Moving House

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After a bit more than seven and a half years, we’re leaving our apartment on Burbot Street and moving to a 114 sqm house on Shroud Street. Fisksätra’s four main housing areas have street names themed for fish, fishing gear, boat details and sea birds respectively. I’ve lived on Carp Bream Street and Grayling Street before. Spent most of my young manhood in those three apartments. And now Junior deserves a room of his own and my wife wants a corner for her easel and a few flower beds. Me, I want… I don’t actually want anything I haven’t already got (except a uni job). But I look forward to the novelty of unfamiliar surroundings. And some greenery outside the window. And a bird feeder!

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Swedish Gaming Legend Blogs

The Swedish language has produced three truly great fantasists. Two are internationally reknowned: Astrid Lindgren (with Pippi Longstocking) and Tove Jansson (with Moomin). The third, Erik Granström, is almost exclusively known among Swedish gaming nerds like myself. From 1987 to 1994 he published a series of wildly innovative adventure and background books for the Swedish role-playing game Drakar och Demoner. Granström’s material soared miles above the fare us ex-kobolds were used to, particularly the 1988 travelogue/novella that introduced us to the islands of Trakoria. I game-mastered the whole suite of adventures and we had a great time.

In 2004, Granström published a lovely meaty novel based on his gaming work, Svavelvinter, “Sulphur Winter” (somebody, get it published in a big language!). A sequel is currently in the works, and Granström is feeling the need to toss out some ideas to see who salutes. So with shaking hands, this fanboy types the magic words: Erik Granström is blogging.

Update same day: The novel is being translated into French. Allons, enfants!

British Museum Launches On-Line Catalogue

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Gold disc brooch from King’s Field, early 7th century. This cloisonné ornament has lost all the garnets that originally filled its gold-walled cells. BM 1028.a.’70.

From my buddy Barry Ager at the British Museum comes big news: the museum has launched a state-of-the-art on-line catalogue. Search here.

In Stockholm, being aye-tee savvy Scandies, we have of course had this sort of thing for years and years already at the Museum of National Antiquities. Search here. But admittedly our collections don’t quite have the BM’s scope.

No More Pocket Calendar

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Two weeks ago I left my pocket calendar on my desk at the Academy of Letters where I only work one day a week. This was inconvenient as I rely entirely on the calendar to remember what I’m supposed to do apart from my weekly routine. When I finally got my hands on it again last Thursday, it calmly informed me that I was due to give a talk that same evening.

The mishap made me decide to switch to an on-line calendar instead. I spend hours every day using on-line computers, and my smartphone allows me to call the site up when I’m moving about. So, though the new year is approaching, I’m discontinuing a habit I’ve had for about a quarter of a century. No 2009 pocket calendar for me!

This means I won’t have to copy people’s birthdays from one calendar to another at the end of the year. It also means I will have a very hazy idea of what days are Swedish holidays. To add Swedish holidays, search for “Svenska helgdagar 2008 – 2012” among the public calendars!

Dear Reader, do you really need a paper-based calendar?

Where Am I Supposed To Publish?

Another career whine.

Applying for academic jobs that are invariably given to people who are much older than me, I’ve come across a frustrating conundrum.

In Scandyland, it takes about seven months from the application deadline to decide who gets an academic job. This is because the selection process is guided by two or three external referees. The department doesn’t get to choose the person they want, but they can pretty much choose the referees, and so influence whether they’ll be likely to get e.g. an empiricist or a theoretician.

Now, one of the most important assets an academic can display to the referees is a large number of publications in respected journals. That I have. Particularly, I’ve published a lot in Fornvännen, an ERIH grade B quarterly with an unbroken run since 1906. I’m the journal’s managing editor.

The frustrating thing is that several of the referees I’ve had the misfortune to send stuff to have commented along the lines that “Rundkvist has published a lot of research, but much of it is in Fornvännen which he edits and so it doesn’t carry much evidential weight”. So instead of me having a lot of publications plus a high-profile editorship among my qualifications, one tends to somehow cancel the other out in the eyes of the referees.

