onsdag 26. oktober 2011

One Week in Vallebona

Almost 10 years ago, I booked my first riding holiday outside Norway ever, a week in Tuscany on horseback. Unfortunately I fell ill, and had to cancel the trip. I've been keeping an eye on the same travel agency since then, Häst & Sport resor (Horse and sports travels) and dreamt about going on one of those trips. This year, I decided it would be my 30 year birthday present to myself, and with my birthday money I booked a new holiday. Not exactly the same trip, but western riding in Tuscany on Vallebona agriturismo. This is my blog about my experience from the week, as well as a review for others considering going there.

My week in Vallebona

Saturday morning, I left from Oslo, Gardermoen, via Zürich and to Florence. The last flight was with a small airplane of the type with 5 seats on each row, and it was rather windy. The landing felt like taken out from some funny Donald Duck movie, though I didn't feel it was funny at all, being a part of it. Having survived the landing in Florence, I easily found my way with the bus to Florence and train further on to Pontassieve. There, I was picked up by Raimonda, the wife of the house, together with a Swiss couple. It appeared that all the other guests were Swiss, and everyone had been there before, some yearly (even twice!) for some time.

After arriving at Vallebona, having been assigned a room and informed of mealtimes and riding, I walked down to the stables for a curious inspection. The afternoon riders were just coming in, and I ended up helping the Belgian stable hand taking some of the horses out to the paddock. There were three girls working in the stables for the season, besides the regular employees. Since they were closer to my age than most of the guests (being either children or closer to my parents' age) I ended up talking a lot to them during the week, also as I was one of the few guests that tended to my own horse during the stay. Tiffany was from Guernsey and the only one that didn't understand German at all, so we ended up talking a lot. She also guided most of the rides I was on.

Every morning I was up at 8, tending first to my own horse and then others, before having breakfast. At 10 was the first riding session, and I had lessons every morning. The first morning I had a short lesson only learning to start, stop and turn the horse, before I went out with Tiffany. It was only the two of us, and we had a nice ride and even some gallops on my first ride out. This days funny experience happened when we rode past a nearby restaurant. The music flowed out from the place, and playing was "Personal Jesus" by Depeche mode. Nothing funny in that itself, except that it is the theme song of one of the greatest Norwegian wrestlers, Bjørn Sem, and to me this song always means the Bjørn threads out, with his sunglasses and ponytail, ready to beat someone half to death. Sitting in a western saddle in the Tuscany countryside it felt very absurd.

The horses were mostly Italian breeds, Sardinian and Maremma. Between "exotic" names like Biagio, Fulminae, Chiccala, Malvasia and Desidario, I got a nice horse called Molly. She was a really good teacher, steady but exciting enough, and very nice and gentle both inside and outside.

The first day I didn't ride in the afternoon, taking a slow approach as I haven't been riding regularly in a very very long time. I watched a lesson, and then had some sun, and a rest before dinner. The second day I had only a lesson in the morning with Steffi, the German stable hand that has been working there for 17 years! After the lesson I took the horse back to the stable, and had some sun and rest myself. The lesson got a bit extra excitement in it when 4 wild pigs came rushing through the forest and through one of the nearby paddocks. The horses didn't react much, and luckily I never came to see them any closer than that. In the afternoon I had my first 2 hour ride out, and it was nice, even with a bit more climbing than I care for (it's not THAT exciting when you have lived between mountains all your life).

An afternoon/evening pastime on Vallebona is knots. In the main house there is always pieces of rope lying around, waiting to be knotted in some challenging way, people teaching or learning new knots. Many of the horses' headcollars were made from ropes, and during some of the evenings Franco started teaching me the necessary knots (knot of love and the diamond) for making them the way he does. I never managed the last knot, so I will have to search for it online and practice on my own.

The third day, me and three of the other women had a lesson with Samuele, which was really good. We started working on using the reins and legs to turn the horses in different ways. I rode out both after the lesson, and another two hours in the afternoon. To my surprise I didn't feel very sore or stiff after riding 7 hours in three days. I stretched out after riding the first three days (and then forgot about it), and the only thing I felt was a bit tired after much fresh air and outside activity.

On Wednesday, I had decided to go to Florence on a daytrip, as the forecast said it was going to rain and not too good weather for riding. I joined the morning lesson with Samuele again, working further on the reins and turning, and took my horse in when the others rode out. Then I got the bus from the mill, taking an hour to Florence. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Florence, apart from Renaissance, pizza and gelato (ice cream). I had pizza for lunch, before I went to see the Duomo Santa Maria Del Fiore. I have seen many impressive cathedrals, our own Nidarosdomen in Trondheim competing with some of the grand English cathedrals, but this one measured up to most of the cathedrals I have seen. Grand in both size and look it was really a lovely sight. From the Duomo I wandered around the streets of Flornence, passing Dante's house and church on my way to the bridge Ponte Vecchio, which is known for the houses hanging out on the sides, and the jeweler shops along both sides. I saw of course the David statue (the false one, I didn't bother to queue to see the original), and also the Santa Croce church and other nice, old buildings. I had my gelato, a keyring for Cuddles (my traveling red panda, who collects keyrings from everywhere we've been), postcards for the family, and some supplies for between meal snacks. The weather forecast didn't hit in, so it was a nice and sunny day to walk around Florence, and I had no regret on that account.

On Thursday the rain was said to be rather heavy, and we just had time for a lesson with Samuele before the drops started to fall. Some brave souls rode out anyway, while me and a couple of the others went back inside and settled in front of the fireplace. It was a good choice, seeing the others coming back an hour later quite wet, and the rain continued to pour down throughout the day, accompanied by thunder and lightning very close up to the farm. Two of the other guests turned out to be board game players, and I got to play a round of Stone Age, having observed them and taught rules the night before. In the evening that day we had an indoor barbequeue, first being served toast (toasted in the fireplace!), also called by the Italians bruschetta (preferrably with garlic, olive oil, tomatos and spices), pork speck, olives (of course!) and then grilled pork chops and other good food with it.

