Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Exams are over, but there's still time for a Quiz


4 hours and 25 A4 pages later, my exam is finally over and I have a free long weekend. Still no baby, but we have entered the final phase now. I must say that I am relieved as I wanted to take and pass this exam (it would have been really inconvenient to have to retake it later) but at the same time, I didn't want my attention in any way divided during such an important moment. Now the exam is done and I can assure you all that I am doing a lot of negotiating with 'the bump' to persuade him to show his face either today or over the weekend. Only time will tell and of course, you will be the first to know (well almost) here on chopandcarry.

...and talking about time, here is Friday Quiz Time™



Question 1: Name one person that raises your blood pressure?

Question 2: Are you a dog or a cat person and why?

Question 3: RE: your future. What lies ahead?

Question 4: Would you like to be famous for *more* than 15 minutes and if so, what for?

Question 5: Friday Freebee: Tell us anything you want about how you like to spend the weekend.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

This should bring back memories for some of you...

... Ladies and Gentleman, on the paper in front of you you have ten questions. You are required to answer eight of them only and you have 4 hours in which to do so. The exam starts now, please turn over your papers and begin...

Except for me it isn't a memory, but rather a reality that will kick off today between 13:00-17:00. Yes, the sociology exam has arrived after 5 weeks hard work and a lot of reading and now it is time to ellicit my stealth and write in copious quantities about Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Habermas, Goffman, Illich, Mac an Ghaill, Bordieu, Focault and Giddens to name a few. To cut to the core of structual-functionalism, symbolic interactionism, constructivism and interactionsim. The pick my way through the dilemmas of structure vs actor and consensus versus conflict, to agrue about the benefits and evils of globalism, the decline or change of national states and the decline or adaptation of religion... and all the while to hope that our little baby doesn't choose this exact afternoon as a perfect time to scream his proud cry and enter the world for the first time!

Whilst I was reading some Focault, I came across this about personality, which I found pretty interesting; see what you make of it (I have quickly translated from my Swedish textbook and so apologise if it is idiomatic): '...people don't have a real identity within themselves; just a way of talking about themselves, a discourse. An 'identity' is communicated to others in our interactions with them, but it is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction. People don't have power inplicitly; rather power is a technique or action that individuals engage in. Power is not posessed, it is exercised. There is a complex interplay between discourse, power relations and individuals communicated identities.'

Monday, September 26, 2005

Wine Recommendations (at student prices!)

The BAD news: Being a student and living off money borrowed from the government, I have had to severely revise my wine purchasing and what I stock my cellar with.

The GOOD news: This doesn't mean that I stop buying wine, but rather that I look more closely and do my research so I can pick-up great wines that cost less!

So, after some intensive research slotted into the spots where I am not doing anything (which are few and far between) I have come up with some good recommendations for both September and October. The wines are a mixture of those that can be cellared, those that should be cellared and those that can be drunk now. All of the wines are full-bodied and a real bruiser on the palette, and are perfect for sharing with friends as the evenings draw in and it starts to get colder.

For my UK readers, just copy the names and try pasting them into the 'search' boxes of any of the following websites:

http://www.tesco.com/winestore
http://www.johnlewis.com/Shopping/Area.aspx?ARA=Waitrose+Wine&source=15198&source=15198
http://www.sainsburyswine.co.uk
http://193.201.200.191/asdawine/pages/index.html
https://www.unwins.co.uk/
http://www.oddbins.com

Hopefully they will have some of them in stock for you to enjoy.

For my Swedish readers, all wines are featured with their order number, so queue-up, smile and assert your right to drink good wine!

So, without further ado, let's present the contenders for September/October:

6122 Inca Merlot/Bondara 2004 (Argentina) 59:- Drink now - 2006
6580 Santa Emiliana Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Chile) 59:- Drink Now
2337 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2004 (Italy) 55:- Drink now - 2006
3134 Château de Ségure, Fitou 2003 (France) 85:- Drink now - 2009
99593 Masi Tupungato Paso Doble 2004 (Argentina) 99:- 2006-2010

I hope that you enjoy the wines and, if you get hold of them and drink them, please leave a comment or two about what you think.

