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zird is the word [userpic]
SWEDISH EVERY WHICH WAY
If the first part of this year is any indication...heck, if the first part of this LIFE is any indication, the rest of this year will fly by and I'll be left gaping at the fact that it's Christmas time YET AGAIN.

I've been gone for 2 weeks and even though I managed to post quickly last Monday before we zoomed off again to Stockholm for a week of city and sun and Swedishness, it feels like I've not really had a chance to sit down and gather my thoughts here. We had a lovely week, despite some bobbles at the beginning.

Martin had misremembered the date for his passport appointment during the week I was in Seattle and missed it completely. So we were scrambling to try and get another date booked, since he's leaving in TWO days. Last weekend, the earliest dates we could find in the neighboring towns were end of July or beginning of August. His Swedish passport expired June 9 so we were already really late trying to get it dealt with. If he had told me before or even when he came home in mid-May, we could have taken care of it right away, but. Anyway, I finally searched in all of Skåne and found times last Monday, albeit in Ängelholm, which is an hour away. Then Anders had the bright idea to book Tuesday morning there instead since we were driving to Stockholm and would essentially pass right through it. So, we did that, and got to the appointment a little early right before 10 am.

Only to have the woman handling Martin's appointment stop abruptly and start questioning him after he noted that he was a dual citizen. She was completely hung up on the fact, despite us explaining that he was a Swedish citizen SINCE birth, had lived in Sweden all his life until 2017 when he moved to the US to study and was only RENEWING his already existing Swedish passport. She started reading all the fine print on the Migration Board's website about dual citizens and finally told us that he had to provide proof that he was a Swedish citizen from the Migration Board since he might have lost his Swedish citizenship without realizing, since he was born in the period before Sweden allowed dual citizenship and at that point, before 2001, dual citizens had to officially choose once they reached 18. Except, we said, that shouldn't matter, and his American citizenship shouldn't affect his Swedish citizenship AT ALL.

Nope. She was adamant that we had to contact the Migration Board, get proof or apply for his citizenship. GAH!!!! She went ahead and processed the passport renewal and said that she would "park it" until the paper came in. Then, she would have to send it to the Embassy in the US, since we were so short on time (and last week was a short week due to midsummer as well)...and the embassies are only in New York and Washington DC, so to boot, he would have to contact THEM and have the passport forwarded to the consulate in Detroit. DOUBLE GAH!

So, all the way to Stockholm, Martin tried to call the Migration Board, to absolutely no avail. Line was busy, no queue, all lines are busy, please try your call again later *click*, repeat. Once we arrived, both Anders and I tried to call as well, with no luck. The next morning we were on the phone, trying again, while Anders researched on the Migration Board website to find exactly what she had been talking about. Turns out she was completely wrong, and it was only Swedish citizens with dual citizenship who had NEVER LIVED IN SWEDEN who were affected. He called Ängelholm again and talked to someone who said that they could see the parked passport renewal but told us that the woman who had "helped" us hadn't even written any notes so he couldn't even see why it was parked. *rolling eyes* Anders explained the situation and finally, the guy told us that he would give her a message and have her call us back.

Three hours later she finally did, and said she had processed the passport application, so sorry. As you can imagine, I was about ready to rip someone's head off by then.

The weather in Stockholm seemed to have flown over from Seattle...it was the same perfectly gorgeous June summer sunshine that I had enjoyed the week before. We met up with our good friend Russell when we arrived, who had been in Stockholm since the weekend for a relay race with Ragnar and checked into our hotel. The next day we went to Fotografiska (a photography exhibit/museum/gallery) and had dinner in the Old Town and enjoyed the city. On Thursday morning, we went back down to Gamla Stan and took a boat tour of the bridges and canals of Stockholm, something we'd never done. Then we went back to the hotel, fetched our luggage and drove about an hour north out into the countryside with, apparently, the rest of the inhabitants of Stockholm, to Bergshamra, where our old friends Geir and Ann Sophie have their summer cottage. We had booked an AirBnb in the same neighborhood for 2 nights.

We haven't seen Geir and Ann Sophie for at least 17 years. They used to live in Malmö but right after Kathey and Russell moved back to the States in 2001, they did, too. They lived in Texas for a few years and then ended back up in Sweden, moving to Stockholm. We are connected on Facebook, of course, but didn't have all that much contact. They have a daughter a year younger than Karin and a son in 8th grade, neither of whom we'd ever met. Their cottage was situated in a beautiful rural area, close to a lake (though we never ended up having time to go out on their boat) and after we unpacked we headed over for dinner. It was SO FUN. Martin was only around 5 or so when they left, so they hadn't really "met" him either (Karin didn't go with us, sadly).

