Around lunchtime I saw the first tussilago, apparently called coltsfoot in English, and a couple of hours later they were everywhere, along with other yellow flowers. There was even a small dandelion growing in a crack in a south-facing rock wall. In the afternoon bumblebees and butterflies had emerged. Leaf buds were on the verge of erupting.
This had to be celebrated with an ice cream when I was finished with my work. Mmm, first ice cream of the season, delicious.
A week ago it was so cold my fingers almost fell off when writing up data out in a tunnel.
And that's pretty much what I feel constantly these days. I'm not driving my own fate, I'm just running to catch up as events unfold ahead of me. Work, Mithlond-fandom-WCT, books: no time to plan and decide, just a headlong rush, stumbling after the finish line. I think, I'll do x when I'm done with y, but before that z, w and alpha have already cropped up, demanding attention.
It's probably just this assignment I accepted that needs a gamma-spectrometer that makes me jumpy. I've never used one and I don't quite know where to get hold of one, but you can't say that when ppl ask you to do a job for them. "Yes, we can do anything!" is the proper response. Once I've got a lead on the machine everything will settle down nicely and I can enjoy my Pink Floyd again.
Now the tempreature has finally crept above 15 degrees C there's a thick haze of BBQ smoke over the neighourhood. Something I hope to explore to greater olfactory and gustatory satisfaction in October when we go to South Africa.
But first, lots more episodes of "The Mentalist", my current obsession!
On Thursday, I will have been a bona fide Roman Catholic for a month. Golly! I still can't quite believe it (ha ha).
Does this seem like something out of the blue? It's really not. Yes, the step from thinking about converting to actually going through with it was like a lightning bolt from the sky but my first thoughts about converting date back at least 30yr. Then for the last few years I've been hearing the call of God but been too afraid -- and lazy -- to answer, until my Mother tried to kill herself and I turned to the Virgin Mary for help. And my prayers were answered almost the very next day. How can one ignore that?
So ever since then I've worked towards becoming Roman Catholic, by going to Mass at least once a week, praying, and of course attending a class on What Does It Entail, every second or third Wednesday. Not just for converts, but for anyone who's interested. It's pretty much like joining a geek society: you can discuss these things with like-minded ppl without having constantly to apologise and explain. Not that I discuss much, I'm far too literal-minded to have anything useful to contribute. "Father Ted" doesn't really count, does it? (Drink!)
Anyway, so there it is. The ceremony on 3 April was quite beautiful; I've now been confirmed twice, as it were, and have taken Communion a lot more than in all my years between confirmations, which was none. I look forward to a future of constant learning, as there is every week, almost every day, something new that I've never encountered before. Awesome!
N.B. I did not convert, like most ppl seem to do, because of politics. They say, my native church is going lax on foreigners and gays so I'm turning to the Vatican to express my conservatism, or reactionaryism even. Nu-uh. I have converted _despite_ politics. I don't want to spout anti-anything, but embrace that whole do-unto-others, and love-thy-neighbour philosophy which, frankly, entails so much hard work and good will that it's like a major task. Hating is easy, loving is hard. So, despite the harshness many ppl approve of in the Church, I have joined it.
Afterwards we went to his flat. I'm just saying, before I die I'm gonna CLEAN and PURGE and not leave a mess like that... Also I will not start smoking. I snatched some books for the memorial fund prize collection, and then went home. Yes, another there-and-back-again day in Sthlm. Just as cold as always, too.
It took me two and a half days to read "Tinker Tailor" -- what a brilliant book! And what a tour de force performance by Alec Guinness! It's like le Carré wrote the book after watching him in the TV series. Then I watched the new movie again and found it sadly lacking. What other le Carré books should I read then? There's quite a lot of them.
I won't go to Eastercon this year (it's in two weeks) or Swecon in October (we're going to Southafrica that very weekend). So to make up for lost fannish activities, maybe I should go to Return of the Ring? They had a big ad in the latest SFX, a whole page full. I don't think anyone else from these parts is going.
