October Pieces Of My Mind #1


The Svindersvik forest fire this past June awoke a lot of dormant post-burn biology.

  • Just about the first thing my childhood dachshund did when we got her was to eat greasy aluminium foil and end up in surgery. She also suffered from roe deer hallucinations where she would run away to hunt imaginary game.
  • Getting damn cold outside now. I just gave some money to a homeless shelter in town.
  • Waiting for Azathoth, blind idiot Godot at the centre of the Universe
  • A Swedish-speaking survey worker has recorded that one tourist in Vadstena had heard of the town “through squabbling”. I wonder which Swedish word has been mistranslated here. Maybe skvaller, gossip.
  • The Rocky Horror Show in SWEDISH opens 2 February at Linköping’s town theatre.
  • A Syrian buddy of mine: “Lots of people are afraid that Muslims will change Sweden radically and make it a theocracy. But look at us. It’s the other way around for most of us. We’re changing. Sweden allowed me to come out as an atheist.”
  • Apparently, playing the didgeridoo strengthens certain muscles and cures snoring. But ladies, this raises the question: would you rather live with someone who snores or someone who plays the didgeridoo all the time?
  • Sinckers is a super popular chocolate bar with peanuts and toffee. I’m going to profit on this with a fragrant brown delicacy named Floaters.
  • Hehe. The makers of these vegetarian schnitzels clearly know that some of their customers have a superstitious fear of gluten, so they write “wheat protein” in the contents listing.
  • Maybe the anthropocene is not a geological epoch. Maybe it’s just a barely measurable film of strange chemistry between the holocene and the post-human strata.
  • The horns section on “If You Want Me To Stay” by Sly & the Family Stone is absurdly quietly mixed. You basically hear vocals, bass, drums and something reminiscent of horns leakage from the next studio.
  • I’m a member of the fine Facebook group “Traumschlösser – die schönsten Schlösser und Burgen Deutschlands”. And now I’m thinking, maybe I should change my name to Traumschlösser – die schönsten Schlösser und Burgen Deutschlands.

Got this back from conservation. We found it in a late-13th century basement at Landsjö Castle in 2015. It consists of five small pieces of wrought iron, and I think it’s probably from a skiing pole or hiking stick.


September Pieces Of My Mind #3

Control panel of a 1949 Lidingö tram (SSLidJ A24B 17)

  • Half asleep last night, I found a memory floating up from 1980s sediment in my mind. When you bought a record as a present, you would ask the sales clerk to seal the inner paper sleeve with a sticker. This would allow the recipient to change it in if they wanted another record. The sticker often identified the store.
  • Movie: Paddington I (2014). The beloved children’s book ably filmed with new subtext about immigration and homelessness. Grade: Excellent in its genre.
  • My old laptop crapped out 7½ months ago. I have been eking out a sad digital existence on my various employers’ Windows laptops since. But now I’ve bought an ultralight of my own and installed glorious Ubuntu Linux on it!
  • I look back with deep regret at the ramen noodles of my youth, where I would simply cook the noodles with water and stock powder. Those were dark, dark days, before I became learnèd in the ways of ancient Chinese wisdom.
  • When I see pictures of sand and gravel on Mars or an asteroid, I can’t help but think “That’s soon going to get covered in weeds, like a spoil dump on an excavation”.
  • It feels a bit odd to read Magnus Västerbro’s new book about the 1867-69 famine in northern Sweden while eating.
  • Tell your mother that you walked all night on velvet green
  • The code name for the final massacres of Jews in part of occupied Poland in November 1943 was Aktion Erntefest, “Operation Harvest Festival”. You just can’t make this shit up. )-:
  • County admin building is looong and narrow with the entrance lobby at the middle. My desk is near one end. There’s an exit here too, but it’s only used for fire safety. For security reasons, we have to use the main entrance, a looong unnecessary corridor walk in the wrong direction. /-:
  • The vanity options on Academia.edu cost $99 a year. Nope nope nope.
  • Reading about Shang dynasty mass human sacrifice, thinking about the murdered slaves we excavate in Viking Period graves, and of the Holocaust, and of the Aztecs. )-:
  • Mushrooms are pretty useless from a nutritional perspective. They’re 3% carbs, 3% protein and the rest is almost entirely water. Compare to the blueberries growing next to the mushrooms: 9% carbs, 1% protein. Or potatoes: 16% carbs, 2% protein. Swedish farmers’ traditional lack of interest in these fungi, many of which are poisonous, was well motivated.
  • The bit in “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” where you can’t hear the words is supposed to be “Back to the howling old owl in the woods / Hunting the horny-back toad”. Because the poet is leaving his rich socialite partner and going back to his rural roots. (I just can’t understand why Taupin broke the scansion with the unnecessary words “in the woods”.)
  • Cool detail in Magnus Västerbro’s new book. Swedish-speaking settlers in the woods of northern Sweden survived a bad 1860s famine by bartering with the Sami for reindeer products and traditional gathered and preserved plant foods. Just like New England colonists surviving their first winters thanks to food contributed by local native tribes.
  • I love finds conservation. It’s expensive, but it always gets you new information, particularly for rusty iron objects. Thanks to the good people at Acta Konservering, I was just able to insert a third site with resin-taper holders into the section on indoor lighting in the final proofs of my Medieval castles book.

