2012: One Year, One Life

This is the third attempt of completing a blog post since my birthday last year (interim status post excluded). There are so many life changing events that went down this year I have a hard time comprehending myself. If Dr. Emmet Brown would've imploded out of thin air in his DeLorean this day a year ago, insisting that I'm going to:

  • Quit my job without having a firm contingency plan
  • Get a job at a Silicon Valley startup
  • Plan to move to the US and do a transitional year in the UK
  • Get engaged to someone you've loved dearly for seven years
  • Grow apart from the aforementioned person in the span of five months

Heck, if he would've told me ONE of those things I wouldn't believe him! Dr. Brown, go home, you're drunk!

I'm going to write a year chronicle in order to try capture the essence what's been going on. I'm also switching language for the time being as I need to practice my "new" language and there might be chance that someone actually reads this who doesn't know Swedish.

To describe the place I'm at right now I'm doing just fine, in one piece and full of hope. The hopelessness I found myself in after the separation wasn't a pretty place. I couldn't look back no matter what. Staring at the horizon I needed something to help sustain some kind of life quality and almost instantly booked my ten day trip to Whistler in Canada. The move to the US was way too far off to relate to and I needed an interim solution to the situation. And here I am authoring this post in Whistler Village.

I also took up online dating indecently early as I needed a distraction and little did I know that a comment from a super-cute girl living down in London would lead up to where we are today. -"Is that a Fu Manchu t-shirt?" We chatted away for quite some time as I didn't had the time to actually meet her because of a work trip to the US. Well back in the UK we met up for margaritas. Something clicked instantly, as I've told her, she is the female representation of myself in a parallel universe. It was way too early for me to see anyone and I was honest with it and she understood, coming from a similar thing herself but have had more time on her own. I was being reserved and a complete idiot and I had to have friends explain to me that I cared dearly for this exceptional girl and why waste time? It took time but I came to my senses when I realized that I could loose her out of my stubbornness that I had something else to shit out first. I told her that I loved her when she was asleep to try see if this was the real deal. A week or so after that we were on the tube just fooling around after a gig and there it was. This all happened in the span of four months. We are creating moments I'll never will forget and that is what it's all about, right?

The year of 2012 will be the one year that I'll distinctly pinpoint what went down that year. I don't have many of those I can admit. For better or worse, here's the full scope.

January: Blistering cold - give light!
I must admit January 2012 is very far away when I try summarizing what could've been of reproducible value. A fun but odd new year's in Strömstad at The Stig's cottage. Stargazing, fireworks, open fire and loads of booze and food. I also know I sold Tron which I miss dearly. I'm determined to get hold of a Tron LE at some point. That game has too many elements not being in my final collection. I did a lot of work on Twilight Zone I remember as well, the very common reset problem I remember tracking down. Damn I miss them both. A lot of pinball went down this month. Work wise I was probably killing myself and I know I didn't attend kick-off as 2011 was a complete waste of my and my previous employer's time.

My beloved Twilight Zone in her new shopped glory!

I had convinced a colleague to come with me to Åre for some skiing and boarding over a long weekend. A lot of planning and procuring went down and I got my very first own snowboard. At thirty-six years of age. I went boarding a lot in my youth and suddenly stopped doing that for a number of reasons. I almost forgot about it to be honest. Then I had an opportunity to go during a work related trip and it struck me like a burst of lightning, it all made sense and I swore dearly that this is going to be a part of my life - even if I only go once per year! The outdoors at alpine scale is an indescribable feeling. Cruising down a mountain on a board, it's wicked awesome! From a physical standpoint it's a bit like motocross in a sense that you use your whole body but it's not as exhausting. Comfortable exercise!

On top of Duved.

I also had a tequila tasting at Puta Madre sometime in Jan. Got served insane amount of different tequilas and a proper Maestro guided you through the whole spectrum. Tequila is the only liquor I can drink and be honest about that it tastes good. Sometime I crave cheap tequila, salt and lemon. Please call AA.

Maestro at Puta Madre show how it's done.

February: New life in 3,2,1
This is where it all went down. I remember the rundown clearly while browsing my calendars and it all started at an innocent LAN party at one of my dear friends. I was hearing myself telling my buddies what I was doing and how I truly felt about my situation. I haven't been that honest and verbal about it before. The week after I went to Åre and had all that misery with me and without knowing I had filled my cup. Back on duty I got called into a completely miserable professional services engagement almost designed to piss me off, although it was purely coincidental and legit. I tried hard to eject myself but they had me strapped with a gag-ball. The only thought pattern I could apply to the situation was that If I quit today I will be guaranteed to be out of my misery after three months. Said and done, I put in my notice.

While I was driving to work to meet up with my manager and hand in the paperwork a dear sales guy from my current employer called out of thin air. I couldn't help myself on spilling the beans as he had to find someone else to nag after I'm gone anyway. He made some strategic moves on spilling NDA information what was in the works and he could most likely find a position for me. The job on the table at that point was "Sales Engineer". I'm not saying that is a degrading job but I was done with field facing haggling and was more looking back at my career as a "System Administrator" moving towards a DevOps/WebOps role. A role which I also got a very viable offer for at a prestigious employer in Norway. Since we're all being honest here I've had discussions with third potential employer about a DevOps kind of hybrid role in Gothenburg. Less money than Proact but very convenient.

I turned down the SE job, although very curious about what other offerings they had and I skimmed their openings. Technical Marketing Engineer, sounds pretty swell, right? Reading the description of that job it was a match made in heaven and I could actually leverage some skills I had acquired over the last four years and be all over the spectrum. The only downside was that it was situated in Redwood City, California. I hoovered the ad for a couple of days and asked my dear spouse at that time if I should apply. -"Kör så det ryker!" was her exact words if I remember correctly. I had a call on Skype two days later and I literally got hired over that same call. All my references within said company all checked out as I've worked with them high and low for the last year and a half.

A struggle to combat my visa application, my resignation period from the previous employer and the complete absence of security of what's going to happen next started boiling. I scavenged paperwork for weeks to get the sought after H1B visa but the lawyers and US immigration would refuse it. It wasn't adequate. All things considered - this is what I expected. I don't have ANY academic background, just like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. If a H1B visa would've gotten through I would've moved in October this year. Instead we had to resort to plan B which was the not so compelling option of moving to the UK and do one year in the EMEA HQ and do an internal transfer which falls under the L1 visa. At this point I've already done nine months, only three to go!

At this point my dear spouse was completely terrified of what she'd agreed to. I would describe it as a deadlock. She had said yes but regretted it and if she would've refused me to go after my dream I now had signed on a paper she knew I would be bitter for the rest of my life. To be frank, this was the end, which I hate to admit. I thought our love was stronger.

I frequently get the question why I want to move so badly to California. Why is this your dream? Why aren't you better of at X, Y or Z? I really need to lay this out, so here goes. Every essence of my life, culture and interests, has either an origin or a strong foothold in America. California in particular. I've been to California a dozen times, it feels like home already. Up to now it's only been work or vacation related trips. I usually say that I've lived within the same postcode my whole life, which isn't entirely true but that's how I put it. I've never lived outside Gothenburg my whole life. I feel like a retard (byfåne). I've always had that nagging itch of trying something else. I've always known that the US has been off the table for academic reasons. I score high on both Australian and New Zealand immigration qualification but it's too far off. I've considered UK before but it doesn't have anything compelling to me. I will grow fat and become a drunk - it's a great pinball nation, I'll give you that, but it rains ALL THE FUCKING TIME! I had a distant idea of actually bringing my bike over, am I glad I didn't bring it? Ohhh yes! Don't take this the wrong way, I've always loved London and that love has been extended even further. Simply put, I can't support and sustain the lifestyle I want in the UK, it's as simple as that. AUS and NZ has the weather aspect of it and are both respectable western nations.

In the grand scheme of things it boils down to prolonging my life. In Sweden (or the UK) I'm deeply depressed, anti-social and irrational six months a year because of the cold combined with the darkness - the climate prohibits me from being myself. I usually just sit on my ass, waiting for spring, counting the days. If this illness is curable by moving to California remains to be seen but the only way to know for sure is to actually do it. If I find myself in better place all year round, I won't probably look back. If you had a terminal illness that effectively shorten your life by half and had the opportunity to make you a better person by reflecting on how you truly feel, would you move?

I don't want bring up Henry Rollins in this but I did go see his spoken word show this February and he's a true inspiration for laying foundations of changing your life. He's been all over the world and have done it all. Bonus: He survived and live to tell a pretty damn good story. If I would've stayed within the same postcode the rest of my life, what the hell would I have to tell?

The irony of this story is that if it hadn't been in the middle of the cold dark winter I wouldn't had quit my job without contingency and sign up for a job in California without weighing in any consequence what so ever. I only saw a solution to my immediate problem and I hit the eject button.

There's a saying which can't hold more truth at this time: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

March: Ramping up
In March I had two fulltime jobs. I did nothing else for about six weeks and it was really stressful. I started taking classes in English conversation to prepare for where I was heading. Friends and family started to be aware of what was going on and responses were mostly positive. Some Swedish.

It wasn't until middle of March everything got finalized with the firm plan of moving to the UK. I visited the office for the first time and scouted for an apartment. I remember that day vividly by the hour. It was hot as hell and I remember thinking that this might actually work. The climate in London is very mild and spring is really early, but it was hot like a summer day. I met colleague for curry later that night and I remember him dropping by in flip-flops and a t-shirt. I was wearing my standard winter outfit.

I also got to experience the utterly corrupt housing system in the UK. It's mental. As an individual you are allowed to own how many flats, houses and apartments as you like and let them out for the highest "bidder". I actual had to put in a bid for the place I'm renting. And they did background checks and all that. The "broker" had small fee of £500 for relaying the contract. One month rent up front plus the rent for the first month. Without even blinking I had set myself back £2500. Out of sheer luck I actually had that money at hand. So, if you ever wonder why some flats look like utter shit is because the people living there is only paying someone else's mortgages and they don't give a flying fuck if the garden is in order or what else. The lights have been broken in the stairwell where I live for instance, it's no ones responsibility to actually fix it, everyone living there is probably paying someone else's mortgage. The common front door lock was broken for weeks at one time, sigh, I'm moaning like a true brit now.

When everything came down I realized that I had to compromise my bike riding severely. I did replace the Kuga with a box van just to get a few practices in here and there but I had to cancel my SVEMO license and the whole championship I had signed up for. This is one of the bigger sacrifices I had to make but I will be rewarded ten fold and it's just one season I had to let go. I'm doing my best keeping fit in the gym by exercising the muscle groups used in motocross, it's spelled b-o-r-i-n-g. So far I haven't gained any weight which is miracle on it's own, considering the mass consumption of curry and Dominos.

My personal sin. It's like a pie!

