August Pieces Of My Mind #2

Guldgubbar, gold foil figures from the Vendel Period 540-790, are tiny and unbelievably detailed. They typically weigh less than 1/20 of a gram.
  • When somebody says foreigners are crap I often think “Really? Then what’s so great about you?” And then I think “Aha, yeah, no, I see”.
  • The late Ed Brayton was one of the original bloggers at in 2006. Always kind to fellow science fans and skeptics, never lukewarm, often very funny. He will be missed, as will his blog Dispatches From The Culture Wars.
  • Reading Vonnegut for the first time, Cat’s Cradle. Awesome!
  • The different chocolates in a box can’t have exactly the same production cost. What if the really good ones are less expensive than the nasty ones? And you could actually have a cheaper box containing only the best ones?
  • Why does Kraven the Hunter have that name? Means “Unwilling to fight; lacking even the rudiments of courage; extremely cowardly.”
  • Woke to have a pee at 04:30, couldn’t get back to sleep because I started thinking about taking another soil sample.
  • Unbelievable that passion fruit and carambole are the result of selective breeding. They’re crap now. Must have been hopeless to start with!
  • When I taught high school Swedish last year I did a lesson on the history of the language where we modernised the 16th century Bible translation’s opening of the Nativity narrative from the Gospel of Luke. I chose this as a possibly familiar passage from a text that was easily available. When we were done I asked the students to read their version out loud, and they did, happily. There was just this one boy who refused. Only afterwards did I realise that he probably did so on religious grounds, coming from a Muslim family. The text had a religious meaning to him that nobody else in the room felt.
  • Reading Alistair MacLean for the first time, Eagles. (Cue shocked gasps.) Incredibly good. I had no idea he was so funny in addition to the thriller aspect!
  • Axel Löfving and Margrethe Watt have begun to identify stamp identities and stylistic parallels for the Aska gold foil figures. The first secure stamp identity is a very, very long way to travel. Two foil figures made with the same die and found at different sites.
  • Hear me talk about my recent Vendel Period excavations in Swedish!
  • Last night’s talk was my 196th since I started counting in 1995. That averages out to about eight talks a year for a quarter century. I’m available for talks #197, 198, 199, 200 etc!
  • I’ve got a small box on my desk. Labels and tape show that first Fryxgames used it to send something to my buddy Johan. Then he used it to send scifi paperbacks from the Fantikvariat to me. Now I am using it to send Vendel Period small finds to a conservator in Kalmar.
  • The pizza & kebab place at the gas station has added a long Thai menu as well. The staff today was a 50ish Middle Eastern man with an accent, a quiet 60ish Thai lady and a 25ish Middle Eastern man with perfect Swedish pronunciation. Integration isn’t just about immigrants learning to live with the Swedes.

Author: Martin R

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

24 thoughts on “August Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Passionfruit crap? Sacrilege! They were my favourite fruit when I was a kid, and the vines grow beautiful flowers.

    You haven’t lived until you have tasted pavlova with cream and passionfruit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the unambiguously good things about having immigrants in your community is incorporating their cuisine into yours. This is especially true for Northern European cuisines, which have a well-deserved reputation for blandness. One of the great things about American cuisine is that it has incorporated elements of several other cuisines: starting from a British base, we have added German, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian dishes.

    Several dishes that Americans associate with Chinese cuisine are in fact American inventions. These include General Tso’s chicken, chop suey, [meat] with broccoli, and of course fortune cookies.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. •When somebody says foreigners are crap I often think “Really? Then what’s so great about you?” And then I think “Aha, yeah, no, I see”.

