Screenshot Sims 3, after a high school graduation

Used to be that people my age were worried about their children’s studies, not their own. Not anymore. The age of the MOOC has come!

I signed up for my first MOOC on September 9. (The letters stand for Massive Open Online Course, generally used about university level courses that are distributed over the Internet, usually but not always for free.) This course comes from NTNU, the Norwegian institute of Science and Technology. It is also touted as the first MOOC in Norway, although the College in Molde is supposed to have a full study online this year. I am not sure how to reconcile these claims, but in any case this is the first for me.

Back when I was a teenager, high school was a bit higher than it is now and a high school diploma (Examen Artium) such as I had would have qualified me directly for university studies, I believe. I did take some college-level courses organized and paid for by my employer not many years later. Today you have to have Examen Philosophicum to enter into any further studies, and as I don’t have this, I wouldn’t be able to take an exam anyway. Apart from that however I have followed the course like an ordinary off-site student. The professor and staff have treated us freeloaders like students as well, whereas in larger courses one would obviously not have the capacity for that. (There are American courses with hundreds of thousands of students, if not more.)

In addition to my interest in technology and social development (which the course is about), I also wanted to evaluate the study form as such. I have dabbled in online study on a small scale, improving my extremely rusty little French with Duolingo and my math with Khan Academy, both of which I have written glowing reviews about before, I hope. (Duolingo has later released an Android app which makes it even easier to practice on the go.) But the mainstream MOOC format is one I am not familiar with, and I hope to be in the future, if any.

I generally have a deal with my workplace to not write about my workplace. But that may not last, because my job may not last. It seems more likely than not that my job – and those of my coworkers – will be outsourced sometime over the next four years. I am not particularly worried that I will simply be waved goodbye to by my employer, but what kind of job I will be assigned to could depend quite a bit on my technical competence. Going back to school is not an option at my age, as I would be nearly 60 on my return, and Norwegians have a tendency to retire at 62 (and then be very surprised that they don’t get the same pension as if they had kept working till 75). I hope to work until 75 or until shortly before my untimely death should that happen first, Light send it be not so. But hoping is one thing, doing is another. “Strong souls have will; feeble souls have only wishes.” Which of these categories I fit into should be interesting to find out, at least!

So far, so good. It is not particularly hard, although I have to dodge a few issues as I already have a Twitter account and blog that are … orthogonal in content and atmosphere, let us say, compared to the exercises given. But it is interesting and a convenient study form. I could definitely see myself doing more of this.

Work and the new me

It has been said that love is the source of all energy and vitality in life. Not to mention work and school.

I fear I may have written more entries of that type, but I have found at least two: “Work sucks” from the year 2000 and “Head against the wall” from 2003. I am pretty sure there was at least one more over the first ten years of my journal. In these I complained that work was God’s punishment and that I would just as well live in chronic pain on disability pension rather than work until I was 65.

What the hell was wrong with me?

As usual when I seem to be using profanity, I actually mean it in its original, religious meaning. In religious language, we could say that my attitude was one that comes from Hell and leads to Hell.

When reading the biblical account in Genesis, it may certainly looked like God is angry and wants to put the hurt on Adam and Eve. But can that really be true? In some families here on earth, the main difference between a toddler and his father seems to be that the father is physically stronger. But is God, the heavenly Father, the Creator of all and the original parent of the human spirit, really someone who looses his temper and decides to punish his small creations and their offspring for the foreseeable future?

It may have seemed reasonable to Israel at the time they received the Torah. They lived in a harsh world filled with senseless violence. A master would treat his slave harshly, and a father his child. So it may have made sense to read this story as if God flew into a rage and cursed his disobedient creation. But is that really so? Another perspective is that work was not part of the problem, but part of the solution.

In Heaven, there is no need to do any work you don’t want to. If you for some reason were to want anything, it would at once be there. And if you wanted to communicate with someone, you could do so instantly and fully, with no risk of misunderstanding. Your love would be clear for all to see. But in the 3-dimensional world on Earth, things are different. There are many wants that cannot be fulfilled, and we cannot just radiate our love telepathically. The combined solution to these two problems is work.