I rode a 1949 Lidingö tram (SSLidJ A24B 17)

Carl Milles 1916, “Venus on a shell”, Gåshaga, Lidingö


September Pieces Of My Mind #2


Palace of the Bjälbo Kings, Vadstena, 1260s.

  • My chain franchise of weed shops is going to be named Jazz Tobacconist.
  • I spotted a guy I went to school with the other day. Thought to myself “Dude looks silly with that bald top and fringe”. It took until yesterday before I realised that I also have a bald top and fringe.
  • Early autumn, aspen leaves glowing gold at sunrise.
  • Came up with an analogy. Digging out culture layers from a ruin to study the walls is like finding Ötzi and putting him on an anthill because you want to study his skeleton.
  • Oh ye who go about saying unto each: “Hello sailor”: Dost thou know the magnitude of thy sin before the gods?
  • Feeling a little better about the election results now that it looks like the Social Democrat Prime Minister will be able to stay in office. And now that I’ve learned that we gained a few percentile points in my housing area where I did so much canvassing.
  • A memory. There was this slightly odd and often unintentionally entertaining dude on the BBS forums I used to call in the late 80s. He once had a total rage meltdown because he found it so annoying to have to put a semicolon at the end of every line of Pascal code.
  • Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). Everyday guy in heavily stylised cartoonish world can’t decide which unrealistically attractive girl to doink and gets into lots of Hong Kong action fights. Grade: OK.
  • Roy Zimmerman has a new album out! Good tunes with incisively funny satirical lyrics, largely about 45.
  • A UK university advertises an MSc programme in Current Archaeology with a big photo of a person using a total station / EDM surveying instrument. The photographer has held the camera tilted one or two degrees to the left. This is painfully obvious because a total station has a spirit level at the base and has to be almost exactly vertical to work. It is very far from vertical on the page.
  • Jrette shows me a pic of her friend’s dad who has shaved his beard in a joking style for a fancy dress party. In my style, actually. Hrmpf!
  • During St. Bridget’s years in Rome, Queen Joan I of Naples gave her a Turkish slave girl as a present. This woman later entered Vadstena convent and lived there as a nun under the name Katarina Magnussadotter until she died in 1414.
  • Mad Duke Magnus, brother of three Swedish 16th century kings, rests under a monument of respectable size near the site of the most prestigious altar in Vadstena Abbey. Despite abducting and raping a number of the last few nuns during the convent’s waning years.

