Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Spain

We are off to Spain for 10 days. Trolltech always attends the annual KDE conference, which is held in different countries each year. Ben will be going with a group of other “Trolls”. I am also going to do some site seeing and visit some important anthropology sites. Ben will most likely be able to skip a day or two of the conference to join me in investigating Spanish culture. We are leaving on Thursday the 25th and will be returning Sep. 4th. It is strange, that going to Spain does not seem like a big deal to us. I guess the novelty of going to a country in Europe wears off when you live here.
It is suppose be in the 90’s when we arrive. After having the comfortable weather of Norway for so long, I’m sure the heat will come as a shock to us. It will be the first time we will have needed to wear shorts this summer. We are taking two cameras with us, so we are sure to be able to get some great photos. They will all be online as soon as we can get them up. I’m not sure how much Internet access we will have in Spain, so this might be my last entry for a while. In any event I’ll fill you all in about our trip as soon as we get home.
Walking is good.

Everyone walks here. Most of the people walking by us are in great shape. It is good exercise as well as providing time to be able to talk, away from the distraction of home life. It decreases the stress in your life, as well as the pollution in the city. These are all valid reasons for walking, but I have a better one. You find money. Ben, Zack and I were walking home, taking the long way. Ben and Zack were talking about some computer program, and I was looking around. Both Ben and Zack were so involved in there discussion that they stepped over a piece of paper. Since I was looking around my surrounding, I took a second quick look at it and stopped. I picked it up and happily showed it to them. It was a 50 Krone paper note. It is about the same as $10.00 in the US. There was no one around so I kept it. So go out for walks, it is good for you and you might find money.
Our stuff came :)


Before leaving Boston we mailed five boxes to our selves in Oslo. Four of the boxes would take 4-6 weeks, wile the last one will take 8-10 weeks. They were filled with winter clothing, books, computer items, and a few things that would not fit in the suitcases. I jumped in the air when we found out the boxes had arrived. Because the boxes were heavy, we borrowed the dolly from work, and walked down to the post office. We brought them back to Trolltech, where I happily went through each box. We now have some new reading books, and my favorite cookbook. Ben got some of his tech books, and we got some projects to work on. The last box is filled with the rest of our books. I will be glad when the last box arrives. It feels like we have not totally moved in yet, simply because we still have items in transit. The only problem with receiving our stuff now, is that when we get our own apartment, we will have more stuff to put in the taxi.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pubs
As I teenager I never went to any clubs or bars with my friends. My only knowledge of what they were like came from movies and television. Bars were always painted as dark and dangerous, where you can get drugged, hurt, or raped. Well the real thing is very different. The first pub we went to was inside a jazz store. There was live music and a bright atmosphere. All the roommates went together, plus Simon (who has moved out). Zack is a straight edge guy, which means he does not put anything in his body that could alter his perception of reality. At the top of the list are liquor, drugs, and caffeine. He is also a vegetarian and does not believe in promiscuous sex. I do not like the taste of liquor so while the rest of the guys had a beer while Zack and I had hot chocolate. The movies also never showed hot chocolate being served at a bar.
After the beer and chocolate was finished, we moved to another pub in town. This one was just a pub with a DJ and dimmer lights. This one did have sofas, and upholstered chairs. The guys again had beers, while Zack had an ice tea. Overall I have realized that pubs are just a nice place to go and talk to your friends on a Friday night. If you pick a nice one, there is nothing to fear and if you are responsible with the alcohol then everyone has a good time. No one messed with us, and no one else even talked to us. Even a pub in the middle of a capital city could teach that movies and reality is very different.
Girls
There are not a lot of girls in Trolltech. There are some, but they are mostly in the HR department. There are no girls that I can really talk to around here, and I find my self surrounded by the guys every day. I had a little bit of a reprieve the other week when Jason’s girlfriend Pam came for the weekend. Pam works for a cruise line company and is moving to the main office here in Norway. Due to her moving, Jason looked and found a job in Norway so they can stay together. Jason’s job started first so he moved here while Pam finished work on a cruise ship she had just inspected in Germany. Pam is moving here in September, in to an apartment supplied by her company. Jason will be moving in with her as soon as she arrives permanently. She came for a visit to see Jason for the first time in six months. It was different having a girl in the house for the weekend. It was nice to talk to someone about the guys, and about emotions. It was funny how the house suddenly smelt like perfume and hair products. Even though her stay was short, I am looking forward to September when Pam will be here to stay.
Boris’ wife Lilly had arrived with their daughter Emma. I have not been able to spend a lot of time with Lilly yet, but have talked to her at the office. She is trying to get her bearings and a just to an apartment after living in her own house. I got to play with Emma for a while, even though we cannot understand each other. It is a good thing that interactive play does not need language to succeed. I hope to spend more time with Lilly, especially when we get our own place. I can understand how she feels being alone all day.
After we were in the paper we were contacted by a girl who moved here from Wisconsin, to marry a local Norwegian man. We went out to dinner with them and I was able to trade stories with her about living in a new country. She understood the boredom of not being able to work, or go to school until the visa comes in. She gave me some good tips about Norwegian culture and living practices. We are planning to get together again as soon as they get back from their vacation. My hope is to get a small group of girls together so that we can go out together and help each other with the trials of a new country. Like I have said before, I love spending time with the guys, but now and then you just need the understanding of another girl.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Frisbee

