Thursday, December 22, 2011

Italian Beer, Memories and Music

Went to town to pick up the last Christmas gift today. Ran into so many familiar faces that it was like a Christmas party on its own. Some radio station played Coldplay’s “Fix you” yesterday. I don’t have the record, didn’t wanna go online to get the track but wanted to listen to them… so I found an old copy of “Parachutes” instead. It had to be that record or Norwegian Madrugada. Man, it brought a feeling I hadn’t had for ten years! In the evening I was out shopping for another Christmas gift when I suddenly remembered that I should have been at a party right then! I returned to base, changed clothes and drove off, but first I managed to get myself a new set of Derwent sketching pencils before I left the shop. Party! –I haven’t laughed that much in a long while! Great to see those old peeps again. Just like ten years ago! People are getting older, getting married, getting more settled… memories of “those days.” We were out all the time. Out in the mountains. The woods were reserved for weekday training. The mountains were reserved for life. –Both the verb and the noun.

I was out to get some chocolate for some people I cherish today. And since I cherish myself I got a couple of exciting looking bottles of beer that I had with dinner while indulging in some lovely and stupid fast driving on Top Gear. One of the bottles was from Italy. It had a dude in a suit and a hat on the label. I thought he looked like a Mafioso; mom upgraded him to Mafia-boss. Had to have a cigar afterwards. It was amazing. It reminded me about ten years ago… Those days… when we were still allowed to smoke cigars with our coffee in fancy little coffee shops, before smoking became so dangerous that they had to cover the shelves in the shops where cigars are kept, so that no one be tempted to by some. Those days…

Afterwards I stood outside the house in a big down jacket, having met with a rather large collection of great people within the last 24 hours, had exciting Mafia-beer and watched fast cars for dinner; I could hear Coldplay through the wall from my stereo and feel the Monte Christo and the crisp air and hear the snow. I came back in and as I sat down by my desk I felt the characteristic smell of old-school sketching pencils.

Sometimes we dream about the past. Future or past; I’m as guilty as anyone, but this one is different. It’s one of those full-circle, sensing the start of something new, I’ve been here before but this is just a short stay. You’ve gotta collect all of your experiences to pack the most power into the next punch. I’m a decade older, I’ve learned more but am re-visiting past excitements. New excitements.

So I got this book by Henry Kissinger called “On China.” I remember when Kamer in Seinfeld was gonna try to act scary, “I know Henry Kissinger!” The text on the back of the cover starts like this: “Forty years ago almost to the day, President Richard Nixon did me the honor of sending me to Beijing…” One of my good friends commented on a controversial post I placed on Facebook, “Harald, supporting controversy since 1979!” I’d write that in Kissinger’s comment box for that opening-line! You just know it’s gonna be a good read! –And you’ve gotta admire Kissinger’s honour-culture in how he speaks about his former boss.

Had a look at a book about one of my great heroes in the bookshop today. His name is Fridtjof Nansen. He was the first to lead a skiing expedition across the Greenland ice-cap in the late 19th Century, and he won the Nobel Peace Price for his impressive humanitarian efforts. A great explorer, a great statesman, a great scientist, a great writer an illustrator, a great communicator; a great inspiration! The book said that he had a hard time finding meaning in the triviality of society. I guess his dreams were bigger. –Dreams for eternity, while here in time. We share the same birthday, many of the same passions; and I’m starting to understand, presumably a whole lot mor

I love being back in 2001, re-charged and excited! Now, a toast for 2012 and the rest of eternity!

Friday, December 2, 2011

无聊!

So, we've had this old house since 1930. It'll be the base for the next 100 also.

Sis got married in 2008. She married one of my old friends. He's great!

I've been in and out of the country the last couple of years. When I've been home I have been staying at the old room. At the room with my book cases, most of my record collection, the stereo and the huge battle sword standing right by my bed.

Sister's room next door is empty. Well that is, I'm filling it up with books to become a library.

Since I've been mostly abroad since 2005 I haven't really noticed properly till lately… How boring it is when Sis is not around!



Sorry, not our house but similar colour...
(Villa di Medici, Tuscany, ca. 1470)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Telephone Terror



“Rrrrriiing!”
Picking up my phone I can see that it’s an Oslo number I’m not familiar with.
“Hello?”

Let’s stop there for a moment!

* * *

We were well trained! Our extended family and our parents’ friends used to commend mom and dad for having children with such pristine telephone manners. It happened often, and the comments were proudly passed on to us by our parents.

I remember trying out an old phone at a museum when I was a kid. I must still have been in kindergarten. It was the kind where you’d spin a handle, talk into a sort of funnel, hold another one by your ear and speak a manual operator before getting the correct line. At home we had a dial with numbers behind, I was good at dialling fast! Then the 90’s took the last charm of the industrial revolution away and we got a white phone with a keyboard. It was really practical though and I used it a lot. Phone manners were for those days. Before you could see who called and while all who called still had somewhat noble intentions.

“Haltvik, vær så god!”

Your own surname to identify that the operator or caller had gotten the right line. Vær så god: please proceed, the word is yours or however you want to translate it.

Our little children voices must have sounded tiny! I can remember my little sister using the same phrase. In fact, I believe it must have been the same phrase my grandparents once taught dad. He used the same phrase and must once have sounded as tiny as sis and I.

Then the displays came and you could go, “yo dude!” –Nothing wrong with that, just a new way of expressing friendliness!

