June Pieces Of My Mind #1


Found an enigmatic fragment of an artefact from a bygone age.

  • Dad bragging: my kids are both fully fluent in Swedish and English. Jr speaks serviceable Japanese and Jrette speaks Mandarin. Both also have a smattering of French. Dudes, marry smart ladies!
  • When you have a really bad cold, your nasal mucus membranes are open wounds. And you keep blowing the scabs out of your nose to be able to breathe. You’d never do this to your knee.
  • There’s a housing area nearby named Talliden. Probably named for the thallid fungal creatures in Magic the Gathering.
  • Each Kindle has an email address. You can send PDF and EPUB files to it and have them show up on the device. Convenient! But if you buy an ebook for someone at Amazon, do not use this address. Use the person’s address or it won’t work.
  • Received a used washing machine. Gave it a trial run in the yard. Realised that the transmission belt had jumped. It turned out to be too short to put back on the wheels. I had an idea and put it in hot water, then dried it off, and it slid into place just fine. But then I found that the hub was damaged and immobilised.
  • A memory. In the Swedish Outdoor Association’s youth group, we were often told to bring a stick of wood from home so collectively we would have enough firewood without having to collect it in the forest.
  • Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” was a B side and he was surprised when it became a hit.
  • It’s obvious, but still I’m surprised. In 2002 Sweden’s current Minister of Culture (Greens) published an interview book about the country’s crown princess.
  • Planning a night out for our 19th anniversary. Thanks to Sweden’s recently much more intense contact with Afghanistan, I was able to buy tickets for an Afghan trio playing traditional music in the venerable Finnish Church as part of the Early Music Festival, and then dinner at Little Kabul.
  • YES!!! I got funding to design & print my Medieval castles book, and to cover the last finds conservation bill!
  • OK ladies, I know you wonder where all the sexy alpha males are tonight. Let me tell you, they are playing boardgames at my place. And they are gorgeous. Mmm-hmm.
  • Why does “Japanese Boy” by Aneka suddenly and unpromptedly start playing in my head over a quarter-century later?
  • Love boating on lakes and rivers whose shores I’m familiar with only from dry land.
  • Yay summer, a walk in the woods and immediately a tick on my Balzac.

May Pieces Of My Mind #3


First race of the year. Sunshine and a high wind!

  • I want a hoodie with the word HODIE across the back.
  • Cycling home last night at 11 I interrupted two young roebucks fighting in a suburban parking lot. Long, wickedly sharp antlers. They weren’t particularly afraid of me, but watched me with interest, then went back to trying to gore the shit out of each other. Scraping the ground with a front hoof.
  • Started my new job today. I’m coordinating the Labour / Social Democrat Party’s vote canvassing efforts in Nacka in the lead-up to the September 9 election. Nacka is an affluent and populous municipality adjacent to urban Stockholm where Labour hasn’t held power in almost half a century. Let’s see what we can do!
  • For two decades academia kept telling me that my presence didn’t matter and my opinions were of no account. An important motivation for me getting involved in politics is that here people say “We can really use someone like you, and we’d like you to take part in shaping policy”.
  • Cremated remains of Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto are on the New Horizons probe that mapped the planet.
  • Love a scifi con at cycling distance! I’m doing a talk on Medieval castles and a panel on fictional empires. Also moderating a panel on Ursula LeGuin.
  • Florence (of The Machine) writes “So I like to keep my issues strong / But it’s always darkest before the dawn”. I’ve fixed the rhyme for her: “But it’s always darkest before the dong”.
  • The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson is shelved under “War and Conflict” at Sickla public library in suburban Stockholm. In English and Swedish.
  • This summer I want to: ride a steam train and study the engine, and go kayaking, hiking and skinnydipping.
  • Sent my 7th book off to the graphic designer! Do you want all the gritty details about life at Swedish Medieval strongholds? Then I’m your Huckleberry.
  • Given the popularity of cheese burgers, I suggest that Hamburg’s inhabitants rename their city Käseburg.
  • Ishmael and Samuel have the same etymology, “hear” + “god”.
  • Why is the list of languages in LibreOffice’s spellchecker so damn long? Has the software suite even got dictionaries for Teke-Eboo and Nganasanic?
  • Sabbat’s 1987 single “Blood for the Blood God” mentions 10 million orc & goblin feet, that is, only 5 million orcs & goblins. So relax everyone.
  • The Latin word for nightingale, luscinia, is applied as a species surname to the thrush nightingale common in Linnaeus’s native Sweden. Not to the common nightingale that the Romans knew.
  • Why is wifi disconnection on a cell phone such a slow process?
  • The 8th century is known as the time of the Blue Ladies, because the Scandinavian bead market was dominated by blue and a few green bead types. Now the Danes are excavating yet another one of the workshops in Ribe that created these beautiful wares.
  • My grandparents were born in the 1910s. Cling film must have been completely futuristic to them.
  • Listened to a Coldplay song just to check if I still liked it. I did not. Then it got stuck in my head.
  • Reached the point in a really bad cold when you suddenly realise, hey, it’s been quite a while since I had to blow my nose!
  • My Chinese wife instructed me to make chlodnik, a cold Polish soup based on beetroot and kefir that was previously unknown to me. Yet I do not feel culturally threatened. What is wrong with me?!


