July Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Swedish 1960s translation of the Game of Life. I just found a uranium mine. According to Boardgame Geek, there are 13,879 better boardgames than this.
  • I bought a Kindle and I like it. Better than reading on my phone. No screen glare. Weeks between recharges. Bigger page.
  • As a boy I was shocked to learn that most people have to pay a monthly fee to keep a roof over their heads. I found this to be a horrifically unstable arrangement, similar to staying at a hotel. My parents had never spoken to me about their mortgage loan. I felt that the only monthly expenses anyone should by rights have to reckon with were food and utilities.
  • Reading Neal Stephenson’s 90s WIRED essays about stuff that was cutting edge 20 years ago. Very strange.
  • Me and Cousin E stumbled into our first Magic the Gathering tournament & got crushed. Found out it was elite level. National champion took part.
  • There’s a German brand of athletic braces etc that’s named Bauerfeind, “Farmer’s Foe”.
  • Gossamer: “Middle English: apparently from goose + summer, perhaps from the time of year around St Martin’s summer, i.e. early November, when geese were eaten (gossamer being common then).”
  • I’ve sung “Rock And Roll All Nite” twice to Cousin E, and he really liked it! Showed his appreciation by turning over and pulling the duvet over his head. Didn’t know the kid was into Kiss!
  • Young folks will soon see me as an arrogant and elitist greybeard. Funny how they will have no idea that I was once an arrogant and elitist 15-year-old.

My wife is getting good at Catan!


June Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • It would be quite nice if writers feared for their lives over the difference between publishing city and printing city in bibliographies. Then they would be more motivated to get it right.
  • My parents are great. They’ve got so much hiking gear, at 74 they still know exactly where they keep it, and they’re happy to lend it to me. All I’ve had to buy for four days’ mountain hiking is boots and a pair of sufficiently long waterproof pants.
  • 24 applicants for Stockholm U archaeology lectureship, several with exceptional qualifications. Looking at the list I realise that you could staff two new departments from scratch simply by picking people from that list.
  • Another reflection upon that list of 24 applicants. The average qualification level on that list is distinctly higher than among people who already have steady lectureships in archaeology at Swedish universities. Because recruitment isn’t generally very meritocratic. And once you have a lectureship you have neither opportunity nor motivation to continue improving your qualifications.
  • Miguel Coimbra has illustrated a crazy number of boardgames. And his art is always great!
  • I’ve been contracted to direct a gay erotic naval war movie set in Classical Greece. The title is Battle of the Salamis.
  • 19th century manuscripts in the ATA archives taught me to create a straight margin by folding the edge of the paper.
  • Donated blood, was taken care of by a med student who looked Jr’s age. So weird to me that I have become an affable avuncular presence. I do in fact feel less gawky, gangly and awkward than a quarter century ago though.
  • I just sealed an agreement with the Dept of Historical Studies at Gothenburg University to head their field archaeology course in September. If the County Archaeologist gives their approval, then me and the students will join the long distinguished line of excavators at Kungahälla, with Kristina Bengtsson as our main advisor.
  • Oh man. Does “steatite ashlar” mean anything to you? Täljstenskvadrar in Swedish. *breathes heavily*
  • A colleague just told me that the EU’s water directive means that enormous numbers of old mill dams in disrepair will have to be machined away in the near future. And that my 2015 book on Bronze Age deposition offers almost the only well-founded overview of what this may mean in terms of contract archaeology.

June Pieces Of My Mind #2

On a whim I searched for my surname in the Sites & Monuments Register and was awarded with a distribution map of fieldwork I have directed

