Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas wishes

I used to distribute my Christmas wishes to my family as a neatly organized list of nice things for a boy my age to have. It was only the latest years the list included actual useful stuff, like clothes, and most items were usually way to expensive for anyone to buy. Thus, also included in the wish list was a step-by-step procedure for how to collaborate when buying presents. I was always ambitious writing the Christmas wish list.

I have stopped distributing these. I no longer feel they are appropriate. In fact, I am kind of ashamed I sent out those lists for so long. They were more than slightly materialistic, and totally without any self-awareness of it. Now, I am still materialistic in nature, and would be happy to receive a lot of expensive stuff, and I enjoy unwrapping those packs with nice things in them. However, this Christmas I’ve decided to wish for something more noble:

Support for my spring break trip to Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic, were I am going to help an organization called “Orphanage Outreach” alongside a bunch of fellow Carnegie Mellon students.

Exotic Asian drinkSo, instead of buying me a sweater for, say, 200 kr, then buy me a cheap pair of socks or a fair-trade chocolate plate for 30 kr, and then donate 170 kr to Orphanage Outreach. Or, instead of buying me a fine vintage wine (dunno why you would do that, but if so), then buy me some exotic soft drink you found in the Asian food store, and donate the difference to Orphanage Outreach.

You can donate and read one of my very short scribblings about the trip here:
Donate to Orphanage Outreach

If you want to donate, beware that the amounts are in dollars, not in kroner. Adjust accordingly, I don’t want to ruin ya’ll so you can’t afford lamb ribs for Christmas! And you are of course most welcome to donate even if you didn’t plan to send me a present this year.

Orphanage Outreach: Donate
Calculate amount: Valutakurser (Norwegian)
YouTube: Villanova University on similar trip
Carnegie Mellon University: Alternative Break
Charity Navigator: Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Footage from New York City

I had Bon Jovi's "I Love This Town" spinning in my head from my first steps there. This is the result.



As I hope you can tell, we had a lot of fun. Thanks to Christian for inviting me, thanks to friends we met up with or failed to meet up with, thanks to Christian's uncle, who provided shelter and a beautiful breakfast, thanks to Justin, who kept us company watching Mythbusters, thanks to Dad's old friend Michael, who offered us room in his apartment if we needed it, even though he'd never met us (Michael: I guess Dad appreciated that the most, as you really trusted his word of me), thanks to CMU for providing editing software, thanks to Greyhound for flexibly taking us there and back, thanks to Bon Jovi for making awesome music, thanks to YouTube for not removing the sound for some stupid copyright reason (for the record, I do have the record), and thanks to New York City for reminding me of home.

// Say hey (say hey) say yeah (say yeah) // You make me feel at home somehow // That's why I love this town // (...)

// No matter where you're from, tonight you're from right here // This is where it all goes down, down, down // That's why I love this town //


More:
New record currently in the mail: Bon Jovi: The Circle
Graffiti: 5pointz
Fun place: Central Park

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New design

It is not too much to say, really. Maybe I should mention that it was a bit of a battle to get the same picture to show up correctly everywhere. But though several individual defeats, in the end I was victorious in the war on CSS. In case you can't tell what's different, here is a snapshot of the previous design for comparison. Maybe the pictures will turn out more colourful from now, also.


On the screenshot: Warfare experience

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hugs

I’ll like to dedicate this blog post to all those hugs you guys have given me over the last week. Sometimes things are hard to talk about. Sometimes talk it is tiring, because so many loving and caring people are all asking the same questions, or at least questions to which I must give similar answers. Sometimes a hug is the best there is.

As most of you know by now, my Dad was just diagnosed with cancer. They discovered this big malicious brain tumour, which they successfully removed by surgery last Monday. He is now recovering from the big cut they made in his skull. While still waiting for those wounds to heal, he is being transferred to the cancer department at the Hospital for further treatment. Please visit Dad’s blog to read more about my hero’s journey through the valley of the shadow of death.

Last summer, I was travelling the Midwest with my parents. Dad was having a sabbatical at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and happened to just finish a conference in Salt Lake City when I had my vacation. Our road trip back to Ann Arbour went through Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone (which turned out to be my favourite place of all time), Minot, Edmonton, Minneapolis, Chicago, and many smaller places along the way. In Chicago, the plan was to spend two nights before I would board a flight back to Europe, and Mom and Dad would return to Ann Arbor.

However, as I tried to check in at O’Hare International Airport, the machine kept telling me that I had a void reference number. It wasn’t until the lady in the desk told me, that I realized I had missed the flight – by a day. It was my fault. I had messed up. So many times, I had told my parents, “my flight is leaving the 3rd. I’m positive.” Not so. I deserved someone yelling at my blown up self-confidence. As I turned away from the desk lady to tell my parents, I knew that any scold, anger, frustration or evil eyes would be totally justified.

But Dad just hugged me.

So, when I Skype-chatted with my brother the previous week, the most important thing I could tell him was to give Dad a hug from me. The moment when we then ended our chat with two of those CMU-invented smiley-faces, was the moment when I first felt the gravity of the situation. Woh. Dad could go away. What if my kids won’t get to meet their wonderful grandfather? Oh no....

Read more:
Dad's blog: Rapporter fra Stein Arild (if you don't know Norwegian, you can read the Google-translated version in english)
Free hugs: Free hugs campaign

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Change we can believe in

16 year old Jasmine from China BlueI asked Professor Rouse if he believed things could get better.

We had just watched a documentary (China Blue) on child labour and exploitation of manpower in China, at a factory that produced pants. We had been talking about the difficulties of implementing regulation and minimum standards for how the companies treat their employees, and how widespread such problems are – they are not only present in the clothing business, but also in markets of food, diamonds, toys and electronics. As a teacher of courses in globalisation, Rouse pointed towards the new shape of capitalism that has evolved in the last thirty years as a cause for such conditions’ continuous deterioration. (I don’t know what exactly type of capitalism Rouse is aiming at, but I still think it sounds perfectly reasonable. To me, practices of the European Union such as open borders and same currency comes to mind, and also a high pressure on developing countries to open their markets)

Did Professor Rouse believe things could get better? Yes, he did. He knew from his own experience and his own life, things could indeed get better. Before the late 1970’s, things were getting better. What hinder us from improving again? Rouse believed in change, so it was worth the effort for him to come and talk to us students about this in his spare time. Professor Rouse’ heart and effort made him a beautiful person; his faith – his confidence in what he hoped for – was allowing him to be so.

