About Björn Öfverstedt

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So far Björn Öfverstedt has created 32 blog entries.

Review of Aida at the Royal Swedish Opera

I’ve been thinking about reviewing plays, concerts, games and books for a while now, mostly just to increase the reflective thinking from my point of view, but also to have some place to recall passed happenings. I’m going to try this out now, and write a short review of the Opera me and Linda went to see two nights ago, on a cold November Monday evening. So, here it goes, my very first publically available review:

Aida at the Royal Swedish Opera, originally by Verdi.

 

The classic opera Aida is set during an invasion of Egypt, were a love story between a commander of the Egyptian forces and the handmaiden of the princess of Egypt.

The handmaiden Aida is conflicted between her heritage, as her father is the king and leader of the intruding nation, and her deep love for the Egyptian commander Ramadès. This opera used a temporal hybrid between ancient Egypt, with references to the old gods, and modern warfare with automatic weapons.

 

There was so many things that were so very excellent in this show. The very first thing that struck me, beside of the magnificent use of the curtains, stage props and lighting, were the amount of performers on stage. At multiple times there were more than 40 performers, which definitely increased the feeling of grandeur that the play deserves. The costumes were both traditional robes mixed with modern, tactical gear made for warfare. This mixture gave me chills down my back with frequent intervals, but I can’t let go of the feeling that it felt a bit too forced with the obvious modernised props and weapons. It didn’t feel compatible with the old temples and the use of messengers instead of communication devices.

 

The lead trio, consisting of Miriam Triechl as Amneris, Maria Katzarava as Aida and Andrea Carè as Ramadès were all some of the best performers I’ve seen on an opera stage. Body language was constantly as near-perfect as their singing. The music, conducted by Domingo Hindoyan, was also without flaw. Still, the greatest hero of this play was definitely the director Michael Cavanagh, who excellently used the sets movement options as a major part of the expression of the story, together with fantastic lighting. I truly hope I get to see something made by Mr. Cavanagh again.

 

All in all, this was the best opera I’ve seen, and left me dreaming and longing for future opportunities.

 

TLDR:

Short stats:

Directing and scenography: 5/5

Acting and singing: 5/5

Set décor and costumes: 4/5

Highly recommended.

 

Today’s photo: pine cones covered in frost.

Review of Aida at the Royal Swedish Opera2018-11-28T10:08:07+00:00

Migrated

If you are really paying attention, you’ll notice a slight difference in my URL. I’ve migrated my site to another domain, from bjorn.ofverstedt.se to bjornofverstedt.se. The previous domain was owned and maintained by a close relative to me, but I felt I need to be solely responsible for up- and down-time in order to advance my knowledge of site hosting. So far, I’m really satisfied with the migration!

I’m also considering a one-page-look to the site, instead of sub-pages. I’ll look in to that in the future.

The last couple of weeks has been a menace on my energy – we had our big exhibition in May, so basically I spent the entire month in Jönköping, about 30km south of Stockholm, just to oversee the installation of our 6 machines and to make sure everything went as it should.

Today’s picture: glowing metal chips flying from a mill during the exhibition. Just a second or two after this photo was taken, the tool broke and smashed in to the protective glass were I was viewing it!

Migrated2018-06-04T14:13:52+00:00

Third boring sunday in a row

So, I’ve started phasing out one of my meds. So far it’s been all good; I’ve been getting less and less side effects, I don’t feel worse in my depression and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the phase-out. So that’s nice!

I’ve also logged over 80 days in a row with my mood journal app, so I’m getting closer and closer to the goal I had in mind when I started logging my moods – a good base for statistical analysis.

In just under a week, I, my girlfriend and her mother will be travelling to Italy for a week in the Dolomites. Unfortunately, my toe, which I dislocated a couple of weeks ago, still isn’t all right. I got X-rays taken on the night of the dislocation, and no bone were broken, but I might have injured ligaments and tendons. I hopped around on crutches for about a week, and then limping for another week, and now I can walk without limp inducing pain. That sounds good, I know, but every evening, when I remove my shoes there’s a whole lot of aching. Not soreness, not bruising pain, but deep aching, like bone ache. I know it’s not bone ache, but still, it feels horrible, to say the least. I got the recommendation that I should join the toe with the adjacent one, using surgical tape, and so I have. Now, though, as I’m not getting better, I’ve started experimenting with cotton in between the toes, so that it spaces out a bit more, and I got to say, that after two days it’s feeling a bit better. Here’s to hoping.

