Veckans ord: bågsekund

En bågsekund är den sträcka man hinner på en sekund med en motorcykel. I innerstaden är den betydligt längre än en bilsekund.


Kul med språket: Obfuskera Svenskans recension av De Välvilliga och utge den för att vara från Expressens sportsidor

Anders Myrin lever i en parallell värld:
Och hur skulle det kunna vara ­– annorlunda? Varken de hårdföra sidorna hos Lagerbäck (de disciplinära och rationella bevekelsegrunderna), eller hans själsligt ”förmildrande omständigheter” (i synnerhet hans bokstavligen livsfarliga hemlighet: homosexualiteten), som psykologiskt skulle kunna klarlägga hans beteende, kan längre rädda honom från det Kainsmärke han i någon gudomlig mening tvingas bära. Och det i tid och evighet, hur många välvilliga eumenider som än korsar hans väg mot den egna triviala döden.


Love in the Old Town

Juliet beneath St George and the DragonI just got back from the Old Town where I've seen a promenade performance of Romeo and Juliet. The young actors made skilful use of the geography and chronology, starting with the prologue in the evening sunshine on Stortorget, the play meandering through alleys, squares and passages while the sun set and the final tragic deaths took place in dark night behind the cathedral. The musical accompaniment ranged from ”Mamma är lik sin mamma” to Gregorian Dies iræ.

The Old Town takes on a special kind of magic late at night when the tourists have returned to their hotels and cruise ships, when the noise dies down and the cobble-stoned alleys are lit by street lamps and light filtering down from house windows. (And there is no cause for nostalgia, because the streets were never so clean nor well-lit, nor the people so healthy and wealthy, in the days of either Birger Jarl, Gustaf Vasa, Bellman, August Blanche, or Nils Ferlin.)

There are still a few performances left this coming week. Do not put it off, run and go see!


Friends in high places

I visited friends living on the top floor of a Lidingö high-rise with an astounding view of Stockholm. My camera has a night scene setting, but even resting the camera on a surface it's difficult to hold it still long enough to get a good picture, but oh what a beautiful city this is!
Night view of Stockholm

Veckans ord: cellofan

Somliga dagar, när ingenting stämmer och vädret är vidrigt, är cellon extra tung på väg hem från fiolläraren och då är man rätt trött på cellofan.


Sittin' on the dock of the bay

A friend, dearly beloved not only by me but many others, turned forty yesterday and the circle of friends was quietly convened for a surprise party in the archipelago. Like champagne-toting ninjas all converged on the island cottage where the unsuspecting target was spending the day and suddenly burst into the living room, waving glasses and handing over presents. Food and drink was prepared and consumed.

A group like this, composed almost exclusively of programmers and system administrators, has its own special way of talking, not only in its choice of subjects, where the mere mention of a software version number causes meaning nods, but in the way humour is applied, in rapid slap-downs of Stupidity, egregious examples of incompetence, shortsightedness, and inefficiency displayed for the others for comment and mocking, Technical Solutions to Social Problems proposed and elaborated. With few words, tips and suggestions were traded and arcane knowledge was passed on, keeping the networks running smoothly yet a while, holding chaos at bay. I silently marvelled at this concentration of intimidatingly skilled and bright people, invisibly doing their part to keep civilization intact.

A contingent left with the last boat to the mainland, the rest continued talking yet a while, but well after midnight withdrew to berths on their boats. A final group of hardy and close friends stayed up talking and singing. My last memories are of ”Balladen om briggen Blue Bird av Hull” being sung some time around three in the morning as I lay in my sleeping bag in the loft.

A few hours later it was time for me to groggily get up and catch the first morning boat. All alone in the fresh dawn I walked the short distance through the fir copses down to the jetty, raised the semaphor to flag down the boat and sat down on the jetty to wait, squinting in the near-horizontal sunlight.

I reflected that I was on the north side of the island where the glacial ice sheets once had come and scoured the rocks smooth, on the south side the rocks would be more broken up as the ice had left the island there. So you should be able to tell compass directions by looking at how smooth the rocks are, much in the same manner as locating ant hills or where the boughs are densest on the trees.

Then came the boat that took me to the bus that took me into town.

Let them eat cake

On my first trip to the United States we were in San Francisco when the US Fathers' Day coincided with the birthday of the Only-begotten children's mother, and she decided we should get a cake to celebrate the joint event. So we went out for a walk to locate a cakery. We noted that US cakes were considerably more imaginative than the usual Swedish choices of Black Forest Cake and Princess cake, often making up entire stages with dinosaurs in primeval forests, Dorothy with friends on the Yellow Brick Road and so on. We still settled for a fairly simple chocolate cake. I, having just withdrawn cash, took out a fifty-dollar note to pay with at which the guy behind the counter hissed:
Put that down! Do you want to get killed!?”
Oh, apparently I hadn't gotten the current USD/life rate right.
I found smaller denominations to pay with and then we repaired to our hotel room.

