October Pieces Of My Mind #1


1970s fish-themed sculpture in Fish-sätra

  • Movie: Looper (2012). Something about time travel, mob murders, psionic mutants, gunfights and lots of Emily Blunt sweaty in attractive sunset lighting. Grade: OK.
  • Got an issue of the Swedish Cemetery and Crematorium Association’s magazine. On the cover is a picture of a woman making a Vulcan salute. The blurb calls her a Star Wars fan. But then I notice that she has a Jedi tattoo along with the words “May The Force Be With You”. So she’s screwing with us.
  • Our toaster is unusually large and sounds like a trebuchet.
  • How do I invest early in the future goldmine that will be Take A Dump On 45’s Grave tourism?
  • When googling for something obscure I came across this on skeevy bitcoin site. “When douching over a stave or a anti-exciting tee, one should pleasant select the horn-tipped paints. You do ribbit a in-spite staple composting for this click here”
  • A memory. I enjoyed Mika Waltari’s 1945 novel about ancient Egypt as a teen. One of my mom’s New Age buddies hinted significantly that the novel was too accurate to be fiction. Might the author be channeling a spirit or was it reincarnation?
  • Saw a fox tonight. Such a pretty creature. Very fortunate to live in a country where the environment has steadily improved during my lifetime.
  • George Innes played both the jester Wamba in the 1982 Ivanhoe movie and the rune-casting soothsayer in Stardust from 2007.
  • I thought Run DMC woke Aerosmith out of a hiatus. They did not. There’s album after album after album.
  • Realisation: I wasn’t first in the family with an international relationship. My mom dated a Turk in her youth, and my kid brother’s first girlfriend was a Kurdish wench named Nilgün. No wonder I settled down with an Imperial Han Princess.
  • Lentils, chickpeas, cabbage, spices, oil, water. Yum!

Open Thread For October

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one’s whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, “Come, tell me how you live!”
And thumped him on the head.

Lewis Carroll

September Pieces Of My Mind #3


Follingbo church. Romanesque structure from c. 1200 gets its trim little chancel replaced with a big fat Early Gothic one c. 1280, creating a pack-saddle roofline.

  • Calendula tea, Sw. ringblommete, is not a very enjoyable drink.
  • “There have always been village idiots. The difference is that now we don’t just have to put up with our own, we have to deal with idiots from every village everywhere.” /Hans Persson
  • “Have you ever played Monotony? It’s a bored game.” /Phillip Helbig
  • Just found another third cousin through DNA. Useful because each new one makes it easier to pinpoint the next.
  • “There is no pain, you are receding / A fish-and-chips shop on the horizon”
  • I’m super relieved not to be living in the US or UK.
  • 2010s netiquette rule: you do not thank anyone publicly for letting you join a Facebook group. Nobody wants to read that message of yours.
  • A man on the park bench outside my window has been playing the guitar for hours. His style is simple: he fingers around randomly somewhere on the upper half of the neck and strums vigorously and hectically.
  • Movie: Gone Girl (2014). Several layers of deception around an unhappy couple. Grade: OK.

Making rose hip soup.

Pimp My N.M.K. Translation

I’ve finished my translation into English of Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s 1667 travelogue from Africa and Asia, plus the brief autobiography of his that was published in 1773. Yay! I’ve also done most of the annotations, but a considerable number remain. Most are about identifying places that NMK mentions but which his spelling and changing place-names over the past 350 years render obscure.

Dear Reader, would you like to have an early look at my translation, help me find typos, perhaps even help me with a few annotations? Then please email me!

September Pieces Of My Mind #2


Vaxholm Fortress, completed and already obsolete in 1863.

  • Leiber’s Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories were written from 1936 to 1988.
  • Movie: Mr. Nobody (2009). An old man reminisces about countless versions of how his life may have been according to happenstance and the butterfly effect. Grade: Great!
  • Saw a delivery truck from the Valhalla Bakery. The End Times are nigh!
  • Scanned text repositories online are amazing. I’ve translated a 17th century book with some poorly attributed Latin poetry strewn through it, and all I have to do is google a line or two and I get the full poems in their original period publications right there on my screen.
  • Stockholm’s tiny Chinatown is co-located with the city’s biggest cluster of Afro hair dressers.

S/S Mariefred, built in 1903 and still steaming along just fine.


Nils Mattsson Kiöping in Yazd

Here’s another two chapters of my recently completed translation of Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s 1667 travelogue. I have introduced a paragraph division for legibility.

Chapter 35: Persia, Yazd
Iessedh is a beautiful city, about two Italian miles in circumference. Here rules a relative of the King named Sultan Mesadie. The city is surrounded by a wall, but this wall is not very strong, but just next to the city is a high mountain on which is a castle with some cannon, and many soldiers. No foreigner is allowed to go there, and the soldiers stationed there are never permitted to leave for as long as they live. There is only one road or narrow path up there, and everything they need is pulled up there by billy goats and little donkeys.

