Now what?

Now what?

This is turning into a series, it seems, but, you know: WTF? Why is this one without a head, then? The more I look at this image the more disturbing I find it.

Sorry for the crummy picture, I’ll get a better one if I see the poster again.

The main tagline reads “when your body gets tied up in knots” – and it’s an advertisement for a naprapat center (I think, the print was so small, I really coudn’t read anything beyond the main “slogan” from where I sat, which, frankly, fails it as effective advertising, too…).

Boil-in-bag – a bemused rant

What exactly is so b****y convenient about boil-in-bag rice?

We received some samples recently and have been testing them, and the one advantage over un-bagged stuff we have found is that you can use the same pot to boil both rice and vegetables. I don’t think that makes up for the drawbacks, however.

Supposedly Good Thing # 1: It takes a shorter time to cook than conventional rice.
True, unless you normally use the fast-cook stuff, but honestly, I’m used to putting the rice on before starting anything else, and I’ve never perceived it as a problem that it takes “so long”. If I need something “instant” I use couscous. And with boil-in-bag there is the drawback relating to cooking time that I never remember to check the time when I throw the rice (or pasta, or anything else) into the boiling water, so I go by “feel” and check the rice (pasta, whatever) when I think it might be done. Question: How do you check the doneness of bag-encased rice?

Supposedly Good Thing # 2: Less washing up.
Bull. I don’t burn rice as a rule, so a pot is not particularly difficult to clean after boiling conventional rice. And I do wash the pot after boiling the boil-in-bag rice (normally we end up “decanting” the rice into the pot once it’s finished boiling anyway), do the producers imagine you wouldn’t feel the need to wash it?

Supposedly Good Thing # 3: Conveniently packaged.
Well, except it means you better fit with the producers’ idea of serving size, as boiling half a bag is rather difficult.

Also, despite the bags having so-called “cool corners” this doesn’t change the fact that you somehow have to handle, open and empty bags of steaming hot rice. I haven’t burnt my fingers yet, but I have gotten uncomfortably hot and cursed because I’ve dropped the bag.

Not to get me started on the excessive packaging thing, of course. The plasic bag ay not be that big in the great scheme of things, but they are still there. Or the fact that switching to non-fairtrade rice again after using fairtrade rice exclusively for at least six months is not really something we’d want to do anyway.

Oh, Lord, save us!

No, that’s not blasphemy, that’s a heartfelt prayer.

I just found a link to these. Horses in heels. With tutus. Oh, how I hope they bomb like a piano falling from the fourth floor and are eradicated from the realm of toys – and advertising – before the lass grows old enough to start wanting things.

Horses in heels. *shakes head despondently*

I’ll take a few Disney princesses any day.


Through this, I found this, and then this, and I guess I feel the need to comment (what else is new?) and since this blog is short of posts lately (especially posts with actual content) what better place to do it? 

Now, I like pretty much every colour there is. Not in any combination and not in any setting, but there are few colours for which I can find no redeeming qualities. As such, pink, while not my favourite colour at all, is perfectly acceptable, and even quite likeable – in small quantities, occasionally and in the right setting. I own at least one pink t-shirt (and I wear it, occasionally). I like pink tulips, roses, peonies (no, not ponies), flower ribbon trim, lipstick (which I hardly ever wear, so it doesn’t really count) and so on. I had noted the increasing “pinkification” of products marketed at females – whether young or old – and it irritated me, but then marketing tends to more often than not, so what else is new?

However, pink is a very vivid colour, and like all vivid colours I find it most pleasing in small doses. And because of its pervasiveness lately, I have gone further towards avoiding it than I might have had it been Just Another (Vivid) Colour.

For example: When looking for scrapbooking resources a few years ago I found two forums in Norwegian dealing with the subject. I ended up on, though content-wise looked to be just as useful and friendly, simply because the latter was pink-pink-pink and the former a nice cool grey and white with a few red details. I got a headache from trying to read “the other forum” and so, even though I am registered, I have never actually participated, and can hardly be called a lurker since I have visited three or perhaps four times in five or six years.

Then I got pregnant, and we had a baby to shop for. The husband preferred not to find out the sex of the child at the ultrasound scan, and though I had previously thought it would be fun to know, I somehow didn’t feel the need to once we got there. Because I got gestational diabetes we had loads of scans later, but by that time I had decided I really didn’t want to know, from a pure point of contrariness. Becaus what I found when starting to shop for baby clothes was how hopelessly gendered they all were. Not only were pink and pale blue the order of the day, even when I found a nice little onesie in green, for example, it would have little bows and flounces (for girls) og printed car tyre tracks (for boys). Buying clothes for a child when you didn’t know whether it would be a boy or a girl was in point of fact quite challenging.

