February Pieces Of My Mind #2

“I usually paint slim young men, but this time the customer asks for a neckid lady, so I’m just going to paint one of my usual boys with a girly hairstyle and enormous fake-looking boobs”
(Lekythos by Alkimachos, 470/450 BC, Museo Archeologico di Siracusa)
  • In the 70s, adopting an orphaned child was cheaper from a poor country than from a rich one. For this reason, skin colour in 70s adoptees correlates with family income and social class in Scandinavia. (Possibly later and elsewhere too.)
  • For the first time, one of my same-age buddies has become a grandparent. If my son follows my own schedule, then I’m a bit less than four years from becoming a grandpa.
  • I haven’t written any fiction in years and years, and here I am now, having a blast writing an RPG scenario for Ashen Stars!
  • Received a silly news update. “THE VIRUS MUTATES EVERY SECOND”. Should have been “ALL VIRUSES MUTATE EVERY SECOND AND STILL WE’RE FINE”.
  • Meteorological spring reached Stockholm on 15 Feb last year. And now the forecast promises a minimum night temperature above freezing from Sunday on. Can’t wait!
  • Suddenly remember this US election where one candidate counted on the voters being a) homophobic, b) ignorant, and accused the other candidate’s sister of being a THESPIAN! (shock, horror)
  • The petty royals at Aska played hnefatafl with gaming pieces made from Norwegian whale bone. And there are identical gold foil figures at Aska in Östergötland and Borg in Lofoten on Norway’s North Atlantic coast.
  • Wonder if game developers and players know that Valheim means “Home of the Slain” and is a rare Norwegian surname.
  • “Rihanna sparks backlash after wearing Ganesha pendant in topless photo”. Yeah, because nudity is completely unheard of in traditional Indian religious art!
  • [posh accent] Two slightly… DISTORTED guitars!
  • Yay! New Mars rover landed safely and is talking! Full of new instruments with better capabilities to look at traces of past life!
  • Another reason to be happy: the ICU admissions for COVID-19 in Sweden’s most populous county were about 15 people last week. At the peak of the first wave in April, that number was 124. And at the peak of the second wave in December, it was 57.
  • The weather forecast for Sunday predicts a top temperature of 7°C. I’ve celebrated Midsummer at that temperature. Mixed feelings between my longing for spring and my concern over climate change.
  • I think it’s pretty science fictional that when the Dean sends everyone email in Polish, I can just click one button and get the whole thing in Swedish.