But as time passed past us we started getting calls from numbers that didn’t show up on the screen, and when you picked up the phone you’d hear the slight hum of an office in the background. “Am I speaking to Mr. so-and-so?” (Where are your bloody manners!? I tell you who I am, you tell me who you are! –you don’t ask who I am when you’re calling me, and at least not before you have identified yourself!)
“Yes, speaking!”
“I am so glad I caught you in Mr… (–fill in as appropriate). You see I have this wonderful offer for you where you stand to win a cruise for two if you just give us your e-mail address and order a book –free of charge off course; well in fact, I’ll throw in a second book just to show our appreciation for your first order with us in this order-to-win-a-cruise offer we would like to give you just because we can see from our records that two years ago… (–fill in as appropriate something totally un appropriate; or at least something unrelated).

Dad started using a suspicious “Hello…!?” if he couldn’t see who it was. My “hello” started to border on the militant. Then dad stopped picking up the phone if there was no number on the display. And I chose a meaner version of “hello” if I didn’t know who it was.

Then the punks figured the good people out and stopped hiding their numbers. And so it was today, that I got a number up on my screen that had the same effect on me as a blank screen. I was pretty sure I knew what it was. –but if it was indeed something important I would have to pick it up anyway.

It’s been easy as long as I live abroad. “Dude, I live in England!” “Ok, heheh… sorry, have a nice day!” Laugh’s on you dude! Once the police authorities from a little town North of here called me while I lived in Singapore.
“Hello Sir, I would just like to reassure you that we have now found your wife’s purse!”
–well if you’ve found my wife I’m curious cause “I’m not married! I live on East Coast in Singapore and haven’t been in Norway for months!”
“Ehhh…!”

* * *

“Hello!”
(You can hear the office in the background)
“Hello!”
“Who is this?”
“I am calling from…” (–insert name of random electricity company.)

* * *

When I was a kid, municipal counsels and the likes owned electric production plants. Then, spurred by the socialists (!) we were told that it would be more effective for the government and cheaper for the customers if it was privatised. (What they didn’t tell you was that they just signed a deal with the devil (EU and the EEA) to gain more cred for themselves internationally and possibly give them great positions to retire to after leaving Norwegian politics) and the devil answered back that: “cool, you can be down with me if you sell all your belongings to the private sector and follow me. –Long story short: ever since we’ve had unstable energy prices and particularly high prices when it’s cold (Adam Smith could have told you that before electricity was put into wires); and cold it gets in this country! Welcome to Norway! Additionally, it brought about a fair share of telephone-terror as well.

* * *

“So you are calling to sell me something then?”

“No, I’m not calling to sell you something (slightly frantic). I’m calling to give you an offer to switch electricity supplier. May I know which electricity company you are using?”

* * *

Answering "no" to my initial question is straight forward lying!

The truth would be that we live in the same family villa as we have done since 1930. And my father who has spent an entire career as a distinguished engineer in the hydroelectric power production sector in Norway and Northern Europe finds the best deals to supply our electrical wires. I don’t care who sells it, but I’m sad the proceeds are no longer used to maintain schools, public transport and hospitals. Some of you may be surprised by this, due to my stands on social economy and politics. But it’s all about tangible outcomes of policies. If it “benefits both the sovereign and the people” it’s Adam Smith. Our current policies benefit just a few people, which ironically sounds more like Marx to me.

Tell him the truth…? Previously I was that mannered. I would tell him how the situation was and that I was not interested in his services, and I would do it in a kind way.

* * *

“Goodbye!”
“Huh?”
“Goodbye!”
(Hang up!)

The only one more foolish than a fool is the one who quarrels with a fool…

* * *

It felt good! We (family and friends) had joked about what to say to these sales people several times. I had suggested a procedure that would sound something like this:

“Hello?”
“Hello! Is Mr. Harald Haltvik in at the moment?”
(Answer in breaking voice on the brink of crying…)
“No! (...) He… he died in a motorcycle accident yesterday!”

Surprisingly, it was our family that found it hilarious and our family friends that found it too morbid. Most people there were laughing so the dinging room was shaking. –Anything to get back at those telephone terrorist bastards, ey?

But it didn’t feel all good. It felt bad interrupting the guy and hanging up in its own way. Something from our childhood has been dying for a while and it’s not being substituted with something better or more advanced. Mom has almost lost it, dad has lost it, sis has lost it and I’ve lost it; the true unwritten courtesy that governed how telephone conversations were carried out. The remnants of the days when gentlemen lifted their hats when you passed by, when you nodded in acknowledgement if meeting a complete stranger on an otherwise empty street (I still sometimes do, to both the fright and delight of my by-passers.) –The days when the telephone was still something relatively novel and had not been intruded by everyone and everything, and had not intruded “everywhere” itself.

Great neo-soul, better computers, cheaper flights, exciting cigars from new markets and fabulous cuisine from the whole world, accessible everywhere!

But still… some things used to be better before!

Friday, October 28, 2011

On Suicide and the Incredible Gift of Life

I couldn’t sleep and started reading a book I had recently ordered from the US. ‘The Longevity Project.’

I skipped the introduction and went straight to the chapters I was most curious about. The book is built on a life-span study of a large number of people that were born in the early 20th century. –on how they lived, how they thought and how they died. ‘Comprehensive’ is the word!

The book aims to find keys to a long and healthy life, but in the process it also deals with the negative image. Darkness of the mind, timidity, self pity and self destruction; early and violent deaths and the inevitable, suicide.

The book makes reference to a brilliant suicidologist, Dr. Shneidman. Dr. Shneidman did not think too highly about chemical instabilities in the brain as a general explanation to suicide, but was with staggering (and almost spooky) accuracy able to predict personality traits and thought patterns that would culminate in a self-staged goodbye. The chapter went on to describe poison-pills and people who blew their brains out; but also people who lived long and relatively happy lives with few regrets, and who’s only real regret was not to cease more opportunities while they had them.