Honeysuckle, such a sweet smell


Majelden-Tannefors, Linköping


September Pieces Of My Mind #1


I am optimising game night with this lovely tea cosy from http://www.etsy.com/poodyberty

  • Jrette just drove off to school for the first time on her new moped. We have raised her strong and independent.
  • Talked to a Conservative voter yesterday who came to Sweden from South-East Europe 40 years ago. He was worried about whether people from the Middle East and Africa can really be integrated into Swedish society. His own countrymen, he said, are obviously no problem since they are Europeans.
  • Movie: Death of Stalin. He dies and confusion breaks out. Grade: OK. This is in no way a ”triumphantly, hilariously brilliant satire” as one Fb contact claimed.
  • Maurice Sendak plays the ocarina on the Troggs’ “Wild Thing”.
  • I had to zap my old pay card, so now I can finally tell everyone that it had the ultimate three-digit security code for a Vendel Period scholar: 536.
  • I have optimised the German language. Instead of Beurteilung, let’s all say Böpp.
  • Went to the lake and had a nice afternoon swim. Last of the season?
  • The past three years have taught me a lot about people and made me even less shy of them than I was before. I drove a lot of volunteer refugee taxi in ’15-’16, and I’ve been canvassing for votes a lot in ’17-’18. I’m comfortable with talking to strangers in the street or in their doorways about politics. Two of the main things I’ve learned is that most folks are really nice, and that appearances (in terms of ethnic costume and class indicators) are enormously deceptive.
  • Co-worker describes a fist fight between two lycra-clad middle-class Tour de France wannabee cyclists on the bike path next to his kids’ school this morning.
  • It was ragged and naïve, it was Heaven
  • 21st century tech etiquette advice for Boomers: when you receive a text message you DO NOT respond with a phone call unless under extreme duress. Thank you.
  • Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” is heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious”.
  • It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
  • Have you heard of wrecking rooms? Where you pay to smash stuff up? The most popular item is the printer. I’m not surprised.
  • I’ve had a really grating ringtone on my phone to make sure that I react to it on the rare occasions that somebody calls me. But now I’m a bit frazzled from vote canvassing, and people call me a lot about the election. So I had to change the ringtone to something friendlier. It was making me lose my temper immediately prior to picking up on every phone call.
  • Government minister takes part in canvassing event. Interior Security agent looks strangely familiar. Turns out to be old school pal that I used to play ninjas with.
  • Polish scholar writes me about a journal paper of mine. That appeared 22 years ago. My first academic publication is 26 years old now. My first general publication is 29.
  • Movie: Hidden Figures. Black female number crunchers earn grudging respect at early 1960s NASA. Grade: Good!
  • Talked to a voter who thought that when you have progressive taxation rates, richer people should get better services. /-:
  • I just started editorial work on my last issue of Fornvännen.
  • I’m starting a movement to remove all of AD 79 Pompeii in order to study the town in the 2nd century BC, which I will argue is more interesting.
  • Wonder how much power is wasted every day through people leaving their iPads on.
  • Met a Somali metal head with a Hammerfall tee shirt.
  • Been ringing door bells for the election all day. In 7-floor tenements. Legs starting to complain.
  • PG Tips tea was originally named “Pre-Gestee” to indicate that you would have better digestion if you drank a cup before eating.

August Pieces Of My Mind #3


Starting the big windows upgrade at the summer house.

