Friday, 30 November 2018

First suggestion voted for

Incredibly, my suggestion at a board meeting was accepted and voted for. My first suggestion of this kind! My first suggestion voted for! And it is about optimizing the situation for students' living conditions. Proud and happy.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

"Zinky Boys" by Svetlana Aleksijevitj

Not all books about war make you cry. Aleksijevitj creates a flood of tears - these soul-tearing thoughts about the survivors, and worse even, the mothers and wives of those who did not survive, tell what happened during and after the Afghan-Soviet war in 1979-1989. Many Russians were fooled - those who did not participate were fed with propaganda about how flowers were being planted in Afghanistan by the Russians. Those who were on the battle fields - more precisely, battle mountains which happen to be purple and stunning - were also fooled. Not all even knew they were going to a war, they were told a different destination. Few knew what to expect, and the returned warriors, or their families, were not taken care of. 

I gave up bringing out the tissues on the bus and just wept page after page. Here is an anecdote I hope will make you read the book, told by a female combatant:

A commander is off duty, comes to a saloon to cut his hair.
Hair dresser: How are things in Afghanistan?
Commander: under stabilization...
After a few minutes: How are things in Afghanistan?
Commander: Under stabilization...
Some minutes later, again: How are things in Afghanistan?
She finally cuts his hair and he leaves. The other hairdressers want to know why she troubled that man so much.
"Every time I asked him about Afghanistan, his hair stood up, so it was easier to cut."

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Behind the scenes - THE UNTOLD TRUTH about outfit photos

Nah, it's not that dramatic, but this is what it could look like between photoshoots: strangers come up, or we just take on funny poses. Strange how differently poses are interpreted by the eye and by the camera. And, you never see how cold it is on a photo (but you can guess). And, you never know how many times the equipment stopped working or simply... blew away.

This cutie is one of the kindest dogs, who had eyes for almost only its owner only. They had known each other for maaany years and went on long walks. I guess the man was 70+.
This is the result of the photoshoot: one and two. The shirt I now have donated to friend M.
 Here, I had the idea that we would dance together and that would render AWESOME photoshoots. There were few volunteers though, so we did it in another way. 
Here is the result.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The small big test of 12 board games

Over the years, I have actively collected a list of games to play by asking friends and friends of friends what they recommend. Here you go, a summary of 12 board games! And there are maaany left on my list. 
Arkham horror takes time to play, especially the first time. (We ate pizza inbetween and took time to read the rules = seven hours altogether. A round normally lasts 3 hours if you know the rules by heart.)
Explained briefly: you fight monsters that keep coming to Arkham, a city, and you are a character with certain abilities that collaborate with the other players to stay in the same world and not be lost in space and time. Recommended: to have an expert on the game at the table. I didn't like this game at all, which enthusiasts sigh deeply about because none at our table knew the rules well and that "changes everything", but what to do.
Ryktet går is really fun, especially if you make far-fetched connections.
Explained briefly: you draw pictures of words and the next player has to translate the word back into a picture. Pass the word on and it has to be reversed into a word again by the next player. When the drawing pads return to the original players and the words and pictures are compared, it's hilarious.
Sorry sliders is entertaining.
Briefly explained: It is exactly like curling but in a smaller scale, minus the cold ice and the brushing. More fun than it sounds. Trickier than it seems.

Pandemic is 4-6 minutes quick or 15 at the most, and can be made really complicated. All players collaborate and exchange advice to win against the game itself. Those four or six minutes of course require that you know the rules by heart.
Briefly explained: the players save the world from spreading pandemics with help from research and other fancy stuff.
Cranium is not static - words are changed all the time, because you can interpret the phrases however you want. "Something quick", as said in Swedish above, that would be my thoughts. Said the other team. Which we had to guess. And I did. Best part is that you can set the level very high if you wish.
Briefly explained: you get to draw, explain or charade the explanation of a word that the other team chooses. Your own team has to guess to collect points.
Our team made a team name: Team buktu. Bukt = bay. U = submarine. The other team went for EastTEAMor, the country.

Mahjong is like a really old alternative to cards from China (I am translating cultures here): everyone plays it, it is super easy once you know it and hazard is part of it. You can be in teams, though. The pieces are thick (think of big chewung gums) and many people who take the game with them when flying (for transport, not playing on the plane, it has too many pieces for that) are questioned by the customs - what is it? How do you use it?