1 a.m. in the morning this may not be the average choice literature, but whatever you think about it, it is very captivating. Many years ago it would have probably have scared me in the dark of the night, but this time around it’s different.

I have seen enough dark sides of life myself and also through others, to distinguish some of these patterns and personality traits when I come across them. Very briefly we could categorize suiciders into the emotionally motivated and the rationally motivated. There is always an element of emotion; and if we agree that action requires thought, one could even argue that there is also always a rational–or if you will–pseudorational precursor to a suicide.

I used to quarrel a lot years ago with people that claimed suicide to be fundamentally selfish. I still believe that ending yourself is so desperately destructive that one cannot talk about a general rule of self-enhancing selfishness, but with time I have managed to see become aware of some of the grey-zones. There are incidents when I believe a certain degree of selfishness can be claimed if you leave behind strong obligations you have chosen not to complete, but leave to others. But even in these situations the core element of the decision is usually not to pain someone else.

Emotional. Rational.

Emotional can be swift. Something happens and the consequences seems too dire. I heard about a guy who crashed a very expensive car his family owned, plus did a few other small things. His friend who heard the shot told me about it. I am sure his parents would rather want a messed-up son, than one who couldn’t face the bill and ended it. It is strictly not rational and the time-frame it all happened within confirms it. I would call it emotional.

The rational I find easier to understand the mechanics of. It–I believe–is more predictable. It poses as intellectual, but often isn’t. It is like highly selective reading to undergird a very subjective argument in an essay. I know a man who says: “you can always find evidence for what you believe in!” There’s an emotional direction to such thoughts, but the thoughts claim loud and clear: “My name is reason!”

What really struck me tonight was something new.

When you see through the fog you don’t know what the lines on the horizon are; hills, mountains, canyons, valleys? But if you stand there and study every little glimpse of light and shadow the fog gives up, your mind can eventually draw a map of the terrain ahead of you. I have done this myself, after sundown in the winter to match my surroundings to the map when I’ve been lost in the mountains. It works.

What could be more different than emotion and rationale? And do the two have anything in common in a dark and self-destructive mind? I think the fog has let go of so many glimpses of light by now that I’m starting to sense what’s out there. You survive long enough, you watch long enough, you pay attention long enough and you’ll start to see a face–a will. One very determined, tangible evil who once poses as emotion and other times as reason. Gripping the same fundamental weaknesses and lonely parts of the human soul–however different they are–and leading them to the very same place: Life => End, full stop.

Whatever potentials you had left just ran out.

As you start to see him your hair may rise, your pulse increase and fear may come upon you! But it shouldn’t. If you suddenly can distinguish enough of the mountain through the fog, you will know where you are on the map in an instant.

It is encouraging and reassuring! The long-living people in the control-group that were compared to the early suiciders had one regret; all the chances they did not take. The more I see the evil, the more tangible the devil becomes, and he loves hiding! But the stronger you see the shadow, the stronger you see the object who cast it and the light behind it.

Tonight, while not being able to sleep and randomly reading a book, I was reminded about the possibilities of life! –And how some of my own biggest regrets also were not taking more chances. –And that, if there’s a negative and dark image that imitates reason in your life, there’s an even greater God! –And that, when you chose to live, your hindsight will tell you in many years from now, that not living while living was a bigger crime than crashing cars, breaking up, being stupid, failing-while-trying and hoping for the best while the world came crashing down on your head.

15 years ago I spent a year in boarding school of a particular type we have in Scandinavia, while doing a backcountry and sports course. I was rather active. I led the student union, was steeply into the student politics of the school, used the dark-room regularly, sang in the choir, ran off to the nearest mountain for off-piste skiing whenever the snow was falling, had my own keys to the library to prepare work for the union… and distinctly remember regretting after the year was over–at age 17–not taking more chances and getting to know more people.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Seen on Twitter

Famous Last Words:

1. "Hold my beer...watch this!"

2. "What's the worst that could happen?"

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Eurozone, Solidarity for Sale and the Ghosts of Currencies Past

Last Summer I started writing on an essay I intended to put here on my blog. It was going to be a critique of the EU’s Eurozone. I picked my condensed copy of the Maastricht Treaty off the shelf for the first time in many years, and wrote around seven handwritten pages in preparation.

The arguments were going to be built against these points:
1. The Treaty states that the union works to promote “solidarity” between member states. That can for instance mean monetary aid.
2. I got my copy of the treaty in 1994 and it then stated that the member states should work towards a system of one currency. The Euro that we now have. The intellectual architect of the Euro, Robert Mundell, once famously said: “the optimal number of currencies in the world is an odd number, preferably less than three.” He doesn’t seem so clever now! –though I was never a fan before.

The arguments were going to be that:
1. True “solidarity” should monetarily speaking be helping your neighbour attain his best possible position in the marked. That is not done by feeding him with the surplus money from your own industrial production, in a large scale or on a regular basis. It is done by creating a system where he has access to every competitive advantage that every one else has access to!
2. Just think about the massive competitive advantage Greece would have right now if it still used the Drachmas! The country is, monetarily speaking, currently just worth a few buildings and antique monuments. The labour force is hardly employed, so there is very little work that creates monetary worth. Naturally, every high-fly industrialist in Germany wants to bail them out. At the moment, there are a lot of things that are slowing down the growth in the Eurozone, but Germany is not one of them! As it stands, Germany is earning lots on the Euro, combined with very clever politics of course; and Greece is bleeding because of the Euro, but would in spite of slightly bonkers politics still produce goods under private initiatives if it had a proper competitive advantage. That advantage would be called ‘Drachmas,’ and if they still existed they would be so cheap that you could sprinkle your ice-cream with the coins and decorate your sandwiches with the notes. Goods would sell, people would be employed, money would be earned and the people of Greece could get on with cleaning up some of its government offices. I’m not saying everything would be perfect, but they would be a lot better! –and more importantly, growth could eventually become sustainable! Germany would possibly have to work a little bit harder to compete, but Greece would be allowed a position to sell more… sorry, sell anything at all!

