Friday, 28 February 2014

From train to horse and from city to forest

Fog (no sun) and no stress. And I find the cut branches beautiful, somehow.

Walks do good for the soul - enjoy your weekend, everybody!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

TV studio or library?

Could be both! Only the microphones are missing (and staff and guests). I can reveal that it actually is a library, with huge maps of all kinds of different states of Mother Earth at the other end, such a great feeling to look at those. I am so happy to study in Uppsala!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Hey, cunt!

The setting is as perfect as in a film: I am on the train, reading a book about how humans perceive and treat nature. There comes a passage about how we tend to explain animals' behaviour in human terms and the author brings up how gender is born - "sex in itself is a gendered cathegory", famous words by the philosopher Judith Butler. In short, the text is about perception and interaction.

And the guy to the right makes a screaming phone call. It basically sounds like this: "Ey, where've gonna crash that party? What, you cunt? Hahah, that fucker!" (I fail to rephrase all the words of the swearing kind, since they were too many and it is not my kind of language.) It is clear that he is talking to a girl. It is clear that he is about 14 years old. It is clear that he could have said things differently, but he did not, and the people around are bothered. Especially the elderly lady in front of me looks uncomfortable; she can not be much impressed by this new generation.

He hangs up, some time passes and he turns on terrible and too loud music. I make a face and look at him. He stares back: "What?"

In documentaries and books, the reasoning usually goes either "I have a child, so I can not participate in the fight" or "I have a child, that is why I have to participate in the fight" - and this is a similar analogy: either I am too afraid to take the fight, or I do not even see it as a choice, it has to be done. And he asked, so I tell him.

"You were mean when you spoke to your friend." He does not get it and looks at his neighbour that has the same age. "Him?" "No, not him. When you spoke on the phone. You could have used different words, and you know that. It was really disgusting."

Based on the reaction I get - surprised silence - few people tell him to stop.

More people could.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

DJ with a steering wheel, not a disc

My neighbour in class is from northern Sweden: Umeå. He tells me about a very famous bus driver form there, who got a culture prize (!) for spreading music (!) on his bus tours (I think it was reggae). He is the guy who takes an extra turn in the roundabout on Saturdays just for fun, and stops the bus - not during rush hour though - in the middle of the tour in front of a gas station to buy milk. "You can do it too, you know", he tells his passengers. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

The delightfulness of living in a student corridor

Hanna looks at me very sceptically: I have told her to open the window and look out. "If there are any spiders involved, I am going to kill you", she enlightens me. But no, no spiders were involved, just nice messages from our neighbours across (the photos are taken from inside these corridors themselves, the messages were too bright and hard to zoom in) :)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hidden on a hill

From a distance, Sofia kyrka looks like an enchanted castle wrapped in mysterious forest, which actually is Vitabergsparken.
I wish it had been a bit taller to add to the mysterious impression from a distance, but it nevertherless remains me of the tower in Disney land in Paris.

Theatre and Tea

It is a special feeling about trying to relax and do nothing university related on the weekend, a new study tactique of mine that I am trying out. Let's see how long it will last!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Film formulas: how to ameliorate one's film experience

1. In general, do not choose a movie that got a price at the Cannes film festival, but definetely a movie that got at price at the Toronto Film Festival (like Juno), preferrably in combination with a price from the Sundance Film Festival (I think Juno got both).

2. Do not go for a movie with a too intriguing trailer: all the best parts are often extracted and put there, leaving not much out to entertain the viewer for the remaining hour(s). Nor is a boring trailer necessarily guaranteeing a good film (Inside Llewyn Davis was a good example of that), but at least it does not boost the expectations as much and suggests there might be a deeper story to it that is not covered in just a few seconds.

3. Have a look at the actors - what is their previos film record? Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet usually participate in movies with quite complex plots (my favourites), for example. Using this scale, Carnage and The incredible life of Benjamin Button would be worth watching. (They were ok.)

4. All this combined with the score on, films below 7.1 are probably worth ignoring, but do have in mind that the audience voting could for example bee teenagers interested in violence (or other kind of non-representative audience distribution), which makes Fight Club a special case.