March was also the month of the awkward moment where I got proposed to. In retrospect I was expecting the opposite. The engagement was suppose to make us stronger as a couple and "no matter what" sit this through. Somehow I know I had my hopes up that this might actually not be the end after all. Why would she propose to me if she would leave me? We didn't get any rings, instead we engraved a lock and put it on top off Älvsborgsbron. I was up there one late night in September, tried to remove it and planned to sincerely give it back to her. It was rusted shut, the symbolic meaning of that is that there is a saying that old love never rust, but obviously, it does. It will sit there as a tombstone with a proper 2012 engraving on it.

April: Initiation
The traditional Easter trip went to Istanbul this year. Without going into too much detail I can highly recommend this vibrant middle east modern metropol. We stayed in Taksim, one of the more modern parts of Istanbul. The climate was just right for a spring getaway. Affordable. But you know you should be careful when the cab drivers lock the doors going through a crowd.

Views are beautiful around Istanbul.

I got the keys to my flat in the middle of April. There were a couple of hectic weeks where I first met my US manager in London and later the same week flew to Athens in Georgia. The company founder lives in Athens, a living legend if you ask me. He invented the PIX firewall and LocalDirector for Cisco and holds key patents on network address translation (NAT). He's the reason we don't have to learn IPv6 just yet (Thanks!). Usually when you start fresh at a company you are given training. Wrong, this is a startup company, you are suppose to bring something to the table. I actually held training for the field SE's during my first weeks of employment. I had became a true powerpoint engineer using a Mac in the blink of an eye(!). Athens is a very interesting place, it's just an hour drive outside Atlanta. It's a pretty small sleepy southern town, except for the 35000 students and that the main street is only composed of bars! It felt like you were in the middle of a college movie but you weren't actually there. The complete absence of any common ground with all the students there you felt like someone's dad being in town ruining all the fun. Weird, I tell you. This was the general conception among us, it was like a two inch thick wall of glass between our crew and the indigenous species.

May: Settling in.
I remember running like a jo-jo between the flat and the shopping center filling up with random household stuff. IKEA delivered my furniture, Internet got connected, rejoice! I remember playing Diablo III most of my spare time once everything got installed and setup.

Settling in.

I took some time strolling around and scout out Staines, or Staines-upon-Thames as they've renamed it to. I would compare Staines to the Swedish equivalent of Alingsås. One high street, one shopping centre and a train station. It's really tiny and picturesque. Funny fact is that the fictional character Ali G originates from the Staines Westend Massive and apparently the main driver for the name change of the town. Ali G was huge in Britain ten years ago or so and was fucking hilarious. I remember being in town from some reason during the renaming ceremony. I saw a dude dress like Ali G waling past me with determined steps towards the park where the ceremony was held. A week or so later I read in the local freebie paper that he had got himself arrested and led of the premises for protesting against the name change. I think it's pretty lame as well.

May was also a month of exploring. I went down to London on the weekends and scouted places to play pinball, check out restaurants and shopping. I also had the opportunity to go see José Gonzalez with some long lost friends. Quite weird feeling I remember, standing on a pub in the middle of London and knowing that you actually live there from here onwards.

A milestone in my life was the discovery of a place called The Pipeline. A pub driven by a new found friend who loves pinball almost as much as he loves AIK. On the floor he had a two week old AC/DC Premium. We played that baby for hours and hours on end. The only aftermath I got to experience first hand was the nuisance of being late for the last train to Staines. Quite and adventure trying to get from Waterloo to Staines without a clue where to go. I managed to get hold of some staff that pointed me to Kingston and there I took a cab. Lengthy, expensive and excessively boring.

London would not survive without this place. The Pipeline on Middlesex St.

June: Work, Race, Play.
I managed to get home to Sweden for some motocross which I'm living on up to this day. I miss riding like I'm missing an organ. All my garage gear will be shipped by sea so depending on timing I won't be able to ride for another six months. I will have my ass full of activities regardless but that's one thing that will be on top of the list to tick off. Also spent a rainy midsummer in Sweden, classic.

Hopefully doing what I'm suppose to later this summer. Made a last minute video to cheer me up.

Back in The Massive I went head on and bought a skate. It's the main transportation around Staines these days as it's a perfect distance. Did the fatal mistake of buying regular wheels. Pavements and roads are by 1890 standards and I had to shop for the legendary ZipZinger wheels by krooked. Board hoovers above ground now. I did have some ambition on go explore some of the nearby skateparks but I totally lack motivation to go there at this time. One sunny day, maybe.

I also took the bull by the horns and looked up a local pinball league. I've only managed to get to one meet unfortunately but I can tell you that the brits sure knows how to play pinball and the local community are world renowned players. The meet was held at a guy's flat which was crammed with pins.

At Matt's place during a league meet.

Many "firsts" were going on in June. I went to see NOFX and Less Than Jake all by myself. Only managed to get a seat and it was out of this world depressing. Which is a shame, I thought back then, there are good gigs going on around London almost every weekend. More on that topic later.

July: "Vacation"
Beginning of July kicked off really good with the pop-up pinball arcade event at The Pipeline. Twenty machines or so on site and loads of fun competitions. Main events where WPPR (world ranking system) sanctioned and I managed to get TWO gold medals. Sure ramped up my ranking quite a bit I'm pleased to say. Due to my recent incidents with the trains I decided to stay at a hotel down in London, it wouldn't have worked otherwise. Very good event overall and I made new friends, Swedes, Brits and French(!). There's an upcoming event at The Pipeline this spring, I really hope I'm still around for that.

The real London summer games!

Another pleasant element July had to offer is that my dear friend Anders F was doing some work in London a couple of weeks and we met up for margaritas, pints and chats. It proved he knew quite a bit about weird places around SOHO, especially the liquor stores hosting bottles way above my yearly salary. I remember getting quite smashed and had the brilliant idea of checking the nightlife in Staines, what a misery. Strolled up and down high street listening in where it could actually be happening something. Pubs were closing but I did find an open disco, a terrible disco, I might add.

Two weeks in July I went home to Sweden to "avoid" the Olympics. Worked from home and took some days off to go to Iceland. The night prior to departure was the music event of the year at West Coast Riot hosting Anti-Flag, Rancid and Turbonegro to name a few. The venue had also changed to Röda Sten from the dreadful horsetrack on Hisingen. Legendary gigs and I was quite pleased with them all. Most anticipation I had on how Turbonegro's new singer would carry the legacy. He did well but the stamina and endurance where not quite on par with Hank. Something he's learned to cope with at this time I can assure you. Anti-Flag delivered way above what I would've expect. Rancid knows what they're doing but they are not suppose to play on a arena. When I think Rancid live, I think of the shitty place I saw them in Ventura.

Anti-flag at West Coast Riot. There's a first time for everything.

For obvious reasons I won't go into all details around the Iceland trip. All in all, Iceland is fantastic. The youngest landmass on earth, and it shows. Moon-like scenary and the weirdest freaky nature I've ever seen. Iceland has it all. We drove all around the whole island and I'll let the gallery speak for itself. My key takeaway was the rental of a proper superjeep and the prominent guide Ragnar. He took us to what they call "The Playground" and basically you get to climb mountains and race in rivers with a monstrous customized 4x4. Also noteworthy was the snowmobiling on top of the Vattnajökull glacier - in the middle of the summer! Going out on a fast RIB scouting for whales weren't too bad either. Animals larger then the boat cruising silently just by the surface! Amazing creatures.

Iceland is one of it's kind. Go there while it's still there.

August: Turmoil
August ended the Iceland trip. The schedule continue to be absolutely packed. Way Out West was up next. There's always overly ambitious projects about hooking up with all people you've ever known as soon WoW hits, but it never ends up as planned. I kind of had my own agenda, watching Refused foremost and later hit Jazzhuset for 7 Seconds. Little did people know that Refused would show up there as well and do a second gig that was ten times better then the one I just witnessed in Slottskogen in front of tens of thousands of people. We were about two hundred crammed inside the venue and it was such a retro kick! Exactly how I remembered the nineties. Besides Refused I was just interested in First Aid Kit and Kraftwerk what I recall. First Aid Kit was really good and they really embraced the crowd, I would expect that they would be more comfortable in doing their thing in a smaller venue. They proved me to be very wrong. Kraftwerk? Well.

Saturday morning, last day of WoW when Kraftwerk would perform I had some motocross riding to do in the morning before heading to Slottskogen. Well back from practice, all showered and so on, my dear spouse had made some soup. The horrible thing is that I don't remember the exact words but she wanted the relationship over with once we had sat down. My head at that time could not accept or process the information spoken across the table. I had nowhere to turn, nowhere to go and no one to call. The only thing echoing in my head is that her love was not sufficient for me to move across the Atlantic. Effectively rendering any contingency with us being together. After seven years she didn't love me enough to move? Why would I move back to Sweden to try patch that up when I just had my heart ripped out and handed to me? Thank you I'll take my chances. I remember that night just strolling off. Beat my personal best on AC/DC at Henriksberg. Went down to Kellys, necked two pints without blinking my eyes. Didn't feel anything, numb. Walked up to Slottskogen to get a glimpse of Kraftwerk at least. I didn't meet anyone except my ex from twelve years ago which I hadn't seen in ages. I remember how awkward that moment was as I was completely out of my body and how symbolic it became. This ex had once told me, -"You'll never find a girl like me." when I left her, like I've been cursed. Well, just add another notch on the gun and move on - this one didn't stick either. A few practical e-mails were swapped and later on it was decided I would move out end of September. We haven't spoken or seen each other since she left for her sisters the day after the separation.

She stayed at her sisters' for the remaining two days I was "home". I remember I had problem breathing properly so much my chest hurt as I had to swallow it all. I had to work, I broke the news for my boss a day or two later. I learned that a dear colleague had just handed in his resignation and I just felt everything crumbling down. I had to hold it together on the surface. Inside it was just a haze. My manager invited me to the US to come to VMworld which was exactly what I needed, only a few weeks away and it would inspire my confidence in what I was doing and the perfect imminent distraction.

On the more positive side of things, I had a deal going long before I got back to the UK to go pickup a pinball machine and haul into my flat. A Star Wars: Episode 1 Pinball 2000 machine. Some electronic failures and the display need replacing but the overall condition after I shopped (cleaned and replaced rubbers and stuff) it is pretty damn good. Cabinet doesn't have a single scratch. The playfield had some dents at weird places which I think is manufacturing defects. It's one of the early production games with the prototype playfield, perhaps they didn't put enough coating on? When I think of it, makes sense, as I can't rub up the right finish with my regular wax. Hmm... need more time under the glass here. The game itself is quite challenging a far better than I anticipated as this is the "secondary" choice of the Pinball 2000 platform. I had plans of replacing the PC unit and monitor with a complete NuCore system which basically gives you the choice of using a vanilla TFT/LCD screen and a faster Linux based PC. The custom software allow you to use the machine as a jukebox or hook it up to an external amp or headphones(!). Unfortunately for me, they stopped shipping NuCore systems a few weeks before I got the machine. I've refurbished the PC and replaced all fans and in my opinion it'll (hopefully) work for a couple of more years. I only need to get a new arcade type monitor as mine is loosing green sometimes. And I still have some work to on it which I've been too lazy fixing as it plays just fine right now. Just some modes that aren't fully functional due to the ramp blockers are defective. Being the last game Williams shipped it has a very interesting game jackpot you can get once per ball (it's quite hard) where the numbers add up to the exact date when Williams announced they'll stop manufacturing pinball machines. Conveniently around 20M (1999-25-10).