An investor and financial analyst was asked on a recent BBC programme if he thought investors would return to Greece if the planned bail-out package is received from Germany et al. He replied that the bail-out package would eventually run out and the willingness to provide credit to a country with close to no marked confidence would be very low. Spot on indeed!

The interviewer mumbled something about the feasibility to return to the Drachmas and the expert nodded and might have said something containing the word “possible.”

I have never liked the word “solidarity” and I think there are many other words that do a better job. It has become old and worn, and it has been applied in too many situations to make sense to any one situation in particular any more. But whatever specific and nice meaning we have been convinced or fooled into believing that it holds, we have learned another less flattering definition as of lately. You see, between nations in close alliance it can also mean: “Pay your neighbour so he forgets he is broke!” –But you should still keep him from employment.

I like that old word even less now!

So, I was going to write an essay as captivating as a thriller on the topic! And believe me, it was going to be grand! It would be flamboyant! It would be sharp and funny like Shakespeare! –Epic like a gothic knights’ tale! It was going to paint a picture of a scarily real farce; as frightening as your least favourite politician and as much a farce as the management at Fawlty Towers!

But I never got there, cause someone beat me to it! The EU beat me to it!


(Way to go!)

A Walk in the Woods and the Next Ten Years

I’ve rigged a small music studio setup by the window in one of the living rooms here in Norway. Double speaker sets, a couple of Macs and the necessary extras. Sis came over to have lunch with dad today and I joined them in the kitchen. Afterwards I was gonna sit down to do some admin at one of the computers but the view was just too beautiful. I forgot to tell you, there’s a window with almost panoramic view over the city and surrounding hills in front of me when I’m on the computers.

I was dreaming of mountain trekking, but haven’t had the big push to go do it lately. Just been dreaming of the sceneries but I’ve been spending time in the woods instead. It takes less commitment and can be more spontaneous, as it is just a quick drive away and requires no equipment.

I didn’t know whether I was gonna end up in town or in the woods so I left the house in rather normal clothes. No backcountry stuff. I really should be working and writing e-mails, but there was no way I would be able to focus with a crisp frosty view of the hills bathed in sunlight in front of me.

First stop was the hills I can see from the window. The road up the last leg of the hills was icy. I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to get all the way up but I was in the end. The car started sliding a couple of times, but I managed to correct it quite quickly.

I got a surprise when I reached the car-park, right under the timberline. I couldn’t believe how many mountains on the Eastern horizon was already covered in snow! I mean, it’s just a drizzle for now and you can’t ski on it, but from a difference it doesn’t make a difference. –Just that this looks distinctly like Autumn and not ski-season! Deep green valleys with towering white mountains above, flushed in midday sunlight. I took a couple of pictures, but having just a phone it was impossible to capture the impression of grand mountains as far away as the Swedish border. It was worth a try though…

When I started to walk I realized city shoes and cotton socks were probably not a hit after a frost-night, but the road was nice and it soon became warmer. I stopped a couple of places alongside a lake. –Just sat on some rocks for a while looking at the day. The sun was shining and in the hillside the temperature was getting more comfy. At the second place I stopped I saw some cranberries by the side of the track. There ain’t many left now, but you can still find a few good ones. Oooh, and then I saw some more up the hill. –and then some more… and so it went. And then I realized I was almost up on a small ridge and guessed that there would be really nice view up there. Besides, I shouldn’t be too far away from one of those little roads that criss-cross up the face of the small mountain to give access to the army’s installations, and for Summer maintenance of the ski lift. I was sure it would be nice up there!

A few minutes later I was sliding down three steps for every step I took forward and was revealing hitherto unknown layers of wet dirt under a beautiful top-layer of Erica and grass. I saw my light brown suede shoes change colour, to a colour I didn’t like. It was actually quite ironic! I always used to walk around in funky light trekking shoes before I left Norway. They were fashionable in Norwegian cities and I was always prepared when the day presented me with a challenge. How many other people’s shoes have I messed up by the words: “oooh, come check this out!” It was the mountain’s ironic revenge on me and my life! “Wahaha! –have you become a city boy while abroad? Payback time for all the crazy things you’ve made other people do!” Ok, I got it! You win! And it was actually quite fun. Besides, the ridge was just a few more steps away now!

The ridge that looked so nice and dry turned out to be some old brown grass with a marsh behind. On the other side there was no smooth descent into the woods, but a small cliff with a very steep hill under. And as for the little road I had dreamt of, I was far away and there was another marsh and another leg of woods between it and me. I was not too happy about the marsh-idea on behalf of my shoes.

Counting the way I had come up I could now:
A. Chose the lesser of three evils.
B. Chose the most fun of three evils.

Fun is good! There had to be a way through the cliffs!

There was!

After a while I came to a flat plane in the hill under the cliffs. It looked like someone had chipped it out of the rock at some point and I thought “what a lovely spot to put a cabin.” I reckoned that was probably what it had been used for once. I made my way through the thick branches of some threes, and voilà! –there I stood facing right into the wall of a small cabin!