  • Facebook has made it impossible to autopost your Twitter updates into your Facebook feed. Annoying.
  • Furtive rustling in the undergrowth. Probably a blackbird.
  • Movie: The Intouchables. Paraplegic rich man’s life is brightened by a funny and energetic assistant. Grade: Good! But. The first thing you see is “This is a Weinstein picture”. And then the assistant makes unwanted sexual advances on his employer’s secretary in every single scene they both occur in through the whole movie.
  • Our OCD magpies have gone nuts today with the annoying white stones in the bird bath. Not only have they chucked them out of the bath, they’ve rolled them clear out of the yard under the garden gate!
  • AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” just absolutely blows my little noggin into the next county every time I listen to it!
  • It’s super stressful when you’re so focused on your computer that you don’t realise that you really need to take a dump. First you’re super stressed and then you feel like a moron.
  • I edited a few words out of my castles book to help the graphic designer out of a tight space.
  • I’ve long since run out of author copies of my 2011 mead-halls book, so I asked the publisher what a box of them would cost. “We’ve sold all except seven copies.” It’s about SEK 180 in the used books trade now. And its download figures are massive in comparison to similar titles.
  • School and daycare should never allow kids to paint or draw on any other format paper than A4. Such a bother to archive all these weird big sheets.
  • Movie: A Simple Plan (1998). You find several million dollars in the woods but you’re with your simpleminded brother and his drunk buddy at the time. What do you do? Grade: Good!
  • One of Stockholm’s Friendly Local Game Stores, Dragon’s Lair, got a small Neo-Nazi protest dumped in front of their older location by the police today. Because Sweden sadly does not outlaw Neo-Nazi organisations. I found out when I reached the riot fence. Now I am headed for the new DL store.
  • Stockholm’s regular steamship services are 200 years old this summer.
  • I once took my buddy to a grocery store and showed him an aubergine in order to explain what I felt would be the correct colour for his umber hulk miniature.
  • I agree with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin: a big-legged woman ain’t got no soul. Because I have a materialist worldview and nobody ain’t got no soul in my opinion.
  • There’s bwonggg-bwonggg fretless bass on Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” (1984).
  • I am receiving information of great concern, that the children of Nacka municipality are extremely focused on sports and athletics. It is clearly an important political task to ensure that our young are given meaningful alternatives to this destructive lifestyle. Our young folks need tabletop roleplaying games!
  • Classical Adam Smith liberalism would work fine if everyone was strong, smart and well informed. (And had the same parents, a friend added.)
  • Helped my ambitious Syrian neighbour vote in Sweden for the first time.
  • My metal band is going to be named Malodorous Condiment.

Wednesday night club race with Lars and Christoffer.


August Pieces Of My Mind #2


It’s been too long since I made kimchi.

  • Election season. The political posters we all post are made to withstand the weather. Immediately after we got them all up, there was a rainfall and people started ripping the posters down for rain protection. /-:
  • Article in the current Skalk describes a big sister to Ales stenar that has actually been excavated almost fully. It’s a more than 80 metres long stone ship whose last standing stones were robbed out c. 1850. And across its central space were strewn the remains of an exceptionally rich and very intensely cremated furnished burial from the Vendel Period’s first third, probably mid-500s. Just like the barrows of Old Uppsala.
  • I email some info to several hundred people, and in order to avoid “reply to all” ridiculousness I put their addresses in the blind copy box. Then this one guy replies to me with irrelevant content and in terms that reveal that he believes that he is addressing several hundred people. Intentionally trying to hitch a ride on my address database, yet failing to understand how email works.
  • Syllabub for breakfast, starkers in the garden. Good morning, everyone.
  • The MOLA Headland Infrastructure collaboration believes that the indoors part of a contract archaeologist’s necessary education takes 14 weeks. I’m not sure that they’re wrong. (from British Archaeology #164, p. 19)
  • In the Levant there’s a Pre-Pottery Neolithic. In Northern Europe there’s Pre-Neolithic pottery. (Neolithic = agriculture and ground stone tools.)
  • Two squirrels chasing each other around an oak tree and squeaking angrily.
  • I want you all to make it your #1 priority in life to take new towels from the bottom of the stack in order to cycle through them and use each one roughly equally much.
  • Vilma Hodászy Fröberg’s posthumous 1998 book about library architecture has such a good title: Ljuset och tystnaden, “Light and Silence”. Because that’s what a reader needs. Light, silence and books.
  • A memory. My buddy and I make a treasure hunt for the smaller kids. They need to chase us around to get little written clues. While we’re at it I realise that the clues contain nowhere near enough information for them to find the treasure. The whole thing fizzles.
  • Lollards laughing out loud, levellers gaining experience points.
  • Story germ: a wizard summons 15 demons to act in his vanity play that no professional theatre troupe will touch.
  • “I could care less” is a stupidly misunderstood version of the expression. Now I’ve found “Will wonders ever cease?” in a Sufjan Stevens song lyric. People shouldn’t be allowed to use language. /-:
  • Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo has recently received a PhD in mathematics from Emory. Congrats Doc!
  • Call me naïve, but I just realised that the central goal of conservatism is that rich families should stay rich long-term.
  • Weak geocaching session today. Found only four of the nine caches I attempted.

