Two similar

Somw while back my mobile operator decreed that I, for unclear reasons, needed a new SIM card. This of course required me to reconstruct my phonebook. At the time I did not make the connection, but it was at about then that Troll, trusty member of the Posse, went incommunicado. My texts were not responded to and I only got a voice-mail prompt when calling. After a couple of months we started to get worried—what could be wrong?
Eventually I had a brainwave and googled up her office phone number. She answered immediately with her usual cheery “Helloo!” It turned out that her mother not only lives on the same street but has the exact same extremely uncommon name. Apparently she had been utterly consternated by the barrage of invitations to various mysterious activities by an unknown man. Ah well, that should be suitable punishment for the lack of name imagination. And we have Troll among us again.


Veckans ord: flottbas

Marinens mat är extremt fet eftersom den är tillagad på flottbas.


Stupid Westerner

Working in a multi-national corporation, half of my work team is located in Asia. One should of course be culturally sensitive, but the thing is, that no culture is homogeneous, even among brown-skinned people in a faraway land. So, the other day I made a point of noting that Ramadan would start the next day and asked if they would celebrate it somehow. “Some people fast, scepticals don’t.”
The next day we were trying to figure out some code and I realised I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed: “Hm, I’ll have to look this up, it could take a while.”
“Is it OK if I go for lunch in the meantime?”
D'oh! Yeah, I don’t fast during Lent either.


Tell me more about it

Dagens Nyheter reports that a group of four men have been arrested, suspected of attempted kidnapping and it’s quite interesting to see how closely tracked they were by the police:
“The Swedish police were tipped off in May by Polish colleagues that four men planned to kidnap a rich businessman in Huddinge”
“When they arrived in Nynäshamn with the ferry from Gdansk the police watched the men and tapped their phones. When they got off the ferry the customs had also received advanced warning. Customs officers searched through their car and found a can of pepper spray, a can of tear gas, a truncheon, and a switchblade. [Presumably these were confiscated.]
The men still decided to proceed preparing the kidnapping.
They went to K-Rauta in Huddinge and bought cable ties, duct tape and two pairs of gloves: The police have pictures of this and copies of the purchases from the cash registers.”
“They were apprehended on May 25th. One of the accused had ’strips of duct tape ready on his trousers’, according to the indictment.”
“…the men had photographs and a map of the businessman’s house and the placement of his safe in the garage.
The business man and his son had on several occasions seen the men move about outside their home.”
“The four men deny having planned any crime.”

Honeybuns comments: “I really want to hear those guys’ explanation.”


In the pits

Honeybuns had been so excited about our previous visit to Sala silver mine and wanted to show this magic place to her brother. I brought along the OBS and off we went. We were still a bit shagged out after the excursion to the Siarö fort the day before, so we dozed most of the way. When we got to the mine area, Honeybuns decided to explore the big curio shop by the road. The proprietors were busy polishing thousands of cut-glass goblets. I presume they have to start all over once they’ve finished. Honeybuns sighed over all the cut-glass chandeliers, but we didn’t buy any, at least not today. I was fascinated by an entire section devoted to portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Indeed, an icon of our age. The barn next over was filled with old furniture and also, a bit incongruously, an R/C model of a Canadair CL-215 suspended from the ceiling.

Then we checked in at the visitors’ reception and told to wait outside for the tour, which would start in a few minutes. Soon we were descending into the dark. When we arrived at the view into Queen Christina’s Shaft I tried to record video of the falling mist glittering in the dark, but even with the new camera it was impossible to get anything but a dark blur. I guess I would have to set up more lighting and things to get anything sensible.

You’re in a maze of twisty little passages, all different.

From the 60 m level, where we were last year, we descended by lift to the 155 m level. While deeper, this level has been prepared a bit more for visitors and was supposedly even wheel-chair accessible (I’m not too sure about that, but presumably they have tested this). Among other amenities there is a heated concert hall with mosaics subtly blending into the natural rock. Our guide demonstrated the acoustics for us by singing an old miner’s chorale, quite beautifully. Then we had a snack in the anteroom to the Mine Suite. This was equipped with heating and a dehumidifer as well as a tiled floor, but still retained the rock ceiling.

Then we continued to the shafts where we could peer into the submerged parts of the mine. A pool filled a huge chamber with a little boat moored to a little jetty. “Gollum’s boat!” exclaimed the OBS and I in chorus.

There were more shafts from which water fell to fill the depths, but nothing would get caught on video. How remarkably light sensitive human eyes are, after all.

