Useful maps

Jon Griffiths is not a very prolific blogger, but he has made a nifty Google map of locations Biggles visited during WW I.


Getting around to it

Chaos and fractals were hot stuff in the 1980s and I spent quite a bit of time on the subject—at one point Cliff Pickover, a thoroughly nice person, sent me a large package of material by mail. So, one of the first courses I signed up for as a grad student was Chaotic Dynamical Systems. In the event, I had to drop the course, along with several other maths courses—my work was to be in other areas and the textbook ended up on my shelf for unread books.

The other day I decided to pick it up again and see what I’d missed out on. One thing was clear: I might have been able to do the exercises when I was a first-year student, but by now most of my calculus was just hazy memories. And indeed, in contrast with most of my other literature on the subject, this was a book about proper maths, rather than computer graphics, and spent most of its space on proving various theorems about seemingly simple functions, but which exhibited chaotic behaviour. Still, even if my understanding is patchy these days, I’ve been going through the book, picking up concepts and ideas.

In the book was still the receipt from when I bought it and as I was reading on the train home the other day I listened with half an ear to the two girls sitting next to me talking about their studies. The one just next to me turned out to be a first-year student at my alma mater and the continued conversation revealed she had been born just a couple of days after I bought the book I was finally reading. It’s so hard to keep up.


Veckans ord: alvedon

Ända sen Tolkien är pilbågen ett vanligt alvedon.


3D rendering

Riusuke Fukahori creates his 3D fish not by embedding fish models in resin, but by painting them, layer by layer, in the resin as it is poured.


Rule 34

Bookshelves, be they sparse wooden frames, stern steel cabinets on rollers, trendy String shelves, or carved floor-to-ceiling giants of tropical hardwood, are all promises of excitement and knowledge. The more of them, the better. Even though they are off to a side, my bookcases are still the mental centre of my sitting-room, creating at least a little nook where one can hide from noise and commotion. I tend them, sort them when new books arrive and occasionally grudgingly cull books that are just too awful to keep.

It heartens me that others feel the same about their bookshelves and care enough to have created a site for Bookshelf porn.


Aquarium, with a few fishes as well

As it had been a long time since for both of us, Honeybuns and I went to the Skansen Aquarium, a somewhat misleading name as most of the space is taken up by primate cages. Just inside the entrance we found a two-toed sloth hanging by its feet, munching cucumber pieces with gusto. (They had been placed on a tray, I presume that means they were betrayed.) It seemed all alone, but after ten minutes or so we suddenly noticed the other sloth, well hidden against another tree stem. In the meantime I had spotted small lizards rushing about. These turned out to be pygmy marmosets, so primates, but the way they kept their tail flat along the surface and their legs splayed out was utterly reptilian. Honeybuns and an iguana attracted each others’ attentions and watched each other through the glass.

Then outside to get to the next building. The baboons and lemurs were indoors somewhere, but there were several meerkats about in their enclosure, even though they were shivering with cold. I presumed they felt the necessity to keep watch of their territory, even though it was freezing cold.

Inside: Snakes, snakes. And frogs. It’s fascinating how tropical frogs manage to look completely artificial, as if made of wax or porcelain, sitting perfectly still on a branch or on the ground. (Some of them were at least visibly breathing, so they must have been alive.) I was a bit incensed on behalf of the Gila monster, who really hasn’t done anything to deserve such a name—even its scientific name is Heloderma suspectum.

Further in, a rain forest. I noted with surprise how much easier it was to breathe the humid air, Stockholm climate doesn’t really agree with me. So I just stood for a while breathing in and out, while monkeys clambered around the branches above me. I took the little rainforest tour, guided by a four-year-old who in rapid sequence showed me her new dress, the skellington in a corner, the monkey up in a tree, a puddle on the floor and so on.

Now we got to the aquariums proper. Rays and sharks swam around in a big pool, another aquarium turned out to contain three unimaginably huge alligator snapping turtles. We looked for a while at the crocodiles. The juveniles, kept in a separate terrarium, were constantly on the move, but the adults lay dead still. Honeybuns remembered how her grandfather once, doubting they were even alive, had knocked on the glass and been rewarded by a crocodile lunging at him. That time the glass had held, but there were prominent signs to stay away from the glass surfaces and that any objects thrown into the enclosure would have to be retrieved by the thrower.

