April Pieces Of My Mind #2

Skirsjön

Lake Skirsjön, Ytterjärna parish, Södermanland, on the Sörmlandsleden hiking trail.

surfin

Everybody’s gone surfin’ / Surfin’ USA

  • Hollister means “hold lard” in Swedish.
  • The erratic narcissist in the White House now wants to move the date for a re-visit to the Moon (scientifically low-priority, nostalgic) back from an unrealistic 2028 to a completely fairy-tale 2024. Because he expects to be re-elected and 2024 would be his final year.
  • Sitting on the path next to the Södertälje highway bridge, on severely disturbed and rearranged ground, was a nice big sherd of 14th century Siegburg stoneware. Huh?
  • It’s “between 899 AND 924”, not TO. Remember, you don’t say “The pepper is between the salt TO the egg timer”.
  • WTF? Facebook suddenly decides to start throwing sponsored ads for rum and whiskey at me. Guys, I’m a life-long tee-totaller. Hello?
  • Jrette’s junior prom dress just arrived in the mail. It’s a lovely piece of couture and she will look gorgeous in it. But the make or model is called True Decadence. Umm, say what now?
  • Surely the Hebrides must be the gender-bendiest part of Scotland.
  • 1st butterfly of the year!
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Nils Mattson Kiöping at Table Bay

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Table Bay and Cape Town, 1820, oil on card.

The first travel book published in Swedish about Asia was Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s travelogue, which appeared in 1667. After a period where I would transcribe a few scanned pages each night from the first edition, I put the whole thing on-line in 2005. It had never been re-issued unaltered and in full before. In 2016 the Ruin publishing house published my transcription on paper in a handsome little volume. Now I have been invited to submit an annotated translation to the Hakluyt Society’s peer-reviewed e-text repository, the Hakluyt Society Journal. I’m making good headway with the work. Here’s chapter 6, divided into paragraphs for legibility.


Table Bay

Anno 1656 I lay there for three weeks on a Dutch ship in a bay named Taffwelbayet [Table Bay, South Africa]. Among other things in the sea, we saw a whale and a swordfish fighting, where the swordfish got the upper hand, and had cut up the whale’s belly, whereupon it came drifting ashore dead. Then a great number of the inhabitants (who are called Hottentots [Khoikhoi: non-Bantu nomadic pastoralists.]) came and ate the whole whale in a quarter of an hour. This fish [The whale: NMK calls it hwalfisk / hwal / fisk.] was 35 fathoms long [Whale 62 m, swordfish 5.3-5.9 m by 0.9 m. The confirmed length record for Xiphias gladius is in fact 4.55 m.], the swordfish might be about nine or ten ells, not very thick, perhaps 1½ ell. It is triangular, has four fins more than other fish, on the snout is its sword, about a good ell long and a hand’s width wide, set with large sharp spikes on either side, like wolf’s teeth, with which it goes below the whale and cuts up its belly.

These inhabitants are very fast runners, so that one of them can chase down a deer over a long distance. Furthermore some can throw stones and hit a fly, and they are not frightened by a rapier. But with a pistol, even if not loaded, you can scare a thousand. It is said that these Hottentots would be cannibals, but there is no truth to that, because we buried many dead there which they let lie peacefully and untouched. Also, when a woman is to keep herself to one man, then she must allow to be cut off the outer joint on the little finger of her left hand. In the night more than several hundred men and women gather to dance around a bonfire and clap their hands, because there are dangerous beasts, like lions and tigers, here in great numbers. There are also many ostriches, which the inhabitants know to catch in very ingenious ways.

