Everything is under control


Mummimamma's kitchen

In which there is no such thing as too much tea

In Copenhagen
Everything is under control
So here I am in Copenhagen, where I am staying for three weeks. I am at an Eramus+ "job shadowing" programme, and supposed to look at how they teach Danish to highly skilled foreign workforce, which is similar to what I do but in Norway. But since Danish and Norwegian are so similar, both in terms of language and (more debatable) culture, is is fairly easy to transfer best practices etc. 8Which I what I wrote in my application for funding).

So far I have arrived and found the university, which is big and windy. And gotten installed at the place I am staying, which is a beautiful old funkis-style (functionalism) villa, a couple of kilometres from the city centre. It is a collective, so there is a lot of people living there, including two children (on 8ish year old and one 2 month old) and two cats. And food. So far so good.

Hopefully I'll get to take some pictures and post them later.

Do you want a postcard from Copenhagen? Give me your address in the comments, they are screened.

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Academic Friday Week 5 and 6
Everything is under control
Last week I was swept away from work by my mother, and when I finally sat down to recap my day it was Thursday, so then I postponed it another day, just to make the Academic Friday a Friday, because I'm good at coming up with postponing excuses like that.

Aside from that I feel like the weeks have been pretty crappy, lacking in everything; focus, hard work, perseverance, any work at all...

The good things
I have been accepted at two conferences. For one of them I actually got a "revise and resubmit" on my abstract, they wanted to know more about my findings. Which i then - and still do not - have, so today I've been trying to formulate "I have no idea, but based on other similar surveys the answer is no" into proper Academese. I've never heard anyone getting that before, though.

And on Sunday I am flying off to Copenhagen for three weeks. On Wednesday I start my first day at the University there, but I have more than enough of other things to keep me occupied until then. Also one of my friends who now lived in Copenhagen has found me a nice and cheap place to live. Update to follow!

The bad things
Serious attacks of procrastination, apathy and postponement, so very little have actually been done.

Next week
I will be in Copenhagen! I have no idea what will happen then.
I also will have to do some writing on other stuff, a report to the government on textbooks among other things.

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Discovering my inner hoarder
Everything is under control
For years my mother have been bothering me to come home and go through the stuff I'd left at home. Considering I moved out about 20 years ago, and have lived in my own flat for the last 10, she is not wrong in nagging me. I just hate to tidy and I hate to throw away stuff.

That last thing was a bit of a surprise actually, I've never thought of myself as a hoarder, but when I went through my stuff I found an enormous amount of stuff that there is no reason to keep. You know, like my application for an UNIX account at the university back in 1995, my student id from 1994 until I finished, schoolbooks from first grade though to my notes on Latin and Greek in at master level. And postcards and letters. But most of it was books. So many books.

I have always loved books, but from I was about 15 until 20 I bought an enormous amount of books on flee markets. Which means it is a lot of Norwegian and Danish (or the even older Dano-Norwegian) translations of stuff. SO I have the whole oeuvre of Alexandre Dumas, Jack London and Agatha Christie. I kept the lasts ones. But I also had a enormous amount of obscure novels from the 50s, 60s and 70s. I haven't read them in 25 years, if ever, so I don't think I'll read them again.

I think I had an idea that I one day would move into a huge flat and have enormous amounts of wall space to cover with shelves. Unfortunately I only have 55m2 here, and definitely not enough wall space for the books I have here.

So now I am trying to get rid of stuff. Which would be easier if I had a car, so I could drive to the recycling station. For now i just put it in the storage space I have in the basement. One step at the time.

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Silent Sunday, hiking and lemons
Everything is under control
It's been a quiet Sunday, but I still feel I've managed to do a lot. I dragged myself out of bed and went for a hike this morning, up and down at Fløyen. And since it was not only good weather, but also the Get Out Day, organised by the Norwegian Trekking Association, so the mountain was overflowing with families. But it was nice. they've put up new signposts over the winter as well, so I found a new trail as well. And it was really nice to get out, even though I'm a horrid shape after sitting still for four months.

