Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Thanks to R. I finally scored a job after a year of joblessness (more on that later).

Part of the job description is use Google Earth to obtain some data (no more on that later here). Anyways, I've used GE before to pinpoint my house and that sort of thing but never realised you could tilt Earth (mock me if you must).

To me that is absolutely magic. I can somewhat grasp that you can do that, computerwise, but the feeling of actually being somewhere else even though you're just staring at your computer is (to me again) totally amazing. Nineteen years ago I played "1942" and "Winter Games" on a computer with a 64 kb memory, because that was as much as anyone needed anyway. Now this. I am able to go anywhere and do anything (well) in the world.

Here's some of my best tips:

- Climb Mount Everest and enjoy the view. No frozen feet. No dead buddies. None of that media hazzle when I get back. Just me, a beer, and a view.

- Crash into buildings on Manhattan. This one is probably not polically correct, but how would it feel?

- Take a helicopter ride over Sahara. See how long you can go without noticing any buildings, roads etc. Then go to Paris. See how long it takes before you're out of town.

- Take a helicopter ride through Grand Canyon. Rich folks do it. Why shouldn't you?

- Zoom out as far as you can. Set our planet to north. Tilt it 9 degrees. Spin it carefully. Contemplate life universe and everything.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Hospital Song

So anyway,

I got sick and went to the biggest hospital in town, which would be this one:

But they told me to go somewhere were they admitted common folks.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sneak preview

I spend my writing time with the novel now, but I thought it might post some sneak previews here to get some feed-back on the stuff, and also provide you with some fun reading in absence of proper blogging. Here's a conversation the main character has with a dying man on domestic trouble:

- But it'll go away, right.

- Of course it won’t. It’s domestic. I can’t survive in the wild. If trouble gets in your house it will stay there. You can try to throw it out but it will come back howling at your door begging to be let in again. Sooner or later you give in to the howling and open the door. Then trouble rush in and starts to mess everything up, leaving dirty stains on your favourite chair. So you put it out again, but the stains won’t go and trouble is still smouldering in the garden, just waiting to spark again. Before you know it you have a party and trouble puts on a false moustache and sneaks in behind your fat aunt Alberta. Then you'll have trouble spreading to all your friends and relatives. I’m telling you, domestic trouble is the worst kind.

- Sounds like you know trouble.

- We’re like this. The dying man held up his right hand with the middle finger on top of the index finger. If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place. He did the impersonation really well.

- So what do you do about it, Elvis?

- Keep it on a leach. Treat trouble like a dog and you’ve got the best ally you could ever want. You sit at a coffee shop with this big trouble tied at your chair. Some annoying prick comes up and wants to sell you something. You’ll just nod at trouble and it’ll scare away that bastard instantly. People with their trouble in check are not good consumers.

- Convenient, really.

- Then this girl comes up and say ‘Oh, it’s soooo cuuute – can I cuddle it’ and you just give her the ol’ blue gaze and say ‘please’. Then she turns to her girlfriend and whispers ‘He’s taking so good care of his trouble, he must be a good father’, pretty soon you’ll have a threesome going.

- What about trouble then?

- On occasions like that trouble will have to wait outside. A ménage à trois is my limit. Kinky is OK, but I’m not a pervert.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Trash Posting

All things must come to the sea...

...and some come back.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Carrying Cathy

I just started a book project so I’ve been off the web for a while. This one is taken from my oh so large archive heap of old events that I swore to put on the blog. The reason it came up now was a discussion I had the other day about any potentially inappropriate reasons for carrying a Filipina.

Last October or so S called around 8 pm on a Saturday evening. Her husband J had a friend who was lost on Mount Makiling, an old dormant volcano next to our town. J was going on a rescue mission and S wondered if I could come along too.

Sure. I threw the things I would think be necessary in a backpack, put on some hiking boots and a longsleeved shirt and J picked me up. It was not clear where or when he was lost but going up the hill we picked up another friend with more info and also got textreports on the situation.