Through work, we can satisfy our own needs and at the same time those of others. In that regard, work can be compared to making love.  (Obviously we should not actually confuse the two, or strange things may happen in the workplace!) You may say that in marriage, you express your love by making love, but in society you express your love by work. (Of course, in either case this should not be the ONLY way you express your love! Or that’s what the voice in my heart says, I have not tried.)

So the problem, such as it is, is that we are not in Paradise, at least for the time being. Work is part of the solution.


I had an idea of this when I began to work around the age of 20. But then I saw injustice, how some people got away with crime and others were persecuted for no reason, and how difficult it was to know the truth. And as Jesus Christ had warned before he left this Earth: “Because injustice gains the upper hand, love will become cold among the majority.” This happened to me, but so slowly that I did not notice. I became disenchanted and forgot to love. Work, which should have been an exchange of love from Heaven to the world through me, and of gratitude back toward God or the Light, became instead a dark stretch, eight hours lost from the days of my life.

As can be seen from the darkest of the two articles I wrote back then, I knew that something was terribly wrong and my subconscious tried to warn me. But I just could not get what it was saying. I was looking in the wrong direction.  This was to last for several years.

To my shame, I did not realize my error until I read Master Ryuho Okawa’s book The Laws of Happiness.  By the standards of today, I have generally been a happy man for many years. But there was this big dark spot in my life. Reading his introduction to improving work performance, he almost casually mentioned that you will rarely get good at your work unless you can say: “This is what I was born to, this is the way I can give back to society for all the love I have received.” Suddenly, like when the sun rises on a clear morning, the darkness of ignorance fled from my mind and I saw how terribly I had been mistaken.

Looking back over the years, I saw how my work had steadily changed, with little or no input from me, from the things I found difficult to the things I was  interested in. By now, I had a job where I could work with things that interested me and spend my time helping other people all day long, never troubling them or causing conflict. It was amazing. My whole sector of the economy, and society itself, had been changed as if specifically to give me the best possible opportunity to enjoy my job and do my best. Life had changed for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people, as if they were all being shifted around for my benefit. It was as if God had spoken to his angels and told them to do whatever it took to make me happy with my work, even if they needed to transform society itself.

I was shocked. Seeing the truth, I was  horrified at my own behavior. I realized that I had made a great mistake and blasphemed against the Light. I regretted deeply and decided there and then to change my ways completely.

Actually, that was not so easy. I had made bad habits and due to my lack of effort I was way behind my coworkers. Furthermore, no one thought they could rely on me. I had become one of those middle-aged men which people consider to be half retired, coming to work only to get their pay, who cannot be relied on to get anything done. So it was a bit of an uphill struggle, and it still is.  But I keep at it. I also have certain physical limitations, but for the most part I can work around that, doing other things instead.

Starting in May, I have begun working 100%, after many years of working part time. I have received permission to work from home on those days when I am too sick to commute but not too sick to think. I also brought up with my boss a new technology which I am competent with, and which it just so happens that our clients are about to start using. I politely asked that I be allowed to use this technology at work so as to be better able to help our clients. At first, my request was turned down; but a few days ago our boss sent a mail to the whole team saying that we could and ought to acquire this new technology.

So I love my work, and I love my boss. ^_^ (Very platonically, of course!) I have no idea how long I will be allowed to live and work, but I am living each day as if it is not my last, planning for a life of working far into the future. If the Light wills otherwise, there is probably a reason for that. Despite my many mistakes and weaknesses, I have begun to really hope that I will one day come home to the Realm of Light, my eternal home. But until then, my job is an opportunity to bring that Realm of Light down into this world, that it may shine for all who are in the house. And if I fail, I will learn from it and become stronger, Light willing, until I become a blessing on legs or die trying.

SSD day 2

I almost thought my main computer was gone (again). Each time it started, it wanted to check the C: disk, and every time it found various errors and then hung up completely. If I skipped the disk check, it started, but crashed after a little while. So, not a pretty sight. I am not sure how much of this came from the bluescreen problems I have had the last few days, and how much from trying to use CCleaner to fix them. But I was seriously wondering if a full reinstall of Windows was in order.

