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Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

Back from Berlin

01.11.2012 12:29

Hi, everybody! I’m finally back from Berlin, and I’m barely getting settled in to normal life again. I hope those who live on the east coast of USA are safe and have started to recover from hurricane Sandy. I’ve been watching the news here from Norway, and it’s a crazy sight to see.

I’ve previously detailed what I did on my vacations from day to day (and I’m still kinda stuck in the middle of my vacation summary from last year’s trip to New York – I hope I’ll get it posted one of these days), but I think it would be enough to just point out a few of the highlights.

First of all, all of my flights went smoothly, which was pretty nice. My flight from Copenhagen to Ålesund (the last leg of my journey back home) was delayed about 15 minutes (which I was notified of in advance), but that didn’t affect anything, since I didn’t have to catch anything after that. When I got home, I heard about the chaos at Gardermoen (Oslo airport), and I was grateful that I was on a direct flight from Copenhagen to Ålesund, and avoided that chaos completely.

Second, I tried something new in Berlin: I went on a sightseeing trip on bike! I wasn’t too sure about it at first, given that I’m still rather overweight, and I haven’t ridden an bike in over 10 years, but it came out pretty nicely, I think. I went on the All-In-One City Tour from Fat Tire Bike Tours, just to get a look at, well, almost everything in Berlin. Our tour guide Kate had a special (and fun) way of telling the history about the sights of Berlin as we stopped in front of them, and had some fun anecdotes spread throughout. At the end of the trip, when it was time to pay for the tour, I almost felt a little bad for using my discount from my Berlin WelcomeCard – the tour was definitely worth the money. Next time I go to Berlin, and have time for a sightseeing trip, I’m definitely going with these guys again (and taking one of their other tours – hopefully with Kate again).

I also went for a balloon ride on a captive balloon called the HiFlyer. That was an amazing view from 150 meters up (or 450 feet for those of you who are stuck in the imperial system), and I recommend everyone to do this at least once in their lives.

It was nice to see the view from Fernsehturm (the TV tower) and Panoramapunkt at Potsdamer Platz as well, but I must say the balloon has a slightly better view of the city.

I managed to fit in a trip to the Madame Tussauds museum in Berlin, too. It was a tiny bit smaller than the one I went to in New York, but absolutely worth the trip.

And last, but not least, the main reason for my trip to Berlin: the Blue Man Group fan event in Berlin. First of all, the weather during the fan event weekend was amazing – around 18-20 degrees C and sunny (or roughly 64-68 degrees F for your other guys). Second, it was fun to get a backstage tour (with visits to the storage room, practice room, prop kitchen, one of the band lofts), and be around for the soundcheck before heading out to Tony Roma’s next door for our dinner together. After dinner, it was time for the show, along with a private meet-and-greet for us fans. We also headed out to a local bar to grab a beer (or something) and chat together for an hour or two. The next day, it was time for our little Catch & Throw contest, where we would catch balls in our mouth, just like the Blue Man does in the show. The 4 winners (with the highest scores) would get to do their own spin art with actual official paint balls from Blue Man Group. (If you’ve seen the show, you may know what “spin art” is.) I came last with 3 catches out of 20 throws, but at least I had fun participating. Afterwards, it was time to head back into the theater’s private lobby for a little Q&A session, along with a raffle. I didn’t win anything here, either, but it was fun nonetheless.

In my two weeks in Berlin, I managed to catch 7 shows in all, bringing my total number of Blue Man Group shows up to 27 (Copenhagen, Las Vegas, Orlando, Stockholm, New York, and now, Berlin).

And now that I’ve seen most of Berlin, for next year’s fan event in Berlin, I think I’ll make do with just an extended weekend (using Friday and Monday as travel days). That is, unless someone wants me to catch some specific sight or event while I’m already in Berlin (if that’s the case, I might extend the trip up to a full week).

Although the weather for the fan event weekend was amazing, it got colder in the week that followed, with night frost in the last few days of my stay. Actually, comparing Berlin on the day before I left with yesterday’s walk-around in Ålesund, it was actually slightly warmer here in Ålesund in the middle of the day. Weather changes quickly, huh?

Anyway, that’s it from me for now. I hope you had a safe and fun Halloween last night.