I could vaguely remember the place from many years back. I don’t know who owns it, but it looks like it could have been quite nice at some point. Now woods were enveloping it and someone had ungraciously removed the front door. The cabin’s days were numbered. It looked so sad! Looking like a little 1950’s holiday pearl, it had been left to die. I do think about that quite a bit these days. How things die and give space for something else. Chiefly things like innovation and initiatives. It says about King David that when he had served his generation he went to be with his fathers. His generation! Anything with the word “generation” in it is often surrounded in hype, popular culture or political disagreements on care of the elderly. But more fundamentally, generation means something “finite.” –A timeline cut in both ends. A birth and a death. That’s the first historic consideration you can make out of it: “What’s the container?” –and only then can you ask: “What is it filled with?” Time-container: 1642–1651, filled with what: E.g. The English Civil Wars. We’re all gonna die, and how sad it may be, this once lovely little cabin had served it’s last guests. But the track had not! Countless footsteps that had once trafficked the hill still left their mark. Once nature has accepted a trodden trail it does not give it up very fast. I later found more of these old trails that I knew. People don’t know them today, and they went out of use before my time, but I once used to know them before they closed up too much. Now they manifest in wet grooves in the terrain filled with pebbles or as open rock in a wet hillside. Nature is slowly swallowing them, and you won’t know what they are unless you know what you’re looking for. Anyway, my shoes and I were grateful to all the people that had once walked up and down the hill. We had had enough mud for a while.

I was back on the road again. I didn’t want to follow it all the way to the end, so I decided to aim for a small hill before the vast marshlands that lead you down towards the fjord on the other side. I sat up there for a while enjoying the view and taking some half successful camera-phone pictures before walking back.

I used to visit places like this, sometimes several times a week. And I would live for the snow and mountains on the horizon. I’m looking back at an era and I’m not really sure what I’m doing in Norway yet. I like being home more and more, but last time really lived here I was this active little trekking-guide/ skier kid. I don’t think I had realized fully how much older I had become, until I looked into some familiar old mirrors I knew here in Norway this Summer. I’ve often felt older than I am, so I might just be younger than I think… as usual. But still…

After a while I came back to the car and tried to shoot some more pictures of the snowy mountains on the boarder to Sweden. Big green woodlands and a grey/white horizon under a blue sky. Really nice, but the mountains were too far away to catch them properly in the frame of a phone-camera.

Next, I set sail for the sea and decided to drive around the hills down by the fjord. Picturesque was the word, but I was just driving right through it all, catching every impressionist’s impression in the same big bag. –Like a little kid with an insect net in the wind. It’s like “good view = happy, period.”

I thought of the mountain treks I had lead and all the people I had introduced to the outback, the youth works and organisations I had taken part in, and the free spirited crazy things I had loved so much and wondered if I had left anything lasting? Karen Blixen’s words played in my head in Meryl Streep’s voice a couple of times: “If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me?”

I was 17 and wanted to climb everything with a slope, ski everything that was white and paddle in every little stream the rain left. I used to think of all the fun I was gonna have the ten next years; now, the last decade. Looking back, I got almost everything I dreamed of and a whole lot more. But with time I have stopped asking things like: “will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” or whatever would be the Norwegian equivalent of Baroness Blixen’s African adventures.

The King’s writer was right that David only passed on when he had completed the task of serving his generation. But no matter how learned the writer was, he didn’t have the benefit of our three thousand years of hindsight. People that go above and beyond in serving their generations usually leave a much more far-reaching legacy. Do you carry dreams of how society, your family, your city, your school or your business should look like? If you give it heart and soul, the next generation may still not sing a song of you, but they’ll be lifted up on the shoulders of your work. My grandparents left my sister and me some of their savings. Not little and not a fortune, but they invested what they could in us. They had been gone for roughly ten and fifteen years when I was a mid-twenties student in Singapore with urgent need for a very expensive Mac to mix music on. For the rest of my life I’ll know that some of my most important skills were obtained, and some of my most important essays were written on the back of the work invested by my grandparents. Proverbs 13:22 says that, “a good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children,” and thus we see that he is allowed to serve more than just his own generation.

I hope the next ten years are less defined by who I am and what I do, but more defined by what I leave.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chill!

I think this is a very good idea indeed! Don't know if it's any good for the office... maybe in the customer lounge? But it's the essential thirst-killer for anyone's country-side castle!

Wonder if they make a Cognac one?

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Blogpost from the Past

My friend Hilde has my favorite blog, ever! I've been thinking lately about how it doesn't feel like that long ago that I was a "young student" moving to Asia from Norway. It was only like 2005! Naturally, one wants progress and new challenges, but sometimes one does not want it all to change neither.

I remember laughing so hard when I first saw this post! I was on the phone with Vienna, she told me Hilde had posted it. Poor girl, I must have laughed so loud into the phone that her ear could have fallen off at the other end!

It reminds me about our Norwegian colony on the East Coast in Singapore, my arts-college days with lots of international students around, a short walk to the beach and myself and my own life… just a few years ago:
http://hildegudvangen.blogspot.com/2007/02/movienight.html

"Those were the days" people say! Lets make some brand new days then!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Berries!

We’d been some friends hanging out and I had half an hour drive home at the end of the night. I got to bed around three thirty and woke up the next day with a headache. I went upstairs to eat –a lot! Then I went downstairs again to read. Then I went upstairs to eat more stuff. Then I went downstairs to read more. But finally I made it to the front door. I couldn’t spend an entire Saturday like this!

Armed with a waterproof Gore-Tex jacket, heavy leather boots and big khaki trekking-trousers I drove off to the woods. The rain had picked up during my little drive and I was not too keen on leaving the car with non-waterproof cotton trousers while it was raining like canister shots! So I sat in my car at the car-park answering some pending text-messages while the rain didn’t die down.