February Pieces Of My Mind #1

Skiing on Lake Dammsjön
  • I never expected stupid, ignorant and rude people to become such a political problem.
  • Latest bread batch: sourdough, leftover lager beer, whole grain wheat, sunflower seeds.
  • I sure hope the new Mars rover lands OK, but I don’t quite understand what it’s got to do with Perverse Ear Ants.
  • My kids and possibly myself should be around for the centennial of the first moon landing. That’s pretty scifi.
  • Movie: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988). Fatherless boy grows up in the projection room of his small town’s only cinema, forging a close relationship with the childless projectionist. Grade: OK.
  • I think the term “existential threat” should be reserved for situations involving Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • The Swedish magazine Vi used to have a page of reader-contributed jokes. It had a rewards ladder with several steps where you got paid more for a better joke. But there was also a bottom rung: “This is really awful. We’re sending an invoice.”
  • In rural rivalries, people used to say, “Those folks in Ögleboda are so stupid that they mistake flax fields for lakes”. I actually made that exact mistake once. When flax blooms it forms a pale blue expanse in the distance.
  • Here’s the smoking gun (see below). A strap buckle from a 15/16th century spur. If you see a knight around Vendel with only one spur on, then he’s the asshole who looted several of the boat burials at the church.
  • Ebook fans, check out Fadedpage.com where you can download fine digital editions of books whose copyright has lapsed in Canada. Which happens way faster than elsewhere. Hint, hint.
  • The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine knows about me! I’m a known entity! They know when I was born and that I’m an Ur- und Frühhistoriker!
  • A student asked me something and I realised that the field of Gotlandic picture stone studies is completely closed to contributors who can’t read German. At least until someone translates the 984 pages of Lindquist 1941-42 plus Oehrl 2019, or writes a study in another language that is comprehensive enough that it supersedes them. Na ja…
  • 2019 Feb 16: snowdrops. 2015 Mar 10: crocus. 2012 Mar 22: crocus. 2018 Apr 8: coltsfoot / tussilago. 2016 Apr 10: coltsfoot / tussilago. Longing so much for spring.
  • I’ve got an unusual task. I have to describe my research career as impressively as possible. But I can only refer to work I have published in journals or with publishing houses that are on a list put out by the Polish Ministry of Higher Education. And the Ministry is almost entirely unimpressed by Scandinavian archaeology journals and publishing houses.
  • I want a society that de-incentivises skill in the handling of money.
  • 2.6% of Swedes have received at least one dose of a COVID19 vaccine. During February and March, enough vaccine will be delivered to give an additional 21% one dose.
  • Feeling smug, remembering colleagues I debated with 25 years ago about what archaeology should be, who have since had little impact on what archaeology is.
  • Thinking about Shanks & Tilley, I’m reminded of the “Alan Sokal Academic Left” to which I count myself. We’re academic Lefties who seek scientific truth first, and want to further Leftie political causes second. You can’t right a societal wrong if it’s impossible to determine if the societal wrong has any objective existence.
  • I never read the forewords to anthologies or magazines that consist of summaries of the contents.
  • A failed attempt to read Sven Delblanc’s 1967 novel Nattresa reminded me of how much I hated Joyce’s Ulysses with its oblique and allusive method of not telling a story. I am now much relieved to be reading Ian Fleming’s 1958 Dr. No.
  • Movie: Dunkirk (2017). The evacuation of Dunkirk in all its smudged and ragged glory. Grade: good!
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is now online for free, more than 18,000 entries!
  • Rubbish: field archaeologists dig it up and theoretical archaeologists write it down. Paul Bahn, Bluff your Way in Archaeology.
Strap buckle, c. AD 1500, found at a depth of 45 cm in boat burial 11 at Vendel Church.

January Pieces Of My Mind #3

International household: Han Chinese princess masters and internalizes Germanic bread culture.
  • So 45 might start a party of his own and become kind of a fascist Ralph Nader now? That would be GREAT for the Democrats!
  • What will my space detectives discover, what will they deduce about the small ship they found docked in a supposedly disused hangar on the Anaitis-17 space station, at the end of the previous episode? Stay tuned for tomorrow night’s Ashen Stars session!
  • First starry night in weeks and weeks ❤
  • I find myself using the local office software on my computer less and less because Google Docs has a better user interface. The one thing it can’t do is hyphenation.
  • When the first gravitational wave detector came online we immediately saw previously unseen things. Maybe one day another exotic instrument is invented and immediately picks up non-stop alien broadcasts, just like that.
  • The repeated interbreeding between Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans in the Late Palaeolithic kind of obviates any discussion of later “racial purity”. (-;
  • Half past four. Blue twilight in Fisksätra, gibbous moon rising.
  • First snowdrops.
  • It’s fascinating to think that since a) humans will not be around for ever, b) humans will never be able to sterilise Earth, there will definitely be a post-human species radiation on Earth, like after all the previous mass extinctions.
  • One of the sillier ways you can get hurt is when you slip on ice, make a huge reflexive flail to keep your balance, and stretch a pectoral muscle.
  • 143 small satellites from several companies launched on one rocket. Miniaturisation!
  • Animal testing for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals can be nasty. But if we abolished it, testing would probably switch to poor people somewhere around the world.
  • One good thing about being a secular modern Swede is that you never need to have fights with your teenage kids over their sexual activity. You just check that they understand about consent, their own and others’, and off they go to do their thing. ❤
  • I hardly ever cry except for when I listen to Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”. ❤
  • Check out Jr’s invention: replacing the battery-powered storage on a Game Boy cartridge with static storage!