The next day was Swedish midsummer and we went back to their cabin at lunchtime for the celebration. It was a real, true Swedish midsummer, complete with all the trimmings. The kids all went and picked flowers and then Geir and his son decorated a maypole and then made everyone dance around it and sing. I've been doing Swedish midsummer for over 20 years now and this one honestly felt the most authentic, despite the fact that two of us were from America. :)

The only downside was an accident 20 minutes in, when Ann Sophie's niece fell from a swing that broke under her, and landed badly. She managed to get through the meal but then her mom decided to take her to the ER just to be sure, and it turned out she had broken BOTH arms. Urgh. What a way to start the summer. :I

Anyway, we are home again now and I worked today and it was hard, and I have to do it again tomorrow, and then for the rest of July. The worst part is that for some stupid reason, I've had it in my head for the past couple of weeks that Martin is leaving on Thursday but I was wrong, he's leaving on Wednesday and that is the day after tomorrow. AUGH.

That said, off to bed, so I can be bright-eyed at work tomorrow. Vi ses!
 chipper
mood: chipper
music: The Shins—Phantom Limb


zird is the word [userpic]
BLINK AND YOU'LL MISS IT
I came back to Sweden in full summer swing. It's midsummer week and everything is full-blown green and blooming here. Even the roses started exploding while I was gone.

I had a simply fantastic week in Seattle. The weather was drop-dead PERFECT (though I confess I missed most of it as I was indoors all day during the week for the conference). I came out of my flight to find mom already arrived and waiting for me last Saturday and we got to the hotel just in time to find a place to eat and then unpack and relax. I had been sick the week before I left, with a nasty stomach bug on Wednesday night that left me with nausea and digestive issues the second half of the week, right before I was traveling (NOT fun). I was still feeling icky even after arriving in Seattle and it took a couple of days before I finally thought to go get some medicine which helped squash it, finally.

On Sunday, Mom and I headed out early and went to the Chihuly Glass exhibition and gardens. It was LOVELY, and something I've wanted to see since the 80s when Chihuly's art was super-trendy. We went afterwards to the Museum of Pop Culture, which I enjoyed (though I didn't see all of it) but mom hated (haha!). We had lunch in their café. The marathon was the same morning, and the weather was temperate and sunny, so the whole area was crawling with people. We walked down to the Olympic Sculpture Park near the water and looked out over the sound before heading back the hotel, where my friend Chuck and his wife picked us up for dinner. Mom and I met Chuck way back in 2008 (I'd been reading his writing since 2003) in Boston, and I was delighted to have an opportunity to see him in person again and as an added bonus, I got to meet his wife this time, too! It's weird meeting blog friends in real life...you know so much, and yet so little. :) Unfortunately, my stomach was still misbehaving and I wasn't able to do the very good food justice.

My conference started early Monday morning...I was attending the Adobe CreativeProWeek which is made up of several smaller conferences for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, content development and, what I was most excited about (geek alert) presentation design. The speakers were, for the most part, fantastic, and I learned SO much. Lots of tips and information about how to work more effectively. I know that I am at an advanced level in these programs that I use daily, but they made me feel like a rank beginner...there is so much you can do with these programs! My colleague from Boston came for the presentation design days which was great as well, since she and I rarely get to see each other, despite working "together" and having a telephone call every week to touch base.

Mom and I went out to dinner every evening and on Wednesday, Becky came up from Oregon to spend a couple of days with us. She and mom went out sightseeing during the days and then I met up with them after the conference finished for the day. The whole week flew by, but it was so perfectly delightful that I can't even complain about how fast it went. And my travel day home went super smoothly, so now I just have to manage jetlag and get back on an even keel.

Tonight, Debbie and Camilla are coming for dinner and in the morning, Anders, Martin and I are leaving Karin in charge of the homestead while we go to Stockholm to play with Russell and spend midsummer with some old friends. Happy midsummer, everyone!
 pleased
mood: pleased
music: The Greatest Showman—A Million Dreams


zird is the word [userpic]
PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY
On Saturday, I'm flying to a place I've always wanted to visit but actually kinda never thought I'd make it to. I'm past 50 so you know the list of places I'd like to see is getting more and more improbable. I'm not sure why I've always thought it would be cool to visit Seattle. It's a big city and it has what seems to be a cool vibe, and it's on the west coast in the Pacific Northwest, which I'm partial too after visiting my best friend in Oregon a couple of times, but other than that, I just think it seems like a fun place to see. And I've always loved Chihuly's art glass and that's where his museum/garden/exhibition is, so there's that.

I'm trying to plan a couple of things to do on the one day I have free before the conference starts since the conference is all day all week from 8:15 to at least 4:30 and sometimes later. Apart from Chihuly, which happens to be closed after 2 pm for a private event on Sunday, which is the only free day I have, I'm also considering going to the Museum of Pop Culture. Not sure my mom, who will be with me, is interested in that, but it seems a shame to miss it especially since it's right next to Chihuly and doesn't have a ridiculously expensive entry fee. My best friend Becky is coming up from Oregon as well, but I don't yet know for sure which days she'll be there. Wheee! Getting excited!

