Sunday 4 June 2000


Pic of the day: I have this old drawing on my fridge, as I have had for these last ten years or more. Probably more, from the yellow color (the bluish cast comes from the flash). At the first picture, the mouse thinks "life is sad". Then it gets the bright idea of cheese. In the last picture, the mouse thinks "life is sad". If I understand the artist (Rune T . Kidde) right, physical pleasure is fleeting and does not confer lasting happiness. Your mileage may vary?


A nice Sunday. Some sunshine, but not too hot. Actually, after the two hot weeks in the beginning of the month, the air has been fairly chilly. Only in direct sunshine is it warm, and quite warm too. But move into the shade and it is still spring.

No, I'm not evading the matter of my mother's life, death or something inbetween. Whenever there is something worthwhile, I'll put it up here, OK? And anyway, if you know her, you will probably know before I do. I'm not exactly in the loop. Which is as it should be. It's not like I have kids coming home from school and asking about Grandma. (Celibacy is still a pretty good contraceptive, if not the best. Heh. It's known to fail sometimes, but not for me.)


So anyway, I decided to check out the new netbank here in Norway. By a twist of fate, this is a Swedish bank which is moving in to Norway. SkandiaBanken is a pure netbank in Norway, with no physical structures except for a moderate office. In their ads, they make fun of other banks with richly illustrated speculations on how these are using the customers' money for various luxuries. Even so, I did not get their name right and had to go to a list of Swedish banks to find it. The list of Norwegian banks did not have them, understandably. Now, the point here is that they offer conditions that make the rest of the banks seem like greedy misers. 6.5% interest (the normal is something like 2), no fees for paying bills, no fees for withdrawing money, no monthly or yearly fees. The competitors claim that this will change soon, and perhaps it will.

Anyway, I decided to become a customer. I mean, what's the catch? You can always leave for greener pastures. So I went to the page helpfully marked "become customer" (after I had read their prices, terms and conditions). The page started to load, but slowed to a crawl and eventually stopped. I am only moderately surprised. I saw the same effect the Sunday I tried to send my tax return form over the Net. Sunday is Net Day here in Norway. That's when people have the time and energy to go online - and it's night price all day, always a point in a country where you have to pay per minute for local calls.

So I gave up for now. But I'm not likely to stay with Norway's most expensive bank forever. Even though their online service is as good as it was late. It's very easy now to keep on top of my bank account and queue up bills for payday.

I feel a lot better about my economy now. I feel in control, despite having two credit cards. Since the crisis of conscience last month I have not felt seriously tempted to go on a shopping spree. But the test will be from the 12th of June onward, if I'm still alive by then. (I don't feel all that bad, but my religion advises that this condition be mentioned when making plans, particularly about economy.) You see, the 12th of June is the no-tax-withheld salary, and for a single and almost debt-free guy like me tax is quite noticeable. So there will be loads and loads of money. Enough to buy a new computer. Ahem. It's not like I intend to do that, of course. A little more RAM would be nice, though ...


Ah, greed. Greed takes so many forms. C.S. Lewis reflects on this in his book about Perelandra (a fantasy version of the planet Venus). The main character experiences some innocent delightful sensation (from some kind of extraterrestrial plant) and wants to go back and feel it again. Then he has the revelation that this is, like, the original sin. All greed comes from the wish to take control of pleasures. By hoarding money or other goods, we try to make sure that we can have our pleasures whenever we wish. This control eventually becomes more important than the actual pleasure.

Looking at my unopened shirts, I guess the guy had a point there. But there may be more.

An e-pal reflects on men who will sleep with any woman they can, even if they're in a relationship, "because the opportunity was there". She thinks of this as greed, and I agree. It's the same mindset, though, and I have encountered it before. When there is a temptation, the voice of greed says: "This opportunity may never come back." In other words: Hoard it! Add it to the collection! You can never get too much of a good thing! Well, perhaps not, but you can buy it too costly. You remember the old saying about winning the world and losing your soul. I seem to return to it quite often these days.

To me, greed is not really about money. I am too childish for that, perhaps. Or I may never have gotten the hang on the money thing. I want the actual things, not the purchasing power. I want credit cards without limit, I want to shop till I drop, to have stuff and stuff and stuff. I want to eat when I'm not hungry and drink when I'm not thirsty. (And so on. Ahem.) But I just can't do that, because that's not very smart. There is always a price to pay. Such is the world designed. All things have a price, and often as not the price is in something else than money.

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