It's a keeper!

A pinball intense week awaited in the UK as I had planned going to the UK Pinball Party taken place in Daventry over a weekend, located a tad bit on the countryside at a hotel complex. The UKPP is a mixture of tournaments, exhibition and general public attraction. There were keynote speakers from the industry at a gala dinner and all sorts of fancy things I've never seen before. On the Friday there was a non-WPPR team competition between UK leagues. The Surrey league was on player short and I was apparently on the shortlist to take that spot. Little did I expect that I would play the "winning" ball, on The Shadow, a game I tend to dislike. Too bad I tilted during a multiball otherwise it would not have been the nail-biter it became. On the Saturday I managed to grab a bronze in the b-finals, not very good, qualifying did not go my way with all time low scores on The Simpson Pinball Party and The Getaway, only a few points making it into the main tournament. There was a classic competition on the Sunday where I ambitiously set a good score on Haunted House but got kicked out in the last minute (rules were simple, set the highest score on any machine to qualify). Walking away with plaques and medals I will soon need a trophy room (please see the irony). Lucky me I also walked away with a complete shopping kit for my Star Wars game and only had to source certain parts from abroad. Quite the luxury and there were quite a few traders on site. Managed to get a squint at the Color DMD for Medieval Madness but I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. On Attack from Mars it looked absolutely stunning.

A very fun event. I wish I could've enjoyed it a bit more.

As requested I departed for San Francisco to visit VMworld, see my new desk (yes, I actually have a desk in California already) and do some time off activities. As a bonus I was invited to our CEO's house as a welcome party were many known and friendly faces showed up. Too bad it was the same day I landed in SF and I was so painfully tired I fell asleep standing. Nevertheless a very nice gesture. The work week was just jam packed with activities and not until Friday I could get some rest and do something else besides socializing with colleagues or working - very much needed and appreciated but I craved time on my own. Get a grip on what I was doing. I had the very fortunate luck that Refused played in Oakland on Friday night and I went to see them. They did almost the exact same gig as in Gothenburg, except here you could enjoy them with the sweet smell of weed lying heavy across the crowd. In California you're not allowed to smoke in restaurants and such but it proved that weed was OK? I first kind of felt the smell but it was too intense to actually be in someone clothes. I turned around and there was a crew with a fat one just chilling. And no security what so ever interfered. Up in Oakland there is a pretty sweet Pinball Museum, not as frantic as the one in Vegas but they have a respectable amount of machines and pure collectibles, like woodrails and prototypes. The different rooms at the establishment had certain themes depending on era. I was in there before and after the gig and was the last to leave - quite a cool place. I also managed to get a few games going on, at that time brand new, X-Men. It had the most nasty pitch I've ever played any game at which was a shame. First impression lasts and now I hate the game. Why this game was so awkwardly setup depended on the fact that the newer Stern titles were operator run and paid for separately, not on free play in other words as the rest of the museum.

As a side story about VMworld is that I get to see Brent Spiner (Star Trek actor) at one of the booths on the show floor. He was chatting up visitors and gave autographs. I managed to get four cards signed with all names from the Trek crew back in Gothenburg. Quite fab!

Can't get enough of Data(!)

The mandatory visit to Santa Cruz were scheduled for Saturday. Sadly I realized that living in Santa Cruz and commuting to Redwood City would never work, I would spend all my time in California being on the road back and forth from the office. Finding a place within comfortable distance is key to maximize time spent actually living in the US. Santa Cruz feels like home, like the rest of the bay area, despite that I got my very first US parking ticket while visiting. My US peers is keen to have me moving to the "city" which is San Francisco but I couldn't be bothered. Cold, foggy and full of bums and an assortment of weirdos. Besides, getting a flat with a proper garage there would probably have me spend all my money on rent. On the Sunday I drove down to San José to visit my future home track, 408MX. A hardpack mixed with soft berms and there where quite a few people there shredding. Motocross is not as big as I would've wanted it to be in the bay area, the real mecca is in SoCal with a stronghold around San Diego. I also got a sense of how people get there gear to the track and as suspected, the Ford F150 pickup truck were overrepresented. Having a small box van the last few months in Sweden made me realize how comfortable it was to just tuck everything in and go. Don't worry about weather or hijacks. A van also have a lower floor which makes it easier to load and unload. A high F150 will sure put on a show each time you're loading.

What does the future hold?

All in all, this visit to CA made me realize that the sacrifices I've made was worth it. If not, this was a good place to breakdown but I chose to look forward.

Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda.

September: On your feet!
Well back from the US I finally get to see the peroxide blonde which I've been chatting on the dating site. No formal agenda, just meet up for cocktails at The Black Heart in Camden, quite a few cocktails. As mentioned earlier something clicked instantly, it felt like I already knew her, but that could very well be all the chatting. I remember thinking to myself, how do I get her into my life? She was shy, but still chirpy and very funny, maybe a bit nervous. We spent all night comparing notes from our past lives and I was staring at a reflection. I had no intention on jumping her, I don't want to look desperate and I had all the time in the world I thought. What I was thinking was irrelevant, she jumped me and it made me very happy, feelings were mutual.

Besides the work I buried myself in during September I went to see The Soundtrack of Our Lives last concert ever in London with some new found friends. It's so sad to see them quit, they've almost always been there and consecutively delivered high quality life inspiring albums and tours. The night itself turned out to be a very wet one and I get to experience the eighties disco place called Maggies. Still, I'm not cut for these things, doesn't matter how much I drink, I fucking hate it. I also got first hand experience on how hard it actually is to get a cab driver to get you all the way to Staines Massive from central London.

The last ever gig in London for The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

End of September I had ten days to wrap up my old life and put in Shurgard storage. It took me a good week to empty the flat. All in all it was the right thing to do. I had been invited for dinner at some friends and for the first time actually talk face to face with someone on what's been going on and I remember not being very upset about it. It's just something that I need to get through and put behind me and didn't make a great deal out of. It's always a good thing to ventilate and hear yourself say things to people who listen.

Someday... someday..

My last few nights in Sweden was actually at a hotel in Borås during Borås Pinball Open '12. I had a great time, didn't play really well, but it was a worthy last few days and gave perspective. I remember being quite pissed as me and a friend played about beers all Saturday, like looser picks game and buy a round of beers. So you needed to drink fast if play lousy and play good to avoid being broke. We settled pretty equal, I may have one by one game or something. I remember having a good few balls on our last game of Earthshaker. We also tried to go out afterwards in Borås, but it was doomed, places were all swamped and we lost each other, headed home a tad bit tipsy.

October: Star Trek London. Kelowna.
The feeling of relief coming back to Staines after this visit was by a mile easier then the last time. My eyes are glued on the horizon and no intention of looking back. Not that I won't ever move back to Sweden but the past was gone and dealt with. I also started realizing that I needed to make my flat more inhabitable, put some pictures on the wall and spent a minute or two figuring out how to actually make it a "home", a short one, but still it needs to feel like home.

I had some Swedes over visiting mid October to go to the Star Trek London conference. THE Star Trek meet. All five captains from the series were there and a host of other characters. I bought pictures of Kate Mulgrew and Sir Patrick Stewart. We also had a visit scheduled to Harrods for afternoon tea. It was a very pleasant weekend all in all.

Idiots abroad! ;) Cheerz!

There were a situation boiling at work that pulled me into a professional services engagement in Canada. In the period of a few days it was introduced and committed to me to leave UK for two weeks that very same weekend. I was in over my head a bit and I've never dealt with customers directly at my new job. It turned out quite well and I even got an award for my on-site effort. A funny side story is that I almost got rejected at immigrations as I didn't have any paperwork what so ever with me when trying traversing Canadian immigration. The situation sorted itself eventually but will forever be red flagged in Canada, which I got a taste of when I traveled to Whistler. They were trying hard finding evidence that I was there doing illegal work or had my employer paying for ski-passes, heli-skiing and all other arrangements. I guess I should be thankful.

The customer site was in the humble town of Kelowna in British Columbia. A beautiful mountain valley town in the midst of its autumn. I had brought a truckload of warm clothes but it was quite ok to be honest. It only snowed a tad bit one day and it was quite mild. There are like three ski resorts in the direct vicinity of Kelowna but I was like two weeks too early for them to be opened. To be honest, I had so much work on my plate form day one since I came there I wouldn't be relaxed going boarding for a weekend, it was absolutely packed and I ended up working very long days. Still, got some sights and found a few good restaurants. I hope timing is better the next time around, if that time comes.


November: Flipper-SM
Well back in the UK, work from the Kelowna engagement did not stop. I had to empty my head in front of half the company on a WebEx trying to illustrate the challenges we met and how we at the end had a solid understanding of what we've done. I remember putting something on facebook mentioning that this was my biggest challenge to date and rest assured, it was. I even received an award of excellence for my efforts and is a great honor. I had no idea we even had such an award so it came as quite a surprise.

Award of Excellence!

The Bronx gig in Reading. Fucking over the top!!

I had a bit of short trip "home" to Gothenburg to play the Swedish Championships in pinball. I'm quite sad I don't get to play that intensive that I use to when visiting either Pinball's Eye or Högsbolokalen at least once a week. Visits to The Pipeline have been scarce due to the workload and commute of getting there. That said, it went pretty much as expected and ended up in the lower third. I don't know if I even qualified for the b-finals, which is kind of the losers circle. I did get quite good games to qualify on so I can't really complain on anything other than I played utter shit. I went out afterwards to catchup with a friend which was quite nice and I ran into some other people, just to kind of reassure that nothing has changed so far. Leaving Gothenburg behind at this time felt kind of strange because this time I had no idea when I was coming back and I still don't know.

No rest for the wicked. Back in the UK we were off to see Turbonegro the following week at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. I was quite curious how the new singer would perform considering his last appearance left some stamina to be desired. I must say I was impressed as he's really grown into the role and learned to cope with the fact that he hasn't been on stage for his whole life. They put on a truly epic performance and I'd say Turbonegro is back in business on a grand scale.

Epic Turbonegro gig... and gits spotted on the tube!