One terrarium held naked mole rats, but they had to make do with pre-prepared perspex tubes, rather than getting to dig on their own. I thought that probably must feel strange to them.

The final room contained the spiders and scorpions, but most of them managed to hide quite effectively, so one couldn’t see much of them. I wonder if they consciously stayed away from the front of their cages.

We exited through the shop. It was very child-oriented, containing huge amounts of cuddly snakes, animal stickers, all kinds of plastic animals, etc, etc, but nothing in the way of books or DVDs, which disappointed me, surely a learning opportunity such as this should be made the most of?

By now we were quite hungry, so we went up to Stora Gungan for a late lunch. They had locked their doors and were just ushering out their last guests. Gubbhyllan then? Sorry, the kitchen had closed. Hm. Let’s leave Skansen then. What about Lilla Hasselbacken? Ah, maybe a tad too fancy for our current needs. We continue to Blå Porten. Do they offer hot food? The staff look a bit uncertain. Eventually it transpires that they had just had a fire in the kitchen extinguished and the fire brigade has forbidden them to even go in there right now. But would we like some tea and cookies? We decide to move further into town. BarCelona, our usual backup site? Completely full. Ah, but what about Grace Tea House just across the street? Yes, they’re open, even if we seem to interrupt the staff in their own lunch. What about dumplings? Ah, they're fresh out of vegetarian dumplings. Honeybuns settles for a Szechuan soup. It turns out to be spicy enough to give her a nosebleed, but at least we finally got fed.

Then we return home for weekend cleaning.


Veckans ord: LED-djur

Jag tycker nog också att LED-djuren på Sergels torg var i vräkigaste laget.


Veckans ord: fiskfjäll

Inte nog med smörberget i EU, nu har man fångat så mycket fisk i Lappland att man sitter med ett fiskfjäll.



Clearly the authorities look in the completely wrong direction. (I guess this is also an example of the male gaze.)


Enjoy it while you can

Today I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist, to see what modern medical science can do about my recurring tummy problems. As a starter I will get a full course of anal probing and biopsies (and we all, or at least I, remember my experiences with those) in about six weeks. BUT, until then, I am to eat gluten in order to provoke the suspected inflammation into clear showing. So, leaving the hospital I walked through a lightly snowy Stockholm, realising that what with living in two suburbs and working in a third, I don’t see much of the city proper these days. There was construction work going on, new shops had appeared and when I arrived at my target, Hötorgshallen, they were renovating (way overdue!), but still had their full complement of shops. I looked over the bakery desk for a long while and eventually decided on a rounded crisp Italian loaf. And then some Milanese salami to go with it.


Veckans ord: villområde

En gång i min ungdom hamnade jag av misstag i Långsjö. Jag hade svårt att hitta hem, för jag gick vill. Det är ett villområde.


Average for a change

My “risk intelligence” is apparently average at 61.47/100.


Kauniita sanoja

Jostain syystä juuri mekaniikan alan sanat ovat minusta erittäin kiehtovat ja kauniit. Nyt satuin löytää Eero Aulan Englanti-suomi tekniikan sanasto. Omaperäistä on että kyseessäoleva tekniikka näyttää olevan metsäkoneisiin liittyvä ja ehkä sen takia löytyy ei ainoastaan sanoja kuten ”lattakaapeliliitin” ja ”tehonsiirtoketju” mutta myös ”kangassillihapero” ja ”variksenmarja”.


Ask The Pilot

A frequently referred-to, but now obsolete, volume in my bookshelf is Titta, vi flyger!, the Swedish edition of The Flier’s Handbook, which covers most of what you need to know as an airline passenger. Now I found an excellent replacement, replete with opinions and anecdotes: Ask The Pilot. Do not miss the story about the exploding toilet.


Strange machinery

Brower Propulsion Laboratory is like an aerospace version of Bonk Business, making machines whose mere existence is more important than their absence of functionality. However, what caught my eye was this beautiful water colour of what seems to be a J-7.

H/t thnidu.