On Fridays there is usually a long trek of 4-6 hours, but the weather was so unsure that they decided to follow the normal routines. I got a lesson with Franco himself in the morning, and managed quite well, in my own opinion. After the lesson, Tiffany took us on a very nice ride to an old church, and with a nice view of the area. In the afternoon I went on a longer ride with the German guide Rainer, up and around the hills behind the farm. Molly was in heat and a bit more challenging than usual, bucked a couple of times in the beginning of gallops, and made a couple of extra gallops when she felt like it. Nothing that I couldn't handle, but it was not the most relaxing ride I had.

After a week I still didn't feel like I'd had too much riding, although I was starting to feel very tired. The beds were quite old and not too comfortable, and I didn't sleep well enough to get enough rest according to the amount of physical activity every day. It was very good to come home to my own, soft bed. But I have also learned a lot about western riding, and will definitely follow up on that. It is true what Steffi said one of the days, many people go from classic riding to Western riding, very few (if any) goes the other way. I will never sit as comfortably in an English saddle again, as I do in a Western saddle.

Vallebona review

First of all, for riding purposes and learning western riding, I am not sure if you could get it better! The program presented from the agency was one hour lesson in the morning and one hour riding out in the afternoon. Actually, at the farm, there is two hours riding in the morning and two in the afternoon. You can choose between an hour lesson with a following riding out, or just riding out for two hours. You can also have only one hour lesson, or only one hour riding out, but that doesn't really happen when you get the opportunity to ride more! Franco, who owns the place, is really good with the horses, and buys and train them to go with the guests and tourists. He also knows a lot about both western riding and other sports on horseback, and horses in general of course.

All the horses were well trained and responsive to new, inexperienced riders, as well as more experienced riders. Thunder or shots from nearby hunters doesn't bother them much, and even the wild pigs have to come quite close up to be given any attention. I always felt safe, but not at all bored, on riding out in the landscape around the farm.

The food was said to be incredibly good from other reviews and guestbook comments, so I had high expectations of that. As a pasta lover, I didn't mind having two different types of pasta as a starter for every lunch and dinner, some people might tire of it. It was followed by some type of cooked meat and vegetables (varieties of pork, chicken a couple of days, one day we got hare), and after dinner also a dessert of some kind. I may be spoiled in food ways, but though it was over average tasty meals, the food will not be the main reason for going back. Also, if three meals a day is not enough, you might want to bring some snack for between meals, as the only "food" available at the place is ice cream and cold drinks.

The place was nice, idyllic location in Tuscany hills, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. We rode around, through and past many of them, never the same way. A couple of trips also went up to the top of the hills with a lovely view of Tuscany. For good and bad, Vallebona is some distance away (6 km) from the nearest village, Pontassieve, and there's no regular bus. If you don't like sunbathing, picking olives, reading or riding, there's really nothing to do there. There's a buss from the nearby mill (no. 333 operated by amvbus.it) going to Florence 2-3 times a day and back in the evening, and a trip to Florence at least one day is absolutely recommended.

I will present some of the pictures in another blogpost, but all my public photos from my trip can be seen in my gallery.

søndag 10. juli 2011


Det har vært en rar sommertid i år. Været har ikke vært det beste, og det er den første sommeren på ganske mange år at jeg har en "vanlig" jobb. Tollef har en del reising med jobben, og delvis på grunn av hundene har mye turer gått innenlands.

Kristi Himmelfartshelga, første helga i juni, dro vi til hytta i Hemsedal med lillesøster og hennes mann, og en venn av oss. Der hadde vi tre dager med fjellturer i fint vær, god mat, brettspill og kos, og litt bursdagsfeiring for oss som har bursdag i løpet av sommeren. Tante Marit var en tur på firmahytta litt lengre opp i dalen, og kom på bursdagsmiddag til oss den ene dagen, og serverte vafler etter fjelltur en annen dag. På tur ned dro jeg, lillesøster og mannen innom Bjørneparken på Flå. Det er både fascinerende og litt trist å se de ville dyrene på nært hold. Et par uker etterpå ble to av bjørnene skutt for å ha brutt seg ut av den ene innhegningen (og inn i en annen, aldri fare for mennesker), og jeg er ikke helt sikker på om det var en bra ting eller ikke.

Bare fire dager etter hjemkomsten fra Hemsedal satte vi kursen mot Molde for å feire 50-årsdag. Det ble en spennende helg, ikke minst på grunn av flommen, som dagen etter at vi dro oppover gjorde bilturen for de andre fra Oslo ganske mye lengre. Turen ned igjen gikk via Oppdal og Østerdalen, en fin og ikke altfor mye lengre tur, til tross for omkjøring i Rendalen. Lørdagen i Molde hadde vi en fin tur i Moldemarka, og jeg gikk stier og veier som er nye siden jeg gikk der sist.

Dagen etter vi kom hjem fra Molde reiste Tollef på en 10-dagers jobbtur til San Francisco. For min del var det lite annet enn jobb og hunder, pluss wrestlingshow, som på mystisk vis alltid ser ut til å havne på helger jeg er alene hjemme. Dagen før Tollef skulle komme hjem ble det dog litt ekstra spenning i hverdagen, da jeg våknet til at mesteparten av veien utenfor huset var gravet opp. Vi fikk melding om utbytting av hovedvannledning for et år siden, men har ikke greid å få noe mer info fra dem om det, før de nå tydeligvis var i gang. I tillegg er jo vår egen planlagte påbygging på huset rett rundt hjørnet, så jeg brukte to timer i telefon og e-post for å få kontakt med og klarlagt saker og ting med to entrepenører og kommunen.

Etter at Tollef kom hjem hadde jeg tre fine dager på Arcon. Etterhvert har jeg gått over til å spille mer brettspill og mindre rollespill, og jeg fikk lært flere nye spill som ble ført opp på ønskelista. Det er fortsatt sært å være på Sogn i stedet for Blindern, men det var som alltid hyggelig å treffe igjen alle de gode gamle congjengerene som har vært der i "alle år".