Munchkin is awesome because most cards are funny and even with many players, you don't have to wait for your turn to participate. Everyone I know (who I have asked, except for three people). You can by extensions with different themes that are all compatible.
Briefly explained: you fight monsters by knocking on a door. When you do, other players can stab you in the back by throwing an armour on you filled with glue, or help you out by tickling the monster. Etc. It is in the rules to cheat whenever you can.

Cards Against Humanity is obnoxious and hence good when you are drunk. Really funny like 15% of the times during each round when sober, if you have that kind of humour.
Briefly explained: by drawing cards from two decks, you fill in sentences and missing words. The funniest combination wins. Example: One should not be hitting on women at ___________. Pulling a card, the complete sentence could become "One should not be hitting on women at an abortion clinic."
Code names is fun and always a challenge. One of my favourites.
Briefly explained: a spy master gives clues about as many of the words on the table as possible, with a poker face, without saying the actual words. The two teams try to interpret the clues, which can be super tricky (like, what does "heart" and "cotton" have in common and how do we explain that with one word only?), and win if they manage to cover all the specifics. You lose if you guess a specific spy card. If there are only two players, you can play against the game itself.
Marrying Mr. Darcy is very fun especially if you pretend you are British. Which we did. And if you like Pride and Prejudice. Which we also did.
Briefly explained: you are a female character that wishes to wed ASAP, alongside the other female characters. Obstacles arise along the way - cancelled balls, a gentleman suddenly moving to London - and you have to collect charm, dowry and wit points.
Mascarade is about bluffing and some tactics.
Briefly explained: it really is about bluffing and tactics. You swap cards with each other all the time and after a while, you for example figure out you can get money from the bank (the temple above is the bank) or just keep saying you are the queen. More fun if you are more people (up to THIRTEEEN, that's super nice) and know the rules very well, as things then will move much faster.

Fake artist goes to New York is about pretending that you know what everyone else is drawing but you actually have no clue. (link here).
Briefly explained: everyone gets a tile with the same word - except for one person, who gets a cross. A drawing pad is passed around and participants draw one line each with a coloured pen, to form the drawing together. When the round of drawing is completed, everyone holds up the pen for others to see who drew which line and you point at the assumed con artist, who hopefully is not revealed. Most fun is when the word is complicated to draw. Examples of words you could have fun with: asphalt, Tinder, taxes, grades.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

After Monastery n' roses

After we said goodbye to the Monačr monastery
 We drove our poor Dacia through tunnels and steeps till hot Montenegro became chilly Montenegro. 
 "Like Swiss landscape", Jérémy announced. I started singing "Sounds of music" almost simultaneously. 
 Ruins that probably will be gone in 20 years - they are not maintained at all. 
Goats in herds appear and disappear fast as magic.
SUPER EXCITED ABOUT a Jugoslavian passport we found in the mountains!
We wondered: how could it be lost here in the mountains about 30 years later? Back then, your profession was written in your passport (as far as I understand the local administration language).
 Center of city: twigs that Internet will love.
 Butterfly love next to the grocery sore, where you could get chocolate bars for 10 cents.
Also twigs. Captain Jack Sparrow certainly would have initiated a conversation.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

My new words as of 2018, part VIII

Interimspråk (Swe) / Interlanguage (Eng) - the (incomplete) language one uses when learning the that same language

Idiolect - an individual's unique and distinctive use of speech

Lettering - modern, playful calligraphy

Optical tweezer - is just such a cool thing.

Silent hours - opposite of office hours

Ad notam - to remember something and follow it. I translate is as a metaphoric "add to the notes".

Arecibo message - the interstellar message from 1974.

Skelettjord (Swe) /structural soil (Eng) - soil mixed with macadam to optimize growing conditions for trees in urban areas. 