5. If you read a review, make sure to cross check it with other reviews of the same film. Pay attention to how many points it is given in that paper's scale; I tend to believe that the difference between  "(Y) (Y) (Y) (Y)" and say, five stars, is huge (Wall-E got top rankings in all newspapers I was reading at that time and is worth watching). Hence, go for the top rankings for the best experience. An exception: Gravity, that did not get "five stars", but was really good anyway. 12 years a slave got "five stars" in some magazines and was very well made (but only the slavery part, in my opinion). Then, a movie can be based on a fantastic story but lose out on adding unneccesary details, like Philomena - a very touching story in itself, where I think everything (except for some dialogue parts) in the movie is true (!), judging from the interview with the real Philomena Lee I saw later.

6. For a less narrow perspective, check if the movie has passed the Bechdel test. Films like Inception might be great, but how many female characters were there, did the female characters have a name and speak to each other? How prominent were they? And did they talk to each other about something else but men? Very few movies pass that test.

7. In general: always bring tissues. One can never know for sure.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

And that is not fireworks

A friend of mine went to Ukraine this weekend, just to show his and his colleagues' support to the country and thousands of people cheered as a thank you just when he said his name and that he is from Sweden. Here you can see what is happening live in Ukraine. The first time I turned it on, there were shootings several times per minute though it was in late at night and the place was not as crowded as in daytime.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Museum Mission: Olle Olsson Hagalund museet

 It is charming with a villa of this kind squeezed inbetween the skyscrapers, no? Well, until one realizes that it is sort of the other way around. The future of this pittoresque area has been a controversial question for a very long time, now also threatening the future of an adjacent museum called Sadelmakarens hus.
I was lucky to meet the artist who made this dummy showing what the area used to look like, the librarian Kent Fernström. Entirely on his spare time, I should add.
In the end of the 1960's, the excavators came and disturbed the community; skyscrapers were built, the intimacy of the small suburb was disturbed and many of the local houses were demolished.
A local motif: the striped part to the right is a copper tent that used to be a school among other things, where the artist went himself as a child. They are found in the park of Haga and are a museum as well as a restaurant these days. In front of them there is an open meadow where people gather in the summer for different activities.
The museum is open on Wednesdays and Sundays, and when I was there, the artist's daughter Lena Olsson Petrén - seen on this photo from 1962 - was the one who opened it up; she runs the museum. It must indeed be a particular feeling about having one's home as a museum and show people fragments of history in a personalised way!..

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Today, life is wonderful

How should I describe my feelings, when only I know how I feel and there is no world wide vocabulary for that?

This is what I can say: I am smiling. I am endulging - enjoying - the recent events and the memory of them, which means that I can loop my own happiness and build further joy upon that. However, there are a few factors that also tear my heart apart, but then my heart is also healed, in intervals. Perhaps that contributes to making the joy even stronger. It is not love; it is more. A sense of existence, completeness, rightness - and, surprisingly enough - rationality.

Monday, 17 February 2014

More clothes!

Photos by David Härenstam
I am soooo looking forward to take more photos soon, it can be really fun at times! As you see. Insider information 1: I actually dyed the sweater so that it became pink - not bad for being the first time. Insider information 2: you know how much time it can take to arrange for a photoshoot? Heaps.

Learning processes: me contributing to research in a study

It was a task where I was supposed to identify to what extent a bug (well, actually more than 60 of them) was poisonous given certain conditions. Then I had to fill in a form about how intuitive I am, how often I act based on what my heart feels and if I would trust a person that does all of that. It was interesting, though not super exciting: I was isolated in a hospital like room with the company of a computer and theoretical bugs (add another 160 of them - that is the amount I haf to practice on first). Yet I believe this is the more sane way of earning payment (this time, a cinema ticket) than the way a classmate does: testing all kinds of new pharmacological substances, which if not placebo can cause terrible nausea and head ache to mention just a few side effects.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Clean Bandit and The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This song has been on repeat in my household basically all day. Why? Firstly, I like it a lot. Secondly, I am beginning to appreciate music more, as I wrote half a song myself recently and see all songs differently now, searching for inspiration and interesting tunes! Also, I watched "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" which several people recommended (I actually rented a DVD - that is still possible), and it was not as excellent as I had expected it to be (I also was prepared for everybody to die throughout the entire movie and handed out handkechiefs to everybody in case of tears), but it had excellent features: the parts which were suggestive and cut to look just like the quick fragments of memories we sometimes have, appearing as a contrast to everyday happenings.