Linda is really excited about this trip, and try to micro plan everything from what we should bring and how we should pack, to what meals we might find in the restaurants and cafés. I’m not that into that type of planning – as long as we have a place to stay, means to travel to and from the lifts, and our flights verified, I’m all set. The rest will sort itself out, you never know how you feel when you actually arrive.

So, on this lovely, cold Sunday, when I regularly would exercise, shop for groceries and iron my shirts, I sit in the sofa. Bitter. Playing KSP and watching Doctor Who. For those who cares, rewatching the eleventh Doctor, and as I write this, the good man has gone to war at Demon’s Run.

 

Today’s picture: an exterior roof at an entrance of a building in central Stockholm.

Third boring sunday in a row2018-03-04T12:17:49+00:00

Bleak future

So, I know where my mood will go the next three months: down. The reasons are plentiful, but the main reason is that I need to change my primary antidepressant due to too many adverse effects. I’ve already tried sertraline, which didn’t help me as much as I needed, even in combination with mirtazapine and CBT. The mirtazapine helps me sleep, and that is really awesome. It’s practically better than a sleeping pill, I cannot stay awake even if I want to! It’s such a relief. Also, it made me feel things more clearly, so I really like it, even though anger was my first new emotion. After phasing out (you should never quit an antidepressant “cold turkey”!) the sertraline, I started with venlafaxine, which is an SNRI rather than a SSRI. The noradrenalin reuptake inhibitor should, at least on paper, be more suitable for my specific type of disorder, but I cannot take the side effects. So, yesterday I started, naturally after consulting my psychiatric MD, the phasing out of the venlafaxine. It’s scary, but I’m sure that it’s the right way to go. There must be something more suitable for me among the antidepressants.

Also, I have a massive amount of work ahead of me, even though we actually employed a new person just to relieve me of my time-consuming day-to-day duties. That way I’ll be free to focus on the more demanding and, for me, interesting areas of my duties. I’ll continue working with digital marketing, as well as printed, and develop a CI for one of the two companies. We are in dire need of a firm hand when it comes to this, so this will be a very rewarding area to focus on, which I guess will be positive rather than stressful.

Also, one of my best friends has become ill with a form of cancer. She’s one of the best people I’ve ever met, with a perfect husband and children. She’s highly intelligent, caring and funny, and really, the best kind of friend one can be. She’s always been there for me, even though we have lived very different lives and battled our different problems. I really dislike to use the word “unfair” when it comes to a natural thing, but that’s how it feels. I cannot for the life of me make sense of this ailment, and she really does not deserve to muster through such a painful treatment. There’s no real reason to worry, I know the statistics and prognosis, so that’s really no concern of mine. But the treatment…I just saw her yesterday, and to see such a strong person becoming that weak after just one chemotherapeutic treatment made me feel like my heart was broken. I’m happy that she has a very able support in her family and friends, though.

Today’s picture is on the lighter side, as a contrast. My Pantone matching charts for correct adjusting of colours for print and CI use.

Bleak future2018-02-21T18:49:18+00:00

Digital difficulties

You might have noticed a slight absence from this site in the last couple of months. One might say that my depression made it difficult to get the words going, but in all honesty, I’ve had some negative feelings towards the site. Not that I don’t still like to tinker with it, but I’ve had some difficulties with malicious code. The bad code has infected my site in such a way that I myself wasn’t able to remove the code. I really hated the idea of starting over, even with all the import possibilities with WordPress (you can basically copy a site down to the date stamps, if you have the backup files). So, I started looking at code.

A lot of code. Shockingly boring. The most visible layer of code was quite easily found, as it didn’t hide itself that well. On one hand, files with randomised names popped up in some folders, and at the same time, time stamps told me which files were edited. Once inside those files, the code looked machine-made, not man-made. After my host blocked all access to my site a couple of times, due to spam, they told me, I got frustrated and removed a whole bunch of folders and files that had some minor discrepancies as well. Hopefully, there will not be a next time, but you never know. I’ve removed and reinstalled almost every one of my plugins, just to be a little surer that I’ve done what I can. I don’t feel like putting out a huge amount of money for a premium malware protection, I think I’d rather start over. But hey, it works for now.

Tonight I’m off to buy a boatload of candy, as I’ll go away alone on a business trip tomorrow, and be back before the weekend. Sometimes, the business trips, really can be a nice break for me. Especially when I’ve got the evenings to myself.

Today’s photo: wires hanging under the Neuchâtel sky.

Digital difficulties2018-01-22T18:35:26+00:00

Sunday routines

I consider it obvious that my last two months has been…let’s say dark. I’ve been feeling all kinds of down, and not being able to know whether I’d be able to pull out of the emotional dive.