Then I've spent the rest of the day reading and making crispbread, which I do every other Sunday when I run out. It is really easy, but needs attention every 10-15 minutes. Also, some weeks ago I found (yes!) a litre of vodka when tidying, and since I do not drink that, I was wondering what to do with it - I even contemplated selling it to the students, since they keep putting up offers for hard spirits on the Facebook page. But then, some days later I got a postcard from Italy with a recipe for limoncello on it, clearly a sign. So now I have been peeling lemons, and my flat smells nice and summery. Also my fingers are covered with lots of little cuts and nicks from peeling. And does anyone know what to do with six naked lemons?

Signpost at Fløyen

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Academic Friday week 4
Everything is under control
Now that was a whole lot of meh. Clearly if I have one good and productive work, I must have one totally wasted week. This was one of them. I did probably just one of the things I was supposed to.
I hate this winter and darkness, even though we have more than two hours of daylight more than at equinox, and unless I'm very late at work, there's still light when I leave, although not when I get home.

The good things
I've gotten my official invitation from the University of Copenhagen. visiting scholar for three weeks starting on February 20th. So I need to find somewhere cheap-ish to stay. I've been looking at both B&Bs and AirBnB, and they are more or less the same price. Copenhagen is expensive!
And since I've got my invitation, I've finally sent my application for travelling funds. Unfortunately they will not be covering the whole thing fully. Oh, well. Copenhagen!

I've been reminded that I actually like writing. Now I only have to remind myself occasionally.

The bad things
Everything else. I've been having trouble getting up in the morning, trouble doing pushing myself into doing things. Problems well, everything else. I need an official ass-kicker, because I'm not good at doing it myself.

Next week
Everything I did not do this week?
Two work-related meetings, some writing, finish that fluff piece, and the blog post I've promised.

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Creative procrastination leads to nostalgia - mostly about writing
Very busy writing
At one point in my life I wrote a couple of feature articles that I never got around to publish, so I thought I could find them and see if they were worth putting some effort into, now that I have the time. The problem was of course that I had no idea where these articles might be stored. Did I have them on an USB-stick, on my old laptop, or the external hard disk, or perhaps even on one of my old floppy disks?

So I started with my old floppies, and brought a stack of them to work where I had borrowed an old floppy disk station, from a Mac by the looks of it, and started to go through them. I didn't find my article, but by Jove did I find a lot of other stuff I'd written. I'd totally forgot how much I'd written. Most of it were in the period 1997-2001, from I moved to Greece until, well, probably around the time I started my LJ. My LJ probably took over for quite a lot of the writing output, even though it had some differences, which I guess must had influence on what I wrote about, and how I wrote it, because then I was suddenly writing for an audience, also it was in a foreign language. My English is good, but it is not my first language. But in the period 1997-2001 I started writing on a computer, first one I inherited from my mother's work, later I got my own laptop, where I earlier had written by hand or on a typewriter. I still have books and loose pages of stuff I've written before, but I'd almost forgot about all these digital files.

Some of it was stuff I'd written for the university newspapers, there were essays for various Latin and Greek courses, there were copies of emails, even some from my earliest attempts at internet dating. I was never very good the dating part, but I did have quite a lot of correspondence with some of them, pages on pages with emails. And this was in the days were we wrote long emails, really long emails. In Athens I used to write up my emails before going on the shared computer to send them, since I paid for the computer and internet access, around 250 drachma per 10(?) minutes.

But the main chunk of the files were stories, pieces of stories, snippets and glances into the life my life, and stories about and from my friends, and of course numerous attempts at The Great Novel. Some of the stories I remember, and some I'd totally forgotten, some where so horrid I couldn't even finish reading them.

But - it made me remember something: First of I have always loved writing. I've written diaries since I learned to write. I inherited my grandfather's old typewriter, and using my mother's textbook in touch typing, taught myself to type so I could write more and faster. Getting ribbons for that typewriter was impossible though. I remember I had to re-ink the one I had by unrolling the spent ribbon, and then re-roll it on the other side. I wrote a lot. I still write a lot, but I keep forgetting it. I still write quite a lot in my oodles of Moleskines (A5 unlined) which has been my favourite for writing since I bought the first one in Rome in 1997? 1998? But still I keep forgetting: I love to write. Sometimes I even need to write. Have you had this feeling that your hands shaking because they are so filled with words, but then there are so many other things, most often work sadly, that interferes? Yeah, that one. I still have it. I should nurture it more.

