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alicecd24
1149428.  Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:36 pm Reply with quote

For over 70 years in the small Norwegian town of Longyearbyen it has been “illegal to die”. Since the early 20th century, it’s been observed that the permafrost in the ground prevents bodies in the local graveyard from undergoing the normal decomposition process. At 78 degrees North, Longyearbyen (literally meaning “Long Year Town”) lies on the archipelago of Svalbard, some of the northernmost habited islands before the North Pole, and has low seasonal temperatures of -46.3 degrees Centigrade. If one of Longyearbyen’s 2,000 inhabitants becomes dangerously ill, has an ice-y accident, or falls foul of a rogue polar bear, they are despatched to other parts of the country to be put to rest in a more practical place. So while it is actually in no way “illegal” to die in Longyearbyen, it’s probably not the best place to plan your retirement.

Speaking of arctic animals, did you know that Norway has knighted a penguin? His name is Colonel-in-Chief Sir Nils Olav, and, despite not being an animal native to the arctic, he is mascot of the Norwegian King’s Guard. In 2008, at his home in Edinburgh Zoo, he was knighted in front of a crowd of several hundred people, and 130 guardsmen, by King Herald V, who described Sir Nils as “In every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of a knighthood”. Nils was adopted from Edinburgh Zoo in 1972 by one of the Norwegian Guardsmen, who was visiting the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He was given the rank of visekorporal (lance-corporal), and has since been promoted each time the Guard has returned to the Tattoo, making sergeant in 1987. Nils Olav died shortly after his promotion to sergeant, and his near-double “Nils Olav II” took over the role. He received his knighthood on the 15th August 2008, and Edinburgh Zoo was presented with a 4 foot bronze statue of Nils to commemorate the occasion.

From Norwegian birds, to Norwegian belly-flops... Norway is the inventor of “dødsing”, or “death diving”. Originating in the 1960s at the Frognerbadet public bath in Oslo, death diving involves jumping off a 10 meter diving board and remaining horizontal to the water for as long as possible before curling into a ball or folding up like a shrimp before hitting the water. 50 years on, the annual World Championships, hosted by Det Internasjonale Dødseforbundet (The International Death Diving Federation, founded 2011), test the will of anyone brave or mad enough, in front of crowds of up to 2,000 people. The modern contest has two categories: Classic or Freestyle, and points are awarded for running speed, height of leap, use and difficulty of acrobatics (freestyle only), style, how close to the water the athlete breaks pose, touchdown style, and height of splash. Apparently, going for the full belly-flop is considered cheating.

Norway hasn’t just brought us some totally mad things, it’s also brought some totally “grate” ones, too - in 1925, Norwegian carpenter Thor Bjørklund designed and patented the cheese slicer. Apparently, he became irritated when unable to produce a satisfactory slice of cheese with a normal knife, and decided to take matters into his own hands. The slicer went into production in Lillehammer in 1927, and has since sold over 50 million units - the device is based on a woodworking plane, and looks a little like a fish slice with a single blade horizontally across the face. The cheese slice is not to be confused with the cheese grater, invented by Francois Boullier in the 1540s; while the grater is a very versatile instrument, the slicer simply cannot be beaten for those moments where you just want to kick back with a thick, perfectly-proportioned slice of parmesan.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7501691.stm
http://www.factswt.com/its-illegal-to-die-in-longyearbyen-norway/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longyearbyen
http://www.hoaxorfact.com/Social-Awareness/dying-is-illegal-in-longyearbyen-norway-facts-analysis.html
http://www.kickassfacts.com/25-kickass-interesting-facts-norway/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nils_Olav
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CL3CvU_AeAIC&pg=PA214&dq=nils+olav&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAmoVChMI8O6XyqP8xwIVzLcUCh0gPw5g#v=onepage&q=nils%20olav&f=false
http://www.norway.org.uk/Embassy/Consulates-in-the-UK/edinburgh/
http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2014/8/29/6083399/dodsing-diving-norway-belly-flop-high-dive
http://mylittlenorway.com/2015/08/death-diving-norways-craziest-sport/
http://www.na-weekly.com/sports/norwegian-sport-of-dodsing-thrills/
http://vasterbottensost.com/en/inspiration/the-history-of-the-cheese-slicer/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor_Bj%C3%B8rklund
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grater

 
Jenny
1149530.  Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:49 am Reply with quote

Here in Maine, if you die during the winter, you have to wait until spring to be buried because the ground freezes too hard between December and April.

