Elf's Treehouse -> Archives -> 2005 -> March

State of the World Day 2

2005-03-01 15:22:13 - 2 comments    |     Archives

So here we are in the 21st century while the Catholic Church seems convinced that we're still living in the medieval age. So what else is new? It's only ten years ago that the Catholic Church acknowledged that Leonardo da Vinci was in fact correct, and even less than ten years ago that the pope said the theory about dinosaurs might have something going for it after all. Let's give them a few hundred years and maybe they will assist the rest of us in the fight against AIDS as well.

In the past thirty years we have made tremendous progress in the treatment of mental illnesses. Where we in the past mutilated the brains of people with lobotomy we can in stead offer them help in other and more effective ways. We have medications that work effectively, and with more research even the side effects can be greatly reduced. I'm sure we can all agree that the days of chasing people out of town and putting them through superstitious rituals to rid them of the demons that had possessed them are something we should be glad to have put behind us.

All, except the Catholic Church of course. They will now be teaching their priests on how to do exorcisms. No need to worry though. Father Giulio Savoldi, who has been Milan's official exorcist for more than 20 years (sic), says quote: "Those studying to become exorcists should also study psychology and know how to distinguish between a mental illness and a possession." What a relief. Heaven forbid that one should think that so called possessions are all either imagined or signs of sever psychiatric illnesses. The father is further quoted as saying that the powers of evil make the most of human weaknesses. Or as I would put it, it never ceases to amaze me what sort of excuses people can come up with so that they won't have to take responsibility for their actions. This idea of evil as one-dimensional external force is ludicrous.

This move by the Catholic Church is made in the same week that news reports told the story of the spokeswoman for "Africans against Child Abuse" (Afruca) who said church leaders who believe in possession needed education on child protection. I would sincerely urge "Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum" to teach their students this as well.

The Catholic Church is doing this in their fight against what they perceive as young people falling prey to Satan. This pretty much means those who dabble in New Age, Satanism and other people who don't follow the Catholic doctrine. I can sympathise with the first goal. But the way to help people from becoming victims of pseudo-science and New Age is to educate and inform them. Not meeting them with even more superstition and methods that belong in the Dark Ages.

What we need is to introduce science in to our school systems. The average person just can't fathom the idea that one can actually set up generic rules, protocols and methods to prove theories and hypotheses. Because they have never been taught how scientific principles work, they have gained this attitude that science is so mysterious, or that scientists are walking around thinking they are infallible and have got the answers to everything. Because of this alienation people will tend to superstition and easy answers to their questions. And this is becoming more and more widespread. Religious fanatics are on the rise. In the US they are trying to prevent evolution from being taught in schools. In Muslim countries they are doing the same. Huge corporations are seeking astrologers guidance on which stock to invest in and what people to hire. Even some of the world's most powerful leaders are seeking help from healers and witches as well as astrologers. Not to mention all the money scheaming pyramids that are coming tumbling down these days, laying ruined families and fortunes in their wakes. The end is listless as they say.

A friend of mine, who is a proclaimed atheist, was once asked by a Christian what he believed in since he didn't believe in God. My friend answered that he believed in the human race. That we ultimately would find that following reason and science was the way to go. And that the natural human ability to do good would endure and that we would learn to treat each other with mutual respect. I wish I shared his optimism.

State of the World Day 3

2005-03-02 23:42:58 - 2 comments    |     Archives

So here I am sitting in front of the computer programming the work day away while enjoying a cracking good rock'n roll album on a sound level that doesn't leak too much of the music out in to the room to annoy my co-workers. So what happens? I change over to Firefox to visit a forum to try and find a solution to a problem in my Lotus script. While moving the mouse pointer up to the address line I accidentally move it over a advert for Jamba (do not follow this link, please).

Suddenly my ears are filled with one of the most annoying sounds I've heard in my entire life. It's like a baby on crack strumming his lips. You just have to hear it to understand how unbelievably annoying it is, but I wouldn't wish upon any friend of mine having to endure it. In addition to all this, the sound in the advert is cranked up to eleven, possibly fourteen. It drowns out all the music, sifts through the earphones and my skin, runs down the back of my neck and drift in to the room making everyone look up and pay attention. Furthermore I'm so startled that I jump two feet in to the air and throw my earphones to the ground, with the result that the plug is yanked out of the pc. Of course this leads to the speakers turning them selves on and now I can share the sound with everybody in the building.