I had a little bit of cake and found it very rich. The OBCM, considering herself a major league cake-eater, had a larger bit but had obvious difficulty finishing it all.
“It's (oof) rather rich…”
We looked at the cake, its full caloric content now apparent to us, realising we wouldn't ever be able to finish it. Accordingly we invited all our travelling companions. They eagerly took a piece of cake each and their widening eyes showed they also found it quite rich. After some forty male engineering students in the prime of their lives had had a piece of cake each we still had half the cake left. We decided it would probably do as a tip for the cleaning staff.

Since then, I consider American cake as a weapon of waist destruction. There is a blog dedicated to other kinds of cake-related disasters: Cake Wrecks.


Still un(der)determined

An earlier test indicated I was gender neutral. Now I did Mike On Ads' gender test based on web browser history and got the result:
Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 50%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 50%

Interestingly enough in this case the result seems to be due to the sites I normally visit not being in the statistics database used, so again I'm simply a different kind of weirdo.


I am easily amused

From Scale Aviation Modeller International:
The tailplane is a butt fit…



“Nature” is one of those words I suspect doesn't actually have any meaning. When the Only-begotten son was little I came along with his class on an excursion in a nearby forest. Everyone was to pick up something that could be found “in the nature” and then tell a bit about it. I picked up a plastic bag I found along the way. The children in the class were very dubious. (The teachers were probably dubious too, but they were too polite to contradict me.) “Plastic bags don't exist in nature!” I found it in the forest, isn't the forest nature? “But they're not made from natural things!” They're made of oil, and oil exists in nature. “But you have to do things to the oil.” That squirrel-gnawed pine cone has also been done things to. “But…”

The converse is things that are “unnatural” or “against nature”. These actually seem to have a definition, they are “phenomena that the speaker personally dislikes”. But in reality, things that are unnatural simply cannot exist. The laws of nature are strict*, but you will never be punished for breaking them. Nobody will ever drag you to court for having exceeded the speed of light in vacuum. You will never get sued for having destroyed energy. You will simply just never do it. Accordingly, if you suspect something is against nature, your understanding is incorrect, go study some more.

* So our understanding of the laws may be incomplete, but that's a different matter. (Or energy.)


Empty in one sense

I open a tin of Grebbestads anchovies. I pour off the liquid and find there's nothing left in the tin. Oh well, I don't really like anchovies all that much anyway…


Notes from the underground

I sit across from a grumpy old man on the tube. Suddenly he looks up and realises he's missed his station. He laughs at himself and his own obliviousness and as he smiles his entire face unfolds like an origami puzzle and I realise he is much younger than I had assumed and indeed an open and friendly person. Where did he come from?



Stuff like this never looks as good on screen as in reality. Tendrilly clouds, anyway.


Even more impressive

Björn and Benny have lately made themselves known as rationalists and this old ABBA song (that I completely had missed) proves that this is not a recent idea of theirs.

Stormy weather

I finally got to meet Martin R's delightful family. I considered for a moment taking it over, but relented.

As I rode the bus out to Martin's summer house in the archipelago, the sun was shining brightly but during the day clouds rolled in with increasing winds and as night fell a full storm developed. I lay awake a long while, watching the wind blowing wild waves across the bay and bending the trees on the isle.

In the morning the wind had abated somewhat but sheets and veils of rain still ran across the sea. As we packed and decamped I got rather wet but now at home with my fluffy bathrobe around me and sweet peppermint tea inside me I am feeling very pleased with having braved the elements.


Feeding frenzy

Killer slugs, caught on a sidewalk on Lidingö. It seems they are feasting on one of their own. Their eating action looked quite interesting, so I tried to make a video as well, but my camera doesn't have sufficient video quality.

Killer slugs eating


There and back again

Yesterday my friend Stellan showed me that it's possible to go on a day trip abroad for all of 60 SEK. To be more precise, we went to Åland with M/S Eckerö. The ridiculously low price, including bus travel Stockholm ↔ Grisslehamn, is clearly intended to be compensated by you buying lots of taxfree booze. They made a loss on us.

On Eckerö you end up basically in the middle of nowhere, which was just what we needed—we walked down the coast, found a nice rock cleft and then sat there the rest of the day watching the waves and a flock of eiders catching fish. (Well, I took the opportunity to send off a few messages around the world, but mostly I did nothing too.)

Still, a bit strange to travel several hundred kilometres just for the pleasure to do nothing.


Cover me, I'm going in!

I have been on holidays before, but it's been for family trips or other travel. Now I have two mostly unscheduled weeks before me and feel a bit trepidated.

If I start blogging about my navel lint or sound otherwise delirious, come and pull me out!


Word of the Week: streptease

Someone who just gives you a quick kiss that still causes a sore throat is obviously a streptease.