His friend had taken five of his employees at a large American credit card company for a kick-off at Makiling. They planned to go to Mudsprings, an area of steaming hot mud bubbling out from the ground about a third of the way up to the top. When they got there, they felt hungry for more, so they made attempt at the summit, which they reached and started their descend half an hour later. They didn’t mark their entrance path though and went down on the wrong side, realising after another half an hour that they were lost and made it back to the summit. When reaching the summit they realised they would not make it down before nightfall, and with no flashlights or lanterns there was no way they’d pull off a night descend. And with no spare water or food they were not likely to make it down in one piece the next day. So the friend texted the Forestry Department to ask for help.

We reached the outpost somewhere around 8:30 pm and got the full briefing. So me, J, the Forestry boss, two other foresters got in yet another friends shiny new gold colored Isuzu Crosswind to go as far as we could on the muddy, bumpy path. On the way up the Forestry Boss inquired about the contents of everyone’s backpack.

”Well, Dried fruits, chocolates, water, extra water, first aid kit, knife, insect repellent, flashlight, extra flashlight, lantern…eh…that’s about it”
“Where are your extra clothes”
“Well, maybe I’m to big to lend them clothes anyway” I said jokingly, no really knowing what he was getting at.
“ No, for you, it’s going to be cold up there”
“ Yeah, I’m from Sweden, we don’t get cold”.
I know it was a very boisterous and un-swedish remark (I do get cold, it never happened in this country yet though) but I included it because that’s how I felt at the moment:

Going up an old volcano in the dead of night to save a group of people who were stuck there. Who might die on the top of the mountain if we can’t get to them. I know it’s not Everest or anything, but the whole idea gave me instant chest-hair. At the time I was mostly dealing with poopy diapers and screaming children and reading stories to stop children from screaming. This was Alpha-Male for me.

J’s friend with the Isuzu wasn’t properly equipped (apart from the car of course, which had gotten us nearly half way up) so he couldn’t come. The Boss stayed behind for some reason I couldn’t figure out (and didn’t really mind about).

At 9 pm the four left, Me, J, Forester V and Forester N set out through the jungle to do some serious man shit. I had a definite Lord of the Rings – feeling, just a tad to big to be a hobbit though. Maybe I could be Strider. Cool.

The first part of the way up was easy. Literally a walk in the park, even though Makiling is technically a Forest Reserve and not a National Park anymore on account of being too small. The reserve is 4000 hectares and there’s 10 foresters to look after it and stop illegal logging, poaching, trapping, settlement, guide visitors and occasionally rescue poorly planned kick-off parties. Maybe not the most gratifying job in the world, but I'd take it. We were talking about conservation issues, climbed big rock outcrops, walked along narrow trails with a wall on one side and a extremely steep slope on the other, picking some secret wild fruits that didn’t taste that well but it was good for your stamina (and, of course, your boner. Seems that everything that tastes off here is regarded as a native Viagra. I’m beginning to suspect that it’s just a male ritual, if you can eat things that tastes like shit, you’re really masculine, then you must have a good sex-drive, sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy) and I did no longer hesitate about my Strider* identity.

It took us 1 hour 45 minutes hours to reach the top where there was much gusto. The group were happy to see us. One of the young women had gotten some scratches that I could fix with my first aid kit. We cooked for them, gave them water and a few jokes. I felt like going out in the jungle to look for secret herbs to prepare my elfish back-to-life potion that would leave us all hovering down the mountain in a ball of glorious light, but settled for picking wild strawberries.

Anybody saw the hubris coming, nooo.

We were 10 people up there. 4 rescuers and 6 people in need. We where supposed to go down and be back so we could get a few hours of sleep and not ruin our entire Sunday. I thought.
You see, 40 minutes behind us were rescue-team No 2, consisting of another 9 people, including the forestry boss (why would he stay behind, he was the boss right. Why let someone else get the credit for the rescue if you’re going to be up all night anyway).