May Pieces Of My Mind #2


The boats came with the summer. Goodbye, Stocksund!

  • Summer thunder woke me this morning. Deliciously unfamiliar.
  • Two herons flew past our house last night as I came home from Linköping, both headed towards the lake.
  • I love this time of year and I strongly oppose all other times!
  • The Sabbathy metal band Black Label Society have released an album named Grimmest Hits.
  • Whenever I meet Stockholm’s talkative, businessminded, frank and outgoing hijabi ladies, I think to myself that the people who read the hijab as a sign of patriarchal repression simply cannot know any of these women.
  • I think it was in 2001 that I made the acquaintance of a Swedish antiques smuggler who often travelled to China to buy looted finds. He was quite open about this and told me about his trade the first time I met him, despite knowing that I’m an archaeologist. We had a falling-out after I gave his contact info to a scholar who studies illicit trade in antiquities. The guy then broke up with his partner, with whom I’m still friendly, and I haven’t heard of him since. Until I received a link today to this blog entry from November 2016. Though he was apparently a respected expert by that time, he got convicted of fraud for faking a provenance to make a looted piece sellable. I get the impression that he may also have dealt in modern fakes.
  • Love being able to get all the old episodes of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast straight into my podcatcher now! Going to start listening back before I came on board.
  • If “Incels” think sex is a common resource that should be shared equitably, shouldn’t they all be ready to comfort lonely gay men?
  • Desirée means “the wanted one”, “the wanted child”. A loving name to give your kid.
  • Finished my high school teaching gig today, neatly tying up all loose administrative ends. It’s been fun! Next week I’m starting a new interesting job in a sector where I’ve never been paid to work before.
  • Waved at some guy from my car in the parking lot. Thought he was a neighbour. Dude walks up, opens passenger door, takes a seat. Smiles uncertainly at me. “Are you the guy?” “Nope, sorry!” We laugh, I slap his shoulder, he leaves.
  • Observant Swedish Muslims are in for a rough Ramadan. Extremely long daylight this time of year. No food from 01:30 am to 09:30 pm.
  • Things have been pretty precarious for me since my adjunct teaching gig in Umeå ended in January 2016. It’s been a time of financial shakiness and repeated kicks in the groin from academia. It would have been really bad if I hadn’t had my wife and kids to hold on to, not to mention if my health hadn’t been so strong. I still feel like a steel ball bouncing around in a pinball machine, and I don’t know where I’m going to settle, eventually. But my money situation is finally solid again, and I’ve secured jobs in three separate extramural sectors in less than seven months. So I’m optimistic.
  • Went to bed early, got up at 03:30. Watching the sunrise, enjoying the quiet.