Apple updates everything

04.10.2012 17:05

Lunch comic by Børge Lund, translated from Norwegian to English by me, no permissions whatsoever, as usual

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last week or so, Apple has released their new iPhone 5, alongside the big update iOS 6 for older iPhones and iPads. And from what I hear, although the new iPhone is quite a bit better hardware-wise compared to the older iPhones, the software has quite a few disappointments. The dedicated YouTube app is gone, and the builtin map app no longer uses Google Maps, but rather their own Apple Maps solution.

And boy, what a disappointment new the Apple Maps is. I haven’t tried it first hand myself, but given all the problems I’ve heard in the tech news lately, Apple has made one of their biggest mis-steps of recent times (not counting the lawsuits, that is). Even if only less than half of the problems reported in the news are true, it’s a huge mistake, brinking on a scandal (if it isn’t already). Google Maps has taken Google years to perfect, and Apple Maps seems more like something that was slapped together last minute, which is very unlike Apple to do. Also, this big change in the maps app was as surprising to Google as it was for the rest of us, considering the news has reported that Apple had over a year left on their license agreement for Google Maps.

These particular changes are the two main reasons I’ve postponed upgrading my iPad to iOS 6, and I won’t be doing that until Google has officially finished up and released native iPad apps for both YouTube and Google Maps. I’ll just have to deal without the other improvements until such a time comes.

I still won’t consider buying an iPhone 5, though. As I mentioned before, I recently got the Samsung Galaxy S3, and after living with it for a few months, I’m still happy about the upgrade. I’m not too thrilled with the attack ads I’ve seen from Samsung and Nokia related to the iPhone 5 release, though, but that’s more related to how they attack Apple and their customers.

If you managed to get ahold of the iPhone 5, or you’ve downloaded iOS 6 to your existing iDevice, what do you think of it?

Life in general

18.09.2012 16:18

I just thought I’d let you know what’s been going on in my life this past month or so.

About a month ago, we had visitors at our office. One of our partners we’ve been in regular contact with in the U.S. came to visit us again (the last time he was here, which was also his first time here, was back in March) for the long weekend. And while he was already here, our contact in the Netherlands also came to visit. The week was a bit hectic, but it was nice to get to know each other and get a live discussion going of future developments and what each of us was going to work on (and preferably in which order). I’m not too keen on coming in to the office on weekends, but I can let that pass when it’s on rare occasions. I decided to leave early that Saturday so I could spend a few hours celebrating my cousin’s kid’s birthday party for the family (he turned 3 that day). It’s important to not burn yourself out.

As a bonus, though, my boss treated us with tickets to Jugendfest that Saturday, which has become a local music festival. On that day, the highlight performance was Roxette, which some of you may remember from the 80’s and 90’s (at least I remember them well). It started to rain heavily towards the end of their performance, so even though I came prepared with a thin poncho, I got pretty soaked that evening.

I also got myself a new phone. This time, I decided to go for a Samsung Galaxy S III. I spent a few weeks deciding on whether or not to buy it, and after making the decision, I used some unspent gift certificates to reduce the price even further. After spending a month with it, I still have no regrets on my choice. Simply said, I think it’s the best smartphone on the market today. And yes, that’s even after the new iPhone has been released.

And regarding my trip to Oslo in November, I finally got around to book flights and hotel for the weekend. I arrive in Oslo at 5 pm that Friday (November 16), take the airport train directly to Oslo S (the central train station in Oslo, where I’ll be arriving at about 5:30 pm) and check in to my hotel, which would be Radisson Blu Plaza, a short walk from Oslo S. After checking in, I take another short walk to Oslo Spektrum, where Gabriel Iglesias will perform at 7:30 pm. I head back home on the 5:50 pm flight that Sunday. While I’m already in Oslo, I plan on visiting my friend in Oslo and his wife, but I’m also up for anything else to fill my time (if anybody reading this wants to meet up).

But first, I’ll be preparing for my vacation in Berlin, which is less than a month away. And with even more added to the fan meet schedule on October 20, I’m getting even more excited as the day comes closer.

Sometimes, I hate my job

03.09.2012 15:20

I originally meant to write up this post last week, but I was simply too exhausted to do anything productive.

