Archive for ‘ December, 2008 ’

I need help

It was starting to feel this way around here yesterday.

I’d finally had it with my AppleTV STILL trying to finish syncing less than 20gb from the night several months ago that my friend Noel helped me mess with channels, realized that 2 of my 3 Expresses were not 802.11n (or whatever that number is) capable, and reconfigured it as a WDS with two remotes and told me to put my oldest Express in my briefcase to use in hotels. It was better but obviously my AppleTV’s inability to sync a lousy two seasons of “Mad Men” in two months demonstrated that it still had serious problems.

So finally I did two days of seriously geeking out on wifi networking, even downgrading two base stations’ firmware to 7.3.1 and playing with KisMac for several hours to determine exactly what all my neighbors have going on with their wifi networks. (Most are running Cisco routers on the default channel 6 with WPA encryption, and only half have bothered to hide their easily-guessed ssid names. One has something like a dozen devices attached to his network, so despite inferences clearly available from this email, I am not the neighborhood’s worst geek. And FWIW, KisMac is one scary-ass powerful piece of open source software. With a few more days of KisMac monitoring I could be the evil neighbor who announces “all your base stations are belong to us” and then reconfigures everybody’s networks to be more secure and to use different channels for less interference with each other. Really, it would be a public service! And it would be more convenient for me when I need to Google something from my iPhone while walking the dog! Please explain these things to the public defender assigned to my case.)

When none of this improves anything, I finally break down and RTFM.

Apple’s “Designing AirPort networks” reveals that WDS was a bad idea, because it pretty much forces everything to use the slow 802.11b/g protocol. For 802.11n you’re supposed to use Airport Utility’s much-simpler checkboxes to configure your boxes to extend and join networks.

The doc explains dual radio mode on p48, which was 47 pages further into the details of how wifi works than I’ve ever wanted to get before, and that idea was the ticket. So the new plan is this: run my main base station (the Time Capsule in my office), the music room’s Airport Express station, our laptops, and the AppleTV on a primary network that is 5Ghz only. Run Ethernet from the Time Capsule to another Airport Express in the office, and use that as a bridge to broadcast a second, differently-named 2.4Ghz network with another Airport Express remote upstairs on the channel KisMac revealed to be least busy for benefit of my iPhone and guests with older laptops! Ten minutes and very few mistakes later, I’m done. Problems solved! AppleTV finished syncing!

Only took me two and a half months! Let’s hear it for RTFM being within the first ten things you try to troubleshoot computer problems instead of being what you do when ten weeks of Googling and futzing doesn’t produce results!

So I see this comic this morning while lying in bed and playing with my iPhone, because several friends have posted this web comic’s link to FaceBook. That’s when I realize that if I explain all these things to my friends, they will help me get help. They will know that it’s time to send me away for a while…

But make sure I figure out why Victoria’s laptop isn’t joining the new network before you do… I probably need to delete her Airport preferences, then repair permissions, restart, empty caches, zap her PRAM, upgrade to Leopard, and upgrade my base stations back to 7.3.2…

Hmmm, time to wrap this up–I have to get out of bed and get to work now…

Leadpipes and statues and boats, oh my!

Dag to i Oslo began with the promised better strategy at breakfast. I started on the hot side but unfortunately found that the pølser weren’t as good as the day before and the weird thick pancake things were definitely some kind of fiskekake–not bad, though. The potatoes were hot and yummy, but the egg-sausage scramble was awful. Mom came up with smørbrod combo she likes quite well, putting both Jarlsberg and gjetost together on a sandwich with a slice of ham or whatever. Seems weird to me, since Jarlsberg is tangy and savory and gjetost is sweet and gooey, but it works for her. (Today she finally tried a piece of bread with gjetost on one half and just butter on the other, with two kinds of jam going in halves the other direction, for a cunning sampler mosaic. She says the orange marmalade on gjetost quarter was best.) Once again we each assembled an extra smørbrod to smuggle out in Mom’s spare ziploc bag for a free lunch on the go. (Today we spotted a sign in the breakfast buffet saying we’d be welcome to make a lunch packet for 85kr/person, about $12. We smuggled once more instead. We have a perfect record going, after all!)