January Pieces Of My Mind #2

Meet our neighbours, Rabbit and Pheasant.
  • I knew Olle Sahlin for almost 40 years. He was my temp teacher first. Then a gaming celebrity. Then a Tolkien Society friend. Then the partner of my fiancée’s best friend and our marriage witness. We had a joint birthday party in ’96 when I turned two dozen and he turned two score. Then he did the typographic design on my PhD thesis. He was 64 when he succumbed to autoimmune disease, an unlucky genetic die roll.
  • We don’t worry about cadmium in plastics anymore like they did in the parenting magazine my mom subscribed to in 1979.
  • “The problem for the GOP is that every Republican on Capitol Hill needs the support of these protesters — and people like them — for survival,” a senior Trump adviser said. “Unless and until the party can find a message that is more popular with the white working class than Donald Trump, there is no bright future for Republicans.” politico.com
  • So funny what Americans call the “radical left”. The Swedish word for those policy positions is gråsosse, “grey social democrat”. You should see the European radical left!
  • There’s a Starmer waiting in the sky
  • Almost unbroken overcast for 6½ weeks. The weeks with the least daylight in a northern year. Because of the pandemic, I don’t leave my home area much. There’s hardly anything happening anyway. And no snow. So apart from the vaccination starting, this is the worst winter I’ve ever seen.
  • The various Slavic names for Germans and Germany go back to a word meaning “mute”. The ones who don’t respond comprehensibly when you speak to them in Slavic!
  • Looking at the entire dataset of presidential impeachments since 1776, roughly half of them have been directed at men named Donald.
  • H.P. Lovecraft idealised the 18th century Enlightenment and was highly skeptical of the 17th century Puritan religious orthodoxy that preceded it in his native New England. In his fiction, Puritanism is always bad. Even 17th century architecture is evil. Lovecraft lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Now I learn that the Puritans of the nearby mainland hated Rhode Island because it was not a religious colony! Period writers call it “the Isle of Errors”, “the sewer of New England”, and warn against profane “Rhode Islandism”.
  • Joey Santiago’s Twitter bio says simply “I have attended every show the Pixies have ever performed.”
  • Surprised and intrigued to find that H.P. Lovecraft’s obsession with degeneracy, backsliding, miscegenation, creolisation goes straight, word-for-word, back to local New England Puritan writings of the mid-to-later 1600s. They wrote about lapsing from Puritanism and Englishness.
  • While editing the journal Fornvännen, I dealt with a few rather difficult authors who didn’t like to get edited. One, I recall, had the idea that in a bibliography you must print the city of publication exactly as it is printed in the book. It was a good moment when I could see the coin drop in them after I explained “You are writing in Swedish. There is no reason for you to use the Finnish and Danish forms of those countries’ capitals’ names anywhere in this paper.”
  • Our back yard in Cos Cob, Connecticut, when I was 5 years old. Fireflies. Raccoons. Huge tomato. Small cucumbers. Climbable rock face. Interesting pieces of roofing felt blew off the neighbours’ abandoned gazebo.
  • Myself and Julia Schulte Koskinen have published our report on September’s fieldwork at the West Cemeteries of Aska in Hagebyhöga, home of the famous 1920 burial with the many silver pendants.
  • Biden to elevate top White House science post to Cabinet level!
  • Amazed by these morons who compare the mortality stats for 2020 with other years and conclude that covid-19 is no biggie. You may have noticed that we kind of didn’t behave quite like other years in 2020?!?!?
  • Density of granulated sugar: 850-900 g per litre. Icing sugar: 600 g per litre.
  • Fun fact: “This rewrites history” means “This is interesting additional source material”.
  • Osteologist Rudolf Gustavsson reports a preliminary result from the Aska platform mound: the highly fragmented bones from the capping stone layer laid down after the mead-hall was torn down include several human skull fragments. Can’t wait to do radiocarbon and ancient DNA on them! This is the third such skull find I’m aware of from Viking Period Östergötland. There’s also Herrebro in Borg parish and Ströja in Kvillinge.
  • About that deceased murderer & music producer. It’s pointless to classify people as good/evil. Our actions spring directly from nature and nurture. For this reason, when someone commits a gravely violent act, I always find it equally pointless that the court wants to find out if the person was sane and responsible for their actions. It’s completely beside the point. All we need to know is that this is a person who is prone to gravely violent acts and needs to be monitored.
  • I’m having a blast at work since I started at Uni Łódź and embarked on full-time research. Looks like I’m excavating at six sites this season!
  • C. 1700-1830 there was a form of poor man’s unarmed honour duel in America with the expected outcome that the loser got an eye gouged out or a nose, ear or lip bitten off.
  • Haha, this is awesome. 40 years after the American Revolution, many New Englanders were so unhappy with the USA that they seriously discussed seceding from the Union! They had been eclipsed by Virginian leaders and didn’t like all the Frenchmen, Spaniards, slavers and Native Americans that they were politically united with. See the Hartford Convention. (US folks no doubt learn this in middle school.)
  • In Mark Twain’s 1881 novel The Prince and the Pauper there’s this scene. A soldier, just returned to London from years of imprisonment in France, rescues a 9-y-o boy dressed in rags from the boy’s abusive father. He then takes the child from the street straight up to his cheap hotel room and… decides on the spot to become a kindly foster father to the boy. I wonder if you could get this past an editor today, no matter if you pitched it as a book for grownups or for children.
  • The Soyuz is a dependable bus to orbit and back. Over 140 of them have flown since 1966. Good tech! Though not reusable.
  • When you take up gardening in an area with cold winters like Scandyland, your longing for spring reaches new insane depths. I spend absurd amounts of time thinking about rose bushes.
  • 1.4% of Sweden’s population has received the first shot since vaccination started 3 weeks ago. Risk groups first.