Last week some of the guys at the office decided to go out and play ultimate Frisbee. For those of you who do not know what that is, here are the basics. There are two teams each with a goal. You pass the Frisbee to your teammates in an attempt to pass it to a team member in the opposite goal. Once you are holding the Frisbee you cannot move, but everyone else is free to run around or block your pass. It is kind of like basketball with goals.
It was my intention to read in the sun wile they played, but they were so into the game that I had to take pictures of them. The photos I took just did not capture the intensity of how the guys played. They were literally diving for the Frisbee, and jumping on each other to get the Frisbee away from the other team. One guy fell hard and sprained his ankle, and others were cut up and bloody by the time the game was ended.
Now I love Ben, and I have seen all the sides of him but being physically active is a side I very rarely see. We run around and chase each other, and we do physical things together, but I have not seen him play a team sport since collage. It was fun to see him running around and being active, although the next day he was very soar. We will be putting the photos I took on line as soon as we get our computer up and running.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back to a bit of normality;

When Ben and I first got married, we carried on his family’s tradition of home made pizza and a movie every Saturday night. After a few months of this, we realized that our waistlines were growing a bit to fast. From then on, pizza was only made when we had friends over for dinner. Our friends had to help make the pizza, which made for lots of talking and fun. No matter whom we had over for dinner, they enjoyed the novelty of home made pizza from scratch.
We had invited Boris and Zack over on Saturday for a movie. I thought it would be fun (not to mention an adventure) to try to find all the ingredients and make pizza for everyone. Our first task was to find a pizza pan, which we were told might be hard to locate. Fortunately there is a restaurant cookware supply store not far from our apartment. After wondering around the shelves, I was able to locate two good size professional pizza pans.
I was then off to the corner “mom & pop” store to locate the ingredients. I was able to find everything I needed except for the yeast. I had always used dry yeast available in a packet or jar. When I could not find it, I asked the casher. Even though he spoke English, “yeast” was not a term he was familiar with. I spent a few moments using my hands to “show” the rising motion as I said, “it makes bread rise”. He had no idea what I was talking about. Luckily for me another customer was from England and knew what I needed. He showed me to the refrigerator and pointed out a small, squishy cube. When I got home I opened the yeast to discover a gray pliable substance resembling clay. It had the correct smell so I began the dough.
The pizza came out pretty good for the first attempt, and they guys left no leftovers. We had a great night watching movies, and eating ice cream for dessert. We have since had the guys over for dinner a few more times. It is always a nice feeling having Zack and the guys over to eat and talk. It is starting to feel like a normal life again. Now we just have to find an apartment of our own to officially be home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New Roommates

