July Pieces Of My Mind #1

Common Stinkhorn on Landsjö castle islet Common Stinkhorn on Landsjö castle islet
  • This lady in Wyoming sends me a picture of "sacred procreation rocks", one looking like the sideways outline of an erect cock and the other simply with a hole in it. "They were found less than a few thousand feet from each other." In the picture, the cock stone is helpfully pointed at the hole. I wonder if I should send the lady a picture of my procreation stones.
  • All week we've been met by this nasty stench when landing with the boat on the castle islet. We thought it was a dead fish of which we had found some bits. But yesterday we realised that there's a stand of 50 Common Stinkhorn mushrooms nearby in the direction we never walk.
  • The Olympus Mons, towering majestically over Aphrodite's lady bits.
  • Reading an English paperback from 2009. At the back is an ad for chocolate. Because a candy firm sponsored the British Book Awards.
  • My high school maths teacher wants me to play Pet Rescue.
  • ”I understand that some people find God after misfortune, although this seems to me even more ridiculous than finding Him in good times. 'God smote me. He must love me.' It's like not wanting a romantic relationship until a member of the opposite sex punches you in the face.” Andrew Davidson 2009, The Gargoyle, p. 48
  • Rural pizza delivery guy has recently arrived from Syria and knows little Swedish. Can't find Landsjö manor, calls Ethan for directions, is astonished to hear the guy switch to Arabic, Cairo accent.
  • Students told me that during the weekend they'd hidden their pizza rinds in the trash to keep me from eating them. I'm a dad.
  • Love the way sunset paints the white 70s brick facades of our neighbours' houses a warm salmon pink.

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My excavations this summer will target the ruins of two Medieval castles near Norrköping. Christian Lovén and I have selected these two because unusually, both have curtain walls (Sw. ringmur) but do not seem to have belonged to the Crown. The High Middle Ages in Sweden are poorly documented in…
Christian Loven's plan of Landsjö Islet with letters marking on-going fieldwork. Landsjö castle is on a high islet in the lake next to the modern manor house. Nobody ever goes there. The ruins are covered by vegetation and they're in bad shape: only along the western side of the islet do they…
2014 trenches A-E and rough locations of 2015 trenches F-H. Like Stensö, Landsjö Castle has half of a rare perimeter wall and is known to have been owned by a descendant of Folke Jarl – or rather, by his daughter-in-law, the widow of such a descendant. Last year we found that the high inner…
Balancing available labour and a pre-decided excavation agenda against each other is not easy, particularly when you're doing investigative peek-hole fieldwork on a site whose depth and complexity of stratification you don't know much about. At Stensö we had two of three trenches and all five test…


My daughter has been very contemptuously dismissive of the qipao (aka 'cheongsam' to Westerners, or 'jeung saam' in Cantonese) as, and I quote: "a modern decadent derivative of that Manchurian rubbish" (there is a whole Internet war being waged over the merit of traditional Ming and Qing Dynasty clothing design) - that is until my daughter received the erm analysis of erm her own genome, to discover that erm there's a non-trivial amount of erm unexplained non-Han north-east Asian in there...so maybe those Manchus weren't such bad people after all :)

By John Feudal-Overlord (not verified) on 20 Jul 2014 #permalink

For the uninitiated, this is the clothing style from which the 'modern' qipao, with its stereotypical high tight collar, derived:


Han clothing was more loose and free-flowing, with no tight collar around the neck: http://cn.hujiang.com/new/p452213/?op

I had to point out to my daughter that her own grandmother regularly wore the qipao as formal wear (her great grandmother wore a much more traditional Qing style of clothing), and her own mother was married wearing a bright shiny red and gold qipao, but she was unrepentant and contemptuous, until the erm...genomic data thing arrived.

By John Feudal-Overlord (not verified) on 20 Jul 2014 #permalink

Yes, I realise that racial purity must be an issue near to your daughter's heart. (-;

Ha! It's a cultural self-identity thing. It's more confusing when you have two of them. I suspect it's more to do with the rejection of the 'Suzie Wong' stereotyping of Chinese women than anything.

Having just finished reading The Analects of Confucius in Chinese, she's now ploughing her way through The Canterbury Tales in Middle English. Having two cultures running in parallel must be hard, although she makes it look effortless.

By John Feudal-Overlord (not verified) on 20 Jul 2014 #permalink

John, talking about a cultural self-identity thing, the old, male white American demographic apparently self-identify as "assholes". Here is an example of "seeing what you expect to see": Arizona politician mistakes YMCA campers for migrant children http://www.azcentral.com/story/brahm-resnik/2014/07/15/arizona-politici…
If he had not been caught out in the lie, this could have become yet another urban myth!

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 20 Jul 2014 #permalink

What sort of name is Kwasman anyway - he some kinda furriner? Of course there was fear in their faces - they were captives of the YMCA, being dragged off for 'camping'.

But it's almost painfully funny to see her come under the influence of Confucius, Birger - this kid and I have been competing for food ever since I very foolishly stole a piece of her bacon when she was 6 years old, something for which she has never forgiven me. Her highest priority in life has always been food, quality not quantity, and good crispy bacon has always been the pinnacle, and the theft of one strip of this divine stuff was an unforgivable transgression, to be repaid by revenge a thousand fold - but at dinner tonight, suddenly instead of diving in and grabbing the best bits before I could get them, she started proferring me plates, and picking up choice pieces with her chopsticks and placing them in my bowl in a very grudging but pious manner - I'm sitting there thinking "There's something very weird going on here, what is it.....damn me, it's Confucianism!!!"

By John Feudal-Overlord (not verified) on 20 Jul 2014 #permalink

Chinese relationship word not translateable into English: Yuanfen: “A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends. From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.
But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Even if lovers are fated to find each other they may not end up together. The proverb, “have fate without destiny,” describes couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason. It’s interesting, to distinguish in love between the fated and the destined. Romantic comedies, of course, confound the two.”

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 21 Jul 2014 #permalink

OK, I give up. Can you translate the following into something I can understand: "My high school maths teacher wants me to play Pet Rescue."?

I get it all until "Pet Rescue", which afaik is/was a TV programme in the 1990s.

John, this is why Bertold Brecht made that play about a bloke in Sichuan. You have to morph into an alter ego that is as evil as the indigenous monsters to survive.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 23 Jul 2014 #permalink

Jane, the phys ed teacher might want the pupils to play "Zombie, run!".
PS If you have returned to Svithjod maybe you want some more reading/ audiobooks? I have found some interesting titles.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 23 Jul 2014 #permalink

Olympus Mons and other other-wordly features rarely match the majestic illustrations by Chesley Bonstell in the 1950s. For instance, the Martian horizon in so near you do not actually see the summit of the volcano from the base. And the lunar craters and mountains are rather Meh. The Earth is blessed with water erosion that creates steep surface features.
(OT) Radar search to find lost Aboriginal burial site http://phys.org/news/2014-07-radar-lost-aboriginal-burial-site.html

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 23 Jul 2014 #permalink

The already very wonderful Alan Ahlberg recently turned a British Book Award on the grounds that it was sponsored by Amazon, which qualifies him for yet another very to his wonderfulness.

By Neil Howlett (not verified) on 30 Jul 2014 #permalink