January Pieces Of My Mind #1

Lake Lundsjön
  • When I was a teen, I saw people around age 50 as solid authority figures. Now I’m a 50ish university professor, but I find it hard to believe that anybody would see me that way.
  • Jrette had a disposable analog camera this summer. The image quality makes her and her friends look like 1980s teens.
  • I’ve been habitually in online forums for over 30 years. What does everybody do with their sudden ideas and jokes and puns when they can’t splash them across a message board?
  • That’s a first. The tube in my rear bike tyre is undamaged, but it is swelling out of a rip in the tyre.
  • Jrette reports that it’s way easier to explain what your parents do when they are clearly labelled “archaeologist” and “psychologist” than if they do something with IT or finance or are “consultants”.
  • The German pronunciation of Lodz is unexpectedly “lottsch”.
  • Crows and magpies treat pheasants with scaredy respect under the bird feeder.
  • When my Kindle needs WiFi, it doesn’t ask “Turn on WiFi yes/no?” It asks “Turn off aeroplane mode yes/no?” Confusing.
  • Most people probably encounter parodies of Gothic horror long before actual Gothic horror.
  • Jr. came home from a year in Tokyo yesterday, happy and speaking rapid-fire fluent Japanese.
  • Met a house cat in the woods near Markus & Karin’s house. Its huge winter fur made it super chonky. It was very friendly, purred and allowed me to cradle it. Its paws were very wet from splashing around in puddles. Then it climbed a small tree for fun.
  • It’s almost irrelevant to me that the Kindle has a lot of storage space. Because I see few days without wifi, and where there’s wifi the Kindle offers millions of books.
  • Peaceful transfer of power is a main requisite when judging whether a country has democracy.
  • Despite today’s fascist clown insanity, I am super happy about the news from Georgia. Both chambers of the US Congress and the White House will be Democrat-controlled for at least two years, possibly much longer! Let me tell you, it’s a huge relief to anyone under the US’s nuke umbrella.
  • New COVID-19 ICU cases per week continue to drop in Stockholm County since the peak four weeks ago.
  • Robert Heinlein famously said “An armed society is a polite society”. Suddenly it strikes me: that’s a really shitty argument for lax gun control.
  • Beloved children’s author Edith Nesbit was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
  • Wonder if people have gone through all the pasta, flour and toilet paper they hoarded back in March.

