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Two weeks ago I went to Stockholm to take part of what an internet dictionary calls an estate inventory. An old SF fan who was very prominent in the 60s has died and bequeathed a large sum of money to, among others, one of the clubs I'm a member of, Club Cosmos. I went as representative of the board. We had anticipated some strife and litigation over the will but that didn't happen, everyone was calm and civilised and the Arne Sjögren Memorial Fund is go.

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.
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Just read my latest entry... hm, where did all the line breaks go? Impossible to read! Sorry, it wasn't meant to be an exercise in joycianism.

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!
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Oh dear, it's far too long since I last updated this. I mean, I haven't even been out travelling for almost a month so I can't blame being busy for being non-updatey. Bianca is still MIA. There were reports of a cat like her down in the village, or even down by the beach, but it hasn't been possible to intercept it. Ever tried catching a cat that doesn't want to be found? Cannot be done! Although, the county exterminator was hired a year or two ago to cull the large population of feral cats down in the village. They used some sort of trap and caught 64 cats... Sixty-four! And these are the ultra-wary cats that you never see. Well anyway. When I say I haven't travelled much that was after we had been in Fagersta, that oh-so-boring place between Frövi and Avesta. My colleague almost got stuck in a beaver pond but nothing exciting happened to me. Well, we did pass through old mining communities around Norberg, which [info]nazgman knows all about. There's mu h to see and explore in Sweden! Until last Thursday there wasn't much happening in my calendar but then suddenly bam! I went to Kristinehamn on Tuesday and spent two days looking at the railroad going to Filipstad and Persberg. Hardly any trains on it at all but they're electrifying the first part of it anyway. Brand new posts for electic current ("kontaktledningsstolpar"). The new ones are best, they're labelled "kilometre-sequential", eg "147-12". That would be a post near kilometre 147.5, since they're spaced about 60m apart. Older posts are just labelled with a sequential number, so ypu really have no idea where you are. Especially as the sequences start over at some stations. Pretty geology there, though. Mostly granites with big, rectangular feldspar augen, and then near Persberg and its mines there were vulcanites and weird stuff I'm not sure what it was. But it had big magnetite crystals in it. Right now I'm on the train to Stockholm, about to attend the annualmeeting of SAAM, the foundation that among other things awards the Alvar to deserving members of Swedish science fiction fandom. It will be fun to meet tje others again, haven't seen them since Eurocon in June. Oh and next year's Swecon will be on 5-7 October, don't miss is. It's in Uppsala. I'll be going back to Stockholm on Monday, at oh-too-early o'clock, for a two-hour meeting with a colleague... Why not stay the weekend in that city? - Because there is a tolkienist event near Götevorg on Sunday I want to attend. We'll discuss East European genre literature and ingest food and drinks inspired by that subject. I bought some tins of herring and a bottle of vodka yesterday. That's all you need, right? Also, in this period I've indulged in the Fine Arts: no less than two live broadcast performances from the Met in New York. First Wagner's "Siegfried" which was awesome, and then Philip Glass's "Satyagraha" which was... well awesome too. Glass himself was there too, wow. OK, I'm writing this on my iPad so before I accidentally delete everything I'll post it, typos and all, and go back to reading my "Independence Day" novel. Seeyas!

idling away

Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:38 pm
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Marking time at the office, nothing much to do, all alone... I'm sitting in someone else's room so I can answer the phone if anyone should call...

... so I'm taking this opportunity to read up on [info]egghunter's Chernobyl project. Fascinating, scary and heart-breaking, all in one. Can't wait for the exhibition to start.

Also bbc world service on the speakers. Later, a meeting with Club Cosmos; hey, maybe I should check up on our finances so I have something to report! *checks internet bank services*

Otherwise it's Sherlock Holmes on TV, Sherlock Holmes on radio and Sherlock Holmes on the printed page. And I'm not even being obsessive!
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Train tickets to Denmark (well Malmö) and back? Check! Danish money? The foreign-money-box turned out to contain almost 300kr, so almost check! Gift to bring? No check, unless I find the thing I'm looking for today. Darn! It would have been so perfect!