 
CharliesDragon
1149553.  Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:37 pm Reply with quote

I'm Norwegian and I've never even thought of using a cheese slicer on parmesan. Cheese slicers are for cheeses like Jarlsberg you put on sandwiches, and I've never had parmesan on a sandwich.

Even though the paperclip we use today wasn't invented by a Norwegian it has been an important part of our culture to the point where adorning your shirt pocket with a paperclip and wearing red wool caps was a strong symbol of nationalism when we were occupied by Nazi Germany.

It's a bit hard for me to think of anything specifically Norwegian since it's all normal to me. I was surprised to find an American friend of mine didn't even know snow/winter tyres are a thing, he thought we just used chains. I've grown up with the tyre changing being a common thing twice a year and occasional discussions on studded vs non-studded, and the government's rules about it.
Chains are of course used, but not all winter and mostly just in extreme conditions. (Like in the mountains.) It's long been a problem that foreign truckers don't have or don't use chains and get stuck crossing the mountains on their way to Bergen and such. Fining them haven't been effective, as many simply don't pay up (apparently).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_tire

EDIT: I forgot a few things;

I'm convinced you could write a sentence in Norwegian that someone knowing only English would be able to read if you picked your words carefully. Both languages have a lot of hang-overs from Norse and a few words are similar due to being borrowed from the same source (usually French or Latin).
At the moment I'm quite amused by the word "baggr," meaning sack or such, was picked up in the English language and became "bag," but Norwegian choose to use "sekk" or "pose" until rather recently (the last fifty years, at the most) where we have borrowed "bag" from English to mean a sports bag or cloth bag with a zipper. (Think Indiana Jones' satchel, but in cloth.) Plastic and paper bags are still referred to as "pose."

 
bobwilson
1149598.  Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:15 pm Reply with quote

N ot looking good for N orway

N othing interesting at all about the country? I find it hard to believe

 
dr.bob
1149653.  Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:42 am Reply with quote

CharliesDragon wrote:
Chains are of course used, but not all winter and mostly just in extreme conditions. (Like in the mountains.) It's long been a problem that foreign truckers don't have or don't use chains and get stuck crossing the mountains on their way to Bergen and such. Fining them haven't been effective, as many simply don't pay up (apparently).


Do the natives get fined?

I ask since I've recently returned from a holiday in Italy. Whilst there, I noticed a lot of signs in various places advising that snow chains must be carried in the car between November and April.

Having done a quick bit of googling, it seems this stems from 2010 when particularly bad winter weather meant that lots of unprepared drivers ended up abandoning vehicles and generally causing chaos. As a response, the Italian government now requires cars to either carry snow chains or have winter tyres fitted at the appropriate times of year. Failure to do so will result in a fine.

I wonder if the same kinds of laws exist in Scandiwegia, or if the residents there are far too used with dealing with such conditions for it to be required.

 
CharliesDragon
1149657.  Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:10 am Reply with quote

Yeah, the fines go for everyone, but no Scandinavian truck driver is stupid enough to drive without chains when the conditions call for it, and they know how to attatch them properly, which it seems drivers from countries further south in Europe might not know (or care about).

We're also used to changing the tyres when the weather gets worse late in the autumn and there's a chance of snow and ice.
To add to it there's an extra tax for driving with studded wheels in cities as they wear more on the tarmac and possibly add to dust/general pollution. So you have to have winter tyres not to be fined (if you're stopped), but you have to pay if you drive in certain areas with studded wheels. The Norwegian Government is good at lining its pockets. :P
There's been some discussions about if they should change the laws for studded wheels, as unstudded tend to polish the ice instead of breaking it up. It's a complicated matter, and I'll advice getting a better source than me if you want to be sure everything is correct, I don't have a car. :P

 
Zziggy
1149669.  Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:35 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
... I've recently returned from a holiday in Italy. Whilst there, I noticed a lot of signs in various places advising that snow chains must be carried in the car between November and April.