I usually keep my work life and home/private life separate, and since I consider this blog a part of my private life, I’ve chosen not to talk about it much here. That’s partially because I don’t want my work life to seep much into my private life, but it’s also because I work with clients and potential clients I don’t wish to reveal the identities of (this is mainly major corporations that I don’t want to either sue me for revealing “secrets” behind the scenes, or that I don’t want to piss off in a way that might cause them to drop us as a supplier). But sometimes, I have to rant out in the open.

Because sometimes, I really hate my job. I bet you sometimes do, too. Not in general, though. It’s mainly those little moments where you’re doing something that goes largely unappreciated. Even those “invisible” tasks you do; tasks that you know in the back of your mind that you have to do, tasks you have trained yourself to do through experience over a long time in the same job. I say that these small tasks are “invisible” in the sense that even though you do them on a regular basis, nobody at work seem to notice that they are being done, or people think you’re not doing your job.
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Gabreeeeeeel!

07.08.2012 00:29

I just got around to save myself a seat for a stand-up show with Gabriel Iglesias on his trip to Norway this year. More specifically, when he comes to Oslo on November 16. That’s a Friday.

Last year, I found out about his trip to Norway a little late, and too late to find an affordable flight. In essence, I missed out.

This year, I don’t plan on missing out. When I found out that “Fluffy” was coming back to Norway, I looked at the list of performances, and I felt I had only one single choice to make: Which show do I attend? He would be performing in Oslo on a Friday, and in Bergen on a Saturday. Later on, another show in Norway was added: Trondheim on a Thursday. All shows were in the same week, and since I’m at least one flight out from either location, I had to restrict myself to one of the locations, and maybe make a weekend out of it.

Looking deeply into my options for flight and hotel package at Expedia, I found out that the least expensive option would be in Oslo. Also, a good friend of mine lives in the Oslo area with his wife, which helped tip the scale in favor of Oslo as my destination.

I made sure I booked my show ticket first, since availability would definitely not last. The sections at the very front of the stage were already sold out, but I got a seat in the section right behind it. I’m not too happy about the seats, but I still don’t know what my view will be, so I’m happy I at least got a ticket for the show.

I’ve yet to book the travel package (flights and hotel), though, but I plan on doing that next week, when my paycheck comes in. I’ve already picked out a hotel possibility, if it’s still available and still as affordable as the last time I checked it at Expedia.

In any case, I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

Interesting dream

06.08.2012 23:53

I want to share a little something with you. I had a dream about a hot British actress last night, and before you call me a perv or something along those lines, I can already tell you that it wasn’t like that at all. First of all, I’ve had a little bit of a crush on this actress for a couple of years now, but I’ve never told anyone about that until now. And I’ll also refrain from disclosing her identity to avoid embarrassment (on either my part or hers), so I’ll call her “Miss B” (since that’s the initial letter of her first name) in my story here. I will not disclose anything further about her identity in a public forum, and I will only tell her myself (and only if she asks). Then again, given the unlikeliness of that happening, her identity in this dream will probably remain only with me. OK, that’s enough of that – back to my dream.

In my dream, I run into Miss B in her residence, not because I seek her out, but because she lives on the floor below someplace else I was seeking out (in my dream, that is). I happen to chat a little bit with her, but she puts me in the “friend zone”, since she already has two kids and a non-present husband. In itself, that’s odd, since she doesn’t have either in real life, and in my dream, her husband is one of her co-stars (and the most unlikely choice possible).

Since I realize that I’ll never get any closer than being a friend, I accept that fact, and we just hang out, with her kids playing around the room.

When going out as friends, we discover that Blue Man Group is performing at an outdoors event, out on a barge or pier that has a low stage built on it, where the audience watching from on the other side of the water (a very short distance away, though). After some time, she happens to join in (rather reluctantly) with Blue Man Group’s performance when she’s spotted as a celebrity in the crowd. When she returns to where I am in the crowd, we just sit down on the asphalt road and enjoy the rest of the performance (playing out , and hang out as friends for the rest of the evening, with her head rested on my left shoulder, as if we could actually become more than just friends.

At this point, I wake up from my dream, and I’m left with odd feeling of comfort. And with the memory of one of the oddest not-completely-surreal dreams I can recall.

