Alternativ jul

It was the same procedure as last year - husband of feitpingvin and I spent julaften (Christmas Eve) and 2.juledag (Boxing Day) at Alternativ jul doing the dishes. Husband of feitpingvin sent stuff through the industrial dishwashing machine while I did a lot of manual washing, mostly of pots and pans, and cleaned up the dishwashing area every chance I could. At one point during julaften, husband of feitpingvin disassembled the dishwashing machine and he scrubbed down the whole thing while I hand-washed all the parts. We spent all of last year doing dishes, and our experience came in handy, as we were able to systematize the procedures, ensuring that everything ran smoothly. It seems like our efforts were really appreciated; lots of people commented on how good and efficient we were at doing our work...

There were a lot of guests on julaften. The doors opened at 4 pm; when we took our dinner break around 7 pm, it was difficult to find a place to sit and eat. When some of the volunteers dressed up as Santas to give out presents at around 9 or 10 pm (don't remember when they did this), I went out to take a peek at the action, and the main dining area was completely full. It was not that full last year or the year before. Good thing there was lots of presents. And food! Sheesh... it seems like every year we get more food than the year before (and we've been doing this for eight years). Among other things, we got more marzipan pigs from Nidar and individual-sized cartons of orange and apple juice than anyone knows what to do with. The volunteers were allowed to take as much as they wanted to home with them (and there's still lots left over!). We also got to take some leftover smoked salmon and free-range eggs and cream (hah! we have the ingredients to make ice cream now!). Yummy :-) Oh, and I also managed to snag a plush Pingu (leftover from last year's gifts) hehe. Just what we need here. More penguins... ;-)

On a sad note, Alternativ jul did have a nasty incident. Gypsies showed up, and while many of the guests were sleeping/resting, the gypsies went around and stole from them. WHAT. THE. FUCK. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with them?! The "regular" guests are people who don't have much to begin with. The gypsies, on the other hand, are tourists from the EU (Romania - they can come here on a 3-month tourist visa). So while we've more or less always had an open-door policy in the past, we were instructed to not let them in. It really, really sucks that they have to ruin things like that. Seriously, is it really possible to stoop so low?! Aaarrrrgh...

The guests were otherwise well-behaved, polite, and very appreciative of our efforts and all the presents and all the food. As always.

Anyway... it's all over for us this year. We're tired and happy, and will most likely do this again next year. Now... what on earth are we going to do with 2 kg. of marzipan?!


ah yes, the usual "holiday food will kill you" stupidity

As usual during this time of year, lists like this one show up and tell you that you are going to get really fat and all kinds of nasty health problems and die if you eat typical holiday goodies.

Well, geez. I thought a good part of helping people lose weight and get healthy and fit was to give them a healthy, angst-free attitude towards food. That is, for example, that you don't tie in negative emotions (guilt, anyone?) with eating, or that you don't instill irrational fears of any kind of macronutrient, whether it be fats or carbohydrates. Take the example of the turkey. "Choose white meat, not dark meat." If you look at the nutrient information, dark meat does not have significantly more fat or cholesterol or kcal than white meat. Or am I missing something? Are we supposed to get all anal-retentive over 20 or so kcal?

(And didn't they debunk the cholesterol-animal fats myth anyway?)

Oh, and I ate lots of pork ribs with crackling at Alternativ jul last night. It was a great source of energy for doing dishes for 8 hours. I also ate more baked goods than I should have, but I only do stuff like this once a year. Sure, I'm bloated now, but it won't last. Things will be back to "normal" in a week or so. So bugger off, "naughty list" Nazis!


today's good deed...

Husband of feitpingvin and I had just finished a workout at the gym. When we were going to cross a rather busy road to get home, we saw a young gull - one of this year's chicks - on the other side. Something wasn't right about it; it was holding its left wing in an awkward position, and it wasn't flying away when people walked by it. When we crossed the road and approached to take a closer look, it was quite apparent that it had an injured wing. By then, several people had come to take a closer look, and the poor thing freaked out and ran out into the busy street. As it didn't have the "green man," it nearly got hit by the cars driving by. Luckily, the drivers were paying attention and avoided the gull...

We had to do something, and I ran out and picked up the gull (for a good-sized bird it was very light!) and decided to take it home with me. Well, not inside the shoebox, but outside in our back yard area, where it would be a lot safer than on a busy road. (And damn, it bit me! Hard! Several times! Until I managed to hold its beak shut while carrying it carefully to the safe haven.) While husband of feitpingvin kept an eye on it, I first called fuglehjelpen and asked what I should do. I was given another number to call, and I waited for around an hour and a half for the guys to come and pick up the injured gull...

I suppose I could have waited in my warm, cozy apartment while waiting for the guys to come. But there were kids outside, and I didn't want the kids to find and pester the bird. There were also a bunch of magpies that would try mobbing the poor gull from time to time. And I just wanted to make sure it was OK in general; I could see that it was frightened and not doing so well. It stood under a picnic table most of the time, its injured wing shaking...

