Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Monkey's Meme

Stolen from Sunday Stealing, here's The Monkey's Meme:

1. Name one person who made you smile today:
My husband.

2. What were you doing at 8am this morning?
Working - grading exams.

3. What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Reading on the balcony (and watching the sun set).

4. What is your favorite candy bar?
Lohengrin, maybe.

5. Have you ever been to a strip club?
Yes. In Miami, Florida.

6. What was the last thing you had to drink?
Coffee.

7. What was the last thing you ate?
Big Ben (liquorice).

8. The last sporting event you watched?
Live? I can't remember.

9. Do you go to church every Sunday?
No, certainly not. Not mosque or temple either.

10. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
That depends on the Chinese food. I love dumplings. But I also like pizza.

11. What are you doing tomorrow?
Working.

12. What do you think of when you hear Australia?
Sydney. The Opera House. (Sorry, that's all I've seen...)

13. Biggest annoyance right now?
None.

14. Last song listened to?
"Fragile" by Sting.

15. Do you have a maid service clean your house?
No.

16. Are you jealous of anyone?
No.

17. Is anyone jealous of you?
Maybe. They should be. I was born in one of the world's richest country and has married the best man in the world...

18. What do you usually do during the day?
Work, work, work.

19. Do you hate anyone that you know right now?
No. I don't think I've ever hated anyone I've known.

20. Are you thinking about someone right now?
Not really.

Not a swim today



Yr.no challenges everybody to take a bath this weekend. Well, I considered it, but the sound of the people actually trying made me change my mind. Too cold...

But it was nice just resting next to the lake for a little while...

Two fathers



(Thanks to Fabian.)

Most viewed on YouTube: Alexander

VG points out that the most viewed video at YouTube in May is Alexander Rybak's performance at the Eurovision Song Contest final:



That's surprising, but cool.

I'm currently listening to his album ("Fairytales"), which is surprisingly varied - with inspirations from Irish music ("Roll with the wind"), from Jason Mraz ("Funny little world") and East-European music ("Kiss and tell"). I find it impressive that he's managed to create this record while being busy with the Eurovision preparations.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 26

"I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it was just some bastard with a torch, bringing me more work." (David Brent)

"I want to share something with you: The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3: It was like that when I got here." (Homer Simpson)

"If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank." (Woody Allen)

Bad review

Oslo's Theatercaféen got a very bad review in Aftenposten. Theatercaféen is one of Oslo's most expensive restaurants, and is therefore not one of the restaurants I go to often. Actually, I've never been there, and I shouldn't be sorry about that:

- it took half an hour before the waiter arrived to ask the reviewer if he wanted something to drink
- the quality of the food was disappointing
- the fish was terribly dry. When the reviewer complained, the waiter took the food and were gone for 15 minutes

The prices are bad even for Norway: 30-40 Euros for a starter is (I'm happy to say) not normal here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Alexander Rybak song

As part of an advertisement campaign for milk, Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak has recorded his version of "No Milk Today". The song can be downloaded for free from http://www.nomilktoday.no/. Quite cool, and different from his "Fairytale".

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Florina

Florina is a town in northern Greece with less than 20,000 inhabitants. It is very close to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, and not far from Albania either. There is a beautiful river moving slowly through the river, there is a small archeological museum and a Hellenic city right outside the town. Other than that, there are not many sights. However, it is a perfectly nice place to stay if you have something to do, as I have had.

The archeological museum consists of four rooms on the ground floor and two rooms on the first floor. Except the Byzantine artifacts (occupying half of the first floor) everything is described in English as well as Greek, and the artifacts are given a context by photos and drawings. Thus, it is well worth a visit, although it obviously can’t compete with the museums in Athens, for instance.

I went up to the Hellenic city only once, and then it was closed (it was a Monday), but some of it could be seen from outside the gates: a small city some 2,000 years old, of course destroyed long ago.

