Monday, October 29, 2012

Winter in Oslo has apparently started.

Autumn in Oslo

Autumn is my favourite time of the year. I love the colours of the trees. In Canada it becomes lovely sweater weather (it never really gets hot enough in Oslo to make this a relief).

A couple nice sunny days this month I went out to take pictures around Oslo of the nature.

I first went to Sognvann and discovered as soon as I got there that both camera batteries I had were dead but I got one picture.

The walk around the lake was really quite beautiful. Colours were lovely and the weather was just cool enough that walking around in a coat was comfortable.

On another sunny day I went to Vigelands Park:

my husband

 I spent about an hour sitting on the bank reading Terry Pratchett in the sun. It was lovely.
Yesterday I wanted to go somewhere I haven't been before so I went up to Maridalsvannet and walked down along Akerselva river. I got a little lost on the way there so I walked a hell of a lot more then I planned on and the sun was quite low in the sky by the time I arrived so the light wasn't that great.

These guys look way more like wolves than huskies.

Maridalsvannet- Oslo's drinking water

several parts of my path were flooded


This waterfall gave off mist. Mist + minus degree weather= black ice. 

hurt my hand. Now it can't really do much.

I think 28th of October is the record for earliest ice accident of the season. After falling my back and hand/arm really hurt so I found the Nydalen t-bane stop as soon as possible and headed home. On the t-bane I had to avoid bursting into tears when I pulled out my Kindle and saw this:
the e-ink screen is broken and as it's over one year old there's no chance to return it. My electronics always break within a couple months after the warranty is over. This pretty much guarantees that I won't complete my 50 books a year goal this year. I was already behind but I can usually speed read a couple shorter books in December and catch up. Now there's no hope. My (absolutely lovely amazing mom) has said she'll buy me a new one but as I'm looking at the new Paperwhite Kindle it'll be a couple months before I get it.
The screen of my small cheap camera is also partially broken but it still works.
Because of my sore body and the grumpiness caused by breaking my stuff I didn't end up doing anything for Halloween. I just watched stupid movies curled up in bed. I should be doing my thesis...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review- On the Beach by Neville Shute

Published in 1957 this book is about the near future after a World War 3 in which the major powers of the Northern hemisphere have obliterated each other with nuclear bombs. The radioactive waste is gradually coming south with the wind currents and this book tells the story of people living in Melbourne, Australia who know they will be the last major city on the earth.
I loved the premise of the book, a large 'what if?' scenario that makes you wonder what you would do if you knew you and everyone on earth would be dead in a matter of months. With an American submarine commander and his Australian liaison we get to see glimpses of decimated and empty American shores where they hopefully call out announcements to check for survivors.

Spoilers ahead!

While I loved the premise I didn't like the uniformity of everyone's solution to the 'what if' scenario. Apart from an initial increase in partying, pretty much everyone just continued on with their lives; making plans for their garden, sowing the field for the next year's harvest, or going to school to learn to type. While I have no doubt that the majority of people would just consume themselves with self-denial and continue on I'm sure that at least a handful of people would try and do -something-, anything. Like attempt to make a survival bunker underground and prep it so it will last until the radioactive half-life is through. I would expect a brash of suicides as soon as the news hits. I also expect there would be a religious revival and people preaching about the end of days. Just something different instead of everyone passively denying the truth until they're half-dead. One character somewhat did this by taking up race car driving near the end but he was the only one, and I'm a little disappointed he didn't die driving his car. I did, however, like that they commented upon the nonsensical actions of others and some then recognized they each had their own form of craziness.
I absolutely HATED the women in this book. Perhaps it was just typical portrayal of women in the 50s but they annoyed the hell out of me. Little, frivolous, emotional, irrational twats the lot of them. Mary was the worse of them. I just wanted to reach into the book and slap her. Self-denial can be a powerful thing but hers seemed coupled with an intense stupidity as well.
This book had a weird sort of atmosphere to it which was done well. Most post-apocalyptic books have some sort of hope in them, a vague light for the future but not this one. While the submarine was on missions around North America I keep expecting them to find something or someone but there wasn't anyone to find. Humanity was truly and completely obliterated. It's quite depressing to think about really. But I have to look on the bright side and think that nature will eventually come back and reclaim everything.