Little box that goes "mooo" when you turn it over? Semi-check! since it says "baaaa" instead of "moooo". The sales person in the toy store asked if I wanted it wrapped, as if I wasn't buying it for myself. Those things are so much fun! I keep turning it over at home, going "baaaa" and *giggle*. My first plan was to bring it to work to relieve intermittent boredom, but I think my co-workers would get pretty fed up with it pretty damn pronto.

wheee

Oh, and there was a SF-convention in town last weekend. There was mid-level panic for two weeks prior, full-blown panic last week, and 1000% work on the weekend. With a loud-hailer. Muahaha. Noise. Also fire, see [info]egghunter.

As usual I never attended anything because I worked the whole time, well except for my own piece on geo-engineering -- a mini-lecture with audience participation. Plus of course the imprompty "Dr Who"-con on Saturday night, after I had dl:ed the latest episode right in front of the public prosecutor O_o. (She said she felt obliged to turn a blind eye a lot with the kind of friends she has -- otherwise there would be no friends!) Wow what a cliffhanger!

And I will miss the resolution because I will be in Denmark on Saturday, and I will _not_ bring my computer because I will be staying in a tent. Hooray!
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That was a total immersion experience, wow. Four days of geekdom and nothing else; now it feels somewhat difficult to adjust to the "real" world.

The con hotel was described as non-euclidean and it easily swallowed up the thousand attendees. Only at the really popular programme items did the main hall feel crowded, like the Saturday showing on big screen of the brand new "Doctor Who" -- that was an awesome experience, watching it with hundreds of dedicated fans!

Not quite as many fans turned up to "enjoy" the infamous "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon" and that was their loss. The half-dozen of us in the audience had a great time, with the hilarious FX (enormous shark swallowing boat, sandworm-fashion), the amazing dialogue (Barrowman's character: "At the first sign of trouble, I'm _going to take it out_") and awesome audience comments. Ha ha!

After a day of wandering about, another day of preparing for and executing our fantabulous LEXX cabaret number (the Stanley Tweedle song and the Brunnen-G song; no one got it, but with the last song we turned the con into an official LEXX event, muaha), I finally got to go to a lot of programme items on the Sunday -- and it almost all of it was more or less hard science. Ben Goldacre's zany performance ranting about bad science was hilarious, the exobiology lecture was led by an almost incomprehensibly mad-scientist type guy, the fusion power talk was like a real lecture, Alastair Reynolds gave a really good talk about Mars and the history of SF... There were also takes on popular game shows like QI and Just a Minute, and a whole lot of Paul Cornell everywhere.

Food was almost non-existent, except for the full English breakfast at the hotel (I stayed at one some 300m away from the venue; it was circular instead of non-euclidean) but the beer flowed freely. After the first evening, the fatally strong cider ran out, mercifully. Ow, that packed a lot of punch! Scandinavia was very well represented this year, everyone said, and most Swedes tended to clump together and make a splash. There were snippets of comments here and there during the weekend, with the word "Scandinavians" in them. Hmmm...

Now I know what a Beeblebear is, what a steampunk megaphone looks (and sounds) like, and how to navigate non-euclidean space. The only disappointment was that there wasn't even one Dalek to be seen in the dealers' room, or even in the airport toy shop! Still, I got a big box of Jelly Babies going home.

Bring on the next con!
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A new Matt Smith TV-series is announced in Sweden, as I'm going off to England to watch that _other_ Matt Smith TV-series that starts on Saturdagy. Wheee! Travel nerves! also not looking forward to leaving home at 0400hr, or as I call it, too-dark-o'clock. Or bleurgh o'clock. Doesn't-exist o'clock.

Hopefully we still have hotel reservations, otherwise the day will start with hunting for hotel rooms. But I have faith!  Unwelcome suprises belongs to today only, so there. Has anyone spotted any good jokes? I've been out most of the day and haven't seen any. Unless you count Lilla Edet centrum at 1030hr as a joke (which I did).