Have a great day y'all... oh and no news yet ;-)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rage against the machine. Oh... and Friday Quiz Time™


Before I reel out the questions for this week's Friday Quiz Time™, back by popular request from, amongst others, Dale, (who has not as yet answered a question) I just want to rage against the machine and complain about rising petrol prices and present you with a very biased and simplified piece of economic analysis that gives me a good reason to complain ;-)

We are all being hit at the moment by rising petrol prices and a variety of factors are being blamed. Oil companies place the blame at the foot of government, prompting us to look at what percent of the price per litre is constituted by tax. Governments blame the effects of globalisation, speculation and the regional-political arena and control created by the OPEC oligopoly. Economists tell us that it is economies-of-scale and a growth-inducing necessity that the price of petrol in the US is much lower than it is in Europe... and we have watched our petrol prices rising dramatically over the past year.

Now they have just risen again and the blame is being placed this time on the weather. Yep, because Hurricane Rita poses a potential threat to oil reserves and production in the US, the price needs to go up. So we as consumers are doubly punished, Firstly we are punished by an increase in petrol prices; then as any damage done will undoubtedly be insured against, the oil companies will claim on their insurance, the insurance companies will pay-up and then they will need to recuperate those payments. Where do you think this recuperation will come from? Our insurance premiums next year. I can see the letter now 'Dear Sir/Madam, due to unforeseen market circumstances and a general rise in the retail price index blah blah, we will be increasing the premium next year on your house/car/medical/pet/child/breast/arse insurance by loads of cash' - Yes, we will pay once more.

To rub salt into the wound, the price of petrol has already gone up in anticipation of damage. What, may I ask happens if the hurricane blows itself out or blows by the refineries with no damage at all? Will I get a refund? It is like an airline asking you to pay extra for your plane ticket in case you need to land somewhere else and you need a hotel room for the night. - So, they increase the price of petrol and blame the cost on the amount of tax the government charges. Without tax, there is no welfare system, without a welfare system (no matter what we may think about it) there is no safety net for any of us. But, by pointing the finger at the government, the oil industry gets off scot-free, but at least the government provides something from the money it makes. Lets look at the oil industry: If we say that profit = income - costs, so in order to make a profit, what you earn needs to more than cover any costs you incur; and that exploration and production of oil is a cost, do you have any idea what kind of money the major oil companies invested last year in oil production and extraction?

Shell US$ 6,920,000,000
BP US$ 8,500,000,000
Exxon/Mobil US$ 9,350,000,000
Chevron/Texaco US$ 6,180,000,000
Connoco Phillips US$ 5,068,000,000

So, in order to make a profit, which they all did last year, their income must have exceeded these and other costs (like refineries and buildings, transport, petrol stations, employee costs, to name but a few)

From this you can imagine that they could easily themselves cover the cost of any damage without us, the consumer needing to take a hit, but they don't, instead the price of petrol increases just in case there is any damage and the price of petrol increases so that they can protect their profit margins and maintain shareholder value. And we get screwed, which is why I cycle the 11km to and from university every day!

Anyway, now I have that off my chest, I can launch Friday Quiz Time™ without further delay:



Question 1: What is the best blog post you have come across this week and why?

Question 2: Put down one stanza from your favourite song lyric, one that has particular meaning to you, one that, had you thought of it first, would have written yourself.

Question 3: Name of the last book you read, and list your favourite passage from said book.

Question 4: If you were King (and/or) Queen for a day, describe your first proclamation.

Question 5: Friday Freebee... Tell us anything you want about the ocean.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Saved by the bell!

Wanted to write something today, but had no idea what. A huge THANKS to Blissful for tagging me and getting me off the hook ;-)

10 years ago
Just started university doing my first degree in International Business Management and German. Met James, my best friend. At this stage I was studying hard every day, but soon the boys in the Shearbridge Green Block H decided that I was being a nerd and took me out to the nearest pub. The rest, as they say, is history.

