Tokyo – Elephant Feet From Hell

Friday was the departure date from Japan and I left Tokyo with somehow ambivalent feelings. On the one side, there was still so much to see (and eat), but on the other (and definetely the most dominant one) side, I was longing to see Christer (junior) again, after 9 days of Skyping.

I hour train ride, almost 12 hour first leg flight, sprinting through the airport in Copenhagen, another 1 hour flight and a short taxi ride later, we were finally home. Our luggage, however, didn’t sprint as well in Copenhagen, so they never made it to Sandefjord.

It was so good to see Christer again and he actually took it well when I told him that the Japanese candy I had bought for him was in my suitcase. Something that was definetely not in my suitcase, but where lying safely in my hand luggage, were my 2 new medals and my first order of business (even before taking a shower after 20 hours of travelling) was to hang them in their rightfulky place on the Wall of Fame. There is something so right about this picture, right?

As earlier mentioned, the trip home was a bit bumpy and I did notice (while sprinting through the airport) that my feet were not fully pn my side. Granted I felt a bit flubby from before after binging on delicacies of the fabulous Japanese cuisine for the last 9 days, but this was somewhat unexpected. Check out the size on my legs after the long flight (from last night and from earlier this morning)!! Have you seen worse?

All in all it was OK to be back at home, but what I don’t appreciate is the weather goods already messing with me and in the form of MORE SNOW!!! Now thatwe were finally gotten rid og the old one (sigh…).

Tokyo – Karaoke Time!

It would have been a real shame leaving Tokyo without experiencing karaoke, so yesterday we looked up the venues in the neighbourhood for a night of singing. The choice fell on Big Echo Karaokebar, only a 10 minute walk from our Marunouchi hotel.

Before we booked a table at the karaoke bar, however, we made a pitstop for som food and (lots of drinks) at the bar next door as a warm-up. Then we booked a private room with a big TV screen and two micriphones for the six of us (with additional drinks to further loosen up the vocal cords…).

Earlier in the day, a couple of the boys were a bit sceptical of the whole karaoke and claimed audience status only. But, being in the room with a drink in their hand, made that scepticism evaporate within minutes. The whole room took off and we all went all in singing wise. We (of course) felt that we were really nailing it, but in retrospect, I think we made a wise call deciding to prohibit autio/video recording of the seance.

Our plan was to only book the room for like 30 minutes to an hour, but 3,5 hour later the staff practically had to force the microphones out of our hands. A super fun experience, and the possibility og booking a private room made even the shyest of us break out in singing.

Tokyo Marathon – A real struggle, but the Six Star Finisher medal is in the bag

OK, first a spoler alert; I MADE IT!!

After a terrible night with hardly any sleep, I woke up at race day at 5 AM, not exactly in top shape for 42.2 km. One look at the rain ouside, and I was tempted to crawl back into bed and forget about the whole thing. But, we are after all doing this volunteerly, we have worked for it for several years an we have actually paid a small fortune to come here, so I managed to give myself a kick in the rear and get ready for breakfast.

When it came to transportation to the starting area, it was already timed perfectly by our group’s Tokyo-Transportation-system-whisperer, so we others really only had to meet up in the hotel lobby, walk to the next building (Tokyo Station), walk for a few more minutes without concerning ourselves with which direction to take and volià, there was our train and after a 15 min train ride we reached our destination.

Yhe bib-number control and baggage checked were done real quickly (have I mentioned how efficient the Japanese are?), so we had over an hour to kill before the run started. I choose to spend that time in a stair case, after a trip to one of the many outdoor toilets, which was quite an experience indeed. The most organized line ever, with a guy standing in the end of the line holding a sign saying the line starts here. There were also multiple persons actually telling which toilet to go to when it was our turn. Perfect system and no cutting in line..

Check out the line in the background.

Even if the lines seemed endless, I didn’t have to wait too long before it was my turn. On drawbavk, however, was the fact that these were squatting toilets and small, which made this. 1.78m, 40+ year old with bad knees struggle so much that I almost fell over at one point. I did make it though, but a repeat visit was out of the question, so I made myself hold it in until the race was over and more comfortable facilities could be located.

One our before my starting tine, I went to my starting block to get in an as good as possible position. Tokyo Marathon practices gun-shot timing when i comes to cutoff times, and they are strict on enforcing those times. My starting block not crossing the starting line before 30 minutes after the gun-shot, made it a real threat that I might struggle with some of the earliest cutoff times, which I incidentely also ended up doing. It did not help either that I wad, due to the heavy rain, both cold and soaking wet, so it wasn’t the most amusing hours of my life that marathon.

I must admit that the race itself was a struggle from Start to Finish and I wad really hurting from all the longruns I never took prior to it. But, I did manage to crawl over the finishing line in the end and was handed both the regular Tokyo Marathon medal and the big Six Star Finisher’s medal, the proof that I have made it through all the major marathons in the world (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo), something approx. 4000 have done before us, but only 36 Norwegians.