The Elephant Master or rhinoceros is the hereditary foe of the elephant and is also found in this place. The beast is about 1½ ell tall and three ells long [90 cm tall, 180 cm long.], shaped like an elephant, carrying a horn in front on its snout, which it sharpens against stones when entering battle with the elephant, and has a trunk like an elephant which goes beneath the horn. And though those who have never seen it, particularly painters depict it with shields on the back and across the belly, they are quite wrong, because its skin is not only thick and smooth in itself, but lies in folds one upon the next, fold on fold, from the head and down to the beast’s bottom, so that not even the strongest man can chop through its skin with any axe, no matter how sharp. Everything on this beast is useful for healing, its dung as well as other things: on Jawa I have seen its blood sold for one riksdaler per lod [A lod is 13.3 grammes.]. It is ashen in colour but a little blacker than that.

This great promontory is visible eight or nine miles [86 or 96 km.] across the sea and consists of two high mountains: one is called Tafwelberget and is completely level like a table; the other is Lion Mountain [Today, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.] because it looks much like a lion with head, back and bottom, legs and claws, lying on its belly, wearing a crown on its head.

In this mountain or bay where we lay with the ships you could often see all kinds of sea animals, like sea horses, sea cows, which where in every respect like other horses and cows except that they had no hair and their feet were like those of seals or geese. The horse had a mane like a normal horse but the rear was like a fish. The cow went onto land to feed, and was killed by our people. There were also sea dogs, sea cats etc. Summing up, there is no beast on land that has no equivalent in the sea. Fish is also extremely abundant here, particularly when the whale drives it into the bay at flood and eats it. Occasionally it goes too far up and the water falls from it, so it gets stuck there and falls victim to the inhabitants. It looks a lot like there might be good ore in these mountains, but for the absence of wood they can do nothing.

John Massey Eats At Albergue 1601 in Macau

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A restaurant review by Aard regular John Massey. Macau is an old Portuguese colony on the southern coast of China.

Albergue has numerous translations, which include “hostel” and “refuge”. “Refuge” is now a suitable translation for Albergue 1601, hidden within the quiet and peaceful historic St Lazarus Quarter with its mostly pedestrian-only thoroughfares, away from the hectic, modern, polluted awfulness and tawdry, glitzy casinos of much of modern Macao. But it is more likely to have carried the original meaning of “hostel”.

It must be accessed on foot up the sloping, decoratively cobbled, pedestrian-only Calcada da Igreja de S. Lazaro. The temptation to follow interesting-looking side diversions along narrow streets in this area is hard to resist, but luncheon beckons. Albergue 1601 is a small establishment, and advance reservations are strongly recommended. Exploring the area would be better done afterwards to walk off the excesses of lunch, when getting hopelessly lost is more in the category of fun than minor disaster, provided you remembered to visit the lavatorio before leaving the restaurant.

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Albergue 1601 is not confined to one building. In various capacities it occupies one- and two-storey, well preserved heritage buildings on three sides of a small plaza, which is now dominated by two very large camphor trees which dwarf the buildings. The entrance gateway to the plaza occupies the fourth side.

You can be forgiven for missing the entrance gateway. The legend across the top of the gateway reads SANTA CASA DA MISERICÓRDIA ALBERGUE, but this is now rendered illegible by encroaching vegetation, which no one seems to be in a hurry to remove. The small but conspicuous billboard planted beside the roadway gave the location away, though, or we would probably have walked straight past it.

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Once inside the gateway, we had the difficult task of identifying the entrance to the restaurant. It wasn’t easy, being virtually invisible and with nothing to advertise its presence. You might suspect they are trying to keep it a secret, and maybe they are. I certainly hope so – this is the sort of place you want to keep to yourself, for fear of it being overrun by bloated, over-zealous, Instagramming gluttons.

It turned out to be this nondescript little doorway:

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Once inside we were invited to sit on welcoming giant leather sofas that are so worn that they appear to have provided a welcome resting place for the backsides of foot-weary travellers for hundreds of years, and probably have, while the staff located our reservation and then beckoned us up a very narrow and rather creaky old wooden staircase to our table, with a pleasant view overlooking the small plaza. We had the small room to ourselves, the seating was very comfortable, the table well and tastefully appointed, with an array of salt and pepper grinders, some particularly fine olive oil and a bottle of vinegar. Service was efficient, pleasant, polite, knowledgeable, quick without rushing and unobtrusive, just the way it should be but frequently is not. As soon as it was clear that we had finished with one course, the next course arrived promptly.

