People are made to be loved.
Things are made to be used.
No wonder we end up with a messed up world when we use people and love things.
I decided to make it easier to leave comments on my blog since I’m basically not getting any and I suspect the kind of cumbersome setup I’ve been using so far has contributed to that fact.
So, effective immediately and unlike my earlier practice, all comments are now published immediately and I will read them after they're published just like everybody else. Also, I have removed the word verification step for non-members wanting to leave a comment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep things like this from now on. :-)
Earlier this year, I read a note where an American published his thoughts on Osama bin Laden. I’m not going to write a lot about him, just share 3 thoughts I made upon reading this note.
My American friend started out by saying he was just happy Osama was gone and the victims of September 11 could finally rest in peace. And then he said we should not celebrate Osama’s death because Osama did not deserve recognition.
First of all, I really don’t think Osama has any say over whether the victims rest in peace or not. That is between them and their God, and possibly those left behind. Osama has no part in the equation except possibly as a target for revenge – which may seem legitimate, but has very little to do with resting in peace, really.
Second, I agree that Osama does not deserve recognition, but haven’t we already given him more recognition than he could have dreamed of by talking and writing so much about him all these years? If we don’t want to give him recognition, we shouldn’t even mention his name.
Third, I agree that we should not celebrate his death. But for a different reason:
Death is not a thing to be celebrated.
Summer has come and passed, the innocence can never last
Wake me up when September ends
As many of you will have already recognized, these are the opening lines of the song “Wake me up when September ends” by Green Day, written in the aftermath of the tragic events on September 11, 2001. In September 2011 it was 10 years ago. I didn’t write about it on that day or even that month, but I decided that I didn’t want to not write about it at all either, so here I go.
Here comes the rain again, falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again, becoming who we are
As my memory rests, but never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends
Like most people who remember that day, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard. I was at work, it was early afternoon our time and the end of my work day was little more than an hour away when we first started hearing about slow network connections. As a DBA (database admin), I’m generally not that much into network issues and operations, but some colleagues who are started sniffing around for clues as to what could be causing unusual traffic jams on the lines on what otherwise seemed to be a fairly normal Tuesday afternoon. It was quickly determined to be internet traffic clogging up the corporate nets, so the next move was to check the internet activity logs for clues as to what was happening online that got so big all of a sudden. And basically, what they found out was all of a sudden, it seemed like practically everyone had started feverishly checking various news agencies and many were live streaming TV news online. Something big must have happened. Then there were whispers in the corridors about two airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center.
I remember I myself looked up a major Norwegian newspaper online. The front page took noticeably longer than normal to load. And when it finally came up, I got a near full screen image of the second airliner smashing into the second tower and exploding, at which point it was clear for all to see that this was absolutely not an accident.
I don’t remember getting any more work done that day, but I must have somehow completed the task I was working on just before, because it wasn’t something I could have just walked away from.
Unlike certain others who have written about this, I had absolutely no “mixed feelings” with regards to these attacks. Yes, I can at least partially understand how and why there are people in this world who have very little love for the United States of America. But I can never understand how anyone could look at a city full of people who are just going about their business and not trying to hurt anybody – and see nothing but enemies and legitimate targets! I can never understand that, nor will I ever accept it. It’s just wrong, and it’s going to be just as wrong no matter what cause anybody tries to link with it. There is no such thing as and end to justify the means or an action being “inherently justified” if it’s done for the right reasons. It is the action itself that is good or bad. Believe it or not, the reason is pretty much irrelevant in this context. Hence, in my opinion, if you’re deliberately targeting and murdering civilians, you’re not fighting for a cause at all, you’re just plain being evil.
And that’s what September 11 was to me: Just plain evil.
But it’s 10 years ago, so wake up, September is history.
This is the official video with the “Full story”.
I could add a few more comments, but for now I’ll let it speak for itself…
On Friday, 22. July 2011, Norway was struck by two terrorist attacks within less than 2 hours. First a powerful car bomb exploding on the street just outside our government’s headquarters in downtown Oslo and then a shooting massacre at a political youth camp on and island outside the city. In the minutes, hours and days following these horrific events, I have been shocked, stunned, angry and sad beyond words, but I have also found great comfort in the manner in which my people has collectively chosen to carry this. In fact, in the middle of all the tragedy, this has been my country’s finest hours in my lifetime.
As a nation, we have chosen not to speak of revenge, but instead to stand together holding hands and lighting candles, promising each other that this will not destroy us or in any way drive a wedge between us. In the words of our prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, “Evil can kill a person, but never conquer a people.”