May Pieces Of My Mind #1


Magnolia, Boat Hill, Fisksätra

  • Why is it so hard for Swedes to learn that there’s an S on the verb when he-she-it does stuff?
  • Now is the month of maying / When merry lads are playing / Each with his bonny lass / Upon the greeny grass
  • Wonder if Robert E. Howard would have enjoyed heavy metal.
  • Marking these national tests is like counting up the final score in Agricola or 7 Wonders. 50 times. Without getting to play the games.
  • Dad lunch: unattractive contents of four plastic boxes from fridge combined.
  • A hangover is just acetaldehyde poisoning after the ethanol has been processed. Wonder if you can get an instant hangover by drinking acetaldehyde.
  • Archaeologists, quit writing that you “recovered” stuff that you’ve found. You never saw it before, let alone owned it. You can recover your lost cell phone.
  • Refugee settlement should be distributed across the EU by GDP, not by the member countries’ population size.
  • Cure fans! Listen to Josh Rouse’s “Feeling No Pain”!
  • I seem to be employable. I keep getting employed!
  • Swedish universities are rigging their recruitment to make sure favoured internal candidates get jobs, according to Sweden’s leading university union. Over half of all job ads are published less than 21 days before the application deadline. Over a third of advertised positions meet with only a single application.
  • Over-designed rules: the national tests in English have a mechanism to dock points from students with excellent vocab and very poor spelling. Such students are extremely rare. Brings me back to reading 80s role-playing game rules.

Cherry blossom, Stocksund


April Pieces Of My Mind #3


Nanjing brocade at Millesgården Museum.


A Nanjing brocade loom, operated by two master weavers at the Millesgården Museum.

  • Wut? Raymond Chandler wrote a story named “The King in Yellow” in 1938!
  • There’s currently a major unsatisfied demand for field archaeologists in London. A friend of mine explained to me why there are so few people on this job market. She has an MA in archaeology and is working on a big contract excavation in Cambridgeshire. Her monthly salary is £1640 = $2300 = €1870 = SEK 19400. That is, after the great unsatisfied demand has already pushed the salaries up a lot.
  • In Sweden the County Archaeologist chooses which contract archaology bid a land developer has to accept. In the UK the developer chooses. No wonder UK archaeologist salaries are ridiculously low.
  • In 2017, 97,000 Swedes actively left the former state church. Most were young affluent urban men.
  • I didn’t like Crackerjack when I was 5. Haven’t tried it since.
  • Just saw spring’s first bumblebee!
  • Yay, Deezer has a new music discovery mode that plays tailored stuff but nothing you’ve heard before!
  • When a political party sends public messages, they are usually distasteful to its members. Because they are designed to draw in non-members, to flip people who support other parties.
  • A funny thing about teaching English in Swedish high school: along with gym and pretty much no other subject, spoken English is actually highly valued by the cool kids.
  • Have lost 0.45 litres of blood. Shall replace it with meal at recommended Persian restaurant.
  • You hear stories of PhDs who never manage to have a research and uni teaching career and instead end up teaching high school. I never expected to first have a voluminously productive research and uni teaching career, then end up teaching high school. For a higher salary.
  • Ceylon tea is a little weak. The trick is to use lots of leaves. And never remove them from the pot or cup. So good.
  • New Friendly Local Game Store in central Stockholm! Dragon’s Lair II, Sveavägen 118.
  • Why is the 1997 film In & Out so similar to Michael Chabon’s 1995 novel Wonder Boys, which was made into an eponymous movie in 2000? I asked this two years ago and I still don’t know.
  • Gaia Project: left the box and solo-play gear at home, went to gaming event. Discovered I’d also left the round-pass boosters & purple advanced tech tiles. Game perfectly enjoyable without them.

April Pieces Of My Mind #2


Stained-glass decoration at the Gröna Lund amusement park. Armand Rossander 1942.