The menu is extensive to the point of confusion and indecision, but we worked our way through it, while our server delivered excellent bread piping hot and accompanied by small dishes of delicious black olive paste with which the sharpen the appetite, if it needed any sharpening. My wife and daughter studiously ignored my advice to choose one of several bacalhau (dried and salted cod) dishes for which Macao is renowned.

There is no need to fear language difficulty with the menu – we were presented with the English version of menus without needing to ask. For starters, I chose the gambas à guilho (garlic shrimps), while the girls ordered salada de polvo (octopus salad) and petingas fritas (baby sardines). Mine turned out to be five very well-sized prawns, shelled (so no messy fingers required) and smothered in an addictively delicious sauce that was adequately but not overwhelmingly garlicky. Having demolished the four prawns left to me after the girls had speared one to share between them, I could not stop myself from scooping up that delicious sauce and eating it spread on bread. I am not a big eater, and that one dish alone plus bread would have sufficed for my lunch. The girls reported that the octopus salad was bland and indifferent – certainly edible but not exciting, but they did very much like the sardines.

For mains, the girls chose the arroz de marisco (seafood risotto) and the secretos grelhados (grilled Iberico pork shoulder). I superfluously ordered the vegetais salteados (garlic mixed vegetables), not realising it was not a side dish. The seafood risotto was easily enough for two, and the girls went about demolishing it very happily and pronounced it to be superb. When cooked with sufficient liquid, the Portuguese strain of rice becomes creamy, and it came chock full of crustacea, shellfish and pieces of fish. My dish of garlic mixed vegetables was embarrassingly very large – the vegetables were delicious and excellent in variety, but I could hardly make a dent in them. The pork shoulder was very tasty but a bit on the chewy side; it came with good parsley mashed potatoes.

We had ordered far too much food for lunch for three, but no matter – the staff obligingly put the pork shoulder, mashed potatoes and garlic vegetables into leakproof plastic boxes for us to carry back to Hong Kong to have for dinner when we got home, too tired to cook, which we duly did.

For dessert, out of curiosity I not could resist ordering the serradura (sawdust icecream pudding), and the girls decided to share a pêra bêbeda (drunken pear poached in port wine). My serradura came as a nicely decorated and suitably modest serving (rather than the diabetes-inducing monstrosity you would be likely to get in the USA or Australia), so once the girls had each stolen their sample spoonful to try, I had no difficulty at all finishing the rest. It was delicately flavoured and excellent. My wife declared the dark purple Poached Pear to be VERY ALCOHOLIC!!! (well, the name did sort of warn her it might be), but I noticed that between the two of them, the girls had no difficulty in consuming all of it, and not too much difficulty walking afterwards.

I rounded out my excellent lunch with what was, without question, the best cup of coffee I have ever had in Macao, which means one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had anywhere. Macao puts Hong Kong to shame when it comes to coffee. Daughter stole a sip and agreed with my assessment, and she knows a thing or two about coffee. She and Wife had tea, which they confirmed was indeed nice tea, but unexceptional.

In all (remembering that we drank only a bottle of mineral water with lunch, not wine), the bill came to MOP$ 1130 (USD 140, €124, SEK 1290; the Macao pataca is pegged to the HK$ at the rate of HK$1 to MOP$1.03) – not cheap, but not overly pricey either, and after all this is definitely a “high end” restaurant. And we had ordered enough food for two meals for three people.

