Friday, May 31, 2002

I have not just been writing this month. Now that it's time to pack up and go home, I find that I have been reading as well. I carried with me Huizinga, Caillois, Sutton-Smith and Jones (ed.), while Turner, Turkle and Life Online by Anette Markham was waiting for me here.

Most of this was familiar stuff, so I just used it to flesh out the five chapters I edited and wrote here, but the Markham book was special. It's a little old, we have seen several of these books by now, describing an academic's (in this case an ethnographer's) experiences as a new user online. In many ways it's naive and unsophisticated, almost clumsy, particularly in the way it switches between account modes: From observations and reporting to comments through switching back and forth with italics. But when I had accepted the quasi-academic format and the naivistic form of her questions and approach, it was a very revealing, honest and even familiar exploration of a first encounter between the online subject and the not-so-connected researcher. From page 71:

Online, you can't see their faces
Online, I can't see the other person's face, hear their tone of voice, or get any sense of who they are beyond the words I see scrolling up my own screen. This does not mean the interview is less interesting. Through their words and through my interaction with them, I could sense joy, anger, passion, bitterness, happiness. In fact, I was surprised and impressed by the intensit of the conversations.

However, I found it difficult to manage the basic elements of conversation, such as taking turns at the appropriate time, nodding, or mm-hmm-ing to imply, "Go on, I'm listening." I couldn't give a questioning glance or wrinkle my forehead or frown slightly to let the other person know I didn't understand what they were getting at.

This rather simple observation is something I have neglected to describe, but it is the reason why I travelled across the North-Atlantic as well as the American Continent in order to interview my players. Every response has to be verbal, and not just that - it has to be written. Still, my fascination with Markham's book was with the leaps she made from such essential, but basic observations, and to sophisticated conclusions to her interviews:

At some point Sheol uses real as a convenient term that demarcates those experiences that occur offline. Meanwhile, Sheol describes real as a matter of degree directly related to a level of information/knowledge, particularly when speaking of other things or people exclusively in online contexts. In other words, the more he knows about something or someone, the more real it or they become. Sheol seems to distinguish his online experience along a continuum from less real to more real. Stated differently, the reality of others - and more specifically, their subjectivity - is not a static condition as much as a matter of degree. (page 184)

This expresses one of my main objections against the vitual/real discussion. I cannot see reality as either/or. reality is relative, a continuum, where the subject deceides on the degree of reality. Anette Markham and her interviewees reminded me of this, and I devoured the book. It will be useful - I have to go back to the methods-chapter and put her into my discussion on reflexivity - but most of all it was a delightfully honest, personal and open scholarly work on internet research.
by the way: Emily is the blogger closest to where I am at the moment...
Geography and places of the heart
I find myself wishing I could register here, that I could be a NYC blogger. I would be at the very end of the R-line, the south end of the yellow line, where only shuttles run in the week-ends, five minutes walking away from a breath of salt air, where it's still possible to buy Norwegian meat-balls with brown sauce or warm fish-cakes in the regular delis. Not to talk of real danish bread.

But I hesitate, because even in a non-geographic community, the geographc identity is powerful. Language is obvious, but I notice other differences as well. The priorities, the problems, the questions and the answers: I cannot even begine to pretend that mine are those of a New Yorker. I'll just add that page to my favourites, and be a digital tourist, lurking around thedescriptions of life in a part of the world I have grown to enjoy the way the familiar is still enjoyable before it grows tiresome.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

I read the same comment from Des as Jill reacted to, but I saw it first on Tinka's page. My reaction to his criticism of the lack of comments was identical to Jill's, possibly because comments or no comments is something Jill, Hilde and I discussed pretty extensively when we created blogonblog (We initially tried to involve Hilde in that).

Blogonblog has comments, and they were put there in order to give us a tool through which we could quickly and easily comment on each other's posts, as well as give other bloggers/readers/non-bloggers who might be interested in contributing to a meta-blogging discussion a way to give feed-back. The comment function is still there, and both Jill and I check on that blog regularly to see if there are any changes (and we have agents doing the checking for us, in case we should grow lax), but they didn't really work well. We had some very nice comments and some not so useful, but email and checking links from other blogs was a much better way to get feed-back on what we were discussing.