December Pieces Of My Mind #3

Baggensfjärden & Sumpholmen
  • I don’t really know what a Christmas movie is. I never go to the movies or watch movies at home around Christmas.
  • I’m always interested in historical and archaeological studies of social and political issues. But it’s more common to find historical and archaeological studies that name-check social and political issues despite barely being relevant to them. Always in the same over-earnest, slightly aggrieved tone. I find these failed attempts at political relevance ridiculous.
  • Confession: I’m a space fan but I don’t understand why a conjunction is a big deal.
  • We’re learning from the Norwegians! Sweden is also getting a project to check what is thawing out of our permanent snow patches and glaciers.
  • Is Pratchett’s Dune sequel The Wee Frehmen any good?
  • I’m so traumatised from 16 years in the academic precariat, that one year into my position with Uni Łódź I still catch myself feeling envious of people with university positions.
  • Was reminded that like Nerthus, like Grendel’s mom, like any Lady of the Lake, the Aesir goddess Frigg lives in a wetland: in Fensalir, Fen Hall.
  • Factories used to spew carbon dioxide that heated the planet plus particles that cooled the planet and caused lung disease. We got rid of the particles.
  • Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Didactic story about accepting your lot and helping your fellow men. Grade: OK.
  • People seem to have had enormous problems with their digestion up to c. 1945. Or at least been super focused on it. I’ve never been aware of mine either way.
  • Awesome. In Poland there are “sworn translators”. “I swear I will translate until I drop! Nothing is going to stop me!”
  • So dark out in the afternoons and evenings. Feels like our house is on the seafloor. I half expect big fish with bioluminescent markings to swim past the windows.
  • German has lent the word Schublade, “dresser drawer”, to Swedish (skufflåda) and Polish (szuflada).
  • Maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad about being judged unimportant when someone wrote an English Wikipedia article about me. I wrote an article about an indie band from Philadelphia that released eight albums, and they weren’t judged important enough either.
  • Had a 20th century moment. The keeper of the midday-empty sports bar was phoning in an order for vegetables. Slowly, one item at a time.
  • Sweden’s best rock journalist Fredrik Strage interviews musicans big and small, young and old, often in English, sometimes in Swedish. I’m a proud patron!

December Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • AD 1-500 graves in agricultural Sweden often contain resin caulking from cylindrical bark containers. This material consists of birch-bark tar and beeswax, and is apparently completely inedible to microbes. Undisturbed caulking forms a tennis racquet: a ring inside the base of the container and a handle covering the seam in the cylinder’s side. The caulking makes a detailed cast of the vessel wall. Below is an unusually wide and fine example of the side seam, from an otherwise poorly furnished cremation pit at the severely damaged Lustigkrog cemetery, Edsberg parish, Närke province (SHM 13308).
  • I learned about UK “public right of way” the hard way. It means “not illegal path”. Not “firm dry hiking trail”. Ended up mud-spattered up to my thighs.
  • Hey UK folks, is Johnson counting on being able to blame your coming calamities on the EU, or does he realise that he is likely to soon be monumentally impopular even among the brexiter demographic?
  • Movie: Nothing Like a Dame (2018). Four legendary English actresses talk about their professional lives. Grade: OK.
  • Space fans everywhere: enthusiastic about the annual Geminid meteor shower coinciding with a new moon and a dark sky. Stockholm: under unbroken cloud cover for three solid weeks. /-:
  • The members of my space detective role-playing group are so smart that not only do they disregard red herrings, they regularly come up with ways of getting information that allow them to bypass much of the way the scenario designers have intended them to travel to the denouement. 😃
  • Cycling home from town in the dark, I stop at the gas station to buy milk. Exiting, I realise that I’ve been shining my headlamp on the cashier when paying. Felt a little inconsiderate.
  • William Gibson’s classic cyberpunk novels appeared c. 34 years ago. The big video game craze right now is like people in 1986 going nuts over scifi from 1952, such as Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man.
  • “Academia is a pyramid scheme: Each biomedical professor trains an average of six doctoral students across her career, but only 16 percent of the students get tenure-track positions.” / Ed Yong
  • Famously, the official language of the EU is Bad English. The official language should arguably be from one of the member states. So it’ll soon be time to switch to Bad Irish English.
  • A fine Scandy expression: Det är ingen ko på isen, “No cow is on the ice”, it’s not a matter of pressing concern.
Resin caulking from the Lustigkrog cemetery