August Pieces Of My Mind #1


Fisksätra torg

  • I know you all have a general deep respect for my thoughts. But note that additionally, these are in fact august pieces of my mind.
  • DNA identifies a previously unknown second cousin to my grandpa. The guy was born out of wedlock so despite a pretty intense and sustained genealogical interest in the family, we haven’t known about him.
  • GameInformer dot com interviews my son Samuel about his high-profile Nintendo video game archaeology project. Very proud geek dad!
  • One of my tasks today is to visit a Somali mosque to talk about the importance of voting. My main line of argument is that there is one demographic category that politicians are really, really interested in catering to, and that’s people who vote.
  • Apparently water skiing on a single ski is one of those things you only need to learn once.
  • Weather suddenly and temporarily switches from drought and heat to thunder, pouring rain and centimetre hail!

July Pieces Of My Mind #3


Skydebanemuren, Copenhagen

  • Mother, there is a lady on Twitter who posts pictures of hyena poo.
  • Skydebanemuren: found an incredible neo-Gothic structure at one end of a little park. Turns out it’s one of the world’s most over-decorated bullet traps from back when the park was a rifle range.
  • Enviro-hotel equals massive ethno-kitsch overdose. The bamboo, the natural materials and the ethnic idols invite us to imagine that we’re eco-friendly tribespeople. But the leather furniture and the hunting trophies reveal that we’re actually colonial officers and administrators. And on the stereo, Norah Jones croons that she doesn’t know why she didn’t come.
  • Our hotel is next to an international women’s counselling centre and a strip club.
  • The US president is tweeting threats in all caps at the leader of Iran.
  • In A.C. Clarke’s 1961 story “Before Eden”, scientists find life near one of Venus’s poles, then dump a bag of picnic waste (paper cups, cigarette butts, possibly latrine) at the site and contaminate it irrevocably.
  • I spoke to Erik Andersson of the Fandompodden podcast about archaeology, scifi and fantasy.
  • My daughter follows several youtubers. I have now explained to her what a tuber is: a fleshy root or rhizome.
  • I just ordered the Player’s Handbook for an enthusiastic young lady who played her first D&D sesh the other day. Funnily for me, she got into D&D by listening to a podcast of people playing. I read recently that the game has never sold better than it does now!
  • Copy editing a journal paper where the author writes “this thing is interpreted as” when they mean “I interpret this thing as”. Nope, you ain’t getting away with that.
  • Dan Carlin of the excellent Hard-core History podcast says “Robinson Caruso”. Such a great singer, with an audience of one!
  • Sudden epiphany: the title of Erasure’s 1992 covers EP, Abbaesque, is a pun on “Arabesque”.

Urban cormorant settlement. It ain’t pretty, but they’re an indigenous species and the birds themselves look super cool. Fugleøen, Sortedams Sø, Copenhagen.


Sjællands Odde


Grand piano, Poul Henningsen 1931. Danish Museum of Art & Design, Copenhagen.

July Pieces Of My Mind #2


Found an unusual club house ruin while geocaching on the hill west of Nacka. It’s a roofed crevice in the bedrock.