After breakfast, I called Dan the horn maker and made an appointment to go out to his shop in Stabekk. I was on a mission to pick up a new leadpipe for my friend Alicia. He kindly met us at the train stop and walked us to the shop on a tricky walking path through the houses, which saved us a ton of time. I tried both leadpipe options and quickly decided with Mom’s agreement that the one Alicia was leaning toward was indeed the better choice. Dan advised us on how to get to our next destination, walked us to the bus top, and promised to meet us at our last destination for the day with a finished leadpipe. (Leadpipes start life as straight chunks of tapered brass tubing, and after you choose one, it has to be filled with pitch, bent into shape, cut to the right final length for your horn, and have a ferrule added to reinforce the first six inches or so against bending, banging, and other calamities. It’s an hour or two of work, and we didn’t feel like sitting around wasting our limited Oslo time any more than he probably felt like having a bunch of old women watching over his shoulders. Plus I’ve been there and done that–I spent a whole weekend at Kendall Bett’s Lawson Horns shop last winter, and although it was fascinating, I didn’t think the rerun would be.)

We took the #38 bus to Olav Kyrres plasse, changed to the #20 bus (or maybe those numbers are the other way around), and accidentally rode it past our intended Vigelandparken stop to Frognerstadium or something like that one stop further. Fortunately the stops aren’t that far apart so it wasn’t any big deal to walk back to where we meant to get off. We arrived at the park gate a few minutes later needing a restroom stop but were confounded by a 5kr coinbox to get in (about 75 cents). Fortunately there was a cafe next door where we could get change. I feel rude going into businesses just to ask for change, so I decided to buy a something for 15kr with my 20kr coin so I’d get 5kr change instead. Unfortunately, either the price was marked wrong or the clerk made a mistake, because he charged me 20kr for the ice cream bar I’d chosen, so then I had to ask him to give me two coins for my 10kr coin. He gave me a knowing grin along with the coins. Oh, well–I tried.

Here’s a weird tangent: I couldn’t think of the name “ice cream bar” so I asked Mom, who said when she first got to college in Minnesota she was confused by her classmates’ excitement about having Cheerios at a welcome picnic. She coudln’t figure out why the oaty breakfast cereal would be such a big deal at a picnic for college students, but when she got there she found a pile of ice cream bars branded “Cheerios.” Seems like a trademark-protection problem to me!

Our business done, we strolled into the park. It was quite cold out, so we were wearing out ski caps and gloves and still shivering a bit, and we were eating an ice cream bar. Are we snow-belt natives or what? I was a tiny bit proud of us for that.

Vigelandparken is an incredible and overwhelming thing. It’s a huge park with sidewalks spoking out from a central “monolith” sculpture zone and a whole mess more sculpture along the main axis from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock, and another piece out at 3 o’clock. In the outer zone it’s mostly bronze figures, and the inner zone is all granite figures. Wrought iron gates along the way also feature silhouettes of figures. All the figures are nude, male and female, every age from infant to geezer, always touching each other or interacting with each other somehow, many tangled together as if in ballet poses or love making or cuddling or comforting, occasionally in an unrealistic way, like the man with babies all around him, in his arms, flying out from him at various directions, one hovering in air above a foot that appears to be lifting it up from the ground the way a talented hackysack player might lift a grounded sack with his foot. There are some animals–dogs, wolves, bears I remember–and a few puzzlng ones with skeletons. The central “monolith” features a huge granite obelisk carved with a ginormous stack of entangled nude people. What these sculptures all have in common is that the figures are real-people looking, usually both muscular and hefty (no scrawny ones or fashion model or body builder magazine lean ones, even though most are clearly muscular and strong), and they’re all nude. No matter what combination of ages and genders appear together and in what apparent situation or relationship, there is a joyful, connected, sexual energy in their interactions. It’s not smutty or perverse, though–it’s human and joyful and real. There are penises and breasts all over the place, and there is no way these would appear in a public park in the US, but it all comes across somehow as very wholesome and affirming. Somehow in making every set of figures overtly sexual he has deemphasized sexuality from the charged, controversial thing that it is (at least in contemporary American society) back to the natural, everyday, lifelong thing that we know it really is. It’s fascinating, liberating, and comforting all at once.

I promise to add some photos to illustrate these points when we get back home and I have a little more time.

We then walked over to the Vigelandmuseum, which is a massive building the city of Oslo gave him to live and work in for the rest of his career, in exchange for his current and all future work belonging to the city, most in the massive sculpture park. Stroke of civic genius! The building is now a museum displaying more sculpture, clay models, sketches, tools, displays explaining how he worked and how models were converted to granite sculptures by teams of stone carvers, and so on. Even the smaller-scale models are mammoth and imposing. Even knowing he had an at times huge crew, it boggles the mind to imagine how one man created so much, let alone such creative, beautiful, thought-provoking, and technically impressive stuff.