Listen here Jamba (do not follow this link, please). You fucking twats! You're the most worthless and annoying company in the entire world. And this sort of advertising does you no good. I've never liked you, your ring tones or your washed up company, which soon will be filing for bankruptcy. And I sure as hell will never ever buy a single ring tone from you. Do you really think that you can gain customers by annoying the hell out of them? And this goes for any company out there that do their advertising via sound adverts. Cut it out! You don't do business by annoying your customers!

And for all of you pathetic wankers who actually click on these adverts, I got the following advice. Either go and kill yourself or stop clicking on them! If as many people as possible stop clicking on them, the advertisers will see that it pays off to use non-pop up adverts without sound. Also write to the administrators of the website to tell them to stop using adverts with sound, otherwise you will stop visiting their site. I promptly wrote the perpetrator today and laid it on the line for them. And I won't visit that site again! I swear!

Oh yeah, I've also shut off adverts in Firefox. Which is a shame for advertisers who follow proper netiquette and who doesn't annoy their users, but such is the way of the world. Die Jamba (do not follow this link, please)!

State of the World Day 4

2005-03-03 23:50:15 - 0 comments    |     Archives

I was going to rant today as well, but right now I can't. I've just seen Der Untergang with a friend of mine, and it was a movie that hit me right in my stomach. I'm exhausted right now, and not just emotionally, but physically as well. There is a key scene in the movie that will tear the heart out of any parent, and I guess other people who have a shred of empathy in their bodies as well.

When the movie was over, it was dead quiet in the biggest auditorium at the cinema in Bergen. How could anyone watch a movie like that without it making a huge impact on you? Not only was it a brilliant portrait of Hitler's last days. It was also a portrait of the futility of war, of misguided loyalty, of people's personal power over others and deprivation of guilt. The movie is a testament to Germany's willingness to come to terms with it's own past, but also to serve as a teaching device to the younger generations about finding out things for themselves. Ignorance is no excuse. Ever.

This movie should be mandatory viewing in high school. It should be a shining beacon about not giving in to propaganda, charismatic leaders, peer pressure, the thought that war is the solution and to people who claim they have all the answers. The world is full of people like this today. There are those who willingly sacrifice other people's lives to achieve their goals, and everyday you are reminded that powerful people on the other side of the world can make decisions that can have an earth shattering impact on your life. Or maybe even end it...

I'm sorry to be so bloody pompous tonight, but this is an important movie. It tore my guts out, for a lot of different reasons. Go see it.

The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome

2005-03-09 14:40:46 - 0 comments    |     Archives

First of all, sorry for no Friday Review last week. Read on to get the explanation.

It occurred to me last Friday that airlines really have no clue what so ever about what they are doing. It's just sheer luck that they can get you from point A to point B, not to mention point C. The trip to Bergen from Molde last Wednesday went surprisingly enough swimmingly. Two days later it was another story, though.

At seven o'clock Friday morning, two colleagues and I were taking the plane to Copenhagen, where our mother company's main office is located, to attend a meeting. The temperature was at zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and the weather was slush mixed with wind. In short, it was a perfect morning for delays. We were already an hour behind schedule when we finally boarded the plane. Anyone who has visited our weather shit hole (read: Norway) at this time of year would have known that we would be further delayed because the plane had to be defrosted. The rest of the trip went ok.

The return however, was another story. Hang on: Since we would arrive in Bergen after the last plane had left for Molde, I was booked on a flight that would go from Bergen to Oslo and then from Oslo to Molde. This meant that I would be going this route on Friday afternoon: Copenhagen – Bergen – Oslo – Molde. Why not go straight from Copenhagen to Oslo and then to Molde I hear you cry. Well, the trip from Molde to Bergen and back was booked long before the trip to Copenhagen, and since the travel agency for once had ordered the cheapest tickets, I couldn't rebook them. According to the woman at the ticket office, the system locked cheap tickets and prevented them from being rebooked. *

After enduring a six hour meeting, only interrupted by a fantastic Danish lunch (boy, do they know how to throw a lunch), the highlight of the trip was imminent. Tax free shopping! While in the tax free store I received a call telling me that the flight from Bergen to Oslo had been cancelled because of technical problems. I was told that I was booked on an earlier flight to Oslo in stead. When I explained that I was in Copenhagen and I wouldn't even have landed by the time that flight left for Oslo, she told me that I then would have to spend the night in Bergen and take the only flight that would leave for Molde the next day. Around four in the afternoon... I told her that this wasn't an option since I hadn't seen my son for four days and that I wanted to be home later that night.