Upgrading to Win7 would anyway wipe my disk, evidently. That’s rather a big difference from upgrading Ubuntu Linux, which may take some hours but leaves pretty much everything running as before (or better) afterwards, no reinstall required for any programs. (Although it will replace some programs with newer if you allow it to.)

Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do before Windows gets as good as Ubuntu Linux. But then, I don’t use Windows because it is a great operating system, but because some of my favorite programs need it to run. Thanks to the fact that most people have bad taste in operating systems (as had I for much of my life), many programs are simply never made for other systems. Hopefully this will change gradually as computing disappears from the desktop and into the clouds on one hand and the smartphones on the other.

Well, the system is running again finally, at no extra cost, for as long as it lasts. And bedtime is approaching.


Good news from work: Boss says I can take my laptop home each day so I can work from home if I get sick again.  I would estimate that 14 of the 19 sick days the last year were of a sort where I could have worked from home. In most cases, I simply could not travel too far from the toilet. A 55 minute commute is a bit far in these cases, although I love the commute otherwise. With the new opportunity, my life is even more perfect. Long may it last.

I can’t convert vacation into sick days though. Norwegian law is very strict, you are not allowed to dodge your vacation! If I could, I could have reduced my sick days to zero, and at the same time gotten rid of the excessive vacation. I usually take NaNoWriMo off, of course, but lately that is not enough: Mandatory vacation has increased to 5 weeks a few years ago, and I have reached the limit of how much I can carry over to the next year.

Now that is what I call zeroth world problems! ^_^


Edit to add before midnight: Ordered this year’s CD (not sure if there was one last year?), from CDJapan. The beautiful (well, to me at least) lullaby that you can hear here on YouTube until the copyright holders get it removed (and thus stop more people from hearing it and buying it…)


Wrist and everyday magic

Fly into that world you’ve been waiting for forever!

As promised, I got some more to do at work. The last two days I have been doing some data entry, which is a good job for me since I am pretty resistant to boredom. Unfortunately the first day in particular was really hard on my wrist, because I had to mouse a lot.

My wrists are damaged for life, something I wrote (and dictated) about years ago, it is still scattered through my archives. I thought for sure at one point that I would end up disabled. (Not an economic disaster here in Norway, but not very compatible with my current aspiration of giving back to society.) Meditation and exercise have restored my arm to the point where I don’t notice the problem in daily life; I can even type fairly large amounts of text. But if I have to use a mouse more than a little, such as I did at work now (or playing Daggerfall), the arm soon begins to hurt. And not only while I am mousing – until it heals itself, even typing causes some pain.

No longer completely stupid to such things, I spaced the work out, stretched, and took breaks. Today I also slept away the entire evening from before sunset to midnight, which also helps a good deal. I can still feel the pain, but I can live with this level of it. This particular job is almost finished anyway. I will probably add a few more lines tomorrow, and that’s it.

And of course, at home I have Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11. I can only speak a few minutes at a time, since my voice is also damaged permanently. (The joys of growing old!) But if I can speak a few minutes and type a few minutes, and then do something else for a while, I can repeat this until I have written what I wanted.

Seriously, people: If you are able to speak something reasonably close to standard English, and have your own computer, and don’t live in abject poverty, get a quality microphone and Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11. It is ridiculously good, and it gets better every day you use it. I admit that I find it hard to use for some types of writing, because I have spent two generations of human lifetime thinking with my fingers. But for the 99.99% of humans who talk habitually anyway, this thing is like science fiction. Seriously, people, it’s like something out of Star Trek.

Check some of the demonstrations available online, for instance on YouTube. It really works like that. They’re not faking it. I still have some problems with my Norwegian accent, which is not one of those supported. But the program keeps adjusting, every time I use it it gets a little better. And so do I, probably. I don’t use it regularly, but when my wrist acts up, I remember it again, and become impressed all over again.

It is awesome to live in the Age of Wonders. Here’s an unrelated quote but with the same perspective from my friend Tsaiko:
“Who cares about flying cars?
The future is technology that lets me hold 1500 books in my hands. I HAVE A KINDLE.”