During that initial discussion both Jill and I opted for no comments on our "personal" blogs. Jill/txt and thinking with my fingers are our gardens, they are not public parks - exactly because they are not strictly academic, even if leusche claims that jill/txt is the most rigorously academic blog around.

This blog of mine is a way to communicate opinions and experiences which I'd like to share with others, and although I most of the time try to make those experiences interesting for others who like MUDs and media theory, there's more to me than being academic. Over the last month I have found that the intense writing which I do offline makes me less phrone to write academic posts here - the blog has become the place where I go to breathe, relax... and if Jill, Lisbeth or Hilde are around I'll bring a pot of tea as well and just chat or listen to what they have to say.

I want to feel free to do that, without needing to maintain an ongoing discussion with just anyone who might be passing by. Perhaps it's the introvert Norwegian in me who thinks like this; the one who maintains the personal space in all public places, doesn't meet the eyes of strangers on the street and looks offended if spoken to in a personal manner by shop-keepers. I know it's not the academic - when I think like an academic I want comments, I want attention, I want to control the discussion and keep it on my turf. I want to be the one to design the frame-work and define the limits. And that is what a comment system does: It keeps the discussion within the predefined limits of the blog in question. The moment you take my words to your turf and quote or link, it's out of my control. You might even "burn" me, if that is your pleasure.
At the speed my brain is working today, the Dull Men's Club seems hilarious. Just see what fun I have missed when walking in Central Park:

Even when I’m in Central Park, I can easily find out where I am by reading the lampposts. There are numbers on every post. The first two numbers tell me which cross street I am near; for example, lamppost numbered 7304 is located between 73rd and 74th streets. The “4” designates that the post is the fourth post in from Fifth Avenue. In the upper reaches of the park, where street numbers are 100 and higher, the “1” is omitted; for example, a post numbered 0500 is between 105th and 106th street.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Jill generously passed on a discount at to me, on Marie-Laure Ryan's book Narrative as Virtual Reality. Since I have wanted that book for some time I grabbed the opportunity. However, the next 5 emails in my mailbox, after the notification, were junk emails. Coincidence? The very good system for sorting out spam at the college normally protects me from junk like that. I have however noticed that shopping at Amazon tends to coincide with new bursts. I don't know if it's just or if the same happens with their site, but I will be keeping an eye open, and see if this is a pattern.
Dull Men's Club, for those who are, or like, men with simple pleasures. A sample from their activities page:

Safe Sex at the Laundromat

I take my girlfriend to the Laundromat. I bring my bag of dirty clothes. She brings her bag of dirty clothes. When we get there, we walk up to a laundry machine. We look around to make sure no one is watching us, then we put her clothes and my clothes into the same machine. We start the machine. We pull two chairs up in front of the machine. We sit down and watch our laundry. We watch her clothes swishing around together with my clothes. Her little lacy things getting right up next to my boxer shorts. Sometimes her panties are on top of my boxer shorts, sometimes my boxer shorts are on top of her panties. The way I look it, that’s safe sex.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

By way of Gonzalo, a link to Henry Jenkins' article Game design as Narrative Architecture. I have only had time to glance at the first paragraphs, but I know I will be back to this one. He is dangerously close to finding the missing link between games and narratives, but at a first quick skimming, his "narrative architecture" it is still flawed as he claims the "ludologists" are, with undue polemics.

Environmental storytelling creates the preconditions for an immersive narrative experience in at least one of four ways: spatial stories can evoke pre-existing narrative associations; they can provide a staging ground where narrative events are enacted; they may embed narrative information within their mise-en-scene; or they provide resources for emergent narratives.