I drove on. If it was gonna pour down like this I was not exceedingly fond of the idea of walking around somewhere, just to soak up a lot of water.

I drove to a big lake where I really enjoy the view. It wasn’t raining as hard there and so I walked around at the beach for a while. The weather seemed to have become a little bit lighter so I decided to head for this timbermen’s trail that leads you up the woods and on to the marshes in front of a local mountain. The marshes are down (or up of you will) in a high valley and you’ll have to go through some rough terrain to get there. It’s not that bad but it’s just stupidly wet, branches everywhere and hill up and down in a not so very open landscape.

I parked my car and headed for the trail. Just strolling along I’d expect to reach the top of the trail and then be back again within an hour.

The stream that runs down the valley was running crazy with rainwater, and I could tell from the grass on the banks that it had gone even higher. I had brought a foldable cup with me in a pocket and I stopped for a drink. As I walked back up on the bank again I spotted some wild strawberries on the ground. We’ve got some in the garden and I get to eat them throughout the summer but I just couldn’t stand looking at such taste-packed berries without eating them. Oooh, and there were some raspberry bushes! And the more I picked, the more I found! After further berry-eating I walked myself right into some blueberries. I had thought the blueberry season was soon about to end but these were as fresh as any and looked, and tasted, at their peak! Further on there were some cranberries. When I see cranberries I think of accessories to go along with meat dishes and I couldn’t really mix the previous tastes with the cranberries in my mind, so I gave it a go. It was indeed recommendable and more of the mix was consumed and flushed down with water from the stream.

I carried on upwards towards the marshes. Ever since I became aware of this trail in the early summer I had noticed a nice little waterfall off the road in a narrow little side-valley. The valley wasn’t long and could possibly be in the excess of fifty or sixty meters. A little trail went in on the right side of the valley and the waterfall came tumbling over the rocks on the left side where the valley ended. I walked all the way in and climbed up the side of the waterfall. Behind the waterfall the stream was rather narrow and quietly running. It reminded me about the kind of streams you can fish Trout in with worms or small dry-flies. There was clearly no fish that could live up here, but it was still with a Trout-fisherman’s excitement I snuck through up the stream. At some point I found a heap of branches and things that had been flushed downstream, but what I also found was a railroad tie! There’s no madman in the world that would build a railroad through the marshes up here and it would lead you just about to the centre nowhere! The only explanation would be if someone had built a bridge or a dam further upstream. I tried to step on it, but it was as slippery and slimy as an oiled mirror so it would have been laying there for a while. I walked on and found two or three more of them. In my mind I started to paint a picture of a dam or a lake where someone had done some alterations to the outlet and I got curious to see where all this water was coming from.

The water was now running through an increasingly narrow little valley and I decided to walk out of it and on to some higher ground. More railroad ties were spotted and in my mind the hidden dam, in the midst of the woods, was growing in size. How did they get it in here with no roads? Did someone fly it by helicopter? What would be the purpose of dam up here!? Or could it be a ski-trail bridge that had been taken by a flood? But who have heard of a ski-trail in here? The answer came swift and wasn’t as exciting as my mental amusements; wheel-tracks from tractors! Someone had been cultivating and cutting the woods and they had probably built a makeshift bridge at some point.

The tracks went straight through a shallow passage in the stream, and so did I.

On the land beyond the other bank it was easier to get an overview over the land and follow the stream from a distance. Then I could cut right through the terrain and not have to follow every bend it took. After breaking through some branches I came out on another big marsh with small pine trees scattered all over it. Pine can grow on marshes and their roots can spread out wide instead of going deep. Marshes like these always look so fairytale like. The small pines can have several meters between them, but you can’t always see through the field, because there are so many of them. They don’t provide any shade cause they’re too small, but they give you this sensation of the air around you getting a touch of light green colour to it. Especially when the sun shines brightly through the branches that are placed in a grown up person’s eye-height. I like this terrain, and especially in the winter. With frozen ground and a few meters of snow on top you can just slide effortlessly through it. And it was here that I made another berry discovery.

The season for cloudberries is fading and I missed it while I was working. I saw them when they started to pop up and I’m seeing them now when they’re starting to get over-ripe. But a few good ones could still be found, and I’m glad. The taste is very distinct, and it brings out a haze of memories and references to local desserts and cakes for people from all over the Nordic countries. Cloudberries, mmm… check!

I was coming to the end of the woods and plains in front of the mountain and was beginning to understand that there would not be a spring or lake that produced the water I had been following. It would rather be a combination of small sources in the hills going up to the final cliffs on the ridge above. I thought I could hear a distant waterfall in the first wooded hill, but the rain had picked up by now and I wasn’t sure if it was the falling rain or a dropping stream I was hearing.

On a small elevation in the terrain I found more berries. Blueberries, cranberries and black crowberries. Lots of them! The crowberries have a whole bunch of seeds in inside and not everyone are fond of eating them for that reason. But if you squeeze them between your teeth you get the most amazing squash, and then you can just spit out the seeds. Traditionally it’s been much used to make squash for winter storage. Indulgence was on again!

As I stood on the elevation and looked around I could see where the stream disappeared between the trees. I could also catch a glimpse of a very lofty rock when I looked the other way. No matter how long the exercise has lay dormant, a climber once in body is a climber always in heart! The rock had to be investigated to assess its potential for bouldering. As I came closer it revealed more and more of its enormity! When I finally stood underneath it, it had become clear that it was as tall as a rather grand villa with two stories and an attic and possibly including the chimney and a crow on top. It was huge! But it had none of the characteristics of a good bouldering rock! Besides, the ground underneath was drenched in water, was partly marsh and showed signs of previous flooding. Looking up through the woods I could see a cliff where the rock once had come from. Ice and frost don’t break loose a colossus like this! A few thousand years ago the glaciers retracted… and the rest is history.

