Wednesday, 31 August 2005


Stapafell, on the Snæfell Peninsula, is a charming little mountain that hovers over the beautiful town of Arnastapi. This photo isn't new, but I thought it would be nice to post some more Icelandic scenery. Some of us can never get enough...!

While doing research for a translation job, I ran across this site again. It's not the most attractive, but it does include some excellent links for those who want to not only see more of Iceland, but learn more as well. Some of the link topics are really obscure, but interesting. Enjoy!

Friday, 26 August 2005

Friends and Neighbors

Aaaack! Haven't blogged in a week!

In the interest of posting something, anything, here's a photo from Toggi's phone of some interesting people...our friends, alas. They really are weird (in everyday life, that is) but aren't usually so dolled up. Ási, far left, is a clothign designer; Begga, center, is an artist/performer; and Kristjan is an East Coast Ivy-League writer who has, like me, repatriated to the Old Country. All highly educated folk with loads of talent. This is from last weekend during Culture Night in Reykjavik at a cute little Garden-ival in our friend's backyard. Fun night, goood stuff.

Monday, 22 August 2005

Little Moneymakers

Valentina (in blue) and Telma held a tombóla, or mini flea market today in front of Krambuð, the cute little store at the very top of Skólavörðurstígur, just across the street from Hallgrímskirkja. There wasn't much foot traffic today during the hour they were out being capitalists, but they did make enough to buy a four-pack of jawbreakers (which they have to save until Saturday, nammidagur, or candy day).

I wanted to post something sweet and colorful because I also want to mention that this weekend in Reykjavík there were two drug/alcohol related stabbings, one that resulted in death. Unfortunately, it turns out that the murderer is the son of a murderer: his father killed someone in, I think, 1976. This news made me think how sad it is that we're entering out second generation of murderers here; I remember a time when I could safely and proudly say that murder didn't happen in Iceland, at least not even once a year. With Capitalism, modernity and consumerism comes much to be thankful for, but also a loss of innocence for a small and once-isolated nation. Sad.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Name Game

Newly engaged Icelando-phile Jared asked me a very good question in yesterday's comments, and I thought I'd go ahead and address it here.

Q: why doesn't your dad's name end in "son"? my-mother-in-law-to-be's last name is thorisdottir.

Well, Jared, here's the scoop:

A: My father's given name is Þórir, or Thorir. Just like your fiancée's grandfather, i.e. your mother-in-law-to-be's father. My father's father's name was Páll, so my father was christened Þórir Pálsson. His mother, Steinnun Sighvatsdóttir, never married Páll, but my father was still his son, hence "Páls-son." When my father was nine, his mother married an American who worked out at the Naval Base at Keflavík, Stanley Roff. He adopted my father and gave him the family name of Roff (which, incidentally, used to be a much longer Russian name that was shortened at Ellis Island when Stanley's forfathers fled the Revolution).

So actually I am "Þóris-dóttir" or "Daughter of Thorir" just like your future mother-in-law, but I go with the family name Roff for convenience, as I have dual citizenship and all my US papers us that name.
My mother is Ásthildur Brynjólfsdóttir here in Iceland but goes by Asta Roff in the States. My sister is Addy Roff in the US, Steinnun Ásta Þórisdóttir in Iceland. My daughter's father's name is Jóhann, though, so her full name is Valentína Jóhannsdóttir. No Roff

Got that?

Here's a link to the main page of my online family tree, if you're more curious. Actually, using this online service, called Íslendingabók, I along with most Icelanders, can trace my ancestry directly back to 830 a.d., to one Eirikur "The White" Högnason, one of Iceland's first settlers as well as Eyvindur Bjarnasson, born around 810 a.d. and married to Rafarta Kjarvalsdóttir, daughter of Irish king Kjarval. Oh, and Leifur Eiríksson, or Leif Eriksson "the Lucky." And actually pretty much everyone who came here on that first boat. Trippy, huh?

By the way, the above picture has no connection. It's just a good shot of the inside of Fry's Electronic SuperStore, the one in San Jose with the Mayan theme. A computer lover's dream...

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Sweet Ride

I went out today to troll around town in hopes of making a Cameron Diaz sighting. Seems she's here in town Justin-less just hanging out like normal people connection to Clint's movie.

No luck on that front, but I did get this snap of the President of Iceland's car parked in front of the pharmacy on Laugavegur. Herra Grímsson (or just Ólafur Ragnar to most of us) must have popped inside for a new toothbrush or something. His driver can be seen standing behind the car, probably using the opportunity to get a breath of fresh air maybe catch a glimpse of Ms. Diaz himself.

Speaking of the Flags of our Fathers director, I was talking to my father, Thor Roff, the other day, and he reminded me that my sister, Addy Roff and her husband Dan Nater, got married at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch at Carmel by-the-Sea (here's a little history on the place). My sister and I grew up only minutes from Carmel in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Bay, so that whole area holds a lot of very good memories for the both of us. By the way, you all knew that Clint was mayor of Carmel, California for two years, starting in 1986, right?

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Beach Days

Here's Frank on the beach in Santa Cruz, soaking up the sun. These days he's working another kind of beach, one that looks more like this.

See, he's working on the set of THE FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, Clint Eastwood's latest film foray. It's the story of the battle of Iwo Jima, more specifically of the men who raised the flag immortalized in this photo. Since Iwo Jima, off the coast of Japan, is a volcanic island with black sand beaches remarkably like those of our lovely little homeland, Mr. Eastwood chose to do his filming here.

He's very visible on the set, but true to Icelandic form, us locals are cool and professional in his presence (or so I've heard.) Mrs. Eastwood, Dina Ruiz, is here as well with two smaller Eastwoods (aka their kids). Frank has signed a non-disclosure, so he can't talk about what he's doing out on the barren beaches of the Reykjanes Peninsula, but if Clint is helming the effort, it should end up being something amazing.

Below are a few more shots of our Santa Cruz adventure at the Beach Boardwalk. Enjoy!

Monday, 15 August 2005

The Boardwalk, Santa Cruz

The Giant Dipper

The Giant Dipper, the huge roller coaster in the center of this photo of the nighttime Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, is an ancient wooden monster that rattles your brain and slams you around like a ragdoll...classic fun!

Sunday, 14 August 2005


Frank, center, waiting while Valentina and I did the Ferris Wheel (she discovered that she was afraid of heights while we were stuck at the very top!)

Pretty Lights

Bored Balloon Clown

We stayed with and played with Shannon and Vaughn Roach (lovely people, great friends from the old days), met up with the illustrious and very generous of spirit Kevin Cole, of KEXP radio (their live streaming is one of the most listened to in the US...highly recommended...this is radio at it's finest!), and drank cocktails on a rooftop with one of the best night views in town.

We also found time to trundle down to Pike Place Market where we saw this mildly grumpy clown guy who just couldn't seem to attract the kiddies to his wares. What's up with that?