  • Boiled cauliflower is bland and boring. But try slicing it and baking it at a high temperature in the oven with oil and salt. Good stuff!
  • Archaeoscience friends! The other day when I was feeling happy I had the idea that you guys should develop a method to measure lifetime happiness in human bone. Preferably including variability over the life span.
  • Proponents of market capitalism tend to confuse a description of how the market works with a prescription for how we should organise society. It’s basically “Don’t bring an umbrella, it’s supposed to rain!”
  • I got a letter with some apparently irrelevant genealogical info from a DNA relative. She comments, apologetically, “I am 86 years old and I suffer somewhat from dementia.”
  • I had no idea bird baths are such fun. Never get tired of watching our feathered neighbours at their ablutions.
  • Got my WorldCon scheduling today. I’m giving one talk for grown-ups, two for kids and I’m on one panel.
  • Cousin E taught me a piece of Chinese innuendo: “romantic action movie”.
  • I was pleased and surprised to find an uncredited summary of one of my papers in the local history annual on the back label of a beer bottle from the Fisksätra micro brewery.
  • Wednesday evening sailboat mini race. Sunshine, birdsong and barely any wind.
  • I want to live in constant summer.
  • Today’s my 25th anniversary as a professional archaeologist. With the exception of a few months on the dole in 1993 and 2001, I’ve supported myself and two kids exclusively with archaeological work and spent most of that quarter century at research.
  • I’m doing something utterly Lovecraftian today: sending a strangely heavy, black stone (found in the overgrown ruins of an abandoned Medieval castle on an island) to a university professor to learn his professional opinion about it.
  • Copy editing Timo Salminen’s paper for Fornvännen’s October issue, I learned something fun. As late as 1878, Oscar Montelius wasn’t aware of the Pre-Roman Iron Age in agricultural Scandinavia, which is 530 years long. He thought that the Bronze Age ended about AD 1 and was immediately succeeded by the Roman Imperial Period! My guess is that this was because of the PRIA’s notoriously scanty grave furnishings.
  • I just gave some wealthy sponsors of my research a guided tour of the multinational council housing estate where I live. They happily went along and were quite interested.
  • Begonias are named for Michel Bégon (1638-1710), a French official and plant collector.
  • First swim of the year in Lake Lundsjön!
  • 24 applicants for Stockholm U archaeology lectureship, several with exceptional qualifications.

June Pieces Of My Mind #1

Poppies along our fence

  • My wife receives her second university degree today. In addition to her 15 years in journalism, she is now also a trained psychologist. Go YuSie!!!
  • I assume 45’s lawyers cleared the covfefe tweet?
  • Small but very satisfying discovery. In 1902 a Medieval coin is found at Skällvik Castle. The finder makes a detailed drawing of the coin and sends coin & drawing to the authorities, who promptly lose track of the coin. Gone. In 1954 a list is drawn up of twelve Medieval coins found at nearby Stegeborg Castle. In 1983 the list is published — and suddenly there are thirteen coins on it. And the additional coin has a completely unexpected date, for Stegeborg, which was ruinous at the time. And the coin looks identical to the one that went missing in 1902…
  • Chinese prime minister offers voice of reason on climate, unlike POTUS. Yay, Republicans. Go you. /-:
  • Jrette comes home from first pop gig without parents. Describes ace female guitarist+bassist.
  • Whew, a final close call. The Johan & Jakob Söderberg Foundation comes through and saves my bacon for the last seven months that I plan to subsist on grants. Ample time to finish my castles book. Ask for me a year from now, and you shall most likely find me a contract archaeology man.
  • 18th anniversary with YuSie! And tea, and sunshine!
  • The HPV vaccine is already putting a big dent in the cancer statistics! And remember: here’s something young men can do to improve the health of future grandmothers. And to keep their penises wart-free.
  • In Jrette’s opinion, I’m pretty frenetic.
  • Almost bought Turkish bulgur. Then I remembered Erdogan and his rural power base. “Too bad, politically deluded durum wheat farmers”, said I, and bought wheat from Västergötland instead.
  • I like novellas, 120-150 pp. Very few multihundredpage novels are worth the time.
  • Cousin E beat me big at Patchwork again. Seems that with the summer approaching, the threat of having to sleep in the yard is no longer very effective.
  • I think it’s pretty neat that the designer of a game is often not a particularly strong player of that game. Inventing something with emergent properties that others discover.
  • The Wow Signal: it was a comet that hadn’t been discovered at the time.
  • “Squamous” means “scaly”.
  • “Rugose” means “has a folded/wrinkled surface” and is cognate with “corrugated”.
  • “Gibbous” describes the moon when it’s between half and full, and descends from the Latin word for hump.
  • Sorry to see the Tories get ahead of Labour in the UK elections. Right now it’s 47 to 40%. Some consolation though that UKIP has been wiped out entirely.
  • Someone plz explain how the UK election result represents any diminished Tory ability to get stuff through Parliament! *confused*
  • Haha, now I get it. Brits are super confused to have what us Swedes call “a normal coalition government”.
  • Before coming into a song, a bass player will often do this little slide along a string, “bwoing”, to announce her presence. What’s that called?
  • Here’s a piece of good news. During the past three summers’ fieldwork at Medieval castles, we dry-screened the dirt through 4 mm mesh. We also collected soil samples, a selection of which palaeobotanist Jennie Andersson has checked for carbonised plant remains. Jennie also found lots of tiny bones in the soil samples. Now osteologist Lena Nilsson has analysed the bones that Jennie found. And good news, as I said: no new animal species. If we had wet-screened the dirt through sub-4-mm mesh, we would certainly have found a greater number of bone fragments. But it would have been enormously costly in terms of money and labour. And it seems likely that we would not have identified additional animal species.
  • I found my hair! It’s currently on my chest, below my navel and in an amazing profusion on the small of my back. Really been wondering where it had gone to.
  • Listening attentively to the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” for the first time. What a strange & interesting production! It’s so dense and distant, kind of indistinct with no air in it. Like you’re underwater. Or nodding off on heroin, I imagine.