Honestly, I’d very much like to meet Miss B in real life, and be friends with her. Not because of her celebrity status or the fact that an actual meeting is not likely to ever happen, but because she genuinely seems like a pleasant person overall. And oddly enough, I suddenly don’t feel just lust towards her, but something more. I’ve felt just lust for other actresses, sure, but not like this.

And before you ask: No, I don’t plan on stalking Miss B. I never feel like that for anyone. It’s not in my nature to stalk anyone. I do hope we will run into each other by random chance, sure, but I won’t try to make it happen as some sort of twisted destiny. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. Given that she’s based in the UK (I’m guessing the London area) and I’m in Norway (Ålesund, for those who remember), we’re not exactly likely to cross paths. Of course, I might travel to London on vacation, but again, the likelyhood of running into a specific celebrity actress in some city is closer to none, even if it’s that celebrity’s hometown.

Then again, if you’re reading this, and for some reason feel you fit the bill, feel free to get in touch, and I’ll let you know if you were the one in my dreams (damn, that sounded corny).

If course, that also goes for any woman out there who want to meet up some time. I’m usually not picky, but personality does count.

Have a safe vacation, everybody!

20.06.2012 15:31

It’s nearing the time when people go on vacation. I originally planned to finish an extensive article with my own travel advice, but considering how close it is to when most people go on vacation (July and August are some of the most popular vacation months), some of my safety tips and preparations will come too late for most of you. Especially when I do have a list of things that should probably be done at least two months before departure. Safe to say, I’ll just finish writing the article (both in English and Norwegian, mind you), let it sit in my drafts folder until next year, and then do some last-minute updates on it before publishing it in, say, March or April 2013.

In the meantime, I did find an article with most of my safety tips for travelers in a list called Before you Go. The article is mainly targeted at backpackers, but most of the suggestions apply to travelers in general.

In addition to the tips listed in that article, I can give some key points from my own article:

  • Get a document folder in plastic or cardboard where you keep all travel documents and confirmations while on the go.
  • Make copies of your passport, travel insurance and credit card numbers (along with phone numbers to cancel these credit cards); carry one copy with you in your document folder, and leave another copy at home, in case something should happen.
  • Check coverage maps and roaming charges for your mobile phone before you go; consider getting a pre-paid SIM card or phone while abroad if you plan on a longer stay or plan to make a lot of calls.
  • Keep the software on your tablet (iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc) or laptop – whichever you choose to travel with – up to date, and make backups before you go.
  • Don’t leave your electronic equipment where it might get stolen; make use of the room/hotel safe or other lockable storage when your equipment is not in use.
  • Make a small “route planner” to maximize time spent on attractions and museums, but don’t over-plan things (you’re supposed to enjoy your vacation, after all), and include plenty of breaks and cafe/restaurant visits in your plan.
  • Before you go, pre-check average taxi fares and safe taxi companies to use, and what public transportation is available.

I do have more advice on my list, but these are among the more important ones. I plan to follow my own advice when I go on vacation later this year, and I hope you will, too.

Have a safe trip!

The war on piracy continues

14.06.2012 13:35

Early last month, we were told that the DVD piracy warning was being updated. And not for the better, mind you. Now, consumers are still being called criminals, even before they’ve done anything wrong.

The new FBI anti-piracy warning

With such a warning, I still feel just as violated, and I still have to sit through DVD content I can’t skip past, making the wait even longer before I can actually start watching the film itself. Not only that, from what I understand, you will now have to sit through two warnings; one from the FBI, and one from the National Intellectual Property Center.

The new National Intellectual Property Center warning

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

I understand that piracy is a crime, but I don’t need to be reminded of it every time I want to watch a DVD that I bought through legal channels. I feel like these organizations are basically punishing consumers for doing the legal thing.

Here’s a thought, though:

The illegal version of watching a movie: Download from an pirated source, watch the film immediately.

The legal version of watching a movie: Go buy a DVD and put it in the DVD player, watch the FBI notice, watch the anti-piracy movie (they’ll probably have that, too), watch the previews (trailers for other movies and/or special features, such as a commercial for Blu-ray), get to the DVD menu (wait for it to settle on or show the menu items), hit “play movie”. If you’re lucky, the film starts at this point. If you’re unlucky, you have to sit through yet another warning about piracy and public screenings of the DVD.