Needless to say, since I’m back here writing my thoughts out to the expansive nothingness of the Internet, I’m getting better.

Usually my Sunday routines includes ironing shirts and polishing my shoes for the week. Today, though, it’s the 3rd Advent, which means that other tasks takes precedence. Even though Sweden is mostly secularised we still enjoy the Norse and the Christian holidays. And thus, as we are nearing Christmas Eve, when our festivities culminate, we need to prepare. For me and my girlfriend, that means tidying and bringing in the Christmas tree. We are currently both indisposed, however, as we emptied our energetic reserves yesterday by shopping all of our Christmas presents. We tried vacuum cleaning and doing the dishes, but we both felt that our potential energy needed to be reduced. That’s why we’re both lying in the sofa, as low as possible without being on the floor.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to track my mood a bit better from now on. I’ve come to terms with keeping a mood journal, and found this great app that’s called Daylio. The reason is that I’m getting depressed of not feeling creative any more. I try and try, browsing through Pinterest for ideas, but no spark. I want to pull out my microscope from the kitchen cabinet (am I not the worst living partner ever? I mean, stealing an entire cupboard for myself…) and start looking, but there’s no energy in me for it, and I’m afraid that it will cause more commitment issues that solve my need for creativity. Well, hopefully I’ll get some photos of the Christmas tree when we’re finished.

Today’s photo: a part of my shoe polishing box, made out of cedar wood.

Sunday routines2017-12-17T15:25:16+00:00

“Dans le meilleur des mondes possibles…”

Yeah, so…this post is long overdue.  I’ve been up to my elbows in work the last couple of weeks. Both at work and at home. I’ve been increasingly disappointed in my Lightroom catalogue, so I’ve actually chosen to redo the whole thing. Restore all backups, new catalogue, import, convert, label and sort. The whole shebang.

Needless to say, that’s extremely time consuming, seeing as I’ve got about a terabyte of photos from 2005 and forward. Almost every photo is stored as a digital negative.

Just to explain, when you take a photo, the camera’s sensor has got many sensors per pixel of image data. These sensors register the red, blue and green channels of your image independently. When your camera puts this information together, it discards of the registered data and only saves an average colour per pixel. That means smaller file sizes, but if you try to alter the colour tone of an image that has undergone this conversion, you get pretty bad results. A digital negative stores all available data in a large file. Each camera supplier has its own proprietary file format for negatives. This makes unifying a large collection of raw (digital negatives are called that, raw files!) images a hassle! Adobe, which of whom I use all photo related programs, has created an open standard file type called DNG, or Digital NeGative. It’s very handy to work with, but the conversion takes some time.

Here’s how I redid my catalogue: I bought an external RAID (redundant array of inexpensive discs) storage box, a couple of large spinning disc hard drives (not SSD’s they’re too expensive for the large storage I needed). With this thing plugged into a spare computer, I started downloading my entire backup from a cloud service I use for long time storage. When the download was completed, I copied the files to a NAS (Network Attached Storage), separate from my new RAID-drives. When this new and shiny backup was complete, I started the import of photos to my new Catalogue. 50 000 images were imported and converted to DNG from Canons CR2. During the conversion, smart previews (basically JPG’s for on-the-go editing, without being docked to my RAID) were created. After that, I started discarding doubles, series of almost identical shots, and blurry and otherwise crappy photos.

I’m still not done. After the discarding of the unwanted images, I’ll tag every person I know the name of in them, and write the metadata to the files. This is sooo much easier with Lightroom’s face detecting function. When this step is completed, I’ll discard of my old backups and store the new catalogue as my primary backup. Scary, but in the end worth it.

The quote of this blogpost is from Voltaire’s “Candide, ou l’Optimisme”, a brilliant book that changed my whole view of life when I first read it.

Today’s Photo: a tulip from the botanical gardens of Malmö.

“Dans le meilleur des mondes possibles…”2017-10-26T09:09:15+00:00

A waiting game

So, today’s my birthday.

When planning birthdays I usually think about champagne and relaxing at home, but this day aims to displease. I had to join our sales reps at work to Hannover for the big machine Expo. Could be fun, don’t get me wrong, but seeing as it diverts from my normal birthdays I feel a bit on edge.

Tried to get a glass of champagne at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, but unfortunately they didn’t have any left for me. Found a cheap and boring prosecco instead, but I’m not pleased.

When landing at Hamburg airport I didn’t find any bars at terminal 2. Starbucks for this birthday child.