From there we caught the #30 bus back down to Olav Kyrres plasse, changed to the #20, and rode down to the Norge folkmuseum in Bygdøy. We arrived at 2:45 and were informed the indoor attractions all closed at 3, but we were welcome to walk around outside until 6pm. We hurried, therefore, to the main attractions–a stave kirke from the 1200s and a farm village from following centuries called Setesdahl. We arrived at the stavekirke in time to hear a lengthy description and explanation along with a group on a guided tour. Stavekirker are built on huge posts (staves) at four corners and more huge posts at corners of an exterior wall. The weight of the elaborate roof of many slopes is carried on the interior staves and also transferred diagonally down to the exterior staves much like flying buttresses, except that the exterior staves are also surrounded by walls, creating a covered pathway all around the church that is in between outside and inside. I found a book in the gift shop that had many explanations for this, including: it made a place for people to wait for services to begin, for the unbaptized to be near but not in the church, for the observant to “walk circles” around the church, which apparently was an early ages ritual to mark importance and ownership, and so on. Interestingly, many of the farm houses also had this same basic architecture (though much simpler, of course) including the exterior surrounding compartment. I’m assuming this was used for many of the same purposes and perhaps also for livestock, but I’ll need to research that.

Finally we walked a few blocks to the Vikingskipsmuseum, which houses four big Viking ships and numerous smaller boats and artifacts. They were huge. One thing that impressed both of us is how much extra effort they put into carving elaborate, beautiful decorations on their boats, their furniture, even their barns. Is this the product of a long winter? A society so prosperous that it has excess time on its hands? A slave economy? Superstitions? Praise? Probably a bunch of all of the above.

Meanwhile, we’d texted Dan to let him know we’d arrived there, and he texted back that he’d be there in half an hour. We’d arrived 15 minutes before closing, so we had close to 15 minutes standing in the parking lot freezing to death, but we were rewarded with a ride back to our hotel in a nice warm car instead of numerous changes of bus and subway. We got to experience a little slice of normal life in Oslo sitting in mild rush-hour traffic, too. It wasn’t too bad, but you could definitely see how it could get bad and be frustrating without too much more traffic.

After dropping our stuff and the new leadpipe in the hotel and having a glass (okay, plastic cup) of wine, we set off on foot for dinner. We looked for an Italian restaurant we’d found on Google maps (neither of us were in the mood for julebord menyen) but couldn’t find it. After a long circular route we ended up back at an Ethiopian place near the hotel. We had a delicious but shockingly expensive meal of kitfo lebleb and doro tibs. I also had a beer, and I think our tab was around $75. Prices like these are pretty much how it goes, though–we have yet to find a cheap meal in Norway.

Back at the hotel, we both fell asleep within half an hour. This time Mom slept soundly most of the night, but I woke up around 2 and stayed awake until about 6, then finally fell asleep in time to be groggy for breakfast. I spent most of the time tapping away at the computer, chatting about the home fires with Victoria, chatting about art criticism with Meg in Massachusetts, reading lots of newspapers, answering a bunch of email, and so on.

Our adventure continues in the next installment, which shall discuss “Norway in a Nutshell,” our scenic trip by train, train, boat, bus, and train to Bergen by way of Flåm, Gudvangen, and Voss.

Oslo and the collective unconscious

It’s Wednesday morning here.

Mom and I both slept abysmally Monday night, though Mom better than I did. I think I got maybe 5 hours total. We both gave up around 1:30am and had a wine break, and then Mom got back to sleep by 2:30ish and slept most of the rest of the night. I slept maybe an hour, then woke up again and read news on my iPhone most of the rest of the night. I finally fell back asleep around 6am and was extremely groggy when Mom got me up at 9am.

We had a pretty good breakfast in the hotel (Hotel Anker, a short walk north of Oslo Sentralstasjon on Storgata). I needed a better strategy, though. I started at one end of the buffet and took small amounts of everything that looked good, and when my plate was full, I discovered stuff that looked even better. Net result was a huge breakfast. Lousy coffee, as you might expect, but a wonderful selection of sliced meats and cheeses, whole grain breads, knikkebrøder, gjetost, syltetøy (the latter I feel obligated to eat in honor of our Siamese kitties of the same names), soft- and hard-boiled eggs, herring (nei, takk!), and so on. Mediocre machine jus (eple, lemon, orange–anyone need translation?). Lots of milk and that yogurty-liquid stuff that I haven’t yet worked up the courage to try. Decent tea bag selection.

