Taking my breath away

Honeybuns, J, and I decided it was time to go see what the Air Force Museum looks like after the recent renovation, so I booked (with some effort) tickets to Linköping and then we got on the early morning train. Coincidentally an erstwhile colleague turned up on the same train. He dissed the “murder machine museum” in no uncertain terms, but we decided to go anyway and take up his more wholesome alternatives at a later point in time.

Paint peeling off the radome of a Tp 82.
Linköping was sunny as we rode the bus out to the museum (they have SMS tickets in Linköping, too, these days). We got there a bit before opening time, and had a look at the outdoors exhibits. The Tp 79, Tp 80, Tp 82, and Tp 83 were looking rather the worse for wear. Apparently, being lowly SIGINT aircraft (and rather large) they weren’t allowed indoors. It was all rather sad.

A freshly restored Thulin G right inside the entrance to Hall 2.

Eventually we got indoors. Even while Hall 2 was generally recognisable in its layout, the exhibits had been much improved: There were screens with pictures, video material and text on the exhibits and the walls carried huge paintings of what a Swedish military airbase would have looked like in the different time periods depicted, coupled with descriptions of the technical development in that time. Showcases along the walls showed various smaller paraphernalia, such as uniform details, instruments, etc. Unfortunately these were mostly not labelled, so one had to guess at much of what was shown. A feature which I particularly liked was that several aircraft had ramps up to the side, making it possible to peer down into the cockpits.

From the exhibition on the museum’s patron saint, Carl Cederström, a satirical play on his exploits. Note ”Flygberg”, a reference to Carl Richard Nyberg, the original inventor from Sundbyberg.
After a while IPMS Östergötland turned up for their last-Sunday-in-the-month modelling meeting, right in the middle of the big hall. Very inspiring, but there was much to see, so I, rather impolitely, exchanged just a few words with my southern colleagues, and then continued through the exhibits.

Eventually we felt rather hungry, and found that the food facilites had been much improved since last as well, the museum now had a pleasant little restaurant with perfectly good food.

We skipped the Flight lab with the simulators and instead entered the new Cold War hall, which turned out to be high point of the visit. While Hall 2 was very pedagogical, it was still mainly an exhibition of aircraft qua aircraft, the Cold War hall was designed to demonstrate a historical process. This was done in four stations from the 1950s to the 1980s. Each station was in the form of a contemporary home, with news clips playing on the radios (later in the tv sets), poster stations etc. The aircraft were placed on top of the stations, but they became relegated to the background as we were hard hit by nostalgia. Just seeing the Salomon backpack on the coat hanger in the 80s flat brought back so many memories, even though I never had one myself. I visited the Britain at war experience several years ago and was a bit disappointed by it, but suspected that Brits with more personal memories would feel differently about it, and this would confirm that, it was a very strong experience to suddenly be brought back 30–40 years in time.

Then, in the cellar, the exhibition Acts of Secrecy, with the retrieved and preserved remains of the Tp 79 shot down in 1952, still an aching ulcer. The setting was very solemn as befits a war grave. The facts were laid out dispassionately, but there was clearly much still unsaid, partly because much information has been destroyed over time, but also because there are still living persons affected. So, while the Vasa museum can display detailed reconstructions of the dead in the wreck, such would not have been acceptable here, we are not even told whose remains have been found (their identities are known, they are just not mentioned). Four crew members are still missing, leaving their fate open. That well-preserved items of clothing were exhibited in a show-case added to the feeling of unease.

Mats Johansson had prepared a large-scale cutaway model of the aircraft, based on the best available knowledge and guesses. It brought home how tense the atmosphere must have been with the five SIGINT officers, each by a rack of listening equipment, trying to extract as much information as they could out of all signals from different sources crossing the air, busily jotting down notes as the plane flew back and forth, sniffing out the most interesting scents, all so secret that the truth couldn’t even be hinted at for fifty years.

In one of the show-cases I found an antenna mast, identical to the one I have as a trophy in my living room, though mine is said to originate from the one B 3 that was modified for SIGINT purposes.

Before we were all done, the museum closed. We will have to go back.


Word of the week: rebugging

A colleague noted that for each bug they got out of the software they found at least one more, clearly they were rebugging the code.


The future pounces on you

Every now and then I realise I’ve ended up in the future. As now, when I transferred all my digital photographs to my new MacBook Pro, iPhoto, in passing, scanned them all for faces. Now I can select a random photograph and click on Name and I get a little box marking a detected face in the picture and I get to name that person. Then iPhoto suggests a number of other photographs and I can just confirm or deny that that person is in that picture. The algorithm isn’t 100% perfect, and I hadn’t expected it to be either, but it’s much, much better than I had expected, matching faces with and without hats, with and without glasses, in shade and in light, looking this way and that. Every now and then it confuses Honeybuns and Kipper, but in all suggestions it has found the human faces and never random faces in places.