1. juli har jeg som vanlig bursdag, og i år skulle de fleste bort, stort sett utenlands, på dagen. Så da bestemte jeg meg likegodt for å reise bort selv. Det passet godt med at vi lenge har planlagt å låne hytta på Ringebufjellet, der vi var en del med familien da jeg var barn. Lillesøster og mannen hadde alt vært der noen dager da vi kom opp kvelden før bursdagen min. Dagen etter skulle mammas søskenbarn som eier hytta også komme opp og feire sammen med oss. På morgenen stod jeg opp, og fikk en kjempeoverraskelse på døra da mamma og pappa kom. Jeg hadde håpet at de kanskje ville ta turen, men de sa de hadde andre planer da vi snakket på telefon tidligere i uken. Så fikk vi to fine dager med masse god mat, tur og hyggelig samvær. Lillesøster og mannen dro hjem allerede på kvelden på bursdagen min, og mamma og pappa dagen etter det. Tredje dagen bestemte vi oss for å dra hjem selv, siden værmeldingene var heller dårlig. På vei hjem dro vi først til Hundefossen Familiepark, og kjørte go-kart, reddet iskremfabrikken fra slafsene, og fikk sett masse av Ivo Caprinos folkeeventyr.

Tilbake i Oslo hadde jeg og hundene en rolig dag, før vi dro et par dager til Nesodden for å hilse på svigermor og svoger med samboer og barn. Det var ganske fint vær, og Tollef stod på vannski den ene dagen. Vi gjorde også en god innsats med å kappe og stable ved til vinteren. Fint med gratis skog!

En rolig sommerhelg med vagt ustabilt vær inneholder to turer rundt Grefsenkollen med hundene, rollespill med "familiegjengen", pakking til neste tur, og middag hos lillesøster. I morgen drar jeg nok en gang til England for å besøke Denton House i Oxford, og så til ManorCon i Leicester for å treffe venner og spille brettspill. Tilfeldighetene ville ha det til at lillesøster skulle på husmorferie til London nesten samtidig, så det blir en dag i London med shopping og musical mellom Oxford og Leicester.

Nå er kofferten ferdig pakket, gps-en reinstallert, og alle billetter og bookinger skrevet ut. England, here I come!

mandag 23. mai 2011

UEWA Cruiserweight championship

Last Saturday I attended the UEWA Cruiserweight championship in Kanonhallen here in Oslo. I've been following Norwegian Wrestling for quite a few years now, watching wrestlers come and go, and become quite engaged in all of it. My interest mainly comes from knowing a handful of the wrestlers from other social settings, and I am not that interested in international wrestling. Neither have I been very interested in shows with foreign visitors before. But a European championship is quite grand, after all.

And my what a show! From the start till the very end, the show was high-flying, hard-hitting, back-breaking, and my throat was hoarse and my hands sore even the next day. Maybe the wrestlers also put in the little bit extra in the memory of Randy Savage aka Macho Man that sadly died in a car accident the previous day. A good reason to make the championship a show to remember!

I believe most of the audience didn't know the European wrestlers and what to expect from them. But for every match, a favourite was quickly chosen and cheered towards victory. They say that a picture say more than a thousand words, here's my short story of it. All photos honestly stolen from www.kampsportforalle.no that covers all the shows.

Our brave trio of judges

B-Cool from Ireland was far from cool enough to beat the audience favourite Italian Pirate Doblone. As if the performance wasn't enough to impress, Doblone got some extra attention for his nice little ass.

For some reason, the Welsh wrestler Wild Boar never got the goodwill of the audience. Irish Sean South wrestling for Spain proved himself to be one to count in for the championship. Definitely one of my favourites.

Poor German Pierre never had a chance with the audience, going versus our own Zackariel. Zack is not the most popular Norwegian wrestler, definitely not one of my favourites, but in the international tournament he had everyone behind him. I was sorry that Pierre had to be beaten by Zack, I really liked his style and attitude. Zack also impressed me, as I haven't seen much of him after his image-change, and he really got to show what lies within. Maybe due to a good opponent as well?

When Scottish Kid Fite entered the ring, I just knew he'd win that first match. It was not that his attitude charmed the audience that much, quite the opposite, but he had a mind to win. "Bad Boy" Liam Thomson is also Scottish and actually Fite's tag team partner back in the UK, although he was representing Denmark in the championship. Despite having the audience with him, his efforts didn't quite stand up to match his partner.

In the semi finals Sean South and Doblone gave us some fine entertainment and a really good fight, before Sean South made a knot of the pirate.

Zack went against Kid Fite, and might have had a chance of winning, if not Pierre had interfered. Fite lost what little he had of approval with the audience, hitting the judge (who hit him back and gave him a reprimande).

Before the championship final came the national hightlight, a 9-man Battle Royale. My sister and me are fans of Sgt. Violence and had dressed accordingly. He gave some nice maneuvres before being handled out of the ring. I was hoping Aron might do better, but he also had to give in, and left Isaksen and Slegga standing, none of which I would prefer seeing against Victor on HeteSlag on June 18th. Of those two I was pleased to see Slegga win the challenge anyway, since Victor and Isaksen have had their share of matches before. Of course, Slegga will have no chance, but I always enjoy seeing Victor in the ring.

Our fan corner.

Sarge having a hard time.

Aron going down.

I can't believe he won!

Sean South vs. Kid Fite was quite definitely South's match. There was a lot of out-of-ring action, and a decent last match. I often think last matches, even though they are often finals of some kind, a bit anticlimax. Everyone knows that as soon the battle is over we'll go out in the real world and back home. This final kept the audience going at least, although it was no surprise in South winning.

He also took his time with the audience after the final, which was appreciated.

I really loved the show, and got my eyes on a couple of European wrestlers that I will follow from now on. The show was one of the best I've been to, the best in a good while, and I hope the European wrestlers also got what they came for (well, except frmo the title, of course).

