Vacation Fun

Spent a week gloriously off-line at my mom’s glorious summer house in the archipelago. Oh the joy of reading 300 pages for fun in one day without feeling the need to check e-mail! Here are the books I read:

  • Invented Knowledge. False history, fake science and pseudo-religions. Ronald H. Fritze 2009. One amazing essay covers the scifi con-man religion Nation of Islam. Did you know that Louis Farrakhan started out as a calypso singer, and that George Clinton’s Mothership was a concept borrowed from NoI mythology?
  • Falling Free. Lois McMaster Bujold 1988. Charming fast-paced scifi. Four-armed gene-mod people optimised for zero-gee! Thanks for the book, Birger!
  • Plain Tales from the Raj. Ed. Charles Allen 1975. Colonial India was almost as alien as that scifi novel’s world.
  • Medieval Lives. Terry Jones & Alan Ereira 2004. Countless factual gems from Medieval England, like when a besieged nobleman hands his 5-year-old son over as a ransom to the besiegers, and they threaten to toss the child into the fortress with a catapult, and the father yells that he doesn’t care since he still has the hammer and anvils to make a better son. (The kid was never thrown and grew up to become a succesful and violent knight.) Thanks for this one too, Birger!

And the boardgames I played with my buddy Micke and our wives:

  • Lord of the Rings: Confrontation
  • Lost Cities
  • Innovation
  • Wok Star
  • Bohnanza

What have you done for fun lately, Dear Reader?

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Weekend Fun

  • Played the zombie movie boardgame Last Night On Earth and Airlines Europe, both very enjoyable.
  • Had a party where I couldn’t understand what anybody said since they spoke Mandarin, but I was happy being Grillmeister, waitor and dishwasher.
  • Logged five geocaches, which involved cycling around, climbing a tree and faffing about in the woods north of Älta. Saw the traces of a recent forest fire and found an abandoned camp used by homeless substance abusers (note the toothpaste and beer cans).

And you, Dear Reader?

Weekend Fun

I had some bad news about two Boomer dudes that I know and like(d): one died of lung cancer the other day, and the other was diagnosed with leukemia. But apart from that I had a pretty good weekend:

  • Played Eclipse again, got royally whipped.
  • Gave a talk and did some debating at a skeptics’ event in Eskilstuna, met loads of friendly people, all while wearing a suit and tie because I was heading directly to the following do afterwards.
  • Celebrated my oldest friend’s 40th birthday. Met lots of surprising greying 40-y-o versions of his friends that I haven’t seen much since leaving the Tolkien Society back in ’98.
  • Had lunch at a restaurant with old friends from the SKOM on-line forum to celebrate another friend’s 41st.
  • Stood for a long time listening to the year’s first blackbird evensong.

And you, Dear Reader?

Weekend Fun

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  • Played Eclipse for the first time with my new Muscovite friends Anton & Maria and frequent guest Swedepat. This Finnish 2011 boardgame has become a runaway international hit and is currently ranked #7 on Boardgame Geek. It’s about interstellar colonialism: good fun, very neatly designed, and has a lot of inherent replayability. I look forward to future games. Guess which player ended up way ahead of the cluster of three stubble-chinned losers at the end…
  • Cycled in brisk & sunny weather for a second attempt at two recalcitrant geocaches. Found nada. How the great have fallen.
  • Had dinner at friends’ place and made the acquaintance of their recently adopted 2-y-o. Lovely, bright & cute!
  • As head of the Carthaginian forces, managed to lose the unloseable 217 BC Battle of Lake Trasimene in Commands & Colours: Ancients. One fatal mistake I made was to not leave any room for my front units to flee when their morale broke. Interestingly, I learned that my opponent for the evening, Max, descends from inhabitants of Gammalsvenskby, dislocated Estonian Swedish-speakers who mass-migrated from Crimea to Sweden in the 1920s.

What where the highlights of your weekend, Dear Reader?

Weekend Fun

Been a while since I wrote one of these. Here’s what I did for fun this past weekend.

  • Attended an afternoon scifi mini-convention at the Tech Museum, organised by my dear old Tolkien Society buddy and gaming group regular Carolina Gomez Lagerlöf. I heard good talks by journalist Jörgen Städje, scifi scholar Dr. Jerry Määttä, and gaming giants cum fantasy novelists Erik Granström and Anders Blixt. And I gave a talk of my own on the prevalence of time-travel evidence in the archaeological record.
  • Played Settlers of Catan and Qwirkle. I rarely get Settlers to the table because unlike me, most hardcore gamers played it to death years ago. I played it once back in the 90s and found it too austere and unthematic, but my taste has changed. Juniorette won this time and was very pleased.
  • Had tea with old friends and dim sum with wife & daughter before taking in Junior’s school’s Christmas concert in the Franz Berwald Concert Hall. The youngsters sang really well and it was a joy to see how seriously they took the event.

What about you, Dear Reader? What did you do for fun this weekend?

Skiing Holiday, Broken Bone

Sweden is shaped like a ski, and people live mainly in the southern quarter, but in the other three-quarters there are many skiing resorts. I’ve been going there every few years since I was three. I’m not a competitive or particularly elegant down-hill skier, but I enjoy it and I can get down all kinds of slopes and I rarely fall.