There are lots of good restaurants and cafes in Florina. In particular, I’ve had café frappe lots of times. I also went to a pizza restaurant called “High”, which is noticeable for giving me the worst service I’ve experienced in a while. When I arrived, I was the only customer, but the waiters preferred to watch tv instead of taking my order. I was on the verge of leaving when a waiter finally came over. So I ordered, got my pizza after a while and ate it. It was good. Then I had to try to get their attention again as I wanted to pay. That didn’t take as long as earlier, as a welcome commercial break came up in the show they were watching… (All the other restaurants I visited had far better service.)

The hotel I stayed at can be recommended. Hotel Antigoni is in the center of Florina, quite inexpensive, has okay breakfast and friendly staff. And hot and cold water in the shower.

I mentioned earlier what Lonely Planet said about Florina, that there is no reason to stay in Florina. Of course, that should be understood as saying that there is no reason to choose Florina over many other small Greek towns. However, if you for some reason are in the area, there is no reason not to stay in Florina either.

Thessaloniki in 48 hours

I'm spending about 48 hours in Thessaloniki.

Reasons to love Thessaloniki:

1. It's easy.
As long as your hotel is reasonably close to the sea, it's impossible to get seriously lost. When in doubt, just walk to the sea and see which side of the White Tower you are on.

IMG_3707

2. The view.
When you have nothing else to do, just enjoy the view.

3. Archeological museum.
Possibly the best archeological museum I've been to.* Lots of wonderful artifacts set in a meaningful context and with full translations into English.
The Byzantine museum is similar, but I'm not that interested in that period. Moreover, the Byzantine museum is more about religious art than about life in general.

IMG_3760

4. Museums' opening hours and price.
Opening hours: 8-20 every day except Mondays (when they're closed in the morninng). Price: 8 Euros for both.

Reasons not to love Thessaloniki: traffic and heat. But I can live with that.

Macedonia trip - best photos

Here are my best photos from this trip to Florina, Ohrid, Thessaloniki and a few places more:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 25

"I don't think sex could ever be as rewarding as winning the World Cup. It's not that sex is not great; just that the World Cup is only every four years and sex is a lot more regular than that." (Ronaldo)

"I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

"Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them." (Oscar Wilde)

Eurovision scandal

According to Aftenposten and VG, all the Norwegian people's votes in Saturday's Eurovision final, got lost. Therefore, the votes presented were those of the Norwegian expert jury.

Apparently, the fault is with German company Digame.

Therefore: all my Greek friends who have asked me why Norway didn't vote for Greece: It may have been because the votes were not counted...

Friday, May 22, 2009

On the Wikipedia logo

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post on the Wikipedia logo with a few more comments.

Some time in 2000, I guess, there was a Nupedia logo competition. For some reason, I noticed this, and wanted to take part. My idea was a simple one: to create a large "N" filled with text. Which text? I had recently been reading Lewis Carroll's "Euclid and his Modern Rivals", so I chose part of the preface as the text:
In one respect this book is an experiment, and may chance to prove a failure: I mean that I have not thought it necessary to maintain throughout the gravity of style which scientific writers usually affect, and which has somehow come to be regarded as an ‘inseparable accident’ of scientific teaching. I never could quite see the reasonableness of this immemorial law: subjects there are, no doubt, which are in their essence too serious to admit of any lightness of treatment – but I cannot recognise Geometry as one of them. Nevertheless it will, I trust, be found that I have permitted myself a glimpse of the comic side of things only at fitting seasons, when the tired reader might well crave a moment’s breathing-space, and not on any occasion where it could endanger the continuity of the line of argument.

Of course, being interested in history of mathematics myself, I found Lewis Carroll very amusing.

I used the fisheye effect on this quote, thus turning the text into a circle. Then I added two vertical lines, thereby turning the circle into a "N".