I mean, what’s the point? Just let us watch the film, already! When movie pirates copy a DVD, they don’t copy these warnings, they only copy the film itself, without all the extra junk (although, they usually don’t include the special features and extra material that some of us want to see).

I’ve also seen warnings that include street vendors who sell pirated DVDs. I mean, the majority of the movie, music and software piracy “industry” happen online these days. The people who rip a DVD for downloading are usually people who are sick and tired of having their cash flow through an outdated corporate scheme.

Those in the industry claim that piracy is the direct cause of monetary losses, but in my opinion, that’s only half true. If you’re going to account for losses, do they also account for how much money they’re wasting on lawyers, lawsuits against individuals (grandmothers, single mothers, and such) and torrent sites, and various DRM schemes?

I’m not saying they shouldn’t fight piracy, but I’m criticizing their current methods of fightin it. I feel that they should rather fight piracy with awareness campaigns, where they focus on why the legal path is good, and showing why you should support the industry. Plain and simple, make people make good about themselves when they spend their money on a DVD, Blu-ray, CD, legal download, books, merchandise, etc. And on the side, they can keep on with lawsuits against those who make large profits from piracy.

Last time I saw one of the few well-made “anti-piracy” warnings out there, was when I bought and fired up my DVD for The Adjustment Bureau. I had originally downloaded this movie illegally, which I usually do when I’m uncertain about the movie’s quality (in terms of story, directing and acting, that is). After seeing it as a pirated download version, I thought it was so good, I got the real version (I had it on my wishlist, and if I hadn’t gotten it for Christmas, I would’ve bought it myself). I’ve ripped the warning from my DVD here and put it up here (unlisted on YouTube, in case you wanted to go searching for it), just so you can see what I mean:

Short, simple, and it made me feel good about myself for buying the DVD and supporting the people who are in this business. This is the type of anti-piracy warning I want to see. With this, I feel like I’m contributing to the good part of the business, and not feeling like I should expect a lawsuit whenever possible.

 

Side note: The anti-piracy warning video is probably copyrighted, and I’m assuming Universal Studios has something to do with it, given that they’re the publisher of the DVD I got this from. I copied it from there for illustration purposes; please don’t sue me. If you’re reading this, and own the copyright to this, please either grant me a non-exclusive license to use this, or point me to some existing version of it online, so I can link to or embed it from my blog. I’ll put up a proper copyright notice if you want me to.

Recent stuff and vacation

05.06.2012 16:34

May is now a gone stage for this year, and summer is approaching. At least, that’s the general idea. We had some good weather a couple of weeks ago, but the return of the slightly cold weather does give way for some depressing thoughts. Not “suicide” depressing (or even on-the-brink-of-suicide-depressing), but more like “I-don’t-really-want-to-get-out-of-bed-where-it’s-warm” depressing. Some of you know what I mean.

In the past month, both my two-year-old niece and my mother had their birthdays (May 8 and 9, respectively), Constitution Day was on May 17 (in terms of what it means for Norway, and its celebration, you United-States-of-Americans can compare it to your July 4), and we had Pentacost (which is a public holiday in Norway, even though most of us don’t really celebrate it). And given that we had visitors from far away during Pentacost, such events are quite challenging for someone who’s trying to lose weight.

Then again, even with a minor setback last week (when I had gained 1 kg), my total weight loss since I started in January has now reached 22.2 kg (or almost 50 pounds to you non-metric people). My goal is still within reach. My even further challenge will come this summer, when the type of course I’m taking will be unavailable, which means I have to go through the summer on my own. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can manage it without any setbacks when the next course is available at the end of August.

In other news, I now have my vacation time nailed down. First, I’m taking one week of vacation time in mid-July, in hopes of warm weather that week. I’m not really going anywhere, but I plan to spend that week as a tourist in my hometown. I plan to see sights and visit tourist attractions I usually pass by on a daily basis, and really see what my little city has to offer. We often ignore all those special sights when we live in the area, and most of us don’t take the time to truly experience this. My vacation week is smack dab in the middle of the tourist season, and also the same week as the local annual boating festival (“Ålesund Båtfestival“). Not because I’m particulary interested in boats and boating, but more because of all the culture that surrounds such festivals, including the stream of tourists from all over (and the fact that there’s a big chance of sunny weather that week).