Less than a month to the next show, and I really look forward to it.

tirsdag 10. mai 2011

Fremgang på alle fronter - nesten ihvertfall

Tross manglende suksess på "sosiale nettverk"-fronten har jeg til slutt fått meg en jobb. Det er en 40% kontorstilling hos Informed Sources AS, og jeg er spesielt fornøyd med å ha havnet i et internasjonalt firma. Jobben er utfordrende og interessant, og jeg er spent på hvor lang tid jeg bruker på å sette meg inn i alt. En til er nyansatt, og det blir hyggelig å ha noen å dele arbeidsdagen med på et lite kontor. Kontorene ligger mellom Solli plass og Aker Brygge, så 31-bussen er veldig praktisk. Første utfordring er å lære å komme seg opp om morgenen. Jeg har vært ganske lat i det siste, så selv om jeg har våknet før 10 har jeg ofte ligget og lest en god stund før jeg har stått opp. Nå må jeg heller legge meg tidligere og lese litt før jeg sovner.

I dag har jeg sendt avgårde klage til NAV (se forrige post) og fått bekreftet den mottatt og videreformidlet (pr. epost). Saksbehandleren min ringte forrige tirsdag, knappe fem arbeidsdager etter min første henvendelse dit. Hun mente at jeg ikke kunne fortsette å gå for 40% arbeid etter så lang tid, og at jeg snart måtte søke uføretrygd, noe hun mente jeg ville ha problemer med å få innvilget. Nå ble vi enige om å avvente jobben (som jeg da ventet på svar fra) og legeerklæring, så får vi se. Onsdag var jeg hos legen og fikk legeerklæring, og forhåpentligvis får jeg en ny periode med AAP, arbeidsavklaringspenger som det heter for tiden.

Siden nyttår har jeg brukt tiden som arbeidsledig til å sette mer fokus på trening og kosthold. Jeg har et mål om å gå litt ned i vekt, men hovedmålet er rett og slett å bli i bedre form. Planen var å gå ned ca. 5 kg til påske, for å ha et mål på det. Av en eller annen grunn fungerte ikke dette som før. Jeg kuttet grundig ned på sukkerinntaket, og spiste sunt og regelmessig. Etter Egypt-turen i januar begynte jeg å gå på ski en gang i uken og danse ca. en gang i uken (med diverse avbrudd pga. sykdom, vinterferie, reise mm...). I mars var jeg oppe i to faste treningsdager i uken, og tre i april.

I begynnelsen av april kom våren og gjorde en brutal slutt på skisesongen. Jeg tittet litt på alternative treningsmuligheter, og plukket opp igjen tråden på vanngymnastikk som jeg har sett litt på før. Gjennom diverse linker oppdaget jeg Aktiv på dagtid, som er et tilbud jeg helt har glemt. For 300 kr i året (!) har NAV-klienter tilgang på helsestudio/treningssenter, saltrening, svømming og vanngymnastikk, klatring og ballspill på dagtid på ukedager. Jeg har prøvd meg på noen saltimer og litt vanngymnastikk, og kommer til å fortsette med det på dager når været ikke oppfordrer til utendørs trening. I tillegg har jeg minst en dag i uken hvor jeg går med en av hundene i Oslomarka, rask gange og (foreløpig bittelitt og gradvis mer) jogging. Jeg har lånt Tollefs pulsklokke noen ganger når, og ser at jeg stort sett ligger på 5-7 km.

Den store vektnedgangen har uteblitt, men jeg merker at jeg er i langt bedre form nå. Jeg kan fint gå en god tur på 5-6 km rundt Grefsenkollen, og fortsatt ha overskudd til å få gjort mer i løpet av resten av dagen. For bare et halvår siden ville jeg ikke orket å gjøre noe mer den dagen. Det er såklart motiverende å se så stor forskjell også, og neste mål er å sykle til og fra jobb. Til jobb er det jo bare nedoverbakke, men hjem igjen er det 7 km med oppover... Innen sykkelsesongen er over, kanskje?

fredag 29. april 2011

NAV slår til igjen

Alle har jo hørt om NAV, og deres til tider manglende evne til å utføre jobben sin. Jeg har hatt noen runder med dem. Først for å få attføring, deretter for å kunne motta uførestønaden jeg hadde rett på mens jeg var i utlandet. Og i dag var det på igjen. Siden nyttår har jeg søkt på alle jobber som er i en viss grad relevant for arkivutdanningen jeg gjennomførte på attføring. Det inkluderer en god del jobber innen kontor/administrasjon og sekretærjobber. Det er ikke flust av dem, men noen titalls søknader har det blitt. Jeg har også sjekket muligheten for arbeidspraksis i samarbeid med NAV, hos noen større arkivinstanser.

Men så var det jobb da. Hvis jeg er heldig venter et jobbtilbud eller to i nærmere fremtid. Det ene tilbudet er ikke stillingen jeg søkte på, men en som er noe mindre fagrelevant enn jeg antok, og ikke veldig godt betalt. Men det er en jobb, på et sted jeg tror det kan være bra å jobbe. Er det bedre med et jobbtilbud i handa enn ti annonser på finn? Umiddelbart, ja. På sikt, er jeg usikker. Bør jeg heller satse på praksis et sted som kan gi meg opplæring og god erfaring i det som er faget mitt?

