Wednesday, August 17, 2011



The beautiful, bountiful summer is drawing to a close. It is not cold yet but I can feel a crispness in the early morning air one associates with fall and winter. Another reminder of its passing is the fact that the engineering students we hire for summer positions today presented to the firm what they had been working on for the past three months. I was particularly taken with a presentation regarding a simulation of an aluminum smelter process. It is apparently being used to find the bottlenecks in an electrode renewing loop in one of the local smelters. I don‘t give a hoot about electrodes, what raised my interest was that such software and methods exists as I need to run a few simulations of my home life, in particular relating to the operation of certain chores.

My husband has recently taken up doing the family laundry. None of the four and a half persons living at home work as chimney sweeps so our clothes are usually pretty clean. Despite this, this task has swelled to such extent under my husband‘s control that he is seriously thinking of quitting his job. He finds that the 16 or so hours in a waking day do not suffice for him to keep up. Every flat surface in the house is stacked with folded laundry that he is for some reason hoarding. The other day a pile of sweaters reached from the kitchen counter to the ceiling as he wanted to know how many hooded sweaters our daughter owned. This was while she was in England so she was unable to hide any to keep the count down. But before stacking them up he washed each one. Even the clean ones.

Another interesting lecture regarded the tides around Iceland and the depth of its surrounding waters. This was about another computer program, this one developed to estimate the power available for harnessing in the sea and find the best location for testing the production of electricity using the sea‘s tides. This program can also simulate the drift of icebergs and ice that in appear on the sea in cold winters – a gift from the North Pole, one of those annoying one that keeps on giving as occasionally the ice provides us with unwanted polar bears. But anyway, again I was intrigued and again for all the wrong reasons.

The book I am presently trying to write takes place in part onboard a yacht, one that is being transported to Iceland. Onboard is a family with two small girls and a crew of three. From the onset you know they will all die. What you do not know is how or why. But for the part of the book that involves my dear friend Thóra the bodies of these poor innocents start washing up on shore, one by one. So you can imagine how much this program will help me in deciding where and when each is thrown from board. So I will be visiting this student and asking him to enter a few dead or semi-dead bodies into his program to see where they will end up.

I am often asked where I get my ideas from. Not being particularly perceptive when it comes to my own mind’s workings I usually answer as if I have never heard the question before.
 Silent at first while thinking and then answering in a long winded circling kind of way. Not really ever reaching a point. This is not an act, it is just that each time I am mentally kicking myself for not having thought this through seeing that it is a standard interview question. If I were prepared as I should be I could have a really smart reply that would resonate as if being spoken by someone truly gifted. Not … uh, mmm, ah, well and so on.

Next time I will have the answer. Where do I get my ideas from? Everywhere and nowhere. Asked for an example I can truthfully say: from engineering students.

One other thing. In continuation from my previous post my daughter is back home. A week early as we changed her ticket, having to pay for such crummy planning about a British pound for a pound of passenger. Thankfully my daughter is thin.

For two days after arriving back she cried her eyes out. She did not want to say anything other than she missed her new friends from Spain that she had met at the school. We quickly realized what she was going through, namely falling in love for the first time. Turns out she has this huge crush on an older Spanish boy that probably did not notice her much since she and her friend were amongst the youngest kids there. When you are seventeen a fourteen year old is not really your thing, unfortunately for her, fortunately for us her parents. But the fact that this happened to her only now and to someone of Latin origin does not surprise us much. Here brown eyes are considered the most beautiful eye color. Anyone lucky enough to be so endowed is automatically gorgeous. When everyone has blue eyes, brown eyes rule.

I feel as if I have cheated you dear reader. I did not really write anything about Iceland. Below you will see why. It is a print from the Icelandic newspaper (online version) and shows an example of what has been happening here newsworthy (left hand side) and globally (right hand side). The headline of the main piece, the one with the photo, says: Managed to put out fire in moss. It is about the fire brigade having put out a fire in about 400-500 sqft or 40-50 sqm of moss that had caught on fire in a mountainside. Five headlines down is the original story: Fire in moss in Ingólfsfjall (Ingólfs mountain). The one below that is about a rare bird species being spotted in the Westmann Islands and then there is one really exiting one about the sale of mutton going down 27.7%. Talk about being precise.

I rarely get my inspiration from the local news.

Wednesday - Yrsa


  1. Regrettably, American news can supply any number of stories, often gory, almost always stupid. The only thing a criminal needs to do in this country to guarantee his/her freedom, is to not talk to people in bars. That is especially essential if there happens to be a reward for the capture of said criminal.

    A few weeks ago, the newspapers were filled, for days on end, about the capture of a geriatric criminal mastermind and murderer, Whitey Bulger. A very large amount of money was promised to the person who gave the FBI the tip that led to his arrest. Someone did contact the FBI and a few days later Whitey was arrested.

    When the tipster called the FBI to learn how he was to go about getting him money, the FBI maintained that they already knew where Whitey was when the tip was called in, so no reward money for the poor guy. One will never know if the FBI agent who took the call applied for the reward and spread it around to his colleagues. But that would never happen.


  2. "I rarely get my inspiration from the local news" is an inspirational quote to be blazoned across tee shirts. At least.

    What a wonderful place to live, and by chance does your husband have Thursdays free to do a few loads for me? Terrific piece.

  3. But I am glad you got inspiration from a 1973 event. I quite liked that story ;)

  4. You never, ever give short value, Yrsa. I love your posts, and I loved this one both for your trademark neck-breaking detail so casually offered (polar bears hitchhiking on icebergs! A fire in the moss!) and also for the insight into the way you work. The book sounds riveting.

    Can't wait to meet you in St. Louis, although there you WILL be giving short value, abandoning us early.