Tuesday, 29 April 2008

My clever friend.

This is just a straight up "show off your friends post". Sometimes I am just so proud of the people in my life I just want to make sure that everyone knows how special they are.

My friend Natty is not only one of the lovliest people I know, but also one of the most creative. She is a renaisance woman of sorts - a painter, a musician, a talented writer and now a video producer and star. She is also sweet, funny and inspiring to know.

Recently she made a video for the Nine Inch Nails Film Festival and uploaded it to youtube. I think it is fantastic. It's ethereal and compelling and it has my beautiful friend in it.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Mutilating t-shirts for fun and pleasure.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about clothing reconstruction. You know where you take some old piece that you may not wear anymore, or something you picked up at a second hand clothing store for cheap, and turn it into something you might actually be seen in public in.

A few months ago I attemped my first "re-con" - a skirt made out of two old t-shirts that I bought from the thrift store up the road specifically for the purpose of hacking into pieces. The resulting little number was made without a pattern and was an awesome way to spend a rainy Danish winter afternoon.

I really liked it and have been meaning to get back to the thrift store to raid their t-shirt stash again to try something new.

In the meantime, spring has arrived and I am finding that I am heading out without my big woolen coat on a fair bit now. It's just too warm now to rug up that much. The only problem with not having the big coat on is that a lot of my shirts are just a tad too short and I tend to have the skin at my lower back or on my tummy getting exposed every now and then. This would be fine if I were back in Australia, where even the coolest the spring-time weather is often equivalent to a warm scandinavian summers day. Here though, it means I can get quite a chill.

To combat this problem I had a bit of a think and decided to create a "tummy warmer". Something that I can wear under my shirts to give them a bit of extra length and cover up my middle a bit. So yesterday I got to work stitching together all the little left over pieces from the mutilated t-shirts to create my first attempt.

There were a few hiccoughs. For instance, I ended up not having enough scraps to make it wide enough, which I rectified by attacking a thin black shrug type jacket that I have never worn, and using it to create a wide waistband at the top. Also the fact that I am still quite a noob when it comes to clothes making meant that made the whole piece into a simple tube and therefore it had no shape. I ended up cutting off the first seam I made in the side and re-stitching it into A-line shape to make it a bit more figure hugging, thereby actually keeping it in place and not having it fall down all the time.

The final product looks a bit haphazard, but I kind of like that look. I also like the creepy "dark circus" type feel the black and red mismatched stripes give it. Almost like Emily The Strange, but, you know, not quite as cool.... or as well done....or as talented.

But anyway, it does the trick and I think I'm definately going to make a few more not only to practise my skills, but to give myself something fun to wear.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Bureaucracy and Leg Work.

So yesterday we handed in some more paperwork to the Århus Kommune in reguards to my residency status. It looks like that might be about the last of the forms and stuff we have to get into the immigration service. Having said that though, I'm not going to breathe a sigh of relief untill we get word that it is all actually done and I have the go ahead to get my CPR number and am able to start my courses at the language centre.

I was flaberghasted though by the ordeal we had to go through just to get these papers in.

Our initial letter from the immigration service just instructed us to hand in the paperwork to "Århus Kommune". We rang the Borgerservice (people services - kind of like the help centre for all things related to the people, eg: housing, schooling and what not) a few days before and the person on the phone was adamant that we had to go to Jægergården and talk to a lady by the name of Anna Marie Hensen. After a bus ride into town and arriving at the place the man at the front desk informed us that there was no-one in the building by that name.

We explained what it was that we were trying to hand in and recieved a blank stare in return. He had no idea what we were talking about. To his credit, he did get on the phone and try and track down the name of the person or department that we had to go to and after several calls it was decided that we should talk to "someone" (thats right...no name or office number was given) up on the 3rd floor in the familieservices department.

So off we trotted up to the 3rd floor to try and ask someone what they knew about it. After wandering blindly down some halls we stumbled into a lunchroom where a bunch of people were busy munching away. They all stopped and stared as we walked in and for a moment it was a little awkward until one charming lady with some crumbs around her mouth stood and offered some help. We soon discovered that neither she nor anyone in the familieservices department knew anything about the types of forms we needed to hand in. She suggested we try some computer department further down the hall and pointed us in the vague direction of where that might be.

