14.09.18, New poem: Who is this guy?
Aurorae Borealis - The Northern Lights
Have you seen the Northern Lights, for real and not just in pictures? If you haven't seen them, travel to Norway to experience them! Whenever I see them, I am filled with peace and awe as I watch them dance over the night sky like flames in the wind. At the boundry line in our atmosphere where charged particles flow in and out at equal rates, we get a light show. Norway is the country of changing light conditions in general, as in the summer the sun never sets and in the winter it is dark pretty much all the time. The northern lights can only bee seen when it is dark enough, which is from late October to early April. The further north you go, the larger chance of seing them. I have seen them on crisp, clear and silent late fall or winter nights and always found myself unable to let my eyes go of them as they are very captivating. Along with the midnight sun, the northern lights is one of the perks of living in Norway. It is so cold and dark most of the time that we need some extra light to compensate for all the darkness. Some even buy special lamps that imitate daylight to fend off depressions during the winter.
On the coldest and darkest winter nights, we cuddle together around the fire with a hot cup of chocolate and a cozy movie like Woody Allen's Hanna and her sisters or the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. After centuries with cold, we know how to keep warm. And so when you visit Norway during the winter, you need to bring your wollen underwear, an insulating winter coat, something to cover your head, gloves, winter boots and a scarf. It's easy to find a good hostel or hotel in Norway, and they all have breakfast included, but the best thing is of course to stay with someone you know. Norwegians always like to prepare for guests so that their stay is as comfortable and rewarding as possible, so be sure to book ahead or tell your host that you're coming in advance. In Norway, we take our breakfast seriously as upon opening our eyes in the morning after having slept for like 12 hours due to the darkness, we're quite hungry and we're going to need energy to keep warm throughout the day. You're probably going to want to have coffee with your breakfast as awaking when it's dark can be a challenge. It is no surprise that Norwegians consume a considerable amount of coffee, and with a whopping 9.9 kg per person per year, Nowegians come second only to the Finns who drink 12 kg coffee per person per year. My breakfast usually consists of oatmeal porridge or homebaked breakfast muffins. In my oatmeal porridge I add sunflower and pumpkin seeds and almonds to make it more interesting and nutritious. I may also sprinkle raisins, fresh fruit or berries on top to make it more tasty. My breakfast muffins consists of buckwheat and almond flour, oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, carrot, walnuts and eggs. But for a guest I'd serve whole meal bread on request. We always serve foreigners brown cheese with bread, but although Norwegians love brown cheese, not all foreigners do for reasons Norwegians will never understand. Nothing is better to us than newly baked slightly warm bread with butter and some slices of brown cheese. Some times we add some raspberry jam on top as well. But don't despair, as if you don't like brown cheese, we always have a wide selection of other things to spread on your bread.
After breakfast you may want to take a stroll through the city, but if it is too cold, windy or snowy, then you may just want to stay inside. Since we spend a considerable amount of time inside during the winter, we've had to take a liking to playing board games, cards or other activities that can be done inside, like perhaps reading a good book. On my night table I now have a book on Camille Paglia, and I keep staring over at a rather thick book I mean to read by Carrol Quigley Tragedy and Hope, but which I haven't found the courage to embark upon yet. I guess my mind is a little tired from working on my PhD, and so I prefer something lighter and picked up the much thinner book on Paglia. It's well written and so easy to read, plus I enjoy the topic. Having studied biology, it is perhaps not so surprising that I find many points of agreement with Paglia, but I don't view women purely as representatives of the dionysian forces. Where humans see irrationality, lack of logic and chaos, Nature may be creating order, logic and sense. An example would be when a man asks a girl out for coffee and gets the answer that she doesn't like coffee. She doesn't mean she won't go out with him, just that she doesn't like coffee because she finds it foul tasting and unhealthy, a fact that she thinks the man should have understood. You see, it is a kind of test, a test of how smart and persistent the man really is. Nature likes to set up selection filters like this so that not just any man can mate with the girl, the chosen one needs to pass the exam by outsmarting her. This rather tricky coffee situation could have been avoided by asking the girl out for an unspecified beverage, but sooner or later during conversations a similar situation would have arisen as girls don't say what they think or mean, forcing men to read their minds. Saying no, when you mean yes yes yes, we all can agree is illogical and irrational, but Nature only sees to that the most suitable people get together and make babies, which could hardly be called irrational or described as dionysian. If all the guys out there feel Nature treats them unfairly by making them pass through a DEFCON 1 defense system each time they want to take a girl out, I can even the field a little by saying that women also have to go through tests. The global maternal mortality rate is 216 deaths per 100 000 live births, which goes as high as to 546 per 100 000 live births in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although the maternal mortality rate is as low as 9 per 100 000 live births in Norway, we may assume it used to be a lot higher before we had modern health care. For comparison, the fatality rate for base jumping is 43 per 100 000 jumps. This means that for many women pregnancy and childbirth is still as dangerous as or more dangerous than base jumping. Pregnancy and childbirth provide for a very challenging physiological test of women, a test which a substantial number of women have failed and are still failing. The selection filter Nature puts women through is arguably quite harsh and keeping this in mind can perhaps soothe the men who think Nature is treating them unfairly. Women are often viewed as illogical, irrational and as risk-avoiding and fearful. But to me, this is perfectly logical and rational. She hides her reason to make men reason for her showing they are smart, and she avoids taking risk so that she doesn't add to the already substantial life time risk of death and complications from pregnancy and childbirth. Taking more risk for her is stupid and something Nature does not allow. Men can risk their lives by flinging themselves off a cliff as base jumpers if they want to, as they still woudn't come close to her risk of death. I hear it all the time that women should learn to take more risk and be less fearful, but this isn't that easy for women. We shouldn't ask women to be more like men, just as we should not ask men to be more like women either. It goes both ways, and here I really agree with Paglia, we have to accept and admire our differences instead of trying to become each other. I am of a very different generation than Paglia and had no problem with stuyding science and mathematics while also baking cakes wearing an apron in my kithen at home. The previous generation saw the apron as a symbol of female suppression, but I knew nothing about this and just thought it was practical as it would prevent me from spilling on my clothes. But I acknowledge that there were many women before me who cleared the way for me and opened up the opportunity for me to study science without prejudice. And I am thankful and respectful of them, realizing they didn't come to such a well set table as I have done. I look forward to reading the rest of the book on Paglia and the first chapter of her doctoral thesis, which I have on my night table as a book translated into Norwegian. Especially now as it is starting to get darker at night, though it is still warm outside during the day, but that won't last, it never does in Norway. When it's dark it is nice to put out torches that light up the road to your home, and like in the song , lights will guide you home in the dark nights of Norway.