Happy Easter everyone!
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The gas bell looks mysterious today, the top shrouded in very low clouds. It is an unusual day, as there is no more sunshine. Lately the weather has been very nice, warm and sunny during the day, cold and icy during the night.

Very much so during the weekend before last, when I was back in Norrköping inspecting railroad tunnels. Spring is much further off there than it is here -- thick snow with a hard crust that you sink through, so cold all the snow was hard and perfect for igloo-making, stars glittering harshly overhead. And in the tunnels, behind the inner ceilings, there was a magical kingdom of frost. Beautiful! See this.

Next week we go to another tunnel, a local one this time, and not at all like the ones in Norrköping. This is a recently built road tunnel, with a grimy roof over the roadbed and crawl space behind inner walls. Also some areas off the main tunnels, with giant fans and, quite surprisingly, archives. Plus restrooms, hooray! We'll be putting in five 8hr-nights starting on Monday, and then again after Easter. Phew.

Eastercon will be like a vacation! I just hope our hotel reservations are still valid. Couldn't get hold of the hotel to ask, so O_o. If it doesn't work we'll just have to crash some other attendees, I guess, muahaha.

Speaking of which, don't miss Condense, the heavy convention. There are clues about our second guest of honour somewhere on that site -- can you find it?
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Even if I wanted to, I don't dare go out. The snow is falling off our roof -- and I guess other roofs as well -- with loud, seismic crashes. Right over the sidewalks! Unless I wear a helmet, I'm not daring that.

Yesterday I got elected treasurer for Club Cosmos. It seems a much more relaxed position than in WCT. The only way to pay someone is go to the bank and withdraw cash to pay them with!

Last week's try-it-out day of handicrafts got me inspired to make something. And my re-awakening interest in American Indian stuff leads me to try out finger-weaving. Fiddly! even more so if one's fingers are frayed from dryness and scratching.

Also inspired by glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, I'm going ahead with painting planets. I started that before Christmas but never got around to finish it -- like with so many projects. But now winter darkness is slowly lifting so I can actually see to work, away from the lightsources by the TV. Gosh. Well, it would be light if the overcast went away. But when it does, the temperature falls and all the slush turns to solid ice again. We need a Föhn wind to blow it all away, _now_!
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I'm reading the complete Sherlock Holmes stories -- and it's brilliant!

How long ago was it I read them? Ten years, twenty? Far too long, anyway! It's on a par with the latest brilliant-reads, like Fritz Leiber and Lord Dunsany. Much better to read that book than to watch TV. Well, that would be the Jeremy Brett "Holmes"...

No, I'm not entirely honest there. I happened to watch the start of a French action movie yesterday, "Banlieu 13", and couldn't stop watching. What fun! Ridiculously macho, like a Tarantino-Jackie Chan-parkour mashup. Haha.

Also "The Legend of the Seeker", guest-starring Ted Raimi. It is _so_ "Xena". The girl in it has a very nice coat-dress. Who is costume designer? Not Ngila Dickson surely, she must have gone on to the big things after "LotR". *and now the mp3-player plays music from "Xena", how appropriate*

After eating far too much yesterday, I went out to get some exercise on the icy streets of Göteborg, and to hunt for lace. I've been commissioned to design a "hushållsplutt", ie a badge for a tolkienist, and after much soul-searching have come to the conclusion that a classic is best: lace and leather (or soft skin), in the shape of a rose. So, where to find lace?

Thrift shops! called "fleasies" in Swedish (loppis). Or, since I couldn't find anything in the two local ones, our version of Oxfam (Myrorna). But I got rather more than I went out for, since there apparently is a steampunk ball at Eastercon. Mmm, too tight clothing in a vaguely 19th-century style...

Also Ahmad tea, Wil Wheaton's "Just A Geek" and the DVD "Dresden Files". Plus I got to talk to The Mighty Beard! What a day. Now I can relax and get into gear for tomorrow's tolkienist annual Big Meet.
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That's hopefully my last, or penultimate, book-keeping chore done for WCT! Phew it was a harsh one, all these posts to fill out. I really won't be sorry to quit being treasurer there...