I don't think I thought I'd win the competiton, and I didn't win it, either. I think I thought of the image I sent in more as a draft than as a finished logo. I can't have spent more than two hours designing it. I can't remember ever hearing anything more about this competition, and I (almost) forgot all about it.

We can still see an archived version of Logo Ideas for Nupedia from August 29th, 2000, including a link to my homepage at work at the time. (Feel free to compare it to my present page - I'm sorry to say that I haven't updated it much, although I have switched jobs.) However, in the archived version of Nupedia.com on August 15th, 2000, we see that another one of the logos had been chosen. (Compare to the July 21st version for the previous "logo".)

However, according to Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales needed a logo for the new encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, and chose my logo from the Nupedia competition. According to the Wikipedia article, "it remained for the next eight months, until the end of 2001. It continued to be used after this time on Special Pages, such as search results." We can see how it was used in an archived page from September 25th, 2001.

Of course, the big "N" could not survive as a logo for long. In late 2001, a logo competition took place, in which the following logo won, created by The Cunctator:


Of course, it is superior to my logo, but it is also fair to say that it has retained the main idea. Of course, there is no longer a need for the vertical lines, and the text has changed into a quote from Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, Part I, Chapter VI:
Desire to know why, and how, curiosity; such as is in no living creature but man: so that man is distinguished, not only by his reason, but also by this singular passion from other animals; in whom the appetite of food, and other pleasures of sense, by predominance, take away the care of knowing causes; which is a lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure.


Then in 2003, there was another logo contest, won by Paul Stansifer, which still had the circle full of text, but now a more international one. It has also turned into 3d, and looks much more professional:



This was quickly modified into the well-known "silver ball", created by David Friedland, where the text has turned into individual characters:



All of this took place without me paying attention. Nobody told me that my logo was being used (as far as I remember). Of course, the spam filters at the time seemed to find any non-Norwegian email very suspicious, so I may even have gotten a notice that was lost in that way.

Thus, it was only after someone did a lot of research (apparently done by Mosca) for the Wikipedia:Wikipedia logos page (on which parts of this posting is based) that I could suddenly find out about this as I was doing a Google search on my own name. (Which I do from time to time to see if someone has written something about my blogs or something like that.)

This, of course, made me surprised and proud. In this way, I (who have only very rarely contributed to Wikipedia) have a tiny part in the history of the encyclopedia. And although the logo I created was amateurish, I still think the main idea had some merit, so I'm not too ashamed of it.

The moral of the whole story is this: remember to Google yourself from time to time: you never know what will turn up!

Movie: Magnolia



This very long movie interweaves several stories into one in a beautiful way. It is a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, but while watching it, my thoughts went in the directions of David Lynch and the Coen brothers. David Lynch because there is so much hidden underneath the surface here, Coen brothers for the quirky coincidences and freak occurrences.

To me, the movie treated topics like death and love in beautiful ways, at times. At other times, it didn’t say much to me at all. The actor list is impressive, even including Tom Cruise as a guy very fond of his own cock. But I don’t think I will try to even start describing the different subplots or where Tom Cruise fit into everything.

Three hours felt a bit too much for me, but there’s always the chance that I might have enjoyed the movie even more if I was in a better mood to begin with. Well worth seeing, anyway.


Magnolia (1999)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Interesting actors:
Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge
William H. Macy as Donnie Smith
John C. Reilly as Officer Jim Kurring
Tom Cruise as Frank T.J. Mackey
Philip Baker Hall as Jimmy Gator
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Phil Parma

Book: A Boy’s Own Story

Edmund White’s “A Boy’s Own Story” arrived in the post box one day, a result of me forgetting to cancel the Book of the Month (from Bokklubben Kursiv) again. But after reading it, I have forgiven me.

The book is the story of a young boy and his quest for an identity, an identity he does not wish to be as a homosexual, even though he knows that that is what it will be. The author uses lots of words, mostly to conjure up vivid images of the people involved or the situations. (“Outside, the half-moon sped through the tall pines, spilled out across a glimpse of water, hid behind a billboard, twinkled faintly in the windows of a train, one window still lit and framing the face of a woman crowned by white hair.”) This style is a bit much for me at times, as it tends to get in the way of itself.