We "celebrated" our 23-year wedding anniversary this past weekend. Anders celebrated by getting up super early and participating in a mountain bike race. I celebrated by sleeping in, doing laundry, and then giving him a bottle of whiskey. Then we ACTUALLY celebrated by going out to dinner at Pinchos with the kids and then Martin went with us to see Rocketman (Karin has other plans). We all liked it, though it had its inevitable comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody.

It's hot this week, a little humid, and we've had thunderstorms, but mostly in the middle of the night when I can't enjoy them, sadly (alas). It's another short work week and it's been busy busy all day. Tomorrow is a half day and then we are going to Karin's girlfriend's graduation party. Thursday is Sweden's National Day and Debbie and Camilla are coming over for dinner. Debbie requested Swedish meatballs in honor of Sweden, but Anders has already vetoed her. :D Martin had a long list of meals he wants to have while he's home and we've only managed about a third of them so crayfish soup (also quintessentially Swedish) is tentatively on the menu. Anders might want to grill though, so we'll see.

Right now, as I'm writing this, the weather couldn't be better. It's a perfect Swedish summer evening. The dogs next door are laying in their backyard and Frasse, the big ginger tabby is curled up near them. I tried calling him to come over for a kitty fix but he's either deaf or ignoring me. I was out watering the pots and garden and wish the entire summer would be like this. Perfect evening.

Things I can hear: fans rumbling and rotating, an airplane high up, a cuckoo and a blackbird singing, my fingers clicking on the keyboard

Things I can see: the lego "duck" that Martin keeps putting together into ever weirder configurations, the slant of light across the floorboards, how still the treetops are

Things I can feel: the beginnings of headache (actually, a bit past beginning, but close enough), another hot flash coming on, the very slight breeze on my bare feet

Things I have to do after I finish this: call my mom, write a shopping list, take some medicine to stave off the headache

I suspect I won't have much time to write the rest of this week and then I'm gone, and then I'm on vacation. I hope that this won't be my only post in June! Lonely post if so, but a pleasant memory of a pleasant perfect evening, if so.
 quixotic
mood: quixotic
music: Steve Miller Band—Jungle Love


zird is the word [userpic]
DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, THEN UP
We voted yesterday in the EU elections, but honestly, after hearing the results of elections all around the world, I wonder why we bother...I don't feel like it makes any difference against the rising wave of nationalism, populism, right-wing rhetoric. Everyone I know expresses outrage and despair that the right-wing parties are gaining such ground, but SOMEONE must be voting for them. GAH. I really hope it doesn't take a world war, climate explosion (beyond crisis) and a couple of generations to turn the tide again.

Karin and I got her taxes done last week and I took them to work on Friday to copy them, only to notice as I was standing at the copier that one of the papers had a 2019 date on it, and one page wasn't completely copied over from her worksheet, but now we have to recalculate them anyway. GAH.

It's been unseasonably, unreasonably cold, a sad change after a few days of full-on summer. So cold still at night that we haven't been able to plant anything or get the tomatoes outside in the pots so they can get bee-pollinated. I'll have to hand-pollinate them at this rate, if it's not too late already. And while I had "net the cherry tree" on my to-do list, we were looking at it over the weekend and saw only THREE cherries on the way. Guessing frost killed everything before it even had a chance so no cherries for us this year. At least, no FREE cherries for us.

While I was sitting in a training session last week with our new graphic designer, I happened to mention something about my daughter occasionally helping our team out with certain tasks. "Your daughter?" she said. "Yes," I nodded, "The one that sits right outside the door of this meeting room, the blonde one." She had been introduced to Karin several days before, as "my daughter, Karin" but I guess in the round of intros to so many people, the fact that she was my kid didn't register. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "The one with all the tattoos?"

Sigh.

Yes. Yes, the one with "all the tattoos".

I told Karin about it later and she just laughed her head off.

Speaking of Karin, she and I pulled off a "Chuck & John" recently: watching as many of the "necessary" Marvel superhero movies needed in order to see (and understand what the hell was going on) Avengers Endgame before it left the theaters. We watched two Spiderman movies, Captain Marvel (meh) and Avengers Infinity War all in a blur. We were going to watch the Thor movies, too*, but we a) were running out of time and b) we figured what we'd seen was enough for comprehension, and we were right. I don't know if it was worth it, though, since even though I thought Endgame was fun to watch, and had a decent follow-through and ending, the storyline offed the heart and soul of the franchise and really, the only person that I watched any of them for.

On Friday, I had dinner with Debbie and Camilla and it was lovely to make dinner together (Eggplant casserole with red lentils, DELICIOUS) and sit and chat and chat and chat. We hadn't seen each other for a couple of weeks and a lot had happened to talk over and hash out. I am forever grateful that I have friends like these nearby. I don't know what I'd do if they moved away, like so many other friends of mine. I can talk to them about things that I can't talk about to anyone else or even write about (at least not publicly). It's a godsend having a space like that, with people like that, for a need like that. I didn't get home until nearly midnight, though, and the next evening when Karin and I went to the movies, we didn't get home until after midnight either, and yesterday we had cleaning, voting and then dinner with Anders' family, so I feel rather zombiefied today.

