Friday, June 11, 2010

Adventures with an Icelandic keyboard...

I have been enjoying myself immensely exploring this beautiful city of Reykjavik, and Lloyd has enjoyed the deep-sea biology conference. It´s quite amusing for other conference delegates to find out that we live in the interior of BC--"So what deep sea biology do you do there?" is a common question! To which Lloyd answers that he teaches entry level biology and comes to these events to get excited about topics, and in turn get his students excited about doing research. These PhD types all love that answer.

On Wednesday we joined the excursion organized by the conference, and hopped aboard one of seven 4x4 Mercedes Benz coaches to be driven about 4 hours into the interior. Quite a change in scenery--we drove through the greenhouse area not too far from Reykjavik (lots of greenhouses heated with geothermal power) and then inland into a vast black and bleak desert just west of Hekla, a volcano that erupted about 10 years ago. We were taken to Landmannalaugar where all 300 of us were discharged to hike or soak in a hot spring. Lloyd and I wandered up through an old lava field and he was excited to see all the obsidian--black volcanic glass. We hiked further up a valley gorge to some steam vents and then even further uphill to enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding orange, grey and red hills. The only greenery is around the hot spring and the steam vents--otherwise it´s all stone and gravel.

To the Icelandic keyboard...because there are a few more letters in their alphabet, these have been added to the edges of the qwerty keyboard. For example, this letter þ is where my right baby finger expects to find the question mark. And this letter ð is to the right of the P. One keystroke that I am having to get used to is the apotrophe. I should be pressing shift first--otherwise I get an accent which only appears once the next letter has been typed, e.g. this "don´t" has the accent. And quotation marks are shift 2. To get the @ sign, I have to press and hold Alt Gr (do we even have that key?) and press Q.

To Joanne's question about flying with knitting needles--fortunately Canadian security allows them and has done for years (except for some hysteria just after Sept 11). I do take bamboo needles which I am not afraid to lose however!

And speaking of wool--this is indeed a wooly country. It's quite wonderful to see the array of woolen goods for sale, altho' the heavy circular yoked sweaters are a little too ubiquitous. I am enjoying the new designs--there are many shops highlighted Icelandic designers and they´re doing very adventurous things with knit yardage, felted wool, and other fabrics. I´ve bought 8 balls of Lopi wool (the fine stuff called Kambgarn which I haven´t seen in Canada) and tomorrow we´re going to the Alafoss Lopi outlet store in the nearby town of Mosfellsbær. (There's another Icelandic key æ just to the right of the L)

I've been immersed in learning about the Icelandic culture by visiting the National Museum, the Settlement Exhibition, and the Culture House. One interesting fact is that genomics studies have shown that 80% of male settlers were Norse and 62% were Celtic (mainly Hebridean). The sanitized descriptions describe the original female settlers as wives of the Vikings, whereas other (probably more realistic) information describes them as slaves!

That's enough typing for now... I'll post again in a few days.


1 comment:

  1. What a shock, from the heat of India to misty Iceland. Can't wait to see the merge of these influences in your designs. As much as I like the brights of India, I can see myself more inclined to use the muted tones and obsidian of Iceland with just a hint of a hot colour to spice things up.