Sailing Camp

I’ve spent three days with my son’s class at Ängsholmen summer camp where the 12-y-os got a chance to reaquaint themselves after the summer and do some fun stuff together. My job, like that of the other three parents who came along, was basically crowd control and security. The camp is on a small U-shaped island, a former base of the coastal artillery, which once defended the Gällnö port narrows on an important shipping lane. There’s a sizeable decommissioned underground fort at one end, probably dating from the inter-war years. The kids swam, canoed, sailed Monark Avanti skiffs, did cooperation exercises and braved a tree-top climbing trail.

The camp is run by the YMCA and is mainly staffed by people just out of high school. They did a wonderful job of taking care of the kids, they cooked us excellent meals, and one of them was an enthusiastic DJ at last night’s disco.

Staying at camp really brought me back to my own boyhood sailing camps at Lökholmen and Malma. The smell of fresh wood in the paddle shed, the grafittoed bunk beads in the dorms… And best of all, sailing a skiff again! It felt like I’d been doing it only yesterday instead of two decades ago. Remind me in April that I need to buy a used skiff, please.

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Weekend Fun

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Sunset seen to the NW from the birthday party

  • Made huntun (wonton) with my wife & kids, “good to eat and fun to make”, as the song about cookies that Junior likes goes.
  • Watched The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus with wife & son. It’s a mid-quality Terry Gilliam film, better than the dreary Brothers Grimm that preceded it but not on a par with excellent films like Brazil or 12 Monkeys. Dr. P is beautiful though, and I’m sorry I didn’t watch it on the big screen.
  • Made a mix CD for a birthday boy.
  • Went to birthday party with the kids, though I had gotten the wrong coordinates and first spent half an hour needlessly driving around a labyrinthine summer-house area in the woods.
  • Cleaned three roofs and their gutters of pine needles, moss, lichen, a bird’s nest and a couple of bones at my mom’s summer house. It was a chore, but the sun was shining and I listened to podcasts, so I didn’t mind.
  • Had the traditional August crayfish dinner.
  • What about you, Dear Reader? What did you do for fun this weekend?

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    Moonrise seen to the SE from the birthday party: same place, same time

Weekend Fun

  • Chore in order to achieve future fun: my wife called in a stump grinder a few days ago and had the remains of a thuja in one of our planting beds disintegrated. I emptied the crater of wood chips (harrisian single-context fieldwork methodology, you know) and she planted a magnolia on the edge.
  • Outdoors Chinese dinner party with good food and animated incomprehensible conversation. One guest, a retired Peking opera singer, had made excellent wonton soup where the meat stuffing was mixed with a common garden weed, Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris, Sw. lomme). Nice cabbagy taste, and now I find that the plant’s use in wonton is actually attested in Wikipedia!
  • Got ass kicked at Agricola even though one participant had never even seen the game before. But I console myself with the thought that the man knows how to program the flight computers in jet fighters.
  • And you, Dear Reader?
  • Weekend Fun

    This past weekend was full of fun duties. The only thing I did exclusively for fun was read a pretty depressing novel about slavery, U.K. LeGuin’s Powers (2007).

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    • Represented the Swedish Skeptics off-stage at the Nordic Conjuring Championship in Uppsala, as our organisation sponsored the event. I was surprised to see different competing magicians do the same tricks, and then realised that of course there are fashions in that too. The winner was Reggie Simon, an excellent performer originally from the US, whose act contained wry references to that country’s racism and gun-nuttery.
    • Directed the annual spring cleaning of walkways, greenery and parking lot in my area, then served participating neighbours spicy lentil soup, which was well received.
    • Sat through nearly two hours of little girls prancing about in order to get to my own kid’s performance, which was of course stellar. Ballet really is an oasis of girl culture. Dancing, fancy outfits, make-up, and everybody enjoying themselves. Sometimes even more than the audience does.

    And you, Dear Reader? Did you have any fun?

    Weekend Fun

    • Joined Jrette on her first bike ride for the season. Had to raise the saddle 5 cm.
    • Emceed at the Swedish Skeptics’ first full-day conference. We felt that it was time to have a bigger event to make it worthwhile for members to travel to Stockholm for it. Four talks, a mentalist, the annual business meeting plus lunch and coffee breaks. And a good time was had.
    • Played Agricola with friends. Had a pretty good combo of a pottery business and a clay delivery job, but what really saved my game was that I managed to become yeoman farmer. Still Swedepat won, that evil son of a Värmland.

    And you, Dear Reader?

    Weekend Fun

    • Celebrated the 257th anniversary of the Academy of Letters wearing tails.
    • Had a fine sunshine brunch on Folly Hill with my wife. The place was heavily dominated by couples born in the 70s and sporting toddlers / babies / big bellies, all probably from the expensive waterfront housing area nearby. The music was all 90s hits all the time.
    • Watched The Usual Suspects (1995), an OK gangster flick featuring an almost unrecognisably slim and fresh-faced Benicio del Toro who slurs his speech beyond what I thought possible.
    • Played Agricola with friends.