Something very uplifting during the race and which really made my day, was of course our anazing cheerleader, running through town to cheer for us at three different locations. ❤️

So to sum up: rain and windy, soaking wet, painful race, but two more medals in the bag. Now it’s time for celebrations.

The gang (but missing our cheerleaders).

Norway – Spectacular Besseggen

Besseggen is a famous mountain ridge between the lakes Gjende and Bessvatnetin Jotunheimen Norway. Being from Norway myself, I must admit that I am shameful it took me this long to take the popular trail from Memurubu, over the edge and down to Gjendesheim. According to Wikipedia it takes 5-7 hours without rest stops, and we proudly completed in about 5, including a couple of stops.

We started off in beautiful sunshine, but when we reached the edge, it started to get foggy. We did, however, get to see the magnificent view from the top before the fog got to us, with the green colored Gjende lake (the color is due to glacier runoff containing clay) on one side and Bessvanetin on the other. 

On our way down, it we could hardly see a meter in front of us, but luckily the trail was well marked, so we did not got lost. Then it started to rain, then to hail and finally it started to snow, so you can safely say we got to experience all four seasons at once. 

An amazing trail I recommend to everyone and I am certainly doing it again someday (preferably in more favorable weather).



Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain… (#Perfect)

For several weeks (that feels like years) it has depressingly snowed and snowed and snowed and the damn shuffle has now become an integrated attachment to my sensible (now blistering) office-hands both before and after my actual day job. With streets so full of snow that cannot be removed by plow trucks due to idiot car owners not able to read signs telling them there is a temporary parking prohibition in the city center, it is quite the adrenaline kick to try to move around.. Outside my own house, I now have to shuffle away additionally 5 meters of snow due to the missing access for the plow truck. And even then, people have been parking their cars at the plowing edge, making the street so small that now the plow truck cannot drive there at all and I have to wiggle around to even be able to get my car into my yard. Those cars (or more specific, their owners) have now become my personal hate objects (even though I know that if I had been in their shoes (or car) I might have done the same if I was desperate enough for a parking space…)

Just when there was actually not any room for any more snow and I was about to give up on the whole winter, the weather forecast suddenly promised rain! But, given that they also forecasted -7 degrees Celsius, it of course ended up in snow/ice (what the H*)# were they thinking???), I must admit that meteorologists in general and Yr weather forecast in particular also ended up for my seasonal hate list. Yesterday, however, we suddenly migrated to degrees on the good side of 0 and in the afternoon it finally started to rain. Of course, rain on lots and lots of snow, gives ice and slushy conditions, so today the streets are a mess and I fully intend to stay as much indoors as possible. But, on the good side, I was able to see with my own, blue eyes, how the snow had retreated to the point where I can actually start to see the floor of my terrace! It would of course be better if we had even higher degrees and lets say… sun, but at this point I am settling for ANYTHING that can make the snow go away.

Unfortunately there will be a few days with slushy streets, and with the stupid parked cars not going anywhere, I am not that optimistic about anyone coming to remove the ice/slush. So maybe I will just sit this one out and take the bus for the next few days. Anyways, I hope this is the last we will see of winter this year (or at least until I leave for Dubai and Tokyo in a week). I choose for now to be a slight optimist but with the option of blowing up if more white goo finds its way here…

Have I mentioned how much I really hate snow?

From Manual Labour to Cat Café (#ChangesInTheWorkPlace)

100 years ago times were good for unskilled workers and one could any time drop out of school and get a fair paid job on a boat or in construction and from there work one’s way up. Today, along with technology being an integrated part of our working life, it is not that simple. More and more of so-called “manual jobs” are now obsolete and have been replaced by automation and this lead to many workers not able to get a job.

But, new times also brings new opportunities. There are some innovative souls out there who are capable of seeing possibilities where others only sees obstacles and this has resulted in a range of totally new jobs who non-existent just a few years ago. Here are some examples:

Dog Hotel

Dog hotels have been around for some years, but the range of their offering keeps on expanding. It is not just a place to look after your dog, but can also include extra service as forest walks, dog park, spa, pedicure for dogs etc. I think it is safe to say that “Fido” will be in the best of hands if you are out travelling or just need a sitter for a day.

Personal Trainer (PT)

Personal trainers are now not only limited to actors and rich people. Also us more of the regular sort, have discovered the benefits of having a personal trainer putting together a realistic training plan and making sure we are as efficient as possible and are able to reach our goals.

Cat-café

Then, a new type of work of the more stranger sort, namely the increasing number of cat cafés. The concept is, as far as I understand, to 1. enter, 2. Buy coffee, 3. Look at cats playing, 4. Pet the cats. Such cafés can now be found all over the world. However not yet present in Norway, they are in quite abundance in Japan.

