Holy Crap, Was That The Noughties!?

I have made peace with the passing of the 70s. I no longer feel that the 80s is the default present decade during which everything still happens. But let me tell you, Dear Reader, in my mind the 90s still lie mostly in the future. Windows 98 is a very new operating system. Nobody born in the 90s is able yet to walk or eat or use the potty unaided. I was really shocked when I realised that people born in the 80s were playing hockey and participating in porn.

And now there’s only one year left of the Noughties. To me it’s been a decade of fatherhood, of my second marriage, of PhD-hood, of site directorhood, of geocaching, and lately of blogging. And it’s gone by fast.

What of the Teens? I’m gonna be a father of teens. A son of septuagenarians. A home owner. Hopefully a university teacher. And the top of my head will finally go bald. I wonder what the music of the Teens will be like? The movies, the science fiction? I’m looking forward to it all.

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Burglary

A house I have been asked to check in on over the holiday season was burgled last night along with two neighbouring houses. I’ve been on the phone to the police and the window repairman, and then I’ve been showing them around. My acquaintances had a burglary alarm system with motion detectors — on the first and second floors. The burglars somehow scaled the wall to the third floor, broke open the window to a bedroom and went in. There they rifled through all cupboards, wardrobes and drawers, left a laptop computer and a TV untouched, opened a second window and nimbly jumped out. Looks like they spent maybe a quarter of an hour inside.

The police took this thing surprisingly seriously, cordoning off two rooms and calling in forensics. Apparently they have special funding to pursue home burglers. Anyway, I’m glad it wasn’t in my area.

I wonder what makes a person a professional burglar. So do the criminologists, I guess.

Aard’s Second Blogiversary

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Today marks Aard‘s second anniversary. I’m still having fun and hope you are too! Looking at October and November, the blog had about 950 unique readers daily and was ranked #24 out of 74 blogs on Sb. I recently updated the Best of Aard page for those of you who want to check out some past goodies.

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For much of these two years I have bragged in the left-hand side-bar that Aard had the highest Technorati rank among the net’s archaeology blogs. This is no longer so, and the main reason is that I have stopped hosting blog carnivals. Technorati ranks a blog according to the number and quality of other blogs that have linked to it recently. When you host a carnival you can ask the participants to link to it, which boosts your Technorati ranking. But I got tired of carnival admin. The Technorati ranking says nothing directly about daily traffic, which continues to rise at a healthy clip.

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As for life at Casa Rundkvist, we’re still not on-line which is really a drag. This is the reason that posting here has been erratic lately and I have been absent from the comments sections of my favourite blogs. We received an ADSL modem today, but the people who wiggle the lines in the phone station have been off on holidays and so the DSL light on the modem stubbornly refuses to light up. Blogging from my mom’s study, I can offer three pix of our surroundings, including the view from our kitchen window and the entrance to our yard.

Good New Vampire Movie

John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 debut novel LÃ¥t den rätte komma in came as a pleasant surprise. From a stand-up comedian of respectable but unremarkable standing, suddenly we had this excellent vampire novel set in a staid Stockholm suburb in 1982 — a time and a place I personally know quite well.

The novel is about adolescent friendship set against a thematic backdrop of forbidden thirst: the young vampire Eli craves blood, his paedophile handyman lusts for children, and the worn drunks upon whom they prey convene around their thirst for alcohol — and friendship. There are a few scenes of horror-flick grotesquerie (when were you last attacked by a brain-dead paedophile vampire zombie, Dear Reader?), but all in all it is a novel of great finesse.

Of this fine book has now come a similary fine film, directed by Thomas Alfredsson using a script by Lindqvist himself. The photography is top tier, unabashedly arty, the pacing slow, the set design understated but solidly period. The weight of the film rests squarely on the shoulders of two fine young actors, though I was confused to find that one of them has had her lines dubbed by a third actor. This is a vampire movie in the style of Kay Pollak, gory and beautiful and sad, another step in the inexorable mainstreaming and artification of genre culture. Look for it at your art house, not at a gorefest convention.

Those into Swedish pop music will be intrigued to hear a previously unknown Gyllene Tider song of unmistakable early 80s vintage played in the film. As I understand things, what we are actually hearing is a new track recorded by Per Gessle (of Roxette fame) in pitch-perfect imitation of his old band!

Merry Christmas

i-6cfaae37469784f6b42c230470892c05-02-julgran-M.jpgMerry Christmas, Dear Reader! I am in a good mood, checking my mail while most of the celebrants at my dad’s house watch the annual Disney special, just having dropped my kids off for dinner at my mom’s place where my son’s mom will join them. This, you understand, can only be Scandinavia, where:

  1. Christmas Eve is a big thing and Christmas Day nothing,
  2. People are willing to watch the same Donald Duck show every year,
  3. Everybody’s a divorcee.

I hope you also have a good stressless Christmas in enjoyable company!

