20 February 2008

Pysched for deeeeep powder

Five days back in Norway and the weather has been kak. Six degrees and raining... sitting in the house this evening, looking out over the fjord and listening to the rain lash against the window - its like being on a ship in a wild storm. Normally I love it when its like this but tonight I am packing and getting ready for Utah and some deep powder. Ten days of boarding in my favorite state, which just happens to have had record snow falls this year. Its going to be great - the boards are waxed, the tickets bought, the guys know we're coming, all that's in the way is one more day at work...

It's been an odd couple of days back. Pottered around the house at the weekend, then went to Scott adnd Amys to watch ski porn in prep. for the trip. Rest of the week has been home alone with the cats watching ROME series 2 on DVD. One evening at the gym and one at the climbing wall with Sandy and thats been it... It's a Rock'n'roll lifestyle!

But in two days we'll be carving deep turns in 3m of fresh snow at Snowbird!

15 February 2008

Heading home (temporarily)

Just heading back to Norway after two weeks in the land of the large. Been a good trip, got lots of work done and caught up with some old friends. Even made it to the climbing wall with Roy F. managed a couple of trips to the gym and did the required shopping, including some new bindings for my board in preparation for Utah next week.

First highlight was when my hire car got upgraded from a "regular car" to a "truck" (Ford F150). Now a huge pickup is great if you live on a farm or hang out in the desert - but driving round town, it’s pretty horrible, in an amusing sort of way. The most ridiculous aspect is when you park between two other cars then can't get out because the damn thing is so big! How do the fat people manage? Anyway I am going to chalk it up to another cultural experience...

Second highlight was watching Wales beat the Jocks, top game - going to watch rugby at 8am in bar and eating breakfast is somewhat different but it was a good match to watch and a satisfying win. Ireland were unlucky not to pip the french at the end.

Saturday night had some food with Roy and Linda and was entertained by Connor and Erin (their two kids). Then Roy and I headed for some beers to his local boozer. While we were propping up the bar a band started to set up. Turned out it was Janok B and some other people that Roy knew, odd thing was that they only played about three times a year and this was way off their beaten track. I guess if you hang out in enough bars in enough oil towns, sooner or later you'll meet somebody you know. They were pretty good and it made for a top evening.

Rest of the time was pretty quite socially, just got as much work done as possible. Work went well and made the trip worthwhile.

Now sitting in SkiPole waiting for the flight to the big B, seems a bit strange to thing that I'll be back here this time next week heading for deep deep powder...

07 February 2008

KLM - a bunch of cretins

Sitting in Houston and I was sure that the flight over would give something to write about, but it was surprisingly pleasant and uneventful. However, true to form the morons at KLM managed to live up to my very low expectations once again. Now I fly with KLM a lot and over the last 10 years the service has been monumentally poor, especially since they were bought by the French, things really went down hill after that.

Now let me say that I have never had anything but excellent service in the air. The cabin crews are awesome, its just the cretins on the ground. Customer service is stunningly bad.

So its 3am in the morning and my phone rings, I wake up and look at it, withheld number so I ignore it. In the morning I check the voice mail and it’s a very rude guy telling me that the return flight I changed last week will be cancelled if I don’t pay the fee. Now when I changed my flight I specifically asked the nice chap I spoke if there was any fees to pay and he specifically said no! I even asked twice and he assured me there was no charge.

So I called them and after the normal rounds of being passed from pillar to post I eventually found a women who wanted to try and help. So I explained the situation for the forth time and she then pottered off to ask her supervisor who basically said “tough shit, we made a mistake but you still have to pay”. Not even a sorry. So then I started to get a bit upset and asked why they had called me at 3am in the morning. She said “how was he supposed to know you were in America and it was the middle of the night?”

Well he was calling from the airline to discuss my return flight with my schedule in front of him, so good question how should he know, where I was or what time it was?

I would not trust these people to sit the right way on a toilet without supervision…

04 February 2008

Life in Norway I - Step away from the Scaletrics!

When we were young there was always one kid who was rich enough to have a scaletrics set. You could build a race track and drive round and round to your hearts content. But for every scaletrics set there was a domineering father who insisted on repeatedly ripping up the track and trying to improve things. They would then tell you how to drive and wrench the controls from you. They would then show-off to the other equally tedious fathers and you would wander off to build a tree house.

Bergen is a small, picturesque city on the west coast of Norway with a population of 250,000. That is, by European standards, pretty small (similar to Nottingham or Derby in the UK). Unfortunately the city is run by the scaletrics fathers who have graduated from making small groups of children unhappy to pissing off an entire city by trying to implement draconian big city traffic solutions.

Bergen has an ever increasing, ring of toll booths to enter, or even pass through the city, which is a bit harsh, given that the only way around it involves going half way to Sweden; a one way system that can only be the product of copious volumes of dope and sleep deprivation; half of the dual carriageways are given over to buses and taxis and now, they are tearing up the city centre to put in a tram system that doesn't actually go anywhere useful.

Nobody that I have spoken to thinks this multi-million nok folly will be of any use to anyone, and nobody wants it. If people want to walk for 20 minutes, stand in the rain for another 10, then be cramped into a small space inhaling other peoples cough germs and listening to tinny (c)rap music on someone elses head phones before getting off and walking another 15 minutes in the rain - then they can catch a bus.

So why are the scaletrics fathers ripping up the track again? Why are they wasting all that money and generating traffic chaos, I can only speculate, but I would guess it’s because Birmingham and Manchester got one, so it must be a good idea. Well I have got news for you - they are big cities with huge traffic problems, Bergen is a small town where the longest traffic queues are less than 10 minutes for half an hour either side of 8am and 3 pm. And even they have only become and issue because they have dug up half the roads in the town centre and turned the other half into bus lanes. The entire traffic problem could be solved by scrapping the taxi lanes, changing everyones desire/need to be moving at exactly the same time and maybe building a few better roads.

The victorian land owners in Britian built castles, because building a thing of the past is a statement that says something like "I have got shed loads of money to waste and I'd rather build a monument to my own stupidity than give it to the peasants." History does indeed repeat itself.

So, step away from scaletrics and go and do something useful, like mowing the lawn or playing golf...

Det snør - its snowing or at least it was

The snow finally arrived in Bergen towards the end of the week. Bergen looks so fantastic when it has a fresh dusting, especially if the skies are also blue. Friday night went out for a quite night with the production guys and ended up exceedingly trashed - not quite sure how that happened.

Saturday got up with a bad head and headed to Voss with Katharine for a days boarding. Not as much snow there as I had hoped, the smart people where all in Eikedalen, which had lots of fresh powder, but at least it meant that Voss was fairly empty. Had a good day anyway and meet up with some of the guys from Bergen after lunch, everyone is psyched for the Utah/Wyoming trip which is only 3 weeks away. Now they have serious amounts of powder this year!

Saturday night had a quite one and stayed in. The hot tub got some good use, there are few things better than sitting out on the terrace, in the tub, looking out over a snow covered fjord and sipping a glass of wine. Very civilised. This is what I moved to Norway for !

Sunday the weather crapped out, got warm, windy and wet. Pottered around and got some jobs done. Monday got up at 0-dark:30 and headed to the airport for a plane to Houston. Will be in the land of the big for 2 weeks. Its going to be very entertaining to be there during super-tuesday - these guys are hard line republicians who still, after all the carange believe that Bush is a good guy and not the geographically illiterate, war mongering, christian cretin that we all knew he was before they were dumb enough to elect him. Twice! Anyway they get to see if their country is going to be run by a blackman or a woman for the next 4 years. I am keen to find out which they fear the most ha ha ha! Either way its gonna hurt!