Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bits and pieces

The Christmas season is upon us, in a big way. The stores in Oslo were already decorated for Christmas in mid-November this year. My impression is that the Christmas season starts earlier with each year that passes. People need to have some ‘light’ in the midst of darkness; the sun sets earlier now and the darkness is like a smothering blanket at times. Luckily, we’ve had wonderful autumn weather this year, so it makes the drastic loss of light easier to bear. I attended the annual ‘customer evening’ in late November at my favorite department store in Oslo—Glasmagasinet; this is a gathering of (mostly) women who are VIP customers (those who spend a lot of money there during the year—like me!). It’s essentially a ploy to get us to spend even more money, by inviting us to share some tapas and wine on the store’s dime. Always an enjoyable evening and a good way to start my Christmas shopping. Glasmagasinet is a great store if you need to buy wedding and Christmas gifts. I shop at many other places, but Glasmagasinet has a special place in my heart, probably because it’s the first department store I walked into on my first trip to Oslo many years ago--December 1989 to be exact. The store, like Oslo, was decorated for Christmas and was very cozy. And despite its many changes during the past twenty-odd years, it still is a cozy store to wander around in. 

The stores in Oslo have also discovered ‘Black Friday’, and are marketing it for all it is worth, although the manic intensity of the American Black Friday will never be matched. They ‘celebrate’ it on the same day as in the USA, minus the holiday that precedes it though. I’m waiting for the Thanksgiving holiday to make its way into this culture. It would be fine with me, since the meaning of the holiday is not necessarily American in the sense of having a day to give thanks for the bounties and blessings that fill our lives. And since this country is filthy rich, it has a lot for which it should be thankful.

The nicest part of the day was my visit to a convent called Katarinahjemmet in Majorstua (an Oslo neighborhood), that was having a Christmas bake sale and bazaar. The reason for my visit was to spend some time with a young woman who works in my hospital department; she is in her mid-thirties and has decided to become a Dominican nun. Since we are both Catholic, she shared her decision to change her life with me some months ago, and was eager for me to visit what will be her new home as of January. She has quit her job at my hospital and will be starting as a novice at the convent in January. She was very glad that I visited her, and we agreed that I will visit again in January, and perhaps take a few co-workers with me, to get a tour of the convent and listen to a short talk about the founding of the convent and the daily lives of the nuns. Interestingly, the Nobel-prize winning Norwegian author Sigrid Undset, a Protestant who had converted to Catholicism, was instrumental in recruiting the Dominican nuns to Norway and in founding Katarinehjemmet. She was often a visitor to the convent and enjoyed being there. I must say that I too enjoyed being there; the convent has a nice air about it—bustling in some respects, but quiet and conducive to meditation as well.

On my walk back from the convent, I passed the building that formerly housed the Showtime video rental store where I used to rent DVDs; I wrote a post some months back about the closing of the store and how I would miss it. I still do. It is now an espresso café called Espresso House. I walked in, bought myself a cappuccino, sat down, and took a real good look around the place. I must say that they’ve done a good job at renovating the locale and creating an attractive coffee bar that is sure to become quite popular. It provides free wi-fi and plenty of seating. I look forward to just hanging out there for a few hours someday soon.

Finally, an update on Disqus and the impostor situation: I have notified Disqus and described the problem to them. They said that they would look at the situation. We will see what they aim to do about it. Frankly, I have little to no hope that anything will come of my complaint. What I have managed to do is to stop my impostor from commenting as rabidly as she or he had been doing before I found out that this charade was going on. That makes it easier for me to track her or his movements on the net. I have kept my cool so far and not gone ballistic. There would be little point in doing that anyway, even though I feel like behaving that way at times. Nothing will come of it. The world is such that one person does not matter an iota. One person’s problems do not matter an iota. And there are a huge number of people out there whose problems are life-threatening. Mine are not. So I have not lost my perspective about where my situation fits into the scheme of things overall. 

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