Al Gore was asked the exact same question concerning his campaign to stop global warming. “Do you believe the world can change?” And Al Gore did believe. His belief that things can change allows him to be beautiful in fighting for that very change. Just as Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Henrik Wergeland and Martin Luther King Jr also were warriors of beauty when they fought for changes that they believed in. Now, none of these I have mentioned took the change for granted. None of them were certain change would actually happen – the only thing they knew for certain was that it was possible for change to happen if a sufficient number of citizens would decide to join their faith, be beautiful and “get the finger out” (an anglified expression from my gorgeous home country right there:-).

Let us consider for a moment what it means to have faith in Al Gore. Then you obviously also have faith in Al Gore’s project, and believe that it is actually possible to stop global warming. However, this belief alone does not automatically make you beautiful; in fact, if you believe that Al Gore is going to save the world single-handedly, or by the help of all those other people, is that not hypocrisy? To be beautiful, and “follow” Al Gore if you will, you need to actually make an effort yourself. You actually need to sort the garbage – because you are confident it can make a difference.

I also consider to put Jesus on that list. May give the phrase “believe in Jesus” a new flavour.

Learn more:
Teddy Bears Film: China Blue
TED: Al Gore's new thinking on the climate crisis

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wean Hall Artspace

Ever been late for physics or math recitation because you just HAD to read that comic strip? Wean Hall is a world of distractions.

I went on a journey to photograph every single comic strip on the office doors in Wean. The distractions are now also available online! I apologize for those pictures that are slightly out of focus, but I think most of them are readable with a little effort.

Access the Wean Hall Artspace here: http://gallery.me.com/torsteins#100015

The best way to view the pictures online is to click on the slideshow button in the lower left corner, and then pause the show so you'll have time to read the strips. Alternately, you can download all the pictures and view them in your favorite picture-showing software.

Read more:
xkcd: Centrifugal Force
Dilbert.com: Strips
Calvin and Hobbles: Calvin for President

Monday, October 5, 2009

Healthy homesickness

A returning question that I get asked from time to time is whether or not I’m homesick. It surely is a legitimate question, as the distance from home is greater than any other place I’ve lived, and never before have I been continuously away from my roots for this long. “However,” I usually tell my friendly inquisitors, “keep in mind that I have lived away from home for five years already.” I moved in to my first apartment at age 16 to go to high school in Knarvik, which was a prolonged one-hour drive away from home. After four years at high school and two more apartments, I spent a year in the barracks of the Norwegian infantry, far north of any sophisticated civilization, before I ended up in Henderson House here at Carnegie Mellon.

My Bergen wallpaper, me like!So in general, I am used to be away from home, and I am not homesick. At least I am not as homesick as one of my roommates in the army was, I mean, he was seriously homesick; he was on the phone with his family for at least two hours a day. Occasionally he would smash his head against the wall and scream in frustration of not being home. While others said “anywhere but here,” he would say “nowhere but home.”

He had my sympathy, and I learned a lot from observing him. I learned that there is value – real value – in loving your home. The more I think of this guy, the more impressed I am with how much he appreciated home, and the more I realize that value for myself. He inspired me to draw my beloved home city Bergen and post it on my cork plate. The Bergen drawing followed my plate throughout my time in the army, despite changes in room and roommates. He also, though more indirectly, inspired me to bring a camera to Stoltzekleiven and Fløien to take pictures of my favourite trail before I left off to the states. I now use one of those photographies, one with the exact same motif as the drawing from the army, as my desktop wallpaper. See above.

I regret that I don’t have a photo of my Bergen drawing on this computer, but if it happens to strike me as a good idea to post the drawing whenever I come back to our family computer, then maybe you will have a chance to see it. It won’t be soon, though.

I haven’t talked too much with my parents, and I haven’t smashed my head to the wall. I don’t feel like I’m missing my pre-college life, and I don’t at all consider to transfer to the University of Bergen. Yet, I am proud to announce that I, at least a little bit, miss home. I love to talk about home with my friends – I like to portray for them the beauty of Bergen.Streets of Bergen I enjoy to explain what the narrow streets looks like, how they climb from the fjord up the abrupt mountain sides, twisting and turning as they were shaped by time and topology; I like to describe how you can bath in the sea in the middle of the city, and how the taste of the salt water compares to that in the fresh lakes only 30 minutes of hiking away. And of course, I am super-excited to show people my wallpaper, point out all the different places, buildings and restaurants, and tell why they matter to me.

However much Pittsburgh is a fabulous place – it is not home.

Read more:
Warrior of Agape: WeHe
Wikipedia: Bergen
Visit Norway: Bergen

Monday, September 28, 2009

Events of the G-20

As the world may have noticed, Pittsburgh recently hosted a G-20 summit. As a Warrior of Agape, I found that a major battleground had been established right beneath my feet! I sought to use this opportunity to fight the good fight, and I did so through the Pray-20 initiative. Maybe we'll get up a Pray-20 website sometime (Sept. 29 update: P-20 site is up!)

After we were done with the Pray-20 on Friday, we heard that the anarchists, or so-called "black block," were to protest against police violence just down at UPitt, so some of us decided to step up in white t-shirts and bring signs of peace and non-violence with us. However, the police took the threat seriously, and sent literally hundreds of policemen, outnumbering the protesters with about 10 to 1. Then the black block said they would project video of police violence instead of confronting them. So in the belief it would all be a peaceful demonstration, I got myself a jacket and a camera.

And it was all peaceful until the police suddenly, with no prior notice, advanced towards the crowd of various activists, black masks, students and curious photographers. No footage of police violence was ever shown.

I don't think the police handled this very wisely. The demonstrators was at no point a threat, and they did no damage to public property. The police, on the other hand, all stood showing off their batons and rifles.



Read more:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Protesters blast police response, Oakland arrests
UPitt: G-20 Pittsburgh Summit 2009
My act of warfare: Pray-20

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prayer of Peace



Almighty, eternal God,

You who can bend the hearts of men, we ask You:


Help and brace all those who today have the great responsibility for peace on earth.


Take in your mighty hand the heads of the nations, bend their hearts towards You and give them strength in the war against evil.


Give peace on earth, and help your church promote peace between the peoples.


Protect our world against war and discord, and let us settle and live on this our beloved planet, which You have given us.


Bless our leaders and their houses, and give wisdom to all who have authority and responsibility in society.


Help us to serve You with faithfulness, and together with all the peoples of the earth to stand firm in the war against evil.


Through Jesus Christ, your beloved son, our Lord,

Amen.