The lilacs are already fading, as are the grape hyacinths, but the pansies are thriving in the cold weather and all the pots I put a couple of plants in have exploded into full cupcake tops of pansies. The rowan (mountain ash) trees are blooming everywhere with dainty white flowers, looking like popcorn-headed trees. I love them, though they stink if you get too close to too many of them. The bush in our front yard appears to be dead, so we are discussing putting in a tree in that spot instead. A rowan might be just right! Or maybe a tulip tree. I've always wanted a tulip tree.

*I had written two Thor movies, but was then informed that there are, in fact, three of them. This seems excessive.
 calm
mood: calm
music: Kacey Musgraves—Golden Hour


zird is the word [userpic]
POPPING IN
I didn't mean to disappear but first Karin came home and then Martin came home and we had all these things to do and here it is, only a week and a half later, but it feels like much longer. Anders was gone all last week, too...he left the day before Martin came home, on a work trip. He came home on Thursday and I've been kind of reveling in having all my babies at home together. We even watched Eurovision together as a family! (If you count the fact that a great deal of the time, someone was on their phone or iPad). It was just like the old days.

We've suddenly hit summer. Temperatures jumped by almost 10 degrees today and we hit 26C. My hair reflected the humidity (and still does), immediately poodling into a bad 70s Farrah Fawcett knockoff. I'm still feeling sweaty and it's 9:30 pm. The sun is finally starting to slide down an ombre slope of purple, lavender, orange and pink behind the trees.

Hard to believe it's already halfway through lilac season. The rapeseed, which has been glowing all over Skåne for weeks, is starting to lose its edge. The cherry trees have littered every sidewalk with pink, and the dandelions have turned to fuzz and blown away. It must be fun to see a long shot aerial view sped-up movie of spring in southern Sweden, with the waves of color washing across the land. First the yellows and whites of early spring when the forsythia and the hawthorns bloom, then the pink of the cherries and the neon yellow of the rapeseed, and then the purples and whites of the lilacs and the spirea. Not to mention the building, darkening tsunami of green that billows and expands over everything.

I spent half of today in training with our new graphic designer who started today. She seems nice and competent, and she's nearer my age than most of my teammates which is kind of cool, but I have some reservations, so we'll see how things go. One of the things we pressed on as being extremely important when the job position was written up was needing someone with excellent presentation design skills, and something she said this morning made me wonder if she's ever even worked with PowerPoint. Gah, if not. But still, help in any form is a good thing, and I'm not complaining. Exactly.

Martin and I just watched the last episode of Game of Thrones. Hard to believe it's over and the books haven't even finished being written. I am still in the middle of Outlander's season 4 so I am not entirely bereft of things to watch, but nothing seems to have come along to fill the gaps that some of the shows I loved filled.

There isn't anything much to report on, things are just motoring along. We've been doing things, watching things, reading things, working, etc. I expect posting will be a little slow for awhile, since I don't want to sit on the computer when the kids are here. There are lots of things coming up that I'm looking forward to: the trip to Seattle for the Adobe Conference, seeing Chuck, seeing my mom, possibly seeing my best friend, a week in Stockholm and midsummer with old friends and a week in The Netherlands at the end of the summer with my brother's family. Summer, here I come!
 busy
mood: busy
music: Jess Penner—Sweeter


zird is the word [userpic]
IF YOU WANT ME TO TREAT YOUR IDEAS WITH MORE RESPECT, GET SOME BETTER IDEAS*
I got involved in an interesting conversation the other day among a bunch of online writer friends, and have been thinking about it on and off all week. I'm putting it all down here because it's an important conversation for me and I don't want it lost on FB. One friend posted about someone (a friend) who had been spouting lots of rather repulsive opinions and my friend, who was only trying to relay what had happened and how he had felt about it, ended by saying that the guy was entitled to his dumb opinions. I didn't know it was one of my buttons until it was pushed, but my immediate reaction was rather visceral and I responded (a bit hastily):

I’m sorry but why exactly is he entitled to his opinions? Why is there always this sense that opinions are inviolate? I don’t agree at all with that and if someone has rational arguments or information that should change my mind, I don’t think I or anyone else should be entitled to hold on to opinions that are bigoted, racist, or just plain ignorant. You have far more human kindness than I do.