With this statement, Jenkins is still involved in a defense of narrativity in games, and still arguing with the ludologists, of which I am not certain if I am or am not one. I will find this article again, before I conclude my dissertation, and see how it relates to the work I have been doing, but so far the interviews with the players does not emphasis the story (surprising me, at the time), but the many other aspects specific to games. Three years ago, when I conducted those interviews, I'd have agreed with every word Henry Jenkins writes in this article. Today, I am no longer that certain. At least he has made me see some of my own intellectual development.

To be continued....
It's been a rough week-end. I seem to have a much livelier social life in NYC than in Volda. Friday night I celebrated being done with all but the conclusion - modestly though, by seeing the sun set by the water under the Verrazano Bridge, having a philadelphia cheese steak sandwich and a diet coke. That was the last vestige of restraint for the next three days. But I have found at least one new nice restaurant: Sushi Samba at 7th Avenue - just a little north of Bleeker Street. I was not too optimistic at first, it looked like it would be outrageously expensive and I would get pretty, but tasteless food and a drink with more colour than taste, as funky and annoying as their Website. We sat down because they offered nice outdoor seating on one of the loveliest days in New York for the whole time I have been here. I have never been less disappointed. I have no idea now what they called the course I ordered, and it wasn't on the (not too informative) website menu, but it was a fish pot which was served in a sizzling hot bowl. The sauce was made from among other things tomatoes, cream, saffron and generous amounts of fresh coriander. In this incredibly delicious sauce cubes of sweet potato had been cooked with shrimp, octopus, crayfish, different types of shellfish and bacalao. I had a coctail with it (an odd american habit of mixed drinks with the food I am not all comfortable with), and the creamy coconot tasting thing was perfect to cool my mouth when I got too impatient. I didn't manage to finish the meal, even if matthew heroically took it upon himself to rid me of all the mussels. And even as I write, a late and slow Tuesday morning, I remember the taste - almost crave it, if I hadn't been exhausted and a little sick from the rest of what was supposed to be a slow week-end of rest and a little light typing. Oh well - my hands, back and shoulders feel better than in a long time. It's probably all the seafood...

Friday, May 24, 2002

(Oops. That would leave me without a career. And blogging ain't paying that well yet. I'm starting to understand why young rebels support the status quo once they get a mortgage.)

What's with the gloom Jill? Read Bordieu's Reproduction and never worry about not having a place in Academia if you rebel. It's the rebels that justify the authorithy of The Establishment, you know. And while you're at it, that book should help you not to worry too much about hiveminds either. You're already trapped in a much bigger web...
Thesis update
Written and edited chapters 1-10 (out of 11)
Chapters 1-4 returned from proofreading.

still to do:
Cleaning up notes, styles and references
Chapter 11 - conclusion
Espen's reading of the whole thing
Proofreading of chapters 5-11
Editing after proofing

Science theory essay, writing and presenting

and more doubtful...
trial lecture

and perhaps even
defense dinner.

Some time in December, I might dare to breathe again.
One of the things I am almost spared for: Martha and Ari's wedding. and I want to mention: it's not a royal wedding - Princess Martha is not Her Royal Highness any more, she gave that up months ago. Now she's just an other celebrity, with exellent training in shaking hands, reading speaches, addressing large crowds and foreign dignitaries, and waving. She's good at that.
Tinka has read Jill's and mine paper Blogging Thoughts, regretting that she didn't use her blog, 6th edition, as a tool while writing. If it's any kind of consolation, dust from a distant sun has been one of the blogs both Jill and I have followed, learning about the different ways to use and explore online journals. Thanks, Tinka.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

It's memorial day week-end soon, but also Fleet Week. I missed the parade of ships under the Verrazano Bridge yesterday though, I was too busy being a good girl.

I have been a good girl today too - done editing chapter 9, one more chapter to edit (I have already loaded it into the large file that contains the next 45%) and I can attack chapter 1 again... before starting to put all of this tentatively together and conclude.

But now I hear that it's warm and sunny out. I'll go track down a chinese lunch and take it down under the bridge, to the spot where I should have been yesterday. I'll bring The Fifth Elephant with me, and enjoy the day, the food, and having done what I came here for - almost.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Just finished chapter 8. I think I deserve a little break. *patting own shoulder* good girl.

