Archives for November, 2010

I Was a Cash Cow in Gambia

In the preceding entry I gave a list of good stuff about a Gambian vacation. Here’s the flip side. My first trip to Africa, a week in Agadir, Morocco in the mid-1990s, was marred (but not ruined) by the locals’ constant begging and aggressive attempts to sell me stuff. I recently relived this experience in…

Joys of a Gambian Vacation

Gambia is Africa’s smallest country, with 15 million people living on a flat stretch of river plain carved out of central Senegal. Besides peanut cultivation, tourism is an important source of revenue, and indeed coastal Gambia is one of the most Westernised parts of sub-Saharan Africa in this respect. I recently spent a week there…

Swedish Skeptics in Transformation

Excellent Swedish feature-journalism magazine Filter has a 17-page piece about the skeptical movement in its current issue (#17). Magnus Västerbro’s take on the movement in general and the Swedish Skeptics Association in particular is supportive yet not uncritical. I’ve been a board member of the Swedish Skeptics (VoF) since 2004, and I think the article…

What The…? Hey Death, That Was My Friend

I’m angry and confused. Death has never hit this close to home with me before. Anders was one of my best friends, a frequent guest at my table. I knew him for over 20 years. And now he’s dead at 45, apparently of a heart attack. I’m stunned and full of disbelief. By profession an…

Going to Birmingham

Any Dear Readers in Birmingham? I’m going to be there from Monday to Wednesday for a Viking studies workshop. Email me your cell phone numbaz and maybe we can meet up!

“Do You Need A Fish?”

A Gambian moment. We’re in an extremely dilapidated taxi that has stalled at the roadside, just a stone’s throw from Tanji village’s main taxi hub. Before getting into the car, my wife and I had to haggle for ten minutes with the drivers assembled there under the dull gaze of the village idiot. And then…

Pond of the Plywood Vikings

Re-run from 25 December 2005 (no, Swedes pay no attention to Christmas Day, preferring to get worked up about Christmas Eve). In Skive, Denmark, there’s a pond dug to accommodate a plywood Viking ship that was never set afloat. My friend Rud Kjems tells the story in local-history annual Skiveegnens jul 2005. Skive museum was…

Viking Silver in Arctic Norway

Re-run from 22 December 2005. The Viking Period was a funny time, only three centuries long, leaving a huge footprint in terms of ideas and archaeology. Speakers of Scandinavian languages lived mainly in the fertile southern third of Scandinavia, most of them being subsistence farmers. The endless pine woods and ground-down mountain ranges of the…

Burnt Daub and the Ghost of Wattle

It’s re-run week! I’ve gone back to my first month of blogging and found some good stuff. Here’s a piece from 20 December 2005. Lately I’ve been washing a lot of ruined building materials, debris from a house fire 2000 years ago. Me, my friend Howard and his students excavated a Viking Period boat burial…

Days On A Roof

My dad is building a guest house and an octagonal two-story sauna on the steep scarp from his house down to the sea. Things suddenly got very hurried, and I was called in as a building hand to help get the roof onto the sauna before winter. So in addition to a lot of travel,…