Black Metal, Deep Vents, Unicorns.

Apparently this is what the people look like where we're going.

Dateline Pearson International Airport:

if you’re the kind of person who reads the fine print on blog sidebars, you might know that a week from now Caitlin and I are going to be in Upsalla for Kontrast; I’m looking forward to it, and the BUG will doubtless also be looking forward to it once our plane has successfully crossed the Atlantic without crashing.

What you probably don’t know is that we’re leaving now, in time to give a tag-team lecture to a bunch of marine biologists in Norway the —

Dateline Frankfurt, after not getting any sleep (also not crashing):

“John Carter” is even worse when viewed on a pixel-hashed 15cm screen embedded in the seat of someone in the row ahead of you who is compulsively using her seat-recline function to try and break your nose

Dateline somewhere over Europe, heading to the land of the Troll Hunters:

— deliver a tag-team lecture to a bunch of marine biologists at the University of Bergen, on Monday. It will be the first time I have delivered a lecture to an audience of scientists in an academic setting in about twenty years. It will be the first time Caitlin’s done that ever. Neither talk will be very scientific but mine, at least, will have graphs.

I will be talking about this sort of thing.

Caitlin will be talking about stuff like this.

I’ve never been to Bergen before. Apparently it’s Scandinavia’s black metal capital; even Sabbath-era Ozzie would be a pussy next to these guys. But it’s also a major marine science nexus: In addition to the university it’s got an Institute of Marine Research, a Fisheries Directorate, and a Center for Geobiology. Not to mention a bunch of offshore oil rigs, more fish farms and seafood processors than you could swing a manatee at, and perhaps the last remaining market for Newfoundland seal pelts on the whole damn continent (let us hope they haven’t seen that politics-of-sealing documentary I had a hand in a few years back.) I’ve been told I might even end up having beers with a few folks who discovered some hydrothermal vent communities in the North Atlantic (and let us hope they haven’t read Starfish).

At this point, however, my fatigued and weary brain is capable of only two thoughts: 1) I’m not worthy; and 2) I gotta give a talk tomorrow.

I should probably get started.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Sunday September 30 2012at 04:09 am , filed under On the Road, public interface . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

12 Responses to “Black Metal, Deep Vents, Unicorns.”

  1. Take a good waterproof jacket – it’s also the rain capital of the north.

    A joke is told in Bergen about a tourist asking a local boy if it ever stops raining. “I don’t know, replies the boy, I’m only twelve.” Another story is told that horses were frightened when they saw a man without umbrella.

    [I’m having trouble posting this. I’m told incorrect CAPTCHA but there is none visible in Chrome or Firefox].

  2. It always drives me up the wall to hear that Norway is apparently (in)famous for its black metal, when locally it is barely a sub-culture topic.

  3. there’s also some excellent wine, apparently?

  4. Awesome! I know the black-metal band “Borknagar” is from Bergen. Although, they don’t paint their faces and they sing about Carl Sagan…

  5. Saw that Trollhunter flick last year. Enjoyed that.

    Bergen was fun except for hauling luggage on foot up steep, steep streets and stairs. Did Norway In a Nutshell when there and enjoyed that. The scenery was stunning.

    Safe travels.

  6. I had fun with Trollhunter, too. Got the most “authentic” impression by setting audio to Norwegian language, with subtitles in German.

    “God the carver had stooped to touch these lands … and His chisels had been made of ice.” I read this quote from “A Fire Upon the Deep” aloud on a coach tour to Norway years ago. And all went well on this trip, despite I had reasons for thinking that things could really get worse.

    Good luck!

  7. Please note that it is against the law to feed stray Black Metal bands, as they are to left in the deep, troll-infested forests (their natural habitat) and not get too accustomed to people.

    You should also be weary of wearing any kind of face paint, since they are fiercely territorial and will consider a stranger with corpsepaint a challenger of their reign.

    They don’t usually become violent (but there will be plenty of posturing), but should they get rowdy you can either placate them with small, wooden replicas of churches (which they will burn) or scare them away with kittens.

    Enjoy your stay – Scandinavia is awesome! 🙂

  8. Ooohhh…enjoy the extreme breakfast food. I grew up on pickled herring…right some Jesus good! Never had it served to me before 7am until work sent to me to Trondheim! The breads, berry preserves and great coffee helped me cope, but it was a shock at first!

    Norway has frozen archaeological reindeer hunting gear melting in their mountains just like the caribou hunting stuff melting out of old ice in Yukon and NWT, though “ours” is older. Looks like hunters taking advantage of the same prey weakness, but in very different cultural contexts.

    Hope both talks go really well!

    Troll-hunter is awesome…I understand the guy playing the main hunter is some kind of satirical political media type in Norway?

  9. Lykke til! och Lycka till!

    At first glance I didn’t take in the 3d graphic, because I was too busy taking in the horror of the lavendar furry unicorn with butterfly, so I got a treat when I looked more closely to see how the axes are labeled. It’s, uh, something science-ish, I can tell.

  10. Sorry for making an off-topic post, but have you seen the ‘Bi-Fi’ biological ‘internet’?
    Bioengineers at Stanford have hacked a non-lethal virus which can package DNA strands and send them to other cells. It’s basically a biological packet-based communication channel. The engineers took control of which strands of DNA get packaged, which means “we can now send any DNA message we want to specific cells within a complex microbial community.”
    The world weirdness potential just increased a couple of notches…

  11. @Cate: Transgenic Warfare, accidentally (on purpose)!

    Thanks for the link.

    I think I want to move to some ecosystem on another planet that doesn’t have a lot of contact with Earth. 😉

  12. I hope you two are having a decent time up there. I saw Kiefer Sutherland’s trek and Conan O’Brien’s adventure; the streets of Scandinavia look extremely eerie at any time of day. It looks like you could film a follow up to “Constantine” on the sidewalk, at any given time.
    “Troll Hunter” was Norway’s nod to “Cloverfield”, and it was cleverly done. Especially trying to explain why the trolls couldn’t be seen, or why they were able to sniff out a Christian by his blood. Everyone should see it; take the free Netflix offer and see it within the first 2 weeks, before they start charging for the service!