The only problem with being isolated here in Brooklyn is that nobody admires me when I do stuff like this - like finishing something almost within my own deadlines. Thursday and Friday I'll edit the nex two chapters, then I'll take the week-end off exept for editing chapter 1, which returned from the proofreader before I left for USA, before I start to write the conclusion. Only I understand and appreciate how good I really am. Oh, well, I'll spoil myself. *pats the other shoulder as well*.
A few links for the more suspicious among us:
Symantec hoax-page
Urban legends and folklore, the page where I finally found the "oogling breasts make men live longer" legend.
Tits, breasts, boobs
While the news Hilde refers to about the health-promoting effects of watching breasts are tittilating, I am sad that I have to tell you all the harsh truth: It's a hoax. I learned that from an intense email-exchange within the Department, where all the hopes of my (mostly male) colleagues were crushed as at least one of them did what journalists and scholars are supposed to do: research.
It's like tornado-spotting... but according to FBI there might be an other attack, this time on the statue of Liberty or on the Brooklyn Bridge, on memorial day, which is monday. I'll make sure to go shopping before the week-end, and not be in a sub-way tunnel that day - as for the rest: yes, it's kind of like expecting a bad storm, all you can do is be prepared, stay safe and wait it out.
Thesis update
I am terrified. I have edited two chapters and am writing chapter 8 rather than chapter 11 - something else will be chapter 11. It goes well, quickly and easily, even if there are a few references I have to put in when I get home. I might almost finish while I am here. I have two chapters left to edit, and one left to write. I feel sick already. After this comes proofreading and then - submission. And that's just not my style.
Thank you Lisbeth, just what I need... an interesting and versatile toy so I can relive that horrible scene in Moria over and over again...

Now when the Riders of Rohan come as Lego, we'll talk business! (I want Eowyn!)

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

My host laughed at me when I told him that it's sick to have the May 17th parade on the 19th - but he was nice enough to come with me to see it. It started right by the subway-stop where we get off, and we hurried one stop north in order to get to the front of the parade. It was an odd experience. Viking-ships and american marching bands, scotttish bagpipers and boyscouts of colours which would only be seen in the Oslo parade, mixed in between banner upon banner fom the "Sons of Norway" groups (their ranks mainly filled with women) from around New York State, and further out. Red, white and blue are familiar colours to Americans, but really... playing "Ja vi elsker" as a march? I appreciate that the band had practiced it though, and played it, even if such things as crescendos and de-crescendoes was beyond them.

There were some odd groups, like dock-workers of Brooklyn... until it dawned on me that THAT particular connection is pretty obvious. This is Bay Ridge, which used to be one of the largest Norwegians settlements outside of Norway - with more Norwegians here than in most Norwegian cities. Their main occupation was in connection to the boat/traffic, both trade and passenger ships. So of course, there would be Norwegians working on the maintainance of the boats - and docks - as well as on the boats themselves. All in all it was a very interesting experience. And there were lots of Norwegian voices, and more blondes than I have ever seen in one place in NYC. There were some fake national costumes, and some really old ones, as well as some splendidly kept and donned ones, silver tinkling and flickering in the May sunlight.

The crowd was different though, silent, serious, hardly waving a flag. And I became the same. I missed the yells of "Hurra for 17 mai!" or the incessant waving in order to catch the attention of somebody in the crowd. The parade ended in Leif Erikson Park, with games and entertainment in the Owlshead Park. I didn't go there... I was done with the 17th, it's not normally a celebration that lingers.
Lunchtime again. This is becoming a refrain. Today I have to eat out, because the water has been shut off in the entire building. They are tearing up the sidewalk outside the house, so it was impossible to deliver fuel for the heating yesterday. This lead to only cold water last night and this morning, and then from about 9 am no water at all, until 5 pm. I have an emergency bucket of water just in case... but I think I prefer going out. I think I'll go see the nice ladies at Tiffany Diner. They have warm, nice bathrooms there. And they'll go: "What can A get'cha sweetie?"
Jill quotes Alex Golub on editing your representation. Golub's post is eminent and I recognize the signs, both in myself and my friends - although I didn't think of googling myself until I had been blogging for half a year. What I want to point out is that this is why newspapers have editors - to protect the paper, the writer and the subject of the article from "getting burned". It's a skill to present yourself in such a fashion that you can live with what people learn about yourself - as well as living with how you represent others. This training is perhaps the most important difference between a skilled journalist and the amateur writer of a journal. "Burning" their subjects is the most frequent complaint against journalists and news organisations. Normally this burning happens not through presenting untruths, but by neglecting one of the rules hanging in all news-rooms: protect your sources from themselves. Your source might be willing to talk to you and even be filmed by you, perhaps even eager to be shown with milk coming out their nose... but they don't know anything about how this will affect them later on. This is what journalists are supposed to be protecting them from. And yes, they do so more frequently than the public know.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Lunchtime. Got to go shopping. This is the only time in Brooklyn when I wish I had a car, or at least a bike I wasn't afraid would be stolen if I left it outside a store. Or perhaps I just wish I was home and could raid the freezer if the fridge was empty.
Ritual, Theatre and Play - random hits of the day
Metamorphic Ritual Theatre: between performance, role-playing game and ritual
Our Troth: Aasatru on the internet, a compilation of online and offline resources on the modern version of the ancient Norse religion. Chapter 36 is concerned with ritual and Theatre
A Booklist on improv theatre. Role-playing is often compared with improvisation. While it does have a lot of the aspects of improv, it's not the same thing.
An other bibliography on theatre and playing, Augosto Boal featured here.
An argument in favour of games being theatre and the other way around. Interesting little piece.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Work and Play
When I am not eating and drinking or hunting for esoteric places to do it, I do try to work. I have been reading Victor Turner's essays in From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. He writes of the relationship between work and play in tribal agrarian myth and the Calvinian inspired cultures (such as the Norwegian protestants and the European descendant Americans):

The point is though, that these play or ludic aspects of tribal agrarian ritual myth are, as Durkheim says, "de la vie serieuse," i.e., they are intrinsically connected with the "work" of collectivity in performing symbolic actions and manipulating symbolic objects so as to increase and promote fertility of men, crops and animals, domestic and wild, to cure illness, to avert plague, to obtain success in raiding, to turn boys into men and girls into women, to make chiefs out of commoners, to transform ordinary people to shamans and shamanins, to "cool" those "hot" from the warpath, to ensure proper succession of seasons and the hunting and agricultural responses of human beings to them, and so forth. Thus, the play is in earnest, and has to be within bounds. (page 32)

When we read about stress and tension in the work-place and what this does to humans, the idea of play as productive becomes obvious. Tension is the cause of everything from infertility to heart-failure and depressions. Physical and mental illnesses come from not relaxing, not cooling down when hot or not having the right rites for relieving tension. According to Turner, this is our Calvinistic past shining through. We have turned from play as a way to approach what is sacred, and replaced it with work:

Work and leisure were made seperate spheres, and "work" became sacred, de facto, as the arena in which one's salvation might be objectively demonstrated. [...] The Calvinists wanted "no more cake and ale" - or other festival foods that belonged to the work and play of the gods. What they wanted was ascetic dedication to te mainline economic enterprise, the sacralization of what was formerly most profane, or, at least, subordinated to, ancillary to the sacred cosmological paradigms. (page 38-39)

And now, on that note, I'll leave the reading of serious-looking essays and the writing of serious-sounding posts for a while, and go play Baldur's Gate II, the Shadows of Amn.
The Essentials: Eating and drinking in NYC.
It's been a busy week-end, and both my back and hands have had a chance to recover. Most of the time has been spent trekking about on Manhattan. I went shopping for things I packed and sent home Friday - celebrating May 17th being nostalgic about my kids rather than doing anything particularly Norwegian. We did have a great meal at the OliveTree - that place is fun AND cheap, get a pitcher of Sangria after a long day of warm and exhaustive shopping - and then cakes at the local diner in Bay Ridge; Tiffany Diner, a piece of fake-tiffany-lamp infested Americana, with charming ladies of the type that makes you believe they really want to know when they say "how're you doin', sweetie?". They also have this wide, conspiratorial grin when they bring me a Long Island Ice Tea. Trust them when they recommend a cake, they have tested them!

Saturday was tattoo-shopping day. My broker matthew (who patiently endures my visits and lengthy stays in NYC) wants one, but as it should be, he's worried about quality and hygiene - so he's taking his time, looking for the best artist. And what better place to look than at a tattoo convention? After a couple hours spent there we saw Lord of the Rings again, and I have to admit, I hate the scenes in Moria as much now as I did the first time around. I ache with Pippin when he looses the skull in the well, I feel the terror as the drums start sounding, and I just HATE it when Aragorn and Frodo are trapped at the wrong side of the crumbling bridge. But the saddest part is still Boromir's death, in the film as in the book. Afterwards I tried to meet up with an online friend from California, who would come into NYC yesterday.

We didn't find her, but visited The Beauty Bar, a funny little place which used to be a beauty parlour. It was mentioned on one of the first blogs I happened to visit, that of a girl from Brooklyn. I am not certain if it was Brooklyngirl, but it might have been. Tracking it down became a kind of quest. When I was here after September 11th it was closed, but yesterday it was open in all its glittering splendour. Sadly, they don't give pedicures with the cocktails, even if they have kept the hairdriers. And to keep the style of this blogpost: yes, we did eat as well as drink. The little Asian Bistro called Friend House caught my eye on the way back to the subway. Don't go there. I want that place to myself, not share such a pretty place with such tasty food at a very friendly price with anybody but those I bring there personally.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Oh, perhaps you'd like to know what the technology did? Everybody got some really interestingly techno-primitive looking meme tags to hang around our necks (Which means they were put together simply and cheaply and had no covers so all the stuff inside was showing). You had to type in your name. When that was done, you'd find that a little yellow light would light up. We were all supposed to wear this around our necks, because the messages displayed were not for the one wearing the sender/receiver, but for the conversation partner. It would say things like: "Hi Mark, I am Torill. You have more contacts than me. I am a relative introvert (which I stayed all night, despite my efforts). We have 14 contacts in common. The most frequently dropped name is V. (I still wonder who V was.)" If you checked, the meme tags would give you a list of people you had met, let you know how many they were, and display the most frequently dropped names, which meant the names which most of the other tags you were in contact with had also on their lists. The tags were in almost constant communication with each other, and you would be deep in conversation with one person, while the tag captured the names/signals of others passing. by the time I left I had more than 140 contacts on my tag, and I was still a relative introvert.

People developed different strategies. There was even a version of the sneaky ass-pinching, when somebody would sidle up to an unsuspecting victim with the tag in hand, slip it between a couple in deep conversation, and grab - not a feel, but a contact. The most common was to just walk around. Spending some time in line for the food or the drinks worked pretty well too, since that got you into close contact with an ever-changing stream of people.

And no Jill, I didn't get to take the meme tags home with me. They had this BIG black bouncer to make sure nobody would try to make off with the tags. I got his card though, you can have that, and perhaps take him home instead...
Social Network Experiment, with technology and champagne
I have seen the light. I have seen the technology which will save the shy introverts of Norway from themselves. Have you ever been to a party where you're supposed to "mingle" in Norway? If it's a really big party, you'll have a hundred people politely clinging to their drinks, glancing at the others and speaking in low, careful voices to the one or two people they know. This can become a scene of the past.

Eyebeam presented the social network technology that gets you past that embarassing first moment and carries you on to chat as if you have known the other person for ever! which in Norwegian means that you know their name. Getting past the introductions includes having attented the same school for a couple of years back in between the mountains where I grew up...

The lectures were kind of self-evident. Nothing new on what networks are or why they are important. Some funny charts, like the graphic display of the fortune 100 company boards and their interlinking board-members. It also made me think about my social spheres. While I think I belong to more than the standard three: home, work, school I am a far cry from the 35 different social spheres of the really social people. I mean, the REALLY social, those obnoxious people who remember all the names, who always knows someody, and who will remember your birthday and send you cards long after you have lost their address.

The technical thingies were fun though. Typing in the name and getting started was a social event on its own: "now if I do this and push this and try this - will you and I be able to meet? Who's Judy? Did anybody see a Judy? Hmmm, it says I met her, but I have never heard of you. How odd. Is this thing functioning?" At the third attempt I got one that worked. By then the panel was done, Yoko, my japanese nerd friend had arrived, and so had even matthew the broker, who dropped a company excursion to a strip club in order to try his luck on the academic chicks gathering in Chelsea. It was time to mingle.

Now I won't claim that I was uninfluenced by the champagne. But it was an extremely fun evening. The "thingies" would "meet" the signals of the passing persons, and if you saw somebody good looking, it was perfectly legitimate to run after them and check things like "was that your name I just got on this thing here? Did you and I just meet?" After I had been chasing down young handsome men for an hour or so, Yoko found that it was time to reel me in - which made the young handsome men chase us, fantasies of a beautiful delicate-looking Japanese and a butch-looking aggressive Scandinavian making the technology superfluous. But sometime after most other people had left the place Yoko and I found matthew in a group of three admiring intellectual women from different important sounding universities, we grabbed him before he had a chance to give out more cards, and hit the pavement. Around midnight we had untangled ourselves from each other's embraces and found the way home.

Yes, that was excellent social technology, and I am all for more such experiments in the name of science.
Here I am, on a brand new iMac - not quite as fancy as matthew wanted, but really a niiiice toy - with cable connection and all the fun. And it's the 17th of May! Sadly, the parade in Brooklyn isn't until the 19th, so I'll have to find something else to do today. But I am definitely taking a day off, my hands, shoulders and back is screaming for that.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Today the owner of the parrots arrives. That means no more wings fluttering around my ears and feathers landing on my pillow to make my allergies play up - but also no more internet connection for a while. So don't worry - I am doing very well, actually, the weather is agreeing with me, my back and shoulders approve of the weather and me walking around in Brooklyn in between the long bouts of writing, and my host, friend and general make-me-feel-good guy matthew is just busy enough that I feel totally free of social obligations, and I am not nasty to anybody or feeling guilty as I write, write, write.

If everything goes well though, the next time I post I'll do so from a high speed connection and a fancy new iMac at his appartment. We're picking up the computer Wednesday, and the connection will be put in Thursday. Pray to the gods of installations for me, will you?
Sweet praise
Spending most of my time these days doubting every second word I write, reading praise of what I have written is sweet indeed. David Weinberger has read Blogging Thoughts, and he likes it a lot. Writing that article was such fun, such an orgy of academic delight of the rarest kind, coupled with the pleasure of having Jill visiting. And then the double exhibitionism of presenting it as well as performing it with her, our abilities on display, our common pleasures naked before the audience in a swiftly prepared jam-session of our minds. What has happened to me, that my hedonistic self has turned towards the desires of my intellect, my delights as ascetic and my intentions as pure as theory? Perhaps because my pain is intellectual, my needs and my doubts are those of a spirit striving to create, not of a body trying to pro-create…

Not that I would despise more carnal lusts. I’ll just finish these chapters, hmm?

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Living in Brooklyn is a strange mixture of small-town America and New York City. If I walk up the wrong avenue - as I did yesterday - it's all well-kept houses with elegant little gardens in front, elderly ladies walking their dogs and kids playing in back-yards and on pavements. The next street is suddenly all businesses - lawyers, doctors, designers in rows of adapted houses turned office buildings. The wide sidewalks are lined with expensive cars, and men with cellphones pace impatiently before the doors. This street carries me into 5th Avenue, and I pass turkish restaurants, greek vegetable-markets, korean fish-markets (finally, that was my goal. It's next to a sushi restaurant - that should be a good sign, right?) and danish bakeries. I have passed the Norge Travel and the Kon-Tiki Travels on my way. Italian restaurants flood the sidewalks with the scent of garlic and freshly baked bread, and elegant french cafe's are trying to distinguish themselves from Dunkin' Doughnuts.

Despite the variety, the pace is slower here than on Manhattan. People have time to say hello, shop-keepers can smile and flirt with their regular customers - and you can become a regular. I am being recognized now - there's the guy who repared my sandal strap while I waited, and the two little korean women who did my nails, they wave when ever I pass the window. And over all of it, there's that aggressive Brooklyn love. Swear-words shooting loudly through the air, like kisses, and being returned in kind.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

There's also a definite relationship between how much any species play and the sophistication of its brain. Dinosaurs, for instance, played less than primates. Although no one has as yet advanced a theory that dinosaurs became extinct because they had a terrible sense of humour or a seven-day work-week, the implication is that play may be exceedingly adaptive.

From: Intimate play, page 15

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Inspired by Lisbeth, I set out to see who I would be. After all, I'd love to be the queen too... But what do you know? I wasn't even royal:

Which Royalty Are You? Find out! By Nishi.

Monday, May 06, 2002

Watching Parrots
The mornings start with a few deep warbles. I toss and turn in bed, as the sounds and scents of unfamiliarity reach me through my sleep. Soon the warbles change pitch and become eager, insistent squawks. The morning choir of the jungle brings me out of dreams of hunting lionesses oddly reminiscent of my cat, and consciousness hits me a moment after I have put the glasses on and stared about me wildly, trying to figure out where that sound of wings originates. As I see the fine down flutter to the ground, dancing in the aftermath of the storm of wings that just blew by, I remember where I am, just a moment too late as an other low flyby graces my head.

This week I am visiting with two parrots. Don't ask me what kind of parrots, but they are not big, they are green with blue heads, red foreheads and yellow beaks. It's a male and a female, and they are named Merlin and Magic. Merlin is the "good" one. I suspect she's just the more clever one. She watches me with her dark beads of eyes, turning to my voice and going silent in warning when I make some odd noise she hasn't hear before. This happens when I talk to her in Norwegian for instance. She strongly resents being called Pip-Pip, recognizing it for the baby-language it is, and when I tell her how much I care about her opinion on that, she stares at me intently as if she's memorising the sounds in order to look them up in the dictionary the moment I forget to log off the computer and leave her with an internet connection for a few minutes...

Magic is Merlin's mate. He's younger, and according to the owner, a very bad boy. I can understand why she feels so, because he flew up to her and bit her in the face. Now he's punished, and while Merlin flutters by on her green wings, he comes walking along behind, his claws clicking against the floors. Pathetic little bird, used to the freedom of the air, now he walks with his wings clipped. Gracefully he accepts a lift, a human hand rather than a twig, and he rides it to the destination, a cage in the bedroom - or the living-room - depending on where he tries to follow Merlin.

Right now they are both watching me. They are totally silent, staring at the screen. Vain - or suspicious? I guess I should not look up fowl recipes as they are in the room. Perhaps later...
These comic strips are removed regularly, so I have stopped posting them mostly - but this one was just too suitable:

The text is: Just because I have my diary online it doesn't mean I want you to read it! I'll tell on you to Mother!

Thursday, May 02, 2002

I am leaving for NYC tomorrow. My belly is all aflutter, I am desperately trying to decide what to bring with me, I am trying to remember whether I asked for paper-tickets or not for the trip Volda-Oslo, I have 15 minutes of afro-american accented compact stream-of-consciousness interview to type before I can copy all the interviews to a CD and pack them, there's this loop churning in the back of my head with which files and book I just can't live without, the lap-top is starting to go to rest at odd intervals, weak with old age and I worry it won't handle the journey, and yes, I have to give up trying to fit it all into the backpack. I can always go shopping in New York, right? Yeah, thought so... I have never been able to buy clothes there! I'll just grab one more piece of luggage,

The worst fear is that when I am there I have no more excuses. I am there to finish. I'll have to do it. And that's the one thing I am really afraid of.

Anyway... if you don't hear from me for a few days, I might be just about anywhere!