Lutheran liturgy from the Norwegian State Church

Freely translated by Warrior of Agape

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When to eat

Do you ever find yourself outside Spice It Up Grill, depressed that they stopped serving five minutes ago? Now you can know beforehand if you are to late for those delicious custom made burgers, or if you still can work on your thrilling homework for another hour before you must hurry. With this handy guide to food on campus, you never need to go hungry again! So do it, do it now, bookmark this page for reference and guidance in those critical moments when the hunger approaches your constant urge for homework. This is your ultimate food-finding friend! Simply click on the menu, and it will fill your screen with all the serving times you can possibly want! Do not hesitate! Bookmark now!

More food:
Jon's hopeless attempt on the same overview (however, he does provide you with a campus map and try to tell you what makes a block)
Campusfood: Carnegie Mellon University

Saturday, September 12, 2009

CMU bookmarks

Since college started a few weeks ago, my bookmarks bar has drastically changed. The link to the online studies at the University of Tromsø is of course removed, and many others with it; instead, I now have links to different online services provided by Carnegie Mellon, which are frequently visited.

Blackboard is the most important one. On Blackboard, I find all my homework, all the course documents, syllabuses and calendars (except the physics homework, which inconveniently enough have it’s own web page). Though Blackboard isn’t especially intuitively navigated, it does a decent job, and you can probably make it do anything within the area of administrative communication. I visit Blackboard several times a day.

My CMU is a web portal that tries to gather information from as many different services as possible on one place. I don’t use My CMU much, though, as I either find the services boring, useless or inefficient; it shows my web mail, but I get my e-mail to my e-mail client; It has a CMU news feed, but I get the most important news as e-mail; the blackboard links are less efficient than going directly to blackboard, I already have the Pittsburgh weather forecast on my dashboard and I find the emergency alert service to be intrusive enough already before I sign up for further paranoia. The primary use I have of My CMU, is the meal plan overview (how many meals I have left and such).

ScheduleMan is a powerful tool when creating the schedule; however, it also serves as a handy reminder of when I should attend classes in which classroom. My SceduleMan –page is always up on my iPod, in case I want to reassure myself that I still have an hour before class.

One of the most amusing services is the Henderson Laundry page; it shows how many washers and dryers that are available at any given moment, or how far they have come in their cycle. It also sends you an email whenever your laundry is finished.

The Bandwidth Monitor is helpful in keeping track your bandwidth usage; we have a maximum bandwidth limit of 10 GB for every five days, and 3 GB every day. Because of the bandwidth monitor, I know that I’ve never even been close to 100 MB, despite a few Skype calls. Local traffic isn’t measured, so the hours of listening to music shared on the CMU network aren’t reflected.

See more:
My schedule: ScheduleMan
Henderson Laundry: eSuds

Sunday, August 23, 2009

WeHe!

Henderson House is awesome. When I got accepted at Carnegie Mellon (CMU) this spring, the question of housing quickly arose. After spending hours of research on the official Housing site, College Prowler and Facebook discussions, I was left with three options: I could live off campus in an apartment, I could live in the finer of the standard dorms, Mudge House, or I could apply to live in Henderson House, a dorm which offered something called “wellness housing.”

Henderson joined the rest of The Hill for house warsAt first, living off campus seemed quite appealing, as I was slightly tired of the dorm-like living arrangements in the army. But as I read the discussions about housing on Facebook, I was contaminated by the enthusiasm (not sure whether that expression is solid or not) that everybody seemed to have about dorms, so I decided to live on campus. Time has yet to judge whether I made the right choice, but the first week has made me a firm optimist.

Henderson House is awesome. The “wellness” –thing is about keeping the dorm substance free and promote a healthy lifestyle in both personal and global perspectives. And since those who live here all had to write a few lines about why they belong in a dorm with such values, everybody are exceptionally great people. The house is one of two silver L.E.E.D. certified “green buildings” on campus, and it has good recycling systems available. And, there is air condition.

There are about twenty freshmen in Henderson House. That is not particularly much. Not compared to, say, Mudge, where there are almost 250 freshmen residents (educated guess). Therefore, Henderson and Welch (the quiet living dorm, which neither have many freshmen) spent much time together during orientation, and we also share the same “Housefellow” and Community Advisor. Welch and Henderson = WeHe.

Orientation, by the way, was probably the most intense week in world history, perhaps second to the seven first days of creation. At the end of the week, we were so psychologically exhausted of meeting new people we didn’t even introduce ourselves to strangers around the dinner table, we just chatted about music, the events and whatnot. I am still having trouble pronouncing “environmental,” though, despite that I have said it hundreds of times (I also find “warrior” to be a hard word).

Talking about pronunciation, Nathan (one of our awesome Resident Assistants) says I have a charming dialect, and will have no problem with the girls. Andrew, on the other hand, a random guy with ancestry from Poland, felt bad when he found out that I “actually talked like that,” referring to my heavily British-influenced accent.

Food for WeHeAs I am searching for a way to sum up these vague glimpses into life at CMU, I get handed a fresh piece of delicious chocolate cake, straight from the oven. It was tonight’s project for junior Daphny and her boyfriend (whose name escapes me); it was the true incarnation of “wellness housing.” Classes starts tomorrow. Henderson House is awesome.

WeHe!

More:
Orientation 2009: CMUtv

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Moving to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh
Finally, here comes the blog post you have all been waiting for; the blog post that tells you everything about my new life in Pittsburgh, what I think of my classmates, how the dialect of my roommate sounds, which professor is the most disorganized... But actually, I still haven’t met anyone that I am sure to meet again. So I’ll just tell you the same things I told the guys at the international orientation ice cream social.

Carnegie Mellon TartansYes, I am moving to Pittsburgh. I checked in to the Carnegie Mellon (CMU) campus today, where I’ll probably be hanging around at for the next four years. I’ll major in either civil and environmental engineering or electrical and computer engineering, but I’ll take both introductory courses in my freshman year. I come from Norway, a country that you can probably place approximately on a map, despite that I am the first Norwegian guy you meet. I have not been to Asia, at least if you don’t count the international orientation ice cream social.

I arrived in Pittsburgh two days ago, after a trip that lasted almost 40 hours; when I landed in Detroit, I had to check my luggage through customs, which made me lose my connection flight to Pittsburgh. So they put me on a plane to Philadelphia, but I didn’t catch the flight to Pittsburgh there either, and I had to spend the night. At least I was in Pennsylvania. I got on the next afternoon flight to Pittsburgh, and by the time I came to Oakland, where CMU is located, it was already sunset. Time had come to find the bed and breakfast –place I had found on Google Maps.