Jeg ringte til NAV for å få litt innspill fra saksbehandleren min på dette. Så langt kom jeg aldri. På sentralbordet satt en mann jeg aldri har snakket med der før. Han nektet å sette meg over til saksbehandler, uten å gi noen grunn til det. Det kan godt være at hun var opptatt i møte, syk, eller avspaserte, men måten han uttrykte seg på fikk meg til å lure på om han bare ville være vanskelig (jeg tror ikke egentlig det, jeg tror han bare var i dårlig humør og/eller uhøflig). Så skulle han gi en beskjed om at hun skulle ringe meg. Beskjeden jeg la igjen for to dager siden var visstnok ikke registrert. Og for å legge igjen beskjed ville han ha meg til å forklare hele problemstillingen. Da jeg gjorde det, sa han at jeg var pliktig å ta en hvilken som helst jobb jeg kunne få. Javel? Så etter at NAV har hjulpet meg med videreutdanning innen arkiv, og jeg har en bachelorgrad i informatikk, så er jeg pliktig til å ta en kassajobb på Rimi? For det er det nemlig ikke noe problem å få, for en norsk 30-åring med god utdannelse. Jo, det var jeg pliktig til. Så lenge jobben ikke går ut over de helsemessige begrenseningene mine, så var jeg pliktig til å ta vaskejobb, jobb som burgersjauer på McDonalds, eller kassajobb på Rimi, dersom jeg kunne få det.

Ifølge alt jeg kan finne av informasjon og lovverk rundt AAP er det ingenting som tilsier at jeg plikter å ta en hvilken som helst jobb jeg får penger for å utføre. NAV har i tillegg en del retningslinjer som sier en masse om hensiktsmessig arbeid i forhold til kompetanse og så videre. Og jeg tror ikke håpet mitt er helt ute for å finne en litt mer spennende jobb en kassa på Rimi. Ikke for å henge ut noen, jeg har jobbet i Rimi i mange år og trivdes godt med det, men nå har jeg en helt annen utdannelse, og det er ikke noe jeg tror jeg ville trives med i lengden. I tillegg er det såklart hele regla med å møte brukere/klienter med respekt, noe jeg tror er et fremmedord for vedkommede jeg traff på sentralbordet til NAV Nordre Aker.

Regner uansett ikke med å høre fra saksbehandleren min i dag. Det hører med til historien at jeg ga opp å snakke fornuft med denne uhøflige fyren og la på. Men NAV skal få høre fra meg.

onsdag 30. mars 2011

Arkivar søker jobb

Nyutdannet arkivar med god it-kompetanse søker jobb. Av helsemessige årsaker kan jeg ikke jobbe mer enn 50%, men er fleksibel på arbeidstid.

Nå har jeg vært arbeidsledig siden nyttår, og det begynner å tære på humøret og motivasjonen. Jeg har trofast fulgt opp vikarbyråer og jobbnettsider, og sendt min andel jobbsøknader. To intervjuer har det blitt men ikke noe mer ut av det.

I dag har jeg vært på foredrag om karrierebygging på sosiale medier med Johannes Fjose Berg i NITO. Det var både underholdende, lærerikt og inspirerende. Oppfordringen var å "hoppe på toget" og bruke sosiale medier for det der er verdt i jobbsøkingen. Fra før er jeg da registrert på LinkedIn (dog med et begrenset kontaktnett foreløpig), og følger med på diverse kurs og aktiviteter som det jeg var med på i ettermiddag, men jeg ser nå at jeg kan gjøre en del mer.

Selv etter at jeg fullførte arkivutdanningen ved HiO har jeg følt meg mer som en IT-person enn en arkivar. Det kan nok ha noe med manglende praksis å gjøre, som begrenser seg til et prosjekt ved Kulturhistorisk museum i Oslo, noen måneder med arkivarbeid på Stortinget, og et kort oppdrag ved en videregående skole. Innen IT har jeg langt mer erfaring både innen drift, programmering og support, selv om det begynner å bli vagt utdatert.

Men altså, arkivjobbsøking. Nå vokser ikke tradisjonelle arkivjobber på trær. Ikke vet jeg om det er det jeg vil jobbe med heller. Jeg tror jeg kunne tenke meg å jobbe innen offentlig forvaltning først og fremst, men også gjerne innen kontor og administrasjon i det private. Det er heller ikke umulig å finne større og mindre private firmaer som søker kontor/sekretærhjelp, noe jeg synes kunne være et bra sted å starte.

Inspirert av dagens foredrag har jeg allerede begynt å utvide min horisont på LinkedIn, samt begynt å grave litt mer etter arkivblogger og fagsider å følge. Det skader jo heller ikke å holde seg oppdatert på arkivfronten mens man søker jobb! Gudmund Valderhaug var en av foreleserene på arkivfag da jeg gikk på høgskolen, og er verdt å lese om arkiv. Han er opptatt av og flink med det han gjør, og tar opp mange viktige og interessante emner innen arkivfag, etikk og praksis.

Neste uke er det nok et foredrag, og så får vi se om jeg kan finne enda flere gode måter å søke jobb på!

søndag 13. mars 2011

Litt laiv ihvertfall

Det er langt mellom laiver som fanger min interesse for tiden. Jeg vet ikke om jeg har blitt gammel og kresen, eller om alt faktisk var bedre før, også mengden laiver og gode arrangører. Noe er det ihvertfall, og det er to år siden sist jeg var på laiv og enda to år siden siste laiv før det igjen. Men ihvertfall skulle denne laiven vise seg å bli "første gang" for flere ting for min del, på godt og vondt.

"Broderskapet" skulle være en ganske spillerstyrt laiv, der spillerene selv utarbeidet roller og gruppekonsept etter å ha blitt tildelt gruppe. Det er en ganske uvant metode for meg, spesielt å så til grader bli overlatt ansvaret for egen rolle og gruppering. Spesielt det med relasjoner som de fleste er vant med å få tildelt av arrangørene, var vanskelig å få riktig og balansert. Og når 70 spillere skal prøve å komme opp med sine egne, stereotype men interessante roller, så sier det seg selv at det må bli en del "duplikater" og ulike oppfatninger av ting. En av mine små "issues", som riktignok ikke medførte noe problem rent spillteknisk, var at store deler av "eliten" innen røvere i hele verden var godt under 30...