We went and saw Inception the other day. The idea was interesting, but I was a bit disappointed to find that special effects and action still are equated with explosions and shooting. Certainly there must be something else to come up with? The zero-g scenes were brilliantly executed, though.

Then of course, real dreams are a lot more bizarre: in the dream I woke up from the morning after, I had been running in clogs through Vasastan, trying to find the model of USS Saratoga that I’d forgotten in the top basin of the (actually non-existent) multi-level water works running down Odengatan, even though I knew it would be ruined. As I ran, I passed a primly-clad woman reaching deep into the US-style gutters in order to dig out duck carcasses. No explosions.


Veckans ord: identitetshandlingar

Varje dag utför vi, medvetet och omedvetet, en mängd identitetshandlingar, för att vi är de vi är och för att vi vill vara en viss sorts person.


Bad site, good sight

I booked tickets for an upcoming train excursion on the SJ web site. Through the perversity of capitalism or whatever, it turned out to be considerably cheaper to ride first class than second. This meant that breakfast was included on the way out. However, if you have “special needs”, e g being a vegetarian, you can’t just check a box for this, but have to call separately to order your special food. This I did today, and after having been shunted around a bit by different call centre persons (because of course the voice menus did not indicate which menu option would give you the menu options, as it were), I ended up with the right person, who, with some audible effort, managed to adjust the food orders in some, as it sounded to me, less than obvious user interface. Now, I thought that maybe I could also add dinner reservations for the journey home, which I had missed to do earlier. The CCP excused herself and disappeared for ten minutes or so, trying to work out how to add dinner reservations and eventually couldn’t come up with anything better than booking new seats for us, this time with dinner reservations. I didn’t think we’d eat so much that we’d need two seats each, so I thanked her for her efforts and left it at that.

Now, this conversation had been long enough and required sufficiently little of my attention that I’d managed to do other things in parallel: to begin with, look up on the SL site how to get to my ultrasound examination. They have the very useful checkbox “I don’t mind walking a bit if it gets me there faster.” and turning it on suggested I could get to my destination in a third of the time it would otherwise take me, just by taking a ten-minute walk through the woods behind my house to a bus stop by the big road. This was a nice enough little outing, though the little narrow and winding road through the woods turned out to be frequented by huge articulated lorries every few minutes. I’m not quite sure where they thought they were going.

In the time since the Google car had passed, somebody had carefully smashed all the glass walls of the bus shelter, but it was a sunny (though chilly) day, so it didn’t affect my immediate comfort too much.

Then I got to the care centre with a radiology department and got probed. I was fascinated to see that the bottles with conductive gel were kept in a little heater, so as not to be cold and nasty. Then I got to see the inside of my leg, and ye gods how thick the femoral artery is! Still, the ultrasound did not give sufficient resolution for a definite diagnosis, so next up: magnetic resonance tomography.



I just noticed that Blogger is collecting statistics on the blog since May this year and found to my surprise that I seem to have a lot more readers than the three or four I was aware of. Hi there, unknown people!

Then there are a lot more passers-by, as it were, and as seems to be common, they end up here via Google searches for terms basically unrelated to the blog topic (whatever that is). So, the all-time most popular page read on Pointless Anecdotes is: Veckans ord: ytterliggare. Why are all these people googling for ”ytterliggare”? It’s not even a proper word, for heaven’s sake.

Then I get quite a bit of traffic from Åsa at Ting och Tankar. Hi there, archaeology fans, sorry I don’t have more in the way of Beaker culture grave finds, the only ancient artefact here is me.


Geekiest punchline

Some coworkers are sitting around afternoon coffee. Newly employed D mentions having problems managing a website, the others speculate on what the cause may be and then the discussion turns to people’s favourite web programming languages.
A: “With all its faults, PHP is still pretty good.”
B: “Well, ASP with VBScript is better than its reputation, in particular the latest versions.”
C: “Rails, definitely!”
D [brightly]: “I’ve used CSS!”


Burying fallen petals

More purry romantic than sad in the performance, but the recording with the best audio quality I could find.

The original.



I went to the local care centre to have a minor ailment looked at. As I had to repeat my little story at each level of triage, this particular snippet was also repeated at each stage:
“So it started about five, six weeks ago…”
“A week ago?”
Five, six weeks ago.”
[Weird look]

Is the concept of “Wait and see if it gets better” all dead? Or maybe just the practitioners of it.