By taking this stance, I feel confident that the free and open multicultural democracy that our attacker sought to damage is emerging stronger than ever after these past days' events, and as a country we are more united than we’ve been for as long as I can remember. Yes, we are crying, but we’re crying with dignity. We’re not crying for revenge, we’re crying for compassion and humanity. We’re not crying for tighter control on anything, we’re crying for more openness and more democracy. More of what we love and more of what this guy apparently hated. That is how we choose to respond. Yes, there will still be issues that we disagree upon, but we’re a democracy – people are supposed to disagree with each other! It’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Everyone who feel they have something to say about an issue should go ahead and say it because a good debate is what makes a democracy work. We all put our views, interests and concerns on the table and then we all scrutinize what’s on the table, not the people who put it there. That’s how we separate the good stuff from the bad stuff, compromise to find common ground and figure out solutions that we can all live with over time. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Thus, in the words of one of the survivors from the youth camp at Utøya, “Bring the attacker’s political ideals to the table and we will debate them to death.”
On the evening of Monday, 25. July, people all over the country gathered to mourn together, cry together, hold hands, light candles and show their respect to the victims and their families. Not surprisingly, the largest gathering of people was in Oslo, which is our largest city and also the one that was directly targeted. At first the official number was approximately 150 000, but police later said that at least 200 000 people attended the event.
Among the speakers at the Oslo event was our crown prince Haakon, here shown at the event with his sister, princess Märtha Louise (left) and his wife, crown princess Mette-Marit. Haakon greeted the crowd with the words, “Tonight our streets are filled with love.”
Image credit: Scanpix
“Tonight our streets are filled with love.
We have chosen to meet atrocity with compassion.
We have chosen to meet hate with unity.
We have chosen to show what we stand for.”
--Crown prince Haakon
It couldn’t be said very much better.
And I’ve never been so proud of my country.
Now I hear some people are saying that they don’t expect this new-found national unity to last and that we are likely to have a society with more fear and less trust in the wake of this, but I’m hoping we can prove them wrong on that one.
Actually, it could be yet a little bit better.
A young girl and a member of the labor youth organization who’s summer camp was attacked at Utøya put it this way:
“If one man can cause so much evil -
think how much love we can all create together.”
--Helle Gannestad, AUF member who lost friends at Utøya
I have no idea who she is, but I’d really like to hug her right now.
Yes, it really is as simple as that - and what a great way to start a new week, don't you think? ;-)
I don't care if you're black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor.
If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you.
It’s as simple as that.
I don’t remember exactly when and how it happened, but at some point in my life, the song “Runaway train” by Soul Asylum took on a special meaning to me. The song, as I understand it, is about life and its many ups and downs (well, mostly about the downs, really, but that’s life some times) and about how, in a way, you’re always supposed to be somewhere else and you’re never quite getting there.
The title “Runaway train” actually has a nice double meaning too. It can be either a train that you get on to run away from something, or it can be a “runaway” train – a train moving out of control. And over the years, I have come to think of life itself as something of a runaway train at times. You’re always on the way somewhere, you’re never fully in control and you never really arrive at your destination. And honestly, much of the time, you’re not even sure if you’d want to! It can be scary and frustrating as hell, but somehow the wheels just keep on turning…
Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a blow torch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning
Been there, done that. No, actually, I don’t think I’ve ever called anyone up in the middle of the night except for work stuff, but there have been times when I probably should have. Anyone saying they’ve never been there is probably not telling the truth, I say.
So tired that I couldn't even sleep
So many secrets I couldn't keep
Promised myself I wouldn't weep
One more promise I couldn't keep
It seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep
There's no way out
This time I have really led myself astray
I lead myself astray all the time. There was a time when I used to say that I rarely make the same mistake twice, but I don’t say that anymore because it’s not true! There are some mistakes that I keep repeating over and over and over. I think we all do, just in different ways. It doesn’t make us useless or horrible, it just makes us human.
Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I'm neither here nor there
And there it is.
That’s life right there.
You’re going down the tracks in a train that never stops and can never be turned around. The choices you make do have an impact on where you’re going, but you’re never fully in control. Some times you can choose which track to go down, but other times you pass switches you can’t control – perhaps without even knowing that they’re even there at the time. And some times you make mistakes. Whatever the reason, you will often find yourself having to cross mountain ranges or drive through valleys that you never really meant to be anywhere near – or going the wrong way on a one way track - without being able to stop or turn back. You’re never fully in control and life doesn’t come with a “rewind” button. Also, although your train never stops, it does pick up and drop of cargo along the way. And – you’re never truly in control of that either! Your train is loaded with all you have, all you are, all you know, all you feel, everything you have to deal with whether you want to or not – everything that’s in your life is on that train. Some times you lose something that’s really precious to you. Other times, you pick up stuff that you never really wanted anywhere within 500 miles of you – and you have to haul that around for hours, days, months. Years. And many times in your life, you will know the feeling that it seems like you should be getting somewhere, but somehow you’re neither here nor there.