  • The common Arabic name Abdul(lah) has the same sense as German Gottschalk: “Servant of God”.
  • Heard a really annoying Q&A on Quirks and Quarks. This older guy asked why ear & nose hair becomes way coarser and more plentiful as a man ages. Dermatologist replies by describing the hormonal mechanism that causes this to happen. No you fuck, he didn’t ask HOW it happens, he asked WHY!!!
  • Boss tells me he’s going to advertise a steady position similar to my current temp job and hints that perhaps I might want to apply for it.
  • Me: numismatics. Autocorrect: miniskirts.
  • I’m recording a covers album: pop tunes where I sing “inedible” for “incredible” and “spare tyre” for “desire”.
  • Today’s my 19th anniversary as co-editor of the archaeology journal Fornvännen!
  • Nils-Axel Mörner and Bob G. Lind publish another crank paper in a predatory Open Access journal from SCIRP. Now with Göran Henriksson as co-author! Supergroup!
  • Discovered that I can get a 25-minute scenic bike ride partway to work and only leave home 5 mins earlier. Out of shape after the winter.
  • Been reading about the big Beaker DNA study. Itching to learn what the two similar Swedish projects are coming up with! Actually, itching to be on those projects myself.
  • Realised why this person I help with their writing places the space before the comma or full stop, not after them. They’re used to reading Arabic from the right to the left.
  • Cycling to work this morning I interrupted a fight between two frenzied March hares. They fled along the road in the direction I was already moving, then turned off it and continued fighting.
  • In the movie The Graduate, the actress playing Mrs. Robinson is only 6 years older than the actor playing the titular graduate whom she seduces.
  • Junior texts me: “OMG my worldview just got shattered. GNOCCHI IS KNÖDEL”
  • Bought Tanith Lee’s highest-rated story collection Dreams of Dark and Light for $2.40 on my Kindle.
  • My solitary professional life has rarely involved any stressful tasks where others rely on me. When I do run into them, like today, it’s actually pretty invigorating.
  • Seems almost impossible to make a living from knowing archaeological small finds in Sweden. Not even the museums hire us. We have no Portable Antiquities Scheme.
  • I’m a member of three Swedish associations with paper newsletters. All three are eerily similar and depressingly redolent of 75-year-old contributors.

April Pieces Of My Mind #1


Ice gone. Soon there will be boats.

  • Movie: Visages, villages. Artist travelogue and buddy movie strongly reminiscent of cheap Swedish 1980s kids’ TV. Grade: fail.
  • Bought myself two presents. 1) Expensive boardgame: Gaia Project. 2) Genealogical DNA analysis of my mom’s cousin to help sort my DNA relatives into tribes.
  • The human character in the hit scifi boardgame Gaia Project is an androgynous brown person with corn rows.
  • Birthday: Drink lots of tea. Log four geocaches. Lunch with wife. Art exhibition including lots of brother-in-law’s work with wife and her buddy. Cake. Pakistani dinner with wife, Jrette and Cousin E. Blackbird song. Reading.
  • At one time I listened to albums I didn’t like much simply because I had them as mp3s on my early iPod. No broadband connection. Ripping CDs was slow.
  • Made up the semanticore, a monster that’s friends with the thesaurus. Found that the word already had 2,430 google hits. /-:
  • The new Dungen album is mainly instrumental groove pieces without much melody. /-:
  • Movie: Ready Player One. A race to find the ultimate Easter egg in the ultimate MMORPG. Grade: OK.
  • Bought frozen Polish dumplings. Don’t know the language. Can’t read the fine print anymore. Found out that they’re dessert dumplings with strawberry filling.

First coltsfoot!


March Pieces Of My Mind #3


The white two-storey structure is a barge in whose classrooms I often teach.

  • The rise of right-wing populism and the election of so many complete crooks and morons worldwide to public office really rams home the point that there is no good system of governance. Just a less bad one.
  • A new version of Facebook Messenger just asked me if I wanted to continue as Martin Rundkvist. The sun is shining. I’ve had a nice lunch. I have a loving family, and I need to drive Jrette early to school tomorrow for a skiing trip. I clicked yes.
  • Facebook’s Android app keeps reading my phone book, identifying my contacts and suggesting them as Fb friends. Creepy.
  • Been offered an extension of my temp teacher contract, which in effect probably means the rest of the spring semester with the same classes, and a small raise. Got enthusiastic responses from students when I told them they’re stuck with me. Paid off my half of the renovation costs for Jrette’s teen boudoir after half a year of instalments. Won a bottle of prosecco at the staff raffle, which my wife will enjoy.
  • Did a vote canvassing roleplaying exercise the other night. Dude, they did not know who they were asking to role-play.
  • Free of debt and on a generous full-time salary for the first time since 2002. Largely voluntary hardship, but hey, woo-hoo anyway!
  • I’ve got a new thing going and I’d like to have some quick responses to test the waters. Here’s my pitch. I’m the son of an ancient storm god who created the universe and forced out all other gods. I’m here on Earth to tell you all about a new agreement between humankind and the Supreme Being that will give everyone an escape from death into everlasting bliss. Pretty cool, huh? How do you like it? Are you in?