(Actually, I don’t have a Kindle myself, as I prefer to read my books on a high-resolution smartphone. But that does nothing to reduce my awe that I was really allowed to live to see an age where everyday items are virtually indistinguishable from magic.)


My job is not secret in the “secret agent” sense, but we are asked to not tell on the Internet where we work, or use the work computers to post on the Internet. As if I would! Even my father and my brothers don’t know exactly where I work.

(Yes, you guys who like to post on social sites from work: All large workplaces have their own IP addresses, so the admins (at the very least) can trace back to see where you post from. And the network admin at your workplace can see what you are doing with their computer network as well.)

Anyway, when I talk about work, it will only be in the most generic sense. And in the generic sense, I just the other day asked my boss to find more work for me. I have held only 90% work hours for about a decade now, but even then I have felt that there is little suitable work.  I can physically not speak more than a few minutes a day, so that excludes working phone support.  (We do generally give various IT related support to a large organization.) I cannot travel easily, either. So that limits what I can do somewhat.  My boss is however confident that she can find more work for me without inventing anything unnecessary. In other words, I want to work more so others can go home with a good conscience, rather than having to sit an hour or two extra each day.

So starting May, I will try to work full hours. Obviously it also pays a little more, but that is not my motivation. Despite the high rent, I am doing well enough. And I don’t expect 10%, reduced with around 1/3 in tax, to noticeably affect my budget. I guess if a man can buy a new smartphone every year and a half, he is pretty well off by global standards.  Of course, here in the zeroeth world, people are constantly driven by raging desires for things that cost money. I keep getting amazed and amused by the things people think they need, and the self-made desperation by which they seek what is actually mere luxury.

The reason why I want to work more is that work is love. Not having an ordinary family life, work is my main way of giving back my love to the world, the society and the civilization without which I could not even today survive for long, and on which I was a parasite for so long.  Almost everything I am, is in some way a gift from other people. Even the words with which we think are formed by poets and farmers and mothers singing to their children (and occasionally by carpenters when they hit their thumb) over thousands of years.

Even in the unlikely case that I should manage to pay off my debt to the world in my lifetime, I should still try to help people, because it is the right thing to do. Never mind that giving happiness to others is the fastest way to become happy ourselves. I am usually happy already.

I would definitely work even if I got the same pay without it. Well, unless I could find a more effective way to help people. But I am not gifted with social skills, so having other people find ways for me to help is not only easier, it is probably more effective.

Here in Norway, there are actually people who could get MORE money if they did not work.  The unemployment and disability pensions are so generous to people with children, that if they take a low-paying job, they will have less money for their family. And some of them still take the job. Now that is worthy of respect. Although their kids may think differently.

Business trip

I have a feeling I have used this before, but it is distinctly on-topic for today. Well, yesterday really. Or the time period between them.

It is a rare event, but I was away from home last night, on a work conference for our division.  We stayed at a hotel, and a very cute one at that.  I won’t give the name away because this might let you identify my current employer, which is strongly discouraged by said employer.

I can’t say I found the event particularly useful, as it mostly addressed other problems than the real ones, at least my real ones.  My main problem at work is that I don’t have the access rights and the qualifications to solve the cases that we are falling behind on. Learning to ask our customers open-ended questions and inquire whether they are satisfied with our solutions are not bad ideas, but they pale into insignificance compared to actually being able to SOLVE their problems within a reasonable time and using a resource mostly already available (namely me).

On the bright side, I get paid for sleeping and eating free meals. This may not boost my spiritual growth (if any), but it does mean I can go to work a little later, should the need arise. For instance if I get temporarily sick, such as from fat poisoning. It has been quite a while since last time, several months, but I am not too sure about tomorrow.  I accidentally ate more fat today than I have done and avoided a fat poisoning since I got this condition in 2005.