After lunch, my curiosity drew me to the other side of the small plaza, where I discovered the Albergue 1601 gift shop, a beautifully appointed small shop selling various canned Portuguese comestibles, special soaps made in Portugal, myriad bottles of mysterious substances for ladies to put on themselves and a confusing array of other things that I couldn’t very well take in – besides, we were travelling very light, so I wasn’t up for buying anything, although I wouldn’t have minded. Next door was a gallery, which was under renovation when we were there – I poked my head in far enough to see that it was a sizeable, uncluttered and very pleasant, well lit space, which I presume is for local artists to display their paintings and sculpture, before one of the tradesmen doing the renovating invited me to remove myself again in a not overly polite manner. Fair enough.

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We did all remember to visit the lavatorio before leaving, me struggling to lock and unlock the antique wooden door with its clunky wooden latch, which presented no such problems to my wife and daughter – and I’m the one who is supposed to be an engineer! Even the lavatorio was a pleasant enough experience, though – spotlessly clean and fragrant.

So then, there was nothing else for us to do but head off down the hill, wishing we had time to go poking down all of the fascinating looking side streets, and looking for somewhere we could catch a taxi to take us to the Outer Harbour in time to catch the TurboJet back to Hong Kong, a trip that takes almost exactly one hour pier to pier.

Would I go back to Albergue 1601 again? Yes, in a minute. I give it top marks for food, presentation, service, ambience, physical setting, and anything else a restaurant can get marks for. I am enthusiastic enough about it that I would post something on their Facebook page to praise the place, but I’m kind of trying to keep it a secret. I doubt I will succeed.

Which reminds me – their Facebook page contains their menu:

https://www.facebook.com/ALBERGUE1601/

April Pieces Of My Mind #1

object

Guess what this is for. Don’t answer if you’ve used one.

  • Idea for ordering the graves of an inhumation cemetery chronologically. Check all the skeletons’ genealogy with DNA and build chains of ancestry.
  • The incoming books department at the British Library is named “Content Development Implementation”. Word salad!
  • I’ve got the flu. It’s scary when the ibuprofen goes out and the shivering starts.
  • Almost everything archaeologists do — at universities, excavation units and museums — aims at least indirectly at research and public outreach. It’s a constant source of surprise and disappointment to me that a strong record in research and public outreach isn’t worth much on the archaeological job market. For a job in archaeology, don’t try to do any of the stuff that the whole field is for. Just acquire some basic clerical skills, shut up and keep your head down.
  • Some guy on a forum for fossil collectors writes “Did you know there is a living fossil called a Coelacanth. It’s the only kind of fish that hasn’t changed and it’s only 1 of 2 species to survive the Great Extinction.” YES WE KNOW EVEN PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT FOSSIL COLLECTORS LEARNED THAT IN PRESCHOOL GO AWAY NITWIT
  • Academia.edu has a completely broken algorithm to suggest related works that you might want to read. I once published a large Iron Age cemetery that had been excavated piecemeal for 150 years. Academia now suggests that some guy’s “translation of the article VIOLON from Diderot’s Encyclopédie” is quite similar to my book.
  • My dad called and congratulated me on my birthday. “Feels strange though when your kids are pushing 50!” I told him it just means he did well: if your kids survive to 50, are able to support themselves and have kids of their own, then you did an OK parenting job.
  • Feasible: capable of being done or carried out. From Lat. facere, to do. It does not mean “likely” unless you’re willing to accept very recent usages from the hoi polloi.
  • I used to hear and read about stomach pumping all the time as a kid around 1980. Never any more. Doctors I know explain that research has shown the procedure to do more harm than good in most cases.
  • Remember dedicated strap bags for laptops?
  • How often does everybody use their Bullworkers these days?

March Pieces Of My Mind #3

Open day: they’re extending the Henriksdal sewage plant.