Aquafaba - the viscous liquid obtained when cooking peachicks or similar, which can be used as egg white substitute in cookies and similar. According to a colleague, even appreciated by 15 months old babies.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Ok, I confess

It was my apartment that was on fire. I have moved houses - here I am carrying cardboard boxes to remove what survived in the apartment. (I had to get rid of the bed and buy some new clothes.) It was raining, cold - but I was lucky to have a friend who by chance came to Stockholm that very week and helped me with everything. In the morning, a neighbour's boyfriend and then the neighbour herself came by to see that I was ok and invited me for a pain au chocolat breakfast. 

A lecturer of mine said: you are sad that you didn't have the time to study for two weeks? See it this way: you might have lost all of your time. Now it's like you are newborn again and have time to fall in love more, enjoy and do whatever makes you happy .


And then the ENDLESS candle and fire references. A candle caused the problems, so people have kind-heartedly said:

"Shall we lit some candles to make it cozy?"
"I will lit a candle for you."
"Isn't it a bit hot... in here?"


So now I have new neighbours. I refuse to install WhatsApp, so we actually agreed to write notes and put them in my letterbox. They have invited me to parties and I got quite some inspiration for cooking after a Diwali get together.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Just a nice place to know about

 That place is Folk & Friends on Kungsholmen in Stockholm. They have board games to play and serve pies from New Zealand (!). A good place to hang out. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Airy flowers (with fish reference), and office flowers

This, too, I once got just to tolerate Spanish heat (and here is a link in some time to the year-long reference). It wasn't too bad, but is better for chillier climates, or it sticks to the sweat (obviously, in a romantic, flattering way). Only one sleeve has scattered flowers on it and both sleeves are like this fish that moves along sea bottom with the help from its flapping sides (equally elegant).
Over to the "office flowers":
 Never mind the garden equipment. These flowers are on a checkered background and the shirt pulls it off really well in office environment. 
Has ribbons here and there which add another elegant dimension. Always, when in doubt - add a ribbon. 

Saturday, 17 November 2018

A bunch of great "secret" ingredients

ZUCCHINI doesn't really need a fridge to be stored in October-March if you live inow a cold country. Perfect in pasta sauces, grated in cupcakes, in pies, omelette, on pizza (I prefer it pre-cooked in that case though), fried by itself with a little bit of sourcream. If it becomes too soft at one edgs during storage, just cut that part off and pretend like nothing. The rest will remain fresh.

PAPRIKA (bell pepper or capsicum) in powder form. Highlights pies, pasta sauces, almost everything. Gives that extra which make you happy and intrigued.

DRIED MANGO POWDER changes characteristics almost completely when mixed with sugar and salt respectively. It's the extra zest otherwise often created by lemon in cooking.

YOGHURT AS DESSERT, the fatter the tastier and can be varied endlessly: with nuts, with cummin, with vanilla - that's one. It can be frozen, mixed with berries (I prefer when they are super sweet themselves, no sugar added), be the "sauce" with super sweet pies.

Friday, 16 November 2018

More flowers for the soul

My best trick for fluffy (a word many people use in all kinds of positive ways but I think they will stop soon) bouquets is to by many and squish them together. Then you will realise that you have so much flowers that you don't know where to put them, so they can be put in: your hair. Your food. Decorate the floor. Shelves. Hang from different places. The bathroom, floating as if they were candles in a romantic movie at night.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Jana on a date

The NEVER exhausted question: what to wear?

I vote for clothes. Comfortable. Whatever you find pretty and want to wear for the moment.

I asked the date - what should HE wear? 

Same thing, of course. Comfortable and pretty in his opinion. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Walking on Montenegrinian mountains, between Cetinje and Kotor

One kilometer up in the air (and maybe 60 additional meters) in Lovcén national park is Njegos mausoleum.
Jérémy and I got there right before sunset. The ticket master had the same badge he got when he was maybe 18, now he was approaching his 50's. 
Not the least, it is cool to see where Montenegro's capital is: the planes land in exactly that direction, behind and to the left of this rotunda. 
In the other direction, you find the grave of a national poet.
For that, you have to get inside and behind these statues. Luckily, I knew the route because I can catch bits of the local languages - the guy who explained it to us did of course not speak English. 
We are quick and (but?) efficient tourists. 
"Did you see that?"
"Yes, now come and look over here."

 Intrepid (or, "ordinary posing").
 Simply bold. 
 On the edge. 
 Enjoying last drops of warmth before sun goes down.
Bound to happen.