... only to take up another treasurer post in Club Cosmos. I don't see why they want me to do that, I only narrowly got out of being treasurer for Mithlond too. My problem with numbers is quite severe, as in, I loathe them and they detest me back. Not quite dyscalcula but if it is possible to do something wrong with numbers, I'm sure to do it.

That's why all my book-keeping notes are made in pencil. I learnt that _very_ quickly.

Well, at least the CC financial back history is nowhere near as bulky as WCT's. I'll be liberating quite a lot of space in my cellar and under my bed, yay. And no more cranky members who don't know how to interact in polite society! It's no real secret that that is the main reason I quit now.

Also, Star Trek... not so hot anymore. The occasional Shatner or "DS9", yes, but otherwise, meh. Not with a new series of "Dr Who" coming up, and all the other stuff that steals my time from reading books. Sheesh, I haven't finished one book since the Xmas holidays! But that's mainly because the complete "Sherlock Holmes" is so thick. And I quite fear reading the end of Fafhrd & The Mouser, M says it is very painful.

One thing I do hope I will read soon, though, is the announcement that we will _finally_ have a guest of honour for Swecon this summer! Iain Banks, please respond!
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Watched all of "The Fellowship of the Ring" yesterday. Gosh, it's still very pretty. But I must get new head-phones, or at least cushions for the ones I have, except the salesmen only look affronted when I ask if they have any and say they've never heard of replacement KOSS head-phone cushions plz to go away nao. Pff, salesppl...

It's still snowy here, still all set for Mr Claws. Too snowy to go out to look at railroad cuts, I wouldn't be able to see anything and the pictures would be all *blank* *white* *blur*

Anyway, back to Tolkien. Has anyone heard of this? Worth attending? Anyone going to Eastercon, btw? I'm going, I just need a) hotel and b) flights. So no worries then!
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Hey, where did my computering go?

First I had a visit from [info]therru on Saturday-Sunday, for a big wedding/baby/naming/xmas party -- at which the first snow started falling, what timing! It was very nice hanging out with therru, got to do that more often. Btw, thanks for the DVD, it arrived today!

Then on Monday and Tuesday I was out on the railroad again, this time between Uddevalla and Göteborg. Snow on the railroad cuttings, made it difficult to see, inspect and classify. And then it got dark at oh-too-early o'clock! But it was very picturesque around lake Hällungen.

Followed by a very nice Club Cosmos do, meeting at Lejontrappan for some glögg and waving huge tomtebloss around (cool, Jim!) and then dinner at The Golden Days. Mmmm yum.

Yesterday: road safety course all day. I almost fell asleep. The teacher has done this for a long time and was obviously a bit fed up with it so he kept telling stories about the real world. But hey, our study material?

Today, catching up on all the office stuff I haven't been able to do this week, so no surfing today either. But I did manage to get away early enough to look at a possible venue for this summer's SF convention. It was coooold, icy winds and more snow. Brrr.

Now I'll relax a bit and perhaps watch some more early "Sharpe" adventures. Stupid TV8 only showed the two latest movies so I had to go buy the stuff from the 90s at Movieline.
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I got rather tired on Sunday and then yesterday too, after a slow day on the railroad. So no updates!

The con was fun, and quite well attended. Nothing like the 15000 at the Finncon/Animecon, or however many there were. Or even regular FinnCon, which apparently has 1000 attendees. Yowza.

GoHs this time were Liz Williams and Graham Joyce, both very nice and well-spoken. The latter told very good stories and read like a pro from his own book. I hogged them both at the dead dog party afterwards, muaha. Why be shy and mousy when you don't have to?

Speaking of mousy, the second book of Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories keeps me occupied. So good! Don't want to do anything else, like updating the railroad reports or even going to a SF pub right now. Frankly, I'm too tired from walking all day.

I'm now finished with the inspections, with 3 days to spare. Or rather, three nights at the hotel that I'll have to pay for even if I check out now. So I'll stay till Friday anyhow, working on the reports. So I don't have to do that right now -- luxury!

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