Archaeology Magazine Jan/Feb

i-9ce3cc2796de8f2ae6eef7a28878cf22-arch-mag-jan-feb.jpgBlogging’s been low what with many boxes to unpack and no broadband connection. But things are getting into shape at home. Hope I find the electric drill tonight so I can get some of the paintings up off the floor.

Archaeology Magazine is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America and so tends to concentrate on areas of the world where US archaeologists work. I recently got a complimentary subscription and received the Jan/Feb issue, whose cover story is a richly illustrated feature piece about Maya beauty ideals (abstract available on-line). My dentist was fascinated to see the filed teeth inlaid with jade disclets. Good stuff!

As I’ve said before, archaeology really isn’t one discipline like chemistry or astronomy, but a quilt of regional specialities whose practicioners share many methods but needn’t pay any attention to each others’ work. So though I read this magazine issue with keen general interest, there’s hardly anything in it that’s useful to me as a professional. One of the featured stories is about the underwater rubble of a collapsed High Medieval English town that fell prey to shore erosion (abstract available on-line), but otherwise there is very little about Northern Europe. Still, to gauge the geographical scope of the mag, I’ll have to look at more than a single issue. (Lovecraftians may note that the town’s name was Dunwich.)

The most gripping piece (full text available on-line) covers the forensic archaeology of a mass grave full of women and children murdered in 1988 during Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds:

The archaeologist testified for four hours on behalf of the entire team. … he presented the 17 selected victims from Muthanna, one by one. He showed photos of each skeleton in the grave, the individual’s gunshot wounds, and the personal effects found with the body. These ranged from a young child’s prayer beads and little red shoes to a woman’s spoon for measuring medicine or powdered milk. Finally, Trimble exhibited photos of a mannequin wearing each victim’s attire. As he spoke, he tried to maintain as much eye contact as he could with the judges. Partway through his presentation, however, he noticed one judge dabbing his eye. Two others soon followed suit. At first Trimble was puzzled, thinking something was wrong. Then he realised what was happening. “My God,” he thought, “they are all crying”.

I look forward to the next issue of this top-notch pop-sci mag.

[More blog entries about ; .]

Scavenging Furniture

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Very timely, a friend told me that his ex-employer is getting rid of furniture. We have enough for about 90 sqm, which leaves us with 24 sqm to furnish in the new house. So, I took the opportunity to grab a 1940s mahogany laminate table with six matching chairs and a 1990s Gärsnäs solid-birch sofa.

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High-Entropy Home Decoration

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Here are two snaps of my new home, taken just after breakfast today (the first bread I’ve baked in the house!). Both are taken toward the north: one from the kitchen door toward the dining room, the other standing just west of the dining room and looking down the length of the living room.

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Note:

  • Many Swedes hang a star-shaped lamp in their windows during December. It harks back to the star of Bethlehem but is really just a feeble attempt to alleviate seasonal affective disorder (cf. our celebration of St. Lucy).
  • The semi-assembled book case ended up like that because I haven’t found the steel rod thingies that support the shelves. They’re probably in one of the kids’ boxes since the book case was in the nursery before the move.
  • As can be seen faintly through the dining room window, the building’s exterior is pale grey calcium silicate brick. This funny material was en vogue for a brief period around 1970 and is for reasons unknown to me called mexitegel, “Mexican brick”, though it was made in Nericia, Sweden. It’s not considered good taste, but it’s very robust, taking on a slight rusty tinge with time. I’m not sure if that’s because iron leaches out of the brick or if red algae form a biofilm on it.

In other news, today is my third anniversary as a blogger. In October of 2005 my lovely journalist wife started a pseudonymous blog. I followed suit in December, my first entry discussing rape statistics because that’s what said wife was reporting on at the time. Ever since, I have blogged about once a day, and it’s one of my main hobbies.

New Place

I’m typing this on my smartphone while digesting an evening meal of ramen noodles, egg and Chinese Sauerkraut from the tin. I’m in our new house. It’s a mess, boxes everywhere. My wife is having a foot bath. Juniorette is playing with legos in her room. Both are singing in Mandarin.

Yesterday a crew of about fifteen friends & family moved our stuff here — many thanks guys! I am very proud to have so many good people in my life whom I can rely on.

Today my wife and I skipped work and spent the day getting things into order. I’ve done some washing and assembled two book cases and a high cupboard, so I guess a lot of the book boxes may get done quickly now.

Something that’s really struck me about our new place is the view. You can see the sky from every window and from some even a far horizon. Orion waved goodnight to me last night as I entered our main door, and this morning the Nacka radio masts’ pulsing lights greeted me when I got up in the morning darkness. Driving here is still an unfamiliar experience: all these low private houses with winter lamps in the windows, and at the end of the road one that’s ours.

Our move from a council tenement to an area of small houses nearby lowers the former area’s diversity in the sense that it just lost two middle-class people with desk jobs. As for ethnicity, our new area just got a little more integrated in the sense that it now has a few more non-Europid faces.

I feel a strange urge to buy a large pottery garden ornament. Not a gnome, more like an egg or sphere. Though my extra mom the interior designer tells me they have gone out of style.