  • Fittingly, Linköping City Library was the first to enter my new book about Östergötland’s Middle Ages into the national bibliography.
  • Woah… Like… Dude! The box is made from the same plastic as the tooth picks. It’s a bunch of tooth picks packaged in more tooth picks. Mind. Effing. Blown.
  • Movie: They Shall Not Grow Old. Documentary about English soldiers on the West Front in WW1. Period footage has been given correct speed and colour. Voice-over is entirely interviews with veterans. Grade: great!
  • A common argument among American gun fanciers is that they want guns because they don’t trust the government. From my perspective, a person who is so afraid of the government in a Western democracy that they feel a need to arm themselves is paranoid. And paranoia is a very strong argument against letting a person have a gun.
  • Last year I was confused about a large sum of money that arrived in my account near the end of a month despite me not having applied for it. It turned out to be a so-called “monthly salary”, an unfamiliar concept to me after decades of subsisting on small grants. Now I’m coming to terms with a new oddity: I have frugal habits and don’t spend much of this “salary”, so my account is accumulating “savings”!
  • Distributed over 150 copies of my castles book now, plus 70 to the publisher’s storage. Starting to feel safe that the book won’t go out of existence any time soon.
  • Waiting for the meeting of the local Labour Party chapter to begin, I heard someone in the next room at the rec centre play Kraftwerk’s “The Model” on the sax.
  • Our neighbour the Chinese restaurant owner has joined the ranks of the beautifully bearded and now looks like a baseball-capped Taoist sage.
  • Was asked at a job interview recently to describe myself with three words. Blurted “Cheerful, painstaking, efficient”.
  • Sooner or later all fashions are abandoned. I wonder which will go first: the tails or the tux? The tails are way older than the tux, but on the other hand they are held on to by a lot of extremely conservative institutions that have never taken up the tux. I’m betting that the tux will go first.
  • Swedish sex-ed web site in foreign languages was set up for young asylum seekers, is hugely popular in their countries of origin.

March Pieces Of My Mind #2

butik

My castles book makes its retail debut at Stockholm’s Medieval Museum.

  • I stick my foot into waste paper baskets in public restrooms to compact the paper towels and keep them from ending up on the floor. In many ways I am a Christ-like figure. And also a neat freak.
  • Brexit referendum: the first one was narrowly won by old folks. It’s been several years. Maybe enough of them have died off to tip the scales even if nobody has changed their mind.
  • I’ve signed on to speak about castles at the Medieval Week in Visby. Gonna be fun!
  • Movie: Aniara. Mars colonist transport goes off course into the void with no manoeuvrability. People on-board try to keep themselves entertained. Good visuals, feel-bad movie. Grade: OK.
  • Ringing door bells for canvassing. Probably lucky that the Szatanik family weren’t at home.
  • Somebody told me that a school in my area risked becoming “radicalised”. Turned out what they meant was that there is social pressure on Muslim pupils there to respect religious authority and for the girls to wear the hijab. In other words, the school is becoming as “radical” as every conservative Catholic school around the planet.
  • Customers deserve their privacy, so I’m not mentioning her name. But a writer whose work I enjoyed a lot as a kid just ordered my Medieval castles book.
  • Movie: Border / Gräns. Customs officer with unusual powers learns why she has always felt like a misfit in this contemporary take on Scandinavian folklore. Grade: great!
  • Magpies making their quiet lilting spring noises, poking around in the garden pruning-basket for dry nest material.
  • As all Magic-the-Gathering players know, uthden means “dickless”. And in the excellent film “Border”, there is an actual Uthden Troll!
  • Every time I get a book of mine from the printers I have this fear that my house will burn down before any of the books are distributed. Getting to the finish line but not actually crossing it. My latest book arrived at my doorstep the Friday before last. Since then I’ve distributed 98 copies and moved 72 to separate storage with the publishers. That’s 43% of the total number. Phew!
  • Catsitting. That is, when I had breakfast the cat sat on me, across my shoulders. Funny little thing. ❤

Norbert Jacques Honeymooning on the Yangtze River in 1912

Chinesischen Fluss

The first edition of Jacques’s Yangtze travelogue

I picked up a beautiful edition of an interesting book at the Alfa Antikvariat closure sale in early February. It’s the Swedish edition of Norbert Jacques’s 1921 travelogue Auf dem Chinesischen Fluss, “On the Chinese River”. The Swedish version is titled På långfärd och fest bland kineser, “Travelling far and feasting among the Chinese”. It has not been translated into English. Chinese, I don’t know.

