Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Another "Post of the Month"
Parlor of the record shop 12 Tonar, with Icelandic Presidents on the wall
The scene was a small cafe overlooking Nauthólsvik, a small bay in Reykjavík. It was March of 2004. Three women and a somewhat over-matched American tourist were engaged in a lively discussion. The women were nurses, celebrating the end of a work-week, and the man was me, before I had adopted my "Batty Professor" persona.
The talk covered many topics: Halldór Laxness, the war in Iraq, Icelandic investment banking(!), blogging (!!), and gender- and the way in which it affects the lives we lead. On the basis of what I had read, and knowing that Vigdís Finnbogadóttir had been the President of Iceland, I opined that Iceland seemed to be a very advanced in the matter of women's rights. I was greeted with laughter and a disdainful snort. Evidently, there was a lot I needed to learn about that.
Now, almost exactly six years later, that conversation I shared with those three women was brought to mind by this post in The Guardian. Iceland's parliament has enacted a law which will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees. The Icelandic congress, the Alþingi, has seen many women elected to it since the economic collapse of 2008 and the subsequent change of governments. The current prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardóttir, is also the first woman in that position in Iceland's history.
So there have been changes. The Icelandic law may have been passed to stop a tide of prostitution and white slavery from Eastern European countries. It certainly has the support of the populace.
Now if we could do something about the war in the mid-east...
Monday, March 29, 2010
Post of the Month
From my favorite Chilean blogger comes this post which deals with the awkward and often cruel transition from girl to woman.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Loss of a Pet
And here, my brothers and sisters, is the sad and weepy part...
A recent blog post about the death of a cockatiel triggered in me an unexpected flood of emotions and memories about every critter with whom I've ever had the pleasure to share a roof.
Polly the cockatiel was just a bird, but I knew of her, and about her personality. Because I (and many others) had read about her she had unwittingly enriched not only her owner's life, but the lives of hundreds of others. I've had a dog, more than a few cats, and even a couple of lizards (although the reptiles weren't exactly chummy) while growing up and when our kids were young. One cat, in particular, was the closest. An ordinary tom, who moved in with us when I was about 8, who lived with me throughout my childhood and teen years, and even survived into my young adulthood. We did things together; we explored the backyard and the neighborhood (he would actually go for a walk with me!) and if I was troubled (or high) he could always tell. Still, he was just an ordinary cat, a cat whose favorite pastime was sleeping. In his old age, when he was suffering, I was the person who took him to the vet to be put down.
In this world filled with human death why is it that the loss of a pet can be so devastating? The answer was eloquently stated in the post I referred to:
... with animals, there is a complete absence of guile. They’re just whole and complete in who they are and they give of themselves unconditionally. And that is rare with people.
So here's to Polly, Tommy, Skipper, Betty, Booger, Terry, and Bodkay and all the other critters who have touched our lives. Love can be hard, it can be messy, it can be sad.
But it also can be perfect.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
"Recommended For Consumptives"
Thankfully, the Monroe Doctrine had its limitations.
~via Vulcan Blog
Monday, March 22, 2010
Almost Like A Real Letter
Wrote an email today. Not just something forwarded, or a snarky comment, or a tweet or a Re:Re:Re:. No, it was composed, thought through, it had to do with some of the life problems we all face. Too many demands on our time, too much bad food, too much too-muchness. I don't have the answers to those problems, but I tried to steer someone I care about back to a little happier life-style.
I've never been much of a letter-writer, that's one of the reasons I started this blog; a place to write down my ideas and hopefully communicate with others. But sometimes a blog is too personal, too public.
I wrote an email today. Almost like a real letter. Writing it was nice, not an obligation at all, and a chance to take some time out and just devote myself to one thing.
Friday, March 19, 2010
by Louise Erdrich
It's about time I ended the foto-foolishness of my previous posts. Your Batty Professor now offers up some serious and valuable literary criticism.
