June Pieces Of My Mind #1

Poppies along our fence
  • My wife receives her second university degree today. In addition to her 15 years in journalism, she is now also a trained psychologist. Go YuSie!!!
  • I assume 45’s lawyers cleared the covfefe tweet?
  • Small but very satisfying discovery. In 1902 a Medieval coin is found at Skällvik Castle. The finder makes a detailed drawing of the coin and sends coin & drawing to the authorities, who promptly lose track of the coin. Gone. In 1954 a list is drawn up of twelve Medieval coins found at nearby Stegeborg Castle. In 1983 the list is published — and suddenly there are thirteen coins on it. And the additional coin has a completely unexpected date, for Stegeborg, which was ruinous at the time. And the coin looks identical to the one that went missing in 1902…
  • Chinese prime minister offers voice of reason on climate, unlike POTUS. Yay, Republicans. Go you. /-:
  • Jrette comes home from first pop gig without parents. Describes ace female guitarist+bassist.
  • Whew, a final close call. The Johan & Jakob Söderberg Foundation comes through and saves my bacon for the last seven months that I plan to subsist on grants. Ample time to finish my castles book. Ask for me a year from now, and you shall most likely find me a contract archaeology man.
  • 18th anniversary with YuSie! And tea, and sunshine!
  • The HPV vaccine is already putting a big dent in the cancer statistics! And remember: here’s something young men can do to improve the health of future grandmothers. And to keep their penises wart-free.
  • In Jrette’s opinion, I’m pretty frenetic.
  • Almost bought Turkish bulgur. Then I remembered Erdogan and his rural power base. “Too bad, politically deluded durum wheat farmers”, said I, and bought wheat from Västergötland instead.
  • I like novellas, 120-150 pp. Very few multihundredpage novels are worth the time.
  • Cousin E beat me big at Patchwork again. Seems that with the summer approaching, the threat of having to sleep in the yard is no longer very effective.
  • I think it’s pretty neat that the designer of a game is often not a particularly strong player of that game. Inventing something with emergent properties that others discover.
  • The Wow Signal: it was a comet that hadn’t been discovered at the time.
  • “Squamous” means “scaly”.
  • “Rugose” means “has a folded/wrinkled surface” and is cognate with “corrugated”.
  • “Gibbous” describes the moon when it’s between half and full, and descends from the Latin word for hump.
  • Sorry to see the Tories get ahead of Labour in the UK elections. Right now it’s 47 to 40%. Some consolation though that UKIP has been wiped out entirely.
  • Someone plz explain how the UK election result represents any diminished Tory ability to get stuff through Parliament! *confused*
  • Haha, now I get it. Brits are super confused to have what us Swedes call “a normal coalition government”.
  • Before coming into a song, a bass player will often do this little slide along a string, “bwoing”, to announce her presence. What’s that called?
  • Here’s a piece of good news. During the past three summers’ fieldwork at Medieval castles, we dry-screened the dirt through 4 mm mesh. We also collected soil samples, a selection of which palaeobotanist Jennie Andersson has checked for carbonised plant remains. Jennie also found lots of tiny bones in the soil samples. Now osteologist Lena Nilsson has analysed the bones that Jennie found. And good news, as I said: no new animal species. If we had wet-screened the dirt through sub-4-mm mesh, we would certainly have found a greater number of bone fragments. But it would have been enormously costly in terms of money and labour. And it seems likely that we would not have identified additional animal species.
  • I found my hair! It’s currently on my chest, below my navel and in an amazing profusion on the small of my back. Really been wondering where it had gone to.
  • Listening attentively to the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” for the first time. What a strange & interesting production! It’s so dense and distant, kind of indistinct with no air in it. Like you’re underwater. Or nodding off on heroin, I imagine.

Author: Martin R

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

56 thoughts on “June Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. The book is also very good. Birger turned me onto Mike Carey, originally by means of his urban fantasy series about the flute-playing exorcist Felix Castor. The understated humour that you mention, John, is one of the reasons that I like Carey so much.


    There’s an independent sequel to Girl/Gifts, The Boy On The Bridge, about which I hear good things.


  2. Martin, your house is not that much bigger than the flat where we live in Hong Kong – perfectly adequate for three adults, all of whom spend a lot of time outside of the home (normal HK lifestyle). Cooling it adequately in summer is not difficult or unaffordable, using individually mounted air-conditioners in separate rooms. Heating in winter is a problem – no central heating.

