Monday, 30 August 2010

happy and exhausted on the penultimate of august...

Sorry to misquote The Lucksmiths like that, but it's true. Tango on ICEland ended last night, it was a whole weekend of tango lessons, milongas/dances, meeting new people, listening and dancing to both live music and the old stuff, and finishing with a roadtrip to the Blue Lagoon (where we also tried our hand at AquaTango ;) ). Wow, I am one happy (but exhausted) little camper! I literally danced until I could no longer stand, like the princesses in the fairy tales :) and the main result has been that I REALLY want to dance and learn more! 'Nice' is the word I have used most often about the feeling of dancing tango, but, as you might know if you've ever tangoed, 'nice' really doesn't begin to cover it...

And I'm also still reeling from how different tango is to what I thought it would be - it feels NOTHING like it looks. Or rather, I thought that tango was the kind of thing 'other people' did, not me. Wow, how wrong could I be! The person who convinced me to learn to tango, Helge the German who I met dancing salsa, was back here for the festival, it was great to see him and tango with him :D Yay for learning how to dance! And yay for tango nuevo music, and yay for the Icelanders who love to dance too and are willing to dance with me. YAY!!!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

running training coming along nicely

Huh. Luce thinks we're 'not running for competitive reasons'. Whatever. I finally looked up my time for the midnight run this year - 5km in 23:52. Which puts me equal 13th, in a field of 454, but 21st according to gun time. Maybe I shouldn't be so shy and keep thinking that I'm a slow runner, and just start closer to the front. (Luce ran 23:55, cos he started earlier, but waited for me, putting him approx. 43rd.)

Anyhow, I'm aiming to run the 10km in the Reykjavíkur Marathon on the 21st of August in under 50 mins. Just did a practice 10km and made 49 mins, so I'm looking forward to a good time in the actual run! I was pretty tired today - did a 50 min swim on Saturday, which made me pretty tired. :) The glorious weather is having a most excellent effect on my training!

Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention that our first guests in our new flat have been and gone - Elisabeth and Ingrid. I didn't blog while they were here, I was just flat out loving having both of them around!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A quick stopover in Reykjavík

Well, New York was actually pretty awesome. The people were lovely, our friends and acquaintances were lovely, and I had a frozen yoghurt or soy or almond milk drink every day. Until I started reading about the weird non-foods they add to food in the US. Apparently all milk in the US has lactating hormones in it, 'high fructose corn syrup' really IS the first listed ingredient in many 'foods', and the stuff that makes drinks and icecream lovely and creamy is indigestible gum made from seaweed. Great. Eating actual food in the US seems even harder than in Iceland!

Oh, and Eyjafjalljökull seems to be erupting again. Health regulations say that 50 micrograms of particles per cubic metre is described as 'bad air'. We had 136 here in Reykjavík yesterday, and people with asthma and other lung problems were advised to stay indoors and not do too much. Not a good day to let the fresh air in from outside. Our roof windows were literally caked with ash:

Friday, 30 April 2010

Icelandic lesson

OMG!! Rósa and I nearly died laughing at the dinner table tonight!! Okay, here's what happened. Daughter #2 Helga (18 y.o.) had 2 friends over. Rósa had made brauðsúpa 'bread-soup' for dessert, which is Traditional Icelandic Food, so Tolli started asking the guests about other TIF they'd had. Not much, it turns out. "I think TIF is going to die out with our generation," quipped the talkative one. Apparently young Icelanders are just as enamoured of TIF as most foreigners are!

The discussion turned to particulars, covering hrutspungur ('ram's testicles') before getting stuck on hákarl ('rotten shark'). Daughter #3 Goya (14 y.o., confirmed 2 weeks ago) was asked whether she'd had hákarl before, to which she replied in the affirmative, to general shrieks of 'No way!' and 'WHY?!' In answer to the 'why' question, and here beginneth the Icelandic lesson, she replied Ég var í einhverju herbergi... ég var ein... which means, word-for-word 'I was in some room... I was alone...' HAHAHAH!!! It was at this point that Rósa and I lost all sense of propriety and dissolved into belly-wrenching hysterics. 'Oh, poor Goya, she was lonely, so she ate some rotten shark to feel better!!!' "Are you lonely? -No, I've gotten some rotten shark, so I'm okay now!" hahaha.

But anyway, what she ACTUALLY tried to say was: Ég var ein í hópi meaning 'I was single/alone-female in a group [of guys]'. ein means 'one-singular-female', and it contrasts with e.g. einn meaning 'one-singular-male'. (If you're wondering, which I know you are, if there are plural forms, since I'm specifying 'singular' here, you're right.) The word for 'alone' and 'single/one' is the same word, and cos Goya didn't spit out her sentence quickly enough, we interpreted ein as 'alone' instead of 'the only female/one'.