Here are also beautiful buildings, particularly their churches, all built of glazed stone.There is also great trade here in all kinds of goods, particularly precious stones, gold and silver cloth, all kinds of golden and silken fabrics, cotton fabric, tapestries, blankets etc. Not to mention all kinds of foodstuffs. Several thousand soldiers are also stationed here, who stand guard keenly on the walls.

The Christians, more than a thousand souls, live in a suburb named Kombella where the Catholics have two Franciscan monasteries and one Carmelite one, which enjoy great privileges here, and walk in their processions about town, as safe as if they were in Rome. The Christian congregation there grows day by day so that they can no longer fit, but have to move elsewhere. I once saw more than 60 Persians and Moors in a church who have allowed themselves to be baptised by their own free will, and have received the Christian creed. This city is famous among the Persians and is called Koss de Iessedh because the most beautiful women live here.

Chapter 36: Persia, Korastan & Kurbazarihan
Korastan is a little open town, roughly a little larger than Strängnäs, everyone who lives here is Christian and they have two Catholic monasteries here, and an Armenian one. They associate very well with each other, and are extremely keen to receive a European Christian, particularly one who can speak some Latin with their priests, because they think (as the monks have deceived them into believing) that the Latin language is a language of angels, and only religious officials may use it. This was a very good-hearted and merciful people who beseeched me to stay longer with them. Some of them are merchants but most are farmers.

Kurbazarihan is a little town where all the inhabitants are Jews, and all are silk weavers, and they are severely forced and pressed by the ruling lord named Mahomet Roskar. I must say that they were roguish people, because they sold us food and water for money, and grain and dates, and it was all spoiled and also very little of it. A few Muslims lived there, they were much more honest than the Jews.

September Pieces Of My Mind #1


Between Mölnbo and Gnesta in Södermanland

  • Movie: Léon (1994). Lonely contract killer is adopted by an orphaned tweenie girl and together they fight absurdly crooked DEA policemen. Portman, Réno and Oldman all in excellent shape. Grade: good!
  • Musical project: record a bunch of catchy pop tunes 1/3 note off key, so that they work internally but are impossible to play along to with standard tuning. Also would drive people with absolute pitch nuts.
  • “Withdrawing the whip is one of the most severe punishments a party can dole out on one of their MPs.” Is the Westminster Parliament a BDSM club?!
  • One consolation when we look at the political dung heaps currently governing the US and the UK is that in the long run, this has to hurt these countries’ major conservative parties really badly.
  • Sudden insight: a rocket is a flying cannon firing continuously at the ground.
  • The Medieval Stockholm Museum and the Söderköping book store have both sold out of my castles book and ordered more.
  • My first year on the district court went OK, and now I’ve been put forward along with eleven other local Labour Party members to stay on for four more years.
  • You’re starting a chain of sports bars in Sweden and you can only afford one apostrophe. Where do you put it? The founders of “O’Learys” chose not to have a genitive.
  • I keep typing “centiry”. This is a major annoyance to an archaeologist and moonlight historian.
  • Movie: Edge of Tomorrow (2014). “Groundhog Day” with lots of fighting against aliens and a ridiculous scifi rationale for the repetitiveness. Grade: OK.
  • One of the Swedish language’s oddities is that we have no general equivalent of the verb “to put” in the standard dialect. Instead we have a group of specialised verbs that must be told apart. To put something so that it stands up. To put something so that it lies down. To pour something. To affix something.
  • Finally discovered a way to beat my friend Maria at boardgames. While you play a game with her and converse in English, you also make her play a different game with her daughter while conversing in Russian.
  • Being employed at less than full time means that you can head into the Södermanland woods on a Monday to sleep in a hiking shack and read weird fiction on your kindle.

My wife grows these. They’re as flavourful as they look, and also way more solid than normal tomatoes.


Nils Mattsson Kiöping in Persia

Here’s another chapter of my ongoing translation of Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s 1667 travelogue. I have introduced a paragraph division for legibility.

Chapter 34: Persia, nature and culture
It is a very fertile country with wheat and barley, which they sow twice and reap twice a year. Also a very mountainous country, where lovely grapes grow all year round, both winter and summer, so that when one vine blooms, then the second is unripe, the third half ripe and the fourth ripe. And this goes on continuously every year. They also love gardens greatly, where they have all sorts, roses as well as fruit trees such as pears, white apples, almonds, plums, all kinds of sweet and sour limes, as well as several unknown to us, very large and delicious melons and watermelons, which cool a person excellently.