Another writer friend reacted to my comment, asking for more information on my thought process, and asking why I was so offended, and I'm going to post his question/post because I found it interesting and thought-provoking and it made me think hard about my own reaction and MY own opinions about opinions:

"I want to know more about what "entitled" means to you. There must be a semantic issue going on with the word entitled. Because a person being entitled to their own thoughts makes good sense to me. Clearly, as a human being, he has his own thoughts and opinions. You can't change that. You can't force someone to think other than what they think. You can present evidence but they will think what they will think. So as a free human, yes, he is entitled to his own thoughts. Entitled meaning, he has a fundamental right to have thoughts. Whatever batshit crazy stuff he wants to think about. I guess that's what I think of as entitled. He has a right, natural or legal, to his own brain and thoughts. I'm wondering what you are thinking entitled entails? It sounds like there is a moral angle for you. Or an angle that means if I agree someone is entitled to their thoughts, somehow I'm endorsing the validity of their views. I don't think entitled means that his views are as good as other views. I don't think entitled means that he gets to have views and in addition be considered by others to be a good person. If you have certain views, I think you are a BAD person. But I will allow you have the human right to be a bad person if you want to. (If you're bad enough you go to jail but that's still your choice if you want to make it) I don't think entitled means that I should be forced to include him in a discussion. I don't think it means he gets to publish a public school textbook and force our children to read it. So what does entitled mean to you? What does it convey that you object to?"

And I had to stop and really think: what DOES "entitled" mean to me? And why am I objecting to the use of the word? I wrote back that I was indeed reacting a bit to the awful ideas, but that I also feel like people feel entitled to all kinds of things these days and that entitlement itself is something that people have come to take for granted, and it seems to me a cop-out much of the time for not having to think beyond whatever you learned as a child or young adult. Of course I agree that everyone can think for themselves, whatever they like and they can have opinions but why are they entitled to them? They shouldn't be an entitlement...they should be a living, changing, growing, getting BETTER thing, shouldn't they? I am not entitled to my opinions, whether I have them or not. Whether you agree with mine or not, or whether I agree with yours or not. They just are. If a person chooses to be bad and we allow it (which we often don't) then he isn't entitled to that behavior, right? He just chooses it. And if he learns a better way of behaving, then his opinion may change, and that's presumably a good thing. But saying that people are entitled to their opinions is tacitly agreeing that they are okay on some level no matter what they are. It's like mentally washing your hands of the issue or saying that it's not your problem or, I don't know...I'm not sure how to articulate what I think about this any better right now. I'm still working it out, like everyone else. If we say that everyone is entitled to their opinions, then why should we bother to try to change them or worry about what they might lead to? I know it goes both ways, but still.

The first friend responded: "Semantics. I think "entitled," the more I focus, is absolutely the wrong word in this situation. No one is entitled to think anything because they can already think it. You're entitled if you've done something, or ARE something, that makes it transactional or at least in some sense (i.e., cogito, ergo sum). I buy a movie ticket, I'm entitled to watch the movie. I think you're right to question that word. Entitlement is irrelevant. Like I'm entitled to my arm."

His last sentence was sarcastic, but it also made me think. You are not entitled to your arm. You are lucky to have it. Or them. You are lucky to have them both. Now that you have them, you are entitled to use them, maybe. Maybe not. I suppose if you choose to use your arm and the hand on the end of it to wield a gun to shoot innocent people with, I'd have to argue that you are NOT entitled to use it. At least not like that, and therein lies the problem...where do you draw the line when it comes to entitlement?

Friend number two responded to my reply with a thoughtful answer: "Entitlement includes, for you at least, an element of privilege. I get that. And often when people say someone is entitled to their beliefs it can be rather lazy. "Oh well, he's entitled so I'm off the hook for any obligation to confront." And I'm with you on individual rights of entitlement getting pushed hard these days. I guess I would say that of course people are entitled to a lot of things. Meaning they CAN do them and think them. And they WILL reap the consequences. And I OUGHT to be willing to confront people when appropriate and challenge them. And then, depending on their reaction, make my own choices about how much I invest in the relationship."

Tyrion, in last week's episode of Game of Thrones, commented that "Thoughts aren't treason" when he and another advisor were SPEAKING treason in regards to their queen. And I guess you could argue the same for opinions. You can have whatever opinion or thoughts you like, but when you choose to put them out there, you have to understand that you are not entitled to them just because they're yours. And of course, the only way to LEARN of new ideas, to educate yourself and others, IS to put your thoughts and opinions out there. How else will you know that there are people out there who agree with you or people who have completely different ideas about the world, ones that you might do well to listen to and think about? Ones that might make you change your mind? Ones that might make you look at life differently. How else will you know whether your opinions are valid or justified or right in any way? Heh.

I asked the other writers in the group for their two cents and got some more well-thought-out replies:

"I find the conversation provocative in the sense that it forces me to look at the concept of privilege and the right to one's opinions from a perspective that requires thought, not just reaction. I think the "right" to an opinion carries with it a responsibility to base the opinion on thought, not just an emotional reaction. That, of course, requires a person to share the basis of the opinion. But whether a person fulfills the responsibility to base opinion on more than raw emotion can't be measured if he refuses, or fails to, explain the basis. Even if the basis is fully explained, it isn't necessarily based on measurable facts. And we may disagree completely with the premise upon which the opinion is based. In my experience, when people express opinions I find objectionable (e.g., opinions I think are based on bias or prejudice), I tend to respond with emotion more than intellect. So, I can think the entire matter of opinions through and through, but when it comes to reacting to them, my intellectual assessment goes out the window."