And then I discovered the hot food! They had roasted potatoes (not hot, unfortunately), several kinds of pølse (little hot-doggy-looking sausages conveniently chopped into beanie-weanie-sized bites), and a very funky looking thing that I have yet to figure out. It looked like a small, fat pancake, but the texture was chewy and the flavor was decidedly savory. If I were in Japan, I’d have decided it was a fish cake, but it didn’t taste fishy. I wonder if it’s some kind of potato sausage? It was good, whatever it was. Today I’ll start in this part of the line.

Since I clearly had too much food, I decided to do a frugal traveler move and assemble a little smørbrod (literally means “buttered bread” but practically speaking it’s the national lunsj, an open-faced sandwich of whatever you like on buttered bread) for lunsj on the go. Mom decided that was a good idea and followed suit.

(If anyone’s curious about my horrible spelling, I’m taking up Nikki’s challenge to keep mixing up my languages and throwing in lots of Norwegian words as I go.)

We finally set off on foot for Sentralstasjon to pick up our “Norway in a Nutshell” tickets for later in the week, and then to the tourist information desk to pick up our Oslokorter (Oslo cards), which get us transportation and admission to just about everything for two days at a reasonable price. It was probably 11:30 by the time we had all that sorted, and then we continued on foot down Karl Johann’s Gate for a walking tour of the central Oslo shopping district. We passed by the cathedral dome, enshrouded in plastic (or fish skin? see below) and closed for extensive renovations, alas, but Mom spotted a fun photo op: a neon sign in the building next door reading, “Cathedral restaurant bar” and proving for any who still doubted that lutefisk Lutheranism is a much happier version of Christianity than some.

After taking a few pictures of the royal palace, we turned north and walked to the Cultural History Museum. We decided only to look at the Norway-specific exhibits, one on early to Viking times, and another on polar life. Both were fascinating. Lots of the usual archaeological treasures, of course, but with some fun discoveries. I particularly enjoyed seeing the little metal critter in the shape of a moose and pointed out to Mom, “Look, they even had a travel mus!” in reference to a quip of Jane’s years back about a tiny stuffed moose we saw in a gift shop being a convenient travel-sized moose. We had a good chuckle about that and then read the description–this was a weight! Commerce was so important to them that not only did they have all kinds of balance scales and weights and measures, they even took the time to make their weights into fun moose shapes! Gotta love those Vikings.

A little further on we saw displays of Viking-era jewelry (that would be “jewellery” på norsk), and although they were clearly early, primitive pieces (we’re talking bronze and iron ages, after all), we both thought some of the items were surprisingly attractive. Mom and I talked about how maybe Carl Jung was onto something with his idea of the collective unconscious, because we both found these works to be viscerally appealing. (We’re Norwegian-German, in case you’re confused.) You wouldn’t think much of that, necessarily, except that we’ve recently seen much fancier stuff from earlier periods in China, Korea, Japan, and Afghanistan–on Saturday we went to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco–and although lots of it was undeniably pretty and much fancier, more elaborate, and technically advanced than the Viking stuff, we both liked the Viking stuff a lot better. Go figure.

In the Arctic/Antarctic exhibition, we saw still more cool stuff including an early raincoat stitched together from a bazillion panels of what we later learned was fish skin–translucent and strangely modern-looking–and we both particularly liked the Sami clothing and preprosterously fancy hats. We wondered what purpose such elaborate hats served, and I suggested that perhaps they were inspired by their reindeer-friends’ antlers. A taxidermified reindeer in the exhibit was indeed quite cute, and shorter than we expected–kind of large dog-sized–but pictures showed larger ones, too.

I admired the early kayaks, very little changed from the one I use today except for the materials and colors.

We then walked around the block to the Nasjionalgalleriet (sp?), another free museum with some really nice paintings. Gee, there’s an impressive bit of art criticism for you! Once again I pondered my “collective unconscious” notion, because numerous painters of similar era and technique to more famous ones captured my fancy more–e.g. the JMWHMSPinafore Turner guy whose gloomy landscapes fill the Tate Britain in London leave me completely cold, but a Norwegian dude who was clearly his contemporary did technically similar paintings that I just liked a whole lot more. Mom agrees.