Having done a quick bit of googling, it seems this stems from 2010 when particularly bad winter weather meant that lots of unprepared drivers ended up abandoning vehicles and generally causing chaos. As a response, the Italian government now requires cars to either carry snow chains or have winter tyres fitted at the appropriate times of year. Failure to do so will result in a fine.

I know a couple of Italians. They have told me with completely straight faces that the way to avoid getting punished for reckless/illegal driving is simply to "use the roads where the police don't go. Everyone knows which roads these are."

 
suze
1149674.  Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:21 am Reply with quote

That sounds like Italy! I imagine it's much the same in those parts of France which get lots of snow.

In Canada, winter tires (that's how we spell it in Canada!) are compulsory in Québec between December and March, while they are forbidden in Southern Ontario (which is defined as Parry Sound and south thereof).

In the rest of the country their use is optional, and there's no real need for them in the Lower Mainland (ie Vancouver and its environs). But outside the big cities, most people in the rest of Canada do de facto use them.

Chains are a vexed subject in Canada. Cities mostly don't want people driving on their roads in chains, but the police have the power to require them on some roads in snowy conditions. This gets even more vexing if you should be driving a rental car, because the rental companies usually state in the small print that chains are not to be affixed to their vehicles.

 
Jenny
1149797.  Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:08 pm Reply with quote

Here in Maine, many people change between winter and summer tyres in spring and autumn. You can buy 'all-weather' tyres though, and a lot of people who don't live in rural areas tend to use those. That's what we have on our VW at the moment, though we do have a set of winter tyres for the Volvo.

 
dr.bob
1150054.  Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:12 am Reply with quote

Zziggy wrote:
I know a couple of Italians. They have told me with completely straight faces that the way to avoid getting punished for reckless/illegal driving is simply to "use the roads where the police don't go. Everyone knows which roads these are."

suze wrote:
That sounds like Italy!


Pretty much. I'm currently reading an excellent book by Tim Parks called "Italian Neighbours." It charts his experiences of moving to the outskirts of Verona and settling in to the Italian way of life.

In one chapter he mentions water shortages in the height of summer leading to hosepipe bans, perhaps unsurprisingly. More surprising was that, during this time, all the tomato and pepper plants growing in everyone's gardens continued to grow plump and healthy. He explained that, while the local council officials toured neighbourhoods to check the hosepipe ban was being obeyed, everyone knew that they never came 'round after 6pm, so people just switched on their hoses in the evening.

suze wrote:
Chains are a vexed subject in Canada. Cities mostly don't want people driving on their roads in chains, but the police have the power to require them on some roads in snowy conditions. This gets even more vexing if you should be driving a rental car, because the rental companies usually state in the small print that chains are not to be affixed to their vehicles.


When googling the Italian rules, I came across a discussion on a web forum. Someone was planning to hire a car, but noted that the company would charge extra for the hire of snow chains. Apparently it didn't help when he pointed out that, if they didn't include the snow chains, they would be hiring a car that was illegal to drive on the roads.

 
PDR
1150058.  Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:43 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Here in Maine, many people change between winter and summer tyres in spring and autumn. You can buy 'all-weather' tyres though, and a lot of people who don't live in rural areas tend to use those. That's what we have on our VW at the moment, though we do have a set of winter tyres for the Volvo.


I thought the VW didn't need them because it's fraudulent noxious emissions melted any snow within 200 metres...

PDR

 
Jenny
1150097.  Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:38 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
Jenny wrote:
Here in Maine, many people change between winter and summer tyres in spring and autumn. You can buy 'all-weather' tyres though, and a lot of people who don't live in rural areas tend to use those. That's what we have on our VW at the moment, though we do have a set of winter tyres for the Volvo.


I thought the VW didn't need them because it's fraudulent noxious emissions melted any snow within 200 metres...

PDR


Luckily the EPA only mentions the 2014-15 model years for the Passat, and mine's a 2013.

<polishes emission-compliant halo>

 

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