December Pieces Of My Mind #1

My friend of many years Jonas Wikborg has designed ZZ Top’s next tour poster.
  • Before our recent fieldwork at Hassle in Glanshammar, only two pieces of Style I animal art (AD 450-540) were known from Närke province. We found three more and made Hassle the Style I capital of the province. This is what happens when you invite 25 detectorists for three days to the right field.
  • First pheasant in 12 years sighted around our house, a female.
  • Few people who show Powerpoint presentations on Zoom and Teams seem to understand whether they broadcast the audience view or the presenter view.
  • Suddenly recall being on the board of the local historical society for two years when I was 23-25 years old. It was kind of a drag. The board meetings were way too long for their content, because the chairman liked to talk and was in no hurry to finish the proceedings. He was a retired lawyer and used the society as a vehicle to protest plans for a traffic node miles from the edge of the society’s territory of interest. I have a lifelong aversion for inefficient meetings.
  • Googling myself, I find a forum thread where angry men argue over whether I should have called the person who directed the Aska mead-hall project a builder instead of an architect. Yay the Internet.
  • It’s cheering to see that not all of Poland is heading for Brown Shirt Land. In spring the Rector of Uni Łódź where I work made a public statement in support of LGBTQ staff and students. And just now I got a letter offering free online training in intercultural management. “The Intercultural Management classes have been designed so as to exclude unconscious setting of boundaries, to support integration and effective communication in the more culturally diverse environment of our university, and to meet the challenges faced by employees of a modern, multicultural university, who with this integration, communication they manage and work by co-creating new, well-functioning academic communities.” [Googe Translate]
  • Kumla in the 1620s: teenage girl Margareta Jonsdotter has ecstatic visions, poltergeist activity is noted, her home becomes a short-lived place of pilgrimage.
  • Movie: Big Fish (2003). Coming to terms with a mythomaniac absent dad. Grade: OK.
  • I’ve been annoyed over this for like 35 years: when they microwave the lighter fluid in Gremlins, why does it explode right when the oven timer reaches zero?
  • Wonder when covid-19 vaccination will become commercially available in Sweden and what the price will be at first. (Posting this on Facebook caused major political rage from fellow Social Democrats who somehow thought I had said ”I demand the option to buy vaccination immediately”.)
  • Felt bad because a year of off-and-on solo study has not put my Polish anywhere near the level of my French. Then remembered that I had six years of formal French lessons. Ahem.
  • “In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.” /D. Adams
  • In ch. 11 of his autobiography, Casanova (writing in the 1790s) states that many girls never have a hymen and that people who pay too much attention to it are foolish asses.
  • Librarians are a passionate and amorous tribe. I just saw a prime example of bed dreads untouched by the hair brush this morning.
  • Book about 18th century Italy: Ostiglia. Me: Osgiliath!?
  • Chapter 14 in Casanova’s autobiography opens with him complaining that his servant has thrown away the first draft of it.
  • April 1744. 19-y-o Casanova returns to Vrsar in Croatia after a year’s absence and the town medic is overjoyed: he has made a fortune from treating the gonorrhoea epidemic that Casanova caused last time, and now he hopes the young man will start a new one.