I have kind of a side story that kind of got wrapped up in November I need to share with myself. When I packed my stuff for good in September I disassembled my server at home and just brought some disks with me. I ordered some fresh new gear in a traditional manner by cherry picking components. These days I'm quite lazy doing proper research and just look at the bottom line and think to myself, -"Will it fit?". For the first time in my life I spent quite a wad of cash, a proper Xeon-E5 proc with 32GB of RAM on a server board with IPMI and the whole shabang. State-of-the-art. I put everything together one night in the office late one night and brought it home where I had my drives I took from the old box. The screen was just black and no beep codes, fans spun up (loud) but that was it. Started shuffling RAM around and found that only one bank was working. Called up the reseller and wined about a broken motherboard and all that. I couldn't do an RMA (return the crap, get a new one) as the fault cause wasn't determined and I had to send RAM, CPU and motherboard back. Weeks later I got an e-mail that it works just fine. Yours truly had misaligned the backplate spacers and short circuited 3 out 4 DIMM banks, you could tell that I had bent some circuit legs sticking out on the bottom of the board. I've been building PC's since 1995 and never ever done this. I'm getting fat and lazy, I tell you that. It would be enough if the story ends here, but it doesn't. I received the components back and assemled the sucker and everything ran just fine. For some reason I couldn't detect the network cards built-in on the motherboard with my old operating system disks. It appeared I needed to do an update - from the Internet. Reminded me of the silly situation I once was in when I was suppose to download drivers to my modem from the Internet, doh! Did some other research to make sure everything else was in order besides the network chipset. The motherboard has two storage controllers which give you the plentiful amount of twelve ports to stick drives on. It appeared that eight of those ports weren't detected properly. To my big demise there were no drivers available at all for that particular controller on my operating system of choice, at this time at least. This was one of the main reasons why I got this motherboard in the first place because of the generous amounts of SATA/SAS ports. Basically I had to shell out for an external disk controller and another network card to even get started. If it would've ended here we would all be fine, right? So, it turns out my shiny new disk controller I ordered wasn't capable of addressing 3TB drives properly. How I found that out will turn anyone white in the face. First off, I'm lazy right. I didn't even remember getting 3TB drives in the first place so I thought I was good to go. The controller detected the drives as 2TB ones and that's what I thought I had. When I imported the the pool (this is ZFS, yadda yadda) it took an awful amount of time, and it didn't finish at all. I left it over night and the bastard was still chewing on my disks when I woke up. Impatient I hit the reset button and retried this a couple of times throughout a couple of days. I could cleary see that both reads and writes(!) were occurring to the drives during import. Eventually I took everything apart and sanity checked everything, disk controller firmware, read the specs, checked the drives and concluded I was an idiot once I realized what I've done. So, what the hell have been going on with all that reading and writing off my disks and not going anywhere? I shat my pants and could only conclude that ZFS had tried to repair my data and literally drawn everything through a shredder. I hooked up the drives to the on-board controller which was working and detected and the pool imported in less than a second. The data was there, it didn't report any errors, no nothing. I run a full scrub and it was just fine. Lucky bastard, that's me! Did this put me out of my misery, no. I had a worry that the stock fans would be noisy since they weren't volt regulated properly. And they sure were. Ordered a full stack of ninja silent fans with volt regulation and smacked them in. They were quiet and they were noisy. They were quiet and they were noisy. The computer was literally breathing and was even more annoying than ever before. Goind mad I made a futile attempt to update the firmware controlling the system bus which controls the fans. This computer has been dubbed Frankenstein and the fact that it was actually breathing made it even more hilarious. Nevertheless, the firmware actually fixed the fan problem which was a shot in the dark as the release notes did not state explicitly that this would fix the problem.
At the end of all this I've re-learned many important lessons, but one thing is for sure, I'm getting lame as a lamah's ass when it comes to wrenching PC's. I'm a software guy and I haven't realized that up until now.

December: Friends in London. Whistler.
I've had my eye on a pinball tournament in New York for quite some time being held in a skateshop on Manhattan. It's a sought after event and the number of spots are limited for obvious reasons. I had some chats with the owners to find out how you would register. It turns out they release have the spots in the store and the other half online, a total of 48 spots. That means you have to battle for 24 spots not being able to walk into the store. Eventually they announced a time and date when they would release the spots and I figured I'd give a go. I was refreshing the page like a maniac and I remember getting a broken page and then the registration showed up after the next refresh. I literally fretted all my details in and hit submit. I was number 16 to register and all spots were sold out in 1 minute and 45 seconds! And here I am, authoring this piece on the flight to New York. How it goes will be in another post for another time, but I can reveal that I haven't got any significant practice done and their are quite a few pros registered. Who lives shall see.

December was one of those months were the gigs did not ever stop coming. We went to see Red Fang, Truckfighters and a line-up of britpunk bands such as Citizen Fish. I had no idea who any of the britpunks were. Red Fang I've started to listed to recently and it's quite ok stoner. Not as good as Fu Manchu but who will ever be? Truckfighters is a Swedish band actually that I wasn't very familiar with. They are quite big on the stoner scene and after seeing them live I kind of get that. They are only three people and they make more noise than anyone I've heard. They have a wide and deep sound picture and it will rock your ass either you want it or not. It's like guitar and metal sound porn. It doesn't get more complete than this. One of the support acts were quite good as well. Unfortunate name 'Steak' isn't very charming though.

At the Underworld. You have no idea how much noise these guys do!

I don't get visitors quite that often but for some reason it happened all in one week in December. Quite cheerful night out on the town two days in a row in the middle of the week, quite nice. I had managed to scrap together four seats at a supper club I've had my eyes on for since this summer. In the summertime they make pizzas on top of a rooftop out in northeast London. The club is called Forza Win and is suppose to have an Italian chime to it. Seats were sold out all summer unfortunately and I couldn't get any tickets. For this winter they booted up Forza Win(ter) and had fonduita as the main theme. Dear god I've never had such good cheese in all my life and you got all sorts of fresh vegetables and bread to stick in it. An fabulous experience and not that very expensive considering they fed you for the whole night. And the wine was cheap as chips, albeit a bit cold, but that's forgiven, we were after all sitting outside accompanied by jet heaters and gas lamps.

I also had the pleasure of having my dear friend Jen over for a weekend. She got a mini-tour of central London. Camden in particular and we also just got to hang out, which was nice.

Onwards we had dinner one of the best vegetarian restaurants I've ever been to, Mildred's. Sunday night was also packed and we had tickets to go see Rancid perform at The Forum just one stop from Camden. They are never getting old and they still had the energy to deliver considering this was the third night they performed at the same venue. Jen also got to experience the late night train stress and we just managed to catch the last slow train to Staines. Too bad we both had to wee real bad and this train for some reason didn't have a toilet on it. We had to get off the fucking train! In Richmond where we got off everything was closed and the toilet on the stations was shut down for some reason and we had to resort to piss behind stonewall only a bend from high street. Caught on CCTV for sure.

Rancid for the second time this year. All good!

It brings me great pleasure to end this post with a story about Whistler, one of the top ski resorts in the world probably. Number one voted in North America. This was suppose to be a time to consolidate my thoughts, gain a foothold and reflect of what brought me here. In therapeutic interests I wrote the majority of this post during my time in Whistler. Although I didn't finish it there. Ten thousand words strong at this moment.

Just before the holidays we were moving the office from Staines to Reading. Flipping inside and outside for several hours. I suspect that for some reason laid the very foundation what would be a mancold/flu that I had to bear for the whole duration. I was stuffing myself with ibuprofen, paracetamol and various vitamins to keep afloat. For some reason I managed to get out each day boarding during the opening hours. It felt better being outside, although I had my nose running for the whole duration. There were strategically placed sniffle stations all around where you could get yourself a fresh napkin. I slept around ten to twelve hours a day. Fever came and went. It was a mess.

I was expecting grief at the Canadian border for my last visit and very much so did I get sidelined and almost missed my transfer to Whistler. Fortunate for me I had no reason being there for work packing all my snowboard gear and half a fortune of receipts proving I was indeed going snowboarding in Whistler.

Welcome to Whistler/Blackcomb.

Still I managed to get everything done I was there for. The cold/flu did not hold be back much other than jumping and spinning was off the table as all the snot collected in my sinuses fiddled with my balance. I'm all for speed and long cuts so I wasn't really bothered by it. The boarding around Whistler and Blackcomb Glacier was out of this world. I remember first day not going up the same lift twice or down the same slope twice. It was massive. The night I arrived it was literally pouring down snow with flakes large as ping-pong balls. It looked like a postcard with the village all lit up drowned in snow. It kept snowing for a couple of days and it was hard to get grip of the layout of the mountains as visibility was about zero. The majority of the remaining days was all out sunshine and high-life. I quickly found my favorite routes and made sure I was amongst the first ones in those runs in the mornings. Though, it was pretty hard getting anywhere "first", battling 23000 people at one of the days in between Christmas and new years.

I have a ton of video footage. Stay tuned!

New years eve was the big day I was overly excited about. I could not fall asleep the night before, just like Christmas eve when you were a kid. Heli-skiing was on the agenda. It basically means you have a group of people sharing a helicopter between runs amongst the powder coated mountain peaks. I did try riding in powder one day in the Blackcomb Glacier, it was hard as hell and I had no idea was I was doing. My first thought was that, well, it won't be this hard and exhausting doing "real" powder when I'll go heli-ski. Right? Even though I shifted around the bindings a bit for the big day I was confident that I could ride powder with my gear. Naturally, I refused renting a proper powder board by the heli-skiing company. It took quite a few slopes before I got the hang of it. Overdoing it the first few and got really tired as I was tense as hell. As it got more relaxed it was fucking amazing zipping about on top of half a meter of fresh powder.

Get to da choppa'!!

Quite shitty I ran out of batter on the GoPro's during the second or so run. But at least I got a few nice shots and you kind of get the hang of what the whole experience was about. I've never been in a helicopter before and the way you enter and exit the chopper during runs makes it quite an "upfront" experience. When you get out you group up under the rotors next to it and let the chopper lift while the group is still hunkered under it. Same procedure when getting in. You hunker in a group and the chopper land a half a meter from the group. Don't ask me why this is the safest way to go about these things but it makes sense considering the terrain that you can't move about in properly and it's never really flat anywhere. Too bad this day was not the brightest of days but it broke up pretty decent in the afternoon.

The photos doesn't do the views justice.

We also had a photographer following us one or two runs but none of the footage was very impressive and I just skipped that part as it wasn't part of the package. I got my own shots and I snatched a paper copy of the group photo when the after-party closed down. Yes, there where a few drinks involved. I'm sharing photos with some of the other people in the group and maybe I'll turn up there.

All in all this was an experience of a lifetime worth doing a few more times and I'm definitely going to. I'll also try getting some more powder done before that - on a proper board!