After half an hour on the phone we were finally able to rebook my Copenhagen-Bergen flight in to a Copenhagen-Oslo ticket. That way I would still be able to take the Oslo-Molde flight. Problem was that I had to go to the transit desk to have new tickets printed for the Copenhagen – Oslo flight. And the flight for Oslo was leaving in twenty minutes...

When I arrived at the transit desk I was a bit discouraged by the fact that there were so many people there. I an acute moment of optimism, I was sweating so much that I was feverish so I guess I wasn't thinking like I normally do, I quickly quenched those thoughts because I saw that the transfer desk was for several airlines, not just SAS. I pressed on the SAS-button, got my number and saw that the on the queue ticket it said that there were 91 people in line ahead of me... Sweat was now pouring from every gland in my body. What to do?

Desperate times calls for desperate measures. I ran for the arrival area, through customs while trying not to look to suspicious and over to the SAS ticket booth, which didn't have a single person waiting in font of it! It was now ten minutes until the plane I was trying to rebook myself on to was going to leave, so I was sure I was done for. The helpful guy in the ticket booth just gave me a big grin and said: "You're in luck. That plane is over an hour delayed already. This is Kastrup airport. It's snow outside and below zero. It's a miracle that any plane can take off at all!" Never in my life have those words sounded more appealing than they did just then.

I wasn't out of the woods yet, though. Since the plane leaving for Bergen, which I originally was supposed to be on was boarding, the system locked my ticket so that no rebooking could be done to it. The guy in the booth was also confused about why I was going to Molde when I originally was going to Bergen, because the ticket from Bergen to Oslo didn't show up in the system anymore, but after long, long explanations, he sort of figured it out. Or pretended that he understood.

After several attempts to rebook my locked ticket, which included almost smashing the delete button on his keyboard to pieces, he gave up. While watching him do this I began contemplating about why people believe that it helps to crush the delete button every time they're prevented from deleting something. I was interrupted when he called the system administrator directly and got her to delete the record containing my ticket from the database. Then he could finally rebook it and print me a hard copy. He gave it to me and I felt like I was picking up the Holy Grail. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and made for the security checkpoint for the second time in less than an hour.

The very same checkpoint that an hour earlier didn't give a single beep when I walked through it, now sang loudly every time I tried to pass the metal detector. After taking off everything but my t-shirt and pants, it went quiet and I was allowed through. However, they did ask me how I had managed to buy tax free at Kastrup before I had checked in, but after a short explanation they just smiled and let me through. I ran for the gate that was printed on my ticket, only to find out that the flight for Oslo hadn't received a gate number yet. I waited by the gate anyway and an hour later I could board the plane.

After having completed boarding, we were told that six persons, who had checked in their luggage, hadn't turned up at the gate. Bloody idiots! These passengers had an almost two hour long delay and they still couldn't make it to the gate in time? They were probably laying drunk as skunks under a table in the sea food bar. It took the flight attendants further thirty minutes to empty the storage room so that they could find the perpetrators' luggage. Then they had to put the luggage back in again. When we finally started taxing out to the runway, tv-monitors were lowered from the ceiling to give us the safety demonstration. When the seductive voice on the film started out by saying: "Frequent fliers are busy people with a hectic schedule and we in SAS are aware of this," laughter rang throughout the entire cabin and the flight attendants looked rather embarrassed while smiling sheepishly.

Upon arrival in Oslo I discovered that my plane for Molde was also an hour delayed, because of the weather. It was only now that I realised that I had left my suitcase at the airport in Bergen because I hadn't wanted to drag it with me to Copenhagen since my original plan was to return to Bergen again later in the day, anyway. So I made a call to Arvid and asked him to pick it up for me. He said he would even wash my training clothes. Bless him.