Of course, Munch’s paintings are the main reason to visit the Nasjionalgalleriet, and they didn’t disappoint me even on second viewing (I saw them when I was here in 1998). There’s something about his stuff that just speaks to me, I guess. Mom liked them, too, but commented that she couldn’t see hanging them on her walls where she had to look at them every day–she’s not into people paintings as much as scenery. Her remark made me realize that a huge share of the paintings we were seeing in the gallery (not just the Munch room) had people in them–even the landscapes. Mom says those are appealing, though, because they’re not about the people so much as the situation. I kind of agree with her when it comes to portraits–unless there’s something about portraits that give me a glimpse of daily life (“oh, so that’s what it looked like inside their houses!” and so on), I move quickly.

From there we walked toward Akerbrygge while eating our purloined smørbroder, stopping along the way to check out Heimen Husflid in the Hotel Bondeheimen on a tip from Ruth. Good tip! Lots of gorgeous sweaters and all kinds of other stuff. I drooled over some thick felt slippers and some elk-hide-and-mystery-fur slippers, but they started around $100/pair, so I decided I could survive without them. We found quite a few gorgeous sweaters, but none in the needed sizes. A few blocks further on, though, we popped into UniQue, another sweater-heavy joint, and parted with a bunch of our money. By this time it was getting darned cold out, so we both got hats to match our sweaters, and within half an hour, we were both wearing our new hats. I think today I’ll probably be wearing my new sweater, too, because although it’s only 32ish out, it’s COLD and snowing, and I’ve gotten wimpy after 14 years in California.

We tried to check out the Norge Hjemmefrontmuseum (Norwegian resistance museum), but it had closed at 4 and it was now almost 5, so we strolled around a bit of the Akerhus Festning (fortress), but it was quite dark by now (only 4:30pm) and the wet and sometimes icy cobbles seemed a bit treacherous, so we cut that short and proceeded on our way toward Akerbrygge. There was a big village of tents selling Christmas stuff, so we walked through and poked into a few tents.

Then we continued to Akerbrygge and decided fairly quickly that it was time for warm indoors and dinner. We settled on Albertine Cafe, where we shared half a liter of Barbera, Mom got a red wine-braised lammeskank with potato puree and lemon-thyme saus, and I had a venison stew (hjortegryte! what a great name!) also red-wined braised on potato puree with loganberries. Yum! A basket of yummy ciabatta-like olive bread further tempted us from our supposedly gluten-free diets. Yeah, right–not here!

After nearly falling asleep in our plates, we decided to hike back to the hotel, taking a slightly different route through the town center, and by 8:30 we were both falling asleep over our books. I slept solidly until about 3, when I gave up and poured some juleøl and resumed my book. Mom had been mostly awake since about 1, so she also gave up, got up, poured some wine and resumed her reading. We were up for an or so and then both went back to sleep. I slept pretty well until the phone vibrated around 5, and then I was up for good. Mom says she slept fitfully, but I know she got a lot more sleep than I did after our reading break.

It’s 9:15 now, and we’re both showered and dressed, so we’re going to head down to frøkost and try to improve our strategy from yesterday.

Breakfast in SFO, dinner and breakfast on LH, lunch in FRA, dinner in OSL

Mom and I flew to Oslo yesterday and today, hence the complicated meal plan. Our flight took off early Sunday afternoon from SFO, where we killed time with brunch at Andale–Mom had yummy chili verde and I had a pretty good burrito carne asada.

We flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt, and I am trying to figure out how it is that American airlines are all going bankrupt and can’t afford to give us meals or drinks, but Lufthansa can provide two decent hot meals and lots of wine and booze on basically the same ticket pricing structure. Dinner was pretty decent–I had pasta with mushrooms and marinara, and Mom had some kind of chicken rice dish. We both got edible rolls, okay salad with good dressing, and a tiny triangle of chocolate cake with whipped cream and a strawberry. There were good Ritter chocolates available in the galley overnight when I went up to get us drinks. For breakfast we had another good roll, an omelet that wasn’t great (when are eggs ever good in an airplane?) but was at least a lot better than some of the eggs I’ve had in United Business lately, and fruit salad just like every other airplane fruit salad: red grapes and pieces of underripe melon; oh, well. But still–two hot meals and plenty of free alcohol, on a route that United would have given us one hot meal, one disgusting breakfast snack, and drinks for $5.