I walked around it and found a few comparatively smaller rocks that were stacked up behind it. Maybe I could climb on to one of them and make my way across the next and eventually negotiate my way to the top of the tallest rock. I did. It took some time, but it was worth it. All previous attempts on maintaining some areas of my trousers dry now had to be discarded, as I was climbing on and leaning into the vegetation to get my centre of gravity as close as possible to the rock.

The peak of the rock had lots of interesting features. Apart from an amazing view of the surrounding area and a small green plain big enough for two or three people to sit down, there were lots of the most pristine cranberries I had seen all day! I couldn’t help but think that someone had probably not picked berries up here for ages, let alone climbed up. Maybe not since the old days when there was more tame animals grassing in the woods. This is not a place people come to but it would be a very natural campsite for anyone working out here. I stood on top of the rock for a while and enjoyed the view. I could see very far and thought I recognized a hill in the distance. As I was spectating it all, I could see some fog drifting towards me alongside another hill, like a low hanging cloud. It looked like the rain was gonna pick up. A couple of minutes later it did and I climbed down.

The rock turned out to be over-hanging on one side and gave good shelter. There would have been campsite enough here for two or three people to sleep comfortably without a tent. I sat down and gazed out into the air. The rain didn’t die down again and I got restless. I stood up and gazed instead.

There was no terrain left for wild strawberries and raspberries up here, like there had been no terrain for cloudberries or crowberries where I started the stroll. I had however seen some wild red currants where I started (or at least that’s what we called them when we were kids) and I thought there was a possibility of finding some around here as well. “God, if there are wild red currants up here I’d like to find some!”

The weather persisted and I decided that it was time to leave. I picked up my jacket and made myself ready to leave the shelter of the rock. That’s when I spotted them. Ok, so it wasn’t more than a grand total of three berries, but at least I found them! “Thanks!”

The journey in had gone up the hills; the journey out went down the same hills. There’s not much more of interest to add. Down on the timber men’s trail there were more sweet raspberries, blueberries and wild strawberries to be had.

Before I reached back to the car I was thinking about finding a tree that gave shelter, get my trousers off and twist the water out of them. They were drenched and weighed twice their normal weight or even more, and I didn’t want to get it all in the car. I thought about it for a moment. Water in my boots, drenched socks, trousers that feels like they’ve been dipped in a lake and starting to feel a mix of apathy and complacency I just let it be.

Much more than the first intended hour had passed. My curiosity for waterfalls, imaginary dams and railroad ties had pulled me deeper and deeper into the woods and on to the distinctly Nordic marshes. My original idea of staying reasonably dry by choosing an (initially) civilized route had failed epically! I went looking for the source of a stream I didn’t know anything about, but on the way I had been so epically fed that I dare say I have never tasted so many types of berries in one day before! I had just started with a headache and needed to get out of the house…

Thanks to the One who showed me the way to the wild red currants!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why to get an iPod when married!

I was at my friends' eating dinner. They have five lovely kids. After a few visits to the house already, two of the younger ones took a particular interest in me while we were eating. They are around nursery age and the brother being a little older than the sister.

Out of the blue he asked:
“How old are you?”
“Hm?” Trying to chew the food in my mouth. “I am 31.”
“Are you married?”
“Haha, no I’m not married.”
They looked at each other with some astonishment, and exclamations followed:
“31!? That must be the oldest unmarried man we know!”
The sister was noddingly agreeing while exclaiming her support for the brother’s observations.

The parents, slightly at un-ease with the ongoing inquisition, spoke up now and tried to steer the conversation away from the topic. The children were re-assured that my state was perfectly normal and there was nothing in it to be surprised about. In fact, there were many like me that were not married or attached out there! All grown-ups were well amused, but we couldn’t express it by laughing too freely and some funny looks were exchanged.

Some further interrogation followed while the topic still lingered.
“Why are you not married?” the boy finally asked.
I straightened up, finished my chewing and looked him in the eyes with a smile. Slowly and clearly I spoke:
“Because I’m too ugly!”

Both the siblings looked puzzled by the conversation’s unexpected turn. Their parents quickly prevented them from following the topic or giving their consent and I was happily off the hook… for a while!

After dinner I was commissioned by the little princess to help finish a jigsaw puzzle that we had begun laying down earlier.

I sat in a chair and she sat on the table with the puzzle. We built the castle, assembled the princess’ pink dress and golden crown along with the cupcakes and all the rest.
“Do you have an iPod?”
“No,” I answered. “I don’t have an iPod.”
“Why don’t you have an iPod?”
“Because I have a music player from another brand instead.”
“Do you have any games on it?”
“No, it doesn’t have any games.”
“Why don’t you have any games on it?”
“Eh… well, I only have music on it and it don’t have any games.”
“When you get a wife, you need to get an iPod!”
(I was at loss to find out which was more imperative; to get the iPod or the wife!)
“Oh, really? What do I need the iPod for then?”
“Because the iPod has games on it, and kids love games!” she answered like it was the most given fact in the world.

I was struck by the time-scope! –how the acquisition of a wife immediately meant the presence of kids with the desire for electronic games! She proceeded to sit down and play with her father’s iPad. That’s when we found out that it was actually an iPad I had to get.

Later she sat on my shoulders while we were dancing to the sound of my beatboxing. –an activity that made a whole lot more sense to me!

