Inventions of a lifetime

Do you ever think about how much things have changed in your lifetime? Things we never thought of before, but then we got them and they have become a very important part of our lives?

When I was a child my family wasn’t rich, but my parents owned a house, so we were better off than most.

We heated that house with a coal oven in the living room and one in the kitchen. We also had one in the bathroom that was supposed to heat our bathing water, but I don’t remember it ever working. Instead of using the bath tub we used a wash tub in the laundry room, because we also had no washing machine or dryer, and several times a week after my mom did the laundry by hand we used the leftover heat to take a nice bath – mom, dad, grandma and all the children – not all at once, but in turns. I think we got the first washing machine when I was around 8.

We also had a radio but no television till I was about 8 years old, and we had no car till I was 10, but barely anybody had one at that time.

I don’t remember exactly when it was we got it, but there was a telephone in the house most of my childhood – a white one with a rotary dial.

When I was about 12 years old, I got my own transistor radio for my birthday. It was very simple, only had two buttons, but I remember how annoying it was that my dad didn’t think I would be able to use it without instructions from one of my brothers, who didn’t have a radio himself – you know, me being a girl and all. I had that radio for many years.

17 years old I moved to Hamburg to work for the national German telephone company. The biggest part of my job was to give information about telephone numbers in Germany, but I also worked with radio contact to ships out on the ocean and to what back then was the other part of Germany – DDR. To connect people, we used those tables you sometimes see in old movies, you know, where the operator first talks with the person who is calling, then calls the recipient, pushes a plug into a board to make the connection and later pulls it out again to disconnect.

We also gave information about phone numbers in other – European – countries.

Instead of phone books for Germany we had micro fiches we put into boxes that looked like what we today think is an old computer screen. That way each of us could have all the German phone books right at our desks.

For the other European countries we had no fiches but phone books, and I remember that we often had to call the other countries to get newer numbers. I especially remember calling Copenhagen in Denmark in summer, where it often happened that they only picked up the phone to tell us that they could not take the phone because they had a thunderstorm. Most telephone cables in Denmark were hanging from pole to pole over the ground at that time, and it did happen that the poles or the cables were struck by lightning, which could be fatal, if one was talking on the phone at the same time.

I think it was in the seventies and eighties that countries got international numbers, so people in one country can call people in another country without using an operator and a switch board. Some countries got their international numbers even later.

I only started high school when I was 20, and the first computer I ever worked with was a gigantic one that filled a whole room at my high school, and it had no key board and no screen. The only thing I remember we used it for was to see, if we were able to think logically. We got some questions and to answer them we had to draw lines on cards with a led pen and put the cards into a slot in the computer. After a while it told us if we were right or wrong. That was all it could do, but the computer did cost a fortune.

The first person I knew had a mobile phone was my now brother in law. About 25 years ago he worked for a phone company and sometimes he had to be on standby during weekends, so he had his mobile phone with him where ever he went. It was huge, the size of a suitcase, with a rotary dial and a hand piece of the same kind as a normal oldfashioned phone and a cable between the suitcase and the hand piece. The whole neighborhood envied my brother in law for that mobile phone.

I think it was sometime in the beginning of the nineties I was invited to a meeting where we discussed the possibilities of the internet. That was the very first I ever heard about the world wide web. Denmark wasn’t connected to it at that time, and I remember leaving the meeting with more questions than answers.  I had got my first fax machine only a few years earlier and wasn’t able to imagine in what way the internet would be different.

Around the same time I decided to drop out of university and work as a translator full time. Only problem was that until then I’d used a manual type writer and didn’t know much about computers and book keeping, so I took a year at another school to learn those things.

The operating system our computers at the school used was DOS and we used lots of macros and short cuts to get around in our programs.

Some of us had heard about something called Windows and of a mouse and cursor, but our teachers didn’t believe in it. “Those are toys” they said. “No, you learn WordPerfect and the short cuts and you will be set for life”.

At the school we also used matrix printers and the new hot thing – bubble jet printers.

A short while later I got my first dial up connection to the internet at home, but I still worked with DOS and without a mouse for a long time.

Since then I’ve worked with computers and many different programs as a supervisor, but mostly as a user, and since I rely on computers for my freelance work, I have two functioning computers.

A few months ago I also replaced my trusty old brick of a ten years old mobile phone with a new smartphone, so now I have the whole wide world at my fingertips always, and every day I’m in contact with customers of mine in other European countries, but also the US, Canada, Australia, China, India. Who would have thought it possible back in the days when I was a child?