Thanks to the retro wave and 70ies colour scheme being in fashion, the lass has had a bearable amount of pink clothes and we have been able to find clothes that are either nicely “genderless” or girly, but not inhibitingly so. Trousers can be both “feminine” and solid enough to handle rough play at the same time. I have also made a conscious decision to let her play in the sand pit and climb and run in whatever she is wearing* – her pink bucket hat (a present) has been used as a bucket several times and frequently looks accordingly, but it can be washed. Eventually the grey sandiness might become permanent, but, really, what does it matter?

Here’s to hoping some of my reasons for not buying her all pink clothes and all that goes along with that mindframe sinks in. Once peer pressure starts to bear I suspect we will have a wannabe princess on our hands anyway, but we needn’t encourage it ourselves.

More reading (saying it better than I can manage at the moment):


* Not in the faux folk costume I made for the 17th of May. I did keep her away from the sandpit when she was wearing that. Next year I think I’ll leave her to it if she wants to. It can be washed…

If my head wasn’t screwed on..

Well, you know how it goes.

Take this morning, which was particularly bad, I grant you. I walk the lass to the childminder and say goodbye. Then I think about checking my mobile to see what time it is and whether I can amble to the bus stop or whether running is more the order of the day. And realise I can’t check the mobile, as it’s still by my chair at home. So I go back, say hi to hubby, get mobile, check it to confirm I might still make the bus if I run and run.

I get to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare and stand there waiting for a while, thinking how odd it is that my eyes haven’t yet cleared properly from the gunk* I put in before leaving home for the first time this morning.

Except I realise my eyes probably HAVE cleared, but as my glasses are still where I put them down to put said gunk in eyes, I’m still not going to see much. For a second I actually consider going to work without my glasses, but realise I’d have to move the computer screen to approximately 10 cm from my face in order to see anything, and so I sigh and head back.

Hubby, unsurprisingly, is amused.

I made the next bus without further mishap. At least so far as I know, I might have forgotten something else, but not something I’ve needed yet.

* gunk, also known as anti-eye infection salve


I’ve been feeling alternately smug and despondent lately.

The smugness mainly came from watching my neighbours throw away perfectly usable items in the two big skips (two? we made do with one last year) that are always brought in this time of year. Had we had a little more storage space I would probably have scrounged some of it, but we don’t. Besides, most of it was “deconstructed” in order to make stacking more efficient, we watched, somewhat gobsmacked, as two grown men smashed a set of six pine dining room chairs which looked, though a little out of fashion, perfectly serviceable. I disposed of exactly two items myself. One (short) length of decking which became surplus when my father built a new set of steps for our veranda – as you’re not supposed to burn these due to unsafe emissions it had to be thrown out. The other was our old barbeque, whcih we paid all of 99 NOK for in 2005 and which has languished outside in the snow over the past three winters. The ventilation valve thing was actually not quite right to start with, that’s what you get for being a cheapskate, and it had now rusted into position which meant that when hubby tried to barbeque some sausages a few weekends ago it wouldn’t heat up sufficiently. I declared it dead and threw it out. I am now insisting we buy an “expensive one”, one that costs, oh, at least 300 NOK, and get/make a cover for it in order to protect it from the weather, at least over the winter. Where was I? Oh, yes, the smugness, then, originated in wathcing my neighbours throw away Good Stuff whereas we instead put an ad up at in the “free” section and were pleased to have people arrive and carry away our “junk” with big smiles on their faces. Very eco-friendly and bringing joy to mankind (well, a couple of people, anyway) into the bargain.

The desponancy came from realising this is a drop in the ocean and that we really need to do so much more, as well as persuading our neighbours to follow suit. I was checking the Times website for mayoral and other news the other day and found their list of “top 50 green blogs“, and things followed on from there and I read lots of sites on carbon neutrality and people installing solar panels and growing their own food. Which made me feel I was a long way off. Then I started reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine and that really got me down. Seriously? This head-in-the-sand strategy is looking quite good at the moment.

Well, every little helps. I have to go to Oslo for a course in mid-June, which was convenient, because I was planning to go to Oslo for the weekend following the course anyway (Alanis Morisette at Norwegian Wood, that’s why, also time to see Oslo and, more especially, Tone and Linda again)  and now my employer is paying for the tickets which can’t be a Bad Thing. So I decided to take the train instead of going by airplane. I might have considered doing so in any case, but now I get the night train down Monday night with a sleeper compartment which means I can be bright and awake for the start of the course on Turesday. And I get the night train back on Sunday evening after the festival has ended and arrive bright and early in Trondheim just in time to go to work on Monday morning. The tickets, including sleeper, are twice what you’d normally manage to get plane tickets for this far in advance. And they’re all paid for by someone else. Nice.