March Pieces Of My Mind #2


Arlanda control tower seen from the Clarion Hotel.

  • At the DiLeva sings Bowie show last night, there were two songs from after 1985: “Where Are We Now?” from The Next Day (2013) and “Lazarus” from Blackstar (2016).
  • Driving practice with a young friend from Homs. Super happy fellow after he aced his first motorway and then parked the car neatly in our garage.
  • In the Spirit Island boardgame, everybody may act at the same time, which means that nobody feels that it’s their turn and the game never advances.
  • Had my biannual health checkup. All values nominal except the triglyceride blood fats. It’s a bad sign if they’re above the nominal range. Mine are below it.
  • Remember last year when I was ranked #1 for this academic job in Trondheim but wasn’t even invited to give a test lecture? They just told me whom they hired instead. A local 36-year-old with 26 publications. Roughly one seventh of my scholarly output so far. Screw you, Academia!
  • 14-y-o Jrette playing the guitar in her room and singing First Aid Kit’s “Emmylou”. Young Stockholm woman singing hits by young Sthlm women.
  • Someone said that we’re back in the Cold War again. Another answered “I wonder what side the US is on this time.”
  • Reading my first Hugo packet last year was largely a major drag. Not doing that again.
  • For most of my life I’ve lived a few hundred meters from the small Viking Period pagan cemeteries of Fisksätra. I learned recently though that the student dorm where I lived from 1990-92 is even closer to such a cemetery. It is known only from early maps as it was completely destroyed when the Frihamnen docks were built about 1900. According to Clas Tollin, the cemetery probably served the hamlet of Unnaröra.

March Pieces Of My Mind 1


The Stockholm archipelago in winter, rarely seen by tourists. (Bullandö seen across Simpströmmen.)

  • Empty email inbox! Nothing I need to attend to now. I love the postpone function in Google Inbox.
  • Hehe. Old dude writes about shoreline displacement and what the level was around Stockholm in 1250 compared to today. For “today”, he cites a book from 1982. When the vertical displacement is about 5 cm per decade.
  • Listening to smoke-drenched stoner rock and cooking elk lasagna.
  • Starting a movement. We believe that people who are afraid of fluoridation are crazy. But that the iodine in table salt is mind-control.
  • Movie: The Shape of Water. Merman locked into military research facility forms bond with lonely cleaning lady. Grade: Great!
  • Love the new study in Antiquity of the Kanaljorden bones by Sara Gummesson, Fredrik Hallgren and Anna Kjellström! “We have recognised a sexrelated, non-random, trauma pattern, where non-lethal forces were directed to the back of the head of women and to the top of the head of men. The fact that the majority of the individuals show healed injuries seems to be more than a coincidence and implies that they were specifically chosen for inclusion in the deposition.”
  • Power tip: the Google Translate app for Android does OCR of text in photos. You can easily get the original photographed text in editable form, not just the translation.
  • Tenacious D’s “Tribute” has the same central conceit as Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. “This is not the best song in the world: it’s just a tribute”.
  • I tweeted a link to a scifi story by Arthur C. Clarke. Three pornbots have retweeted it so far. These bots are more than just a pretty face!
  • The Scotsman headline: ”Bodies may have to be exhumed to make way for Edinburgh trams”. Or in archaeologist lingo, “Edinburgh trams offer possible opportunity to excavate burial site”.
  • Celtic scholars, how can I tell the Goidelic from the psychedelic? Signed, “Dasedd ac Confulledd”
  • Zork alumni, take note: I played through Buster Hudson’s award-winning 2017 text adventure game The Wizard Sniffer, and enjoyed it a lot! It runs in your browser. Apparently lots of good interactive fiction is still published every year. I must look into this further.

Perks of teaching: got some marking to do and the tearooms to do it in.