When the guys finally showed up, they approached the gull, who flapped its wings and tried to fly away, but couldn't get the required liftoff. One of the guys caught the gull by approaching it from behind and grabbing it by the neck; the expression on the poor thing was of shock. I wish I had a photo of that moment. It was priceless! The gull was packed up in a cardboard box, and it was taken away to a veterinary central...

It didn't seem to be a very serious injury, so the little thing should (hopefully) be out and about in the near future :-)

as to not be outdone by Pooty Poot...

Barack Obama...

And in case you haven't seen Pooty Poot...


Do NOT give money to street children!

Sure, there's an "economic crisis" and you may see more beggars on the streets, including child beggars. But before you give that urchin with the big, sad, hungry eyes your loose change, keep the following things in mind.

Money given directly to street children:

  • promotes a lifestyle of begging

  • is frequently used to buy harmful substances

  • is given to adults who force the children to beg for them

  • encourages crime

If you want to help poor children, support legitimate non-profit organizations that do that task.


oh, and speaking of cluelessness...

I saw this gem the other day. It's so full of fail it's unreal, and it's typical of "journalism" these days, especially in matters relating to science, nature, health, and medicine. And if that weren't bad enough, you should read the comments. People actually wash their produce in bleach. Fascinating. I'll bet these are the people who are sick all the time...

It really makes you wonder how human beings managed to survive so long. Now excuse me while I go feast on some raw eggs and "rinsed just to get the dust off" fruit..

a cute little Yule robin

Here's a lovely little wintery robin. However, the journalist has it all wrong, as journalists often do when writing about anything science or nature. (Yep, this is a big pet peeve of mine.) The robin is not albino. If it were albino, it would be completely white with red eyes. The worse part is that the journalist writes that the bird's condition is caused by hypomelanism, but doesn't seem to know that hypomelanism is not the same thing as albinism...


Bigotry baiting under the guise of political correctness

The more I read about something-or-other Christmas being banned because Christmas "offends" other cultures - the whole "War on Christmas," for example shit like this (OK, we're talking about housing association twats and they're by default a pack of dumbasses, and they took back their petty demand, but still) - the more convinced I am that it has nothing to do with "offending" other cultures and all to do with inciting "Christians" (and some others) to hate people of other cultures, religions, and whatnot. I doubt anyone has asked what Muslims, Hindus, Martians, whatever think about the Christmas lights or other Christmas crap...

Here in Oslo, a lot of Muslim businesses actually decorate their establishments with tinsel and lights while spraying god jul on their windows, with that white fake snow stuff. It's usually pretty garish, but at the same time kind of funny and cozy...


January sales in December

So there's this so-called financial crisis, and all the stores are having sales now. Yep, in December. Right before Christmas. Supposedly, this will get people to buy more stuff to give as presents or whatever. Just what we all need. More stuff. Yippee...

I have never seen anything like this before, at least not here. Sales are for January, not December. I wonder what's going to happen in January, when it's time for me to hit some of these sales (I recently purged my closet of some winter clothes that are too worn out to wear to work, or use for anything else other than dusting rags for that matter, so I need a few things, unfortunately). Will the clothes I would have bought been already sold out? I really don't have the time, or the desire, to shop now... sheeeesh...


Elephants 'die earlier in zoos'

According to this article in the BBC, elephants die earlier in captivity than in the wild.

Well, duh! Elephants are highly intelligent herd animals with close-knit kinships, and need a lot of space and intellectual stimulation. They get stressed out and depressed quite easily. Wouldn't you want to die sooner if you were stuck with monotonous days and boring routines, and perhaps even abuse, with no way out?

After seeing elephants in the wild in both South Africa and Namibia, I can't stand seeing elephants in zoos. In fact, it really bothers me to the point of boiling rage. Don't even get me started on the work elephants in Asia, for example on the streets of Bangkok. Although that Burmese project that was mentioned in the article seems interesting. Like all wild creatures, elephants need to live their natural life...

Anyway, I can't end this blog without showing off one of my favorite elephant photos. I took this last September when I was in Namibia; it's from the Damaraland region and these are desert elephants ("regular" African elephants adapted to desert life). If they look kind of angry, it's because they are. They attacked us not too long after the photo was taken. I'll write the whole story in the travel blog when I finally get to it ;-)

desert elephants, having a discussion


I just got done decorating this year's batch of pepperkakepingviner - Norwegian pepperkake cut into a penguin shape. I've been doing this for the past four years. My infamous penguins have sort of become an expectation now...

I haven't taken any photos yet, and I'm really not sure if I will this year (unless I bake and decorate another batch). Circumstances beyond my control and all. I'll try but I can't promise anything. But if you're not familiar with my twisted little Yule tradition, here's a photo from last year:

Mini Wolfgang and a pepperkake penguin!