    A. S. Neill once mentioned in a talk that it wasn’t good to beat children. A chap at the back stood up and said that he had been beaten as a child and that it had made him what he is today, to which Neill replied “And just what are you today?”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The original impetus for my years of fieldwork there was a phone call from a local historian in 2002. I’ve continued to go there because it is a rich province with no university department of archaeology. Almost all fieldwork in Östergötland is development-driven along the highways and railways. In that context, I can make major contributions to many issues with a tiny budget, simply because almost nobody does fieldwork motivated by a research agenda. In my home region around Lake Mälaren it is much harder to do something surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Alastair Mc Lean was originally a good author that succumbed to alcoholism and fading inspiration. Many later books are a re-hash of previous plots.
    HMS Ulysses was one of his original ‘serious’ books. ‘The Guns of Navarone’ and ‘Where Eagles Dare’ were pretty good, as was When Eight Bells Toll.
    His later thrillers were problematic.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course, your Swedish is much better than mine. Is that the only connotation of “goldgubbar”?


  5. The word was originally an extremely local 18th century dialect term from Ravlunda in Scania, where these things eroded out of the sand dunes. An academic wrote about them and canonised the word as a scholarly term. To most Swedes, the word is completely unknown.


    1. OK, but when someone unfamiliar with the term “goldgubbar” hears it for the first time, what would they think of?


  6. In Hawaii, you can pick wild passion fruit. They’re delicious. My guess is the version sold in many non-passion fruit growing places is sort of like box car tomatoes, originally developed by the US defense department for nuclear war to be able to survive anything but a direct hit.

    There is more and more cuisine mixing these days.Vir Sanghvi has a whole series on Ludhiana Chinese food as adapted for Indian tastes. People used to joke about American food with its mix of cuisines, “Ah, perhaps a croissant stuffed with falafel.” Now, you can probably get that at any bodega in Paris or Paro.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All of the passionfruit I ate as a kid were from vines in people’s own gardens, picked at the precise moment when they were suitably ripe. We had a vine and I got a lot of them from that, plus I got a lot from neighbours’ vines. We would never dream of buying them in a shop because we didn’t need to. But they were seasonal, obviously – the fruit would ripen during the summer (which coincides with the pavlova eating season).

      I don’t know the varieties that were grown there, but they grew really well in the sandy, well drained soils and hot, dry summer climate. That doesn’t sound anything like Hawaii, so the vines growing wild there are probably different varieties. But it’s still a warm (but not hot) climate.

      And when they grow in conditions they like they really do take off and grow all over the place; they don’t need any kind of nurturing by a gardener, you can just let ’em go. The problem can be that they do too well and you need to cut them back now and again, or they climb all over everything. Which I never saw as a problem – just more of their beautiful flowers, and fruit for me to suck the delicious seeds out of.

      So, bought in a shop in Sweden – I’m not really surprised if Martin doesn’t think much of them; they probably don’t taste anything like the ones I’m used to. If you eat them when they have not ripened properly, they’re sour and horrible.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Better than pomegranates in that regard; higher flesh to seed ratio, flesh is strong tasting and delicious, and at least you can swallow the seeds. But pomegranate juice is to die for, I love that stuff.

        A soft drink company in Western Australia made a passionfruit flavoured soft drink called Passiona and it was wildly popular; they made a fortune. Can still get it, I think.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I will see your sousop juice with a calamansi juice and raise you with a guava juice.

        Calamansis are inedibly sour, but the sweetened juice is also nectar of the gods.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. My daughter is very deprecating about any kind of ‘fusion cuisine’ and just refuses to eat it, and I agree with her. If she eats some Chinese regional cuisine, or regional cuisine from anywhere else in the world, she wants the real genuine stuff, not buggered around with. She wants authenticity.

      I once made the mistake of suggesting to her that she was a ‘fusion person’ (mixed race, bicultural) – big mistake. She did not like that idea at all, not one bit. She’s a 2-in-1, not a fusion. I still think it’s actually an appropriate description, but I dare not say so, not ever.

      In fairness, unlike a lot of HK Chinese who speak Cantonese with a lot of English words mixed in, she has never mixed languages, even when she was a little kid – when she speaks Canto or Mandarin it is all just that, with correct Chinese grammar; when she speaks English it is educated-native-speaker standard English, with no ‘Chinglish’. And an analogy to that with culture works too – it depends who she is with. It’s like flipping a switch, she goes from being one to the other, not some jumbled mixture of the two.

      Liked by 2 people

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