Swamp and Mosquito Museum

Usually I am more than average interested in museums, but even though we have both a mosquito and a swamp museum right here in Norway, I have never made my way there of some mysterious reason. Of course, there might be a level of entertainment in this concept that is completely lost on me (it is not like I have done a lot of research on the topic…), but I feel that they are playing a bit fast and loose with the word “attraction” when they in fact try to pass this on as an attraction.

Sourdough Hotel

OK, when I first read about this, I thought it was a joke. But, evidently, there is a hotel for sourdough in Oslo (Oslo Surdeigshotell). Here you can leave your sourdough for cultivation and care. But, by all means… Kudos to the owners for actually pulling this off as a business idea.

So, what I guess I am saying is that there is always hope. Where one window closes, another window (or at least a cat door) opens, so here it is all about “going with the flow” for the ability to change will definitely be a success criteria in the workplace of the future.

Life with a big brother – A constant fight and a friend for life

Just to clarify, I love my brother. Even though we are quite different in personality and manner, I could not ask for a better brother (or for a better uncle for my son, for that matter), and I know that he would do anything for me (as I would for him).

When that being said… It was not always so easy growing up with a big brother and sometime during our childhood it was a matter of survival (metaphorically speaking, of course…).

The Monopoly Challenge

I have, to put it mildly, an overdeveloped competitive instinct and all games growing up were a fight for life and death (at least it felt that way). I especially have a tense relationship with Monopoly due games with my brother in early childhood. He would hide away money, pretend he was loosing and hence lulling me into believing i was winning, before he would go for the kill and ask me if I needed to borrow some money… I clicked of course, and more often than not, our game ended in a fight (I did have some anger issues back then..).

The Skiing Challenge

We used to do a lot of cross-country skiing back then and every ski trip was of course a competition. My sore spot was that I could throw a tantrum and my brother’s strategy was of course to get me pissed, something he often achieved. If I was in the lead, he used to walk on top of my skis (very annoying) and use his ski pole to make snow fall off the tree branches over my head and onto me and my neck. The goal was of course to make me click so that I would stop and attack him (something I often did) and then push me to the side and retake the lead (he is after all a couple of years older than me and was quite capable of doing that). This strategy of his worked more often than I would like to admit, since I at the time had no sense of strategic thinking or the ability to learn from my mistakes.

The Joke Challenge

We grew up in a house without modern utilities like dishwasher, microwave oven or even a functional kitchen. We were, however, early adopters of our own video camera, since our father was quite the film buff. One afternoon he asked my brother and me + a friend of mine to tell jokes to the camera. My brother then asked me which joke I was to tell, something I didn’t want to relieve. He kept on pestering me, however, until I caved and told him. When we started with the jokes, he was the first joker out and he….told MY joke!! Guess what happened.. Or, you actually don’t have to guess since it’s all on tape (link). I promise, it is well worth a look.

Then fast forward to my first day at high-school. New, big school and the feeling of beeing very small. Already before the first class, some older students I had never seen in my life (including some very fine masculin specimen) came over and asked if I was the sister of my brother. When I confirmed, they told me they had watched videos of me and my brother for an entire vorspiel the weekend before, so lucky me… Not exactly the start I was hoping for at high school, since I was not exactly an attention seeker at that time (that came way later…)

The Air Challenge

Already at a young age I was very into books and could spend hours and hours reading. My brother was not much of a reader and when he was bored, he would go out of his way to disturb me from reading. He would then place his hands between me and my book while chanting “the air is for everyone..” over and over again. Did I mentioned I had anger issues back then?

The End-Of-The-Table Challenge

OK, when you read this paragraph you will think this is a story from the previous century, but the fact is that we use to have a grandmother with some old-fashion way of thinking. We grew up in a home with more or less gender equality and with no gender bias. Grandmother, however, was another story and my brother knew how to use this to his advantage. For instance, if I had taken the place at the end of the table for breakfast, he would order me away from it. When I (of course) told him to sod off, he would tell our grandmother who in turn will ask me to move, since “in our family, the end of the table is reserved for the man of the house”. Not exactly a message that was well received by me, especially not with my brother grinning in the background.

The Protector

Up until this point I have only told you about the competitive relationship between my brother and me. I will emphasize, however, that most of my childhood memories are of a warm and good nature. For instance, he often took the blame after a fight, no matter who started it. One time, when he had locked me out and I, in a furious rage, threw my fist through the glass of the door, breaking it and making blood gush all over the place, he instantly called my mother and started the conversation to claim responsibility for the incident. He as also worked as my protector throughout my whole childhood, scaring away anyone wanting to harm me. The protector behavior lasted also through my high-school years, all though not quite as much appreciated at that time since he had a few good looking friends he threatened to beat up if they tried to make a move on me.