They have many wondrous springs or fountains in their gardens. Here are found the best horses that can ever be in Asia. So much dates grow in the countryside that they even feed their donkeys, sheep, oxen and cows with them. Here are abundantly found the best sheep that can ever be in the world. Of the most valuable trees, there are very tall cypresses here, and another one called Arbor de Raiss, which is at least one Italian mile around with the twigs, and more than 6,000 men could stand under it, and regardless of how hard it rained, not a drop would fall on them. Its branches are so long that they hang to the ground, and grow up again, they droop down again, and grow up again, so that one twig can easily reach for more than half a quarter mile from the trunk itself. It has large leaves but bears no fruit, but when you break a twig from it a white sap oozes out, which if it gets into a person’s eye, they will soon go blind.

Here are also a lot of deer, wild boar, which the Persians do not eat, but they do eat wild donkeys. Here is also a beast of prey which they call jackals, not unlike a wolf. These catch or greatly wound both birds and beasts, indeed, if they do not protect their dead in solid and deep tombs, then they dig them up and eat them. The Christians believe that this is the hyaena of which the naturalists write.* Several kinds of bird are found here, but no geese, only chickens and partridges, several hundreds together in the flock. Large and small turtle doves, cranes, herons, storks, kroppgäss** etc. The pelican is also seen here, but it never cuts up its chest over its dead chicks,*** nor is its beak suitable for it to cut with in this manner, as the naturalists report.

The Persians are white in complexion, though tending a little toward yellow. They are a proud, greedy, warlike people, similar to the Poles in their dress, except for the headgear, for which they have a mandel or turban. The King can in a matter of days muster several thousand cavalry of which some are equipped with mail coats, bows and arrows, and some with pikes. He uses nothing in particular for the infantry, they have extremely heavy muskets, and strike the cock over towards the muzzle and not to the stock. Their fuses are of cotton. On campaign he also uses cannon, but they are all managed by Christians. At the time when I was there, the artillery was directed by an Englishman and a Holsatian.

On the border between Parthia and Persia is a little town named Ilsikas where live only Muslims and all are farmers. Here also is grown the best wheat in the country, for which they are very famous, and when they say that “this is Nun de Iesikass”, then they love it more than any other grain grown in the country.

* Africa’s hyaenas and South Asia’s jackals occupy similar ecological niches but are not in fact closely related.

** Uncertain. Da. kropgaas and Ge. Kropfganz mean pelican, but NMK mentions the pelican separately here. In analogy with Sw. kroppduva, a kroppgås might be a goose that can inflate its crop. But geese have no crops to inflate, and NMK states that there are no geese in Persia (which there are in fact — he may be thinking of domestic geese).

*** Referring to the earlier version of the pelican’s tale where it kills and resurrects its chicks, not the more widespread one where it simply feeds them with its own blood.

August Pieces Of My Mind #3


Not a lot of wind.

  • Listening to Planet Money about recessions and stock market crashes, I recall the father of my brother’s classmate. They lived two houses over in our leafy suburb. On Black Monday in 1987 he opened the window of his office and jumped to his death.
  • Disproportionately happy about having replaced the broken TV remote.
  • “As we move back into the 20th century, the musicological source material becomes notoriously weak and patchy. We have only 197 preserved unique compact discs, globally. 196 are from the great gamelan trove found during excavations in Jakarta. The 197th is Billy Idol’s poorly received 1993 album Cyberpunk.”
  • Movie: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Western outlaws in the Civil War. Hardly any women, hardly any dialogue. Ages and ages of close-ups of sweaty, bruised, unshaven faces. Grade: OK.
  • Where do all these fads come from? All our friends are suddenly throwing “50 Years Parties”!
  • Dropped a wine glass when putting it on the drying stand. With lightning reflexes honed by much teenage video gaming, my hand shot out to keep it from falling on the floor. In that split second, the glass broke against the countertop and I slammed my fingers onto the shards, cutting two and bleeding like a pig. Yay, fucking Tetris. /-:
  • Suddenly I remember an early-80s ad in one of my grandma’s weekly magazines for the quack professor Per-Arne Öckerman’s alternative pills. He was posing in a white coat in the ad, extremely wall-eyed and with unkempt grey hair, and I laughed at the idea that if you took his pills, you would end up like him.
  • I know being bald looks awesome and is a universally admired hair style. But really people, before you shave the tops of your heads to look more like me, consider the increased risk of wasp stings. My pate hurts now.
  • Is the Tokay gecko the only species that has named itself? Its Linnaean name is Gecko gecko, and it spends the nights calling “gecko gecko gecko gecko gecko”.
  • There should be more country rock songs about mescaline-taking, Esperanto-speaking Utopian Socialist communes in California.
  • Studying chemistry with Jrette, I find occasion to check why silicone has this confusing name. Turns out “silicone” is short for silicoketone. There are silicon atoms in the compound but it is very far from being a chemical element.
  • I just finished my translation into English of Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s 1667 Asian travelogue! 34,000 words and hundreds of explanatory notes. Now I need to hit the Royal Library to double the number of notes.
  • Somebody told me about a farmer they knew. He was bipolar and had once bought four large tractors that he could neither use nor afford when he was off his meds.

1780s tiled stove at Herrängen manor house.