11.30 pm. - So we better cook for team no 2.
11:40 pm - They’d better eat.
11:55 am. - They’d better get some rest before the descend.
0:02 am. - By the way, you have any aspirin in your first aid kit?
0:02 am. - No, It’s a first aid kit.
0:03 am. - Why don’t you have any aspirin in your first aid kit?
0:03 am. - I never had aspirin in first aid kits. They’re supposed to save lives, stop bleeding and infection, not cure head aches. You can sniff on some rubbing alcohol if you want to.
0:03 am. - I have aspirin in my first aid kit.
0:03 am. (Well, you should have brought it then, shouldn’t you. And how about showing some gratitude or I’ll rip that bandage right off.)
0:04 am. (I am not Strider. I am Saruman)
0:10 am. - OK. We can go now. (What, and leave Isengard all abandoned)
0:11 am - Wait. One of the girls is night blind.
0:12 am - She can’t go.
0:13 am - She can’t go very fast.
0:14 am - She goes very slowly. (Thanks to Saruman's lantern by the way, that wizard stuff comes in handy)

So we go, veeery slooowly downhill. I put a white hand on trees here and there. Some singing, some playing “Mexican hat dance” on their cellphone. Three hours and fifteen minutes later we’ve reached the easy part. Half a mile to go. If we go Uruk-Hai style we’ll be there in 20 minutes. We stop for a short break, get up and then one of the young women sits down again and won’t move. The boss talks to her to see what’s wrong.

- Pagod, she’s tired (No shit)
- You don’t have any aspirin in your first aid kit?
- Still not, sorry, (I was planning to go to Mercury Drug, but the one on the path was closed)
- Any medicine that might cheer her up, caffeine.
- Sorry. Just first aid. (Dammit, I knew I should put some amphetamine in there, they do come in handy,
specially when passing customs)

(Luckily he did not criticize my first aid, or I’d had my wand kick his ass into next week)
After a minute of confusion where we at least could give her some chocolate and water, everybody sat down again. And waited. 16 men (of which 13 are from the rescue squad), 3 women. One of which is not willing to go any further. She weighs 45 kg, tops.

- Hrrm, I said to the boss, maybe we can carry her for a bit?
- No no, She’ll be fine, we just wait for a bit
- Hrrm, I said to J, why can’t we carry her for a bit?
- She’ll be fine. The boss decides.

So for 45 minutes we sit and wait for a young woman to overcome her tiredness. Everybody’s is still talking cheerfully in Tagalog. The odd “Mexican hat dance” is playing from a lone cellphone. I don’t understand shit. (I am not Saruman, I am an ignorant Orc).

Finally she gets up and 15 men, 6 women and 1 ignorant orc are walking downwards again. We walk and walk for at least 50 meters before the next young woman is to tired to walk any more.
Maybe carry this one?
It’s 4:15 am, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone’s is tired.
It’s pretty safe to say that no one will fell perkier until they’ve had some sleep and some coffee.
30 more minutes of Tagalog and “Di-da-di-da-Da-di-da-Da-di-da—Da-Da-di-da-Da-di-da-Da-di-da“ and ignorant orc muttering.

Here is a biologist, stuck in a jungle forest reserve, on hour before dawn. Owls hooting, loads of exiting flowers, mother nature blowing a gentle wake up wind to the creatures of the forest who respond with a cacophony of merry sounds. Nowadays I actually go up early and drive up to the outpost just to hear those calls and watch some birds. Then, all I could manage was Orc-mumbles.

Finally we get up, and walk for I swear no more than three feet before tired No 1 sits down again. (I am the Orc that loses his temper and gets his insubordinate head chopped off by the Orcleader). I give up and walk ahead for another 50 or so meters, far enough to avoid the embarrassment of smashing someone’s cellphone if “Mexican hat dance” comes on again.