5 years ago
Had moved to Sweden and was making great strides in learning Swedish. I was working for a company who provided media databases to the advertising industry and I had just been promoted to product manager for the ’New Media’ Database. Ellie & I were living in a nice apartment just 5 minutes from the ocean.

1 Year Ago
Had gone down to half time at the advertising agency I worked at, much to the chagrin of management and was in the middle of planning my resignation and the negotiation of a freelance contract. I was studying my Swedish ’A’-level, which I needed to pass in order to be able to study at a Swedish university. It was during this year that I met our great friends Meral and Alf, as Meral and I were on the same Swedish course.

Yesterday
Sat in the university library most of the day preparing a presentation for our sociology groupwork. We then presented our work some time mid-afternoon. I then got home, ate some supper, talked to Ellie and helped her practice her breathing techniques and then I went down to the batcave and studied some more.

Today
Got up, did my exercises, and drank some coffee. I am just filling this out before I go into university and begin reading up on Durkheim, Marx and Weber in preparation for our exam next week. I will then push off sometime in the afternoon, swim 1,5km and then teach swim school until 18:30. I will then pick-up Ellie from her water gymnastics for soon-to-be mothers and we will eat something at home and then I guess I will study for another hour or two.

Tomorrow
Into the library and work through the study questions we have been given as a practice for the exam. I have a lecture from 12-15:30 and then I will study until around 17:00. I will then come home, pack my bag and head out to ju-jutsu where I will catch-up with the boys. Then it is time to step onto the mat and see how many bruises I can give Bear and how flexible his arm is.

5 songs I know the words to:
1. Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
2. Nothing Man – Bruce Springsteen
3. Particle Man – They might be giants
4. Pater Noster - Stravinsky
5. Burn one down- Ben Harper

5 snacks:
1. apple
2. tortilla crisps
3. Peach / Nectarine
4.
5.

5 things I would do with $100 million:
1. Give some away to charity
2. Move House
3. Buy a new car
4. Ellie & I would travel more
5. Enjoy things with friends and family that maybe cost a bit more than normal.

5 places I would run away to:
1. Australia
2. Hawaii
3. Maldives
4. Mauritius
5. Masai Mara Game Reserve

5 things I would never wear:
1. White socks
2. Socks with sandals
3. Cheap nylon shiny suit
4. Trousers that were too short
5. football shirt

5 favourite tv shows (I don’t watch much TV, but . . .)
1. Scrubs
2. Ed
3. Simpsons
4. Family Guy
5. ? ? ?

5 joys:
1. Seeing my wife, Ellie, every day
2. That I am going to be a father any day
3. My friends
4. Fishing with friends
5. Training ju-jutsu

5 bad habits:
1. Push myself too hard
2. Expect similar from others
3. Too impatient at times
4. ?
5. ?

5 things I like doing:
1. Reading all day long (never happens these days, unless it is some academic tome!)
2. Playing with children
3. Sitting in a jacuzzi with a great view
4. Swimming bare-butt nekkid on a warm day
5. Being outdoors

5 Movies I like:
1. Whale Rider
2. The Station Agent
3. Closer
4. American Pie Series
5. Så som i himmeln

5 famous people Id like to meet:
1. Nelson Mandela
2. Buddha
3. Bill Clinton
4. Kofi Annan
5. Liv Tyler ;-)

5 favourite toys

1. My little silver Mac
2. Car
3. Mobile Phone
4. Mini i-pod
5. Coffee machine

I tag Dom, Bear and Therese to pick this up and run with it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More time, more time

To my Fellow Bloggers & Avid Loyal Readers (and those who choose to hang in my hood)

Please accept my apologies for my absence of last week. Apologies for the lack of 'My weekend in 5 photos and for the almost unforgivable absence of 'Friday Quiz Time™' for which only Dale requested that I got my priorities in order! (and I thought you all loved it)

To quell any potential rumours, there is no baby yet, but he could come anytime. However, the closer he gets, the more that my time is guarded. What with studying full time and then working on top of that and trying to fit in some training, the time I have left over, I spend with Ellie, talking, laughing and scaring ourselves silly each time she gets a contraction. Thus there hasn't been much time over for either blog brainstorming (to ensure that you, my loyal readers, get nothing but the best quality penmanship) or going down to the bat cave and proving that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. That said, I don't want to lose my blog or my blog readership, so I will take the necessary measures to tighten my life one step further to ensure that the zany blend of me can continue to provide lite amusement in your coffee breaks.