Jeg fikk oppfylt førstevalget mitt som sosietetstyv, og kom i gruppering med en gjeng jenter jeg stort sett kjenner fra før som også er pålitelige spillere. Lite trodde jeg at jeg skulle være den som falt fra, for første gang i min laivkarriere. Vi hadde gruppemøte og utarbeidet et bra konsept som vi alle var fornøyde med. Rollen min hentet jeg fra forrige laiv jeg var på, en ung enkegrevinne med sjarm og litt ekstraordinære metoder for å holde formuen ved like. Det vil si, navnet og de lovløse tendensene var nytt for anledningen, i likhet med kostymet som jeg må si meg svært fornøyd med. For en gangs skyld var hoveddelen av kostymet mitt ikke selvsydd, siden jeg har hatt mye annet å gjøre, og Vero skyldte meg en tjeneste eller tre. Bare litt fiksing av pynt og alle lagene under var egenproduksjon.

Helgen før laiven ble den store sy-helgen, og allerede da kjente jeg kløe i halsen. Fra da lå jeg stort sett på sofaen i 4 dager, og orket knapt å løfte en synål, før jeg dagen før laivstart samlet kreftene og fikk sydd på de siste pynterosene, og dratt på butikken og handlet felles mat. Siden jeg hadde bilen som skulle frakte grupperingen til laivstedet, så bestemte jeg meg uansett for å dra oppover, og se an formen.

Etter en time lengre kjøretid enn beregnet pga. fredagstrafikken og en aldri så liten feilkjøring, kom jeg for første gang for sent til seneste oppmøtetid. På den positive siden var det flere som hadde stått i den samme bilkøen og brukt de samme gps-koordinatene, så møtetid og laivstart var utsatt tilsvarende. Å komme inn i forsamlingssalen og se 60-70 røvere av svært variabel kaliber var et syn jeg ikke har sett i min tid som laiver, og neppe kommer til å se igjen. Pirater, skogsrøvere, landeveisrøvere, sigøynere og adel/sosietetsrøvere i en salig blanding, og masse gode effekter og kostymer.

Laivstart ble en glidende overgang fra startmøte til matlaging, men det ble raskt underholdende og interessant å være i felleshallen utover kvelden. Jeg fikk konversert med mer og mindre siviliserte røvere, og noen få viste seg i all sin usiviliserthet å være ganske hyggelige. Det var syner og gale anfall og spådommer, noen slosskamper og mye (spill-)fyll. Jeg føler at jeg fikk spilt rollen min, og vist fram både en "sart og prippen" side i tillegg til en overlegen og selvsikker side. For rollen var det jo en til dels forventet men likevel totalt ukjent situasjon, og det var en morsom utfordring å få til å spille på det uten å bli en feig, pysete adelsdame (noe jeg håper jeg gjorde, til tross for at mange roller ikke hadde særlig mye respekt for oss fintfolk).

Formen var ikke spesielt bra, så etter avtale med arrangører og grupper forsvant jeg på mystisk vis, en stykke utpå kvelden. For første gang i min 13 år lange laivkarriere har jeg ikke spilt en laiv jeg har betalt for og forberedt meg til. Men jeg har i etterkant fått vite at forsvinningen skapte en del spill for flere. Det at en faktisk spiller forsvinner blir så mye mer realistisk enn den forhåndsbestemte historien om den ikke-eksisterende rollen som forsvant på veien. Det, sammen med mange gode spillopplevelser bare på fredagskvelden, har gjort at jeg føler jeg har fått mye ut av en laiv som for min del varte i knappe fire timer. I tillegg har jeg blitt kjent med et par nye og veldig hyggelige mennesker, og hilst på gamle kjente jeg ikke har sett på årevis. Jeg håper det ikke blir to år til neste gang jeg treffer noen av disse på laiv!

tirsdag 1. mars 2011

Return to England

Just after our return from Egypt, my friend Anne Jorun told me that our Isrealian townie on Brettspielwelt, Shoshie, was coming to Brighton for the half term week. I've been planning to do a trip to England to visit people for some time, and this was just the occation I needed to get the dates set. A couple of other townies had rented an appartement in Brighton for the week, and several others were coming to see Shoshie and, of course, play games.

I wanted to visit some other places as well, so I planned to go a couple of days early. BA gave me a good offer on a rental car with the plane ticket, so I was quite happy with that as well, giving me the opportunity to go around at my own convenience. Saturday night I landet at Heathrow with my large, empty suitcase, and headed for Swindon. There I spent the night at my cousins place, with pizza and chatting until too late in the evening. I stayed the night over, and headed for Oxford and Denton house after breakfast on Sunday.

The weather was rather sad, with showers, but I didn't mind. Compared to Norwegian weather, it was just like a slightly chilly summer. I spent the day on Denton walking the dog, helping out with the horses, and everything felt like I had never been in Norway these last months since August. After supper I was so tired from all the fresh air and the late night before, that I went to bed and slept almost at once. The morning after I got up at seven, and started the day with feeding the horses and putting them out in the field before cleaning out the stables, just like any other normal workday when I used to live there. It was very nice to be back again!

On Monday it was time to do some shopping, as I had planned to bring a lot of dog treats and chews back, since they are really expensive in Norway. I decided to drop by a shopping centre I remembered, and in two of the cheap stores there I found a lot of the things I wanted, even cheaper than in the pet stores. Afterwards I went to the large pet store and got the rest, and some toys and blankets. After shopping I was really tired, so I decided to head for Brighton instead of my planned trip to the city centre. I had a quick sandwich on the first motorway service, and drove straight down to the Brighton Marina.

I dropped off my things in the appartement, said hi to the people there, and ran off to park the car and get some food, as I was really hungry. After ordering food, I realised I didn't have my wallet with me. I ran back to the apartement some hundred metres down the road, but it wasn't there, and then to the carpark a hundred metres the other way from the pub, and finally found my wallet in my bag there... Exhausted, annoyed and hungry, I finally got to enjoy an English pub meal for the first time in months.