"I’ve spent the majority of my life thinking my opinion was fact. It’s only in the past 5+ years that I realized and accepted it was only my opinion." and a quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihahn: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

"Entitled", like "privilege", has become a pejorative, I think, because it's used to label a set of selfish behaviors, a sort of branding of the word. Dog owners, for instance, who feel "entitled" to let their dogs run off-leash in a public space. It's contextual. The behavior may be perfectly fine, for instance, on a farm or someplace where there aren't children to disfigure, wildlife to harass or excrement to dodge on a narrow urban sidewalk.
"Entitlement" as used in the Constitution of Bill or Rights is as free of negative spin as it could get. Perhaps the word itself should be given an executive pardon, with the terms of its parole being that it's always accompanied by a modifier: selfish, anti-social, creative, deserved, well-earned. As far as what began this discussion, I'm thinking that the friend is "entitled" to have his opinions, and perhaps to state his opinions if they won't cause proximate harm, but he's not "entitled" to have them be accepted as fact or impervious to rebuttal or derision.


Friend number one summed up his side by saying, "In my mind, saying someone is "entitled to an opinion" is just another way of saying, "That's what you think, and that's all it's worth. Entitled" may mean different things, shaded by our experience and usage, but the key point is that while you're "entitled" (or allowed, or really, no one can stop you so you're empowered, I guess, which may be better) to your own opinions, that doesn't mean they have to be taken seriously. I think that's the point we're dancing around."

When I looked up "entitlement" to see if maybe I was incorrect in my word definition knowledge, the dictionary actually underscored some of the things I was feeling about using the word in regards to opinions. Entitled carries a connotation of spoiled. Feeling entitled usually means you feel that you have a right to, or deserve the thing in question. You have a CLAIM, a PRIVILEGE, you have a RIGHT. THAT is what I was objecting to most, I think. Anyway, it was a fascinating discussion and I was very glad to hear some other well-educated, thoughtful responses that helped to clarify my own thinking and opinion about this subject.

While I was looking for a title for this post, I found this quote by Harlan Ellison, and couldn't resist: "You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant." and then I found this one by Mark Twain, and I'll stop there because apparently all the great minds have said everything first and much better than I can: "The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane." Haha!

Writer friends and reader friends and friends who call you out and make you think and lead you into good and interesting conversation are the best kinds of friends.

*John Scalzi
 thoughtful
mood: thoughtful
music: Lenka—Trouble is a Friend


zird is the word [userpic]
PRODIGAL
Karin's trip to South America was 2/3's done this past week. She and the girls were in Bolivia and heading from Lake Titicaca to La Paz for a couple of days last we talked. It's been great that they have all been so good about posting on Instagram every couple of days and she has also texted us quite often and we've talked via Messenger almost every week. Helps to keep the distance a little smaller.

After the mid-week holiday, we came back to crazy busy at work, as usual. Thursday felt like a Monday and one of my teammates even asked me when she came in if we were going to have our usual Monday team meeting. "It's Thursday," I said, and then laughed, "I did the same thing!" We had an extra lot of work because so many people have submitted tickets during our day off so I was head down, banging out answers and putting things together all morning. Around 11 am, Karin sent me an SMS:

screenshot_k_sms_190402

Texts are a little annoying when I'm really busy at work because they break my concentration. I also hate typing on my phone since the keyboard is so tiny and inevitably I have to retype everything more than once due to hitting the wrong keys constantly.

She didn't answer again and I didn't think much of it. About half an hour later, I saw out of the corner of my eye that a couple of people were walking toward my desk. We sit in an open landscape so there's no escaping anyone. When they were quite close I looked up, prepared to smile and ask what I could help them with, except

IT WAS KARIN.

It took a second to register that it was really her, and by then we were hugging. I was SO SHOCKED. What? What the?! What are you DOING here??? And then, realizing she was tearing up (and well, so was I), DID SOMETHING HAPPEN??

No. No, she was fine. She was just home. A month early. My manager was the one had gotten the first shock, seen her coming to the door, and let her in, and brought her over to me.

She's tan, and bleached blonder by the sun than she was when she left, and slim and beautiful and HERE.

Of course, then she had to go around and hug and say hello to everyone else at work (since she worked with us for 8 months before leaving on this trip), but then she sat down and told me what and why and how. She hadn't told anyone she was coming home, as she wanted to surprise us. One of the other three girls she was traveling with had been suffering from severe separation anxiety and panic attacks about the traveling in South America (scared of the buses, and scared to fly) and it had been getting worse and worse and she finally decided she had to go home.