The second thing I found is that my turn of phrase is not that bad, Okay, I must admit that most of what I read of my writing from 1997-2001 were written under heavy influence of being something of snob on top of being a Classics-student; which means using slightly arcane grammar and vocabulary, and considering using a full stop (.) as a personal loss. It was the only thing my mother said to me after reading my master thesis. "Well, you could have used fewer commas, but perhaps some more full stops:" It is still a weakness. But I do have some quite good descriptions, and my turn of phrase is pretty good.

So I really haven't done much today, but I really hope I can remember this: I love writing.

And this is probably more or less what I looked like back in the days when floppy disk where the storage medium of choice:

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Acedemic Friday - week 3
Very busy writing
Huh, that week went quickly! Actually it is a good idea to sum up my weeks, if I have to say it myself, becasue if not I'd have no idea what I did this week!

The good things
One more abstract for a conference is sent! And that almost a week before the deadline, crazy! THis is an abstract I'm working with two of my colleagues on, the annoying thing is that only one of them and I are doing anything, the third one is always saying: "Oh, going to look at it, just put it here", and then it disappears, and she does nothing. Unfortunately she has some interesting data to share, so we would like to have her in the project.
Also I'm slowly, slowly working towards a couple of weeks in Copenhagen as a visiting scholar.
And I've done quite a lot of reading. Of course the real challenge is to not read too much of the things that aren't directly related to the things I'm doing. Of course this would be easier if I knew exactly what I was doing. On the otehr hand I've been asked to describe what I was doing so many times the last weeks, so it's starting to take shape.
I've spent most of today free-writing on the project, and feel like things are, if not actually taking shape, so at least looking more like one unified lump than utter chaos. And since I have a tendency to think in pictures, I imagine myself something like a sculptor. For the last few weeks I've mainly walked around in the quarry, looking for a decent block of stone. Now I think I have a stone, so hopefully I can start hacking at it soon.

The bad things
I still have troubles getting up in the morning. I hate this time of year, it is so dark and dreary, and since we haven't had much frost or snow (which is actually rare), only rain, it is very dark here.
And my main problem - everything takes longer than I plan on. I feel like I don't get anything done, and end up sitting way to late in the afternoon - and then it's dark when I get home as well. No wonder I have Vitamin D-deficiency!

Next week
next week I only have one specific thing to do: I have a deadline on a blog-post on Tuesday. it's half written, but I need to finish it (so it's probably not more than 1/5 written)
And I have a list of articles to read and poke holes in. And some more free-writing to do. And I need a good working title for the project.

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Academic Friday, week 2
Very busy writing
Actually this week feels good.
I feel have gotten some idea of what I should be doing, and how I should do it. I've put a "On sabbatical leave" on my door. Of course with Moominpappa on. I have been a bit worried that he might be the wrong ideal for my sabbatical, since is not very good at getting around to do what he is supposed to to. But there are so many great pictures of Moominpappa writing, so I just had to.

Also I got a new laptop today, so I am really ready to travel! (and then i spent half an hour looking online for teacup-decals to put on it...)

The good things
The tangible output (insomuch as you can call a digitally written and uploaded document tangible) of this week is that I have written and uploaded an abstract for a conference. I this I had to actually express clearly what I am planning to do this term. It was a bit stressful, since I have only just started to read up on the theory, and have no idea what i will actually find. But I still had to write 500 words about it. And I have done it, and have now a decent to read pile that is relevant, not just potentially relevant. And an outline. Need to take that up next week.

I also have emailed the university of Copenhagen about coming down there and stay for a couple of weeks, and that seems to be going well. I'll shadow some of their teachers and talk about curriculum planning and such. And I have started applying for funding that.

And I had one quite good meeting with some colleagues about another project. We're writing something together, and hopefully presenting it later this year.

The bad things

See this is why I write the good things first, because now I don't remember that bad ones. Except you know, I have no clear idea hat I am doing, my material is still waiting to be *insert technical stuff I have a dude to do*.

And people keep talking to me! The less I interact with people, the less interested I am at interacting, so when people stop me when I'm planning to get another cup of tea, they start talking to me! My brain is a bit slow, both to power up and to power down, so sudden talking doesn't work, and then I come over as rather grumpy.