My next, and primary, vacation this year will be in October. The destination: Berlin, Germany. Given that weather is likely to be cold, windy, rainy and pretty much grim, I just had to put a vacation week in July to give it some balance.

The reason for travelling to Berlin in October? A Blue Man Group fan meet. The annual European fan meet, to be exact. Since I don’t have a budget for another USA trip this year, I decided to go for the next best thing; meeting up with fellow fans in Berlin to enjoy our common interest, Blue Man Group (since they already have a regular show in Berlin). I expect to meet some of the friends I made last summer once again, and I also hope for a tour backstage and meet with some of the people behind the show on the ay of the fan meet. If that falls into place, my day (and year) would be made.

The October trip will last me two weeks, flying out there Monday, October 15, and returning home on another Monday two weeks later. Flights have been booked, and so has a decent hotel (Fjord Hotel Berlin), so all I need now, is tickets to the show, and plan for additional activities. I’ve already invested in a couple of guide books for Berlin, to make sure I don’t miss out some of the more important sights. I just need to sit down with those books and plan an outline of which sights I want to see (categorized by how much I want to see those sights, and which ones I can visit if I have time left). I’ve already taken care of travel insurance, making sure my passport is up-to-date, and making sure my home is safe while I’m away.

For my Berlin trip (and most other vacation trips), I only plan what I’m going to see. I usually don’t plan out entire days, except for the attractions/sights that have limited opening hours, and for specific show I want to see. When I do plan, I also plan out which attractions/sights are geographically close (or bundled) together, and of those, in which order to visit them (based on their opening hours). I might get back to this one in a later post, though. We’ll see.

May-be an update…

05.05.2012 17:29

Now this is a new way of doing things….

One, I realized I had been silent on my blog for over a month, so I thought I’d catch up a little. Two, I’m typing the entirety of this blog entry on my iPad at a local diner, and using a Logitech keyboard specifically designed for use with the iPad. I’ve been using my ‘pad quite often recently, as I also mentioned here earlier this year, and I have to admit, a tablet PC was definitely something I needed. It’s just perfect for those tasks that a regular smartphone can do in a pinch, but is not powerful enough to do that task very efficiently while I’m on the move, and where booting up my regular Windows laptop just takes too long. With the tablet, I just pull it out of the bag, unlock the screen, and it’s ready to do what I want.

Granted, the iPad wasn’t my first choice, but since I got one as a thank-you gift from work, I felt I might as well go for it. If I hadn’t gotten it at work, and had to use my own money to buy one, I would’ve most likely gone for an Android tablet. Not because Android is so much better (quality-wise, both Android-powered and iOS-powered devices measure up quite equally), but because Apple’s usage policies and tight lock-down of their devices and software are so rigid and twisted, Apple products in general are never part of my first choice for anything. Sure, Apple stuff have their strengths when it comes to graphics design and video editing, but aside from that, the price for what you get is simply too much to rank higher on my list of product choices.

Anyway, I’ll repeat what I said back in February: Next vacation, I’m leaving my laptop at home, and will be using my iPad paired with the external keyboard instead.

To change the subject, we have recently crossed the line into the month of May, and with that, summer is leaping closer. Even so, I woke up today to see that it was snowing outside, despite having warmer weather for the last month or so. I was not happy, to say the least. My optimism hasn’t been shattered, though, since the temperature is also at around 3-4 degrees Celsius (about 38 Fahrenheit, for you slackers who still use that 😉 ), so the snow had a chance to melt again the moment it hit the ground. With the temperature this “high” above the freezing point, it simply won’t last long. I just hope there won’t be any snow or rain on Constitution Day, which is May 17 (for you Americans, this is our July 4 – imagine this day raining away, and you get my slight pessimism).

Of course, there are also more important things in life. Back in late March, I became an uncle for the second time. My nephew Oliver is now a little over 1 month old, and my niece Ebba celebrates her second birthday this Sunday (her actual birthday is this coming Tuesday, but the we usually move the celebration party to the closest weekend). It’s amazing how productive my sister can be once she puts her mind to it! 🙂

Sure, the fact that my three years younger sister has gotten this far ahead in her life (boyfriend, children and a home for themselves, of course), keeps reminding my that I still haven’t gotten my own life properly started the way I want it to be. I’m annoyed that at the age of 32, I haven’t gotten my ass in gear to get things going (if “get (your) ass in gear” seems like an odd expression to you, I assure you it translates to an actual saying in Norway – “få ræva i gir”, or more delicately put, “get a move on!”).

