All in a day’s work

Getting my work done: Testing software on both Windows XP and Windows 7, and the Linux box in the middle to actually work on. Not visible in this picture is the Mac on the other table.



Today it was time to go see the exhibition NASA—A Human Adventure at the National Museum of Science and Technology, so I gathered up friends and we descended on the museum. Most of us eschewed the audio guides, but it turns out that they really are necessary for making sense of most exhibits, as the signs next to the exhibits are pretty limited, and, embarrassment of embarrassments, the Swedish-language versions seem to have been generated by an automated translation service with a sketchy idea of spelling.

Further, I was quite shocked to find that they’d emptied out the entire Machine Hall (except for the mine pump, which I guess keeps the entire building in place) for the exhibition, where have they moved all the stuff that’s normally there? Now it was populated by replicas and engineering mockups of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo craft.

Just as horrible as I suspected. (Note that this large panorama window is there for the benefit of visitors, fitted in place of the egress hatch.)
I spent some time staring at the Apollo module: how does one live for close to two weeks basically strapped into a seat? (Only later, as I was reading up on the matter, did I realise that astronauts did a two-week mission in the even smaller Gemini.)

Space shuttle passenger seats, surpassed in comfort by any airline. The view is also not so hot.
The front section of a Space Shuttle was displayed next to the tiny 1960s spacecraft that could easily have been stored on its flight deck. Still, I was surprised by the very basic construction of the Space Shuttle seats, I had expected the launch forces to require much sturdier structures.

The “standard” exhibition space of the museum contained, among other items, (replicas of) both the Apollo lunar rover and the Lunokhod, which I’ve always been fond of. (Here’s a documentary on it.)

Further in were exhibited models of space stations. I hadn’t really grasped how big the ISS is by now, why isn’t it in the news more often?

The previous Teknorama space contained the hands-on exhibits, though the centrifuge was out of order. This was also where the museum shop had relocated, now containing only NASA-related merchandise which did not arouse my interest.

On the whole it was an enjoyable excursion, though using the audio guide is definitely indicated.



Static dance

Honeybuns and I went to see Dansmuseet today. It’s located right in the middle of Stockholm in a former bank palace. The government wants to take over their premises and use as office space and let the museum find new space elsewhere, so in the entrance was a list to sign to protest this.

The exhibits are in the large central hall, clearly designed to impress the visitors to the bank. Unfortunately this also means that the acoustics are not the best with a high ceiling and stone walls. On exhibition is mainly various dance costumes, half from around the world, half from Swedish ballet ensembles, this reflecting the interests of Rolf de Maré, who started the collection. I understand there is also a large library, but this is not immediately accessible to casual visitors. By some of the exhibits were video screens, showing dances related to the costumes, but in order to not drown the entire hall in sound, all the screens were muted, so one had to make do without explanations. I thought that the type of directed audio hoods used at the National Museum of Natural History would have been useful.

By the ballet exhibits was a larger surface onto which was projected dance clips from various sources. Unfortunately the projection surface was textile draped against the wall rather than a proper screen, so the image was always slightly blurred.

In a little room (actually the repurposed bottom of a stairwell) next to this was a proper projection screen and a strict-looking lady would turn on the video player according to schedule to show full dance films, rather than just clips. Choreographies by Isadora Duncan, it turned out to be.

The museum café and shop had a very nice view towards the Royal Palace, but didn’t serve anything I could eat, so we left the museum. The overall feeling was slight disappointment—we would have liked to see more in the way of dance, in particular outside the context of Western ballet. I also suspect that the museum’s resistance to moving is mostly due to the convenience of the staff, as the premises felt so unsuited to museum activities, especially inherently noisy ones such as dance. (Strangely enough, the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, located in another former bank palace just a couple of houses down the street, seems to have made much more effective use of their premises.) I wonder if it would make sense to colocate Dansmuseet with the Museum of Ethnography, though that may require extending their building a bit.


Veckans ord: avlutas

Det här allmogeskåpet är skevt, det måste avlutas.


Ah, youth!

The Only-Begotten Daughter’s Boyfriend’s Band was playing at the famous anarchist café and I had been invited. I arrived a bit early and stepped in. Youngsters in black, acne fading into piercings, dyed hair, stared with surprise at the old geezer who obviously didn’t belong. I for my part stared at the walls covered with posters exhorting action and revolution, many of which I remembered from when I was their age. One poster listed the distinguishing signs of a plain-clothes policeman, possibly I displayed several of them.

Presently another elderly gentleman turned up, presumably a proud father of a musician, also out of his element:
“Can I pay with credit card?”
“Uh, no.”

I paid the entrance fee in cash and had my hand stamped: RETURN TO SENDER

Finally both the Only-Begotten Children turned up and we sat down, waiting for the concert to start. I used the rest of the cash I had to buy dinner, a vegan risotto with beans that turned out to be cheap, good, and plentiful. I was also (finally!) introduced to the OBDB’s parents.

The concert space was festooned with murals, mottos, and the tags and signatures of hundreds of bands that had played there over the years. Several times when audience members entered the room I gave a start and thought I saw a classmate, and immediately had to remind myself that they would now be as middle-aged as me, but apparently the look and fashion has never quite gone out of style.

The first band consisted of the classic three guitars and drummer and demonstrated that the sound system was amply dimensioned for the relatively small space. They all carefully wore ear plugs and the rest of us could experience the drums and bass straight through our sternums. The lead guitarist finished by showing exactly how fast he could play. Quite impressive, in fact.

The OBDBB came on next, also three guitars and drums, but played much more softly, concentrating on poetic lyrics (in English, natch). The OBDB even changed guitars during the set. Very professional.

The final band also consisted of mop-topped three guitars and drums, playing in the shoe-gazing style, but they also added a lead singer. In this case it was the drummer who demonstrated his speed-drumming skills.

Eventually the gig was over and I wandered down along Katarinavägen, looking at the view over Stockholm and feeling a bit like Viktor Rydberg’s gnome: Where do all these kids come from, generation after generation?


More 1980s

This, late at night.