Category Archives: Industry

The Irony of Laugavegur

Laugavegur, in Reykjavik, has always been the people’s street. It started as a public work project, a cobbled road to make the work of washerwomen more efficient. They could take their laundry down to the hot pools by the Old Harbour in a cart rather than in baskets while stomping through mud, rendering the act of washing moot. This project increased general Icelandic productivity many times over, and, what’s more, was done primarily for women. During the economic crisis, the storefronts abandoned when Iceland moved into its suburban mall were snatched up with people selling whatever they could, to make whatever money they could. It was a kind of flea market to attract tourists. Well that worked, even if now they’re full of chain souvenir shops and none any different than the rest. Even the kitchen shop has moved to the mall now, yet even though Icelanders no longer cruise the street in their Old Timer cars, and young Icelandic women don’t pass down the street so much in their party clothes, and old Icelandic men don’t hang around their drinking holes (those are for tourists now) construction continued, even last summer. In a country desperate for housing for the poor or even lower middle class, more hotels was the solution private money found.

June 2019

Now it’s Covid Times. Tourists aren’t rushing in. The old idea does seem best again. Not so much cobbles, maybe, for women to lug their laundry along, but a roof over their heads, so they don’t have to commute long distances in the dark and somehow care for their kids. I’m guessing, only the government can pull it off, but in a country in which men …

…spend the summer driving in circles on a tractor to make hay, while watched by their horses, so they can feed it to their horses in the winter while they watch them…

… and make an economy out of that solid relationship, a little help to the women seems wholly within their power and capacity. What do you think, guys?

They’re asking for our vote.  And, like, more than a bus shelter.

Puffin Guardians at Raudanes

The puffins at Rauðanes…

…are well-guarded. Note the troll, whose hair they live in, and his peek-a-boo stone seal.

Plus, a whole guard team on shore. Here’s one at work.

All this help allows puffins to build a pretty lovely set of penthouses in peace.

Just respect the management’s rules, that’s all, and yield at trail intersections!

Three Rules of Promenading in Reykjavik

Always look in the back alley. In Iceland, its the contrast between glitz and reality that sells the place.

It makes humans feel right at home. At the same time, always check out the windows.

 

They aren’t for seeing into, as alleys are, but for giving you eyes in the back of your head, and multiple perspectives at once. And while you’re at it in Reykjavik, always pay attention to advertising posters. They are the user’s manual for the art installation.

Note how the sign is a smart phone screen, the guy on the right has the idea, as do the tourists behind the woman in red. Well done, everyone!

 

My Favourite Farm

Man, the thought of having a wall of basalt and a cinder cone in my backyard, I tell you, nothing could be better.
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If you don’t drive too quickly and get off Highway 1, you’ll find it. It’s a poor, poor farm, but, as Gunnar said, poverty is wealth, because everything the land gives comes straight from faith, as a gift, and gifts are not to be laughed away.

The Great Icelandic Challenge

It’s a hard one, but is it better to drive up to Dettifoss and get close to a wall of water, or park five kilometres away and walk along to goroge until  you’re ready to see the falls from a new perspective?

Dunno, but when I got this far, I didn’t want to go further, and turned around, to the forest. It was hiding behind a rock and taking on human form.

It was a message. Iceland is full of messages like that.

The Path Through the Trees, Before and After the Pandemic

Once, these birch forests were burned to smelt iron, then they were nibbled to naught by sheep.

A thousand years of erosion later, they became symbols of Iceland’s independence, and were carefully grown up from their sheep-nibbled stubs.

Ásbyrgi, 2011

Then Iceland got to work hosting tourists. The north, and its tourists, were left behind, so tourists were brought on busses as late as 2019. They had 30 minutes to walk through the trails, without history, and then were off to think whatever they might think.

The Icelanders weren’t going there themselves in 2019. They were going here, upriver, by horse expedition:

Now what? The forests wait.

Global Warming is Good Business

Black sand beaches are fun. You can watch the glaciers melt away to nothing there. This is endlessly fascinating. Most Icelandic tourism is based around twinning this melting…

Diamond Beach

… with a bit of human heat…

Blue Lagoon

Perhaps now you’re ready for the Beach of Blood?

Maybe you’re ready to go north?

Whale Beach

You won’t be alone.

If we want to end global warming, we will have to resist it and discover cold.