It turned out that the bed and breakfast was not bed and breakfast at all, but luxury suites. However, I appreciated that they had a vacancy; after all, I was walking around in a foreign city in the dark with 30 kg on my back and a big, unmanageable blanket in my arms.

The next day I spent exploring the campus area, setting up a bank account, talking to the student health service about my vaccinations, paying the tuition fee, handing in my final grade report and so forth. In the evening I went to explore downtown, and I found thousands of people dressed up in black and yellow, all gravitating towards a big stadium called “Heinz Field.” I figured I might as well follow them and see what happen. I bought a ticked from a guy who had too many, which saved me $20. More than 28 000 attended the game, but the stadium wasn’t even half filled.

Heinz Field
It was a pre-season game between Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, the two Superbowl finalists from 2008. Like then, the Steelers won. I had never seen a game of American football before, but the kind, old lady that sat next to me explained the essentials, and by the end of the game, I’d figured out most of it. I bought a “terrible towel” in support of the Steelers, but I hesitated to use it when I was told that to wave it was meant as a curse on the other team.

My thoughts on American football: Way too much breaks. The players don’t even get tired! What is it about this fighting for four seconds -thing, and then having tactics for fourty? They should at least cut the “waiting time” in half; maximum twenty seconds from the down till the game must start again. And also, there should be fewer substitutes. What are there, three or four different line-ups available for each team? I think tired athletes would make room for more touchdowns, which, no big secret, is the fun part. Let’s call the new game “battleball” or something, and eventually the old American football would die, and even the Americans will forget that they used to call real football for soccer.

Today I moved in to my dorm, and I took the bus to “Waterfront” on the south shore of the Monongahela River to buy bed linens. I also got slightly lost when I tried a new route to the suite where I had my bag, but not more than what common sense and friendly Pittsburghers could handle. I have learned that 5th Ave and Forbes Ave are the two most useful references for getting around, and that CMU is located about as far from the shopping district in Oakland as it is from the shopping district in Squirrel Hill. My dorm is also on the completely opposite side of campus of the building where I’ll have my early morning classes in math and physics. I’ve decided to get a bicycle. I still haven’t seen a grocery store.

Read more:
Pittsburgh: Best place to live
Tartans: Carnegie Mellon University
Wikipedia: Heinz Field
Wikipedia: American footballl

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Infantry

My national service is ended, and time has come to summarize the year. How was it? Do I recommend the next high school graduates to apply for the infantry, or do I not? I’ll tell you my answer to the last question right away: I do not know. As for the first question, I’ll need a few paragraphs to express the wide spectrum of feelings and experiences that make up the minimum of a decent answer.


Let me start off by telling you that a year in the Norwegian infantry is varied. It is actually very varied; two days are seldom alike. Or, actually, two days may well be very alike. But the year as a whole has been quite varied. It started with basic infantry training for a few weeks, before we got into specialising within our field, learning how to drive the unnecessary complicated military vehicles, and attending other courses that teach us how to act our role in war. Then a series of increasingly complex exercises started, ending with the famous, international NATO exercise called Cold Response. Famous in Norway, anyways.

These exercises taught me a lot about – everything. A little about myself, a few things about God, a great deal about Mother Nature, but most of all about man. It should be said that I have been lucky in such aspects, being even allowed to lead a squad on my own on one occasion, which gave me much valuable insight and experience. We didn’t accomplish our mission, though, as our power unit went out of oil, making our electric oven and liaison equipment stop working. On top on that, I destroyed our Optimus Primus (a gas oven) while trying to improve its mediocre performance, leaving us completely without heat in the cold winter night. The human mind acts in mysterious ways on such occasions.

After the period of exercises, we had quite enjoyable weeks with close combat, war technique and urban warfare, and also theoretical courses in international law, ethics of war and gymnastics. We went searching for unexploded ammunition, had different hikes in the local mountains, and ran different military races, like, for instance, the 30 km run with an 11 kg backpack (including weapon). And, of course, we cleaned and washed the barracks for the next contingent before we left the building (which is actually quite a job).

What most people appreciate concerning their year in the national service is the friendships that are built in the barracks. And I too made some good friends; yet I can’t agree that the atmosphere was that unobjectionably amazing. People were always complaining about something, life was never kind enough, the officers were shit bags, the exercises were pointless, and so on. I’d prefer the atmosphere in my class in high school; there, nobody threw shit at people, and nobody talked behind other peoples back.

Btw, which is the best word: Objectionaryless, objectionlessniary, objectionlessly or unobjectionably?

There wasn’t much to do in our spare time, so I spent much time in the garrison chapel along with fellow Warriors of Agape; we had a choir, a conversation group, quiz nights, and evening services. While the services were all Lutheran, the audience had a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs. This made room for many interesting conversations, in particular at the conversation group were also the non-Christians felt at home. We called ourselves the “friends of the priest assistant,” and in May, a few of us were lucky and alert enough to join the Norwegian delegation in the International Military Pilgrimage (PMI) to Lourdes, France, even though none of us were Catholics. The experience was overwhelming!

The best parts of the infantry was the exercises and the so-called “green days;” surviving snowstorms, driving snowmobile, working on the technical finesses of liaison, hiding in the forest and shooting blanks at the enemy. The memories of challenging runs like the 15 km and 30 km are also worth appreciating. Besides, some of the courses we had were kind of interesting, and the trip to Lourdes was awesome.

The downsides were the dreadful music that was played in the barracks and the slight tendency towards an unpleasant atmosphere in the platoon, with the mentioned whining and humour on the cost of others. It should be said that these tendencies never became more than tendencies, and that most of the soldiers thought that we had a pretty decent atmosphere.

I am glad I spent a year in the infantry.

More on this blog:
Experience I'll remember: Dangerous Mountains
A fun course: Snowmobiling
Thoughts on the ethics of war: Perfidy and Max Manus
A serious matter: Going to Afghanistan

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Song of Frustration

Since I didn't get a summer job this year, I've had a great deal of extra time these last weeks. A few of those hours were spent recording an old song of mine (written in 2006, give or take) in GarageBand. It is the first time in the studio this year, and the first new project since February 2008. It feels good to be back! Here it is:


If you find it as awesome as I do, you even download it and put it in your iPod for motivation during puffing uphill runs in Stoltzekleiven. (When you reach the top, you send your time, for example 14.34, as a text message to 1933 with codeword STOLTZ . And when you go home, you stare with reverence at your personal Stoltzen statistics page as your times make a graph less predictable than Dow Jones)

More: (remember to open in new windows if still listening)
Free download: Song of Frustration
Stoltzekleiven Opp: Min statistikk (Norwegian)
Apple: GarageBand

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dangerous mountains

During my time in the army, Mother Nature has made its powerful impression on me on two occasions in particular. On one of them, the situation came inevitable upon us, while on the other occasion we brought the situation upon ourselves. One of the events were in a military context, the other was in our spare time. One was in the black night; one was under the midnight sun. But they both included a mountain.