In a quirky twist of fate, I have actually had more visitors this week through not writing, with my visitor numbers passing the 3000 mark, than I normally get in a week when I am writing. Go figure! In addition to this, I am about to gain two new fans. So please all welcome Stuart & Davida, close family friends who have known me since I was knee high to a grasshopper, who will be picking up the vibes all the way from Cheddington in Cheshire :-)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Friday Quiz Time


This week has gone quickly. To quote the cliché, it really feels like it was just yesterday that I sat down to write lastg Friday's questions and here we are again!

Firstly a big thank-you to all of you who took the time to look at Anna's photos and wrote comments. You know who you are... and I am grateful. I will put all of the comments into an e-mail and send them over this weekend.

No baby news as yet. As from this sunday, we move into the 3 week zone, where it is considered 'normal' delivery time, even though 80% of deliveries happen in the period one week before/ one week after. Ellie's midwife doesn't seem to think that she will go over time, and it seems to us both as if things are moving in that direction, to the extent that we purchased our first of many,many pack of diapers!

On the subject of diapers, enough of my drivel, it is time for this Friday's Quiz Time™:



Question 1: What are your top 5 songs just now?

Question 2: Do you exercise on a regular basis & if so, what do you do?

Question 3: If you were to marry someone famous, who would it be?

Question 4: What 2 things do people really need to know to do your job?

Question 5: Friday Freebeee – Tell us anything you want about the Maori Haka

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Virtual Exhibition Part Deux

Thank-you all very much for your comments yesterday. Here is the second part of the virtual exhibition of nature stills and close-ups. At the end of today, I'll gather up your comments and send them to Anna and, of course, I will let you know what happens.

On a side note, it actually feels quite good to be able to use a blog for something interactive, which has a meaning or benefit for other people.

Have a great day, it's half-way through the week already... and enjoy the photos.





Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The power of words

Photography seems to be something pretty topical at the moment. I have just viewed some amazing images from Dale's site and have visited Dom's new photoblog. I have read Theresa's post about setting up a photoblog and the fun and games she is having there and I have just viewed Jodie's sight to see someone smiling whilst hurting inside.

I have often felt that the sign of a good photographer is someone who has an eye for an image. I think that 75% of a good photo is being able to see the opportunity in the first place and 25% is being able to perfectly capture what it is that you are seeing.

When my brother and his girlfriend Anna were visiting a while back, we were talking about photography as Anna had brought herself a great camera and was both interested in experimenting with photography and wanted to learn more. Anna was quite shy about her photography, but I think her natural images are absolutely stunning and she should look to do more with them. She feels that the pictures are ok, but since they have never been exposed to a wider audience, she has no idea whether they stand up to the test of a 'good photo' or are simply just ok.

Since there are so many of you out there who are interested in photography, I thought we could do something like this. I will use today's and tomorrow's post as a virtual exhibition of some of Anna's photos and you can let me know what you think. If you think the photos are good, please encourage your friends to visit so she can get feedback from as wide an audience as possible, but above all, be honest. I will pass your comments and feedback onto Anna, and who knows what direction it might take...




Word verification

Although I am flattered that people feel the irresistable need to inform me what financial gains stand to be made from my investing in aluminum and timber, or that they think my blog is really well written, intend to visit it again, and in the meantime would I be interested in visiting theirs and learning about on-line poker... I feel that their comments just don't have the same ring as comments from those of you who make the effort to read my barbaric YAWP. I hope that it won't inconvenience you too much, but I have turned on word verification for my comments, so that together we can say 'Hey, there is enough crap advertising on TV already, just leave our blogs alone!'