What would I do? Part of me says I would try and get with a group to build a sort of underground compound to survive in but I'm not sure if I'd really want to live 5-20 years underground. When this book was written it would have been technologically impossible to complete that in 6 months so if I were a character in this novel I would probably spend my time reading until the sickness hit the town and then off myself gloriously before I got sick.

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
-T.S Eliot

Friday, September 14, 2012

Character Obsessions

I've been a rather horrible blogger recently, a bad student too. There's my general laziness but contributing to the problems recently have been my character obsessions. I occasionally get drawn into spirals of useless character obsession that can take up a sickening amount of time. I've done this for as long as I can remember with a variety of T.V. and books. I find a character or a world in which I fall in love and continually daydream about it. I create characters and insert them into the world and make up a continuation of the story. It's essentially fanfic that I don't write down and it's the bad shit too since they usually involve a Mary-Sue (a perfected awesome version of me) but not always. The first time I did this was with the Xena universe, there was Sinbad the sailor, and then it was Lord of the Rings. Actually I'm pretty sure my first sexual fantasy included Aragorn. When I was a teen I fell into the dark, hopeless chasm that is Harry Potter fanfic and it truly got scary. It started as a bit of innocent fun with a friend where we would email each other the good stories we found and I read more and more until finally my friend emailed saying, 'uhm, you can stop sending me stories I don't read fanfic anymore', but I couldn't give it up. It honestly was an addiction, I spent hours and hours scrolling through potential stories trying to find some of the gems, or the ones with my favourite themes(Severitus ftw!) or ships. Then hours reading the stories, and then if I couldn't find anything that fit what I wanted perfectly then I would lay in bed making up my own stories. My mom would occasionally ask me if I was depressed because she didn't like that I would lay in my bed alone all the time. When she would ask what I was doing she wasn't content with my typical response of 'thinking', I mean how could I tell her I was making up my own fantasy stories? My school work suffered because I just couldn't care about it when I could be reading fanfic instead. One of the worst things about this obsession though was that I stopped reading anything else. I have always been a voracious reader and while I was technically reading it really isn't the same. When I finally did break out of the habit (a lot of it had to do with the fact that the authors of two of my favourite rather huge stories- I mean they each wrote books worth of material- either went on hiatus or were taking so long to update that it drove me crazy)it took a long time for me to be able to read new material again. I couldn't even handle epic fantasy, I had to start off rather simple with the Drizzt Do'Urden books and got obsessed with those until I was able to guess everything Drizzt would do before he did it and I got bored (no offense to R.A. Salvatore fans but they're rather simplistic).
So yes, occasionally I get obsessed with characters or worlds and it can take up a lot of time. My recent obsession is this man:

Well I should say character. It's John Pope from Falling Skies. I think it's a testament to Colin Cunningham's acting (which is great!) that I'm not obsessed with him, just this character he plays. The show's writers have given him an interesting back story that I'm interested in seeing more about when the show continues next year. Though there is some stuff with Maggie that I'm not quite sure they realize how incredibly sketchy the road they're going down is. Anyway, I digress. I've watched the show through twice now, I've also gone through and just watched the parts with Pope in them. His hold on me is loosening now so I think I can return to my regularly scheduled life but I just needed to comment on this because it has been a number of years since a character/story has consumed me so entirely.
Now if only I could make myself because so obsessed the characters I've created I may actually write something of my own.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Paris July 8th w/ Capetian Tours

 Didn't have much time to do stuff on Saturday morning because I was meeting people at noon and most things opened at 9:30-10.  By the time I got to the Musee d'Orsay there was already a long lineup so I knew that even if I got in I would have to hurry through it and decided I wasn't going to try. Instead I walked around taking pictures of nearby pretty buildings.