May Pieces Of My Mind #3

In the time of the lilacs, in the month of laburnum

  • I didn’t like any of this year’s Hugo-nominated novels, so I’ll be voting ”No award” there. But the short-story category really has me confused. The novels aren’t great, but most of them are certainly science fiction. Only one of the six shorts though is scifi as opposed to fantasy. Is there no longer a difference between the genre remits of the Nebulas and the Hugos? I thought the Hugos were strictly sf.
  • Today a number of contract archaeologists and metal detectorists have treated me like someone with valuable skills and knowledge. I really need that. Thank you guys!
  • I’ve realised that I’m not into games of the type “let’s all play our own game of solitaire and occasionally glance at each other”, so I’m selling off Race for the Galaxy and Glass Road.
  • Spoke to a physicist at the gaming convention. “I like mathematicians a lot. Won’t hear one bad word about them. I think everyone should own one!”
  • Gekkoes in Ullared
  • The summer weather and three days at cons have severed me from the everyday. I’m confused about going back to work.
  • Junior has received his final high school grades. They’re better than mine were. He’s set to move out from his mom and start studying computer science at Jönköping University come September.
  • Once 45 is ousted, hope his voters will realise they aren’t really equipped to make political choices. Better abstain for the common good.

May Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • I don’t know what “the winter of 1473” means. January and February? November and December?
  • Just got home from a sunny bike ride that was also incidentally my least successful geocaching expedition ever. I was in Hammarby Sjöstad, a recently built and densely populated urban area. The only way a geocache survives in such an environment is by extreme stealth. And GPS navigators do really poorly between tall buildings. I simply couldn’t find the little fuckers.
  • Cousin E has taught us the popular old Maoist card game “Fight the Landowner”.
  • Translationale Magnetresonanztomographie. Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Unternehmensbesteuerung.
  • I’m hoping that voters around Europe are paying attention to US news and learning a thing or two about what happens when you elect poorly educated and inexperienced anti-establishment candidates to high office.
  • The Wallenberg/SEB banking family founded Saltsjöbaden in 1892. Now they’re closing their branch office at the little local mall, est. 1969. I haven’t been to a bank office in years.
  • Saw an ad for equity release. I assume that it means mutual orgasm. I’m strongly pro.
  • Almost every one of the 40 participants at the Social Democrat intro course I attended today was either the child of an immigrant, the spouse of an immigrant or an immigrant. A lot of well educated and articulate people. Encouraging both for the party and for society at large.
  • I hate pre-installed apps that can’t be uninstalled.
  • I judge books by their first 50 pages, whether to continue reading. Now I looked at The Lord of the Rings in this way. In its first 50 pp you learn what the Ring really is. Oh yeah.

May Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Contraceptives really changed society radically. Prior to them literature is full of references to people being too poor to get married. Because getting married was the same thing as having children.
  • I’m disappointed with streaming movie services. I thought they were like music services, where it’s a rare exception if some older band’s catalogue isn’t available in full. On Netflix and Viaplay it’s in fact the other way around: you’re super lucky if an older movie is available, and you often have to pay extra.
  • Snoop Dogg’s autobiography: The Chronicle.
  • Poetry tip: don’t put the word “the” in a stressed position unless you really want to emphasise it.
  • Just applied for an academic job. Viewed dispassionately I think I’m a really good fit for the position. But I still feel a bit queasy about it. You see, in Scandinavian academe, when you’re turned down for a job you don’t just get a “Thanks for your interest” letter. You get a document where three highly qualified colleagues explain at length why they think you’re crap compared to applicant A and should only be considered if all alternatives are killed by falling grand pianos.
  • A metal detectorist just posted a picture of a recent find on Fb: a 1970s pendant with the Phantom’s protective symbol, the four sabres…
  • Confession: when I saw the May The 4th Be With You tweets I thought to myself “But I don’t care about Trek”.
  • Wonder if we still have access to apex steam locomotive technology. Or if important parts of it died with that generation of engineers.
  • Historical archaeology: I’m not quite sure to what extent I need to cite primary sources and academic discussion among historians. It’s fun but it takes time and is not really my job. I assume that there is room for archaeological research into the material record that uses historians’ results without taking the step itself fully into historical research.
  • The Chronicle of Duke Erik gets even better if you read “dude” for “duke” in it.
  • I haven’t got a Georgian landscape park with follies and a part-time hermit, but I can at least make syllabub.
  • Movie summaries are a huge genre of short films on Chinese YouTube. There are lots of celebrity summarisers. Cousin E thinks there may be several reasons: movies with sexual or political content are forbidden in China, people don’t have much free time, people may think some movies are too scary to actually watch.
  • I haven’t found the Philosopher’s stone. But I’ve synthesised its stereo isomere.
  • It hasn’t made me rich and employers aren’t fighting over me, but I gotta say, I’ve probably had more fun as a scholar than most of my contemporaries. Eight years ago I was finishing a book about Late Iron Age elite settlement. Three years ago, a book about Bronze Age ritual deposition. And now, a book about lifestyles at High Medieval strongholds.
  • Forget about Transylvania. In Myresjö parish, Småland, is a hamlet named Drakulla. On its land is an island in Lake Grumlan with the remains of a modest Medieval manor house. The written sources aren’t strong enough by far for us to exclude the possibility that Vlad Tepesz stayed there.
  • Sunset makes me happy-sad.
  • Our current situation, with only one hominin species on the planet, is recent and unusual.
Baggensfjärden, windy May

Baggensfjärden, windy May

April Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • Movie: Little Big Man. Tragicomedy about the Old West and the fate of the Native Americans. Grade: OK.
  • Submitted my tax returns. Always super easy, which is one of the benefits of having a low income and few assets.
  • I’ve researched my ancestry fully four generations back and found no madman, sorcerer, ape or sea monster. What am I doing wrong?
  • I re-read two random chapters near the end of Peake’s Titus Groan for the first time in 30 years. It’s really, really good stuff.
  • I grieve for the multitudes of Windows users who don’t know what flag-key plus M does.
  • The drumming on “Rock And Roll All Nite” is neat, meticulous, steady, a little fussy. I imagine Gene Simmons’s aunt coming into the studio and laying the track down in one take.
  • Provincial museum in neighbouring country asks me to review two papers for an anthology. I pass one and flunk one. Museum person expresses confusion. A few months later they inform me that two new reviewers have passed the paper I flunked. Apparently the definition of academic peer review varies. /-:
  • Why isn’t Mary Roach’s Grunt available as e-book in Sweden? Not Amazon, not Google, not Kobo.
  • Nope. Tried reading five of the Hugo-nominated novels, didn’t feel like finishing any of them. The sixth nominee is the third book in a series, so I’m not even giving it a try. I guess it’s obvious: these are nominations by the general fan majority, and I already knew that I don’t share the majority taste.
  • Movie: His Girl Friday. Hectic gag-studded 1940 rom-com set among newspaper reporters. Grade: great!


April Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • There is no year zero in the common era. 1 BC is followed by AD 1. This is because Dionysius Exiguus worked around AD 500, long before the Indian concept of mathematical zero reached European scholars via the Arabs.
  • I don’t quite understand why the guy in Springsteen’s “The River” is so super sad. It’s not in the lyrics.
  • I love Turkish fast food and “Here Comes The Rain Again”.
  • Thorn-stabbed left eye acting up again nine months after that brush-clearing session at Skällvik Castle. Right-hand one showing its sympathy by clouding up too, leaving me unable to read or write much. Annoying. But eye specialist is not worried, so nor am I.
  • I want music discovery algorithms to distinguish between songs I dislike and songs I love but don’t want to hear all the time.
  • Movie: Your Name. Anime feature with beautiful scenery, conventional humans and a confused supernatural time-travel body-exchange motif. Grade: OK.
  • Today’s my 18th anniversary of editing Fornvännen.
  • -thwaite in English place names is cognate with Sw. Tveta, originally having to do with the wood chips produced when felling trees to clear land.
  • DNA has identified a bunch of strangers as my 3rd or 4th cousins. I’ve contacted them and started to work with the interested ones to identify our link. In one case we know which Bohuslän hamlet the couple lived in. In another case we know in which two Värmland parishes they lived. Fun puzzle-solving exercise.
  • Reading Becky Chambers’s Hugo Award finalist novel A Closed And Common Orbit with two parallel narratives. One is about a whiny adolescent android who does nothing much, and it does not interest me. The other is about a 10-y-o Robinson Crusoe scavenging in a huge tech dump. That keeps me reading.
  • It’s kind of hard to play games with secret traitors when Cousin E is involved. He thinks it’s super fun to be allowed to betray the team, so he does it as fast as he can regardless of whether he’s a traitor or not, all while giggling hysterically. This tends to make life easy for the actual traitors.
  • Xlnt weird, dark, druggy song: Timber Timbre’s “Black Water”. Turn up the bass!
  • ResearchGate and LinkedIn do a spectacularly bad job of identifying academic jobs I’m qualified for.
  • Movie: Topsy Turvy. Gilbert & Sullivan and the original production of The Mikado. Grade: Great!
  • Danish encouragement: “Men du er jo selvskrevet til jobbet!! SØG DET, DU VIL VÆRE ET KÆMPE FJOLS HVIS IKKE DU GØR DET!!” Honestly, who wants to be a kæmpe fjols?
  • Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus has recently been discovered to have environments that would be habitable to Earth’s methanogenic bacteria. If it turns out that there is not in fact indigenous life there, then I think we should seed the place!
  • Dear UK: get a permanent citizen registry and scrap the notion of “registering to vote”. In Sweden I just bring my ID to the polling station.
  • The concepts of “man cold” and “man flu” suggest a traditional masculinity where men shouldn’t show weakness. Very 1950s.
  • Woo-hoo! I lost my cherry on this day in 1987! 30 years a lover!
  • Advice for you ladies: take nerds to bed. As someone so wisely put it — nerds read up, and unlike the jocks they always do their best since they can barely believe that they’re actually getting laid. Nerds like to figure out how stuff works and optimise.
  • Frustrating. In live debates, people often show signs of not listening to what I say, but to their expectations about what someone with my demeanour would say. It’s not that I make long speeches or use unfamiliar words or aggressive ones. I always make an effort to speak briefly, simply, to the point. But time and time again I realise that people I agree with believe that I don’t. I have a vague perception that they may see me as too bossy and confident to really be on their side.
  • The buzz word “digitisation” is used commonly and extremely vaguely in Swedish politics. It seems to mean “Internet and automatisation and scifi stuff”. It is at the same time something good and modern, and something scary that deletes jobs. It is at the same time inevitable and something that deserves political support to happen.

April Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • “If I blow my top — will you let it go to your head?” W.F. Gibbons
  • Hit jackpot on the car radio riding with Jrette and her buddy today. First some Tuvan throat singing. Then a fat version of the Marseillaise with orchestra, choir and a solo soprano who sounded like Piaf. It’s important that you outweird young people regularly to prepare them for life.
  • My soft tissue now has a distinctly later radiocarbon date than the dentine in my front teeth.
  • Over half a thousand people congratulated me on my birthday. Made me feel cherished, like through Facebook and in other ways I’m a small but appreciated part of many people’s lives. That feeling was a precious birthday gift!
  • Movie: Conan, the Barbarian (1982). Baroque and mind-blowing but also draggy and deeply silly. Grade: OK.
  • Somebody just reported an apparent Viking Period hoard find to me rather than to the authorities, because this person hasn’t had great experiences with them in the past. They were super grateful when I offered to talk to the County Archaeologist. I really think the National Heritage Board should make me a Finds Liaison Officer. Though I’d prefer to be called a Finds Czar.
  • ZZ Top have sounded ancient since they were 20. With the addition of the beards they began to look ancient too. But when their rock-solidly ancient-sounding hit “Gimme All Your Lovin'” was released in early 1983, all three band members were still only 33.
  • “Science is under siege. Trump and company plan to defund NASA’s Earth Science budget as a shot over the bow in their broader war against Observable Reality.” /Roy Zimmerman
  • The terrorist attack in central Stockholm that should really worry us took place in 2010. April 7 taught us nothing we didn’t know before.
  • Dawnstone occurs in various video games including Dragon Age and WoW. I wonder if this is a sly reference to eoliths.
  • I’ve spent the afternoon cycling, geocaching and napping.
Me and some of my best friends on our way to the Kaknäs Tower. Tor the Philosopher, David the Physio, me, my wife, Paddy the Coder, Roland the Gas Man, Carolina the Patent Engineer.

Me and some of my best friends on our way to the Kaknäs Tower. Tor the Philosopher, David the Physio, me, my wife, Paddy the Coder, Roland the Gas Man, Carolina the Patent Engineer.

Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara. Their scent means spring to me.

Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara. Their scent means spring to me.

I'm applying for an extra grant to make sure everyone on my next excavation wears these.

I’m applying for an extra grant to make sure everyone on my next excavation wears these.