Hernia Brand Glue

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Scandinavians generally speak pretty good English. But every now and then you come across reminders that they are still very far from being native speakers. Witness this pail of wall-paper glue that I bought earlier today.

Dear Swedish glue-maker, “hernia” means brock and is defined as “the protrusion of an organ or the fascia of an organ through the wall of the cavity that normally contains it”. Wikipedia continues, “By far the most common herniae develop in the abdomen, when a weakness in the abdominal wall evolves into a localized hole, or ‘defect’, through which adipose tissue, or abdominal organs covered with peritoneum, may protrude. Another common hernia involves the spinal discs and causes sciatica [ischias].”

I carried the pail with great care to avoid rupturing myself.

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I Axed My Heat Pump and Now It Works Again

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There was a lot more ice in the heat-pump box than I had thought, a 10 cm cake covering its floor, but getting rid of it proved easy. All I needed was a screwdriver and a small axe. The hot air gun wasn’t much use.

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I turned off the power feed, took the hood off the thing, removed the rotor and hacked away the ice, taking care not to bash the fine heat-exchange lamelles lining the walls. The ice was laminated from the many defrosting cycles that had built it up, and it fractured into large easily manageable chunks. After reassembling the box I hacked away most of the remaining ice on the ground beneath it as well and put a piece of a cardboard box there to make ice removal easier in the future. Less than 20 hours after I put the cardboard there, about 0.2 litres of ice had collected on it after a lot of water had soaked into the cardboard. I shall have to get a plastic tray.

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Ice Buildup Under Heat Pump

This morning when I got my bike out of the yard to take Juniorette to school, I heard a loud clattering noise from the box-like outdoor part of our air source heat pump. At first I thought the ball bearing on the rotor had crapped out. But the guy who installed it explained over the phone that the problem was most likely not as severe as that.

A heat pump like ours dribbles condensation water through a spigot on the under side. It’s been an unusually cold winter, and so the water has collected as ice on the ground beneath the box, building up layer by layer until it made contact with the casing and blocked the spigot. Then the water started to collect and freeze inside the machine. The clattering noise is caused by the rotor blades hitting an ice ridge, which is plainly visible if you shine a light into the thing.

Coming home today, I shoveled away the snow around the heat pump box and poured three buckets of hot water onto the ice floe under it. Then I used a spade, an electric drill and a small axe to remove the ice. Dunno how to get the ice out of the box before the temperature rises above freezing.

Live & learn. Next year I won’t let this happen.

Update 22 Fabruary: Turned out all I needed to get the ice out of the box was a screwdriver and an axe.

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Landowner

Last year my wife and I bought a house. Since then we have been tenants of Nacka municipality who owned the land the house sits on. It’s a tiny plot, hardly larger than the house itself, and surrounded by communal land. But the interest on a mortgage loan is quite a bit less than the land rent, and over time the real value of the interest payments shrinks through inflation while the rent is adjusted upwards. So today we bought the land plot as well, which means that I now own a piece of Sweden. Or rather, that the bank owns it and lets it to us as long as we pay the interest. The Swedish word for interest, ränta, is actually a cognate of “rent”.

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My House is a Wasp Condom

I lost the battle against the wasp nest: no matter how many workers I vacuumed, it still hung on. And now our house is full of groggy young queen wasps. It seems that the last thing a wasp nest does before shutting down for good is discharge a bunch of queens who will hibernate and then start new nests come spring. But these queens are racing into a trap.

The nest has two main exits. One out into the chilly open air. The other into the comfy warmth of the Rundkvist household. And we haven’t been able to locate and stop up the latter opening. So when one of these young ladies is set to leave the nest — which exit do you think she prefers? The parallel that comes to me unbidden is that of a condom: the wasp nest is ejaculating its little emissaries, and my house is one big latex contraceptive.

Though unusually large, they’re quite pitiful creatures, unaggressive, already sleepy, looking for a decent hiding place to crash out in. I grab them from the south-facing windows with a piece of kitchen roll and end their suffering with little crispy noises.