Can you help me remember how to smile
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
How on earth did I get so jaded
Life's mystery seems so faded
I can go where no one else can go
I know what no one else knows
Here I am just drowning in the rain
With a ticket for a runaway train
Everything seems cut and dry
Day and night, earth and sky
Somehow I just don't believe it
Life is hard. You were never meant to handle it all on your own. So, it’s a good thing to call for help when you need it, and more often than not, sooner is better than later. But at the same time, no matter what happens - and even though you’re never fully in control - you are the one who is in charge of your own life and ultimately responsible for fixing whatever needs fixing in it. You can never give that away or pin that on anyone else. It’s your life and you’re the only one who knows it, so you’d better believe in it or else God help you, for no one else will. Now, there may be some things in your life that can not be fixed, but that does not mean your life is broken. Remember, your train never stops. Every waking minute of every day is a new chance to do something right. Something good. Something that makes it all worth while. Never forget that. And never stop believing in it. But of course, that also means you have to do something about it every once in a while.
Bought a ticket for a runaway train
Like a madman laughing at the rain
A little out of touch, a little insane
It's just easier than dealing with the pain
Yes, it’s easier to run away. And some times it can actually be right to just leave something behind and never look back. But simply running away from every problem is not a strategy that’s going to get you anywhere you want to go. You’ll need to do better than that. You’ll need to deal with the pain to get past it. And you’ll need to solve the problems to go beyond them.
Runaway train never coming back
Runaway train tearing up the track
Runaway train burning in my veins
I run away, but it always seems the same
Your breaks are gone, your engine’s out of control, there are dangerous curves up ahead as you’re coming down out the mountains and your 2 000 ton freight train is going down the hills faster and faster and faster…
Life can be frustrating and scary as hell and some times you will crash and burn, but like I said in the beginning, as long as you keep breathing, those wheels just keep on turning…
Life is huge and incredibly complex. You will never know all there is to know about it and you’re never fully in control. But if you have faith in yourself and do some real work on it, I believe it is possible for you to keep your train moving in more or less the right direction – most of the time.
And what is the right direction? Well, that is up to you.
Hmmm… and after all that, we find that the video is actually about missing persons! I really never saw that coming! Life is full of surprises… ;-)
I know I’ve already said a lot about the space shuttle, but it never ceases to amaze me, really.
This thing goes into space and back over and over. It gets blasted out there, it travels at speeds around 27 000 km/h or 17 500 mph. It BURNS as it re-enters the atmosphere - and then it just glides in for a smooth landing and comes home looking like nothing even touched it!
Man, I'm going to miss these beauties when they're gone... But what a ride it's been just being able to watch them all these years! :-)
By the way, Endeavour’s last launch is currently scheduled for Monday 16. May at 8:56 EST, which is 12:56 UTC and 14:56 my time. Just so I’ve mentioned it. ;-)
In my work contract, there’s a paragraph stating that anything I make while at work for the company is the company’s property. Even though I’m the one who made it, it’s not mine if I made it on company time and I don’t get to take any of it with me if I leave the company. It may seem a bit harsh to some, but at the same time, it makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, when I’m at work, it’s really not my own time I’m working on. It was mine, yes, sure enough, but I sold it to the company – that’s why I’m getting paid, you know! And if I choose to sell my time to a company, then I really can’t honestly expect to still spend that time working for my own self, can I? No, I can’t. That’s not how it works. When I choose to let a company buy some of my time, then that of course means that during those hours, I don’t work for myself, I work for the company that bought the hours from me. Hence, it’s both fair and reasonable that the company should be the legal owner of whatever product I make during that time. People who do physical labor or work in factories making physical products have had it like that for centuries. To them this pretty much goes without saying. It’s some of us folks who work primarily with our minds that some times have issues with this concept. But it really isn’t much different – or shouldn’t be. Just like a road worker doesn’t own the road or a car factory worker doesn’t own the cars he makes, I don’t own the systems and solutions I create and maintain in my job. It all belongs to either the company that employs me or their customers. Even if I’m in effect designing a whole new type of car or inventing a new and improved way of building roads, it’s all theirs if I do it on their time.