By the way, have any of you seen Mini Wolfgang's Santa sweater? I can't find it anywhere. I'm sure he found it and burned it, because he found it quite humiliating to wear. Well, if it's not found soon, I have an even more humiliating sweater for him...


the next best thing to penguins...


midweek report, rants, raves...

  • I can't stop eating pepperkaker and clementines...

  • Martti Ahtisaari of Finland received the Nobel Peace Prize 12:49 in Oslo today. Congratulations!

  • Last night was the last formal Krav Maga training until next year. Grading is tomorrow, but not for us. We have to wait at least a year until we are allowed to go for G1. This is a good thing, because I'm nowhere near ready for G1 grading now...

  • High to very high intensity training is quite nasty when you have a cold. I was hoping last night's training would be relatively "easy" because of the upcoming grading. I was wrong...

  • Aside from the pepperkaker and clementines feeding frenzy, I've been quite indifferent to food and drink since getting food poisoning about three weeks ago. Nothing really tastes good anymore, for some odd reason. It seems like the only reason I bother to eat at all is because I need the kcal for training, and pepperkaker and clementines aren't really optimal for that...

  • So unlike Oprah Winfrey, who is now well over 90 kg if you follow the tabloid press, I have managed to keep my weight stable. What's up with that woman anyway? Always a drama. And always excuses... "I hate exercise," "I have a thyroid problem," "I'm so stressed," blah blah. With expensive (and apparently useless) personal trainers and chefs at that. Is it really so difficult for her to admit that she simply loves good food, and thereafter live the lazy gourmand lifestyle she wants to live, and tell everyone who doesn't like it to piss off?

  • I really need to find some winter tops and sweaters, but it seems to be impossible to find anything I like this season...

  • Not too long ago, I was made aware of a BIRD CAM from Brazil. It is one of the best I have ever seen. I am so addicted to it!


Mmm... pasta...

We tried a relatively new restaurant for lunch - Brunello. I had ricotta and spinach-filled ravioli with three different sauces - pesto, butter and sage, and tomato. Husband of feitpingvin had pizza with different kinds of cured meat, mushrooms, and gorgonzola. The pasta was very good and cooked to a perfect al dente, and it was nice having the three different sauces for different kinds of tastes. (Sometimes it can be a bit "much" if you have a huge portion of pasta, and the taste gets monotonous.) The portion size was decent but not extreme, which is something I also appreciated. Husband of feitpingvin's pizza was also quite nice (I managed to get a few bites of it :).

The general atmosphere was cozy, and all the staff spoke Italian to one another...

Brunello is definitely going on our list of alternatives when we go out to lunch or dinner with friends...

Here's a review in Norwegian if you're interested in knowing more...


everything is better with bacon

Mmm bacon...

The bacon and apple coffeecake looks especially interesting. I'll have to try making that sometime. Perhaps over Christmas/New Year's break...

99 things...

This is some kind of "what have you done on this list" meme. I've bolded my "done" things; some have comments in parentheses.

1. Started your own blog (duh)

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6.Given more than i could afford to a charity

7. Been to Disneyland or Disney world

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang/played a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightening storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art form from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning (the last time was quite recently)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa

20. Slept on an overnight train (I love trains…)

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked

23. Taken a sick day when you weren't sick

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunset or sunrise

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise (the drunk boat to Denmark counts,right?)

33. Seen Niagra Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the leaning tower of Pisa

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. Visited Africa (Africa is a huge continent; I've only scratched the surface)

45. Walked on the beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel tower

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (it's been ages… HMMF!)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold girl scout cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Gotten flowers for no reason (well, I suppose the underlying reason was to get me in bed or something, but I never did anything to provoke the action)

64. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a nazi concentration camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job (laid off, fired, same shit really)

76. Seen the changing of the guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the paper

85. Read the entire bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (fish are animals)

88. Had chicken pox

89. Saved someone's life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Made a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the great salt lake

97. Been involved in a lawsuit

98. Owned a cell phone (there are very few people in Norway who haven't owned a mobile phone)

99. Been stung by a bee


long time, no writing here

Yeah, yeah. I know. I'm a bad little penguinette. I've just had too much going on...

To sum things up since my last post (the first of April):

- don't know if I mentioned I started a new job in March. It offers new challenges and stuff, and although I had a really rough start, things seem to be going well now. I'm finally on an interesting project. Yay! Unfortunately, I can't talk about it... ;-)

- husband of feitpingvin (yeah, we got married) and I graded to Practitioner Level 5 in Krav Maga in June...

- travelled to Svalbard and Prague on business in the spring

- I finally went to husband of feitpingvin's rocket campaign on And√łya. I didn't get to see a launch, but I did go on a puffin safari :-D

- got married the 12th of September, without anyone knowing about it (except for a small handful of people)

- went to southern Africa (surprise surprise) more or less right after getting married. Most of the photos are up, but I haven't started the trip report...

And now... here we are. I'll try to be better about writing in the future...