Monday, September 05, 2005

My weekend in 0 photos

I was going to start today with the usual 'my weekend in 5 photos' but it just didn’t work for me this weekend. There should have been the photos of Ellie & I chilling out with friends on Friday night, but I forgot the camera. There should have been photos of Andreas, Bear, Jonas and I holding gargantuan fish that we plucked from the depths of the lake by sheer skill, but after fishing from 07:30-16:00 we came away empty handed! My ju-jutsu training on Sunday was a waste of time, and it just wasn't worth taking 5 photos of me weeding the garden and picking apples, so there you go, unfortunately, no photos.

Not much more to say really, except have a great day y'all & a big WELCOME to Dale :-)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Patiently waiting...


I know, I know, you have been waiting all week for this... the sad thing is that so have I.

There has been much this week that has been new. I have started a new course at university and the course is in a new language! I have learnt that a friend of mine has a new girlfriend and I have started a new project with my consultancy company. I have used my blog in a new way to share my concerns with you and by the time you read this, I will probably have a new haircut.

I understand if this is all suddenly too much. All this 'newness' , things happening left, right and center. I blame globalisation myself, but placing blame can't release us from the endless pressure of 'Gotta do more, gotta be more.' However, I have set up a bastion, a stronghold. I have set up a solid pillar to which we can anchor ourselves tight, whilst the winds of change blow and the sands of time shift around us. While all around us seems ephemeral, Friday Quiz Time™ shines like a beacon of white light, guiding us safetly to the shores of the weekend.

And without further ado, here are the questions:



Question 1: If we met face to face, right now, what would my first impression be of you?

Question 2: Name someone dead that you would like to have drinks with and explain why?

Question 3: Every once in a while, someone surprises you. Who did most recently?

Question 4: 2. What is your motto? (if you are stumped, then what is your favourite quote)

Question 5: Friday Freebee... Tell us anything you want about clothing.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Man seeks babel-fish


HOW MUCH OF THIS DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

Læs forordet først!
Ved man ingenting om den franske forfatter, så er selve handlingen i denne tegneserie ikke meget værd, dertil er der for lidt stringens i historien, som også tager nogle surrealistiske hop på stedet, når vor helt småsnakker lidt med den lille prins, der sidder på en sky, eller bliver stoppet af en repræsentant fra himmelpolitiet. Så læs forordet, få tjek på fakta, og så kan man læne sig tilbage og nyde en mester, der hylder en anden.


Probably about as much as me, as it is in Danish. But believe me when I say that written Danish is far easier than spoken Danish.... and where is this all leading, I hear you ask... well, when I started back at university on Monday, I already thought that this course would be a challenge. The first part of this course will culminate on Thursday29th September with a 4 hour essay exam based on 1000 pages of reading, including Gidden's introductory tome on Sociology and Bauman's argumentative text charting society's development from a nation of producers to a nation of consumers and the impact this has on the 'new' poor; the people who are sold on the expectations of lifestyle aspirations but will never have the means to achieve them.

I digress, what I am trying to get at is that I have 1000 pages of academic tomes in Swedish to read and around 5 weeks to read them and push them into my brain so I can write essays on the subject. Add to that the fact that our baby is due on October 1st. He could be born on that date or three weeks before or two weeks after, all of which is normal. If he is born before, then last minute reading and revision is not really going to happen.

Just when I thought that this couldn't get any worse, our lecturer walked in, introduced himself and then explained as we had already deduced that he was indeed Danish and it was expected of students studying at Scandinavian universities that we could understand and read Swedish, Danish and Norwegian! And off he went in Danish, happily explaining why Durkheim was a structural determinist blah, blah blah.

He seems like a really nice bloke. I don't understand a word he says. This promises to be an interesting semester!

Don't forget to keep turning the pages of those encyclopaedias as tomorrow is Friday Quiz Time™