Anyway, the physician suspected it was a benign condition, but referred me to an ultrasound to make sure, so further updates as and when I get probed.


Veckans ord: tantläkare

En gynekolog är en tantläkare.



My new 15" MacBook Pro has arrived! Somehow every Mac generation manages to be better-looking than the previous one. The touchpad is soft as silk and the screen so sharp.

The one blemish so far has been the step in the installation process where I was to transfer all the information from my old Mac: thanks to the still-living connector conspiracy the FireWire cable I’d borrowed from the office only fit the old Mac. The little manual implied that you could transfer wirelessly, but it wasn’t entirely obvious that I was supposed to press the little button “Use Ethernet” to get to another screen where I could select “Use wireless”, especially when the on-screen instructions exhorted me to press “Previous” in the case that I didn’t have a FireWire cable. Then it took all night and a bit to transfer all the data, but now it’s done and I’m happy as a lark with my new machine.

I take that back: it’s not just silky, the touchpad is like an antigravity surface and when I moved my fingers apart it scaled the contents of my browser window! At this rate I’ll have to buy an iPhone soon.



Remember the trees that were mowed down to make an very necessary parking place? This is how intensely it is used these days:

In the meanwhile I’ve found out that it is the Alliance in Stockholm that has enforced that each home must have a parking spot, which is just insanely stupid. Lately and belatedly, even they have to come realise that this is not a good idea.

Gee great, does this then mean that they're going to tear up the parking place and plant new trees there? Well, no. And even if they did, it would take about a human lifetime for the new copse to mature. It would be an ecosystem, but not the same as there was before, even if indistinguishable to the casual city-dweller’s eye (“Well, like trees, right?”).

Which brings me to irreversibility, that You Can Never Go Back. A feature of children’s tales is that Bad Things Happen, but the hero perseveres and brings everything back to The Way It Was—the witch’s wand is broken and all the people who were turned into pigs turn back and go home and continue their lives as if nothing had happened and even though they’ve been enslaved for untold ages their children still recognise them and their spouses have not found someone else. Toy Story 3 purportedly is about the inevitable loss of childhood, yet just a quick shower with the garden hose suffices to remove glue, paint, and rubbed-in dirt from the toys and return them into pristine condition—even the lost eye of Mrs Potatohead is retrieved.

Indeed, many stories for adults still work on this premise: Even while some may die in the process, once the tyrant is killed and everything goes back to the original happy state, armies of masterless soldiers on both sides shed their weapons and find gainful employment, nobody’s minds and bodies have been ravaged so that rehabilitation is impossible, no rancour lingers. Contrary to this, while being an action movie, Hrafninn flýgur makes the point that all the violence unleashed does not bring justice but only more violence, all survivors are left scarred and twisted.

So where does that leave the lost copse? It seems a decision was made on ideological grounds, without considering (or bothering about) the consequences, and when they become too apparent to ignore, there is no going back. Is there any drive for evidence-based politics? Would it be possible to develop a political science able to handle non-linear effects, scaling up from smaller-scale experiments, using agreed-upon statistical measures? Am I being a physicist?


Late harvest

I did get some more eatables from the balcony plants.

Tomatoes and chillies


Veckans ord: snorklar

Nu har jag varit snuvig i evigheter, jag önskar jag vore snorklar.


Older than ever before

Today my youngest, my Only-Begotten Daughter, comes of age.

Against all (my) expectations, their mother and I have managed to bring up two fine human beings, who by all accounts should do well, by themselves and by others. Yet whenever I see them, superimposed on their gangly figures are the newborn baby, the sweaty sleeping toddler, the sick and crying child, the joyfully running pre-schooler, the earnest pupil, the love-lorn teen. I still want to protect them and I fear for their future, but they have to fend for themselves and they’ll do fine, they’ll do fine.


Egna och andras sjukdomar

En bekant var förtvivlad över hur cancern bröt ner hennes närstående och det var blott med en övermänsklig ansträngning som jag lyckades avhålla mig från att kommentera:
– Jag hör att du är på dåligt umör.
men i längden går det inte att hålla det inne.



Recently my Palm stopped sounding alarms. Very strange, the audio unit and everything else was functioning well, but scheduled alarms just didn’t appear. I decided to reset the Palm. To be safe, I synched it first. On synching, about two weeks’ worth of unacknowledged alarms raised a raucous ruckus. OK, so when I get up before the alarm rings and then don’t acknowledge it due to being in the shower or whatever, the alarm eventually times out, but gets stored in a buffer somewhere, and when this buffer fills up, no more alarms can be issued? I'm not sure I understand the logic of the implementation, but at least the solution to the problem was simple.