We’ve come very far over the last 50 years. Who knows what the next 50 will bring.

It’s that time of year

Before Christmas every year I watch a long line of classics – or at least they are in my book.

Some of the movies I’ve seen since I was a child, like

It's_A_Wonderful_Life It’s a wonderful life with James Steward

and

We're no angels We’re no angels with Humphrey Bogart

Others are movies I started watching while my daughters were children like

National-Lampoons-ChristmasVacation-image-national-lampoons-christmasvacation-36345007-1280-720 Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase

home-alone-1-poster-widescreen-2  Home alone 1

home-alone-2-lost-in-new-york-original1  Home alone 2

and

the-muppet-christmas-carol-poster  The Muppet Christmas Carol

As my daughters got older we also started watching

Die Hard 1  Die Hard 1

Die-Hard-2--Die-Harder-die-hard-62085_1024_768  Die Hard 2

And

the-long-kiss-goodnight-1996-in-hindi  The long kiss goodnight with Samuel L Jackson and Geena Davis

When the girls began watching romance movies, we added movies like

Sleepless-in-Seattle-sleepless-in-seattle-2974781-900-350  Sleepless in Seattle with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks

while-you-were-sleeping-original-jpg  While you were sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman

and

love actually  Love Actually with a long line of great actors like Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson

The classic over them all of course is A Christmas Carol, and many have made a new version over the years.

patrickstewartscrooge_a christmas carol  I escpecially like the one with Patrick Stewart

and

a christmas carol with him carrey  the newer one with Jim Carrey

I am a big fan of Tom Hanks, so on my very own list of favorites you also find

The polar express  The Polar Express

We still keep on adding new movies to our Christmas list, and now there aren’t enough days in December anymore to watch them all, so we made an early start this year last weekend.

What about you? Do you have any absolute favorite movies you have to see around Christmas?

 

 

Part two of my experiment is not really working for me either

Since 15th of October I’ve been on part two of my experiment, the Low Carb High Fat diet.

First let me say that the food is very tasty and that I haven’t had any problems about staying on a strict diet – well maybe except for having a night cap now and then.

For the last five weeks my food pretty much consisted of dairy products like cottage cheese, crème fraiche, cream and butter, meat in the form of beef, lamb, goat, chicken, duck and different kinds of fish, eggs, and different kinds of vegetables like mostly oven baked pumpkins and onions. To drink I had coffee, tea, water and an occasional bottle of beer or glass of wine. And yes, I also got a piece of chocolate now and then.

Since the beginning, where I lost 5 kilos in no time at all, my weight loss has come to a total stand still. That’s something I’m not worried about though, because it is said that if one has been on many diets over the years it can take quite a while before one’s body finds out that here is no need to hang on to extra body fat, and that the weight loss will come later on.

While I’m happy about the food and contempt that the weight loss will come, another health problem I had earlier has come back – pain in my left shoulder and upper part of my left arm. That problem disappeared while I followed Alma Nissens drinking cure, but has returned and is now worse than ever.

My guess is that it’s because I eat too much food that becomes acidic once it’s eaten and not enough that’s basic. Therefor I make another shift in my diet and add more raw vegetables in the form of salads and some fruit, mostly in form of juices and smoothies for breakfast.

I hope it will help against the pain in my shoulder and arm.

Grauballemanden returned to the bog

I’ve so far not been able to find out when Grauballemanden was taken from Huset, the first museum where he was exhibited, and when he was transferred to another museum, the prehistoric museum Moesgaard Museum, but in 1970 he went on exhibition again and except for shorter periods, where new tests were taken and he was better taken care of, he stayed there until January 2013.

Gamle Moesgaard

The old Moesgaard Museum was an old manor, and the museum had to share the buildings with Aarhus universities institute for prehistoric archeology, so space was tight. Therefor a new building was raised next to the old one and it was opened on October 10th this year.

My children and I didn’t have time to go there earlier, but Saturday we did, and it is amazing.

Moesgård, luftfoto af den gamle og den nye bygning The red building in front is the old manor house. Behind it to the left you see the new building. It’s hard o see that it’s actually a building, but one can walk on the entire roof, which is covered with grass. Inside two stores with very high ceilings are build over ground level, the rest is under the ground.