Our sight was even worse than thisI was with my squad at the Cold Response military exercise, and we were on the very top of a big, Norwegian mountain when a snowstorm suddenly occurred. It eventually became slightly disturbing to our peace of mind; the sight was limited to a few feet when using a flashlight, and I was at observation post more than 300 metres away from the tent. By pure luck, I had bought two simple walkie-talkies just before the exercise, so we could actually communicate through the storm. A tremendously brave teammate came out with a flashlight, which lit up just enough for me to navigate in the right direction. If he hadn’t done so, the trip to the tent could have been fatal; we were on an average steep mountain after all.

We were both somewhat distressed when we finally found the tent, after a couple of everlasting minutes moving undetermined around in the storm in what we assumed was the right direction. His steps were impossible to retrace – the snow had already covered them. Unwise as we were, we didn’t even move together (we didn’t decide to withdraw the observation post before I had found the tent and informed the sergeant about the disadvantageous weather conditions).

Such an experience ought to change you. My teammate became sort of paranoid, and began waking up at night in the belief that something evil and fatal was about to happen. Maybe it wasn’t the healthiest reaction; but it sure was healthier than mine. My subconsciousness had painted the event in amusing colours, making me unable to realise the gravity of it.

Suddenly it was more dangerous to look down than it was to move upIt wasn’t until recently, actually, that I got to know how I should have felt. I should have been afraid – terrified. I should have been almost as terrified as I got when a group of us soldiers ascended a local mountain called “Hattavarri.” We hadn’t assumed that the mountain would be so steep; suddenly it was more dangerous to look down than it was to move up. Only the sight down the mountain could make one faint, fall and die. All our attempts to be wise and calm ended up in some kind of hysteria. And when it finally became my turn to go mental over the frightening situation, I began running as fast as possible to a place as flat as possible, smashing my boots into the snow to make small steps in the icy crust. I just went on. As it turned out, I found the flat plateau just beneath the very top, and we could all calm down for like – half an hour, before we dared to think reasonably again. I spent the time calling friends and family, asking them to fight with me in prayer.

We did find a safer route down. We even took some pictures before we left.

The top of Hattavarri
Read (and see) more:
Flickr: Kristian Pletten
Tipskey: Mountain hiking tips
How stuff works: 10 ways to survive a snowstorm

Friday, June 12, 2009

Awesome, Ole!

Today, I’ve been studying the international laws of war. The subject raises many interesting philosophical questions, and can be basis for intense discussions; the curriculum, however, is probably the most boring read ever created by man. Thus, I’ve spent half my study time sleeping, playing Tap Tap Revenge on my iPod Touch, and surfing the Internet.

It was while reading my local newspaper Bergens Tidende online, I found this article about a guy, Ole, who got best grade on all his 21 subjects through high school; a truly impressive accomplishment. Made me proud of Bergen (not the point). He thought, as I do, that engineering would be awesome. So, of course, he also thought he’d be going to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Just like I did.

Cambridge University
But then I suddenly thought this: What about Stanford? How awesome wouldn’t that be? I didn’t get best grade on all my high school subjects, though, so I wasn’t admitted at Stanford. However, people supported me so much during the application process that I decided to explore the options abroad further while doing my national service.

Now I am enrolling at my first choice, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this fall; I can’t wait to get there. It will be awesome.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2008, there are 143 universities worldwide that do better than NTNU within the field of technology. Only five does better than Carnegie Mellon. I hereby strongly encourage my fellow Bergenser to consider studying abroad. Bergen needs top engineers. It will be awesome, Ole!

Read more:
bt.no: Fikk 21 seksere (Norwegian)
Tapulous: Tap Tap Revenge
QS World University Rankings 2008: Technology
Define: Awesome

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keeping up with programming

How many times have you told yourself to do something, bought the book that tell you how to do it, started to read it, and then given it up after a few sessions? For instance, I tried to learn programming; I bought the book, read a few pages, wrote a program, and then... I never opened the book again.

KarelThat was a few years ago. Now I’ve started over. I attend a Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) course called “Programming Methodology,” which is a very recommendable introduction course in java. It is quite handy; I carry the lectures around on my iPod Touch, and I get all the software and handouts I need from the SEE website.

Right now, I’m at a critical moment – it has been a while since I last attended a lecture, even though I find the lectures to be really interesting and engaging. I also couldn’t remember what my last assignment was about when I was talking about it with a friend.

It is obviously time to get a grip, and convince myself that programming is fun. Not as an attempt to deceive myself, but rather as an effort to recognise the truth. Actually, I believe most of us sometimes have to sit down, take it easy and tell ourselves the truth about our daily warfares. It is so easily twisted...


Read more:
SEE: Programming Methodology

Friday, May 29, 2009

Snow and other events

Is it still May? I almost can’t believe it. So much has happened; the snow yesterday almost made me believe fall had begun again.

Yes, it actually snowed yesterday. It’s times like those you know you are far north; the sun never goes down, it is late in May, and it SNOWS. The alarm that woke me up also made me do some strange choices in clothing and packing my backpack. I put cotton pants on, and not the membrane, and put wool pants in the backpack instead of a wool sweater. Marching up the mountain through moist bushes and melting snow, we did get wet.

It was the great final in our week of war technique. We spent every day outdoors, and did many cool tasks, including hiding in the woods, throwing grenades, attacking enemy positions with the squad, physical tests and a 15 km run fully equipped, and lots of other fun. It was tiring, though; especially since I had another 15 km run the day before this circus started.

Hike the seven mountainsThe annual trip over the seven mountains that surround Bergen was held the same day as I was returning to the cold north. As I had to make it to my airplane departure, I only had time for the short version, four mountains. One of my best mates and me started tough; we knew we had a tight schedule. But we might have gone a little too hard; my not-so-used-to-travel-far-distances-by-foot friend had a hard time the last two thirds of the distance.