We had lunch in the Senator Lounge at Frankfurt airport, which has a pretty nice buffet, including Frankfurters, chicken meatballs and Shanghai noodles, a funky tuna salad, some beautiful Christmas breads that I didn’t try, some serviceable minestrone (perfectly good but not a knockout like some German airport lounge soups I’ve had), olives, After lunch I enjoyed a campari-gin-bitter lemon and some Jelly Bellies. I wish we could buy bitter lemon in the States. Maybe I can figure out how to make it, now that I’ve got a CO2 tank and am not afraid to use it.

The unhappy part of our stay in Frankfurt was that my new AT&T mobile account didn’t seem to include international roaming after all–the guy I talked to when I switched said I was all set, but that turned out not to be the case. This wouldn’t be that big a deal, except that I needed to check my email and voicemail right away to find out whether I had an appointment with a natural horn or not. It turns out I didn’t. But what I had to go through to get AT&T to fix things is absurd. Since my phone didn’t work, I couldn’t use it to call them. I can’t remember the last time I saw a pay phone anywhere, so that meant I had to buy an hour of wifi and $10 of Skype credit so that I could use Skype and wifi to phone home, whereupon I reached an agent who said I’d have to call back after 7am Eastern when a certain department opened up–which was when we were boarding our flight to Oslo. In the end I couldn’t get it all straightened out until we got to the hotel, where I connected on the free wifi and again used Skype to call AT&T. Naturally just as we were getting things working, the call dropped and I had to call in AGAIN and finally got things working–and got the news that it’s $1.29 a minute for anything, including receiving but not answering calls, receiving voicemails, or actually receiving or placing calls. It’s highway robbery. Of course, when getting or missing a call means getting or missing a gig that pays $100ish or more, it’s worth it, and calculations like that are why wireless companies get away with charging so darned much. Argh!

Back to food, it was a good thing we ate in the airport, because SAS charged for everything on the connection to Oslo, with prices starting around three euros for coffee or soda. We were happy to pass.

We landed in Oslo at 3:45, collected our bags, got cash and airport express tickets, and were in downtown Oslo by 4:30. Our first order of business was to pick up our train tickets, which was only partially successful. Now that I’ve got email access again, though, I’ve got the various confirmation numbers I’ll need to get the rest of them. After that we searched out a vinmonopolet (literally “wine monopoly”–other than weak beer, all alcohol in Norway is sold by the state) and picked up some provisions for our hotel room so that we’ll be equipped to cope with any jet lag, and as I type this Mom and I are enjoying a lovely, fruity juleakevitt by Linie. Since we were tired and only vaguely hungry, we ate supper in “Erwin’s spiseri” right in the same food court.

So for our first Norwegian meal, Mom had “husets kremefisksuppe” or the house special cream fish soup, which we both thought was quite yummy. I had the “julelunsj tallerken” or “Christmas lunch plate” (I think) of gravet laks and sweet mustard sauce (yum), pickled herring (ick), a slice of ham, a slice of brie, a pile of the most iodine-y bay shrimp I’ve had in a long time, bread and butter, and a mound of–of all things–Waldorf salad. The Waldorf salad was good but I think it’s the first time I’ve had Waldorf salad since I was in the hospital with pneumonia during second grade. Somehow I remember eating a lot of Waldorf salad in that hospital, and for me it’s a dish lost to time. It’s kind of a perfect Norwegian salad, though–white, bland, sweet, and everything from a can. “Except the apples,” Mom pointed out, but I can’t say that I found any apples in there. I washed it all down with a pretty good juleøl (dark Christmas ale) by Ringnes.

After dinner, we walked the rest of the way to our hotel, which isn’t fancy but seems decent enough and has free wifi.

In electronics sadness, somehow I managed to erase everything from my iPod before we left, so I couldn’t do language immersion learning by zoning out to Norwegian podcasts during the long flights as I’d hoped. Not exactly tragic, but how on earth did I do that, and how will I make sure I never do that again? Fortunately we had decent movies on the long flight: “Happy Go Lucky,” a diverting but pointless Mike Leigh film (someone please enlighten me if there was a plot) and “Nanny Diaries,” which wasn’t as good as the book but was entertaining enough.

I’m still a little stuck on the Sunday NYT crossword but I’m not ready to give up and seek help from Rex Parker’s blog yet.