Thursday, 30 November 2017

Stories old and new


After a long time, I've ended up buying a lot of book in rather quick succession :|. Not a bad thing, per se, but an unusual feeling :). The majority of the books are Gaiman ones I've thought about getting but never managed, but others I'd never even heard of. Mostly graphic novels.

The Sandman stuff I have read, but never proper hard copy versions, so given the discount season going around, I got me the whole 10 volume set, plus my favourites outside of those, Endless Nights and Overture. I am soooo looking forward to reading them all again :). But while I was looking for those, I also found this!

Amazing concept I think, so that's what I've started exploring first!


But before that, I read the latest recommendation from the book club, The Art of Racing in the Rain. The funniest serious book I've read in a long time :). So full disclosure, I love dogs, and I love cars. I do not like tear jerking stories so much. This may or may not shed some light on the balance that the author has managed to strike in the book :).

I particularly loved the amount of time and space given to actual car racing and how well it is woven into the story! Totally awesome! Would I recommend everyone go read the book, maybe not. But if you are interested in a story that will happily pull you along with its ups and downs, give it a shot perhaps.


What else has been happening? Well, quite a bit and not a lot. There's slow preparations for the upcoming visit to India and the UK. Elation at the prospects of a holiday and meeting lots of family mixed with trepidation at much the same thing :P. But in the mean time, the snow has arrived!!! Quite a bit of it! Should probably see if I have some photos of it somewhere...


The question, as always, is if it will last.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The mists of memory and the wonders of forgetting and remembering imaginations

This time, I actually had a couple of things I wanted to really blog about, earlier in the month. But it would seem I've developed another habit. Even though I may have things I want to blog about, and I might even have a bit of time to do it, I figure, I might as well just put it in the post at the end of the month :). Oh dear.


A digression first though. This is the first time in a while I'm using a laptop to actually post, and it is brilliant!!! I mean, smart phones are very smart and all that, but an actual keyboard! Tactility, and the little clicking sounds as thoughts turn into characters :). I have missed this :D. OK, end of digression.

The one thing I definitely, absolutely have to share, is Blade Runner 2049. First things first, watched it, loved it. Right, so that's done. Now for some thoughts. I've watched Blade Runner before. Multiple times even, I believe. But somehow, the story itself never totally impressed itself onto me completely. 

One reason could be my memory of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The book it is supposedly (extremely loosely) based on. I say supposedly, because other than the most rudimentary similarities in the story, the book and film go in completely different directions. So anyway, I was left a bit aghast at the book. I discuss that particular experience briefly here. Yes, twelve years ago that was, and it has still left its mark, that book!

So when I saw the trailers and was reminded of just how much of a phenomenon the original film was, I thought I would refresh my memory. So we watched Blade Runner again. And wow was I underwhelmed :-|. I mean, the whole atmosphere building and all that was brilliant, and the idea of a post-apocalyptic future. But you really have to remind yourself that this was in the '80s to stop yourself thinking, "Come on! Really!?!" I also have to admit, I was sure the ending was different when I'd seen it before (unlikely, I know, but there you have it) but I liked the abruptness quite a lot.

So then we come to the new film. There wasn't really that much of a build up of anticipation. So maybe that explains why I left the cinema so happy! No, not with the almost three hour run-time, that was insane. But what a sequel! Somehow, the best aspects and themes from the first film survived, with a fantastic visual treatment. And minus excruciating philosophical monologuing towards the end :).

I particularly enjoyed the restraint on the part of the makers of the sequel when it came to copying the older film. The thing that has killed so many sequels for me before. I suppose it wasn't without its flaws, The length being one thing. But even there, it was nice to have the time to immerse into the visuals without being rushed along by an excess of action. (I must add here that I asked a friend who'd been to see the film separately how he liked it, and he hated the pace, saying it was way too slow :). Just thought I'd add that in here.) 

I have to say it was the most enjoyable film I've seen lately. And that's even when compared to Baby Driver. Which was an absolute hoot, but in completely different ways :).


The other thing I've managed to do is finish reading Smoke & Mirrors. I'd been at it off and on for months. That's the thing with short stories though. You can just stop and start. Although maybe in some ways keeping the memories of the different stories together adds something to the experience. And yes, I did feel this wasn't one of Gaiman's best works. I mean there were flashes of awesome. But there were also bits of somewhat bizarre. As in more than is usual is what I mean :).

I guess I like Gaiman's writing where he's had the space to unwind things out a bit. Created a bit of space to absorb all the different bits of crazy :). So now I'm on to Norse Mythology. Which strictly speaking isn't quite fiction... or is it? Hmmm.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Notes...


The switch from summer to autumn, while being an extremely visual thing in Norway, what with all the leaves changing colour and then rapidly disappearing, is also a distinctly psychological thing. Walking outside today, we noticed that while the temperature was about the same as a couple of weeks ago, suddenly both of us we expecting things to be a whole lot more wintery than it actually was!


I suppose soon that will be the truth and we'll be hoping things were the other way around, so really, this is a time to enjoy the light and the warmth, such as it is :-).

--
I'd forgotten how much fun Ikea furniture building is :-). Hadn't done one in years!

--
Spy books come in all shapes and forms, but having read Mick Heron's Slow Horses, I have a new favourite! I have to admit it took me a while to get into the style, but it really is quite gripping! And the twists and turns, while maybe not entirely un-guessable, did keep me thinking!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The getaway!


Summer's definitely over :-). Surprised by the smiley face? Well, let me tell you about the fantastic week in Croatia at the tail end of a heatwave!