Next week
The only deadline I have next week is to write a blog-post for a language blog I'm occasionally writing for. that I am actually looking forward to.
And then I have to start on my to read pile! The work to-read pile, that is, so no sci-fi here sadly. Actually, once, when we were reading philosophy of sciences, we tried reading it like it was science fiction, but it just didn't have enough space ships. On the other hand, I am reading about communicative failures, so I can pretend it is Arrival, right?
And then I have to write another abstract, making questions for a survey. But in general I am hopeful!

Now I am going home with my academic self-help book: How to write for academic journals.

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Three 3 (but no trees)
Everything is under control
Yesterday I was working on abstract for a conference, trying to come up with reasons for why my abstract is the most interesting, important and exciting thing ever. I had two points, and was spending an exorbitant amount of time in trying to come up with a third reason. Why? Because all good things come in three - as you know.

I have contemplated my tendency to like make things into threes when I write and/or present stuff, and have considered it a inheritance from my many years of exposure to Latin, Latin writers and Latin rhetorics which also have this tendency to use tricolon - three-things. But it is not only from Latin, the number three pervades culture. The number three is common in a lot of religous things; the Trinity comes first to mind, also the Devil tempted Jesus three times, Jesus rose on the third day, Peter denied Jesus three times etc. I guess there must be some threes in Judaism, I know it is frequent in Norse mythology (along with 7 and 9) but I'm not that familiar with it, how is it in the other main religions?

Also three is a recurring number in folk tales here; a family had three sons, the hero gets three tasks, three billy-goats (little pigs, bears) etc. And thus in literature.

Not only do I have this tendency to want to write three examples (points, illustrations), but I do it totally unconsciously. Once I found myself retelling a case study where they had done a task four times. Except that in my retelling I subconsciously conflated the two last times into one, because three is better; right?*

But why? Is it just because it is more than two, but is still easy to keep track of? I tried to google myself to some answers, but had to wade through too much esoteric, alternative, nonsensical mumbo-jumbo to get a proper answer. There might be some mathemagical explanations; after all the other numbers which have a religious, folkloric, magical meaning are numbers like 7 (prime) and 9 (3x3).

So three is good, but sometimes there are just two. Or even four. And I have to learn to live with it.

*And people always stop looking after three. As you know. If you're Sherlock.

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Academic Friday, Week 1
Writing (creative and thinking)
Now when I am trying to sum up, I don't feel so enthusiastic, so I think I'll start with the good things

>b>The good things:</b>
1) Last week I got a brainwave of contacting my former students working in Norway to follow up how they are doing, and what they wished they knew. I have now talked to a couple of people about this and they were all making encouraging noises. I have also set up a meeting with our Section of analysis and quality endurance, and they are willing to help me. How we will know on Tuesday.

2) I have been encouraged (aka nagged) to apply on a mobility scholarship.

3) The deadline for one of my abstracts have been pushed forward two weeks. So now I actually have time to put some thought into it.

The bad things
1) I feel like I'm failing. Actually I am seriously flailing with both arms and both feet. i have no idea what I am doing, or how to do it if I knew what is was I was doing.

2) People keep disturbing me! Asking me to meetings and stuff I am exempt from. V. annoying.

3) I am one and a half abstract due on Monday. (one for me, and one in companionship with someone) Neither is written. Not looking forwards to the weekend!

4) The weather and my general well-being are similar. Grey and dreary.

5) I am the Queen of Procrastination. Facebook is evil.

Nest week:
Two abstracts due on Monday.
Two meetings Tuesday.
Meeting in Oslo Wednesday.
Abstract-writing meeting Thursday.
See you next Friday!

And I need to do some reading as well. Hm.

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Sabbatical, week 0
Blue Mummimamma
Tldr: nothing happenedCollapse )

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On sabbatical - and meeting the crazy planner people
Everything is under control
Today is the first day (since yesterday was a public holiday) of my sabbatical/research, leave. That's a new thing for me, and I haven't really had time in the last years to immerse myself in research for a prolonged period. And now I have, at least for the next 6 months: no teaching, no administrative duties, just research, whatever that is.

And I am a bit anxious; mainly because I am the Queen of Procrastination. Things that needs doing, and things that have a particular deadline, I usually manage, but all those things with no or unclear deadline I'm not as good with. And now I have half a year of ... nothings. Except that, by the end of it I should have something that ought to be publishable in a scholarly journal or similar. Because that's the prerequisite for getting a new term, publications. Welcome to Academia - publish or perish as they say.