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Wasp Nest

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Dear Reader, if you are a wasp, do not attempt to nest in my house. You will only Release the Fucking Fury, said with a bad Swedish accent. I will plug your nest’s entries and vacuum your workers as they return from foraging. Do not sting my chin, the only bit protruding from my raincoat. Do not nest in my house. That is all. Thank you.

Update next day: Dear Reader, if you are a mouse, do not attempt to forage for food behind Samarkeolog’s fridge.

Bookshelves

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I’m now in that state of summer leisure mixed with the responsibility of providing entertainment for the kids that causes a man to forget what day it is of the week. And so a week’s fun is no longer restricted to its last two days. But I have done nothing grandiose lately: mainly pottered about and enjoyed being reunited with my lady wife after her recent visit to the in-laws.

Anyway, Friday and Saturday were largely taken up by housework of the interior decoration kind. My dad likes to suggest grandiose changes to our house and incite my wife into supporting his ideas, but as he also invariably offers to perform the work in question I can’t complain. I felt that one short wall of our large living room needed re-painting and the construction of a large wall-hung book case. While I was busy with this wall, my dad and my wife painted all the other three walls and the ceiling. Now we have 24 glorious metres of shelves and nicer-coloured walls.

When it comes to bookshelves, I am a passive plaything of women. My first bookshelf I found next to the laundry room when I was in student housing — thanks, Lady Fortune. My second one I bought to match my first wife’s shelves. No 3 I bought to match No 2. And now I have just gotten shelves as per a design by my dad’s wife, who used to head the Swedish interior decorators’ association. What is my own true wish in bookshelves? I shall most likely never know. But it felt good to start getting our books out of the cardboard boxes and onto the new shelves last night.

Leaving my dad to apply the last coat of paint this morning, we headed out to my mom’s place in the archipelago. (Near Djurhamn, the harbour site where I’ve done fieldwork.) Sunshine, wind, rounded grey cliffs, pine trees. I live beside the main Medieval shipping lane from the Continent to Stockholm. This is beside the Early Modern route. No ghost ships though.

Unforeseen Pleasures of Boat Hill

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Moving into a house has conferred a number of unforeseen advantages. The first one I discovered was that I now have a continuing relationship with the sky again, something I really only had before during my scant two years in student housing during my late teens. I see the stars and moon in the evenings, I see the sunset, I perceive the weather much more clearly. I’m looking forward to borrowing a telescope from Jonathan or Pat, come autumn.

The second advantage is a closer relationship with the vegetation. There is now fresh greenery outside the windows where recently I saw only bare branches. Every week the flower beds in the yard bring a new surprise as each new plant flowers. We have the loveliest view across the park and playground from our kitchen window.

I enjoyed the third unforeseen advantage this morning. Wearing only dressing gown, sunglasses and slippers, I took my tea cup, the new issue of Current Archaeology and our second-crappiest laptop and stepped out into the yard. We had a box-like balcony at the old place, but it had sunshine in the afternoons and evenings and got really hot in the summers, so we rarely sat there.

I type these words sitting at the garden table, sunshine in my face, a soft wind in my chest hair, a budding little lilac tree in front of me, and I see that it is all good. There is some birdsong, the drone of a bumblebee nearby and intermittently the distant swishing sound of cars passing by on the highway. But mostly it’s quiet.

What’s The Financial Crisis Got To Do With Me?

As a scholar working in an abstruse subject I live a life largely divorced from what concerns most people. We have no newspaper subscription. I really don’t have much of a clue. But I am aware of the poor state of the world economy. Now, how has it affected me so far?

The only effect of the financial crisis on my life that I am aware of is that the mortgage my wife and I took out in December is absurdly cheap. We currently pay less per month to live in a 114 sqm house than we did last year to live in a 80 sqm apartment.

In the long run, it seems the crisis will have both good and bad effects for me. On one hand, the foundations that fund my research are likely to have less money than usual to dole out over the following years. On the other hand, the slump will prompt the government to invest in roads and railroads, which will create archaeological job opportunities, and it will lead to unemployment in other sectors, which will prompt the government to invest in the university system to keep the kids off the streets, which will create further job opportunities for scholars in abstruse subjects.

So I’m not really bothered by the global financial crisis.

What about you, Dear Reader? How has the crisis affected your life so far? And what effects do you foresee?

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