The day before I was suppose to head home I had booked some snowmobiling an afternoon to get some fumes and throttling done. The package was called Extreme Backcountry X which basically let you shred an open landscape and go on really tricky trails. Experience beforehand was essential as you were to pilot 1200cc four stroke Rotax powered snowmobiles. Unfortunately everyone in the group had not read the advertisement and we got a couple in their upper forties from Florida with us. We spend a lot of time waiting around and looking back. I managed to dig myself down once during a free ride session in a bowl but those guys were always getting stuck or unable to pilot certain trails. Aport from that it was a blast. Full throttle on that engine just gave and gave and it never seem to loose power. It was brutal! I tried reach some sort of peak but it would not stop pulling and I was bouncing about quite a few times over 100km/h.

He's coming back alright...

I had my board waxed during my snowmobile run and I spend my last day just cruising around contemplating my fantastic last ten days and pondering the future. Traveling alone is so underrated and I will definitely do it again. Setting your own pace, in the slopes and throughout the day is quite satisfying. As always a bit depressing cooking for yourself but you get over that pretty quickly. I also had my Monster beatbox with my Spotify library to keep me in good company along with all sorts of local brew. And the Internet never sleeps.

I don't know if anything can beat this trip from a snowtrip perspective. There are plenty of resorts in British Columbia and I can imagine going on a roadtrip for a few weeks to all the different resorts could be a nice follow-up. I've never been to the Alps, so maybe look around in your own turf before bringing out the big guns.

Wrapping up, on a 6h delayed flight to San Francisco. But that's a story for another time.


Doing What You Do Best

Då kom den där dagen jag fasat för sen jag gjorde det sist. Lyfter på arslet och säger upp mig ifrån ett jobb på vinst och förlust. Det blev vinst den här gången också.

Med pappret i handen på väg till kontoret fick jag ett samtal ifrån en leverantör, det råkade slinka ur mig att jag var på väg in med lappen. Där var det hugg direkt, "Sales Engineer" löd jobbet, föga intresserad lovade jag att höra av mig. Läste igenom arbetsbeskrivningen och blev ännu mer avtänd. Den här leverantören hade dock många tjänster ute, "Senior Technical Marketing Engineer" lät som ett riktigt smäckjobb, i Kalifornien och allt. Efter en kort avstämning med min bättre hälft löd budet, sök! Ett par dagar senare droppa ett mail in ifrån min nuvarande chef, -"I would love the opportunity to bring you out to California to meet the extended Coraid family.".

Efter att varit nere hos Dante och vänt i visumträsket hos dom Amerikanska myndigheter står det klart att jag endast kommer in på det som kallas L1, ett arbetsvisum där man flyttar inom samma eller relaterade företag. För att göra den flytten måste jag jobbat minst ett år inom företaget. Dagarna har börjat ticka ner sen första april och jag flyttar till London första maj. Jag kommer ha möjlighet att jobba ifrån Sverige och det kommer bli att jag är hemma emellanåt.

Det här är naturligtvis ett stort steg. Just nu tar vi det ett år i taget, ingen vet vad som händer om ett år, jag kommer i huvudsak jobba mot huvudkontoret i Redwood City men det finns aldrig några garantier. Hemmet på Dahlströmsgatan kommer stå kvar, jag tar med mig kläder och några datorer. Kan till och med bli så att jag löser ut Forden.

Flickvän med tillhörande förhållande samt flipper och crossåkande blir lidande i allra högsta grad. Man kan hoppas att det är värt det. Situationen på mitt förra jobb, som var en ren felrekrytering ifrån dag ett, var helt ohållbar. Utmaningen med nya jobbet, där jag tagit mig vatten över huvudet, behöver jag. Rätt in i kaklet eller rockstjärna, där är spannet hur det kan gå. USA har alltid hägrat men varit fullständigt utom räckhåll. Chansen jag har fått är en gång i livet, jag måste, dels för att inte bli bitter (bittrare) men även för min personliga utveckling.

Livet som väntar i London, som inte ens är London utan Staines som ligger i Surrey precis på gränsen till London, kommer troligtvis bara bestå av jobb. Lägenheten jag skaffat ligger på gångavstånd till kontoret och allt man behöver ligger inom fem minuters promenad i vad som senare visade sig var Ali G's hemvist. Tåget in till London tar en halvtimma till Paddington, frågan är om man kommer utnyttja det? Den som lever får se.


PS. Det har hänt andra saker sen sist också. Men allt blir mikroskopiskt i sammanhanget.

Out of 2011 and Into the Twilight Zone

Försöker komma i form för att summera 2011 och välkomna 2012. Att det sedan går mer än ett kvartal mellan inläggen gör det inte lättare. Men jag behöver det här, i terapisyfte och för mitt otroligt dåliga minne. Facebook-uppdateringar och tweets i all ära, det finns inte mycket utrymme för uttryck och/eller intryck i dessa medier. 2011, "Year of the Pinhead", kort summerat: -"Vad fan hände?" Börjar alltmer känna sympatier för min älskade sambo som försiktigt undrar vart hon skrev på för att ha flipperverkstad med tillhörande spelverksamhet i sitt hem. I vardagsrummet, inte ett spel, utan tre! Flertalet har säkert hört mig förklara anledningar varför detta kommit sig.

Då jag fullkomligt är narkoman på "datorer", specifikt lagring, virtualisering och nätverk med tillhörande programmering av dessa måste jag ha ett avbrott som ger lika stimulans men inte befinner sig i en pixlad bild i 16:9 ratio. Motocross är ett perfekt substitut och ger även bra fysik, något jag inte fick när jag körde "datorer" 24/7/365. När jag glatt förklarar att jag vägt 103kg är det inte många som ser det framför sig. Nu var ju det 10år sedan men vägen tillbaka är väldigt kort. På vintern blir det inte mycket med hojen då jag har en smärtgräns på +10°C utomhustemperatur, något man kan kyssa goodbye runt oktober/november.

På något sätt har jag också alltid identifierat mig som en gamer, något World of Warcraft förstört för mig fullständigt. Den typ av tv-spelsgaming man vart kung på har bara ebbat ut och allt nytt uppfattas bara som nyiterering av gammal skit och sämre än WoW, varför ödsla tid (Undantag är "Game of the Year"-spel, vilket oftast är ett eller två, typ Zelda och Uncharted)? En bra flipperrunda är runt tio minuter, en kvart, på sin höjd. Att sätta en serie bra skott på ett flipper ger en enorm tillfredsställelse, lika mycket som en serie stolpskott till "drain" ger ett känslomässigt utlopp ej mätbart med tvättäkta "nerdrage". Att skrika "Kuken!" för kung och fosterland och verkligen mena det ger även det en enorm tillfredsställelse. Samma som när man kränger däck under sommarhalvåret eller motsvarigheten till en positiv känsla när man klipper bra varvtider så det känns i hela kroppen. Flow!

Baksidan är så klart allt mek, både med hojen och flipprena, men det har en terapeutisk mening vilket håller igång både tankeverksamhet och det finmekaniska.

Det sociala i flipperkretsar är ett ganska stort inslag, dels på nätet men även under alla spelträffar och tävlingar. Då jag oftast bara svarar på tilltal är det här en välbehövlig utmaning av en helt annan dignitet. Alla har sin flipperstory, flipper är ganska vänligt och bottenlöst att prata om. I stora hela, ett meningslöst tidsfördriv? Nja.

Dom lokala privata flippersällskapen har fullt med spel i sina lokaler och jag har därför startat ett projekt att starta upp en ny lokal i Majorna med omnejd för likasinnande. Mitt fjärde spel är inte ett om utan ett när.

Flipper, flipper
När ändå järnet är varmt gällande flipper så kan jag avslöja lite slopet att jag kom på 95:e (av 200) plats i SM. In i det sista låg jag precis på gränsen, 64:e plats, att ta mig till slutspel. Det fick istället bli en katastrofal B-final med förluster så långt ögat nådde. Troligtvis hade jag spelat slut mig, då jag spelat flipper i sammanlagt 20h när jag klev på tävlingsmomentet i B-final. Det hjälpte inte heller att man tränat som en gnu dagarna innan och konsekvent spelat sämre. Man var tömd helt enkelt. Satte personbästa poängen på The Simpsons Pinball Party under kvalet, vilket låg 2:a under hela helgen, bara dåvarande 3:e rankade i världen som hade högre. Bästa flipperbedrift hittills!

Av en ren slump blev jag inbjuden till flipperkväll hos en kund. Det visade sig att inte mindre än fyra pers var genuina pinheads och hade spel hemma, på en och samma arbetsplats. En statistisk avvikelse helt klart.

Världens bästa flipper!

Det har nog inte heller gått att undvika att jag köpte ett Twilight Zone någon gång i November. Spelet har stått på havets botten och genomgår en renovering ej jämförbar med Doctor Who. Det är lite småfix kvar men jag förväntar mig många timmars spelande på ett av världens bästa flipperspel genom tiderna. Det är inte lätt att komma över ett Twilight Zone så man får ta det som erbjuds. Det är just nu i någorlunda spelbart skick och måste säga att jag är förvånad över hur bra det spelar med tanke på hur det såg ut när jag fällde upp det.

Det har blivit några både gamla och nya favoriter för att höja livskvalitén under hösten (vintern?). Kim har en kollega vars släkting är medlem i en hembygdsförening strax utanför Alingsås. Föreningen upplåter en s.k bakstuga där man under en hel dag har tillgång till en vedugn. Det här kan tyckas låta väldigt oupphetsande men det var väldigt trevligt, kanske berodde mest på sällskapet, men en väldigt avslappnad form att umgås. Man knådar, blandar, bakar, eldar, äter och småtjötar. Vi bakade hönökaka, rågsiktsbröd och hade ingredienser med oss att baka pizza. Det var rätt gött så.

Full fart i bakstugan!

Att Kim är med i diverse recepttävlingar är väl ingen hemlighet. Men att vinna ett komplett spapaket till polska Szczecin med färja, hotell och behandlingar på en ärtsoppa är ändå en bedrift. Hela det kulinariska besöket är så klart fullt dokumenterar på Tant Russins Bak (som luktar bäst!). Naturligtvis blev man positivt överraskad efter den kilovis med skepsis man suttit inne med mot Polen.


Att käka på restaurang med en stjärna i Guide Michelin hör inte till vanligheten. Sist var i Budapest med 7-rätters inkl. dryckespaket för en spottstyver. Kim fick ett besök på 28+ i födelsedagspresent av sin familj och självklart passade jag på att hänga med. Alltid lika svårt att föra sig i sådana miljöer, tur var att vi fick en egen våning då vi var tio personer i sällskapet. Det känns bra att ha det avhandlat då det är mycket snack om denna mytomspunna restaurangen. Maten var inte över skyarna men troligtvis vällagad. Svensk "finmat" har aldrig varit någon favorit hos undertecknad.