Finally, way past midnight, I could finally walk in to a taxi at Årø airport. When the taxi drove me home I saw that yet another plane was approaching the airport with its landing lights on and landing gear out. When I asked the driver what plane it was, he told me that the plane that had left Oslo for Molde a few hours before my flight, had been called back after doing half the distance because of technical problems. That's when I realized that airlines have absolutely no clue about what they're doing. It's all down to sheer luck that you and your luggage arrive at the designated destination. Next time I'm going to Bergen, I'm taking the car!

*= How come that these tickets can be rebooked when it's the airlines fault that you have to rebook them, but when you want to do it, the system prevents them from being rebooked?

Friday Review is No More

2005-03-11 16:23:34 - 1 comments    |     Archives

I'm sure some of you have seen the signs, but it took a little while longer for me to admit it. I just haven't got time to do the Friday Review anymore, so they are now officially a thing of the past. This doesn't mean I will no longer review or recommend records, it just means that it won't be a weekly feature anymore. It's come to the point where I almost feel guilty about the Fridays when I haven't had time, and this is the second Friday in a row it happens.

From now on I will do reviews when I feel like it. I can assure I will NOT abandon them. I like writing them, but not when it turns in to a chore. And you can always read the archives. Have a nice week-end!

Frequent Flying

2005-03-13 17:46:00 - 12 comments    |     Archives

Can someone please for the love of what ever divinity figure you believe in tell me why the hell we choose to go on living in this desolate pathetic country where the Winter Lady absolutely refuses to let go of her grip? For the third time in 9 days I'm stuck at an airport because of a snowstorm. It's March, for chrissakes! That's the first month of spring, isn't it? Why don't we all just pack it up and move back to Africa where we originally came from? Or better yet, why can't the green house effect kick in to full overdrive so that we don't have to put up with these stupid changes of the seasons?

In addition to this, everything around me annoys me right now. The back of my seat moves back and forth every time the guy on the seat behind me shifts position. Couldn't he find another seat? Should I smack him in the back of the head and tell him to lose some weight? Then it's the announcers. Do they realize how insulting it is when they start their announcements with "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen." There is nothing that remotely resembles a good afternoon when you're stuck at an airport. Stop mocking us! And can someone get that screaming kid to shut the fuck up! It's driving me insane!

Oh, great! Just as I'm writing this my departure time was delayed with another twenty minutes. There's a grey wall of nothingness right outside the window I'm sitting next to. It's been constantly snowing for over six hours now! That's it, folks! I refuse to live in this country anymore. I'm emigrating. But first I'm going to get something to eat.

Announcements

2005-03-20 23:29:54 - 3 comments    |     Archives

I just want to announce that today I went skiing for the first time in eleven years. The last time was also during easter when Christer and I took pity on my mother and joined her at the family cottage since my dad couldn't go because of work. And then it was at least six years since I went skiing. But when you've got a four year old kid and it's snowy outside, you just gotta go. I even bought myself a new pair of skiis for the occasion.

It's strange that I never go skiing anymore. First of all I love to work out and stay in shape. Secondly, until I reached the age of about fifteen, I went cross country skiing all during the winter. I probably had a mileage of at least 1000 km (621 miles), but as I grew older and the idea of spending week ends and holidays at the cottage with mom and dad didn't seem quite as appealing as it used to do, I just lost interest. I'm planning to make up for it later this easter, if the weather improves.

And right now I'm going to do my nightly viewing of the Star Wars Episode III trailer. Jesus, doesn't it look great? I'm really, really looking forward to this movie. Although, it'll probably be just like Episode II. Bad acting, stupid dialogue and a plot that is incomprehensible to anyone who isn't a SW nut like me. Oh, well. I'm going to watch the trailer again now and go to sleep. Good night.

Another Death in the Family

2005-03-22 15:48:13 - 3 comments    |     Archives

The foul stench coming from their cage made me realise that something other than urination and defecating had happened in the hamster cage. Sure enough, Nusse was dead in front of the entrance to their house. At least Patsy had the decency not to devour her sister, but it was still not a pretty sight, or smell for that matter.

We had suspected for quite some time that not everything was as it should've been with Nusse. She always looked like she was bow-legged when she walked, and for the past months she's been making this beeping noises all the time while awake. In the past week before she died this beeps turned into shrieks. In fact, in the beginning I was convinced that it was the hamster wheel that needed oiling. I guess it was a good thing that she died.

Håkon took it in stride. He was very curious, but since this is the second time that a hamster dies on him, he was a bit prepared. Peace be with you, Nusse.

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