When I know I will blog about a book, I start to look for words describing my feeling when reading it – even though I know that the words will not manage that task. Here, words such as sad, funny and melancholy. It is sad, because all the troubles the young boy goes through – so alike many people I know – are caused by the society’s still existing prejudices. Funny, because so many of the characters are described in such uncompromising detail. Melancholy, because the book describes a childhood which will never come back.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha: revolutionizing search?

The new search site Wolfram|Alpha is a cool search site which aims to (eventually) "make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone".

Have a look at the search results for "Norway population" for instance:


A lot neater than the endless list of links you get in traditional search engines...

I created the first Wikipedia logo!

Googling yourself sometimes gives very surprising results. Today, I found out that, according to Wikipedia, I created the first logo used on Wikipedia!

This is the relevant quote:
"Wikipedia's first true logo was an image that was originally submitted by Bjørn Smestad as a Nupedia logo.[1] Jimbo thought it would be a much better logo than the flag, and it remained for the next eight months, until the end of 2001. It continued to be used after this time on Special Pages, such as search results."



Indeed, I remember making this logo and submitting it, but never realized that it was ever used for anything. To see that it was used for Wikipedia, and even that the current logo can even be said to have developed gradually from my simple thing, is amazing.

The wikipedia article goes on to describe the logo:
The logo included a quote from Euclid and his Modern Rivals by Lewis Carroll (Preface, page X)

In one respect this book is an experiment, and may chance to prove a failure: I mean that I have not thought it necessary to maintain throughout the gravity of style which scientific writers usually affect, and which has somehow come to be regarded as an ‘inseparable accident’ of scientific teaching. I never could quite see the reasonableness of this immemorial law: subjects there are, no doubt, which are in their essence too serious to admit of any lightness of treatment – but I cannot recognise Geometry as one of them. Nevertheless it will, I trust, be found that I have permitted myself a glimpse of the comic side of things only at fitting seasons, when the tired reader might well crave a moment’s breathing-space, and not on any occasion where it could endanger the continuity of the line of argument.

But due to the fisheye effect, only part of the text can be read.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

I got into a discussion on my blog the other day, over my use of the term “FYROM” for the country that calls itself “Republic of Macedonia” or “Macedonia” for short.

Of course, I should have known that such an issue would be emotional. In Greece, everybody (including road signs etc) refer to the country as FYROM. It was only when I got to the country itself that I saw bumper stickers saying “Don’t you FYROM me” and things like that.

The issue seems quite simple. Should a country be allowed to choose its own name? Apparently, a country cannot. In this case, the country wants to use a name which is also the name of a region in a neighbouring country, and this is prone to lead to confusion. Moreover, the name “Macedonia” is historically connected to a region far larger than “Republic of Macedonia” and the region of Macedonia combined. (As a thought experiment, what would Norway have said if Sweden wanted to change its name to “Scandinavia”, a term that currently includes Sweden, Norway and more?) So Greece is using all its powers to prevent their neighbour taking part in international organisations under their constitutional name.

The dispute is still going on, and while it is going on, the best thing to do is probably to use the internationally recognized reference “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. This is also the one preferred by the Norwegian government. However, I will try not to use the short version “FYROM”. By doing this, I am trying not to take sides but – as most of the international community – just to wait until a compromise has been reached.

The conflict reminds me of another one which quickly arises tensions, although of course based on a different historical background: The Taiwan issue. While Taiwan is for all practical purposes an independent country, it would not be wise to mention that fact while visiting mainland China. And of course, the name Taiwan uses is “Republic of China”, because, officially, the government of the Republic of China (once led by Chiang Kai-Chek) is just temporarily (since the 1940s) displaced to Taipei.