Well, maybe not all about it, 'cos I don't really do that these days, primarily because of the amount of time that would take. But maybe enough to make you feel that if you've never thought of visit the country, you ought to think again. :-)


Our trip began and ended at Split airport, right by the Adriatic and surrounded by mountains. Quite the view from the flight. Not to mention the vast golden plateaus scoured by rivers into deep twisting gorges. And for the week in between we explored all of these geographical features in detail in and around the Krka national park and Śibenič!


There were little boat rides to and from a little island in the middle of the river, walks around ruins of forts, walks within freshly renovated ones! Enjoying tiny quiet little beaches along the river, sitting on a submerged rock watching boats sailing by (and having fun getting buffeted their wakes :-)).


All in all a lovely week of relaxed exploring amidst clear blue skies and amounts of sunshine one can only dream of in Norway!


That was a few weeks ago now, and furniture had to be moved and cupboards and drawers had to be emptied and then filled up again. Places found for new things and new places found for old things... much happenings to keep us well occupied! But for a week before all of that, it was lovely to disappear to a magical land of sun sea and sky.


Monday, 31 July 2017

Forgotten notes

I struggle sometimes, to connect the reasons (at least what I think were the reasons, which, given the gap of twelve years can be a bit hazy, to say the least) I first started writing this blog, and indeed the sort of things I used to write about, to my reasons for writing the once-an-end-of-month post these days and also the sort of things I write about.


On the one hand, I feel I have become less open about my life. I somehow no longer write with quite that abandon of freely holding up my thoughts to all that might stumble across them. But at the same time, I always did obfuscate somewhat, when it came to things that I held really close to my heart. By that logic, are there more things in my life today that I hold dear? :) Well, I would like to think so.

But this space, with its almost contradictory mix of privacy in the public domain, is something I do cherish. There is some part of me that likes to be able to just throw out some of the thoughts that flow and swirl within the confines of my mind onto a somewhat better illuminated medium (with all its imperfections, such as they are), so that I may perhaps examine them a little. Maybe find something new and exciting in them!


Case in point, my frustration over Chester Bennington's recent alleged suicide. I mean, OK, so frustration may not be the best way of putting it. But allow me to elaborate. Famous people have been dying from less than natural causes at a ripe old age for about as long as the idea of famous people has been around I suppose, but the 'closeness' I've felt to one of these demises has been insignificant up until rather recently.

There was the whole Robin Williams thing. And to a lesser extent Philip Seymour Hoffman. And now this. Linkin Park wasn't just any old music for me. It wasn't the peer-approved, appreciated-for-a-decade-by-the-time-I-heard-them-for-the-first-time Pearl Jam fandom. Or the disregard for Pink Floyd that was almost because it was so thoroughly universally appreciated by everyone else around. Linkin Park was fun, catchy music with sometimes powerfully relevant feeling lyrics that I could appreciate and love with no sense of judging or being judged. Unadulterated, in other words, by the need to fit in or rebel in any way to any establishment.

I my mind, the Linkin Park stuff I'm most familiar with, coinciding with my time at university and the years immediately after, were never classics. They were far more personal than that. Not distant on some pedestal, but thoroughly approachable, and therefore all the more enjoyable.

Yet, I had not listened to them for months.

Rather than going down the heavily nostalgia (and mildly guilt) driven path of listening to Everything Linkin Park for a few days, I tried to stop and think what is it that Bennington's untimely death meant to me. I have to admit I have found no clear answers. People die, sometimes people you know well. Sometimes they do things that seem impossible to understand and leave a sense of indignation. But, selfish as it sounds, I guess the pain I feel is from a sense of joy taken away. That those songs are no longer just songs I loved to listen to and still bring me a smile every time I listen to them. They are now part of a wider narrative.

--

I was going to write all that the day after I first read about Chester's death. But somehow couldn't really bring myself to think about it. Too much else is going on in life to worry about rock idols from a decade ago, right. Still, it's important to take a bit of time now and again to toss a few thoughts out into the murky light of late summer nights.

Speaking of which, this is rapidly growing into a summer like no other :). I know, every season is its own thing, but some are more special than others! :D Of course, this is where the obfuscation kicks in, and I refuse to go into any further details. But life is about to change rather dramatically, and I suspect, in ways I still do not fully appreciate. 

However, in the midst of all that, it is nice to remember some things how they used to be, and how they are now, and enjoy the distance we have travelled in between :).

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.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Memories, like fingerprints

This has to be the least work I've done in the first month of the year since moving to an office job :). The fantastic Christmas - New Year holidays ended on the 1st with a nice drive back to Asker, and barely ten days later, off we were on a trip to India!! And now that I'm back, it seems to have all passed in a bit of a daze!


And it wasn't just any India trip. This one had a definite greatest hits album sort of vibe to it :). For one thing I hadn't been back in the winter for a while, and the clear blue skies (without skin melting heat) that greeted us on every single day for two weeks were a great start. :)


Old places I hadn't made the time to visit in many years were visited. The school for instance, where I hadn't been for almost ten years. And the first place I grew up, which I hadn't seen in maybe twenty. (It's a bit crazy to think I have clear, consistent memories of places, people and events that have happened over two decades ago. I mean, it's not unusual to expect this once you're in your thirties. I know this. But it is a bit unreal to sort of face that fact.)


There's nothing like a trip to old neighbourhoods to make you think back on things that had hidden themselves in the back of your mind. Not big things necessarily, just details. Little things that used to pack themselves densely and gave life a sense of solidity. It's a bit like all those things you never think of saying when you are describing something to someone who wasn't there. You don't even realise you are leaving things out, but invariably you are. 


Sometimes you just have to go back and take a look. And although much may have changed, the bits that remain are enough to remember just what the sunshine felt like on a winter morning long long ago as you stood in that same spot.