Monday, 29 September 2008

And That's Not All!

It seems Oslo's cultural authorities aren't lazing about these days. On Thursday I and many others walked along the riverside in the glimmer of a thousand torches. And the next day the council arranged a Culture Night, with an open house at various museums/other buildings, concerts, guided tours, movie shows, exhibitions, boat trips, fireworks and lots more, all until midnight. Me, I attended both improtheatre and a two-hour guided tour through the centre of Oslo. Plus a visit at the Freemasons' grandiose - some might say pompous - premises. They'd stowed away all their skeletons and coffins, though. Yet another great initiative from the borough council, although it's a pity they offer so many exciting activities all at once. After all, there's a limit how much you can do during only one night.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

By the River at Equinox

In the heart of Oslo floats the secluded Aker River past ashes, parks and old mills. Sometimes I walk through this peaceful part of the town on my way down to the city centre. Around the autumnal equinox there's a "torch walk" along the river: All electric lights are turned off, and instead thousands of torches are lit along the footpath. I was one of many people walking along the river on Thursday night. An evocative, almost mysterious, experience, with several cultural acts along the way: Glockenspiel, avantgarde theatre, pump organ rock'n'roll, choirs, brass bands and much more. The arrangement is initiated by the districs along the river. Great arrangement, districts along the river!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Digital Magic

My housing cooperative recently made a so-called "favourable deal" with the cable company, entailing more than 30 digital tv channels (and twice as many radio stations) for the residents - all for free! Last week the cable guy called at my flat to hand over the digital decoder, and also to push umpteen extra channels (which weren't quite as free, of course). But I made it clear that my time for watching telly is, after all, not unlimited.

There was, however, one offer I couldn't refuse: a decoder with pausing and recording functions. Although I do already have a VCR, the programming often feels a tad too cumbersome for me to bother. But now that it all can be done just by pressing one key, I no longer need to be torn between going out with my friends, or staying at home to watch my favourite programs on Friday night. I can have my cake and eat it too!

The only snag is the fact that "the razor sharp picture quality" doesn't fully come into its own on my ugly, bumpy 21 inch from the Jurassic period. Whereas other electronic gadgets tend to break down as soon as you've bought them, my trusty Blaupunkt has kept it going for more than 20 years! German quality is a great thing, but it would be nice soon to be able to convert to a 42 inch plasma tv...

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Evening Prayer

Dear God.
Please never let me start writing contributions to the local paper signed "an everyday life philosopher"...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Heaven and Hell

The most observant among you may have discovered my somewhat ambivalent relationship as regards my former employer. By all means, my students have all been very sweet, and my colleagues too. But after three years under the rabid regime of a raving lunatic, I finally decided to seek my fortune somewhere else.

For a guy generally preferring what's safe to what's uncertain, I suppose a decision like this may seem a bit out of character... If I'd been living in Germany in the 30s, I'm not at all sure if I would have gone all the way, running away from The Third Reich. I'm not even convinced if I will renounce my citizenship even if our pseudo-Fascist Progressive Party should ever get to power (god forbid!).

The schizocracy at my former workplace, however, was the last straw. This is a place where Kafka, Stalin and Machiavelli would all feel as snug as a bug. The teachers are treated as a necessary nuisance, and the students merely as a source of income. An obstinate administration is continuously initiating new, unrealistic projects for which the teachers see no need, and in which the students have no interest. But this, of course, is irrelevant as long as the municipality bigwigs get the impression our local madwoman in the attic is the cleverest girl in the class... As an employee you have to choose between licking your boss' arse, having a nervous breakdown, or finding another job. In this respect, I suppose I've chosen the least of three evils...

After the summer break I was fortunate enough to get a new job at another Adult Education Centre. The difference between the two places is like night and day. At my new workplace the admin actually appear to have certain human features, and seem genuinely interested in the well-being of their students and staff. In general there's a much more relaxed and pleasant atmosphere at my present workplace. Flexible leaders generate happy employees, tyrannic bosses the opposite. For the first time in several years I've experienced loud, heartfelt laughs at our meetings! I'm not sure if my colleagues fully realize how fortunate they actually are...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

California Dreamin'

As we all know, Facebook gives us a chance to stay in touch with present friends - and to reestablish contacts with old ones. This is all good, but not entirely without risks. Recently I came across the profile of a young lady I haven't been in touch with for ages. In retrospect, most of my ex'es seem just so 90s, but in this specific case I must admit it felt a bit weird "seeing" her again seven years later. Memories were evoked - and contrary to the memories of certain other old flames, these were exclusively of a pleasant kind. I was even blessed with some sweet dreams the very same night. But at the same time I also realize there's no point in cutting up scars that have almost healed. The memories and the dreams will suffice. And sneaking a peek at Facebook from time to time.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Electronic Avenue

Like most lads I have a thing for electronic gadgets. It goes without saying that it's much more fun getting a new iPod or Nintendo than buying boring stuff like food and clothes. The problem with gizmos like that, however, is their tendency to break down, resulting in unexpected and unwanted expenditures.

This is something I've experienced recently on several occasions. For instance, my computer has been acting up quite a bit lately. And after a rough encounter with mother earth a while ago, my digital camera didn't work anymore. Last week I also discovered that the sound on my mp3 player had got really weird and fuzzy.

Fortunately, both the latter cases had a happy ending. I was dreading an extensive and expensive repair of my f**ked-up camera, but the service guy just did a few secret moves with his magic fingers, and - hey presto! - the camera was as good as new! And this weekend I had a similar experience with my crappy sound mp3 player. The repairman soon localized the problem in my ancient headphones (a bit embarrassing, really...), and then threw in a brand new pair for free. People often complain about overpaid and underachieving craftsmen, but not so in these cases. Thank you, Elkjøp!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Wind and Waves

As we're entering the month of September, this also means that autumn is on its way. From all accounts, my late August dip will be the last one this year. This afternoon the wind seemed somewhat - um - windier than before, and throughout the evening dark clouds have gathered above my house. No doubt an indication of what's to come...

Speaking of wind and waves: Personally I think the description of the effects of the various wind forces in the Beaufort scale has a lyrical power of its own. Take for instance this lovely haiku, based in its entirety on the definition of fresh gale:

moderately high waves
with breaking crests forming spindrift

streaks of foam

If this ain't poetry, then nothing is...