Utsikt ifrån bryggan på Vann - på Julafton!

Jul i år fick en annorlunda tvist i år. Stora julpaketet på Vann med familjen Stjerna-Nilsson. Som vanligt gick man ner på tomgång och njöt av miljöerna, maten och sällskapet. Vi hade även skippat julklapparna vilket var väldigt skönt. På Juldagen däremot var det fullt spätt hos Ramsay med gött häng, julbord med diverse delikatesser, charader och tv-spel.

Martin hade bakat jättegoda kakor!

Nyårsafton bröt också mönster. Det blev en helhelg i Strömstad med mycket god mat, gott sällskap och en kristallklar himmel. Årets första snö (blev slask) fick man bevittna på nyårsdagens morgon, där vi för övrigt sov till tolv.

Gott Nytt År!

Blev medbjuden till Nefertiti för att bevittna pojkgubben Jens Lekman flamsiga toner. Det här var överlag en positiv överraskning då ensemblen var något begränsad live. Inspelat material jag hört tidigare har varit så otroligt jobbigt att lyssna på för att det varit tusen instrument som håller olika takt (säkert jätteproffsigt) med en tunn ljudbild och det är inget för ett öra som skall ha raka distade riff i 4/4-takt. Jens har inlevelse, gå och se det live!

Det vankade metal på hemmaplan. Inte mindre än In Flames på Scandinavium. Självklart gick vi på spriten för hårt innan och det var allmän tumult. Givetvis gav In Flames allt för ett utsålt hus och det lät bättre en någonsin. Nya plattan drog dom några låtar ifrån och materialet var helt klart gjort för att spela live. Som vanligt!

Vad är en Jul utan en gamerkoncert? Gamers X-Mas var ett koncept som hjärnan bakom den fantastiska Final Fantasy koncert vi var på för några år sedan utvecklat vidare. Med sig hade han bandet Level-Up och det var ungefär samma uppsättning som förut. Tidlösa och väldigt specifika låtar framfördes på ett halvfullt Lorensberg. Vilket var lite dystert, en grym konsert.

Portal 2 - The End

Att årets konsert skulle levereras "in my own backyard" kom som en blixt ifrån ovan. Det var inte mindre än The Bronx och Mariachi El Bronx på Musikens Hus i Majorna. The Bronx spelar nutida HC influerad ifrån förr. Den ljudmattan dom levererade fick mig nästan att återuppleva hur det var i början på nittio-talet när Refused stod på samma scen och höll fanan högt. Vilket jälva ös! Deras alterego band Mariachi El Bronx spelar en stil som är synonymt med mexikansk melankolisk arbetarklass, som heter just Mariachi. Det kan låta jävla cheesy men det svänger så det räcker och det är ljuva akustiska toner som blandas med himmelsk sång om utebliven kärlek och hårt slit. Nyligen var dom på både Jay Leno och Letterman med deras två bästa låtar.

Håll i sombreron, snart smäller det!

När Kim ändå är i vinnartagen så passade hon på att vinna biljetter till Freddie Wadlings tolkning av James Bond på konserthuset veckan innan Jul. Aldrig förstått mig på vad Herr Wadling står för eller vad han gör men sjunga det kan han, det vill jag lova.

More games?!
Länge har vi väntat på Zelda, strax över 30h instämplade och Nintendo visar ännu en gång vem som är bäst, full recension vid ett senare tillfälle kanske. Som kontring kan man meddela att jag har 93% på Uncharted 3 efter ca. 10h och jag tror inte det blir mer tid slaskad där. Jag tror oftast det är fel på mig när jag tycker spel är dåliga. Men när senaste numret av LEVEL beskriver precis det jag upplever som rent ut sagt pissdåligt känns det befriande. Dragon's Lair/Space Ace (detta är 80-tals laserdisc spel) liknande gameplay under vissa hårt regisserade scener, snyggt så det förslår, men för fan - det är ett spel. Duck Hunt sekvenserna (skjuta skurkar i hårt scriptade anfall) som byter bakgrund var tionde minut blir man också öppenhjärtligt trött på efter fem-sex stycken. Att sedan, år 2011, att liret buggar så man inte kommer vidare på grund av att något glitchar i saven. Så hårt att det inte går att backa tillbaka till "last known good state" är för mig en gåta hur man kan släppa förbi det. Det blev att jaga tag i en save på som var på kapitlet efter det som var trasigt som jag hittade på nätet. Det medför massa annat bögtrams att "achievements" inte registreras osv. Trött blir man.

Jag har också haft något inbördes löfte att spela det spel som LEVEL anser vara "Game of the Year". I år var jag övertygad om att Zelda skulle ta den pokalen men helt ifrån sidan tog Skyrim det priset. Vi får väl se om jag "tar tag" i det eller inte. Mycket annat känns roligare just nu, den som lever får se.


Five Month Hibernation

Det var +1°C igår när jag gick till bilen 05:50 för åka ner till årets sista tävling. Min smärtgräns ligger på +10°C. Att köra en tävling så pass sent på året fick andra oförberedda konsekvenser, solen i ögonen och stelfrusna fingrar. Att säsongen är över kan inte bli tydligare. Fem månader i mörker och depression, vad gör människan på dessa breddgrader? Trotsat kylan hade även Hans gjort som kom förbi och plåta lite. Mycket trevligt inslag.

Heat 1 ifrån Varberg i helgen. ©elgarim

Årets säsong gick pissdåligt, slutade på plats #38 mot förra årets #26, mitt största problem är att sätta bra tider i kvalet så jag kommer till A-final, vilket garanterar betydligt mer poäng än att vinna B-final. Det är alltid på håret, 2-3 sekunder kort. Nästa problem att jobba med är att jag kommer iväg dåligt i starten och får där stångas med mitt tredje problem, att köra om. Missade även två tävlingar vilket är en bidragande faktor därav ena var Backabanan i Skene, där vet jag att jag kör fortare än pöbeln.

Kval i tung sand på Klintebergsbanan i Veinge

En vurpa i mitten på Augusti som slutade i ambulansfärd till akuten gjorde ju sitt till. Man blir feg, tappar lusten och blir vemodig inför hela konceptet. Som tur var gick det bra i kraschen, det var på Hisingen på det vanliga stället där jag gjort samma klotning 2-3 gånger innan men klarat mig med skrubbsår. Den här gången blev det en ordentlig smäll med spruckna revben, dammade i höften (har fortfarande ont) och till sist en hjärnskakning. Det är lite besvärligt när man vaknar upp efter det svartnat och knappt kan andas, hur länge jag var utslagen vet man inte. Det blev hela kostcirkeln med värktabletter (panodil, voltaren och tiparol) i en vecka. Bästa var "Fight Club"-sekvensen när jag zombiehaltade ut ifrån akuten i sketna garagekläder, barfota, korsplåstrad i båda armvecken. Lätt dimmig i blicken. -"Where is my mind?".

KTM'en levererade inte riktigt som väntat heller, skruvar lite varstans vibrerar upp och man bara väntar på vart det skall släppa härnäst. På pappret skall man efterdra bultar på en ny hoj, men inte efter varje träning. Mina japsar jag haft under åren har detta aldrig varit ett problem. Nu när 2-taktarna får länkage 2012 så är jag inte helt övertygad om KTM är vägen framåt för min del. Det blir nog bättre om man tar en Yamaha eller Sukka och kittar upp med dom mods KTM har på ifrån fabrik. Saknar fortfarande min Sukka. 40h har jag på timräknaren just nu och den får nog gå en säsong till som det känns just nu, eller rättare sagt bajsa på alltihop just nu och se vad man känner på när man får upp suget igen.

The Stig lade hjälmen på hyllan i somras någon gång. Nu får man dra runt allt själv igen. Dåligt nervös jag var i början där när vi började ihop att The Stig skulle fatta direkt vad det handlade om och spruta grus på mig i dagarna ända. Det här är en svår "sport" att komma in i det har man fattat, detta var min sjätte säsong på nio år och jag har mycket kvar att jobba med. Det kräver en orädd tjurskalle med kontanta medel och en hel del fysik, nu börjar jag bli feg, fattig och lat, vad göra? I retrospekt när jag började köra så tänkte jag att detta kommer jag nog bara orka med tills jag är 35. Hmm... jagar fortfarande gubbar i 50-års åldern på tävlingarna.

Par i tefat
Alla känner till våra tefatskvällar (där vi just nu genomlider Babylon 5) där vi är fyra fån som dricker kaffe och äter bulle ihop med Kims infernaliska bakverk. Tänkte få till en udda tvist på samkvämet och bjuda in respektive under något lättsammare former med mat & dryck. Det blev lyckad afton med persiskt tema, margaritas och en sen kväll på balkongen.

Persiskt tema med inslag av alkohol på tefatsaftonen

Min första flippertävling är avhandlad. Det gick väl bättre än väntat resultatmässigt men jag hade missuppfattat poängreglerna lite och hade nog kunnat plocka några placeringar till ifall jag gjort det. Borås Pinball Open, vad säger det? Sveriges i särklass största flippernörd bor i Borås, den mancave han huserar liknar inget annat jag någonsin skådat. Bortåt 200m2 med flipper ifrån alla tidsåldrar och nu även en hörna med arkadspel. Då alla spel stod på freeplay passade jag på att träna i tre dagar utöver tävlandet. Inte mindre än sex timmar per dag orkade man med. Ömma handflator och fullständigt matt var man. Nostalgi i kubik blev det när Mata Hari (ett spel jag hade som barn) stod och glänste. Classic-samlingen var gedigen och titlar man bara hört talas om var uppradade i "mint condition".

Nästa tävling är inte mindre än självaste Flipper-SM. Det går av stapeln på Strike & Co i Gamlestan och även där kommer det vara maskiner på freeplay och även en hel del träning. Skall upp till Stockholm i veckan och hoppas på att jag kommer kunna lira lite där också.

Stern bara lastar ur sig stortitlar, inte mindre än Transformers är nästa storverk. Tyvärr ser inte gameplay videos'arna helt hundra ut och man faller inte så pladask som man gjorde för Tron. Beställningen var nära men jag har stillat habegäret. Generellt sätt tror jag mer på klassikerna, efter över 300+ spel på Tron så får jag fortfarande ingen flow i spelet. Doctor Who kan man få sådana riktiga rysningar på när alla skott sitter och det är tamejfan omöjligt på Tron. Jag skyller allt på Stern tills jag blir motbevisad.

Var nere i Malmö för någon vecka sen och fick några timmar på Interpool. Tyvärr har nya ägaren strypt ner flipperverksamheten men fick några bra spel på ett par titlar. Tyvärr hade dom linjerat flipprarna utan gummibanden, direkt på flipperna, så det blev helt åt helvete fel vinkel på flipprarna som gör att det är svårt att sansa spelet och ännu svårare att sikta.