Now, I’m seriously bored and anxious – we’re meeting customers in about an hour. Hopefully I’ll get a glass of wine there to lighten my cravings.

 

Today’s picture: just a random flower. Small, though.

A waiting game2017-09-17T17:02:01+00:00

Finally.

So. I’ve been trying to get a blog post out of me during the last couple of weeks *cough MONTHS* but I’ve always ended up erasing what I’ve written. All in all, they’ve all been about my depression. I’ve been in a low during the summer, due to a change of medication that started with phasing out my SSRI’s and then phasing in SNRI’s. If you care what they’re about you should go to Wikipedia and find out, their information is well edited.

As I’m writing this, I’ve just gotten home from my third exercise this semester (my martial arts centre keeps a school friendly calendar). I’m soaked in my own, and probably some other men and women’s, sweat. I’m alone in the flat, and I feel relaxed, perhaps for the first time this summer. I know, late august in Sweden is more like autumn, but hey, I don’t need a scarf or gloves when driving to work – that’s summer for me. The relaxed feeling is so scarce to me, that it actually frightens me a bit.

Not to delve too deeply in this subject, but I’ve been suffering of a depression and social anxiety for a couple of years now, and have been treated since – I don’t know, perhaps 5 years. I’ve finally been remitted to a specialist that wants to do a neuropsychological survey of me, which could prove the occurrence of a syndrome within the autism spectrum. The doctor mentioned Aspergers syndrome, which (at least Swedish psychiatrists) doesn’t want to use as a label any more. This feels great, to me! I’ve finally gotten around to accepting my quirks and oddities.

Between the exercise, the medication, all going well at work and in my private life, I shouldn’t be able to be happier. But I’m not quite there yet. There are days during which I wonder why I keep on. When I think that everything will go downhill from here. [Hey! If you feel that these feelings are recognisable and totally relates to you, see a specialists! It’s easier than you’d think to talk to a neutral part that looks at you in a biochemical way.] But all in all, I know that things are going the right direction.

Heck, I’ve even gotten comfortable enough to actually write this story on my openly available blog. Albeit not a very well read blog, but hey, It’s a start.

This post is a bit longer than it ought to be, but I still need to write why I got around to post this, and that was largely due to Cara Santa Maria openly speaking about her difficulties on the podcast “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Galaxy”. You hear it all around you, if you chose to listen, but when she, that has the most amazing and epidemic laughter of all people, shared it without a thought, and without a heavy discussion about it, I thought it was time for me.

Now, I urge you to listen to the podcast mentioned, if you haven’t already. And with that said, I’m off to the shower.

Today’s photo: a decomposing leaf. I’m longing for the autumn!

Finally.2017-08-29T21:40:39+00:00

Bachelors party and recovery

Life takes its turns sometimes. Since last time I wrote, I’ve suffered more and more from my depression. A change in pills and dosage has left me weak and vulnerable. But overall, I’ve had a nice summer, and keep a positive outlook on the near future. Midsummer’s Eve went by with a blast, and I got back to work again after the holidays. As I write this, the Swedish industry seems to be at a stand-still, there really is next to nothing to do.

This last weekend we had a bachelor’s party for my oldest and dearest friend. Humiliation was a key factor, but he really kept his chin up. Had it been my bachelor’s party, I’d probably felt like it was the worst day of my life, but he truly enjoyed it!

The day started at 07:00 with a surprise pick-up at his home. After dressing him up in a terrible manner, we went to the southern part of Stockholm for ATV racing and a paintball tournament. After a quick barbeque lunch we travelled to Gärdet, a central field in Stockholm, for “Bubbleball” and relaxation. A nice walk to a hotel for a change of clothes, and we were set for dinner, poker tournament and partying. All in all, a very successful bachelor’s party.

When reviewing my recent blog posts, I’m surprised that I haven’t mentioned any of the games that I’m playing. I’ve always played computer- and video games, but always in a casual way. My temper (and poor eye-thumb-coordination) gets in the way of me competing in anything. The reason I feel that I should mention a specific game now is that I’ve logged a great many hours of gameplay with a particular game. It’s a simulator (“Of course”, you say, if you know me!) that teaches orbital mechanics and astrophysics. The game has no goal, just a “Sandbox” simulation of an alternate star system populated with green bipedal humanoids called “Kerbals”. Time consuming, boring to look at, but loads of fun for the scientifically curious.

Today’s photo: the roof of a train station in Barcelona.

Bachelors party and recovery2017-07-17T15:38:47+00:00