The new museum was built into a south-facing slope and most of it is under the ground, where the huge exhibitions about the bronze-age, iron-age and the Vikings have found a new home, and there, in a new bog-like environment, Grauballemanden found a new resting place.  And he still is a huge attraction.

He was a huge sensation

Archeologists still think that Grauballemanden, who was found in a bog in Grauballe near the city Silkeborg in Jutland / Denmark in 1952, was sacrificed to a pagan goddess named Nerthus.

1955_06_27 Information artikel om grauballemanden

One would think that Grauballemanden was a slave who could be spared, but that’s not the case. He probably was a kind of clerk who took part in arranging the ceremonies for the goddess. He seemed to have been well nourished, his hair was nicely cut and his hands and feed were well groomed.

Grauballemandens hånd  Grauballemandens right hand

Grauballemanden was naked though and the water in the bog had given his hair a red color, and that made people in and around Grauballe wonder if he in reality was a bog worker called red Kristian, who had disappeared one night after a visit to the local pub about a hundred years earlier.

All the Danish newspapers wrote about the findings and also papers in other countries, even one in Washington in the US had articles about the red haired man from the bog.

Grauballemanden_avisudklip002 Grauballemanden_1954_08_18 Løgstør Avis Grauballemanden_1952_04_28 Silkeborg Avis Grauballemanden_1952_04_28  Silkeborg Avis2

It soon became obvious that the Museum in Aarhus was not fitted for that many visitors, and so Grauballemanden and the rest of the exhibition was transferred to another, larger museum outside of town, and the old museum stood empty and was forgotten for many years until one day in the sixties, when rebelling students occupied the building and demanded that it had to be used for the good of all residents of Aarhus.

After some negotiations the city agreed. The students got what they wanted, and the museum was turned into a community building under the name “Huset” (The house), where all could come and do wood work or iron work or make their own shoes or sew clothes or dye fabric, paint croquis, print their own books or make their own plates, cups, pots and tea pots.

huset Huset in Aarhus. Grauballemanden was on lit de parade behind the ground floor window to the right

Many years later I came to work at Huset as an IT supervisor for a year, and I actually worked in the same room where Grauballemanden had been on lit de parade years earlier.

Moesgård museum  Moesgaard Museum, where Grauballemanden stayed for many years

 

To be continued

Sacrificed to the fertility goddess Nerthus

On April 26th 1952 bog workers cut blocks of peat for fuel in Grauballe near Silkeborg in Jutland/Denmark. One of the men, Tage Busk Sørensen, put his spade in the ground and hit something he immediately knew was not a stone or a root. It felt like rubber, and when he put his spade down again, the head of a man emerged from the ground.

kort-grauballemanden-2-txt

Tage called upon his boss, who called the doctor Ulrik Balslev, who on his side contacted professor P.V. Glaub from Aarhus.

The professor was at another excavation in Belgium but arrived in Grauballe the day after. By then lots of people had been down in the bog to see the dead man, and unfortunately one of them had come to close to the body and had stepped on its face so it had become disfigured.

Grauballemanden

P.V. Glaub took a closer look – not at the body but at the ground surrounding it, and found that this body was approximately 2000 years old.

The block of peat around the body was cut out and brought to the prehistoric museum in Aarhus.

Back in those days preservation of bodies was in its infant shoes, and during the first days all the conservators could do was to water the body to keep it intact.

Most earlier findings of bodies from prehistoric times had crumbled away and disappeared, so it was decided to exhibit the body – which was called Grauballemanden early on – for the public to see.

He was placed in a room on the ground floor of the Prehistoric museum in Aarhus, and within the first days he was visited by more than 20.000 people, which was an enormous amount at that time.

Grauballemanden_3529074-da-huset-var-byens-museum--

When P.V. Glaub initially looked at the Grauballemanden, he imagined him to have been hanged and sacrificed to the fertility goddess Nerthus, but it later turned out that he had been hit in the head and that his throat had been slid and his shin had been broken.

Over the years there have been several attempts to radiocarbon date the Grauballemanden, and the results have been varying, but the last, most reliable dating has shown that he died 30 years old in 290 BC.

Gravballemanden, som man mener han har set ud This is how Grauballemanden looked when he was alive

To be continued …

The smellier the better!