No, the company does not own me, my mind or my skills – those are all my own property. But as long as I have a contract to work for them, they own everything I do during those hours I clock in and get paid for. If I want to work for myself I have to do it on my own time. In fact, time is like any other commodity in this way: You can’t legally claim to still own it after you’ve sold it. It’s that simple. And I guess I’m OK with that.
Early morning – April 4(Final verse of the song Pride (In the name of love) by U2.)
A shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last
They took your life
They could not take your pride
A wise man once said that a democracy is a society where free speech does not end in a funeral. Evidently, we're not quite there yet. Close, but not quite there. Sad but true.
Well, I really wasn’t planning to write another blog post about the space shuttle at this time, but then again, this isn’t about the space shuttle after all. This is about us – the people – who make the ships, the sails, the space shuttles and all the other wonders people have made.
The space shuttles do still play a part in today’s story though. To sum thing up very briefly, this is what’s happened in the space shuttle world since my last blog post: Shuttle Discovery did launch as scheduled on her final planned mission on 24. February. She returned victorious as always on 9. March and has now rolled out into history. Meanwhile, space shuttle Endeavour has been rolled out of the hangar, mated to her “shuttle stack” of 1 big external fuel tank and 2 solid rocket boosters, placed upon a giant crawler and rolled out to the launch pad for her final mission which is currently set to start on 19. April.
…and then the tragedy happened.
I haven’t read up on the details of it because I’ve been so busy with my own work these past several days, and so I really don’t know what actually happened, how and why, but Monday morning as a bunch of people went to work processing the shuttle and preparing for the launch, one of them fell from somewhere high up on the launch pad and died.
Shuttle Endeavour on the pad at first light.
Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
Tuesday morning, managers from NASA and United Aerospace met with the workers – who were actually quite determined to go back to work and get this shuttle ready for space one final time – and so that’s what is currently being done.
Like I said, I don’t know what’s actually happened here, but when I come to think of it, it seems to me like going back to work and placing this shuttle in orbit is actually pretty much the best possible way to honor this man and everyone who worked with him. It's kind of like launching Discovery on the “Return to Flight” missions after we lost Challenger and Columbia. Or like the guy who was photographed with his pickup truck pulled over to the side and waving the American flag as the first plane took off after September 11, 2001. This is not just very American. This is very human. This is what we do. This is who we are. We don't quit. We don't bend. And we do not give up. We adjust our course quite regularly and we do take a short time-out every once in a while to figure out safer procedures and new and improved ways of doing things. But apart from that, we mostly just keep on exploring and discovering like we always have.
I always loved the space shuttle, ever since I was 8 years old and watched on TV as Columbia roared off into space for the first time. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life – perhaps even more so when she came back 2 days later and just flew in and landed like a plane! Nothing and nobody had ever flown like that before and I knew there and then that my world would never be the same. Now, 30 years later, no other spacecraft in existence can do what the space shuttle has done - and is still doing - nor will any that have been planned to this day be able to. That's how great the shuttle is at what it does - and a tribute to everyone who has worked on it over the years. The space shuttle program is being closed down though and although it’s bittersweet to see it come to an end, I know that nothing can last forever and there will always be something new to get excited about.
Space shuttle Discovery – the one that is launching on her final planned mission later today - is shown here beginning her very first mission in August 1984.
Image credit: NASA
Aug. 30, 1984
3 more planned shuttle missions remain – one for each shuttle still in service – Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis. Now, two of these missions have already been added after the original decision to end the program – today’s launch was originally supposed to be the last one, so I suppose we may still see another launch or two beyond these 3, but this is what we know today. 3 more missions and the space shuttle is history.
Be that as it may, there are still 3 more missions. One of them is currently scheduled to begin today – and I’m still getting excited about it much like I did when I was a little kid.
Image credit: NASA
April 29, 1990
Space shuttle Discovery is set to launch today on its final planned mission at 4:50 PM EST or 22:50 my time (CET or GMT/UTC + 1) This launch was originally planned for August last year, then postponed until November, then delayed by technical issues, then by weather and then by technical issues again. These things do happen at times and the space shuttle crews have a saying that “You never know for sure until the solid rockets go off.”
The solid rockets – or Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) are the two long, slim rockets that are attached to the big External Tank (ET) as the shuttle launches. Ignition of the solid rockets is actually pretty much the very last thing that happens while the shuttle is still on the pad, hence the saying. It has to be this way because there is actually no way to stop the solid rockets – once ignited, they will burn until they’re out of fuel. That’s why they’re never ignited until and unless everything else has been checked out “Go for launch” and is in fact already launching the shuttle.