Karin, who was also feeling a bit homesick, figured she had done the majority of the things she really wanted to do. They had had a month of surfing and fun and beaches in Costa Rica and a month in Peru hiking the Inca Trail and seeing all the sights, and once they got to Bolivia, even though they still had 2 more countries to go, she said they hadn't planned much in advance and she thought she'd just be spending extra money and she just felt it was time, plus her friend really needed someone to go with her, since she wasn't capable of flying by herself, so they changed their tickets and headed home to Sweden. The other two girls are finishing off the trip alone but apparently are fine with the situation and thought it was for the best, so all ended on a good note.

After work, back at the house, we waited impatiently for Anders to get home. He's usually home around 5:30 or so, but it got later and later and he still hadn't shown up. Karin wanted to take a shower, but kept waiting because we figured he'd pull up as soon as she got in. I couldn't text him and ask him where he was as he would have found that strange and wondered why. Finally, at nearly 7 pm, I told her to go ahead and get in the shower, and SURE ENOUGH, a minute later, he pulled up.

I went in to the bathroom and Karin turned the water off, and after I heard the door, I went out and said, "Oh hey! Was wondering where you were! You got an early birthday present!" and then Karin opened the bathroom door and came out. :D

We went to Malmö for a very late dinner to celebrate her homecoming and talked about all the things she had done and seen, and looked through some of her photos, then we left her there to spend the night with her girlfriend. She met me at the end of the work day yesterday and we went to the grocery store together and then cooked and had dinner with my friend Camilla (also shocked and surprised!) and then watched all three episodes of Game of Thrones together so she could get caught up. Today, we went shopping and I dropped her off in Lund, as she was going to go see a bunch of friends.



One kid home, one to go, in just another week and a half!
 happy
mood: happy
music: Oingo Boingo—Just Another Day
Tags:


zird is the word [userpic]
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS
Just now, under the bird feeder, pecking up dropped sunflower seeds: a big, well-fed ring-necked pheasant strutting and bobbing his head, and a tiny-in-comparison golden-beige Eurasian collared dove. I had to look up the dove as I wasn't sure exactly which breed it was; we don't see them very often. We get pheasants almost daily, both the big male and a full harem of smaller, browner females that scuttle over to sweep up seeds and then dart back to the safety of the hedge. I've only got sunflower seeds left and not that many of them; the season for feeding birds is about over, unless you are a year-round feeder. The bags of seeds and the big bins and suet balls have already disappeared from our local grocery store, so if I want to continue, I have to go further afield for supplies. I plan to get some more suet balls at least; they don't leave quite such a mess.

Yesterday was Walpurgis Eve (Beltane), or Valborgsmässoafton as it's known in Sweden. We spent the evening with our friends Mats and Annelott again, as we do most years, with a open-grill over a small, contained bonfire. There are already grill and fire restrictions further north in Sweden, but nothing in Skåne so far, so we were able to enjoy our outdoor BBQ with cheese and chorizo dogs and plenty of smoke in our faces, which at least kept away the mosquitoes. We got lucky with the weather as well as rain had been forecast for yesterday at the beginning of the week and even though it was cloudy and fairly chilly most of the day, by late afternoon it has warmed up and the sun was out. A nice change from the years we've spent huddled in rain clothes, freezing as our hotdogs sizzled.

Today is a holiday, and I've mostly been a slug, partly due to all the headaches and allergy symptoms I've been battling this past week. Suffering again from abominably itchy eyes and have tried several different eye drops, all to no avail. I've been taking Allegra this past week which has helped with the rest of the symptoms but the itchy eyes, which started again a few days ago, are really bad. GAH. I can't wait until the birch is done pollinating.

The tomato plants are thriving in the study window, over a foot tall already and both of them have a couple of tiny yellow flowers on them! I sure hope it warms up soon so we can get them into the big pots out back where Anders has prepared a trellis for them to climb up.

Because yesterday was a half-day holiday, I was able to catch up with Game of Thrones before we left for the bonfire, but it was a near thing as the Internet connection cut out about half an hour from the end of the episode...! AAUGH! I found out later it was out all over the village. Anders had recently redone the router and cabling in the front-hall closet and I couldn't even figure out where to try to reboot it to see if the wifi would come back on, and I couldn't reach anything to boot. Even standing on a chair! Short is not good, when you are desperate to find out who lives and dies. Thankfully, I realized about 15 minutes later that I could make a personal hotspot with my phone and was able to finish watching. Whew! Only three episodes left until the end. I really wish the books had already been written up to this point. I wonder if the author will ever bother to finish them now that the show has gone so far beyond where he left off.

All that's left on the agenda for today is to get our Swedish taxes done. Anders always seems to wait until the very last minute. I plan to sit with him to learn how to do it, as he has taken care of them for the entire time we've lived in Sweden, and I wouldn't have the first clue what to do if I had to deal with them myself.