It started harmlessly when I decided to go for some veggie salad along with my jam for breakfast. Of course this stuff contains mayo along with the sliced veggies.  But I made sure to keep it within my limits.  It was quite tasty, and I took a similar portion for lunch.  Then I realized that we were eating lunch barely four hours after breakfast.  That is a lot faster than my body can process fat. I use to allow 8 hours between fat intakes, although I can usually get away with 6-7. But four?  I am not looking forward to this.  This is the kind of events that cause unspeakable TMI along with the dread.  I have survived larger portions of fat than this, before I realized what triggered the attacks, but my survival came as a pleasant surprise each time.  So, tomorrow could get a lot more exciting than I planned for.  Barring divine intervention, and divine intervention tends to happen only after I’ve learned my lesson, if at all. But we’ll see.

While on vaguely health-related topics, the usual tooth is loose again. I wonder if this means I am supposed to buy another laptop? Because these events have clung together so much that I have made it a running joke in my journal: “Every time you buy a laptop, God kills a tooth.”  (Based on a slightly less family-friendly meme, which I am sure Google with help you with if you are lucky enough to not have heard it.) Actually, about half the times it has just been the same tooth falling out again, not actually a new one dying, so it is not to be taken literally.  Still.  The expense of fixing the tooth will be enough, I think, without shelling out for yet another laptop as well. That will have to wait until I have paid off the moving expenses.

Finally, mystery of the day: When I came off the bus today and fetched my mail, I noticed that there were shallow cuts like paper cuts on the back of the fingers on my right hand. They are all on the joints and they all go diagonally, but not all in the same direction. I have no idea when I got them, as they are practically painless. Life is full of mysteries, eh?

No Moth today either

As I was logging off at work to go to the Mothhouse with the rest of the curtains and some other stuff, I suddenly realized that I had not done an important job on the databases. This is funny because I spent much of the day studying and doing piddly things because there was nothing major to do that I already knew, but actually there was and I did not remember it until it was almost too late.

Then when I was about to go home with the next bus, 55 minutes later, I found out that one of my coworkers had not done it either (although he had on a few bases – I have no idea what happened, but I hope he is OK). So it was quite a bit into the evening before I returned home. No Moth, of course – it I want to take the last bus home from there, I need to take the bus right after work (17.15) to Moth.

Oh well. It is not like I need those curtains immediately anyway.

Another thing I didn’t mention a few days ago, I met my current landlord’s grandmother by the shop.  I mean the landlord here in Nodeland, where I have still not moved out. Anyway, she knew more about the house I am moving to than I did! I honestly have no idea how she even knew that I was moving to that particular house, but I suppose all of Holum (the church and mail district) is abuzz with the news of the madman who is moving to the Red House.  One of those people in Holum turns out to be the daughter of said grandmother (and thus presumably an aunt of the old landlord).  The world is a small place, and Holum in particular.

Long day at work


“It is fine if I’m alone now.”  I don’t think she means it the same way I do, though… (From the anime Hyakko.)

I spent around 10 hours at work today.  Not bad for someone not quite in full job.  And I was a bit tired too.  Although I had slept five and a half hours last night, not five as the two previous, I just haven’t meditated enough to make up for the shortfall, and had to take a couple short naps at work.  Luckily I could do that, for I was all alone.  Actually, the “all alone” was the reason for the long day.

We were meant to be three of our team at work today, but earlier in the week one of them asked me if it was OK for him to take the Friday off.  I did not mind, it is a Friday after all, how hard could it be?  Besides, it was for a good cause.  Then in the middle of the week the other one explained that he had already asked our boss and it was OK for her that he took the Friday off, so was it OK for us?  Well, it is a Friday after all, and in the middle of summer at that, how much work could there possibly be?  Besides, if worst came to worst, I am a few hours short, so working a couple hours extra would not be so bad.

There were files.  There were a goodly number of files, for a change.  Then at 5PM there came about as many files again.  So I started doing them as well. My arm hurt more toward the end of the day than it had in many months, but it is better now.  Probably will be fine on Monday.  It was half past eight before I logged out.  It is soon midnight and I still feel like I just came home.  But at least I’m not going to work tomorrow.

And at least I was not biking home…

Bout of sickness

Well, I ended up only being at work for an hour longer than usual, a pleasant surprise.  But before I got that far, I had a less pleasant surprise that made me wonder whether I could work at all.