Last, we went to see "John Carter of Mars" yesterday. The BBC called it "deadly dull" and that was very harsh of them. It actually was quite a lot of fun! Stunning landscapes, fun characters, fairytale kind of story (it IS a century old) and good actors. The only bad part was the 3D which was completely flat. Why do they insist on slapping on 3D when the movie is in 2D? Keep it flat then! Anyway, a rollicking good romp it was, and then we got out and looked up at red Mars glaring at us from the night sky.
Speaking of which, they're re-broadcasting "Frankenstein" in June and July, one each as it were. In the one I saw the monster was played by Benedict Cumberbatch so why not see a performance where Johnny Lee Miller is the monster? If you haven't seen that one either, go see it!
I just finished watching the old "Tinker, Tailor" TV series, the one with Alec Guinness. I saw it when it was on Swedish TV in 1982 was it? right before they showed "Secret Army", anyway. I don't suppose I got much of it but I thought it was really good. And it still is! Not least because it's got Alec Guinness in it. Ooo! Also a long interview with David Cornwell/John le Carré as extra stuff.
It's remarkable how the same source material, le Carré's book, can produce two radically different screen version. Granted, the TV series is seven 42-minute-episodes long and the recent movie is... movie length, but apart from key plot moments they tell very different stories. Which means I must read the book to see if the screen versions have derived their materials directly from it, that is, if it is twice as much as either of the screen stories.
Oh no, yet another book to read! As if I don't have too many already... I looked in at the library yesterday but gosh darn it, I don't think they even have an English language crime/thriller section. I couldn't find it, anyway. Plus, it's shutting down for refurbishment on Sunday. Also, most material is spread out on the branch libraries so if you want something you'll have to pre-order and then maybe get it in a few days, you can't just go in and hope to find it. D'oh. Maybe I should give that iPad library loan thingy a try.
This week I've been out on two field assignments, one up the coast in glorious sunshine and so much heat it got sweaty (yay, spring), the other just around the corner in a former hospital park now largely inhabited by children. I kid you not, therer were little screaming children everywhere! Three schools and two daycares in one small area. Plus dogs galore. Had to hose down my boots afterwards, to clean off the dog shit. Yuck.
Also I got to type ut another batch of comments on legal proceedings. "When you ordered this job, you said it would cost this much to make your tunnel. It didn't, now pay us lots more!" "No, you didn't do the work right, _you_ pay for your own shoddy workmanship." "No way, we'll call in our lawyers!" "Fine!" "Fine!" ... and so on. This is the current best practice in all major construction works in Sweden these days, sadly. The big contractors call in their legal departments to prepare the claims even before work has started. And you wonder why public works are so expensive?
Anyway, lots of typing, and then there is stuff for ET to type as well. Oh, and this text!
On Saturday I went to see "Götterdämmerung" with my Wagner-geek friend. It was totally awesome! What amazing singers! Six hours (with two imtermissions) of bombastic, strident music -- in the very best sense of the words -- and forceful singing. Brünnhilde is my new hero. Well heroine. And Jay Hunter Morris made his Siegfried act just like a brash 17yr-old, so cute. Not a word you usually associate with that character, I suppose. Oh, and Eric Owens's Alberich...
It was awesome!
Now to see how the New York critics blast this production, as they did with "Siegfried"...
I recently finished Umberto Eco's "The Prague Cemetery" or whatever it's called in English -- my first Swedish translation of one of his books. It's a novel about 19th century Europe and the hate movements running through it like bile-green threads. It's actually more like a collation of some of the wilder fantasies about Jews (also Freemasons and Jesuits, cause they're kinda like the Jews aren't they) and how they're about to ruin everything. The mind boggles at the utter lunacy these people got up to! Jaw-dropping! And of course, the "sequel" to this book is the Elders of Zion protocols, of much infamy.
Last weekend the tolkienists had a small but cosy get-together with the theme C S Lewis. It was really cold and sunny, with sparkling, squeaking snow underfoot. It would have been just right to go out for a walk in the forest and find some lamp-post to gather round... but it was too cold. So we ate and talked and then watched the Moria scenes in LotR on bluray -- oooh, it's still a most impressive movie. Time to see them again, yes?