Louise Erdrich's new book is a bit of a departure for her, a concise novel about a dysfunctional couple and the effects of their discord upon their children. I usually steer clear of books like these, although they may hold some schadenfreude potential, they are usually too unpleasant to bear with till the always unsatisfying finish. The best of these type of books illuminate some of the darker parts of the human condition, the worst ones only bring out the worst in the reader.
This is somewhere in between; Ms. Erdrich is too good a writer to wallow in the muck of despair, but this is also a somewhat humorless book, the net result being that it reads well, but flat. She frames the story with the very clever use of multiple diaries, and the ending comes with the same sense of surprise that one might get when reading another person's secret journal. If you've read any of Louise's fiction before, you won't be disappointed. If you haven't, you might want to start with another title.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Your Next Camera
Presenting the camera of the future – today! The Flipon F1, with its 63 lens array, will have every image capture stored with wide-angle, telephoto, panoramic, 3D and HDR information, to be reassembled in any fashion you choose! Each lens/sensor array is the equivalent of a 1 megapixel camera with a 1mm f2 lens. The sixty-three slightly different files can be processed in external software to give you a wealth of possibilities and quality hitherto undreamed of, all in a sleek, compact, pocket-able package.
The controls will give you quick access to important adjustments – or just shoot on automatic, you'll get perfect pictures every time! Those monstrous DSLRs of yore will be left behind when you pick up and use the FLIPON F1.
Available December, 2021
(this post is part of my photoshop class homework)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
My Day In A Cult, Part III – Mysteries Revealed
I descended deep into the bowels of this imposing edifice, below the Golf show, below corporate meetings (with free box lunches!), until I entered the holy sanctum. The tension was palpable, the room was vibrating with spiritual energy:
Our Guru gave this presentation on the "science" of Sharonetics!:
Seriously, I was at a Photoshop seminar. I know, how nerdy is that?
It is very nerdy. But the users of this software program have almost turned its study and application into a cult- a cult with millions of devoted followers, engaging in arcane rituals to perform magical feats of imagery. Notice that I didn't say "photography". Photographs may be an element of a Photoshop image, but it is really more of collage tool, and if the original image is manipulated at all it then becomes an abstraction of true photography, at least in the forms presented at this seminar.
Still, it pays the bills.
And it is the only way to make Sharon Spotbottom appear to be walking under a full moon on a street in Reykjavík.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
My Day With A Cult, Part II – Signs and Sacraments
Leaving the station, I noticed than many of my "fellow travelers" were headed towards a different temple, known as MOA, the Midwestern God of consumerism:
Not to be confused with The Virgin Goddess MTM, whose temple is named "Macy's":
Notice the red pentagram. I think she's gonna make it after all!
As I walked, I began to discover all sorts of "holy" places, some of which were downright scary:
One such "cult" had already been discredited:
Before entering MY temple, I partook of a sacramental breakfast, with transubstantiation of my meal into the body and the blood of the Goodess Ka-feh-een:
I was ready for anything.
Tommorrow: The cult revealed!
Monday, March 15, 2010
My Day With A Cult, Part I – The Journey Begins
In the cool drizzle of a March Minnesota morning, I headed out (on foot) to the commuter rail station. Somehow, in the midst of various anti-social political movements, this benefit for the common good managed to get built and is now transporting thousands of suburbanites every week to the inner city in a pleasant and efficient manner. (Probably saving each rider about $3000 a year in transportation and parking- more than that if they can now do without an extra car). The cult of the automobile ("Freedom! Speed! Financing!") had been pushed back, if only by a little. I felt that it was as if my town had finally made it into the 19th century! My town had, at one time, enjoyed electric cable car service, until GM and Washington conspired to replace it with smelly diesel buses in the early 1950's.
But this was a train, a real train (albeit a real short train), with three levels of comfortable seating. The conductor announced that today was the birthday of Russ, the man checking tickets, and as he passed through our car we sang "Happy Birthday to You":
Riding the train was very smooth, the serenity it gave allowed me to ponder my mission. Most people on the train were on their way to work, while I was headed into a cult meeting, eager to learn more arcane secrets of their "black magic". With my pleasant and bland demeanor, no one was any the wiser.
