October Pieces Of My Mind

  • From Current Archaeology #284: “The ‘Great Hall’ was entirely excavated in 2012, and represents one of the largest structures of its type”. Cf. “Dr. Rundkvist belongs to one of the handsomest archaeologists in his generation.”
  • The reason that there are no Neanderthal sites in Sweden is apparently that the Romans never invaded the area.
  • Guy two seats from me on plane was clearly very drunk and very afraid of flying. Complained loudly and moronically to his wife for entire hour-long flight. Sounded like mentally retarded 9-y-o. A character failing of mine is that when confronted with obnoxiously stupid people, I want them summarily executed.
  • I explained over the phone to my wife how to cook pot roast. She tried it and got an excellent result. She then informed me that since pot roast turned out to be so easy, I have now entirely lost my exotic Swedish allure and mystique.
  • I finally threw away the package of blank overhead transparencies that I brought with me from my parents’ house when I moved to my student dormitory in 1990.
  • The Swedish word for turkey means “cold cone”. Coincidence? Yeah, right.
  • Melvyn Bragg’s weekly talk show with scholars has of late covered Blaise Pascal, the Mamluk Period in Medieval Egypt, exoplanets and the Book of Common Prayer. My kinda guy!
  • I just asked myself to review a new book about Medieval gaming paraphernalia in Fornvännen. I said yes.
  • Sending the current issue of Fornvännen to a US company that keeps a prestigious on-line bibliography database. For one vertiginous second I was about to write, not “Publication Processing” on the envelope, but “Pubic Processing”.
  • The Starlight Mints were one of my favourite 00s bands, a band of my 30s. Seems they disbanded after their fourth album in 2009.
  • Listening to music by people on drugs in order not to have to take any drugs. Spacemen 3, ”Take Me For A Ride”. Crank it up loud!
  • “There’s a choice we’re making / We’re shaving our own legs / It’s true we’ll make a brighter day / Just you and me”
  • My son ruled the debating in English contest! So proud of my kid!
  • Watched a clip of my son on a kids’ TV show when he was 11. Didn’t recognise his voice. They change so gradually.
  • The Swedish word for court of law means “Chair of Judgement”.
  • I just revised an abstract for an old buddy who is writing about the Italian opera company who introduced Verdi to Sweden in 1848. Never a dull moment!
  • My wife gave off a throaty groan through gritted teeth at the same time as a wet, tearing noise was heard. I asked her if she was giving birth. She replied that no, she was just trying to peel a pomelo.
  • I really enjoyed listening to Foaad and Jrette’s buddy’s dad the Turkmen businessman discussing the merits of fresh pistachios in Persian the other night.
  • I really dislike the song “The Rose” by Bette Midler. Pompous nonsensical lyrics and over-earnest vibrato-drenched delivery.
  • Painful to see old folks suffer end-of-life pain and indignity on a level that we would never put our pets through. And of course there’s no justice to it. My friend, a lovely decent man, is intellectually fully able to appreciate that he can no longer walk, speak or keep from drooling. While the abusive dad of another friend read the paper one afternoon, took a nap in his easy chair and just never woke up.
  • Another annoying language error: “believing in atheism”. I’m pretty sure my Christian friends all believe in it.
  • Suddenly remembered Eurythmics’ album “Touch”. That’s one excellent record with some very druggy / ecstatic moments.
  • I’m Joakim Goldhahn’s supporting teacher on this Bronze Age course. He gives the lectures and I lead the seminars. As I explain it to the students, Joakim is the ruthless Dr. Frankenstein, I am the misshapen and half-crazed Igor, and the Bronze Age is the monster we bring to life. (Eric Setterberg asked if the students are the villagers with torches and pitchforks.)
  • It struck me that “There’s no escaping the jaws of the alien inside” is quite an astute and sensible observation.
  • Umeå, where I work this semester, has Sweden’s northernmost archaeology department (N 63°50′). But the departments in Oulu (N 65°0′) and Tromsø (N 69°41′) are even farther north. Trondheim (N 63°26′) is not quite as far north as Umeå.
  • Junior hangs out a lot on Reddit. He reports, world-wearily, that there are three things that all denizens of this web site like: cannabis, guns and Dyson Airblade hand dryers.
  • Facebook reminded me of four people’s birthdays. I congratulated three of them and unfriended the fourth because I had no idea who that person was.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

16 thoughts on “October Pieces Of My Mind”

  1. When challenged to explain what the weekly show In Our Time is about, Bragg says “the history of ideas”. Which turns out to mean absolutely anything. In theory the broadcasts are as restricted to UK citizens as television is, but in practice anyone can download them.