    And you?

    Weekend Fun

    • Had brunch and a walk in the sunshine with wife and sans kids, a rare pleasure. Strange to think that in just a few years’ time they won’t need us much anymore. I guess it’s one tiny step at a time, setting us down gently. Anyway, it’s only 15 years to the first grand-child if Junior repeats my life schedule.
    • Played Drakar och Demoner, Drakborgen/Dungeonquest and a card game with Jr and his buddy. The latter game has a naughty name that involves bodily discipline of a rambunctious simian who is disrupting the recycling trade.

    And you, Dear Reader?

    Skiing Break

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    Last week was skiing break for my kids. I couldn’t find anywhere good to stay in the mountains, so we didn’t go off on holiday. Here’s what we did for fun instead.

    • Dinner at the home of a Chinese friend. It was one of those no hablar parties that spouses in multi-ethnic marriages know all about. The food was great and everybody there except me spoke Mandarin – loudly and incessantly. I’ve never minded much: this time I had brought a book and there was a computer to play with.
    • Birthday party at the home of an Iranian friend. He used to be a death-metal kid. Now he’s a pro-democracy Persian patriot. Everybody wore green.
    • Watched the new Alice in Wonderland movie in 3D and in the country’s largest movie theatre. The kids loved it. I didn’t. Instead of Carroll’s original bad acid trip with language games they’ve made it into a slightly sappy Narnia thing where the characters have names and relationships and there’s even a fixed geography. But the lead actress does a fine job and is nice to look at.
    • Karaoke night: my kids wowed all the grown-ups with their skillz. Did you know that there’s a Chinese expression for someone who won’t share the mike? Mai ba, “Microphone Tyrant”. All the Beatles songs were accompanied by embarrassing footage of a look-alike band. In order to believe that they really look alike, you have to think that all European males look the same.
    • Went downhill skiing at the towering old Flottsbro landfill. It’s just across the lake from Älvesta, in plain view of where I practiced fieldwalking back in ’08. For skiing, I still use the gear my parents gave me in 1988. Need to sharpen the edges.
    • Went skating and cross-country skiing.
    • Got beaten twice at Yspahan and once at Settlers of Catan by my buddy Oscar. That’ll teach me to take up with strange men that I meet at on-line discussion forums about, ah, shall we say… specialised pastimes.
    • Juniorette went with the neighbours and watched The Princess and the Frog, and Grandma took her to the Museum of Nordic Culture.

    The skiing break then ended on a non-fun note when the entire Rundkvist family was laid low by a calicivirus on Sunday.
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    Weekend Fun: Books and Games

    Weatherwise, last weekend was thawing and misty and overcast, so I didn’t feel like doing much outdoors. I finished reading Daryl Gregory’s new novel (didn’t do much for me) and started Douglas Adams’s fifth Hitch-hiker book. When it appeared in 1992 I didn’t bother with it since it seemed too much like flogging an aging franchise, but 11-y-o Junior recently asked me to buy it for him and then he recommended it. So far it seems mildly entertaining.

    Had friends over for games: Settlers of Catan and Qwirkle. I was lucky enough to trade my old 80s Junta game for that Settlers box last week. I don’t like to own stuff that I never use, and so the Junta game has been a source of bad conscience for years. It’s probably great fun if you’re six players who know the rules by heart, but I’ve never been able to pull that off. Junta’s unconventional combination of boardless negotiation and episodes of a very basic war game leave most neophytes confused and a little bored. Settlers is much better.

    I also found some games. On Saturday I lugged a bag of cardboard waste and a bag of plastic waste through fine drizzle to the recycling station. There I came upon four games sitting on a snow drift. They hadn’t been there for long as they were barely damp. Two were TV show tie-ins, one was a music trivia game, and these I left alone. But the fourth was Twister, and I happily took it home to my kids.

    And you, Dear Reader? Do you still remember the final weekend of February 2010? What did you do for fun?

    Weekend Fun

    • Friday night I unexpectedly found myself looking at dinner all alone. So I quickly arranged for a visit with friends to a Jamaican restaurant (I had jerk chicken), and after our meal Swedepat beat me and Dr Sandy at Race for the Galaxy.
    • Saturday was mainly chores, but in the evening the Rundkvist family (including 6-y-o Juniorette) played Dungeonquest/Drakborgen and of course got their characters soundly killed.
    • Sunday morning being extremely snowy and bright with sunshine, I went skiing twice, once with Junior and once with this awesome chick who likes to hang out with me.
    • Then in the afternoon and early evening I introduced Junior, Paddy K, Paddy Jr and Melliferax to the classic Swedish fantasy role-playing game Drakar och Demoner, “Dragons and Demons”. At the close of the gaming session, the characters were huddled behind the altar in the ruin of the Mountain Goddess’s shrine, wounded by goblin arrows and debating whether they should pay a visit to the large disgruntled troll in the desecrated crypt under their feet.

    And you, Dear Reader?