Speaking of tolkienists, there's the Scandinavian Sci-Fi Fair here on 1 April, where we should attend and spread PR and goodwill ahead of the Hobbit movie. Then there's a big happening in England in August that it would be great to attend, if it doesn't clash with our next school get-together. Also Eastercon, which isn't tolkienist but it's in England, and it's big. There won't be any "Doctor Who" season premiere this time, though, as that show is currently on hold. And I won't be able to watch it whenever it starts because of stupid FBI stupidly shutting down Megaupload and other services. Boooh. Catch some real criminals instead, FBI. What about the war on drugs?
Coming up on Lent, and time to do good deeds. I'm not very good at that but I'm going to repeat the collection we did here at work before Christmas, money for charities and stuff for the nearby charity shop. Also a good opportunity to maybe clear out some of my clutter. Not much hope for that, though, there's simply too much of it. Better not look at it, that way it doesn't bother me.
And last but far from least, I learn that one of my oldest friends is getting married. Congratulations, A and H! Live long and prosper!
Carlotta, the Göteborg City Museum picture database is a fantastic place to while away those long working hours when you have nothing to do - or any other working hours too...
Just recently some jokers burnt off fireworks -- the sprakly, non-shooty-up-in-the-sky sort -- right below my window. This is scary since I live in a wooden house and also I don't want explosives going off inside my flat. Please desist. Fireworks should be enjoyed from a distance, like the annual G-P display at 1700, which this year looked like a cheap CG alien invasion battle, on account of the dense fog swallowing all the rockets. The underside of the knee-height cloud was lit up a bit, and there was an effect like the "Stargate" transporter rings. What a swindle! But the bangs were loud.
So, #lexx is the safest place to be right now.
(Did I just write that?!)
Last night I saw "Sherlock Holmes 2" again, whee. Anything I might say about it would be a spoiler so I won't. Soooo haaaaaard to keep mum! Next up: "Tinker, Tailor". I loved the Alec Guinness TV show though I don't remember much, other than this guy who turned up in another show that Swedish TV sent some time later: Albert in "Secret Army".
There's been so much work lately, all the deadlines piling up together. But then, after the holidays, there will be practically nothing. Our work load in a nutshell! Consultants can't plan ahead more than a month or two because of this ketchup effect. It's the same every year, and somehow we manage to keep ourselves occupied. At least there's no snow this year so we don't have to wait until March to go out and look at the ground.
Speaking of work, last week Mithlond went on a shikar, ie a book hunt. We go to a used book store and hoover it for goodies, and then go to a café or pub and gloat. This year I found an old book called "Bergslagernas Järnvägsaktiebolad 1872-1922", with many of the places I have visited when inspecting railroad rock cuts. Fantastic!
Ooh, and I just saw the "Hobbit" trailer. Also fantastic!
Anyway, after a week of relative rest it was back on the track last week! This time we went to Oskarshamn on the other side of Sweden, for a look at a short bit of track with very few trains. Only they'll be resuming passenger services now, today in fact, which is very unusual. Otherwise the norm is to cancel services.
Anyway, this last bit of inspection we got to use what we have always wanted to use: a railbike. Awesome! You get along quickly and easily and can even do mapping/inspecting without getting off it. When trains are due, you can easily lift it off the track. Plus it's fun! We even got some good publicity shots of us, posing under a gibbous moon.
Not quite as fun driving home through a blizzard at night, though... At times it was like driving through foam, in some 2nd Doctor adventure. Really nasty. We were doing something like 50 on a 120 km/hr motorway...
And now I have finally made Christmas cookies and watched "Sällskapsresan". The Yule season is thus officially inaugurated. But mostly I just watch and read various versions of Sherlock Holmes. Oh yes, and "Captain Alatriste" and another book by Pérez-Reverte, called "Dumasklubben" in Swedish. That was a really good book. Hopefully we will be able to find some more good books at the shikar on Saturday. You know, hunting the book in its natural habitat.
Oh yes, and we had a Christmas dinner thingy with Club Cosmos last week. Cold but nice. But here's a fun thing: at that meeting in Stockholm two Saturdays ago we discussed the possibility of a SF convention in Umeå and everyone got really excited about it. What a brilliant idea! Let's make it so right away! Then I came home and told the active members in Club Cosmos and was met by a unanimous and immediate "No!" Hm, seems we aren't very keen to broaden our horizons here... What a bunch of wet blankets!