See Wikipedia for more on the naming issue.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The trip Ohrid-Florina

After three days in Ohrid, I went back to Florina. The trip back went just as smoothly as the trip to Ohrid. I got on a bus in Ohrid (210 dinars, about 3-4 Euros), and when I got to Bilota, a taxi driver offered to take me to Florina for 30 Euros. (That’s 10 Euros less than the other way.) I’m not sure exactly what the legal status of the taxi was, however, as he told me, as we were approaching the border, that he was not a taxi driver if the Greek border guards asked. I was not entirely sure what I would claim he was if someone asked, as I’m sure telling them that he was a new Macedonian friend who just happened to want to drive me to Florina for free would not convince anyone. However, as nobody asked, I was spared this problem.

The taxi driver also congratulated me when he heard that I was Norwegian – he knew that Norway had won the Eurovision Song Contest the day before. Later in the day, a Greek waiter also gratulated me – which goes to show that the Eurovision Song Contest is not only big in Norway, as some people claim.

If I forget about the taxi costs, the trip to Ohrid was quite cheap. I spent a total of 4,500 dinars in three days – that is about 70 Euros. This includes both the bus tickets, the hostel (single room), the lunches and dinners and the museums.

Maybe I should add that the first impression when I got to Bilota (on my way to Ohrid) was not very good – the first thing that happened was that people lied to me. A taxi driver claimed that it was 4.5 kilometres to the centre and that I should take a taxi. I had already decided to walk because I had been sitting for so long, but I also knew that the distance was far shorter than that. But as everybody else I met in this country were nice, I should not start to build a prejudice based on this one taxi driver…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Movie: Mamma Mia!



This was the fourth time I’ve seen Mamma Mia (the movie), but the funny thing is that I think of different things each time – while I also, of course, keep enjoying it immensely. (Warning: there may be more spoilers in this posting than normal in my movie postings – so if you still haven’t seen the movie, just do it, without reading further…)

Since last time I saw the movie, there has been a big controversy in Norway, as the reputable foundation “Free Speech” has awarded its main prize to Norway’s modern-day Anita Bryant, Nina Karin Monsen. Nina Karin Monsen’s biggest fight lately has been against the marriage bill which legalized same-sex marriage. She has fought that bill on the basis of a traditional understanding of marriage, the importance of the biological father, while throwing insults at her opponents (including me). (Monsen did not get the prize for her opinions, but for having the guts to voice them.)

While I saw Mamma Mia, I thought about Monsen and the place of her value system in our society. I think very few who watch Mamma Mia are morally repulsed by Donna, who had three lovers in a few, short summer weeks all those years ago. Moreover, her daughter’s wish to know her biological father fades as the movie goes on, to no noticeable regret among the audience. Moreover, everybody seems to enjoy the fact that one of her fathers’ finally find his true love – and his true love happens to be a man.

How quickly morals have changed. It is fair to say that Mamma Mia could not have been made 45 years ago – at least not without creating controversy. And it’s not just that people have become more tolerant about how people choose to live their lives. They have also realized – through years and years of people growing up with stepfathers or stepmothers – that biology is not everything.

Thus, I find the movie an enjoyable example of how society has changed. And the music is great as well…







Mamma Mia! (2008)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Interesting actors:
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Julie Walters as Rosie
Christine Baranski as Tanya
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Philip Michael as Pepper

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Top sights of Ohrid

I’ve spent a few days in Ohrid (in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), and have seen a few of it’s sights. Here are my recommendations:

1. The lake.
This advice is superfluous, as you will of course not manage to miss it. However, the main sight of Ohrid is the lake. I’m sure there are many wonderful boat trips to be had, but I stayed on land and enjoyed it just the same.

2. Sv. Jovan Bogoslov – Kaneo
The little church situated on a little cliff is just beautiful. There is a little “garden” between it and the lake, with a few benches where you can look at the view and enjoy life. Both this and the view from the path is spectacular.