That’s why you never know for sure until the solid rockets go off. Which in turn is also pretty much the reason why I have never actually gone to see a shuttle launch myself and don’t plan to – even though I know for a fact that I would have absolutely loved every moment of it. Since you never know for sure when it will actually happen, it’s really not the kind of thing you take time off from work, put your family through a lot of stress and travel half-way around the world to see. Or at least I won’t, because the people who did that in November ended up going home very disappointed when the shuttle did not launch at all, which is always a very real possibility.
So, what is my solution?
The NASA website at www.nasa.gov provides quite excellent coverage of space shuttle missions. Last time – as Atlantis launched on what was then supposed to be her final mission – I watched the whole thing live on NASA TV through the NASA web site: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
I know that it can never be the same as actually being there, but to me it was a truly awesome experience. NASA TV takes you straight into the middle of the action and almost makes you feel like you’re part of the team launching the shuttle! I mean, you’re right there at the launch pad watching the last minute check-outs and preparations. You see the shuttle go up, you follow it into space and every once in a while, you’re standing right there with the flight directors in the mission control center in Houston as they give their instructions to the astronauts. You’re watching all the action, you’re listening in on the dialogue as the next steps are being laid out. Like I said, NASA has managed to make this so that you almost feel like you’re part of the team yourself.
Of course, it helps to know a lot in advance like I do myself, so you can understand much of what’s going on without needing to be told. But they also do a really good job explaining even the most complex technical issues in a way that makes it understandable to newcomers. I loved it, and I’d say if you’re even remotely interested, I’d say it’s definitely worth a look.
It was the closest I have ever been to a space shuttle launch and I’m hoping to do it again tonight. Perhaps I’ll see you in orbit? ;-)
Space shuttle Discovery roars between the clouds into the blue Florida sky toward space on mission STS-120 to the International Space Station.
Below the three main engines are the blue cones of light, known as shock or mach diamonds. They are a formation of shock waves in the exhaust plume of an aerospace propulsion system. The space shuttle’s main engines burn a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, which burns at about 6 000 degrees F / 3 316 C, but the outside of the nozzle remains cool to the touch. Prior to launch, sometimes it even frosts over.
Image credit: NASA/Tom Farrar, Scott Haun, Raphael Hernandez
Oct. 23, 2007
I write this out of love and respect for two wonderful girls that I never really knew. Kjersti (18) and Renate (16) died in a car accident on E39 at Ostereidet on 10. December 2010 and I honestly have to say that most of what I know about them today, I have learned after that date.
In other words – and as I have already stated – I never really knew them while they were alive, which is pretty much the reason why I have not written about this until now.
So, you may ask, how then can I claim to love them?
Well, let’s just say they are that easy to love.
I never really knew them before, but as I know them today, these girls were warm, sweet, caring and giving individuals who reached out and touched the lives of everyone around them in a way that made their hearts warm and put smiles on their faces. Both were active girls with fairly busy schedules, yet they always had time for the people around them and they were always willing to go out of their way to support any friend who needed it, any time, anywhere, any way. Their father said in their funeral that they were the sunbeams that gave light and warmth to everything. It seems to me like this pretty much sums it up.
I never knew Kjersti and Renate personally, but I know a lot of people who did and it’s really painful to see them all suffer so much.
On the bright side, the simple fact that they managed to be part of so much and touch the lives of so many people in such a way tells a story of two incredibly good and rich lives – many who live a lot longer can only hope to reach as far.
But again, you might ask, if I never knew these girls, then how can I claim to love them? And again, I answer: They are that easy to love.
I love them for being such wonderful friends to so many people I care about. I love them for giving so much of themselves and caring so much for others. I love them because Kjersti and Renate were the kind of people that with their mere presence made the world a better place. I love them for being the sunbeams that gave light and warmth to everything.
We never know when it’s our time to go. Kjersti and Renate did nothing wrong. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all. It really isn’t fair – people shouldn’t have to die for that. But people do. Every day. Life is that fragile. Reality is that cruel. The world can be a quite horrible place and life can really suck some times. Yet getting to know people like Kjersti and Renate can make it all worth while - and I love them for that.
We can never replace them. But we can all be a bit like Kjersti and Renate if we choose to. Share some light and warmth. Greet each other with a kind word and a smile whenever our paths cross. Give some hugs. Never stop caring.
I think maybe that’s what Kjersti and Renate were here to show us, and show us they did.
And I love them for it.
If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died