At 5:45 am I reach the car. At 6:30 when everyone has come down, we go. At 7:15 I’m home again with my loving wife. At 8:15 I sleep.

I’ll always remember that night, and if I was invited again (fat chance) I would go in an instant. I even have aspirin in the first aid kit now. But I have yet to figure out why we didn’t carry the ones who couldn’t walk for themselves.


*I find Strider cooler than Aragorn. I think It’s a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll thing, you know, “Well, they’re OK, but I remember their early stuff. That’s way better, more raw energy. I remember a concert I went to back in 1987...”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The most polite non-english countries of the world

I thought about the previous entry and how you could use it to improve your understanding of different cultures, in the way that the translation would reflect some of the mentality of the culture in question.

The theory: If you take a simple phrase commonly used by a native english speaker, say, F*ck off and die!, then translate it to another language on babelfish and then back again you will see a gradient of politeness in the translations. If you then extrapolate that phrase to include all cultural, historical, religious, political and social aspects of this country/language you can do an easy-to-follow ranking of who are the bastard and who are the noblesse obliges' of the world.

So here it is, the complete list* of the most polite non-english countries of the world.

The Complete List TM

11. Fuck off die! - the Russians. The most bastardly non-english speaking nation of the world. Even more efficient than the original.

10. You break and die! - the French. Not surprisingly the French fight for the last spot in this event. They tried to put in some severe personal injuries before actually deceasing but didn't make it all the way this time since they lost some on sexual offense.

9. Fuck far and cube! - the Greek. Leaning back on their ancient philosophical heritage they feel they can maintain a "better than the rest"- attitude, even trying to put in some mathematical terminology to make the rest of us feel ignorant. Fuck far is even more offensive, not to say imaginative, than the original, but the tempo and catchiness of the phrase is not quite as good as the French or Russian.

8. Keep coming out, die! - the Japanese. Old habits die hard. The emperor's teaching of a superior Japan just keeps coming.

7. Fuck gone and matrix! - The Dutch. I agree with the Matrix, especially the sequels. I haven't seen Gone yet so I can't comment on it, but the Dutch cleverly divert the comment towards Hollywood thus de-personalizes any offense the subjectee may feel. It does contain the word "fuck" though, so it really can't be considered for a top spot on the polite side.

6. Throws away and die! - the Koreans. Now we're beginning to see some real progress on the polite side. This is a good attempt, the Koreans are up and coming and will surely reach top three in a couple of years unless Kim Jong Il screws it up.

5. Swept and dice outside! - the Italians. Clearly Berlusconi's fall from the political throne did miracles for the habitually spiteful Italians. They've cleaned up the remark nicely. The only set back is a bit of gambling, which still might be offensive, if only to right-wing christians.

4. Boils and dies! - the Chinese. This, which at first glance may seem a bit aggressive, is clearly colored from a nation who has the largest cuisine in the world. A competent and adroit performance by the Chinese leaving them just outside top-three.

3. Taken and dice dull! - the Spanish. It was a tight run with the Chinese. "Taken" still has som sexual tension to it, but the Spaniards make a last minute save with the "dull" in the the end. Immensly boring, but not all games are won on brilliant plays. Skillful tactical display from Spain.

2. Bumsen away and cubes! - the Germans. Maybe it was the only the World Cup, or maybe the Germans really have become this polite. Bumsen away sounds more what you'd contently do after a long night at the Bierhűtte. They make a verbal Picasso and remove all intelligable meaning to the expression, which gives them the runner-up position of "The most polite non-english country of the world"

1. It is gone to foder and it is died! - the Portuguese. What can I say. Pure Genius. The recipe: Take one expression. Remove all foul language. Add piece of gibberish. Add "its" generously to remove any tingy taste. Turn it over, it's done.


*The list of course being limited to the languages that appear on babelfish.