When I was a baby girl, my grandmother had a job in a gardener’s greenhouse and I have a vague memory of walking between long planters tables and smelling the flowers. I especially remember huge bouquets of carnations and freesias, and pots with ferns.

carnation

 

I think I was 4 or 5 years old at that time, and don’t remember, whether I went to see my grandmother at the greenhouse more than one time, but it made a very big impression on me.

Freesia

In the opinion of many, carnations are graveyard flowers, but they and freesias still are amongst my favorites. They both stem from a time before people bred flowers only for their looks, and before most flowers lost their smell.

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For me the smell is the most important feature of a flower, before shape and color, and I never buy flowers that don’t smell. Right now it’s time for one of my absolute favorites – narcissus. In Denmark we mostly buy them with the bulbs and in pots, but in the Netherlands they sell them as cut flowers, and when I lived there I bought several bouquets of the blue ones every week between November and May. As I said – they are one of my favorites, and they really lighten up the dark part of the year for me.

Hvide liljer

Other favorites of mine are lilacs, lilies and violets, again mostly for their smell.

Lilacs

Years ago roses were amongst my favorites as well, but now I only want roses from the garden, because I’ve seen a German documentary about how most cut roses sold and bought in Europe are grown under terrible conditions in Africa, where the workers and the nature are poisoned big time.

violets

Also when it comes to potted plants I definitely prefer those with a smell like scented geraniums for instance or herbs like basil, and I still love entering greenhouses, and when I do, I think of my grandma.

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About German Carnival

champagneflaske

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in Germany carnival officially started yesterday.

Not that I know that much about it. It has never been a part of my families tradition, and living in the northern part of Germany until I was 20, I haven’t been to a single grown up carnival party all my life.

narrenkappe

From my childhood I remember the many and very long television programs from carnival events in and around Cologne and other places in the middle of Germany though.

Band (1)

Most of those events took place and were broadcasted in February, when you always could find at least a few of those programs at any time of the day, and I remember thinking it was strange to have a program about people who sat and ate and drank while they were listening to a kind of standup comedians for hours on end.

AkaFasching

The only kind of carnival we had at the Danish school was a party one day a year – in February, where we dressed as princesses or superman or something like that and danced for a few hours.

During that party we also hit a barrel filled with candy and a soft toy – a cat- with a stick, and ate all the candy after the barrel fell down.

katten af tønden

Carnival in Germany starts on St Martins day, November 11th at 11.11 AM.

The reason for all those numbers 11 is said to stem from the slogan of the French revolution – Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité – ELF, which means eleven in German. The tradition is much older though and it is possible that ELF is an abbreviation of “Ey lustig fröhlich” which means something like “So gay and happy” and was written on a seal in the German town Kleve as far back as in 1381.

fasching

Anyway, people are happy and the carnival brings them through a big part of the dark time each year, and it lasts till Ash Wednesday, which is the 46th day before Easter Sunday. In 2015 it’s going to be February 18th.

 

bubbly2

St. Martins Eve dinner

Tomorrow it’s St Martins day, which means tonight most Danes ate roasted duck as a revenge for St Martin, who was betrayed by geese and had to become bishop many, many years ago. It isn’t fair, but that’s how it is.

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In our house our housemate Laerke spend about 5 hours and prepaired todays special dinner – roasted duck and sauce for all and cooked potatoes, sugar glazed potatoes, pickled warm red cabbage and potato chips for the carbohydrate people and oven baked pumpkins and squash, spicy red cabbage and salad for the high fat people.

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We all got a lovely dessert made from eggs, butter, cream, coconut sugar, chocolate and brazil nuts.

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What a delicious meal!

Christmas in the castle

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As I told you before, Christmas calendars on television are a very big thing in Denmark, especially for families with children.

Many Christmas calendars have been made over the years. One of them was called “Jul på slottet“ (Christmas in the castle) and was set in a tiny castle not far from where I live. Today there was held an early Christmas market at that castle, and of course we went to see it.

Mia Maja og Valentin  Princess Mia Maja and Prince Valentin from the Christmas calendar “Christmas in the castle”

Kongen, hans søster og hofsnogen  Mia Majas father the king, his sister and the black adder

Many years ago I lived nearby the castle and actually knew the former owner Baroness Carin Rosenkrantz through my then boyfriends grandmother, but I’d never been inside the castle.

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The market was today from 10 AM and 4 PM. My daughter Julie, our friend Laerke and I went there and so did – I don’t know – maybe 100,000 other people, far more than there was room for. It was nice though, and I took a few pictures.

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