December Pieces Of My Mind #3

The traditional way for a member of Stockholm’s middle class to learn they are pushing 50: the plasticizer has gone out of your skate straps, leaving them brittle.
  • Have you read the chronicle of the insane giant-worshipping pagan Frank, Gregory of þurs?
  • Another instalment in the ongoing series Martin Very Gradually Comes To Understand Poland. I’ve wondered idly why Polish people are so obsessed with herring, this quintessentially Scandinavian food. Well, turns out, everyone around the Baltic and the North Sea is by tradition completely obsessed with herring, and Poland kind of sort of has a very long Baltic coast.
  • I have plundered the fern / Through all secrets I spie / Old Math ap Mathonwy / Knew no more than I
  • Movie: Time After Time (1979). Jack the Ripper steals H.G. Wells’ time machine. The author chases him to 1979 San Francisco where the killer continues his spree and threatens Wells’ love interest. Grade: OK.
  • SpaceX recently completed its 100th rocket landing. You know, rocket goes into space with stuff and then flies home and lands on its bottom end.
  • Story germ. An archaeologist specialising in Roman London gets a six-week time machine ride into the past. But he doesn’t go to Roman London. He goes to 6th century London to excavate, because he knows that at that time the preservation of Roman layers will be excellent.
  • I feel like a nice walk in the afternoon sun wearing only a t-shirt, shorts, sandals and a straw hat. Maybe go to the lake for a swim? Oh right, this is December in Stockholm. /-:
  • English horses-and-hounds fox hunting: “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”. /Oscar Wilde
  • The Centrist Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports on how us Swedes have pretty much disassociated ourselves from the doctrines of organised religion. Though we are still largely members of the Swedish Church, to have access to traditional rites-de-passage. Swedes are very interested in yoga, which they sometimes practice in churches, and have spiritual ideas about hiking.
  • In this story Lord Dunsany repeatedly emphasises that the town is so old that the houses have gabled roofs, Sw. sadeltak. Confused Swede in the land of heavy snowfall: “Are you saying that other types of roof exist?”
  • Love this! The names of Slavic and Baltic thunder gods are not cognate with Thórr / Thunor / Donar. Instead they are cognate with Fjörgyn, the name of an obscure Nordic goddess. And who was she? Thórr’s mom!
  • Two months now until we can expect snowdrops and crocus around our house.
  • In the 80s I knew somebody who used to answer the phone with “The Swedish Satanist Association Against Drugs”.
  • Funny coincidence: the Aska mead hall was built right around the time when Bede was born over in England.
  • Saw an ad for a video game set in “the ages of medieval empires”. I wonder which empires they mean. The Holy Roman one surely doesn’t count. Maybe they simply assume that video gamers are attracted by the words “age”, “medieval” and “empire”.
  • Movie: Mandy (2018). Weird crazy druggy home invasion and revenge story. Contains many scenes of extreme trippiness and one ridiculously unrealistic cremation. Grade: OK.
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Author: Martin R

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

7 thoughts on “December Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. After graduation I began going out for a brief period with a tall and attractive Polish girl, but it didn’t work out because she was very ambitious about upward social mobility and cultivated exotic and expensive tastes, and in her estimation (my inference, but it was obvious) I was too low class and did not have enough money or earning potential. And I lacked her appetite for expensive stuff. No ambition, see.

    But her father took a great liking to me. Whenever I went around to her parents’ house in the hope of seeing/talking to her, I got stuck with her Dad while she swept out the door to take her two scarily big Afghan hounds (which didn’t like me – they didn’t seem to like anyone) for a run in the coastal sand dunes at night. Her father would make me sit there to listen to his stories about things Poles did during WWII, periodically stating that Polish people are all mad (e.g. Polish cavalrymen on horses charging at German tanks, or a Polish fighter pilot flying with the RAF during the Battle of Britain getting shot down by a German fighter, crash landing his plane at the airstrip, running to jump into another plane and taking off again in pursuit of the German who had just shot him down).

    I didn’t mind this too much, except for the disappointment that I would have much preferred to be with his daughter. But the other problem was that, when he had me effectively trapped this way, too polite and deferential to excuse myself and leave, he would open a large bottle of vodka and would not permit me to leave until we had finished the whole bottle between us, which was not too clever because I would then need to drive home. Fortunately it was not too far.

    It all ended when once I asked her out to dinner, with the lure that it was to an expensive restaurant (out of my league, but I was getting desperate about how to get through to her). She agreed to go on the condition that she drive us there in her flashy little Fiat sports car because “I would be too embarrassed to be seen in your car.” OK, fine, my car was an old bomb – I had nothing to feel insulted about, and she was of course an excellent driver, like she was excellent at everything she decided to turn her hand to. Dinner went fine, although the bill nearly gave me heart failure; we knew each other well enough to chat comfortably; she had recently taken up learning to fly a glider (or more correctly a sailplane) – well of course she had, and she talked at length about how scary but what spiffing fun it was.

    But on the drive home, when we were getting fairly near to my place for her to drop me off, she let go the most horrendous smelling silent fart, and the smell persisted unabated; in fact the smell was so bad and so persistent that I suspect she might have shat herself. No word was said – we drove on in strained silence until we got to my place, I opened the car door and made a bolt for it to get away from that terrible smell, and I never saw her again, and never tried to. My brain associated her with that unforgettable smell forever afterwards, and that was the end of that.

    I might be low class, but I could never love a girl who smelled like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The herring obsession must be a catholic thing. In middle ages good catholics didn’t eat meat on fridays and sundays, and before Easter and Xmas there was a 40 day no-meat fast. But eating fish was allowed, and herring is the most abundant fish in the Baltic region.
    Finnish fishermen exported salted herring in barrels around the Baltic. There’s story that someone used too little salt – and sursrtömming was born. So you Swedes are still closet catholics 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Dutch used to have herring stands on the street. You’d get a whole fish, dip it in chopped onions and then lower it into your mouth and munch it. This was back in the 1960s. I was a kid who loved herring.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. They’ve been working on rockets landing vertically since forever. I saw video of some prototype landings, I think from TRW, in the early 1990s. Twenty years later, it’s no surprise someone got it to work.

    Liked by 1 person

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