Morals of the story: Icelanders can be ein or einn without being bereft of company, so pay attention to all of what they say before offering a shoulder to lean/cry on. Alternatively, if you're ever ein or einn, try some rotten shark to cheer you up. It cheered us up!!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Update on life

So, sorry for the long post, but I've been getting loads of emails from friends and family about how things are going, so I thought I'd try to summarise it definitively here.

As you all know, Iceland is busy having volcanic eruptions at the moment. I missed the first two on Fimmvörðuháls, which splashed lava about in a photogenic fashion. Then when an eruption started under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, it was deemed by the relevant authorities to be both boring and dangerous to get a close-up view of. Ash spewed up, blanketing southern Iceland, wreaking havoc on farms, their livestock and crops. The ash also proceeded to smother most of Europe. This happened right when Einar and I were supposed to go to Norway to do fieldwork.

Our flights were cancelled, and new ones invented. Ordinarily, flights to Europe leave between 6-8am, with flights to the US in the evening. Flights to Norway go to Oslo, and to Bergen in the summer. Our flights were due to leave Saturday at 8am. However, all of Norwegian airspace was closed on Saturday, so Einar and I attended Vigdís's conference instead. Then on Sunday, while southern Norway (ie Gardemoen/Oslo) remained closed, Iceland started shipping people directly to Trondheim. A flight at 1pm, 2 at 2pm, then every half hour or so after that, for 6 flights. Thus, instead of flying Keflavík-Oslo-Trondheim, a journey of about 5+ hrs, it was a 2-hr hop to Værnes. We all disembarked and squished into the carousel area to collect our bags - and found out why we don't normally fly lots of people to Trondheim all at once!

I did manage to take some photos of the eruption on the way over, but they're a bit hazy :(

Fieldwork was great, Einar and I only missed the orientation day. We were 12 linguists, mainly Norwegian, interrogating the locals this time. I thought I was finding only negative results (which are still 'results'...), until the second last evening when we were discussing how our data collection was going, and I discovered that what I had semi-dismissed as just some individuals' funny pronunciations was actually exactly what I had come to Norway to find! This is why I think group fieldwork trips are so useful - the off-the-cuff comments over dinner or coffee by people who know what they're talking about can make all the difference to what we think we've found!

I go for a run each morning when on fieldwork and at conferences, and I've been running in my toe-shoes. I found out that it can be quite cold on the toes to run on snow, but so long as it's not wet, it's not too bad. Einar and I did a couple of self-guided whip-round walking tours of Trondheim, then we headed back to Iceland, this time via Oslo. I was on the wrong side of the plane to see the steam eruption this time :( but a very friendly Norwegian woman took what turned out to be a series of awesome photos when I handed her my camera! :) They'll be up on Picasa in a week or so.

Finally, European airspace has opened up again today, because the wind has changed - it's now blowing the ash over us! Par consequent, Keflavík and Reykjavík airports are closed. This morning on my bike-ride, the air was actually really clear, and the rising columnn of steam was clearly visible. Unfortunately your intrepid photographer didn't have her camera :( and by lunchtime the winds had caught us, and made the air in Reykjavík all hazy. It smells a little bit like camp-fire. I can't smell any sulphur, thankfully! I promise to keep my camera on me until I get some good pictures!

I'm due to get the keys to our flat this weekend, but I won't move in straight away. I was at The Good Shepherd (like the Salvos) this evening, and bought a chest of drawers and a pot to cook with... I also managed to buy <mumble> ski boots </mumble>. Not snowboarding boots. But honestly, they fit PERfectly, much better than any of the snowboard boots I tried on in Norway, they're exactly the colours I would choose were I give complete freedom in my choice (white, purple and pink), and they were 500isk. Which is not very much at all. I though there was a 0 or two missing at first :D

So, things are going well, Luce arrives in less than 2 weeks!!! I'm working now on resumptive pronouns in Northern Norwegian. We'll be going to New York at the end of May. I think Luce is going to book us a flight to Svalbard in June!! :D Brent, Dan and I are recording songs again, and maybe even writing again. Life is hectic, intense, and great.

PS, some links that might be interesting (Icelandic Review): pic of new craters, How to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull

Friday, 16 April 2010

Be careful what you wish for...

So I didn't get out to see either of the first two volcanic eruptions, so I wished for another one. Unfortunately, the next eruption is no tourist-friendly gentle spurt of magma. Instead it's an ash-spewing, Europe-suffocating monster. Satellite images show that the Faroe Islands are completely engulfed, they are directly in the middle of the huge black cloud of ash streaming from Iceland towards Europe. The funny part is the tiny little finger that branches off to smother the UK. The not so funny part is that the whole of northern Europe is now closed to air traffic. Some meteorologist/vulcanologists are talking about it remaining this way for several years! Gah! I have a fieldwork trip in Norway this week, I'm supposed to leave on Saturday, but whole of Norway is closed! Not want!