On my way through the city, I started to feel bad.  I was short of breath and got a dry cough. Going up the stairs to my office, my heart was hammering much harder than it usually does for such a modest exertion.  And after I arrived, I kept getting rapidly worse.  I started to shiver and feel queasy and out of it, not exactly dizzy but kind of foggy. My heart was beating as if I were running, even though I just stood there.  It was as if all major parts of my body were starting to malfunction at the same time.  I must admit I thought that was what happened, that I had somehow fallen victim to sepsis, “blood poisoning”, an infection spreading throughout the body.  But how?  The loose tooth does harbor a disgusting mix of bacteria, but they have no obvious entryway into the bloodstream, and I have no infected sores that I can see.  I was confused.  But as I kept rapidly getting worse, I thought about going to the emergency room.  (You know what happens if I do that, or even go to a doctor – somehow when it is finally my turn, I am healthier than the doctor and nurses.  I really should get myself a job at a hospital, since I seem to absorb the healing aura of the place in some mystical way!)

Before I came that far, however, I had some sudden and uncomfortable bowel movements to take care of. After this, I felt very tired and spent 10-30 minutes in something between meditation and sleep in my chair, doing nothing but letting the nanomachines repair my body. Which evidently they did.  After some earlier episode, I carry an electronic fever thermometer with me, and according to it my temperature peaked at 37.5 C before that rest, and fell back afterwards.  That is about one degree C higher than my usual morning temperature, but well within normal human range.  Most children and many young women are naturally that warm.

I still don’t feel perfectly well, so no mowing today.  (Besides, the sun was already setting and that means the mosquitos are out.)  As midnight approaches, I have trace of headache, but my heartbeat is back to normal.  It was a bit of a scare, though. I still don’t know what caused it, which is the worst part of it.  Will it be back tomorrow?  Or in the middle of the night?  I have no idea.

One other thing bears mention today.  As I went to the bus stop, there stood a car parked there, a small pickup.  There was no one in it or nearby.  This is unusual, but I just observed it.  The bus had to stop out in the street, but I got on alright.  Two bus stops later, we picked up a couple more people.  This time there stood a lorry (truck) in the bus stop.  I did not see if anyone was in it, but it is not that unnatural.  We drove on, and I spent the time thinking about other things, if at all.  But as we were approaching the city, we stopped again, to let someone off I think.  I noticed that there stood a large car parked in the bus stop.  Then I looked out the window to the other side, and there stood a small passenger car parked on the shoulder of the road, not even at a stop.  It was completely empty and there was no one around.

I decided to check the Internet for clues as to whether the Rapture had occured during the night or morning.  It certainly looked as if a number of drivers had just had a few seconds notice to park their cars…

But whatever it was, I really doubt the Rapture will be a local phenomenon to the Kristiansand area, although some of the small churches here might be less surprised if it were.  The south coast is Norway’s “Bible belt”, although the religion is dying out even here eventually.

(I don’t know for sure whether the Rapture will be a literal, physical event, but I don’t see why not.  It will probably seem very natural though. I mean, the Jews returning to their lands flying like doves was a literal, physical event that must have sounded utterly magical and unrealistic for most of the time it was written in the Bible, likewise the prophecy that they would make the desert bloom. All of this came to pass and hardly anyone lifted an eyebrow.)

But if there is a literal, physical “alien abduction” of Christians at some future point, I think it is pretty sure that I won’t be among those disappearing.  I no longer have that kind of simple, childish faith. Whether that realization was part of what made me feel sick to the bone, I don’t know. “One event following after another does not always mean that the first event was the cause of the second.”


Today came off to a less than perfect start, as I had forgotten to turn my alarm clock radio on after the weekend. I really should continue to get up at the same time during the weekend, as I have been doing for a while.  As it was, I had to just shave and run for the bus. No breakfast, and no meditation.  But at least I was pretty well rested, which came in handy during the hectic workday.

Tomorrow is slated to be even more hectic. Crazy, actually.  This should be interesting.  Of course, I am lucky in that I don’t have anyone at home waiting for me, right?  As long as I catch the last bus, I should be fine. There may not be a journal entry though.  But you have seen that before.