Finally we ascended to the surface, but what had looked like sunlight to my dark-accommodated eyes turned out to be an overcast sky that soon turned into a heavy rain. The local restaurant had nothing vegetarian to offer, so we milled about a bit in the area and went through the Police Museum. The exhibition on the Sala gang resonated with other more recent killers who also have coolly executed carefully planned acts of madness. The Sala gang’s head Thurneman did end up in a maximum-security mental hospital, but was eventually released efter 32 years and spent the last years of his life as a well-reputed Sanskrit translator.

As the rain showed no signs of letting up we had to give in and started walking to town. When we arrived, we were thoroughly soaked (except for the OBS, who had prepared with a nice lightweight rain jacket—I have to get one of those) and very hungry. We found a pizza place on the main square and as soon as we had gotten in and ordered, the rain stopped…

When I finally got home a couple of hours later, I hung my clothes up to dry and had a hot shower. When the final collapse of civilization arrives, I will miss hot showers most of all. (Well, maybe food, too.)


Guarding the ramparts

One of the prominent features of the Siarö fort is that it’s not actually located on Siarö, but Sjöbris knows how to get to the right place, so we jumped ashore on Kyrkogårdsön. It was one of the few sunny days this summer, so I insisted we start with a walk around the island. We soon found ourselves in a rock-and-concrete trench with two smallish guns on tracks at each end. Little concrete machine gun nests that somehow had been rendered in the same reddish tone as the granite were strewn all over the hillside.

A staircase led up to what turned out to be the huge concrete cap over the actual fort. It looked for all the world like a huge skateboard park, but with two 152 mm gun turrets. The entire thing was surrounded by more slit trenches, from which any landing of marines would be repelled.

The forest was filled with old and rusting barbed wire and I wondered how often deer or elk would get trapped in it—not even in its active period was the fort manned more than intermittently.

Beyond the fort lay the cholera churchyard for which the island was named, now just a lush meadow. We continued down to the café for lunch. (Note: both the cafeteria and the boat had only been able to offer pancakes in the way of vegetarian food. There is a limit to how many pancake meals one can have in a day.) Fortified, we were ready to tackle the insides of the fort. The entrance consisted of one of those one-person-at-a-time revolving doors, to make sure nobody would get in without a ticket.

Inside it was quite cold and damp and it turned out that the military had soon realised the premises were too unhealthy to keep even conscripts in, so in spite of the carefully marked sleeping quarters for officers, NCOs and privates, the garrison had actually spent most of their time in what eventually became the hostel we had just visited. However, one of the rooms had been furnished with an industrial-grade de-humidifier and heating to serve as a lecture hall. As soon as we entered, a projection screen rolled down from the ceiling and a showing of military archive films started. I noted with professional interest that sea waves apparently did not compress well in whatever digital format had been chosen and ended up as a mess of artefacts. On the other hand, the pedagogical trick of indicating cut-away drawings with an animated knife actually cutting away bits was absolutely brilliant.

The washing facilities for the conscripts. I presume the faucets have been removed to keep people from testing if they work, not that an overflowing sink would make any difference whatsoever here.

I climbed up into one of the lookout hoods and found I had a most excellent view of the fairway, but I still wonder what kind of damage the mounted guns would have been able to inflict on 1940s warships.

It was a relief to return out into the sunshine.


Travelling through Roslagen

Few things are as deserted as Stockholm City on a summer Sunday, especially if it is raining, but you have to be out early to catch the boat. We sailed through a misty archipelago, islands appearing and disappearing in the murk. At Östanå färjeläge we got off and continued on foot. We would have missed Wira Bruk if it hadn’t been for the signs–the buildings lay in a depression hidden behind the summer greenery. While
there would be a performance of Wiraspelen in the evening, it wasn’t our plan to attend and the recurrent rain made it an unattractive proposition anyway. Instead we walked around the little village, split by the skipping brook that used to drive the waterwheels of the smithies.

We snacked in the little café, I restrained Honeybuns from buying some horridly expensive chandeliers in the iron craft exhibition and then we continued on our way. We caught the bus to Norrtälje, riding past some potential future excursion targets.

By now we were pretty hungry, so we wandered through the Old Town of Norrtälje, looking for somewhere to eat. Apparently most people agreed with us on what places looked nice, as they were full, but finally we ended up by the harbour and S/S Norrtelje. We had a quite pleasant late lunch which we finished just in time to have time to peek in the curio shop by the quay. Honeybuns spotted something that might become our new kitchen table if we can figure out how to transport it. In the meantime she bought a stack of bargain books. Then we got to the bus terminal just as the bus to Stockholm pulled in.