So for the last couple of weeks I've been looking for a new planner to write down stuff I need to do in, and I've fallen in the deep abyss of planner people and self help-plan your life people: people spending an amazing time writing down stuff (always analog) in their planners, preferably in great detail, the planner people with colours, stickers and pretty lettering, the self-helpers with lists of thankfulness, goals and lessons learned. Some of these people recommended using an hour a day - 30 minutes in the morning, 30 in the evening, in setting up their planner. A planner that is then divided into 15 minute increments, and preferably planned to death. In pink. I'd rather spend that hour working, or on the sofa drinking whisky, reading.

Not that I haven't fallen prey to the academic self-help literature myself. I have acquired some books on writing. I haven't read them though - after all I am the queen of procrastination. And the proper research leave starts next week. this week I'm doing other things. Ummm...

On the other hand I'm back where I started with this journal 15(!!) years ago, as a practice in writing stuff. perhaps I'll have to reinstate the "Academic Friday" where I write up what I've done in the week.

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It was 20 years ago today...
Everything is under control
No, not that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play, but that I started my first study-abroad experience. I was reminded of this by one of my fellow students that I've kept in touch with, in fact she was the one of the first person I exchanged emails with over long distance - she also taught me about smileys, which she used all the time, and I didn't understand all what :)))))) meant.

But my first (and second) study abroad went to Athens, Greece where I spent a term at the Norwegian Institute at Athens, studying classics stuff; mainly archaeology, or how do build a perfect Greek temple as I think of it as. I remember travelling down there with another student from my university. She was a art history major, I was doing my bachelor in Classics. When we travelled in from the airport I remember her going all quiet in the taxi, before whispering reverently: Look, it's the Parthenon. I must admit that I didn't then, and have not still, got that reverent feeling from a building. Poetry, people, yes. Houses, no.

It was a fun period, I learnt a lot, both about old stones and about myself (the most important I think, is that despite being outgoing and extrovert, I really, really need time alone. Surprisingly often.)

Was it worth it; most definitely. After all I went again. And again. Until they didn't want to give me any more money. And now I watch my own students on their exchanges. And I am a bit envious (although, hey I could go on exchange again!), but I can also see how much the world has changed in terms of communication. I sent letters home, and only called home - from a payphone - rarely. We didn't get much news from home either. I bought the now sadly defunct Athens News, so I got the gist of what happened in the world but not much else. The only time I can remember the outside world impinged on our life what when we were travelling around, and when we were in Olympia we learnt that the famous Norwegian politician Gro Harlem Brundtland had stepped down as prime minister. that day we also got roaring drunk on ouzo. As all exchange students in Greece have to be once.

Also we didn't take many pictures. Of course pictures were expensive to develope, but now it is a bit sad. I was looking around the house for them, because I know I have some, at least one of the view of the Athena Nike-temple as seen from our balcony. When we were leaning really far out. But as always, the best pictures are in the head, now made soft and fuzzy from time.

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Trying to figure out what "something" is
Yeah sure. (Sarcastic and unimpressed)
Today I got an email from the local newspaper asking me whether I wanted to "write something" for them. Something I asked. Yeah, something. Now that was a clear order. Probably they want an opinion piece or a feature of sorts. But about what? Since they contacted me on my work email, I guess they want something vaguely work-related. Whatever that might be. I keep joking about having a list I call 100 hobby horses; 100 topics I have opinions on and can talk about at length, but when I am asked for one of them, none of them come up. Clearly I need to start keeping that list in writing.

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A freezer full of fish and a belly full of lobster
Everything is under control
This weekend I've been back to the ancestral home - aka the place where my mother was born. We used to have a house there, a rather big, ramshackle on, a few years it was sold. So when we stay there now, we stay at at my uncle L's flat, so it is fairly cramped. But this weekend I just had to go down there. On October 1. the lobster season starts in Norway, and I have gone lobster fishing with my uncle N for many years. Secondly the weather have been nothing short of absolutely amazing here for weeks, clear blue skies and very little wind. After a summer where we set rain records for both July and August, we deserved some nice - if not warm - weather.

So for the last few days I have been up and in the boat just before sunrise. The sea has been also totally flat, so we could see the sunrise and clouds reflected in the water, even trees and gulls.