Back in the appartement, I started what was two days of gaming and fun with friends, it was so nice to see everyone. On Tuesday I went to pick up AJ and we did some clothes- and lego shopping before meeting the others for lunch. We both brought Norwegian food, that we served during the evening. It was salty liquorice (not very popular...), reindeer meat (very popular), brown cheese and cloudberry cream (quite popular) and different Norwegian sweets (Smash!, Sure skrikerunger, Fruktige seigdamer, Knott mm.). And the Norwegian spirit of Løitens Aquavite. It was really fun to see the foreigners try the different food, and we got to try some Israelian food ourselves.

After more time trying new and old games, I had to leave for Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon, quite unwilling. Due to fog there was some delay in traffic, so I left an hour earlier than planned to be sure I'd make my flight. It wasn't a big problem, so I had good time on Heathrow to have dinner and get my father a good whisky. I would have liked to stay longer, some days, weeks or months. It won't be long until next time I go back!

fredag 21. januar 2011

An exciting day, in the worse meaning of exciting

Today was one of those days that deserve the occasional blog spot. One of those days when everything has gone so incredible ridiculously wrong that it would be selfish to keep it to myself.
Tollef was going on a bachelor-party-trip for the weekend, and I was planning to give the dog a long walk, before going to a boardgame night with some friends. The next two days I am going to a course on mental health for dogs, and really looking forward to that.

In the morning, I had breakfast with our houseguest, one of the bachelor's friends coming from Denmark to join the party/trip. He needed some things from the shopping centre, so I decided to take the car and buy the food I needed for the weekend at the same time. A week ago I ordered some dog equipment that I would like to have for our long walk today. I didn't get any tracking number, so I called the customer services to ask if they could get it for me, so I could pick the parcel up at the post office on our way. The woman was not used to being on support line, and couldn't get the number, but she could tell me that my parcel was sent three days ago, and was not likely to get here before the weekend. We went shopping, the boys left for their trip, and I went on a nice, long walk with Kovu (the only dog for the time being, Odin is at my parents on "vacation" for another two weeks). I came home and checked the mailbox, which kept just a single note - the delivery note for my parcel. No big deal really, but particularly annoying since I actually checked up on it!

After a good lunch, a shower and some rest, I was ready to leave for the boardgame night. On my way out, I couldn't find my wallet. I had to buy some snack to bring, besides my travelcard for getting there and back, and not the least for getting to and from the course during the weekend. The last time I knew I had it was in the car after shopping, and the car was three hours drive away! Tollef didn't answer the phone, and I hoped he was not without signal for the whole trip. I searched the house for cash, and found enough to at least get me through the first day, hoping some of my friends could loan me some cash when I got there.

I also had forgotten the address of my friends place. I asked on IRC, but didn't get any answer before I had to leave to get there in time. I knew the street, and had the phone number (not registered with any address on online services of course). On my way down, I called, but didn't get any answer. After getting another two numbers for people who would be there from common aquaintances, and calling again with no answers, I checked a house number that lurked in the back of my mind, and came right.

I'd just gotten to my friends place when Tollef called me from a strange number. He hadn't gotten my sms, but called to tell me that the car had broken down, about 10 km from their destination, and his cell was out of battery. He'd called NAF (Norwegian Automobile Association) for help, but needed the membership card, which, I told him, was in the car. He also had forgotten the pin-code for his cell, so I had to help him getting it when I got home. The wallet was apparently not in the car. I left my friends after a short time, going home to look for my wallet once again, and check up some other things for Tollef. The next time he called, he'd found my wallet, and was waiting to be picked up by his friends. Luckily they had enough cars to get around for the weekend. Tomorrow, He'll call our car salesman, as the used car sales guarantee is still valid, and ask for advice on what to do. Whether to get the car fixed up there, 3 hours drive from home, or get it transported here some way and have the sales people fix the problems.

A slightly too exciting start of the weekend, I'll be happy enough with the course being a bit boring and nothing much else happening for the next couple of days.

fredag 14. januar 2011

Simira's Guide to Egypt

Going to Egypt
Every winter we usually go away to some warmer and sunnier place than Norway. The last week were spent in Hurghada in Egypt, on the Red Sea coast. We went to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt two years ago, and I loved it. Warm weather, clear water, unfamiliar and exciting culture. This year, I was excited but a bit unsure of what to expect, as January is the worst month weather-wise, to go to Egypt. The temperatures are about 20-22 degrees Celsius during daytime. That wouldn't have been so bad, if it hadn't been for the somewhat chilly wind that blows constantly. As we have been to Egypt before I had an idea of what to expect. But during our week there were quite a few things I wish I had remembered or known beforehand, so I decided to make this mainly a guide for myself and others going to Egypt.

The place
Hurghada consists of mainly three parts. El Dahar is the old city centre where mostly locals live. Sekkala is considered "downtown", with some hotels, a lovely new marina with good restaurants, and Sheraton road for shopping. There are a number of "normal, everyday" stores that even the locals use, for electrics, home ware etc., and an enormous number of shops offering the general tourist goods selection. The choice of restaurants and clubs is quite good.

"New Hurghada”, which we stayed in, is solely built because of the tourists, and consists mostly of all-inclusive hotel-resorts. There are a few restaurants aside from the hotel ones, which I recommend to try out. The food is cheaper, and in our case, a lot better, than in the hotels. There's also a small shopping street, with enough tourist stores and supermarkets to cover everything you actually would want to buy from touristy stuff. It's all the same fake products everywhere anyway.

Hurghada is supposed to be a diver's paradise, and a lot of people come here for diving and snorkelling. Contrary to Sharm el Sheikh, there was little coral reef and fish right out from the beach, so I didn't do any snorkelling this time. There are plenty of operators offering snorkelling trips out on the sea though, which can be quite good. If you're lucky, you may even see dolphins.

Based on Tripadvisor reviews, we stayed at Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Hotel. It is a rather new and large resort, with very nice grounds. They have a large pool, with a lazy river, a smaller saltwater pool that is heated in wintertime, a jacuzzi island with three jacuzzis, and a kid's club with a children's pool and playground. On the organized schedule there's water gym, beach volley, bocchia, Arabic courses, belly dance courses, and more. I have written a review that can be read on the Tripadvisor site.