More hallways lined with closed doors and tiny name plaques and room numbers later, we stumbled upon another bemused man who after hearing our story laughed uncomfortably and shook his head. He too, knew nothing about this type of form or knew where we might go to be able to get some assistance.

We sighed and headed back down the halls and checked a sign of people and their departments. We saw that there was an Anna Marie working in a department downstairs and after checking with the man at the front desk again (who made more calls on our behalf to try and get some more information) we were told that this new department is probably the place we needed to be. That department was now closed and wouldn't reopen for another 3 hours.

WTF! 0_o

We got back on a bus and came home for some lunch and a few hours later suited up again to head back in and try again. The guy at the front desk greeted us with a smile and a "Welcome back again" and pointed to the now unlocked door of the department. In we went and wandered aimlessly down more halls of closed doors, reading name plagues and trying to stumble apon someone who might help us. In the end Peter accosted some woman and asked her what she knew about it and again we were told that this department didn't handle cases like that.

Another lady came out to join in the conversation. Amazingly this lady seemed to know something about the forms we were showing her but said that she thought that we were supposed to hand them in at another building across town.

I started laughing at this point, by now utterly convinced that we would spend the next week simply trying to get information about someone who might know some information. I simply couldn't believe that the local community government could function like this. Why did no-one know about the forms we had or even about the immigration policy that dictated why we needed to hand in these forms to them in the first place? And why was it so hard for the immigration services themselves to just put the name of the person we should contact at the Århus Kommune on the introductory letter?

Peter had convinced the ladies helping us to just double-check their information, politely explaining the run around we seemed to be getting. As one lady was about to go off and make a call, yet another woman called out from an office asking what the fuss was all about. After some quick explainations she said the we were actually in the right building, but definately the wrong department. She ushered us into her office while she called and checked her computer. Finally giving us the name, phone number and office number of a gentleman on the 5th floor who looked after exactly our types of cases.

By this stage it was late in the afternoon, well after normal office hours. The lady told us that officially this new contact should still be in the building and the fact that she kept getting an engaged line to his phone was also a good sign that he was in fact still here, but that didn't mean that he would be here for much longer and could well have left by the time we got there. We thanked her profusely and took off to the 5th floor armed with an actual name and office number. HUZZAH!

As we walled into the open door of the office we were overjoyed to see the man we needed sitting at his desk. Peter started to explain what we were doing there and the man cut him off with a "Ja!" and while telling us we were in the right place opened a folder and pulled out a copy of the forms and letter sent to us by the immigration services. It had our names on it and everything!

I couldn't believe it, after all the running around we had finally not only found the right person, but that person actually knew about us! This very nice and helpful man then went on to explained to us what the process should be from that point on. He was a bit confounded as to why we had been having such trouble finding him and the fact that no-one seemed to know about this type of procedure, explaining that in the last 6 years there had been 500 similar applications. In his mind that should have meant that someone would have at least been familiar with the policy and have been able to give us better directions. I got the feeling that he was actually going to do something about that, to save other couples having to go through the same wild goose chase.

Interestingly (and maddingly), he also told us that he had been there the whole day and that if we had been given the right information from the get go we would have been in and out like a shot during our first visit earlier in the day. But I tried to be cheerful. It was done! It was in and now the worst we had to do was wait. I felt elated at that point.

At the end of the day though I know I shouldn't be put out by the experience. I know that other people both here and abroad, have it worse off when it comes to this kind of thing and that even though people dont want to believe it, there is sometimes an undercurrent of racism involved in these types of policies and procedures. I wonder how much more difficult it would have been for me had I not been from Australia, if I had dark skin or was coming from a country that the media sterotyped as fanatical and terroristic? Would my application have even gotten this far this quickly? In my heart I would hope that it wouldn't matter, but I fear that in this day and age it often does.

As much as I would like to have faith that everyone would be treated as I have been, I know that it is probably not the case and that I have been extrodinarily lucky. I have a new respect for good honest people who go through these procedures with the added burden of also been unfairly viewed as suspicious because of their race or background. People who go through it and who come out the other side with their fealty to the virtuousness inherent in the human race still intact.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A walk around Århus boat harbour

After Peter finished work yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and went for a bit of a walk-about down by the harbour.