Saturday at 7 am

We are allowed ten lobster pots (you can see a lobster pot live here) per boat, and usually we get enough to have a family lobster party. And if not my uncle N has some put by, since he starts on October 1st. This year we got some lobsters, but had to throw out quite a lot of them since they were to small (25 cm) or were carrying roe (can't eat what will be more lobsters later!) But we got an amazing amounts of crabs. We also put out some nets overnight, and got huge amounts of fish - more than usual for this time of year. Including some quite nice salmon. Even divided between all family members with an interest in fish, my freezer is now filled with fish.

Since the weather was so lovely we decided to have our annual family lobster party outside our boathouse. It was a great afternoon. We were sitting outside until the sun set. Wonderful, just wonderful.

This morning was less happy, since when I came down to the boat, somebody had stolen our anchor, boathook and a bucket containing some other - virtually worthless things like rubber bands to put on the claws of the lobsters. The motor on the boat is bolted fast, and we always put the gasoline tank in the boathouse, but it was clear that it was those things they wanted, because the other things are virtually worthless and rather unsellable. It was a rather annoying. On top of that we didn't get anything in our lobster pots. There are some rumours of people stealing from the lobster pots, after all they do not have locks, so it's easy to take out the lobster and throw the pot back out, and the owners will be none the wiser. It makes me rather angry.

But I will not let those feelings overshadow the rest of the weekend, becasue it really has been great. Although my hands are now scrubbed raw. I'm such an academic!

Sunday 8 am, 2°C - brrrr

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In which I write
To boldly go oh god (It&#39;s a scary world)
I miss writing. Well, I keep telling myself - and everybody else - that I hate writing, but I suffer from a chronic need to say stuff. And when there are nobody to talk to, even I can go to the drastic step of writing. Oh horror! And currently my most frequent academic sparring partner is on research leave, so there is an excess of words in my head. At least that is how I keep thinking about it.

And talking about research leave. Next term I have research leave. When I say this to my academic friends they all ask Where are you going?, and my other friends tend to look at me politely and sayingOh?.

I must admit that I have no idea how to answer the question of where to go. The downside of working on languages in a school of economics is that most of our exchange partners are really good at the money-stuff, but not so good at the other stuff I'm interested in. Also I'm a bit worried about sitting in a strange country and try to write, mainly because I'm worried that my amazing procrastinating skills will be even more prevalent in a strange country with new stuff and food. I do not quite know - I haven't done this before.

But new things are supposed to be good for you.

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Everything is under control
In some ways I think that 1986 is the yar I truely became aware of international politics and how they could influence me. This stems from two incidences; the first was the murder of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme. I had awoken early Saturday morning so I could watch the weekend cartoons. For some reason I picked up this piece of news - well probably they had the suspended the cartoons and were sending news instead. And since this was a piece of information not in my favourite book - the encyclopedia - I updated the entry on Olof Palme. And then I stared updating other entries I knew was outdated. This became somewhat of a pet project for me for some time, and I had keep up with current news so I could update the encyclopedia. On one level I think I knew this was a much too big a project for me, but I've always been fond of things like this; organising, systematising, updating.

The other big piece of news in 1986 was the Chernobyl disaster. My memory of this is much more diffuse. Of course this is partly because the news came over very fragmented, first that the levels of radiation was higher than normal, and only some times later we heard about the accident, but still noone quite understood what it meant. Of the remainder of the years we heard about flocks of sheep and reindeer being slaughtered from too high radiation levels, for some time we didn't get to drink milk, and in the autumn everyone was told not to pick mushrooms and berries in the wild. We used to go on a week of berry picking in central Norway. This was the first year we didn't go.

My memories of this are more fragmented, partly because the news came all fragmented, but on the other hand it struck straight to my fears. In 1986 my biggest fear was a nuclear war. I guess the Norwegians overestimated their importance and strategical significance, but as I understood it at that time, Norway would be the primary battleground between USA and the Soviet Union, and I was dead frightened of being bombed. to the extent that I for years had a small suitcase under my bed with stuff I would need if I had to run the bombshelter. And in my mind the difference between a nuclear reactor and a nuclear bomb wasn't all that big.

Crossposted to http://mummimamma.dreamwidth.org/290021.html where it has comment count unavailable comments. You can comment here or there.


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