Musik, musik!
Torkan på konsertfronten i somras fylldes på rikligt inpå höstkanten. TSOOL och Mustasch spelade under Kulturkalaset. Junip spelade på Taube-scenen på Liseberg. Vi var även på Slussens pensionat och avnjöt TSOOL när dom spelade hela dubbelalbumet Communion plus ospelat material och gamla klassiker. Vad dom levererar, helt klart Sveriges bästa liveband, i den kontext allt ställer sig på Slussen så var det nästan historiskt. I måndags var vi på Nefertiti och lyssnade på Anna Calvi. Vi hade tidigare sett henne utan ackompanjemang som förband till Grinderman. Nu hade hon hela bandet med sig och vilka toner hon förför publiken med. Hon är så sjukt säker och oförutsägbar. Försöker beskriva för mig själv vilken typ av musik det är och bäst förklarar jag det med att om Quentin Tarantino hade varit en kvinnlig singer-songwriter, voilá, Anna Calvi.

The Soundtrack of our Lives på Slussens pensionat

En udda inbjudan dök på fejjan. På Stearin skulle David Sandström "presentera" sitt senaste projekt. A Heavy Feather. Mycket riktigt, David visade lite bilder, sjöng lite och berättade historier. Detta inför ca. 20-25 personer. Kändes som hemma i någons vardagsrum. Det är inte likt hans tidigare material men troget fan som jag är så handlade skivan, som för övrigt släpptes i samma veva. Den ligger på Spotify, lyssna och häpna, sista spåret är redan en klassiker.

Upcoming är inte mindre än David Westerlunds Level Up! som gör en "julshow" på Lorensbergsteatern med utlovade låtar som "Eyes On Me" och en Mega Man Mix. Kommer inte ihåg vad projektet hette som framförde highlights ifrån Final Fantasy på Artisten 2009 men det är delvis samma folk bakom och jag har stora förhoppningar att det skall vara minst lika fantastiskt!

Death of the Superstars
I samma veva man installerar Mac OS X och kommer över en iPad2 (INTE betalt en spänn) så går Steve Jobs och säger upp sig och sen tragiskt omkommer av sin cancer? Kan det vara att den sista tvivlaren på den här planeten registrerade sig i iTunes?! Tyvärr är jag inte helt övertygad. Har installerat tre-fyra småspel på paddan och har öppnat locket på den max fem-sex gånger. Ska bänka usability på nästa resa där varken Nintendo eller laptop skall med. Då får vi se vad den går för.

Axlarna som Steve Jobs stod på är ingen annan än UNIX och programmeringsspråkets C's fader, Dennis Ritchie. Han gick bort av hög ålder här i veckan. Troligtvis hamnade inte det på första sidan på GP's hemsida och vill bara upplysa mina kära läsare att världen att hade sett annorlunda ut idag utan Mr. Ritchies inflytande, inklusive Apples produkter.

Well, well...

Six Weeks No Sleep

Då börjar det underbara sommarlovet ta slut. Det är så det känns, mina sex härliga sammanhängade veckor. Man är ordentligt utvilad och börjar (nästan) bli lite rastlös och halvsugen på att göra något meningsfullt, typ jobba och tjäna mer pengar så man kan vara mer ledig.

Säsongen på hojen har inte gått som planerat direkt. KTMen (Kanske Till Mål) är lite trilsken och vill allra helst bara falla isär. Missar två heldagsträningar den här veckan t.ex för att en bult till en genomgående motorfäste har släppt och ligger troligtvis någonstans i Borås. Resultatet av den förlusten var att avgasröret vibrerat sönder. Kröken var platt på sina ställen innan och jag skulle ändå köpa en ny. Men inte nu! Jag var ju också "tvungen" att köpa ett komplett FMF-system för att originalröret var det över en månads leverans på. Kommer få ett sånt där gott, djupt factoryljud som typ Ricky har i den här videon, stackars mig! Har också haft problem med bakbromsen som kokat och levt fan med mig, också ett kännt problem.

Senaste tävling för någon månad sen eller två gick av i Ljungby, kom nånstans i mitten, tyckte jag körde bra men fick folk framför mig som jag bara följde efter, måste bli bättre på omkörningar, det är tydligt. Körde klubbmästerskap på Stora Holm, en enklare tävling med typ femton startande, tog mig i mål på andra plats i båda heaten. Man bör tillägga att deras bättre förare var iväg på en annan tävling i Västgötacrossen. Det är tre tävlingar kvar i MX Alliansen med cirka en månad emellan under hösten. Måste hitta formen tills dess, den ligger på lur.

Fullt spätt på Furufjällsbanan

Svärfar var med ute i spåren på Furufjällsbanan i Stenungsund och knäppte några bilder. Det blev även en ny GoPro-film. Har monterat ett nytt fäste på hjälmen nu i dagarna så man kan ha kameran och roll-off brillor samtidigt. Då kan man ha kameran på tävlingar. Spännande uppföljning följer.

YouTube-clip ifrån Furufjällsbanan

Tron: Legacy
Efter många om och men så fick jag till slut ett Tron: Legacy Proffesional Edition levererat, ända ifrån Chicago. Den enda "transportskadan" jag kunde identifiera var att en lampa hade poppat ur sin sockel, vilket är ganska bra betyg. Jag har gått några dagar på Liseberg under ledigheten och spelat lite Avatar och The Rolling Stones för att få ett grepp om Stern-"känslan". Det är väsentlig skillnad på ett nittiotals Bally/Williams och ifrån en tillverkare som har för närvarande monopol. Både känsla och kvalité. Känslan är annorlunda men jag gillar den. Kvalitén lämnar dock en del att önska, Stern försöker ta så många genvägar dom kan för att få så mycket vinst det går. Det handlar om triviala saker som att man gör vissa saker i plast istället för stål, lågupplöst raster på artwork, lite leksaker och medvetna val i att förenkla (tänker främst på T-R-O-N inserten på spelplanen). Mjukvaran som skeppades med spelet är halvklar, fick uppdatera spelet direkt (enkel manöver med en USB-sticka, men principen retar mig, do-it-sell-it-fix-it, och det är fortfarande buggigt). Man blir också lite tvär när Stern börjat trycka ut "Limited Edition" som innehåller allt man tycker att "Proffesional" borde innehålla (typ fiberoptikbelysningen på ramperna), det är liksom andra regler på spelplanen också, inte bara mer bling. Tyvärr har jag inte fått full kontroll på Tron än, efter 100+ omgångar, är det många skott som inte sitter. Polerade upp spelplan och kulor igår och nu går det som ett skott.

Trivselhörnan på Dahlströmsgatan

Man kan tro att jag är besviken på spelet men det är jag inte, detta är det bästa Stern gjort sen Lord of The Rings, dock en helt annan typ av spel. Mest imponerad är jag av variationen i multi-bollarna och att du måste fan ha skills above-and-beyond för att håva in super jackpotsen, man kan inte stå och slaska på volley. Allra mest gillar jag "audio enigineeringen", den är helt briljant och är perfekt orkestrerad med dom tre Daft Punk låtarna som Stern köpte. Är man ett Tron-fan så är man i himlen. Stern hade fri tillgång till allt ljud i filmen, kolla gärna David Thiel's slides här. Ett lysande exempel på hur det använts är när man aktiverar Quorra. -"I'm Quorra", man vet EXAKT var i filmen hon säger det och man får nästan gåshud varje gång (kan också ha och göra med att Quorra Multiball är den ballaste multibollen.. :)). När man sedan under multibollen skjuter jackpottar så berättar Flynn om Quorra, -"She's an Iso.", -"She taught me things.". Sen är det såklart fabricerade samplingar, typ "Jackpot", men det är en väldigt övertygande sammansmältning. Det är också klockrent när man står och slaskar på Recognizern, djup tung bas, illröd flash på inserten och därefter "Rectify!". Grafiken på DMDn har jag inte synat i fogarna då man har fullt upp på spelplanen men har kollat när Kim spelat och det är väldigt snyggt digitaliserat. Vet inte hur många nyanser man kan få ut, men säg att det är fyra, så ser det riktigt bra ut.

Sterns nästa titel är Transformers. Aj!
Fotnot: en "insert" är den plastbit som släpper igenom ljus under spelplanen.

Vår semesterresa till Italien kunde inte blivit bättre. Vi blev mäkta imponerade av framför allt maten, vinet och bevarandet av gamla byggnader, eller kanske bevarande av hela städer. Att inte västvärlden har huggit in här är för mig en gåta. Vi såg skyltar till en McDonalds och vi såg faktiskt en Burger King men det var allt! Vi avverkade ändå 130 mil på vägarna i Toscana.

Sportigare än så här blir det inte utan tak

Vi flög till Florens där vi hämta ut vår otroligt sportiga Renault Wind. Men istället för slå läger i Florens åkte vi några mil österut till Pistoia där vi bokat en natt på ett hotell som inte fått ett lyft sen det byggdes, sisådär -75. Som nämnt tidigare, man bevarar i Italien, inte riva och bygga nytt. I Pistoia fick vi vårt första möte med det italienska köket. Vi gav oss bara ut som flanerande turister vid kvällningen som man brukar göra. Vi snubblade bokstavligen över en restaurang som hade en omnämning i Guide Michelin. Husets rödvin levererades i karaffer, litervis, man blir religiös för mindre. Där satt vi i sommarnatten helt ovetande att detta var bara början på vad som skulle bli resan man lärde sig att pasta med tomatsås smakar inte som den pasta med tomatsås man är van vid.

Frukost ifrån 300m över havet, någon?

Kim hade raggat ett boende i Volastra, en liten bergsby som ligger i naturreservatet som blivit världsarv, Cinque Terre. På vägen dit stannade vi och käka lunch, efter tips ifrån en kollega, i Lucca. Det var en sån där bevarad stad med stadsmurar, trånga gränder och lagom med turister. Därefter vart det plattan i mattan mot La Spezia och därefter upp för dom jävligaste serpentinvägarna jag kört. På vissa ställen gick det inte svänga runt på innern, gärna i fyrtiofemgraders lutning. Cinque betyder fem, Terre betyder land. Det handlar då om fem små byar som nästan är som små egna länder. Dom ligger längs en bergskam i sluttningarna ner mot havet. Hur man än vänder och vrider på konceptet så ser det ut som ett vykort. Mellan byarna går det tåg, serpentinvägar och vandringsleder. Den ena byn är charmigare än den andra.