I'm glad it's been a short week, two more work days should whizz by and then the weekend again. Woot!
 relaxed
mood: relaxed
music: Marshall Crenshaw—There She Goes Again


zird is the word [userpic]
WHAT LIFE IS LIKE AROUND HERE
Ahhh...what is there to write about? My life seems to be sliding along. It's already the end of April, and I continue to boggle at how quickly the time goes. I had dinner with my two best friends yesterday and all of us were kind of feeling the same way. Every year goes faster and the time spent getting from one event to the next seems to disappear. None of us could really articulate how to slow it down, either, so I guess you just enjoy the ride, in that case.

It's all the usual here, with little bits of news interspersed. Anders' mom's apartment sold, hurrah! We don't have to remove the rest of the furniture and stuff that was still leftover, which we were planning to take to charity, OR clean, as the new owners told us not to bother; they would take care of it (boggle...but, OKAY!). We sold the little blue car that Karin has been driving and Anders hopes to have her moped fixed and inspected by Wednesday when one of my colleagues is coming to look at it with plans to purchase for his daughter. (Keep your fingers crossed). As soon as it is sold, Anders is buying another little cheap car from a friend, for Karin to use, but this one is a convertible. :) Very usable in Sweden...ha!

Other things on the super exciting list? I mailed my US taxes. I've been working on AWC website stuff with the huge help of my friends Kathey and Russell who are our long-distance web tech support. I've been working a lot on the days I'm not off for holidays. We have another short week ahead, with Valborg (Walpurgis Eve) on Tuesday, which is a half-day for us, and a day off again on Wednesday. But then we have to work for 2 solid weeks (O! the humanity!) before the next set of short weeks.

I'm rereading books and keeping the house clean and trying to keep in touch with my family. It's been a week of gorgeous really warm weather followed by a weekend of chilly temperatures and rain.

I switched my allergy medicine which seems to be helping. At least I haven't wanted to claw my eyes out of my head for the last three days, so that's progress. Anders is out in the back fixing up our tomato "garden"...we've paved over the little back garden bed and are putting them in big pots instead. I'm tired of the neighborhood cats using it as a bathroom, so it's now rocks and concrete. Take that, you little shit machines.

The tomato plants that I bought last weekend have already doubled in height but we can't plant them until the outside temperature averages 15C, and it's still too cold at night. We already bought seed potatoes too but they are in cold storage until we get the raised bed done for them. There were a million flowers on the plum tree but not so many on the cherry tree, which I hope doesn't mean we'll get more plums than cherries, as I like cherries much more than plums.

I've been only semi-productive this morning, as I woke with a headache again and fell back asleep after taking meds. Emptying the dishwasher, watering plants, filling bird feeders, laundry, etc. and prepping for the AWC meeting tomorrow. We don't have a lot of people signed up which is a bummer since the guest speaker was invited by me and I was hoping for a good turnout.

I hope the weather gets nice again by Tuesday as I've spent enough cold and rainy Valborgs huddled around hotdogs hissing in the rain. I'm ready for real spring, real summer, more green, and putting the tomatoes out!
 calm
mood: calm


zird is the word [userpic]
I'LL TAKE IT ALL
A blog friend of mine posted this poem on Instagram last night and it struck me hard...it's nearly exactly how I feel about spring and the coming of the green, even if the winter treated me well, or at least, not badly.

Instructions on Not Giving Up
by Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Of course, I then had to google the poet, and read everything else she's written that I could find on the web (thank you, poets.org) and it was a splendid way to rouse myself from the cave of my holiday-morning sleep-in bed.

Pulling the blinds up to let in the light of another beautiful day: no clouds to be seen, just a solid, breathless blue. The tops of the birch and pine trees are swaying in the breeze. Birds stop and perch and rock in their deciduous swingsets, then soar away. There are magpies hopping about on the lawn, hopefully they are vacuuming up some of the seed spill from the feeder. I only have sunflower seeds left, and suet balls, and the birds have been fiercely attacking both. Anders set up the GoPro outside and caught them squabbling. Then he filmed the sunset, with the comet streaks of airplanes whizzing on their flight paths over head, zip zip zip. Then he filmed the stars wheeling and coming into focus: the Big Dipper clear as a bell. The sky cobalt and satin, star-studded: this brave o'er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire. I'm no poet; Shakespeare said it better. He always does.

The hours stretch before me, another day to do whatever I wish in, to spend or squander how I want, to live, to endure, to enjoy. Holidays are stolen time, set aside from our real lives. Time to regroup, relax, reread, re-envision. Shall I sit on the deck, in the sun, or under the shade of the umbrella, and watch the sparrows come and go? Shall I make some use of myself or only live in my skin and my eyes and behind my eyelids, where the thoughts rise and sink again, bubbling. A morning is filled with possibilities; evening either with repletion or regrets; there's no knowing beforehand which it will be.
 mellow
mood: mellow
music: Roxette—Some Other Summer


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