Fun times!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Detroit

Detroit! I've heard people talk you down, but I've also heard your prophecies! There'll be a new season of soul and funk coming out of you. Spiritual - in your walk with God! Emotional - in your hope for the future! Physical - in your business! And if I know you right, you'll make people dance again!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Impressions from a Night in the Woods

2nd-3rd of May 2011

The ice has almost melted off the lakes now and the air still has a sharp chill to it. I saw a rabbit still in its winter fur, it ran across the road in front of me. In between the trees somewhere I heard a moose grassing on the trees. It was after sundown and I didn't stick around till it came out, cause I couldn't see what size and in what mood it was. But you could distinctly hear the thump of big jaws chewing on the branches. The leaves are springing out now, so I guess it's something good to eat.

By the lower lake the frogs are getting loud, and back on the road two skunks almost ran me down! I clapped my hands loudly as they came towards me in a ferocious speed. They changed their course and disappeared in between the trees on the other side of the road.

By the old mill place all you could hear was the little river running full of the spring-melted snow. That is; until I stumbled across a chain that is meant to block the road. I probably scared up the entire woods with the noise!

Midnight came and went, and it is still not dark. The arctic summer is near!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Space & Time

Love for the colours,
love for the sounds.
At the end of exploration,
they become just nouns.

Time as it passes,
life when it flies;
revered by the colours,
the hight of the sky.

At the end of the road,
when pictures turn film;
the verb beats the noun,
to the line as your friend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Thought I should make a list over 'Top 10 Things To Dream At Night!' I came to three and fell asleep a little later.

1. Car chase in the beautiful Swiss Alps.
2. Jumping from car to car on the roofs of a train in India.
3. Dancing on Soul Train in 1975

Isaiah Was Here

Isaiah 11:

v.1 Messiah, v2-5: who He is, v.6-10: His impact on society, v.11-13: Israel 1948, v.14: the war 1967, v.15-16: to be continued...

Yours truly,
Isaiah, Prophet.

Two and a half thousand year old prophecies are alive!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mass-murder anyone?

Anyone remember the Balkan war? How many people need to die before intervention? History repeats itself and one seems to have learned nothing! One nation goes: "Oh, I don't mind mass-murder as long as I get oil!" -another goes "Baby, I have to think of my diplomatic position!" But we are lucky some at least thinks it's time to act! Napoleon taught us how many people can be slain in one day. One day for Gadaffi is to him a big present! How many days does the UN or the EU need? How many European nations will turn a blind eye? Is Europe expecting the US to fix the problems in our immediate proximity again? It's like the little devil that first cries to get compassion and then starts laughing: "Thank you Europe! Thank you for your indecisiveness! Your gift of plentiful time! Your looking away from my murdering! Thank you!!"
Yours Truly,
Muammar Gaddafi

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Smile

While I was in college studying Music Production I always got these questions... I'm a born and raised church-kid, and when I met new people in church they would light up when I told them what I was studying and ask, "so you wanna work with Christian artists then?" You could see the hopes coming over their faces (especially older people); you know how it's like? -the new generation coming up, doing top notch Christian music for the masses! Yeay! They would name big Christian bands and ask if I wanted to do that kind of stuff, and I be like "No!" I usually managed to hide that I got a bit annoyed! It's a bit like going: "Oh, you wanna be an electrician!? I guess you wanna wire Churches then!?" *Smile* "NO!"

I want to work with top quality music! Who? Give me anything as long as it's got greatness! What would be the dreams? Well... Kylie, Herbie, Velvet Revolver, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Count Basie Orchestra, 杨丞琳, Mary J...

But the road leads me right back to the Church-door when I come across stuff like this:

Kirk Franklin "I Smile"
Kirk Franklin "September"

Countless heavenly ski-trips and dark snowy nights while I still lived in Norway full-time, Kirk Franklin was always an awesome sound-track to my life! It doesn't get any better than this in terms of production quality, and it is about taking a great genre seriously. This is what I mean when I say I want to be involved with top quality music! And when I hear it "I Smile!"


Photo: Kirk Franklin

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dreams

Dream the things you want to do!

Stop dreaming the things you don't want to do!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Power Corrupts?

I heard it again tonight that "power corrupts!" And again I say: a lie from hell! Good governance is the only way to a civilized and ordered society, and this particular philosophy only favors the ideology of Anarchy. Two things can fail:
#1. Man's personal character.
#2. Man's walk with God.

Power does not corrupt more than money, jelly beans, the ability to captain a ship or electrical engineering!

For believers: How can you believe that God gave the earth to man to rule and deliberately exempted the pretty vital information that, "Oh, while you're at it (tending to my perfect will) you will get corrupted as a direct consequence of it!"

For non-believers: How can you not believe in a spiritual power, yet say that one faculty of human society will corrupt your soul? In the mechanics of evolution there is no place for an un-quantifyable power that categorically locks your mind on to an unchangeable course regardless of evolutionary development-level.

"Power corrupts?":

For anyone who believes in science (put me first on that list!) it is a statement that spits in the face of science's character! Can you prove the statement with research? Does not the world tell us of polarities? -those leaders who pick up their responsibility and make a good and lasting change; did no-one oppose Hitler? -and other leaders who was corrupted even before resuming power; do you think Saddam Hussein only had the seed of corruption planted in him after the revolution in 1968?

For anyone who believes in God (I'll be on that list too!), the claim elaborates that a little power corrupts a little and ultimate power corrupts completely. How can a believer in an ultimately powerful God claim such a thing? Or is it just applicable to man? In that case, God tricked Adam and Jesus was corrupted from He was conceived in Mary's womb by the Spirit of God. Nonsense!

In one case a spit in the face of reason and the other one a human judgement on God's character built on complete ignorance!

Thinking individuals: wake up!