Vi drog senare ner till en liten kuststad som hette Castiglioncello där vi checkade in på ett något märkligt pensionat. Boendet var rekommenderat i Lonely Planet som alternativ till att bo i Livorno, vilket är en ganska tråkig industristad. Stället drevs av gamlingar och det bodde nästan bara gamlingar där. Man visste inte vem som jobbade där eller bodde där. Billigt? Jodå. Även här hade vi lite havsutsikt och man hörde havet ifrån fönstret. Där vi bodde fanns det ganska bra möjligheter att åka på dagsutflykter, vi var bl.a i Volterra, den stad som inspirerat författaren till Twilight böckerna. Det här var ytterligare en sådan där bergsby där klockan stannat.

Två flan utanför Volterra

Senare bar det av mot Chianciano Terme. Här i krokarna skulle vi möta upp en kär kollega och käka middag. Vi hade inte bokat något boende, för det behövdes inte, här fanns nämligen femtonhundra hotell. What?! Här fanns det en källa som hade "helande" krafter, resor hit subventionerades av staten på tiden det begav sig. Nu stod det mest som en spökstad, väldigt udda. Tripadvisor visade vägen till Villa Gaia, ett nyrenoverat hotell mitt smeten där inredarna hade tömt IKEA och målat allt orange. Man blev väl omhändertagen då det inte var någon jätterush direkt, billigt var det också. Vi hade väl inte tänkt att hänga här så länge men vi tog två dagar här för det var ett bra utgångsläge för att åka på utflykt till dom kringliggande byarna Montalcino, Montepuliciano och staden Siena. Vi fick ett tips om en lokal restaurang, Il Buco, av min kollegas sambo som bott här nere några år. Vi beställde in basfödan, typ bruschetta och pasta. Såg inte mycket ut för världen men med dom råvarorna som kockarna har där nere så smakar det gudomligt. Detta med en karaff med husets röda. Så enkelt, opretentiöst och supergott!

Nationalfordonet, Fiat 500.

Kulle upp och kulle ner skrutta vi runt i sydvästra Toscana. Första stoppet var Montalcino. Regionen är känd för sitt speciella vin, Brunello, som bara får ha sitt ursprung härifrån och vara framställt på ett visst sätt. Lunchade en Insalata Caprese och passade på att prova lite viner. Höll på att komma därifrån med en flaska för €85. Doh! Vidare till Siena under Toscanas stekande sol gick vi gata upp och gata ner. Siena har väldigt fina gamla byggnader, kyrkor och klocktorn. Man började bli liiite mätt på upplägget. Jag har ju inte nämnt dödssynden italiensk glass än. I Italien gör man en gudomlig glass i himlens alla smaker och just i Siena fick jag en kula med Coca-Cola smak, jösses vad god den var, man kunde nästa känna kolsyrebubblorna när man slaska i sig den! Den lilla glasskiosken vi letat fram var omnämnd i Lonely Planet och jag kan bara späda på.

Kulle upp och kulle ner

Dom sista dagarna hade vi bestämt oss för att varva ner. Vi siktade in oss på ett Agriturismo med hög standard i närheten av Florens. Det blev några stopp på vägen, bl.a Cortona och Arezzo. Cortona låg verkligen fint i en bergsluttning med grym utsikt och små trevliga cafeér på sina små piazzor (torg). Gården där vi skulle bo, Podere San Guisto, låg strax utanför en liten by som heter Figline Valdarno. Det var en liten gård med olivodlingar, några residens men framför allt en pool. Agriturismo är ett begrepp i Italien där bönder kan få skattelättnader om du håller öppet delar av sin gård för turister och därför finns det ganska gott om dom. Vi hade en lägenhet på gården i fyra nätter och här blev inte många knop gjorda, en och annan utflykt, bl.a till Greve di Chianti och en halvdag i Florens. Det var billigt att bo här och man kunde äta ihop med dom andra gästerna i värdparets kök vid ett långbord, det gjorde vi en kväll och det var svintrevligt med jättegod mat. Frukosten serverades också här men dom är lite tetiga med just frukosten, dom käkar oftast bara en sötsak, typ en bulle, och dricker en kaffe. Man fick dock lite youghurt och en ostbit om man så ville.


Florens var fint, men jävlar var mycket turister det var där. Höll på att tappa det redan när vi skulle leta parkering. Det blev väl en halvmils promenerande till slut. Ponte Vecchio (bron med guldhandlare) var lite halvcool och utsikten ifrån Piazzale Michelangiolo var storslagen.

Italien har vunnit ny mark i mitt hjärta och jag rekommenderar verkligen upplägget med att puttra runt bland byarna och ta dagarna som dom kommer. Det är avkopplande men samtidigt inte helt händelselöst. Vi var borta i elva nätter, vilket kändes alldeles lagom. Mycket fokus blir det så klart på mat och vin. Men vem klagar? Fler bilder finns i galleriet.

Kim! SUP!
Min tjej är så sjukt grym. Något hon gått och smygit med är att hon skall simma Vansbrosimmet. Vilket i sig är en bragd. Men att sedan ta sig i mål i den övre tredjedelen?!

Inför hennes födelsedag (på tisdag nästa vecka) hade jag planerat en present i förskott. Kim hatar prylar, det vet väl alla vid det här laget, så jag klämde in en mini-semester under vår sista vecka ihop. Det var uppskattat, ifrån båda håll! Bäst var det när vi vakna på morgonen och hon fråga vad jag skulle göra idag. Då hade man svårt för att hålla sig och fick kläcka ur mig att det stod något på köksbordet med hennes namn på. Det var ett schemalagt tredagars upplägg med fokus på SUP. SUP står för Stand-Up Paddle, något vi gjorde ihop i Australien. Konceptet går ut på att man står upp på en surfbräda, något biffigare än en windsurfingbräda och paddlar. Första dagen gick av stapeln i Träslövsläge, strax söder om Varberg. Där hade vi en tvåtimmars instruktörsledd kurs. Det blåste bra med ganska mycket sjö och man fick känna på trilla i ett par gånger. Lyckat var det och man fick verkligen lära sig vad en våtdräkt var till för. Kim älskar detta, det är väldigt lätt att se, flinet öra till öra satt liksom permanent i två timmar. Senare checkade vi in i vår svit på Varbergs kurort där vi bodde i samma korridor som gänget som gör "Badjävlar", typ Schyffert & Co. Lite bad och bubbel hanns med innan vi skulle promenera in till stan och käka på vår favoritrestaurang, Varbergs stadshotell. När Sverige visar sig ifrån den sidan den gjorde dessa dagar så är det svårslaget. I en fesljummen sommarnatt gick vi hem i solnedgången längs strandpromenaden.

SUP! (Bilder: ©A-kite.se)

Dag nummer två på agendan började på gymmet följt av en promenad till Apelviken. Sen styrde Forden mot Falkenberg. Här skulle vi åka på äventyrs-SUP med utgångsläge ifrån Falkenbergs Strandbad. Detta hade jag av en ren slump hittat via Facebook då en av mina kontakter hade vart på nyinvigningen av hotellet i och med ägarbytet i Maj. Facebook +1. Vi blev upphämtade på hotellet vid sjusnåret och åkte mot Grimsholmens naturreservat. Vi hade två alternativ, antingen paddla Suseån ner eller paddla runt i en vik. Självklart tog vi Suseån. Här fick man bita ihop. Vi gick igenom en fårhage ner till en å där det var strömt som satan. Man drev iväg i en jävla nittio så fort man hoppat på. Det var precis så man kunde hålla sig still när man paddla motströms. Detta var början på en 7.5km lång tur i natur man aldrig upplevt tidigare. Man fick bli ett med brädan, brottas förbi nedfallna träd och åka forsränning. Men vilken upplevelse. På dom lugnare partierna kunde man bara stå, glida med och njuta av ögonblicket. Väl framme vid havet hade solen precis börjat gå ner bakom molnen och det började regna, men regnet liksom tog inte, man var helt salig.

Dag nummer tre värmde vi upp med en halvtimmes vattenskoter utanför hotellet. Havet lågt blankt och vi var uppe i 50 knop. Lite läskigt var det att åka två, den som satt bak hade i princip inget stabilt att hålla i. Man fick knipa som en nunna och hoppas på god tur. Som belöning var det en tripp inbokad till World of Riccardo. Det är en äkta italiensk glasskiosk strax norr om Halmstad, mitt ute på vischan. Vi konstaterade att man kan inte göra italiensk glass utan italienska färskvaror men glassen var så nära man kan komma äkta varan, tro mig!

Detta fick naturligtvis mersmak, det visar sig att det finns en surfgear uthyrare nere vid Askimsbadet som har två SUP-kit och vi var där i veckan och paddla en timma. Alla vet att undertecknad är en jävla badkruka som hatar allt vad vatten och hav står för, men SUP hör inte dit. Det liksom är en annan ytterlighet. Friheten, träningen och upplevelsen tar bort allt negativt.

Rock'n Roll
Festivalsommaren har inte visat sig ifrån sin bästa sida. West Coast Riot (och Metaltown) har flyttat ut på en åker på Hisingen. Dom misslyckades även med att få dit Rancid. På den nivån att dom t.o.m sänkte biljettpriset. Området var riktigt kass och hoppas dom inser att folk är förbannade. Hyffsade bokningar hade dom ändå, The Exploited, Gogol Bordello, Bad Brains, Dwarves och bl.a Shelter. Sen hade vi Where The Action Is, -"Where is the action?". Att sedan Way Out West är slutsålt är för mig en gåta. Ingen headline man ens är liiite nyfiken på. OFF! spelar på klubb, men för femtonhundra spänn?! Inte idag.

Annat man har fått glädjas åt är ju att Liseberg har haft (och har) fina bokningar i år. Det började med Johnossi, tyvärr inte så bra live som man hade önskat. Danko Jones däremot levererade feta riff och "Fuck You"-attityd. Det var även fullsatt på Flogging Molly, vilka jag inte sett en hel konsert med tidigare. Det var en trevlig upplevelse med äkta irländsk arbetarattityd. Junip spelar på Taube Scenen i september, väl värt ett besök. Annat som Liseberg skall ha cred för att dom faktiskt försöker hålla igång flipperverksamheten. Men det hade ju inte skadat med att shoppa sina spel då och då. Årets attraktion, Atmosfear, är en riktig höjdare (göteborgshumor) och kan varmt rekommenderas. Mer äkta skräck får man leta efter.

Det är ju ett kulturkalas i staden om några veckor eller så. Mustasch och TSOOL spelar någonstans och det får ju inte missas! Vi har även inhandlat ett musikpaket på Slussens pensionat när TSOOL skall spela Communion. Det är väl jag som fått bestämma lite här och en av mina absoluta favoritlåtar, Second Life Replay, huserar på den plattan. TSOOL körde den låten med symfonikerna under Way Out West för något år sedan eller två och det var ett sådant där religiöst ögonblick jag sent glömmer.

In Flames på Scandinavium i november är också inbokat, i kalendern åtminstone, den som lever får se.

Wall of Text, [crit], Cheerz!

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