Århus actually has two harbours - well kind of. Theres the enormous and industrialised container-shipping part and then theres a smaller harbour to the north thats for small fishing boats and sailing boats.

When we walk down that way, we always walk around the small harbour because it's cosy and not quite so noisy. Also, I think there are a lot of parts in the shipping section that you are not allowed too close to for safety reasons, but I hope to at least once get in there to have a bit of a shoofty.

As with most of our walks, I took my camera down with me and below you can see a bit of a slide show.


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Happy Birthday Jen

I made this for my friend Jen's birthday.

My first foray into video making using Windows Movie Maker.

Incredibly silly, but I hope she likes it.

UPDATE: When Jen got home after a night on the town, she logged into facebook and saw my post. Her response:

"you made me cryyy!!!!!! Thanx lovely... is 3.18am and i's had much burbon must sleep but love, miss and adore you and will send a morme coherent mzwage moz xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Awwww....cute drunk birthday girl :D

Monday, 21 April 2008

Postcard Prankage.

This made me giggle like a crazy woman on laughing gas.

Last year, a quirky character named Brian (author of the Banterist blog) decided to create an ebay auction selling the oppourtunity to "Drive someone insane with postcards"

The winning bidder, who paid a whopping US$415 for the chance to mess with the mind of a friend, recently revealed the jape to the "mark" and was kind enough to let brian publish the postcards in their entirity.

My favourite by far was the "Frank Sinatra" card shown below.

(click for bigger and stuff)

Pure champagne comedy if you ask me.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Sunday Scrapbook Page.

A while back I found a cool site for digital scrapbooking called Scrapblog and I've never really gotten around to trying it out. This afternoon I thought I would give it a go and have been pleasantly surprised. It's easy to use and has some cute stickers, backgrounds and frames to spruce up your page. I've never really been into scrapbooking, but this digital kind could become addictive.

I created a single page, based on some pictures I took a few days ago when Peter and I took a walk through Riis Skov here in Århus.

Riis Skov is a beautiful wooded parkland area that overlooks Århus Bugten and is about a 2 minute walk from our apartment. At times it can seem a little crowded, I guess because it's so close to the town centre which makes it the best place to get some excercise and some fresh air without having to get on a bus and head into the countryside. In the afternoons it's filled with people jogging and walking their pets and airing their spouses and little ones, but I've discovered that during weekdays, in the middle of the day, it is quite possible to get the whole forest almost to oneself.

That is when I love it the most I think. When it is quiet and when you dont have to watch out on the tracks to keep out of the way of the joggers and pets and prams. When you can climb on things and go off the trails into the thicket without anyone giving you a funny look. It's like having a big, slighty magical playground on your doorstep.

And I dont even mind the strong garlicy smell from the wild chives that grow there en masse.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Young Me, Now Me.

One of my favourite web people, Zefrank, has started something fun over on Twitter. It's called colorwars 2008 and it's all about joining a team and winning challenges. Now, what with me being the massive webnerd that I am, I have not only created a twitter account (which will also update my page here at Mitigating Monotony) but I have begun participating in the colorwars.

I have stayed true to the colour that has been my favourite since childhood and joined the Purpleteam. Purple of course being the greatest of all colours as any fool would know. All hail purple, we bow down to your greatness and your lordship over all other hues, tones and shades.

I love that colorwars seems to mainly be about interaction. You interact with others on the web, you interact with your environment and you interact with your own inherent creativity.

The challenges are fun and quirky and easy to be a part of. For example, one of the latest challenges is YoungMeNowMe. You simply find a childhood photo of yourself (young me) and then recrate the pose or situation represented in that photo with a brand new picture (now me).

I decided to try my hand at this (with a little help from my husband) and below are the results.

Young me:

Now me:

Because of Denmark's disappointing lack of Kangaroo action we had to use "Skippy" (a toy I bought for Peter while we were on opposite sides of the globe) as a stand in for the real thing. Skippy was chuffed to be able to be a part of a real photoshoot, but we had to let her go after a few takes as she became demanding and impossible to work with.

More on colorwars and it's challenges later.