At noon I met with my friends Jason Sager and Chris Enns of Capetian Tours. Jason and Chris are two professional historians who started their tour guide in Paris this summer. They offer personalized tours that are capped at 5-6 people so you'll never have to crowd into a site with 25 other tourists all trying to hear a single tour guide.  Jason is a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and taught both Chris and myself while we attended. His courses were the type of class I took even if I wasn't necessarily interested in the material (Renaissance, ick!) but knew it would have interesting lectures and be a worthwhile credit.
The tour started at Basilica of St Denis which is in the north part of the city. Legend has it that St. Denis who is the patron saint of France was decapitated at Montmartre and afterward carried his head to the location of the current church.
 There's a necropolis where all but three French kings have been buried which is pretty cool. I won't tell you any details because I'll let Jason and Chris do that. They have a store of interesting and historical stories to tell that are relevant to each site and the history of Paris.
Rose window

That tart Marie Antoinette falling out of her dress. 
Next was St. Germain des Pres church which is a really cool painted Romanesque church. It's also the home of the tomb of Rene Descartes.
 After that we passed by the ruins of the oldest church in Paris, St Julien le Pauvre on our ways to St. Chappelle's church which was built by Louis IX to house Jesus' crown of thorns (yyeahh, right). The upstairs of this church is absolutely stunning. It seems like there is more glass than wall.
SO if you're in Paris and at all a fan of medieval history you should most definitely contact Capetian Tours. I believe the price listed on the website is currently under discussion so don't let that stop you. It's a really interesting and informative tour that would make any medievalist happy.

I went back to my hostel after looking around some shopping streets and again there was a get-together in the evening in the common room of the hostel and I told Chris and another fellow student Barry and his cousin to come to the hostel to meet people, so they did and we all had a pretty good time just sitting around chatting with people known old and new.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Paris July 7

The day started with a very early morning in order to catch my Ryanair flight that was at 6:45am. I attempted and failed to get a couple hours of sleep so I got up at 2:15, had a shower and double-checked all my luggage before catching a city bus into downtown at 3:27. I caught the 4am bus to the Rygge airport which was jam packed and I was uncomfortable and soaking wet. At that time I really really wished I had taken the last train into the airport the night before and attempted to sleep in the airport, I probably would have been substantially better rested. 
Flight was quite uneventful as I dozed in and out of sleep before arriving at the Beauvais airport. I hadn't really done any research for this trip so I was mildly shocked to find out the only way into Paris was to take a bus that cost €15. Since two or three planes had recently arrived there were tons of people waiting for the buses and it took about an hour and a half to simply buy a ticket let alone wait in a different line to get on the bus.
Then there was the 2+ hour drive into Paris in traffic. Lovely. At least it let me nap a little more.
They finally dropped us off near the edge of the city and I got a metro pass and map and went to find my hostel. I stayed at Smart Place Paris. I was too early for check-in so I left my bags and went to Versailles.
Lots and lots of gold around Versailles. Personally I think it's a little gauche but who am I to judge?

However, there was a giant line-up despite the very bad weather Paris was having that day.
The line was longer than the building.
The huge line combined with the €25 entrance fee (there are cheaper options if you only want to see certain parts of the grounds, the 25 is for a full pass) meant that I didn't go into Versailles. I tried to walk around the gardens because they're often free but they have some sort of show on every night recently so they were charging €6,50 to get in so I didn't care enough for that either. I decided to walk around in the park area that was free and wandering around to see the royal horses.
While in the park I heard a horrible noise. Thunder. Shortly afterwards I was soaked through. My umbrella was essentially useless. I attempted to huddle under a doorway for a while to let it pass but by that point I was so wet that there wasn't a point. Sopping wet I decided to head back to the hostel.

That night in the hostel was really great. When I got back I brought my laptop down to the lounge and ate some food I picked up at the grocery store. A couple other people came down and a few chatted with each other because they had met before and there were periods of silence and chatter. Eventually though a topic came up that I had something to say about so I overcame my silence and my instinct to just be quiet and I spoke. I was drinking a bottle of wine and as the night wore on and more people were chatting overs decided so go get some more. I drank basically a whole bottle to myself while a couple people had a glass or two of a different bottle but it definitely helped move the conversation along. The talk eventually moved on to talk of going somewhere, the original decision was the grounds of the Sacre Coeur church but another group came down that knew a couple in our group and said they were going to the Eiffel Tower. So we were at the Eiffel tower for midnight where this happens (apologies for the sideways-ness):
We then got nutella crepes and ate the beside the tower in the rain which had started again. There was a long metro ride back because the more direct route had closed down for the night. I collapsed in my bed a happy but slightly damp traveler.
I was also pleased with myself because I had the option to stick with the easy and familiar and go hang out with some friends from university at a Canadian sports bar ( in Paris, I know wtf?) but I decided to have a more authentic evening with new people.
Eiffel Tower at night

Louis XIV