Jacques (1880-1954) was a prolific writer, screenwriter and journalist from Luxemburg. He’s mainly known today for his creation Dr. Mabuse, the villain of three Fritz Lang movies. His legacy is tainted by propaganda that he wrote for the Nazis around age 65 toward the end of WW2, but he wasn’t sincerely invested in Nazism. In fact, his wife for 26 years was the Austrian Jewess Margerite Samuely, and they had two daughters. Jacques’ 1917 novel Piraths Insel features a love affair between a European man and a Pacific Islander woman. And as we shall see, Jacques appreciated Chinese women too. According to Volker Stotz, he managed to be “inconvenient” first to the Nazis, and then to the Anti-Nazi post-war world.

In 1911 the Chinese Empire came to an end in the Xinhai Revolution. The following year, Norbert and Margerite got married and went on a 16-month honeymoon to China, Peru and Australia. The book I’ve read details their trip up the Yangtze River from Shanghai to Chongqing in the autumn and winter of 1912-13. I don’t know why it took eight years for Jacques to publish his account. Of course WW1 must have played a part, but he did manage to publish eleven other books in the interim, including the first Dr. Mabuse novel!

Jacques’s attitude to the Chinese and their culture is complicated, both patronising and slightly awestruck, and certainly intensely curious. Occasionally he waxes lyrical over some vista or building, but he mainly sticks to describing interesting sites and social situations. Me and my wife laughed and cringed though at Jacques’s extremely exoticising and romantic 2½ page description of a young Chinese woman whom he stalked through the alleyways of an unnamed town on 7 December.

“The secret of the Oriental eyes conjured up the riddle of the Oriental Schoß to my imagination, and I followed the foreign one, bound by magic to this coral of the Sichuan town as if under a spell. … A single wish to see, to feel – and then suffer the pain of her insoluble ties to the land and people of the East – To be a melancholy, chaste knight, seeking the path to the Holy Land, pierced by manhood’s eternal never-satisfied longing. Body and soul crucified on the tree of racial separation.”

Jacques went through the Three Gorges, describing lots of places that are now under water. Identifying exactly where he stopped though is complicated. On the one hand it’s made easy by him travelling by river boat all the way to Chongqing. None of the places he visits is far from the river. But on the other hand the identification is made difficult by language. Jacques doesn’t speak or read much Chinese, and the locals don’t speak the national standard Beijing dialect, putonghua. So the names of villages and towns that he records are in local dialects, transcribed by ear by someone from Luxemburg, according to High German orthography. And in the past century, many of the names have changed. This would all have been impossible for me to understand without the aid of Google Earth and Wikipedia. And since there is no map in the Swedish edition I’m reading, I guess most readers at the time would simply have had no idea where in China the guy was.

For example, early in the book the honeymooners go up the “Jangtse” from “Hankau” (Hankou, a precinct in modern Wuhan) to “Jotschau” (modern Yueyang), where they take off up the major tributary “Siangkiang” (Xiangjiang) for an extended stay in “Tschangscha” (Changsha). Then they return downstream to Yuejang, but this time Jacques refers to it by the name of its harbour area “Tschenlingschi”, Chenglingji. There they turn left and continue up the Yangtze.

Here’s an interactive map of Jacques’s travels. Upstream from Fengxiang Gorge the stops become much more frequent. The book shifts from general description to diary form already at Yichang on 25 November, but only from 3 December, at Fengxiang, does Jacques acquire the habit of asking and recording what most places he visits are named. It’s clear that during final editing several years later in Germany, he can no longer identify small Chinese riverside towns whose names he may have heard only once and didn’t record.