3. Samuel’s Fortress
While there is little to see inside the fortress, the view from the top of the walls is great. The fortress is open most of the day, and the ticket costs 100 dinars (about 2 Euros). Remember to bring a camera.

In addition to these, I’ve seen a few other churches and I’ve also been to the Gallery of Icons and the National Museum. The Gallery of Icons is nice, but includes only a few (maybe 20) icons and all are local. Moreover, I’m not particularly into this kind of art. The National Museum suffered from a lack of information (in any language). Judging from its coins, vases and other archeological finds, it may be interesting if you have a good guide.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Norway won the ESC

Norway today won the Eurovision Song Contest with a huge margin. Alexander Rybak's "Fairytale" won the hearts of people around Europe.

I do like this - particularly as I'm on record guessing that he would win both the Norwegian final and then the international final.

Sadly, I couldn't watch today's show, but I followed it on twitter. That worked amazingly well (but it would of course have been a bit stupid if I hadn't done my "homework" and heard all the competitors in advance...)

Welcome to Norway for the final next year!

Funny Quotes of the Week 24

"If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style." (Quentin Crisp)

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." (Mae West)

"If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever." (Woody Allen)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Florina - Ohrid

When planning my trip to Macedonia, I decided that it would be nice to not only experience Florina and Thessaloniki, but also parts of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. According to web sources, Ohrid is supposed to be a beautiful place, so Ohrid it was.

The tiny problem is that there is no public transport between Florina and Ohrid. I googled for a solution, and found that the only possibility is to take a taxi from Florina to Bitola (which is in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), and then take a bus from Bitola to Ohrid. The price for this: I had to pay 40 Euros to get from Florina to Bitola – this took about half an hour. Thereafter, the bus cost 210 dinars (about 3.5 Euros) for a ride lasting more than one hour. On the way back, I will do the same in reverse: a bus to Bitola and then a (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) cab to Florina. Maybe that will be cheaper.

When I got to Ohrid, the “Norwegian male syndrome” hit again – I did not want to ask for directions, so I started to walk around. Looking at the map now, I see that it is terribly easy to find Sunny Lake Hostel, but I spent quite a lot of time looking for it, obviously getting to know Ohrid a little in the process.

Ohrid is ridiculously beautiful. The lake, old churches and other houses – everything combines into a very picturesque place. Of course, it is also full of tourists, which is not so good, but at least it means that I can walk around in shorts and sandals without anyone protesting.

The hostel is okay. One single room costs 12 Euros a night, which I find reasonable. Breakfast (mostly bread) is included, as is wireless internet (quite important these days). The hostel is in the old part of town, close to the center of town. It seems to be quite new. This morning, I saw a list of “Longest-staying guests” downstairs, with only one name on it. I asked how long this guest had stayed: he came two days ago and leaves today… :-)

The main problem with the hostel so far is that the water in the shower seems to be either scolding or freezing. Maybe there is a trick…

(I know that the use of "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" as a name for the country I'm in is disliked here. However, it is currently the name recognized by the Norwegian government, as far as I can see in official sources.)

Edit: I have exchanged the term "FYROM" with "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in the text above after being made aware that "FYROM" is not an acknowledged short form of "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oslo-Munich-Thessaloniki-Kozani-Amyntaio-Florina

I arrived from a cruise with RCCL’s “Vision of the Seas” on Monday morning, and already on Tuesday morning at 5:30 I had to be on the airport bus. I imagined that it would be a nightmare: a plane to Munich, another plane to Thessaloniki, a bus to the centre of town and finally a three-hour train trip to Florina. However, what could have been a nightmare turned out to be quite nice.

The flight to Munich (with Lufthansa) went well, as did the flight on to Thessaloniki (with Aegean). The bus to town (60 cents) was easy to find, and I reached the railway station about half an hour before the train for Florina. Then I bought some water and biscuits, got on the train and had three hours of reading and listening to podcasts before I was (supposed to be) in Florina.