    When we went back to Australia to live in July 2009, the house I bought was a monstrosity – 270 sqm, not counting the two car lock-up garage, but it was just average for modern Australian houses. It had 4 ridiculously oversized bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, which could all be closed off, but also a ‘formal’ living room (which we used to house my daughter’s piano – she was the only one who ever used the room, when she was playing the piano), a ‘family’ room (where my wife and daughter spent their time huddled over a large gas heater in winter), dining area, large kitchen, ‘games’ room (which I used as my home gym and to watch Australian football on TV to keep my disabled nephew entertained whenever he came to visit), an open alcove which I screened off with a portable Chinese screen to use as a study, and a laundry – and all of that grossly under-utilised ‘living space’ was open plan and interconnected, so keeping it adequately heated or cooled was simply impossible. We had central evaporative air conditioning, which functioned perfectly well when the outside maximum shade temperature was around 33 to 35 Celsius (in which case we didn’t need the air conditioning anyway), but was totally unable to cope when the maximum temperature climbed to 42 Celsius, which it did regularly in summer for days on end – so on those days we just languished in almost unbearable heat.

    The house was clearly excessive for the three of us, ridiculously so, but I bought it because the owners were in a hurry to sell it (they needed the money very quickly to help pay for an even bigger house they had built in the next street – in the meantime, they were paying off two large mortgages at once, which was rapidly sending them bankrupt), so I squeezed them unmercifully and got it for a bargain price. When I sold it again, when we left at the end of 2010, I was able to sell it for a profit, despite the real estate market having dropped in the interim. Even I have to get lucky occasionally.

    People might classify such a house as ‘luxurious’, but living in it was a nightmare and anything but luxurious, most of the vast open and interconnected ‘living space’ was unusable and impossible to make comfortable, and I would never buy a house like that again.

    But the thing is, that is what house buyers in Australia are looking for. If you built a much smaller, more practical and more comfortable house, and then tried to sell it, no one would want it.


  3. The only problem we’ve had with our house’s size and layout is that two of three bedrooms are near the kitchen and meal area, which is not great when someone is trying to have a nap or when teenagers want to eat in the middle of the night.

    On the other hand, I do the vacuuming, so I certainly don’t wan’t more floor space.


  4. Yeah, that was the other thing – try keeping 270 sqm of floor clean, let alone dusting all of the furniture you need to fill it, plus all of the other housework. While my wife was constantly struggling womanfully with that, I was outside struggling manfully (I mean, I really did work very hard at it) but largely in vain to make a visible and useful difference to the large garden – that’s when I wasn’t spending 4-6 hours every day driving my daughter to and from university because it was totally impractical for her to try to commute by public transport.

    The ‘Australian dream’. No thanks – town planning (or total lack of) madness.


  5. Phillip@42 – No, no pun intended. In Australia, a farm ‘field’ is almost always called a ‘paddock’. This is different from usage of the word paddock in England and America. No idea why, but Wikipedia tells me that this word usage in Australia dates back to at least 1807.

    If you talked to an Australian farmer about his ‘fields’ he would probably look at you strangely while he tried to figure out what you were talking about.

    Interesting. Note that Magnetic Fields by Jean-Michel Jarre is a pun in French, but not in English (chapms/chants—same pronunciation)


  6. The ‘Australian dream’. No thanks – town planning (or total lack of) madness.

    American suburbia have many of the same issues. To the extent that things are planned in many places, they are planned by developers who don’t expect to actually live in the neighborhoods they are building. You often (even in my town, but luckily not my specific neighborhood) see subdivisions that have only a single access road, or in a minor variant, two access points off the same main road. Which means you must use said main road to go anywhere outside your neighborhood. If your goal is to maximize traffic congestion, this is one of the ways it’s done. Contrast with well-designed cities where you have a network that can distribute the load, so that if an accident or fallen tree limb blocks the main road there is a nearby alternate route you can use.

    There is at least one example in the US of houses with adjacent back gardens where the drive between the two is 11 km. That is an extreme case, but the saying, “You can’t get there from here,” is becoming true of much of the suburban US, not just rural New England where the saying originated.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: