Glacetarium/Fortnightly Review

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Glacetarians arrived in Iceland in time for the New Year and learned that Icelanders spend nearly USD $60 per capita on fireworks each New Year ­-- paid mostly to paramedics and rescue squads. Alex's Dickel saved him from an errant firework and a second meeting with the paramedics. At our New Year's party, Smári napped on the living room floor where his face was vandalized by a member of the Icelandic parliament. The vandal's Twitter records were subpoenaed by the United States government. In addition to our floor, Smári slept on both of our couches and on Bjarni and Ewelina's. Danny arrived, slept, lost his clothing, slept, lost his swimsuit, and slept. His clothing was later returned anonymously, and his swimsuit was recovered after negotiations. Bryan ripped a hole in pants (and underwear), Seth had his pants mended, and Star opted to leave the hole in her pants just the way it was. In Iceland, every bathtub is a mineral hot spring. In addition to our bathtubs, we swam in, and failed to correctly pronounce, Laugardalslaug, Arbæjarlaug, Sundhollin, Vesturbæjarlaug, Sundlaug Seltjarnarness, and Reykjadalur (a meeting of naturally hot and cold rivers). We also swam in effluent from a geothermal power station and in -12 degree weather. We had a snowball fight in a hotpot. Mika treaded water for 10 minutes and 35 seconds (10 minutes more than her pre-Glacetarium record). Several Glacetarians went dry-suit snorkeling in Þingvallavatn. Star helped the Glacetarians improve their strokes. Strokkur erupted violently and frequently. Geysir bided its time. Gullfoss was frozen.

Glacetarians visited two large bonfires and hosted two hackers and vegan MIT Course 6 alumnae named Christine. Mako, Mika, Niko were also confused for each other, as were Berglind and Björgvin. From our balcony, Glacetarians saw the ocean, four hours of sunlight, combination sunrise-sunsets, and the aurora borealis. Mika bought Planet Earth in an unintentional attempt to learn Icelandic. Subtitles were provided by a a GStreamer plugin, an MPlayer hack, a custom Python program, and an extra projector. We saw Retro Stefson play, Páll Óskar be gorgeous and fabulous, and Björk sing karaoke and sneer at Christine Corbett and Danny. We ran several jam sessions, annoyed our neighbors, and moved subsequent sessions to a local hacker space called Hakkavélin. At Hakkavélin, we also gave talks to, and with, more than 50 Icelanders. We witnessed lightning talks on cord-bikinis, the liberation of Reykjavik bike-map data, ants (which exist nearly everywhere except Iceland), and lightning. Nate helped us make our own aurora and, inspired by Seth's short talk on conlangs, several people learned Toki Pona. We learned that ":-Þ" makes a more effective emoticon than ":-p" and that Icelandic computers are "number oracles." Star fashioned a hook out of a scarf and a pen and deftly retrieved a pair of fuzzy earmuffs that had fallen over a railing onto an enormous water tank at Perlan. Two days and several new Polish vodka traditions later, we lost the earmuffs, Daf, and Smári at Bjarni and Ewelina's house.

We were chastised for bringing licorice and seaweed to Iceland. They have enough. We cooked stroganoff (sort of), hummus (chunkily), okonomiyaki (convincingly), and various baked goods (repeatedly and deliciously) -- all vegan. We ate several times at Á Næstu Grösum which is pronounced similarly to "a nasty grossum" but which isn't. On one visit, we met the foreign minister's brother, who manages the Icelandic elf school Álfaskólinn, has worked with Sea Shepherd, and who used to lose chess games to Bobby Fischer. Due to high winds, we did not bake bread in a volcano in Vestmannaeyjar. Our spirits sagged when we encountered the closed Duty Free store near the arrival gates at Keflavík before they were lifted by the second shop right near the airport exit. We lifted two shelves of spirits in our glasses over the next two weeks and rid Iceland of more than three liters of Black Death and several pints of Lava. Many new friendships were forged and the Acetarium IRC channel was invaded by vikings.