You get to see many unexpected cities when you take the wrong train.

As the time for Florina came and passed, I realized that something was wrong. Being a Norwegian male, however, I didn’t want to ask anyone. But when the train stopped in Kozani and all the passengers left, I left too, and checked the tables in the station. I also asked the Greek-speaking guy selling tickets. I had made a simple mistake: only the front half of the train had gone to Florina, the last half (and I) had gone to Kozani. The split happened in Amyntaio. So there was one simple solution: I had to take the first train back to Amyntaio and then another train to Florina. This left me with half an hour in Kozani and almost two hours in Amyntaio.

I called my colleague who was supposed to pick me up in Florina to warn him that I was late and then made the most of it. I had a very pleasant iced coffee in the café at the railway station in Kozani, finished “The Miracle at Speedy Motors” on the way to Amyntaio, and had a little walk in Amyntaio, taking pictures and even having a nice dinner in a restaurant (Artisis). While the menu was in Greek, the waiter knew enough English to guide me. And when I finally got to Florina, four hours late, my colleague was there to take me to the hotel.

It was a day of travelling. The day was totally uneventful until I made the mistake of not asking someone what the train conductor said as we approached Amyntaio, after that it was a beautiful evening where I relaxed and enjoyed being in places where I never thought I’d go, and where I will almost certainly never go again.

And then, I was ready for work.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 23

"I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them." (E. V. Lucas)

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." (Will Rogers)

"I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me." (Woody Allen)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Movie: The Reader



This movie, based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink, is taking place in two very different periods. The part taking place during World War II reminds me a lot of the movie Lust och fägring stor, which portrays a similar relationship between an adult woman and an underage boy. Their relationship is good, but since we have already been introduced to the future of the boy at the very start of the movie, we have a sence that the romance will not last.

I don't want to say much about the second part of the movie, except that the sex and nudity is displaced by a psychological drama. What have happened inside the mind of the woman? What goes on inside the mind of Michael now?

I liked the movie very much, and keeps wondering, which is a good thing.



The Reader (2008)

Director: Stephen Daldry

Main actor:
David Kross as Young Michael Berg
Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz
Ralph Fiennes as Michael Berg

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 22

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." (Benjamin Franklin)

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes." (Oscar Wilde)

"Don't worry. Being eaten by a crocodile is just like going to sleep. In a giant blender." (Homer Simpson)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Movie: How Green Was My Valley



After watching some of this movie, I had to check the date. It was made in 1941, but feels older than that. Of course, the story takes place long before that, but that's not my point. I think it is far too slow.

Actually, as I was thinking of this, I was thinking of how much more modern "Citizen Kane" feels. And only then I realized that "How Green Was My Valley" was the movie that denied Citizen Kane a best movie Oscar, and Orson Welles a best director Oscar as well. Not that I've always been a big fan of Citizen Kane, but to me, Citizen Kane has dated far less.

The story of "How Green..." is about a family in a small mining town, with wonderful parents, well-behaving adult children and the main character, Huw, still a small boy. However, life in a mining town is not easy, the work is hard and dangerous, wages are cut and rumours are spread. If you don't even have your family to back you up, you will have problems.

Today, this may be a case where you want to see a movie for its "family values" rather than for its quality...

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Director: John Ford

Main actor:
Roddy McDowall as Huw
Walter Pidgeon as Mr. Gruffydd

Movie: Shrek the Third



Shrek still manages to combine a story that is simple enough for children with jokes that are funny also for an adult audience. Therefore I did enjoy this movie, even though I notice that I don't know all fairy tale characters that are big in the US.

The technology of course gets better and better - it's amazing how lifelike they can animate hair these days.

Shrek the Third (2007)

Director: Chris Miller

Main actor:
Mike Myers as Shrek (voice)
Eddie Murphy as Donkey (voice)
Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona (voice)