On Monday I visited G-g and Fim and their new kitten Tesla who was absolutely adorable. I got to be a chew toy for a while. But then I came home and learned that little Bianca is missing, and she still is, probably eaten by a fox, poor little thing. Such an exceptionally friendly little cat, also adorable, but far too naive and non-afraid to survive long in the wild. She didn't know to fear things like cars, foxes or lawn-mowers. She is sorely missed, not least by Arvid, the other cat.
Now time for course in rock mechanics, followed by a five-hour-plus drive to Borlänge, and then two days of looking at railroads. I'm going towards Malung on a diesel track (non-electrified). Then home and then Dr Who home con, what I call a Dr Whom con on Saturday. Whee!
Which reminds me, I should probably get down to watching the last episodes of the season some time...
There's been railroad inspections around Falun, and last week between Frövi and Skinnskatteberg (pronounced "Skinnsberg" by the locals). On Wednesday we go to Borlänge to inspect railroads around Mora and Malung and whatnot. Next week it's back to Skinnsberg-Fagersta-Avesta.
Inbetween there has been the ambulating Sci-Fi Fair, at which I represented Mithlond (at WCT's table), right next to Robert Englund in fact, although he was separated from us by a big partition. If there had been a whole in it I could have poked him. Two days of being friendly and representative, and buying two Daleks, one of them remote controlled. Yes, I now have a toy that can roll up to you and shout "Exterminate!" and several other offensive phrases!
Also there was Mithlond's big Autumn Feast, with lots of packing, washing-up and drinks. The Saturday started with delicious breakfast, immediately followed by chocolate tasting, whisky tasting and beer tasting. After that, time to be official, ha ha.
Finally some rest this weekend, with cats and parents. I slept till 1100hr on Saturday, I think I was very sleepy.
Skinnskatteberg -- I'm certain it was frequently on TV in my childhood. Something to do with workers' rights or women's lib or something generally sociological, probably. I've been meaning to look it up on the 'net but neglected it. Too much Wordfeud. Can anyone else remember?
While waiting for pizza in Falun I bought a copy of "Scientific American" to read, and I'm still reading it almost 3 weeks later... But in it there was an article about why bio-fuels won't supplant fossil fuels any time soon, or at all. Fr'instance, replacing fossil fuels consumed in America with corn fuels would take a farm 3 times the size of continental USA. Not feasible.
But I see a flaw in the reasoning: all estimates posit a level of consumption equal to today's. We must _not_, ever ever ever, cut down on our consuming and our spending! The very thought is blasphemous! All economic theories and prognoses need continued growth which equals increasing consumption of, well, everything.
Might it not be better to try to wean ourselves off oil, before the oil-based economy crashes and burns? Explodes, like the fireballs in a Roland Emmerich movie!
So-called "relationshandlingar" for some railway tunnels -- what has been made, where, how much and in what way. Papers papers papers.
Otherwise there will be a lot of walking around railroads in mid-Sweden this autumn. We were at Karlstad last week, looking at two cute tunnels and some railroad cuttings. Beautiful weather, lots of fresh air and exercise. And we get paid for it!
Too bad about the head-cold, though. And camping out this weekend didn't really help, nor the canoeing. But it was fun! Good company (yes, it was the company), good food, more beautiful weather and some mushrooms too.
Just two days of work this week, then I go back to Orust to help my Mother while my Father has minor surgery again. The operation he had in spring was a little too successful... And next week I'll be going to Ludvika for more railway work. There are several "bandelar" in Dalarna to look at; maybe I'll be able to say hello to [info]tommdroid too! I'd love that.
Plus I've been assigned to sell off my late uncle's collection of ironing irons (strykjärn) and scales (bessman). Any ideas? There are several auctioning firms, both RL and internet ones, as well as blocket.se and similar. Also Antikhallarna, but then we'd have to lug it all down to Gbg. We're not talking one or two irons here, or even five or six...