    “Court of law” means enclosed yard of things laid down.


  2. Congratulations for joining the Uberwald clan of Igors!

    The name Dyson is one of the few medieval names that can be traced back to its origin (a woman named Dy). As simple as that.
    Dyson -in this context- is an English engineer/entrepreneur. He even provides a Dyson award. No, he is not the Dyson with the Dyson spheres, futurology and a career in designing nuclear-powered spaceships.
    “Obnoxiously stupid people” -Ark B! (Douglas Adams reference)


  3. Birger, my elderly doctor told me that the way to a long and healthy life is to keep working, but just ease off on the number of hours you work.

    I am doing fine on the first objective, but going in the wrong direction on the second. Unfortunately, one of my friends at work unwittingly gave me a regrettable reputation – he emailed some work to me at home late at night, and by the time he returned to the office the next morning, it was sitting waiting for him, done. He was so pleased he praised me all round the office.

    So the price I am paying for one night of sleepless hyperactivity is to be labeled the man who can work all day and all night, and who never needs to sleep.

    Please ask the Norwegians if there is a pill I can take for it.

    I am all for older people continuing to work as long as possible, particularly in useful professions who contribute directly to the public good, but killing us in the process seems a little counter-productive – or maybe that’s part of the strategy!


  4. “So the price I am paying for one night of sleepless hyperactivity is to be labeled the man who can work all day and all night, and who never needs to sleep”

    -It could be worse -you could be labelled the man who knows all about the particular computer system in use at your workplace, suddenly all your co-workers will be transformed into a school of remoras…
    For retaining a good memory, a lot of articles in peer-reviewed journals have praised flavonids (to be found in blueberries and many fruits).
    Parkinson patients can get electric implants these days who reduce the tremors. For worn-out cartilage in the joints there is not (yet) much that can be done. As my relatives grow older I have been forced to learn a lot about the many things that can befall us.
    Incidentally this disproves the funamentalist thesis of “intelligent design”. Our bodies were designed by Samsung, or worse, evolution. There is no modular system for inserting spares nor is the brain prion-resistent nor is there any port for “uploading” the memory when the hardware goes senescent.
    — — — — — — —
    “Starlight Mints”? No way starlight is in mint condition. It is years old when it arrives!


  5. A character failing of mine is that when confronted with obnoxiously stupid people, I want them summarily executed.

    That makes two of us. This being the US, it’s just as well that I don’t act on that desire, or I’d be knee deep in blood.

    I don’t know about Sweden or the EU, but in the US the airline (or other common carrier, if the route crosses a state line) is legally allowed to not let an intoxicated passenger on board. Some people don’t just get obnoxious when they are drunk.


  6. If the drunk passengers start puking, tack on a parachute and “whoosh goes the weasel” 🙂

    OT but there is a lot of interesting information coming in right now about the data treasure trove left by the Kepler telescope. Terrestrial* planets at the right stellar distance expected at ca. 22 per cent of sun-like stars.
    *But some of them may be Jupiters that lost their hydrogen envelope.


  7. OT: “Norwegian Vikings purchased silk from Persia” http://phys.org/news/2013-11-norwegian-vikings-silk-persia.html#nRlv
    — — — — — — —
    “We’re shaving our own legs” -an odd thing to do, especially in cold weather. Are blue frozen legs considered that attractive?
    “I am attractive because I can afford leg transplants!” might be a signal of being an attractive spouse, but there must be an easier way of finding mates.


  8. Having walked all over the Forbidden City with my wife in 1982, amazingly when it was completely deserted and spotlessly clean (the Emperor having moved out some time previously, and hordes of domestic tourists not yet having moved in)(definitely not now the case, according to my daughter, who was most disapproving of the discarded chewing gum and other touristic litter), I have nothing but admiration for the workers who hauled those stones. There are a lot of them.


  9. John, I wonder if the workers who died are buried inside the structure, the way they buried the forced labour who built emperor Shih Huang Di’s Great Wall.


  10. “We’re shaving our own legs” -an odd thing to do, especially in cold weather.

    That’s a mondegreen. The original version reads, “We’re saving our own lives”.

    I would think that in a climate like Sweden’s, you would want to wear pants, or at least long underwear.


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