Before I came to Bergen to walk the mountains and enjoy some time with old friends, I was in Lourdes, France, at the International Military Pilgrimage (PMI). Although I’m not a catholic, it was an absolutely tremendous experience. I don’t want to write too much about it at this blog, as we have created another blog dedicated to the trip (unfortunately for my international audience, it is in Norwegian only). If you understand Norwegian, I strongly encourage you to visit it.

That was all for now. Till next time – enjoy life! (It may take a while, as I am supposed to work on my exam in philosophy the next week, and more exams are to come)

Read more:
BT: Slik var 7-fjellsturen (Norwegian)
Our blog from PMI: Pilegrimsblogg (Norwegian)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Going to Afghanistan

I read a story in the major Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet today about a few young soldiers that were to serve in Afghanistan for the first time this summer. One of them said this about his motives: “I go because of the money, the action, (Norwegian: opplevelser) and the experience (Norwegian: erfaring).”

Norwegian soldier in AfghanistanBeing a soldier in the Norwegian Army myself, I feel like I know these guys, even though I’ve never met them. Not only because we wear the same uniform; also because I recognize their attitudes towards service in a foreign country. Unfortunately, I’d say, these are the most common reasons for applying for service abroad.

Now, I was a little unfair in the translation of the word “opplevelser.” If directly translated, this word also means experience. But not in the same sense as “erfaring” does. While “erfaring” contains the wisdom gained and lessons learned from an experience, “opplevelser” is the feelings, excitement and actual events of the particular experience. Thus, translating “opplevelser” into “action,” comes from the assumption that those events he has in mind will fit perfectly into Black Hawk Down.

Nevertheless, I’m sorry that these are his motives. It is not necessarily that these motives are evil in and of themselves, by no means; or at least as long as “experience” doesn’t involve getting himself a dead terrorist (which unfortunately is the case way too often. I don’t know about these guys, though). But how much better would not the world have been if people fought for what they believed in, rather than for personal purposes?

Now, Norwegian soldiers are probably among the most updated on the political situation in both Afghanistan and Norway, and great effort is made to secure that soldiers know which war they are fighting. Yet, it is obvious that to us in the military, these updates are more like good excuses for continuing to build experienced officers and soldiers, than they are actually motivating people to fight.

I am not saying there are no good reasons to fight against Taliban. If somebody have this inner need to help people in need, or can tell me how much damage Taliban does, and show how passionate they are about freeing Afghanistan from this terror, I encourage them to fight in Afghanistan. But in the Norwegian Army, these are unfortunately seldom found.

Since the conflict in Afghanistan is far away in distance and has nothing but a vague relevance to average Joe, those passionate about the situation usually fight the war through what may seem like more influential platforms of non-violent engagement or politics. They can like or dislike or even direct the military, but they are not the military, and they don’t want to be.

One could also imagine that one fought because of a political obligation. As a member of NATO (and UN, who authorised the ISAF force), Norway is dependent on helping allies in their wars in order to get help if the enemy suddenly comes. Soldiers with such insight may also want to contribute to the NATO forces. But though there are a few honourable examples of these in Afghanistan, most soldiers with this attitude, as myself, are not very eager to fight, and avoid it if possible. Thus they hesitate to apply for service abroad, leaving the spaces open for those who actually want to fight.

As if that wasn’t disturbing enough before we gave them guns.

MedicThis is not a call to withdraw from Afghanistan. This is neither a call for sensible people to go there. Having said that, the only guy I really know myself that goes to Afghanistan this year, is one of the most impressive personalities I know, and I very strongly supports his decision. He has the inner urge to heal the wounded, like any true warrior of Agape should have, and he chose to do so through the military.


Read more:
Dagbladet: Slik forbereder norske soldater seg på å dø (in Norwegian)
Wikipedia: ISAF

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Busy times


Not a single blog post in over a month! There are a few different reasons for that, the most important one being that I haven’t felt the same urgent need of expressing myself that I felt at the beginning of the year. This post is dedicated to those other reasons.

Not that there has not been plenty to write about, of course it has. For instance, I participated in a great exercise called “Cold Response,” in late March. Forces from several different NATO countries participated in a giant attack against my battalion and the Danes. We were the “enemies” in the exercise. My squad was at a point stuck in a storm at the top of a mountain 500 meters above the landscape. A frightening experience that I’ll tell my grandchildren about; a story that may well have been published here at the blog. But at the same time, we had no Internet access on the mountain, and I didn’t bring my laptop either. So I couldn’t write anything then.

When we came back, I was kind of tired. But I had to hand in an assessment in philosophy before the end of the week, as a part of my exphil exam (I am taking a university course in philosophy while being a private in the army). These philosophy assessments are of course interesting – I enjoy thinking about stuff like that, and my toughs on such matters kind of belong on a blog like this. But when I am done writing my assessments, which inconveniently enough are in Norwegian, my need to express myself is kind of fulfilled. Besides, I don’t feel any excitement at the though of translating all those difficult words into English.

I was of course home for my Easter holiday – as a warrior of Agape, I would indeed love to write a post about Easter – but there was this bunch of unfinished paperwork waiting for me, as I am currently applying for a US student visa. Even though I spent hours reading about, and filling in, the application, I didn’t manage to post it before yesterday – a trip worthy a blog post of it’s own. All this visa stuff caused me a little stress, and if I were to use the computer, I would always read the visa application instructions one more time, rather than writing some sensible blog post.

Additionally, I have a hard time finding the online housing application at the university I am enrolling at. I still haven’t figured it out, and the application due is approaching... I guess I should have called for some assistance before I leave for the next exercise tomorrow. But then again, it’s Sunday.

Just so you know, I didn’t spend all Easter stressing around – we took a vacation from Maundy Thursday to Monday, spending time at the Internet free zone of my grandfathers’ farm. We went for a cross-country skiing roundtrip in the surrounding abrupt mountains, and brought the dog. Which didn’t turn out to be the best of ideas, as the dog wasn’t as up for the challenge as it used to be, and the snow wasn’t excatly dry. Besides, cross-country skies in abrupt mountains is only a good idea on the way up... Sunburnt, exhausted and tremendously satisfied we returned to civilization after five hours at almost 1000 meters height above sea level.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Prayer Hoax

I received a text message today, with a message sort of like this (freely translated from Norwegian):

“Please pray for the 22 christian missionary families that will be executed today in Afghanistan. Please spread, so we will be many who pray.”