I’m not sure whom they’re insulting here. Either they’re saying that Fornvännen is a crap journal, an assessment that the European Science Foundation does not share. Or they ‘re saying that Fornvännen is indeed a good journal, but that I’ve been slipping in contributions that are way below its standards. This second reading would actually also tend to hit the journal, since journals shouldn’t have that kind of loopholes in their content standards.

The truth is that my stuff has to pass the same kind of quality control as everything else in this internationally respected journal. I’d be eager to publish in it even if I weren’t one of its editors. It’s a quarterly with a large circulation and a regular publication schedule. Scandy archaeology only has eleven journals at ERIH grade A-B, most of them are annuals, several are faltering and most have neither a book reviews section nor a debate section. Really, where am I supposed to publish to get kudos?

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New Foil Figure Die From Zealand

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Working with the Gothenburg Historical Society’s metal detector group at Sättuna near Linköping in the spring of 2007, I was fortunate enough to be on site when Niklas Krantz found the thirteenth gold foil figure die known to scholarship. These dies were used in the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries to make tiny images of gods or rulers out of gold foil. The beauty of the dies is that the figures themselves are too small and light to trigger a most metal detectors. Not so the dies. And finding one of them is more interesting than finding a foil figure, since the die documents a site where the figures were actually made. These are generally interpreted as the seats of petty kings.

The other day, Danish school teacher and metal detectorist Jannick Nielsen found yet another foil figure die! Unless I’m poorly informed, his find is number 14. It surfaced on western Zealand, a large island where at least two dies have been found previously. Jannick’s die belongs to the common type which depicts an embracing couple. Norwegian historian of religion Gro Steinsland has published an influential interpretation where this motif is taken to represent the marriage between an Aesir god and a giantess, being the mythical ancestors of the era’s royal lines as documented in extant genealogies.

Thanks to Jannick for permission to publish his photograph. For more Danish detectorist goodness, see www.detekt.dk.

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My Friend’s Obit Notice

i-8811c9edaa04f7105ce8c7b25629e227-omega.jpgMy friend of twenty years, retired broadcaster Lars Erik Åström, died the other day of cancer at age 69. Too soon by far: he has young grandchildren and he was a very good man without whom the world is worse. MaðR harða goðr. I will think of him every time I read of caves and flottholmar, floating islands.

Lars Erik’s family posted a lovely secular obit notice headed by a big omega, symbol of caves and the final letter of the Greek alphabet. I translate:

With warmth we remember your wisdom, your high-precision sense of humour and your sonorous radio voice. We had such a good time and got to experience so many exciting things!

The sardine wants the can to open
Towards the sea

W. Aspenström

Djurhamn Sword Artwork

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Here’s something neat. Annika and Bengtowe Angare are photographers and digital retouch artists (check out their site and hover your cursor over each picture!). They’ve photographed the early-16th century sword I found at Djurhamn in 2007 and stuck it point first into the find spot on a vintage map of Djurö!

This post is timely as I have a short talk scheduled for tonight about my work at Djurhamn. Wish me luck!

Thanks to Annika & Bengtowe for permission to blog publish their © image.

Inventive Gay Dolphins

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Kai reports from an on-going exhibition at the Stockholm Museum of Natural History on homosexuality among non-humans. It is based on Bruce Bagemihl‘s research.

I am impressed by the gay dolphins’ invention of nasal intercourse. To pull that off, one human would have to be hugely endowed in the nose department and the other very petite indeed elsewhere. I wonder what happens if you sneeze?

In the title of his entry, Kai reminds us of the Flintstones, who of course had a gay old time. Now, the bit that I’ve been wondering about is “they go down in history”. On whom?

In other news, I came up with a silly pun (again): among the least popular sexual kinks is annual sex.

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