  • Tarzan was named for the little community of Tarzana, not the other way around.
  • Holy shit! I just realised that my Kindle contains the complete searchable offline-available Oxford Dictionary. 0-:
  • Got the ranking list for the last academic job I applied for (13 months ago), the last I plan to apply for. For once I have no complaints, though I am not on the shortlist. The first two names on the list are the ones I expected to see, and solidly qualified people who deserve the job. The shortlist is also refreshingly non-ageist, dominated by much older folks than usually get lectureships.
  • A French memory. The husband of my language exchange supervisor looks North African. I ask him if he’s a Muslim (which would still be exotic to me in 1988). He says “Non, je suis chrétien”, which confuses me since I take it to mean that he’s from Crete.
  • So I hear a lot of you are wondering how I’m holding up on the purity of my sacred Germanic cultural heritage. I’ll just say this: I’ve got ONE LITRE, and believe me, I’m not making this up, ONE LITRE of gratuitous sesame oil in my kitchen.
  • In a real D&D dungeon, the inhabitants of the first room would alert all the others when the party entered. The party would have to either fight or chase 75 forewarned adversaries at once on each dungeon level.
  • Saw an Arctic loon up close for the first time today. Popped out of the lake 3-4 metres from me, grunted quietly, dove again, came up almost as close by, swam off. Such beauty!
  • Outing to Mariefred by steam boat and steam train: photos here!
  • Rode five railways and tram lines in 2½ hours on my way from Mariefred to Fisksätra.
  • There are X-ray and gamma ray pulsars too. How cool!
  • I just tried to turn the page in a paperback book by poking at the right-hand margin with my finger.
  • I’ve just signed on to work for the County Archaeologist in Linköping from mid-September to the end of the year. I’m going to take care of the Vadstena branch of the EU’s SHARE project, “Sustainable approach to cultural Heritage for the urban Areas Requalification in Europe”. Vadstena is a Late Medieval town that grew up around the mother convent of the Bridgetine Order in an area that had an extremely pronounced elite presence already from the 9th century on.
  • One of my childhood’s favourite authors has died. Thank you for the books, Christine Nöstlinger!
  • New begging method: a woman was wandering around the grocery store with a chicken, asking shoppers to buy it for her.
  • Tried some Hershey’s chocolate, did not like its indistinct taste and mushy consistency. Thought it was a Chinese knockoff. Turned out to be made in Mexico for the US market. I guess each country has its own varieties. I’m a Marabou man myself.
  • Ours is an astonishingly ugly lawn.
  • My meditating technique is based on the initiates concentrating on the sound of them waggling their own ears.

July Pieces Of My Mind #1


Gift from the sea.

  • I just refrained from making an obvious lewd pun about a co-worker’s significant other. (An old buddy commented on Fb, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Martin?”)
  • Movie: Stardust (2007). Rom-com in fairytale land, aimed squarely at fans of The Princess Bride. Grade: Good fun!
  • In her 1976 poetry chapbook Walking in Cornwall, Ursula LeGuin mistakes a 1798 park folly for an oddly small Medieval castle. (Present from Birger!)
  • The music producer Mark “Flood” Ellis, who re-mixed lots of Depeche Mode songs in the 80s, got his nickname as a young studio assistant because he always made lots of tea fast for his boss. The other studio assistant was called Drought.
  • The Italian word for development, which shares the etymology of the English word, is sviluppo. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
  • As an archaeologist I don’t think in terms of art or treasure. In fact it causes my discipline major problems that other people do, because it tends to destroy archaeological context.
  • Playing soccer against people from a country with no horizontal ground just isn’t fair.
  • I keep and use found cutlery.
  • Got into an exchange about Indiana Jones and such. Several seriously worded post-colonialist comments. Realised that it’s not that I don’t agree with them, it’s that as a Swedish archaeologist working in agricultural non-Saami Sweden I just don’t give a damn.
  • Evening quiet broken by loud incessant whooshing noise. Turns out to be the cars on the nearby 60 kph road. Lots of people still driving at 22:40. *sigh*
  • I’ll remember 2018 as a varied professional year. I’ve made maps for a historical corpus project, I’ve taught high school languages, I’m currently coordinating vote canvassing, and now I’ve been offered a job in heritage management for the final months of the year. While I’ve been doing all this I’ve also been the managing editor of an academic journal. Not a one-trick pony!
  • Swedish pizza cooks are almost all male.
  • Executive producer: Philip Capice.
  • Taught wife & daughter to set fire to shit using a magnifying glass. Literally: a bird dropping full of sunflower seeds.
  • Got a comment here on the blog from someone with good self-confidence. “You have an interesting blog as I will stay connected.”
  • According to Junior, the Japanese voice in the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast jingle says “自動でお風呂を沸かします”, “Jidō de ofuro o wakashimasu”, “Heating the bath automatically”.
  • The Medieval Swedish word for the first light breach-loading artillery pieces was føglare. This was a loan from Low German and originally meant “fucker” — slang, the etymology being “birder, birding, to bird”.

Anybody played this boardgame? Is it fun?


Canoeing with the Rundkvist ladies.