I am a pending masterpiece

Richard Ford has written a book, "Canada", which has been highly praised and that made me think right away that it is worth buying (and not just borrowing it at the library, which is often the case). Reprinted over and over, the cover of the paperback edition expresses professional readers' thoughts that all point in the same direction: "Canada" is a masterpiece.

This made me think. Only objects can be masterpieces. Humans themselves are never as perfectly complete as the things they do, produce, themselves. Hanging out with Richard Ford, however intelligent and bright, is not the same as discussing the meaning and purpose and history of a masterpiece created by the man himself. Masterpieces are in a way supposed to be unreachable, and I am certain that the artist or creator rarely has thought the piece through [that later becames famous] as much as the ones who analyze it.

When it comes to books, then, they can not help but often summarize things - that is what books tend to do - and, even though doing so in the most excellent of manners, they never cover a life fully, partly because so much is still left out. (Take a book from the 1600's and imagine what life was like back then based on that text! You will see how much is left out. Sometimes it is the fault of the genre, but books from all genres combined from the same epoque, will they really explain the spriti and core of that time just as well as several living persons from that time telling us what life was like?)

Some authors do manage to cut out a feeling precisely, as if with a scalpel, and dive into the deepest secrets of what it is being a human - but rarely can a written word replace the exact gesture and a spoken word with that exact tone of voice. Authors rely on the reader's imagination, so no one interprets a written text exactly the same. So what does it boil down to? In the search for perfect combinations of word choices - sometimes the search goes on for years and years - we seem to mainly praise the written, distilled texts - and only certain kinds. For example a speech is, to my knowledge, never officially accredited as a masterpiece.

Interestingly enough, an acquintance pointed out today that words should let be words - if I want to interpret the true meaning of somebody's words, I should be looking into the speaking person's eyes. Technically, it would mean that we can never read classics and truly understand their meaning, with or without the help of an emoticon - or letters, text messages and e-mails (or properly understand a speech if we are at the back of the crowd) - and that we should pay less significant attention to phonecalls. In turn, this gives the private conversation a much higher value. As does the possibility to listen to, say, a teacher talking to a small group. Yet those words are not a masterpiece as we know it, which makes me draw this conclusion: the definition of masterpieces leaves too many masterpieces out.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Pizza in the Air

The guys in the student corridor across ours saw me through the window and pretended to do the same :)

We don't need your psychological reasons, leave them for your diary or the blogosphere

A wise advice from our teacher in philosophy when he was referring to that students write from a "me"-perspective in their exams.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Alternative Seminar

Walk n' talk, they call it. The task might seem a bit simple: we got two philosophical questions to answer (one was: what are our needs?) and were told to take a walk while discussing them. It turned out to be very pace-dependent for sure (fast thinking = fast walking), but I do not know how effective it was yet. In either case, it was nice in the botanical garden and I saw this personalised statue, one of my favourite kind of artworks. 

Unpacking a transparent secret

Descreet and fruitful (pun intended), this perfume smells nice from start till it has evaporated entirely. I have tried to find a good perfume for years, and got the tip that Kenzo is a nice perfume producer. The even better part is that this is a gift for my birthday!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Museum Mission: Charlottenburgs gård / Solna Hembygdsmuseum

When I revealed to the creator of a scale model at a museum in Solna that I wanted to visit all the museums in Stockholm, he wondered if it was an art project for my university course. When it turned out to not be the case, he asked if I had been to Charlottenburgs gård - Solna hembygdsmuseum, a folk museum owned by the municipality and run by history enthusiasts on their spare time. I had not, so off I went, following the given directions - and I ended up in front of a pretty long white house dating back to 1801 (but appeared for the first time on a map in the 1670's!) that I had passed by several times without knowing what it encomparted. Across the museum - not at the inner yard - there is a cemetery that stems back to 400-1050 A.D.
The museum was welcoming and cozy and filled with people that had meetings and answered to questions about local history, or people that were telling people how places and buildings used to be like back in the days.

For a while it seemed like I only would make it to the first room, the one with the exhibition of maps showing how the area looked like in the 1600's as well as in 1980's. There, a staff member passed by, so I asked him how the old the oldest map of the museum was, whereupon he invited me to the museum's office and I stayed there for at least one hour. I learned that there is a church nearby from the 1100's that is older than Stockholm itself and that there are more than 12,000 photos of Solna and its surroundings to search for on the municipality's webpage - and that one can search for art that is found on public places.

