Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paper, paper, paper...

Safely in Japan, I collapsed after the flight, and in sheer delight at having an air-conditioned room and some privacy after 8 days of intense social activity, I spent the first day in Japan reading, feet up and close to the amenities of a japanese translation of a european bathroom.

Today I had a quest: I needed a new plug for Japan, as I arrogantly had assumed they would use either European or Oceania type of plugs. Of course not, theirs were American. Oh well. After that I went to paradise. Me and Helen Kennedy, who was kindly guiding me to the local designer stores with a sure eye for what we can want, but afford, ended up in Itoya, the paper store which has everything, and then some. So, if you expected some kind of flashy present after my long trip, forget it, I am sorry. My suitcase is packed with handmade japanese paper.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Access issues

Still no real internet connection, so I am just letting any who wonder know: I am doing fine, Perth is cool but nice, and the conference was good. More later - sometime.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The computer that is. PerthDAC 2007 isn't, it's compact, small and friendly - well, most of the time. What it isn't is online. Since I also don't have an internet connection where I stay, and I haven't seen an internet cafe just yet, I am painfully cut off from a lot of obligations, not to mention the fun stuff. I
ll try to mend the situation, but it's not happening today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perth next!

Tomorrow I am off to Perth, for DAC 2007. I am going to present a paper I have for once suffered over, meet some great friends, and eat and drink in one of my favourite places for just that. Afterwards I am off to a totally new place for me: Japan!

While Umeå is picking up as more visiting scholars arrive, I think it's time for me to get some air under the wings. They still haven't managed to get the equipment I need, and as long as I am not here to be annoyed, they have almost three weeks to get it in place. By then I'll have 8 more months here, so I guess I'll still have time to play around.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bleak Friday

The start is always hard, I know. The change, getting things established, figuring things out, it's always tough. And the social part, trying to find people to connect to, or just make light conversation with, when I am suddenly alone after 25 years living with a family; I knew these things would be difficult and take time, and that I had to make an effort to make it work.

I have however had a clear deadline to offer everybody I have talked to about practical considerations around my situation in Umeå: I am leaving 12th of September, and that means I really need to have it all in place at least a week before, for my final preparations.

Of everything I said I needed before I arrived here, I have three things; a place to sleep, a good office chair and a rollermouse. Of all the things I have been offered - well, let's say there have been some delays. Delays which are by now making my days strained, unhappy and uncomfortable.

I hope I'll at least get paid before I leave for Australia and Japan. If not this can get unpleasantly tight. But I am happy I am leaving right now. I am sure the slow and deliberate ways of the northern Swedes will feel familiar and welcome after Tokyo, and coming back will feel good.

At least I hope so.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Can I talk to Jerry?"

As I moved to Sweden, I went out and got myself a handsome little phone with a telia account. They asked me what number I'd like, and I got one that was not too far from my Norwegian one, something I could learn quickly. So I had a phone, I had a number, I had a fully charged card, and I was ready to take calls.

"Hello, is Jerry there?"

"Wrong number," I said politely. "Isn't this xxx-xxx-xx?" "Yes, that's correct." "Then I'd like to talk to Jerry." "I am sorry, my name is Torill Mortensen, this is my phone, recently bought, and I can't help you." "Are you absolutely certain you can't get hold of Jerry?" "Yes. There is no Jerry here, and there never was a Jerry here. He must have terminated his account and by accident, I happened to get the same number. I can't help you, I am sorry."

Over the next week or so, I got used to telling people that there was no Jerry at this number any more. That's when I started to get a new kind of calls.

"Detta är om erans annons, vi skulla vilja..."

"Excuse me, but what ad?"
"The ad about moving, and needing help with your apartment. I'd like to talk to Anders." "EEeeehh, I have no ad anywhere, and there is no Anders here." "But you are asking for help to clean out the apartment." "No, that must be a mistake." "You see, you have this ad at xxxxxx, and it says you are moving to xxxx, now I'd like to help you with the cleaning..." "I am really sorry, but there must be a mistake." "Isn't this number xxx-xxx-xxx?" "Yes, and that is my number, I am Torill Mortensen, I am not moving anywhere, I don't have an apartment in that part of Sweden and I don't have an ad. Somebody must have put the wrong number in."

After several days of fielding those calls, I just had to check. So I googled my phone number, and yes, there it was. Some Anders had an ad, and he had my number in it. Somebody with the same last name as him had a company, and this company used my number. I had not just inherited a mysterious Jerry with a lot of english-speaking friends, I had also inherited an Swedish company.

That's when my struggle to have those numbers removed started. I have been writing ad-companies and search services all over Sweden, begging to have the ad removed. After three days it is finally gone. The company was a bigger problem. Here I had to resort to a slight case of identity theft. I went in and registered as the owner of the company, and changed the number to something which was obviously not useable. I felt justified, as it wasn't really identity theft, it was a release of identity. I am not that company, and I shouldn't be able to claim I was. By making sure nothing in that ad for the company had anything to do with me, I removed my own ability to, for instance, order 500 chairs, all in purple leather, to be sent to his office.

The last two days, all phonecalls to my phone have been for me. I almost miss Jerry.