Not so nice: Spending a week away from the lass – and the husband. A week is a long time. This week, for example, she learned to say “katt” (cat) and I finally realised her “kaddæ?” is probably Trøndersk (the local dialect, not mine, the husband’s though, as well as all her playmates’)  and means “Ka e det?” (what is that?) – at least most of the time. If I go away for a week I’ll probably come back and find she’s learnt to recite Shakespeare. Or Kaptein Sabeltann. Oh, the horror.

Ignorance is bliss

Or so they say. All I know is willful ignorance in others makes me annoyed and peevish. As when we travelled by plane over easter and the baby (I really should stop calling her the baby, she isn’t anymore, she’s grown into a little lady with a mind of her own, but as I don’t want to use her name on the internet much, I need a new nickname, I know:) the little lass got a “kid’s package” from the hostesses at SAS.

This consisted of a box vaguely decorated to resemble a plane, oval windows down the sides and a plane front window at one end where you could see the pilots and so on, populated by lions. On the box lid the text reads: “Løvemat. Nesten det samme som løvene spiser.” (Lion food. Almost the same as what lions eat.)

The contents: One tiny carton of orange juice, one bag of fruit jellies shaped like small airplanes, one set of colouring pencils and one colouring book – the latter also populated by lions.

The question: Which of these items supposedly resembles something a lion would eat?

Why couldn’t they have called the concept “Monkey food” instead and populated the plane with monkeys? That would at least have been half-way plausible.

I know, I know. Hardly a big thing in the great scheme of things. It’s just that it’s so unnecessary. And it kind of falls into the same category as a lot of the spelling mistakes that make me cringe. People, when this sort of mistake is pointed out, say “But it’s not important. Everyone understands what we are trying to say.” I beg to differ. Some people might actually not understand. And it IS important. I’m probably going to be one of those mothers who write to the television companies and point out the basic mistakes they make in children’s programmes. I nearly did the other day, in fact. There was a song about an explorer where they had illustrated one of the poles with pictures of both polar bears and penguins – which probably explains why I can’t remember which pole they were singing about. In the case of the SAS lions, I doubt whether any of the design team actually believe that lions eat fruit jellies shaped like little airplanes. When it comes to the polar fauna, I’m not so sure the misinformation is willful. After all, a recent survey shows that 13 percent of adult Norwegians believe there are polar bears in the region known as “Nord-Norge” – Northern Norway. In case you’re wondering, no, there are no polar bears in Nord-Norge. At Svalbard, yes, but that is another matter entirely. Mind you, since we’ve all grown up with the “for illustration only” weather map of Norway – with Svalbard floating off the west coast of northern Norway – perhaps most people believe it’s just a skip and a jump across the North Sea from the mainland to our northerly neighbour. It ain’t.

Anyway, why do I think all this is important? Well, apart from being pedantic and just instinctively disliking willful ignorance to the point of agressiveness (seriously, around me it pays to at least pretend to be interested in factual accuracy), I honestly believe this is a symptom of what got the human race into trouble in the first place. If it’s not particularly important to know what a lion eats, it follows that you’re not really interested in how the lion fits into the ecosystem and if you don’t know that, then you won’t be able to see any reason why we need lions in the first place, hence it doesn’t really matter if they become extinct. And if lions don’t really matter to you – they live in Africa, after all (oh, and a very small population in India, remnant of the subspecies Panthera leo persica which once covered most of Asia – did you know that?), and Africa is a far way off (though not quite so far if you run an airline, I should have thought, but never mind), then I suppose you don’t really mind if the whole continent of Africa becomes deforrestated, either? I mean, it won’t affect you, will it?

And so on. Not incidentally, I’ve been overdosing on Gerald Durrell lately, but I read Durrell because I believe in much of the same principles he believed in, not the other way around.

To add insult to injury, the lions were butt ugly, imho.

Oh, and the colouring pencils? Worst ever. Pressing down hard I could barely make a mark in the colouring book, the lass, having grasped the main idea of writing implements but not having had much time to practice and lacking in precision and force stood no chance at all.

There must be something wrong with this town

…when the best selection of new books (novels and non-fiction) can be found at a newsagent rather than any of the so-called bookshops?

I finished my current read (The Tale of Desperaux) on the bus this morning, and since I’m visiting the bloodbank later – something which usually entails a bit of waiting time – I thought I’d just pop in somewhere to see if I could find something worthwhile to buy. Since the bookshops are not yet open when I make my way to work, I thought I might as well try the largest newsagent – Narvesen at Nordre – which is just down the block. As usual (well, I have been there before, you know) I am astounded at the selection of new non-fiction and fiction they carry. Now, don’t get me wrong, the section for books is tucked away at the back and the selection consists of a few hundred titles at most, but at least it’s stuff that was actually published THIS century. AND they have NON-fiction, a type of book whose existence seems to have been all but forgotten by the major bookshops. I ended up with Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, which is hardly what you’d call new, being first published in 2006, but which I have not come across at a convenient time earlier. However, had I been in the mood for fiction, there were four or five titles that I will be buying at some point, just not today, and there were several more non-fiction titles I might as well have purchased, had I not found Bryson.