Trolltech rents out two apartments in the building for new employees or for visiting business officials. Originally Trolltech only had one apartment. Now that the company is expanding, they realized they needed more housing for the overseas recruits. Two Trolltech employees happen to rent an apartment in the same building as Trolltech’s. When these guys moved out, Trolltech took over their lease to provide the extra space needed. The apartment we live in is on the second floor and the official Trolltech apartment, with a sticker on the door to help locate the correct apartment. We have been sharing this apartment with Simon. Simon has been here about three months, but started at Trolltech as an intern a few years ago. Simon has recently moved out after finding his own apartment. A few days after Simon left we were told that we should expect a new roommate named Jerry on Friday. Well Friday came and the door buzzed. The voice on the other end said his name was Jason. So Jerry turned in to Jason. Jason comes from Canada, and will be moving in with his girlfriend as soon as she arrives from her job in Germany. We are trying to help Jason get used to the city and give him the information he needs to know about Trolltech and Oslo.
One the fifth floor lives two other Trolltech new hires. Boris, who is from the Czech Rep. and Zach who moved to Pennsylvania after being born in Poland. Boris had to find an apartment fast, in order for his wife Lilly and two year old daughter Emma to join him. To be able to get an apartment, you first need a bank account due to the fact that all money transactions are done thru bank transfers. This process makes checks unnecessary. In order to get the bank account you need what is called a “D” number. Think of a “D” number as a social security number. Boris’ “D” number finally came in, and he was able to find and move in to an apartment in a matter of a week. He only lived in the apartment for two months.
Zach has lived here for three months. He has not had a strong drive to find a new apartment, as it is just him. He has looked on-line a bit for an apartment, but has yet to decide on one. Now that Boris has moved out, Zack’s new roommate is named Anders. Anders is native to Norway, but has been working in the US office for six months. We were not expecting a new roommate the night Anders came, but I was awake because I could not sleep. At about 1:30 A.M I heard the sound of keys in our door. I figured that someone in the building had simply stopped at the wrong floor. When I called out that they had the wrong apartment, Anders replied he was supposed to be in the Trolltech apartment but his key was not working. Apparently no one at the office had told him to go to the top floor. He had seen the sticker on our door and assumed that was where he was supposed to go. I told him where his apartment was, and hoped that Zack was expecting a new person at this hour.
It has been interesting having roommates. We go out together now and then to museums or pubs. We visit each other for dinner or movies in each other’s apartment. It is nice to have people near by that are going thru the same thing as us, and that work with Ben. They also come in handy when we are trying to find out necessary information, like where things are or how to perform certain errands. I do wish that there were more girls around, but I am getting used to the boys.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Museums

We have been trying to get to a “tourist” site every weekend while Oslo is still new. The first attraction we went to was Vigeland Park, or as we call it, ‘statue garden”. Vigeland Park is Norway's most visited attraction with over 1 million visitors every year with app. 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), who also designed the layout of the park. The sculptures are breathtaking and the design allows you to wonder and explore all the “nooks” of the park. It was amusing to watch the tourists get in to the same pose as a sculpture for photos. I had visited this park in January when we first visited the country, and saw this garden as brown snow covered earth. The park was so much more interesting with all the flowers in full bloom and the green grass. The next place we went was to the National Gallery. There we saw “the Scream” “Portrait of Mme Zborowska” “Winter Night in the Mountains” and the Van go self-portrait. There was a large collection of Munch’s work, as well as work by Van go, Monet, Rembrandt, and many predominant local artists. It amazed us that the museum had no air conditioning or humidifiers to protect the art. We soon learned that most recognized paintings (“the Scream” ect.) were much smaller then we had envisioned them to be. There were also many small sculptures that were over looked in the corners of the rooms. While most people either ignored or over looked these statues, we found them more festinating then some “important” paintings.
Last weekend we went to the Vikingskipshuset (Viking ship) museum as well as the Norsk Folkemuseum. The ship museum has a great display of three Viking ships and objects of daily life from the 9th century. It was an unbelievable collection that thankfully, was very well preserved. I spent a lot of time studying these artifacts, and examining the finely carved wood. The building was well laid-out, with balconies available to see over the top of the ships. After the Ship museum we walked about a block to the “Norsk Folkemuseum”. This is an open-air museum similar to Massachusetts Sturbridge Village. There is a re-crated village, with displays of social customs and clothing. There is also an apartment building that dedicates an apartment from the different decades of the 20th century. One of the main structures is the “Gol Stave Church”, which was built in 1200. It is a breathtaking example of the expert architecture and carvers of the past. We brought our upstairs roommate Boris with us, who by the end of the day, was exhausted from following us all over the grounds.