I hesitated. First, it was because I didn’t like the intrusive way of communicating, and I kind of felt bad that I didn’t want to forward the message. After a moment of rational thought, though, I concluded that intrusiveness in itself wasn’t necessarily bad. No, certainly not, you should indeed be intrusive if nobody wants to listen to your important message.

This was of course an important message. But I still hesitated, still scared to act intrusive. I decided to find out more about the missionaries. If I could get to know these missionaries a little better, I’d probably care for them a little more, and if I were to forward the message, I’d be able to stand for it.

As I googled it, I found two things:
1. The message had been circulating in countries all over the world for about a week. If the story was true, then the missionaries would have been dead already.
2. Nobody wanted to confirm the message. No news agencies, no churches, no missionary organisations. Anyone with an informed opinion seemed to call the message a fake, with the exception of the World Periscope blog. The post concerning the matter at World Periscope is now removed, but you can se a screenshot if you click on the picture to the right.

Kind of relieved, kind of disappointed, kind of angry, kind of glad. Let me end by recommending a trustworthy alternative to these hoax text messages: NMIØ, Norwegian Missions In the East, regulary sends e-mails with updates and prayer suggenstions on the situations in different areas of Asia. Unfortunately, it is in Norwegian only. But I'm sure you'll find an alternative in your language as well!

Read more:
A similar view: Davy Mull
A contributor to the story: World Periscope
An islamic view on a relating matter: KavKaz Center: Afghanistan flooded by Christian missionaries
NMIØ: Bli en forbønnsvenn (in Norwegian)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another Revelation

Just recently, my view of George W. Bush was completely turned upside down, an experience I shared here on this blog. Today, another person I have been demonizing through the years blew me away with his engagement in agape goodness: Bill Gates suddenly became a hero.

XBillI have always sworn to different platforms than Microsoft. Well, I did use Windows for a few years, but I always had Linux installed as well. And the recent years, Mac has been the favourite. But that choice might not have been solely based upon objective reasoning; I did not like Bill Gates. He was the incarnation of evil – I even remember playing a game called XBill on Linux; a splatter game where small Bill Gates –figures tried to install Windows on my computers, and my objective was to kill them before they did so.

I was convinced that a man that made such amounts of money and almost had monopoly on the market, had to be bad. I had never even read an article about him, much less heard him speech or got to know him. I just hated him, and a group of us made up all sorts of conspiracy theories. We heard that he gave away thousands of computers to children in Africa – market investment, we named it, blind to the goodness.

That is years ago now. But I kept my groundless scepticism towards Gates, even through my transition into agape warfare. So it was with a slight hesitation that I decided to watch a TED Talk with Bill Gates today. A talk that opened my eyes.

Read more:
TED Talks: Bill Gates Unplugged
Prejudice-creating game: XBill.org
Brad Templeton: Bill Gates Wealth Index (outdated, but funny)
Warrior of Agape: A Dumb President?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Warfare Experience

GriffinWe got t-shirts from the battalion today. Really cool ones, kaki coloured with the famous griffin on front, and “Norwegian ARMY” printed in big, black letters on the back.

In hoc signo vinces – in this sign shall thou conquer. The griff is the sign in which our battalion shall win. It is our victory mark.

During my first weeks in the military, a while ago now, the priest said something that’s been burned to my memory: Yes, in the sign of the griffin we shall indeed conquer in these earthly wars – but in the sign of the cross, we have already conquered in the far more important war.

I have chosen to fight my primary war under the sign of the cross, and become a warrior of agape. Yes, I believe we have won the decisive battle; yet there are still battles left to be fought. It sure takes the enemy some time to admit defeat. Listening to the February 15, 2009 sermon from Woodland Hills Church, studying Luke 17:22-37, I tried to think through what I have learned about warfare during my military service so far. I came up with two important lessons.

First: Mastering. The whole passage in Luke 17 suggests that tough times will come. And handling tough times is an important part of becoming a good soldier. We have gone through days without rest and food, we have been exhausted, we have felt despair, and yet been required to give another 100 percent for the next day, and for the day after. Experience that may well be valuable in spiritual warfare. We have also had wrestling matches, were sensible and thorough gentlemen like myself for once get to know what a real fight feels like.

CrossSecond: Ready for battle. It is a military principle to always have the backpack packed ready for battle. If the alarm goes on, and it happens to do so sometimes, it is important to be ready. You can’t fool around and look for all your stuff when the alarm is on! No, you have to be packed and ready to go at any moment. This is also a principle that is important in agape warfare.

Always be ready for combat – the next fight might be right around the corner. Suddenly you stand there with some extra change that the checkout lady gave you, and so the battle is on. You need to be prepared for these sorts of fights, or else you might loose them (as I did earlier today. I have prepared revenge, though).

This is how to be prepared for spiritual warfare:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (TNIV)

I am thankful for what the army has taught me about mastering and preparedness. I do not look forward to use my soldier skills in a worldly fight, because I understand killing men as evil. It is not like there is nothing worse than war, sometimes there is, but war is never agape good, and I hope it never comes to that. But I do look forward to combine the divine armour with experiences done in the army, and continue our fight in the war against evil.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Make Pizza

This is how you make the famous Warrior of Agape signature pizza

First, you have to get what you need to make your pizza. Try to always buy local products, organic products and fairtrade products when available. If you have to choose between a local product and an organic product, use your conscience. I would pick the local one. But always try to find these honourable alternatives, as the food really tastes better when you use them. (This is actually true. What you know about the ingredients does in fact affect what they taste like.)

There is of course a few basic ingredients in pizza. Theese are a crust, sauce and cheese. For the crust, I usually find a premixed flour mix that contains spelt (triticum spelta). Spelt has the advantage that it grows in areas with rougher climate than common wheat, and therefore take better use of the earth's recourses. Spelt also tastes better than regular wheat, if treated correctly, and gives more energy and contains more fiber. Apart from that, spelt is considered to be health food, if you care for such matters.

I also use premixed sauces. Most types will do great. I prefer the mild types, so that I can spice it up myself with one or two teaspoons chopped chili. Chili is so much more than just hot! It tastes delicious, and gives a magic touch to any food (I've not tried in on pancakes, though).

For the cheese, there is absolutely no choice for those who wish you make an original Warrior of Agape signature pizza. Jarlsberg is an essential ingredient. No Jarlsberg, no signature. Luckily for all internationalists, Jarlsberg is Norway's largest cultural export article, and can be found many places throughout the world. For instance, I found my favourite cheese several times while I spent a few weeks in the United States last summer.