The train quickly made its way through subdivisions and industrial parks, even stopping in "Friendly Fridley", but only for a minute:
The rail line came to an end and we disembarked at a magnificent temple, its massive gates covered with cryptic symbols. That cult will be the the subject of another story, on some other day:
Tomorrow: Signs and Sacraments
Friday, March 12, 2010
The Professor is spending some quality time today with his favorite cult in an intensive all-day programming session.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Words To The Wise...
David Foster Wallace's take on Vikings.
You might enjoy these Letters From Iceland from Jean Young as well, especially if you have an eReader...
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Other Voices, Other Eyes, Other Hearts
Queue, Laugavegur, Reykjavík, 2009
There has been a bunch of new Iceland-related blog activity lately, as might be expected with all the turmoil there. Reports from Sagaøya is a blog by the Norwegian photojournalist Jo Straube, and is full of excellent, large format pictures. The Sacred Journey, by the enigmatic "Aristæus" is a Whitmanesque celebration of life and culture, with his most recent posts covering his adventures in Iceland. Long-form blogging at its best.
Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog is an English-language blog by an experienced Icelandic journalist who works out of London. The real deal. Silver Egils is a media personality in Iceland with lots of cryptic posts, the link is through Google Translate, which frankly doesn't handle his free-association prose very well, but the links he has in his posts are usually in English or some other easily translatable language. For the attention deficit disorder crowd, the Tumblr blog Ísland serves up arty yet vital pictures from the rock.
Lastly, Eva Hauksdóttir, whose blog Sápuópera I've followed for years, is writing again. Hers is a very different perspective (she is a practicing witch) and the writing is hard to follow in GT. If you go directly to her site, then copy and paste her posts to the "home" Google Translate Page, you can break the longer words apart and get more out of them when you refresh the translation. I respect Eva for what she says and does, and hers is truly a different perspective.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Spring Thaw Hubris
Poplar Creek, 2008
Winter is broken.
With a solid week of melting, and another on the way, this dreary winter has finally loosened its icy grip on the heartland. We usually (but not always) get one more big snow storm in March, but I DOUBT IT!
Monday, March 08, 2010
moue: fr. noun: a little grimace: pout
An odd word in an otherwise routine Scrabble game.
I challenged and lost, the Weaver couldn't help but gloat.
I must have done a moue myself when I said "You must have learned that in lipstick class!"
"Lipstick class! Hahahah! No such thing!"
I knew that there was all sorts of secret girl stuff, stuff boys are never aware of. In sixth grade I had to sit on the bench outside of the principal's office for some petit offense and as I sat, the sixth grade girls were watching a "sex-ed" film in the nearby auditorium. From the periodic shrieking of laughter of those girls, I knew then that there would always be a gulf between the genders- hundreds of great mysteries which I would never understand in a dozen lifetimes.
But now I know one of them.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Walking After Midnight, Redux
Cathedral, Reykjavík, 2009
The revelers night out is over.
A few are heading to the after-party, but they will be off the street as well.
Inside the Cathedral all is quiet and dark.
In the morning both the congregation and the revelers pray for salvation.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Walk On By
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Ganga, Ekki Hlaupa
Perlan, Hringbraut, Reykjavík, 2009
When I walk, scenes which would be a blur in a car, or not even noticed at all, are made manifest. When did our basic mode of transportation become a luxury to be cherished? Whenever I've mentioned my trips to Iceland, people ask me "Do you have relatives there?" (No, I go for a vaction!) And then when I mention that I've spent weeks, without a car, within a radius of less than 2 kilometer from my apartment, people say "Don't you get bored? What is there to do? What is there to see?"
Walk, don't run.
You'll find out.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
two hundred miles from nowhere
wandering in the wilderness
the moon breaks through the mist
a thin ribbon of pavement
must go somewhere
left or right?
it really doesn't matter
Monday, March 01, 2010
Walking After Midnight
I go out walking
Out in the moonlight
Just like we used to do
I'm always walking
Searching for you...
Out in the starlight
Just hoping you may be
Searching for me!
~ with apologies to Patsy and Sharon...