I do have things moving properly in my life, though. The more perceptive of you might’ve realized I’m quite the heavy guy. Several hundred pounds worth, and I’m not talking about British money here. I said earlier that I had lost 8.5 kg in the first 8 weeks, and I just started a third course at Grete Roede earlier this week. At this point, I’ve lost a total of 17.1 kg (about 37.7 lbs) since I started my first course back in January. My first milestone of losing 25 kg (55 lbs) before the summer properly starts is well within reach, and based on my calculations (ie. worst-case scenario of losing “only” an average of 1 kg per week), I’ll reach a satisfying weight around September next year. It’s going to be a long and tough road ahead, but I’m confident I can make it, no matter how long it takes. It’s going to be expensive to reach that goal (using the Grete Roede method as a guide and motivator), but it’s well worth it in the long run.

On a more depressing note, some of you might’ve caught the news of the trial of the Norwegian terrorist started this past month. This was the asshole (to use a mild word for him) who performed the acts of terrorism back in July last year, and we’re now about to find out what his penalty will be. Thankfully, we don’t have a death sentence here in Norway, since that would be taking the easy way out. Besides, killing him off would only make him a martyr for those who strangely enough agree with him, and we just don’t need that. Also, the Norwegian maximum sentence of 21 years in jail is too mild on a crime such as this. To be honest, the proper sentence for this guy is an isolation cell for the rest of his life, and be forced to watch the Norwegian community’s solidarity towards eachother (as most of us have responded to these acts of terrorism and extremist views) and the way we continue to include people regardless of ethnic origin or religious background. This is something that this guy wanted to remove from our society, and we need to show him that we will not give in to his “demands” of adjusting our society to his views. I genuinely believe that our compassion towards our fellow human beings, including Muslims and those who follow other religions, is something that pains him, and this is the type of torture I feel I can condone with a good conscience.

I’m usually very accepting and patient with people who don’t share my opinions, even those who have the exact opposite opinion as myself, as it gives me more of a challenge to try to discuss my way into making them change their opinion. What I don’t accept, however, is when someone expresses their opinion by way of murder, violence, or severe damage of property, either by performing these types of acts themselves, or by condoning or suggesting such acts. I also have no respect for opinions that express hatred or discrimination towards fellow human beings purely based on ethnicity (“race”), gender, religion, disabilities (mental or physical) and/or sexual preference. Sure, people of today can attempt to avoid such hatred by converting to another religion, have gender reassignment treatment (I’m not talking about those who choose this path because they feel they are of a different gender in their hearts), or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually gay and bisexual people who try to act exclusively heterosexual and “normal”), but that does nothing change society around you to accept you as you are. People who express such hateful or discriminating opinions (even expressing them at a more unconscious level) are the ones who need to change, not the ones who are experiencing the hateful end of such opinions. There are an alarming increase of people in small groups who speak out about the so-called “Islamification” of our society, where even more Muslims are being accepted into our communities. Such people believe that Islam will “take over” society, and that we’ll lose our Christianity, and in all of these cases, I believe these opinions are both misguided and factually wrong. Look, if you consider yourself to be Christian, no level of presence from the Islamic community can convince you to convert to Islam, can it?

On a happier note, I plan to attend the Blue Man Group fan meet in Berlin this coming October. Sure, it will delay my summer vacation until after the summer has officially ended, but it is something to look forward to nonetheless. I haven’t made any specific plans yet, such as booking flights and hotel, but I plan to do so once my paycheck arrives in a little more than a week (the 15th). So far, I’ve only decided to actually attend, so once again, this year’s vacation will be centered around attending Blue Man Group shows. I never thought I’d be this much of a fan of, well, anything at all, but such is life. And what a great life it is.

Sitting here at the Egon diner, I just realized that I’ve spent way more than an hour writing this blog post. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re on a roll.

Anyway, until next time, this is NeonNero, signing off. I’m going for a walk.