As for the other ingredients, minced meat should be roasted with red onion, green peppers and garlic, and then blended with the sauce. On top of the cheese, you put cherry tomatoes, peppers, leek, sesame seeds and most important of all: Hand-broken tortilla chips.

After the pizza is out of the oven, a few drops of lime juice is squeezed on top. Invite friends, and serve with fresh pineapple juice and iceberg salad.

Read more:
TED Talk: Benjamin Wallace: Does happiness have a price tag?
Spelt: What is it?

My Dream of Good Times

Exhausted after two weeks in the mountains, living in tents and training for a war that nobody can see coming, I'm finally home in the garrison. It is a little weird to call the garrison for home; but at least there is electricity and warm water. I am still at good health, I've had some sleep, and I've just read the week's curriculum in Ex. phil. (Examen philosophicum). It has been a good exercise.

The only bad thing about today, is that the Saturday quiz is cancelled. And I am a little bothered that some of my fellow soldiers found the exercise to be dull. But it was not. And that bothers me. I was most certainly not dull. It was good. Almost as good as a home-made pizza. It was cool. Never mind.

Later today, I plan to watch a sermon podcast from Woodland Hills Church, and then I'll post a few pictures to Facebook, and maybe watch a movie or go to a concert. Or join my friends for a pizza at the nice, local pub. I actually took a course in bartending two weeks ago, and learned a lot of things about drinks and stuff, things that I wouldn't have known at all, considering my unalcoholish lifestyle. I have never been drunk, and I plan never to be. But if I'm invited to pizza at the pub now, I might order a drink. As a simple gesture of appreciation for the invitation. As an act of agape war.

You see, I have a dream of this combined restaurant and electronics workshop, where you can work with electronics projects, order a pizza or a lasagne, tidy up and store your project while you wait for the food, eat, have a good time and informal chats with like-minded friends in the relaxation area, and maybe continue to work on the project afterwards. Whether you prefer coke, wine, beer, a drink or, like me, chocolate milk to go with the food, this should of course be available. A kind of electronics geek's heaven.

There is a lot of things to be done in order for my dream to come true. First, I have to learn some more electronics, so that I can be of any help for my customers, and also so that I can fully enjoy being in my own establishment. The plan is to study for a few years at the ECE Department at Carnegie Institute of Technology, starting this fall. During my education, I'll maybe try to start a webshop selling electronics assembly kits and useful electronics production tools. Or not. I've heard the regulations on the F1 visa is quite strict.

After graduation, or at least after I've finished my master's degree, or PhD, or at the very least after the other jobs that I might take, I'll have to make necessary arrangements for the physical appearance of the workshop-restaurant. I have to find a convenient and nice city, a beautiful wife and an appropriate venue. I have to tell about my establishment to the government, try to understand the tax regulations, learn to lead accounting, get necessary permissions for serving food, and for serving alcohol.

After my small business has been running for a while, and becomes increasingly popular due to it's ingenious concept and welcoming atmosphere, it becomes clear that it is time for an expansion. We establish workshop-restaurants in major cities, I eventually have to take an MBA, and becomes CEO of the multinational chain, giving generously of my wealth to the poor. Or we simply live happily ever after as a small business, I guess I would be just as happy.

The business could also serve as an agape warfare garrison. We would play uplifting music, contribute to our local society in educating children, and give people a healthy hobby alternative. I also hope we can invite interesting speakers that can give average Joe glimpses of insight into complicated science. So many possibilities!

Read more:
Warrior of Agape: How to Make Pizza

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A dumb president?

I guess most of us left-oriented Europeans have at least a few times judged the former president of the United States to be quite dumb. But how can a man that graduated from Yale and served as a pilot in the US Army for six years, be that stupid? The rumours state that he has an IQ close to 91. However, people interested in such matters have found that Bush actually has an IQ of about 129; check out this Google Answer:

George W Bush's ACTUAL IQ

When I read this, I guess had my own prejudices thrown back at me. I suddenly felt like I had to respect the guy, despite our disagreements in politics. Which in turn led me to this question: Do I really respect and value people on the basis of their intelligence? Yet another defeat for the Warrior of Agape.

(...) whoever takes a humble place—becoming like this child—is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Matthew 18:4-5

Read more:
Wikipedia: U.S. Persidential IQ hoax
YouTube: Bushisms

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Me, Snowmobiler

I hereby proudly announce that I have passed the final exam in my military snowmobile course. Belting around in the mountains for a week now, I am thankful to be finished; yet I guess this has been one of those weeks I will long to experience once again in the future.

Snowmobiling is truly fun. You can get almost anywhere, through woods, up steep hills, and you can get there fast. At the same time, you get in touch with nature, as branches smashes into your helmet, or you suddenly find yourself buried in snow. We even met a curious reindeer herd on one of our trips.

However, snowmobiling is for the most part illegal in Norway. There are a few groomed trails, and if you request it, you could happen to receive permission to snowmobile from the road to your ridiculously desolate cabin. But apart from that, civilians are not allowed to snowmobile, not on-road nor off-road. Sámi and the military, however, may use snowmobiles.

There is of course a reason for these strict regulations on snowmobiling. It is quite obvious for anyone who has snowmobiled; on the road, you have very poor control over the vehicle, and in nature, the snowmobile is merciless with everything from medium sized trees and down. The snowmomonster may well weigh over 300 kg, excluding the driver and his baggage.

The dangers of snowmobiling are also obvious; but with proper instruction and training, such as the course I had, this should be no problem. However, I was actually left alone on a mountain with engine trouble for more than half an hour at one point. With no cell phone signal and several degrees below freezing, the situation could have been very serious if, for instance, a snowstorm had occurred, reducing tracks, sight and body temperature. It didn’t feel very frightening at the time, but as we later were forced to meditate on the matter more seriously, we learned to watch out for each other.


I took this photo alone on the mountain with my cell phone. I eventually left the dead snowmobile behind, brought my helmet and started to walk towards our camp. I was careful to show which way I was headed, with arrows and deep footsteps in the snow. But luckily, I found them looking for me when I was halfway there. I got my helmet on, and was a passenger on our way back to the snowmobile. No need for the creative arrows!

All in all, it has been a great week. I’m looking forward to be a snowmobiling warrior in my future service for our kingdom.

Read More:
How Stuff Works: How Snowmobiles Work
Snowmobilers: Safe Riders

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Please repeat that!

Confused
I found this absolutely amazing scentence today!

"The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power."
Dr Judith Butler

I'm looking forward to become that good in English.

I found the quote while watching this TED talk:
Steven Pinker: Chalking it up to the blank slate