By contrast, the bookshop with the largest number of books in English has a fair selection of paperback fiction – though never the really new stuff, or at least never the new books I actually want. Whenever I find a book I’d actually like in the “new arrivals” section I have normally already purchased it – somewhere else and quite a while back. And they have no non-fiction whatsoever. Perhaps most illustrative of the lack of exitement generated by their selection: Even when they run a 25%, or even 50%, off all English paperbacks I have a hard time finding anything I actually want to fork over money for.

The bookshop that used to have a fairly large non-fiction section of the English paperback kind (well, when I say fairly large I mean somewhere between one and two shelf metres dedicated to the category) recently moved from a spacious corner house to a fancy high street venue and lost at least half its area. Consequently its selection of books of any kind has dropped drastically. This morning I noted that they are advertising dvds, something they have not been selling earlier. Great, that will mean more space for actual books, then?

Perhaps they are just adopting to the market. Perhaps there really isn’t a demand for Bill Bryson and Al Franken and Christina Lamb in this town. Or perhaps everyone else actually manages to browse for new titles online and therefore shop at amazon or play or bokkilden. And it is possible that I’m the only one left who’d rather buy the hardback of Douglas Coupland’s new novel in an actual bookshop.

Or it’s back to the old chicken and egg question: Do you have a smaller selection of books because they don’t sell or don’t they sell because you have a smaller selection?


Tine har tydeligvis funnet ut at de skal sette sånn plastduppedittåpner på alle melkekartongene sine. Ikke at det ikke er enkelt og greit og sånt når man skal åpne og helle, men for oss som skyller, bretter og stapper er det noe herk. Hvordan mener de at man skal få 6 bretta kartonger ned i den 7. når det er sånne digre plastklumper i veien, egentlig?

Som sagt:  #%¤&#¤

Swearing at the computer

This week at work so far has been spent swearing at the computer. Not that that doesn’t happen now and again, a few times a day perhaps, most weeks, but this week it has been worse than usual. You see, our IT people decided to upgrade our Microsoft Office Suite. Yeah, we now have Office 2007. This is not a good thing. Here are some examples of why:

What’s with the colour scheme? In Word I can chose between blue background with blue type, grey background with grey type and charcoal background with – uhm – whiteish type. The charcoal is too black and dreary for me (besides, white type on black is NOT easy on the eyes in the long run). The two others are fine, I suppose, since – with glasses – my eyesight is pretty normal. I’d hate to have poor eyesight and trying to make sense of this, though.

Instead of nested windows, each document opens in it’s own window. Fine. There are advantages and drawbacks to both approaches, and this is not new in Office 2007. However, what IS new is that if you use the “close window” cross in the upper right hand corner when you have only one document open you close both the document and the programme. There is no “close open document” button handily available. Well, there is now – though at upper left rather than upper right – I had to go into settings and dig it out.

The “Print” button, the equivalent of “ctrl+p”, is not immediately available (though it is now, I dug that out, too).

They MOVED THE BLOODY SEND BUTTON in the create new message window in Outlook. Now I have to search for it every time (yeah, I know, I’ll get used to it).

If you select a piece of text and place you cursor over it, a “handy” little box pops up with likely buttons – bold, italics and so on. Which means that if you move you cursor over the selected text in order to replace the cursor and change the selection (because, say, it “helpfully” selected a word more than you wanted when all you wanted was to select a few words in a sentence and delete them) you end up clicking the bloody bold button because you click before you really think and the “handy” box takes a second to appear anyway and so is only just there in time to register the actual click but wasn’t visible when your finger started moving down on the mouse button.

In Excel you can select a column (or row), right click and choose “Insert” and it will insert a column (or row) in front (or above). You can also select a cell, right click, select “Insert…” and get a dialogue box with a few choices. However, as far as I can see you can’t make a selection and then go to a menu to choose “Insert row below”, “Insert column before” and so on. Not a big thing, I guess, but I like being able to do things the way I used to do them…

There is more. However, I suppose that’s plenty for now.

The week hasn’t been all bad, though. For example, my brother sent me a link to this Onion story, which pretty much made my week, despite Microsoft:

Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book

I rather like:

Even more bizarre, Meyer is believed to have done most of his reading during his spare time—time when the outwardly healthy and stable resident could have literally been doing anything else, be it aimlessly surfing the Internet, taking a nap, or simply just staring at his bedroom wall.