it all.

So why am I writing about this at length? I suppose as a warning :). And also felt like posting something that didn't sound like a recap for a change :D.