14 January 2017

Those Wild & Crazy #Vikings! #Norway Ditches #FMRadio, Goes #Berserker. #DAB #BFF

I have a thing for Vikings, or perhaps, more accurately Vikings have a thing for me, because I certainly seem to attract all manner of them. (I kid you not, I was once handed a credit card and told to book myself a flight to Sweden in order to rendezvous with a certain Swede at his cabin in Göteborg --- 'twas quite the pickup line.) It's appropriate then, that one of my besties is a Viking... er... mickay... I mean, he's Norwegian.

The two of us have been good friends for well over 15 years and presumably we'll remain as such for the rest of our lives (baring his or my turning out to secretly be a serial killer or something worse). We met in California when I was still a student at university and he was working as a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist and afterward spent a LOT of time in each other's company. We were so close that people often assumed we were a married couple when encountering us out & about, and I seemingly picked up a Norwegian inflection to my speech at times.1

My friend and I continue to keep in touch via Skype (mainly in-app txt & Skype-to-phone), regular txt and email though he's since returned to his native Norway and I'm back in my native Georgia. We crack each other up, as we both have a sometimes acid sense of humor, coupled with a VERY secure sense of self.
An etymological aside: The English word "berserk" meaning crazed or crazy is derived from the Old Norse term bearserk, the frenzy into which bear-skin wearing Vikings or bearserkers would work themselves with all that raping and pillaging, which apparently takes a lot of energy. (You've got to respect a culture that gives yours the word for crazy.)
We spend a good deal of time ribbing each other over the various and sundry things which make our individual countries and cultures great. For instance, a month or so back an entire herd of reindeer were struck by lightning when a freak storm caught them out in the open on a random Norwegian plateau. After seeing the article on a news site, I sent him a quick Skype txt asking why Norway had it in for reindeer and pondered whether Santa Claus would be next on their "hit list."

Norway also happens to be one of the most oil-rich nations in the world and so, (circa 2003, i.e., the Iraq War) I would tease that he'd better watch out because America might "discover" Norway held WMD and use it as an excuse to invade any day now. In his turn, he, of course, laments American hubris and gets in his own zingers. We argue good-naturedly over who's selected for the Nobel Peace Prize each year ---- Norway names its recipient, while Sweden picks the recipients of the remaining Nobels --- and sometimes watch the annual Nobel concert together virtually. Between us, nothing is sacred.

On 11-01-2017 at 11:11a local time, Norway began turning off FM radio transmissions, becoming the first country to officially ditch the band, and started moving to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) which proponents say will be cheaper to operate and provide more clarity of signal. Opponents, of course, worry about the Norwegians who live in far flung rural areas and who travel in older vehicles who might not be able to receive digital signals. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but either way, it was so kind of Norway to act as world guinea pig in taking on this endeavour. I sent my friend a quick txt asking if he could still hear me now or if the broadcast signal was fuzzy where he is and attached the article. (He lives in an Oslo suburb, so I was obviously being facetious, but that's the point.)

As for the transition to DAB, as a tech geek, I like the idea of a crisp digital radio signal. And I also believe America will have to cross this same bridge soon enough --- rather like our recently completed transition to DTV. But as someone who grew up in a rural area, I can definitely understand the concerns that Norwegians in rural areas are voicing. As America is a much larger country with huge swaths of wide open spaces, such issues will no doubt be compounded for us and a solution (potentially a subsidy like that employed to assure rural America could get telephone service) will have to be found. Fun times are ahead!
1An explanation for my Norwegian accent: At a friend's house party in San Francisco one evening, I happened to end up standing next to some guy who was regaling everyone with tales of the years he'd spent working in Finland. He'd also traveled extensively throughout Scandinavia, he said. He kept trying to cozy up to me and at one point asked if I wanted to go back to his place, which so happened to be right around the corner. Shaking my head "no," I made an offhand excuse which elicited a very odd look from the guy (odder than being politely turned down should have elicited). When I inquired as to why he suddenly looked as if he'd seen a ghost, he responded, "This is so strange, but you just spoke with a Norwegian accent." I laughed so hard I think I probably snorted my drink through my nose. In between my peals of laughter, the poor fellow tried to find out why on earth this was so funny. I finally gasped that as I spent nearly every day hanging out with a Viking, I suppose that was fair consequence and that I'd also never hear the end of it, if said Viking ever gets wind of the fact that he's succeeding in "turning" me Norwegian.

No comments:

Post a Comment