I enjoyed the book, which offers a window into the astonishingly archaic China of 100 years ago. The Last Emperor has just been deposed and republican soldiers at city gates check to see that nobody who enters is still wearing the long braid of the former Manchu overlords. And in Changsha, perhaps Norbert Jacques bumps into a bookish teenager from the Fourth Normal School – a boy named Mao.

March Pieces Of My Mind #1

books delivered

Feel at home at the castle! My book is out!

  • Are you into sonnets? I like Lovecraft’s.
  • They call me the wood-wose / But my name is Ghân-buri-Ghân / Why they call me that I do not know / For my name is Ghân-buri-Ghân
  • Indicative of my current feelings about archaeology: I receive the programme for an interesting conference about the Migration Period and feel super left out because nobody asked me to speak. Then I realise that my last major contribution to that period was published nine years ago, and that since then I’ve written one book about the Bronze Age and one about the Late Middle Ages. Oh. OK.
  • Good news and a major victory for Swedish evidence-based medicine! The Anthroposophy cult has run the large alt-med Vidar Clinic near Södertälje for 33 years according to the spiritual visions of their founder Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Now they’ve lost the support of the public purse and are closing it down.
  • Spring’s definitely near. The dour 60ish hijabi lady who runs the pharmacy was positively flirtatious when I bought some deodorant from the MAN section.
  • This Stockholm restaurant is full of Chinese people, all ages, speaking Chinese!
  • Lovecraft’s protagonists often make horrific genealogical discoveries. I just found a second cousin of my dad’s whose pet name is “Ia”. Not quite ready to go insane or kill myself though.
  • I haven’t worn a wrist watch since my wife gave me a cell phone 16 years ago because we were expecting Jrette. But in recent years I’ve discovered a situation where I need one: yacht racing. So today I bought a cheap wrist watch in preparation for the coming season.
  • I leave the house to go vote canvassing. Jrette calls, “Good luck now, and don’t gatecrash any podcasts!”
  • Yay, the boat where I serve as deck hand during races at the local yacht club placed 10th out of 42 when last year was summed up.
  • East Asian alcohol making traditionally relies on Aspergillus mold to turn starch into sugar that the yeast can process. Because these folks grew no barley that could be made into malt for the purpose, as in the West. Malt is necessary for Western grain and potato spirits.
  • Antiquity and European Journal of Archaeology are currently both edited at the Dept of Archaeology in Durham.
  • Moesgård’s library is getting a free copy of my castles book before most Swedish uni libraries get theirs.

February Pieces Of My Mind #3

Blankaholm feb 2019

Blankaholm: hibernating yacht harbour down on its luck, post-industrial brownfields, woodpecker drum solo.

  • R.E. Howard: as my English teacher Graham once said, “It’s trash, but it’s good trash”.
  • Pointed out to a pupil that they had spelled a person’s name three different ways in an assignment. They replied that this was not a serious problem because most likely the computer had changed the spelling.
  • Projected delivery date for my Medieval castles book from the printers in Estonia: 8 March!
  • Funny when podcasters come across the word orgy in writings from before about 1970 and don’t understand that it means “wild drunken party”.
  • Tonight ancestral linkings with these slumbering gneiss hills stir in my soul and trouble me with the phantasmal eon-veiled shapes of monstrous dreams. (Or so Robert E. Howard tells me.)
  • It’s been 2½ years since I joined the Social Democrats. Tonight I’m at my first session as representative on the municipal board of education.
  • Alt-med company files complaint against Norwegian state media for their investigation of the company’s health claims. Complaints board checks the thing out and ends up commending the journalists for a solid job well done.
  • Teenage daughter informs me that I ski downhill in “the 70s style”. I’m turning into living history!
  • Influencer: a person who hasn’t taken their flu shot.
  • I worry about the insect population collapse. Hope some spring bumblebees will soon show up and reassure me.
Granfjällsstöten feb 2019

Granfjällsstöten