At the office, there were plenty of books from different decades. This ad brings up what a good general education is worth counting in salaries. Living history at its best!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A few words about children (to me, it is a sensitive topic because it is about the choice

Children are lovely. They can triumph in the most charming of ways because of an ordinary train arrival, pose what could seem simple questions but are actually hard to answer and be very serious and truly open in ways many adults can not. In many ways, they make adults - mostly their parents - come to insights about life that they have not had before.

So, let us head to the neverending discussion about having children (and perhaps touch upon the fine line between a woman's body and the baby's (fetus') right to its life).

The older I get, the more comments I have gotten on having children: by my doctor (who assumed without asking me that I wanted to become pregnant quite soon only because she knew my age), by a friend who, when I said "I have news", guessed I was pregnant (but, as one of my favourite feminist authors pointed out, the chances of the news being pregnancy in particular are minor compared to all the other things that happen in a woman's life, at any age) and abroad when meeting family and friends (who were smiling when posing the question, expecting exciting news).

That goes for me. The women around me are mostly people in academia, and many of them do what is common in that position, sometimes without reflecting about it, or subconsciously so: one puts the career first and considers children later, if one considers them at all. Same thing actually goes for the men too. And there are predictions, for example the one presented by the Hans Rosling, a Swedish professor in international health at Karolinska institutet, saying that in about 2050, the world's population will no longer be growing but stabilize at about 9 billion people if we will manage to diminish the poor population by 2 billion people, giving them a better chance to a decent life. It will be really interesting to see how this kind of  turn that will affect the economy - will that for example mean that at some point, the government will have to pass a law on that every family has to have a certain amount of children, in order to maintain the increasement of market values (which is based on growing demand for products)?

And why do we choose to have children? The reasons vary; the following are the ones I have heard of in the most recent time flow, valid as any: "everybody else does", "the biological clock is ticking", "my partner really wanted children", "they are so lovely", "I do not want to be alone when I am old (and my friends will have died)", "to compensate for the non-existent relation with my depressed mother and absent father", "to be loved", "to give my love", "it just felt right", "I am about to die, so I have nothing to lose", "I want to leave something after I am gone". On the other side goes: "it disturbs the relation between a man and a woman", "I just do not want to have kids", "I barely have the time for myself and my own life", "I am afraid of the pain", "I already made a vasectomy, so we do not even have to discuss it", "children are great, but they are not for me", "they are great a few hours at a time, not permanently", "I would not set a child to this world", "there are already too many of them at the orphanages [we should take care of those children first]". Lengthened life spans and lower fertility are other contributing facts to why few babies are being born (in Japan, for example) - combined with more care for oneself, perhaps. Unfortunately, I have no accurate insight in how people not wanting children end up pregnant and decide to keep the child(ren) reason, but however interesting that is, it boils down to the decision of having or not having children, which right now feels like a science in itself to me.

Friday, 7 February 2014

When in a physics lab, do like the physicists do

Today I was invited to the Ångström laboratory in Uppsala to hear the recruit reasons for why it is the master's programme in physics I should apply for here. (I told the coordinators that when I will be teaching in like twenty years from now, I will look back on this day telling the students that "when I was young, there were so few master students in physics that we were offered free lunch and dinner, pre-paid tickets and specific guided tours".) I took a few photos of the most cool stuff, of course.
 At the meeting point, a few people had nailed their thesises, he he.
 And then we went down a few floors and out on a yard to see one of the laboratories.
 Michelle Pfeiffer was there, he he. 
Attachments connected to a particle accelerator. Good to have if you want to test samples for carbon-14, to see if a hand belongs to a mummy (tourists coming back from exotic countries seem to have this issue), to distinguish ivory from similar materials or to see what a human being is made of (our guide, a physicist, examined his blood just for fun, which resulted in a published article. He contain(ed) rubidium among other things).
 Super dangerous to enter that cage. I think the voltage of this masspectrometer was 150 kV.
Super cool.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Personalised books

One of the best things about getting books are the historical dedications that come with it and the memories they create and preserve. A book is one of the best gifts one can get and give!