November Pieces Of My Mind #3

Lilla Sickla with its boardgames gazebo
  • With three weeks left of my first stint with the Örebro County Museum, I have scored a fun assignment. I’m looking at everything from the Iron Age in the province of Närke, starting with the Swedish History Museum’s online catalogue. It’s for a survey of powerful people during the period 150-800, similar to my 2011 book about the adjacent province of Östergötland.
  • In addition to the very productive Kent Andersson and Kenneth Svensson, I’ve discovered that there is also a Kenneth Andersson in Swedish archaeology who is not a lazy man either. Now I’m confused.
  • One hundred pages into Casanova’s autobiography he is still a virgin.
  • Syphilis was endemic in Central America in 1492 and raged through Old World populations in the same way as smallpox did in the New World after contact. Sadly it appears that modern Native Americans have no particular innate protection against the STD.
  • Space-time is expanding. The universe is like a rising dough. Our planet is a grain of starch caught in the gluten filaments of gravity.
  • I’m glad I bought the scifi role-playing game Ashen Stars and got such a good, dependable group together after all these years. I enjoy the prep and the play sessions and the shared storytelling!
  • The Mars InSight lander has been active on Mars for three years today!
  • Four people who went to Narbonne High School in L.A.: Frank Black of the Pixies, Mat Kaplan of Planetary Radio, Quentin Tarantino, Bo Derek.

November Pieces Of My Mind #2

A pretty nice view on the road I cycle to town
  • Re-reading Trollkarlens hatt / Finn Family Moomintroll. As a teen I found it childish and a little silly. Now I love it again. ❤
  • OK young folks, of course you revel in health and beauty and youth. But there is more to come! You have never yet experienced the sublime fulfilment of finally tweezing an elusive bristle out of one’s ear!
  • All political parties emphasise “freedom”. The Right means freedom for rich people. The Left means freedom from rich people.
  • Santería is an African diasporic religion that developed in Cuba between the 16th and 19th centuries. It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity. All Finnish men named Santeri are members.
  • Europeans hate US elections where the Electoral College overrides the popular vote. But if the EU had a federal president chosen by popular vote, the <10 million Swedish voters would have very little influence on who was elected.
  • Impressed by Dr. Hannes Rolf’s new PhD thesis titled A Union for the Homes — collective mobilisation, tenant organising and power struggle on the rental market in Stockholm and Gothenburg 1875-1942 (main text in Swedish).
  • The Viking Period ship burial currently under excavation at Gjellestad is only 5.4 km from the Swedish border. Dammit!
  • The classic and highly inventive horror writer Arthur Machen translated Casanova’s autobiography into English.
  • Cycled home from town, took an hour, then had hot chocolate and my own toasted sourdough with Västerbotten cheese before bedtime. ❤
  • Using the ZooMS method, Sam Presslee of the University of York has identified the animal species sacrificed prior to the building of the Aska platform mound: horse, as an unnamed 1980s osteologist had already determined. Also the animal species whose bone was made into gaming pieces used in the Aska mead-hall: right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, Sw. nordkapare. This beast measures 13-16 m in length and weighs about 100 tonnes. The bone was probably collected from a hunted or beached whale on the coast of Norway and traded via Kaupang or Heimdalsjordet.
  • Should I try to get the phrase “Don’t Hassle The Hoff” into my report on the fieldwork at Hassle in Glanshammar?
  • Listening to a podcast about Japanese military & civilian mass suicides on Saipan and Guam in 1944. And I recall the Swedish Extreme Right’s “victory or death” rhetoric in the 2018 election. Oh, you little absolute shits.
  • Old guy posts a map of a nearby area dating from the 1700s where all the relatively low-lying agricultural land and bog has been cut out to represent the sea. Claims that this is what the Medieval shorelines were like. I take a deep breath, get a real shoreline map from the Geological Survey’s site (where anyone can get it) and post it with some friendly words.