In recent years my wife and I have taken the kids to one of the country’s southernmost skiing resorts, simply because if one of you is going to spend most of their time on the kiddy slope with a neophyte, then there is little reason to drive for seven hours one way. My wife had tired of Romme near Borlänge, so this year she did the booking and put us in BjursÃ¥s near Falun. It took us less than four hours to get there from Fisksätra, lunch break included.

BjursÃ¥s (“beaver sauce”) offers a modest number of ski lifts and slopes, and few of the latter are very long or steep. This was the year when Juniorette really became a serious skier, who ploughs down the slopes at considerable speed with little fear and few falls. And Junior is an excellent babysitter & skiing partner these days, so part of the time they zipped around on their own.

I don’t like gadget sports. I enjoy buying as little gear as possible, so this year I wore a cap I bought at the Great Wall outside Beijing years ago, a staff jacket from the VästerÃ¥s town paper that my wife got me when she worked there in ’99, a pair of gloves someone left at my house one gaming night, and faded jeans. But oldest of all was my actual skiing gear: given to me by my parents in ’88 and still sporting my childhood phone number written in my dad’s hand. Quality stuff, I just sharpen the steel edges now and then and I’m fine. The boots are actually the best I’ve seen, with a single open/close latch instead of the crazy Gigeresque alien armour current ski boots look like. (I remember now that I wrote about my gear last winter too.)

Anyway, to my dismay I broke one of my poles this year. I was in a sitting lift with a mid-slope station, and when me and Junior passed that station one of my poles got lodged against the wooden deck and bent. Aluminum cylinder, broke when I tried to straighten it. So goodbye 80s ski pole. Still, I did have one perfectly usable one left… So I went down to the rental shop and asked if they had any solitary ski poles of the right length. Sure enough, they did – and they gave me one for free. So now I’ve got mismatched recycled skiing poles and I feel pretty smug about not throwing away gear or money unnecessarily.

Distinctly non-smug is how I felt yesterday afternoon though when Junior came down a light slope at his usual sane clip, braked, fell over in front of me and broke his left arm. So we spent last night at Falun main hospital. But as my friend David the physiotherapist commented, if you must break a bone, break your radius. The ulna will keep it straight and it’ll heal just fine. In this case, we were particularly lucky about it: it’s a “green stick fracture” with no displacement of the bone ends at the break, which is pretty much the kind of fracture you’ll want if you must snap off your radius. And of course you’ll prefer to break your second hand, not your first.

Did you know that patients are no longer encouraged to carry their broken arms in a sling? Apparently this causes immobilisation, muscle atrophy and poor circulation, all of which prolongs and impedes rehabilitation. So Junior walks around with his plaster resting on his left-hand shoulder and uses his left-hand fingers for sundry small tasks. But he complains about difficulties when using the bathroom, and last night I washed his face for him the way I used to when he was a little kid.

Oh, and one of the slopes is named Pot Nook, HarsprÃ¥nget. Dalecarlian stoners…

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Weekend Fun

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  • Celebrated 100th birthday of my mom’s aunt, a sprightly and clear-minded lady who likes conversation and hugs and has no problem recognising her niece’s kids who rarely visit.
  • Attended concert with six kids’ choirs (including Juniorette’s). One of the choirs had five boys, the others <=1.
  • House-warming party at my buddy Moomin’s new place. Very happy to see the guy get a real home where he can entertain his friends instead of the dusty broom closet he slept in for so many years.
  • Watched the hit musical version of Kipling’s Jungle Book at the Stockholm City Theatre. Lots of references to movies and current topics, including merciless digs at the xenophobic Swedish Democrat Party. Frank N. Further from Rocky Horror as Bagheera! Good stuff.
  • Played boardgames: Hansa, Power Grid and For Sale.

What did you do for fun, Dear Reader?

Weekend Fun

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  • Watched most of the 1984 animated Miyazaki feature film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on DVD. Like others of his I’ve seen before, it’s visually stunning and has a pretty pointless story.
  • Sat outdoors and read, probably for the last time this year barring trips south.
  • Went to a friend’s birthday party, helped cook.
  • Watched Inception on the big screen. Good movie!
  • Played my twelfth game of Agricola and managed to win for the first time.

And you, Dear Reader?

Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon

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September unexpectedly turned warm and sunny. I’m a little under the weather and so can’t do anything very energetic. But reading a review copy of a new geology book for the blog in my yard, in the sun, with my dressing gown down around my midriff isn’t too bad.

Photo by Junior.

Weekend Fun

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  • Had breakfast guests: a beautifully pregnant old friend and our old boss/buddy came at ten and I cooked us all a full English. Everybody who’s into the Gustavian / Georgian era and reads Scandy, read Kristina Ekero Eriksson’s new popular biography of Märta Helena Reenstierna, the Lady of Årsta! I read it in manuscript, and I loved it.
  • Played Lost Cities against my wife who is getting worrisomely good at it, and Puerto Rico and Space Alert against gamer buddies. The latter game is highly unusual. It’s a cooperation game played against the clock, with a twist I’ve never seen before: it includes an audio CD that gives you messages and keeps time in the game while everybody orders their guys around. Then, when the audio track ends, you run the “program” you’ve all co-created, and see if you’ve all beat the game or not. Think Pandemic crossed with Roborally and played against the clock. We were crap, but we had fun!
  • Cocktail party, and for the second time, Junior babysat Juniorette. It’s really a new chapter in life when your kids aren’t small anymore!
  • My mom cooked us dinner to celebrate her birthday.

And you, Dear Reader? What did you do for fun this weekend?