Apparently some wits in Holland and Britain are already making jokes: 'We asked for CASH, not ASH' and so on (they were the main players in the Icesave debacle). I just hope Luce can get here in 2 weeks from now...

There's a 3-day celebration for Vigdís Finnbogardóttir's 80th birthday. I was at the opening ceremony, and went to ask her if I could have a photo with her. When I was saying who I was, she said, 'Yes, I remember you.' !!! The first democratically elected female president in the world knows who I am! :)


Her birthday conference is this weekend. I'm planning to be in Norway for it, but, well... we'll just have to wait and see!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

OMG, Icelandic food

Sometimes it really doesn't pay to let the bloke do the shopping for dinner. Tolli came home with hrogn and lifur - roe and liver. The roe was still all wrapped up in the sacks it was in when it was inside the fish - all veiny and looking like brains, that spilled out into pale red sandy stuff. The liver was like lumps of yoghurt that had been left outside for a year and gone all grey and shapeless. It's sooo mushy *shivers*. Okay, so in their defence, they were both pretty tasteless, pure texture-food. I imagine if you did something with them, like mush the liver up into a sauce and have something with them to hide the lack of flavour and weird-arse consistencies, they'd be edible. I did eat some, together with fish and potatoes, which was more than Rósa or Helga did, but still! I think my poor tummy is still churning, and dinner was 5 hours ago!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Back in the land of ice and snow

Yes, it's still winter here. The ski season starts this weekend, and it's snowing as I write this. My flights here were a bit of a schermozzle (? sorry, I have NO idea how that word is spelt!), the Airbus from Melbourne had to wait for a part to come from Singapore - computer problems apparently. So we all missed our connections, I had to fly to Copenhagen via Frankfurt, and I missed spending the day and evening with friends, as I didn't get to their place until midnight (scheduled was 8am at their place).

So, I got most of my work done at Tulla, rather than during the flights, which means I think I'm totally up-to-date with my movies now! I really liked: Up in the air, Whip it, Astroboy, The break up, and that's all I remember. :)

It's 6:40pm here now, and I'm knackered. Shower, clean teeth and bed for me! Finish my conference paper tomorrow. (As in, the conference is the day after that, so I really do have to finish it tomorrow!)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sweet chess victory

So, in tonight's game, Luce took back a couple of moves early on, which I thought were pretty important moves, but I let them slide, because we're trying to be nice, and it sort of relaxes me because then it doesn't feel like a real game or something, if Luce wins I can always say it's cos he took back moves he didn't like. Then I overlooked that my pawn could take his queen, and he didn't let me take it back! The pressure was on because it looked like he could now take my queen for free. World War III nearly broke out, Luce starting packing up his bat and ball and was going home (he had the drawer out and was replacing pieces!!), we shouted that we loved each other and both liked to play chess, so CAN'T WE JUST BE ADULTS ABOUT THIS???

The position turned out not to be as dire as I'd thought, a queen swap, so I gave in and thought that if Luce beat me then I totally didn't need to take it personally, and that if I won that that would show that my chess practice was actually paying off. I won a couple of exchanges, which put me up a rook as our pawns were racing towards the king-line, and I was able to get a queen and then sacrifice my rook to prevent him from reciprocating. We had one 'take-back point', to see if Luce could stop me, but no way jose! :)

I'm definitely improving, I see more pretty patterns on the chessboard each time I look at it :D

Friday, 8 January 2010

A chess victory

At the start of November, Luce & I finally started using the chess board my dad made for us for Christmas last year. I won the first game, then Luce promptly won every game for the rest of the month. Being the competitive types we both are, I obviously cracked it with him and we didn't play for about a month. For Christmas this year, I requested that my dad play a game against Luce, just for the satisfaction of seeing him beaten by anyone (seeing as how I seemed unable to repeat the feat).

However, we started playing again after New Year's, and I am thrilled to be able to report my first victory! A clear checkmate, still in the relatively early stages of the game :) (I'm ignoring the fact that he was reading stuff on his computer the whole time cos I take so long to move and he gets bored!)

In the next game I made a couple of bad errors and resigned, so we 'undid' a few moves and continued. I then mated him, we undid the last few moves, he mated me, we undid the last few moves, and then I got the next 6 mates, ie, even with undos, he was still unable to recover. :D This is the major reason I'm looking forward to going back to Iceland: to be able to practice with Ási and then completely whup Luce on a regular basis. Or at least to make him pay attention to our games... ;)