Economy in Egypt is very different from Western economy. The differences between rich and poor is great, and there are huge differences in life styles. Tourism is the third largest "industry" (The Suez channel and oil being the two more important). They have Egyptian Pounds, worth about 8 for one Euro or 5.5 for a dollar. Coins are rare, and restaurants will even cut a couple of pounds of your bill rather than give you smaller change back. The most common is notes of 100, 50, 20 and 10 pounds, 5 pound notes also goes around. One pound coins (which would be nice for tipping) are rare. Advise: Split notes whenever you have the chance. Euros and dollars are also accepted by most tourist-related places, so you might want to bring euro/cents and dollars/cents for tipping.

A lot of Egyptians depend their income on "baksheesh", that is a kind of tipping or economical contribution. They expect tipping for showing you anything, letting you through to a toilet, opening doors, handling luggage, helping with your sun bed on the beach, or anything you can think of. A couple of pounds are normally accepted, if you happen to have the coins...

WARNING: There's also a 50 Piaster note, which is half a pound. Do not get them confused with 50 pound notes, and do check your change when you get a note with a 50 on it!!! (yes, I speak from experience). Also, avoid people that ask you how much their Euros are worth and asks you to do a (apparently lucrative) change for Egyptian Money. They will try to confuse you to end up with giving them too much money in some way.

All places that have tourists have tourist shops and salesmen. In Egypt, they are quite aggressive, and will approach you whenever you pass within a certain distance from their shop. They often ask where you are from, and present some lines in your language. Then they will show you something, or just try this shawl on you, and no matter how many times they say "no pressure", "no buy", they do want to sell you something.
The best tactic is to ignore them. "La shukran" (Lah shockran) means "no thank you", and works sometimes. It feels incredible impolite to just pass through despite "where are you from", "please, just be nice", "give a smile", but it's the only way.

If you do want to buy anything, know this: 95% of everything you get in shops around tourist areas is fake (or just bad quality), and 95% is over-priced. Learn to know real papyrus from banana papyrus copies, real leather from fake, and see different qualities of fabrics. If you ask about the price of anything, the seller will give up an unreasonable high price. The meaning is for you to protest and give an unreasonable low price, and start haggling. "Too expensive" is a very effective line, along with "it's cheaper in the other store", "you are very nice, but...". Pretending to walk away often has a good effect on the price, if you just turn back in time. If you are getting close to accepting, they will also try to offer you something else, or two of whatever. Don't feel bad about arguing and even lying. They will never sell anything below cost, no matter what they say, and they mostly earn very good on tourists. Some shopkeepers will also serve you tea, even before trying to sell you anything. It does not oblige you to buy anything.

Despite big plans on my part, we ended up doing just one excursion this time, to Luxor and Valley of the Kings. Most of these tourist places offer trips to Cairo (about 500km each way from Sharm or Hurghada), quad driving in the desert, beguine visits, and of course snorkelling and diving excursions. The quad driving, snorkelling and diving depends a bit on your interest in it. The bedouin visits can be good, but are often typical tourist traps with lot of sad-looking poor children that wants you to give them your nice pen, money, or anything else you have that they think looks nice. And how could you not give it to them, poor children (of course they know this)!?

The trips to the famous pyramids in Giza (on the Cairo trip) and Valley of the Kings (on the Luxor trip) are probably among the most popular. We left early in the morning (about 4-5) by bus, with one stop for breakfast about half way. From the bus we could see settlements of farmers along the Nile on the last part of the way, and fields with what, sugar cane and other crops. The Valley of the Kings is of course famous for the pharaoh tombs. Unfortunately cameras are forbidden to take through the security, but understandable enough. You get to buy postcards or guidebooks anywhere along the way there, so the memories are saved. The tombs are fascinatingly decorated and well kept. They are closed every 2-3 years to preserve them.

We had several other stops on our trip. The Karnack temple was maybe the world's largest temple complex, and there's much of it left even today. In evenings they have light shows, although I did prefer being able to look around in the ancient structures during daylight. We also visited papyrus and alabaster factories, and was shown the progress of making products from them, and how to separate fake or machine work from real/hand work.

There are taxies everywhere in the tourist areas. They drive slowly along the streets, honking whenever passing someone on foot. They are cheap, and we paid about 20 pounds for a 7 km trip (although that was expensive, according to our guide later on). Make sure to agree on a price before getting into a taxi. There are also minibuses that the local use, that costs about 1-2 pounds per person. A recommendable experience if you have a man to travel with, not something to do for lone woman. Else, you'd better check what shuttle services your hotel offers.

To get in to Egypt, you need a visa. When going by charter, you normally get a form on the plane, to fill out and deliver together with your passport in the visa control, after the passport control on the airport. Getting out of Egypt is a slightly different matter. The airports are busy, and charter trips tend to start and end on the same day. First, everyone has to go through a general security control, to make sure weapons don't come through. Then there is the worst part, the check-in. The counters and queues are rather chaotic, and on our trip they changed counters several times during our 1-hour queue stay for check-in. The whole airport was rather busy and chaotic, and even though we had enough time, the flight was delayed with an hour, which appears to be quite normal.

Our trip
I really enjoyed this trip. Despite the chilly wind I sunbathed and swam in the pool every day. I also got started with some exercise that I hope to keep up back home. I ended up not going on any excursions except to Luxor. The first day, we joined a half day local sightseeing with the charter company, which was very nice. The other days I spent by the pool, while Tollef went on diving excursions. Every night we went out for dinner and tried different local restaurants. I missed snorkelling by coral reefs on the beach like I did in Sharm two years ago. For some reason I also found Sharm more relaxed, but I can't tell just why. The trip to Luxor was even more exciting than expected, and was really my highlight of the trip. The airport experience one the last day was really a downfall again, but by then the vacation was really over anyway.