The battle against the evil virus COVID-19 is far from won. One thing that all people can do is to take the vaccine when they are offered it. You should do it, your friends and family should do it, everyone should do it! If you need conving arguments, see reference #1, which says it all. It is an article written recently in the social media site Quora.
But there are still things to enjoy in this world. The header photo today was taken close to Paraty Mirim in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Can it be more calm and quiet?
In my earlier post of 246’2017 (2017-09-03), I talked among other things about how driving on the lefthand side of the road in Brazil is called “English hand”. But there are more things in Brazil connected with the English. Much of this is no doubt related to the fact that it was the English that participated heavily in developing the Brazilian infrastructure a little bit more than 100 years ago. Examples of this are the railways and the electric distribution system, and still today the electric company in Rio de Janeiro is called Light, and when the Brazilians refer to the electric bill, they call it “conta de luz”, i.e. the light bill.
Another interesting fact has to do with a very clever and useful tool to be adjusted easily to fit various sizes of heads of screws, bolts and nuts, in English normally refered to as an adjustable spanner, adjustable wrench or a monkey wrench. But not in Brazil, here it is called “chave inglesa”, i.e. the English wrench. I believe that also this might be a heritage from the English engineers installing the bespoke infrastructure and that probably impressed the people so much that they thought it was an English invention, although other reasons might also possible for that.
But, how wrong they are. This tool should justifiably be called “chave sueca”, the Swedish wrench. The reason for that is the following:
Although the adjustable wrench had been invented before, it was not very practical. For that reason, in 1892 the Swedish engineer Johan Petter Johansson, who was born only 15 km from where I would grow up during the 20th century, perfected the design and got a patent on the modern adjustable wrench.
More information can be found in references 1 and 2 below. As you can see there, Johan Petter’s invention started to be distributed all over the world by the Swedish company B A Hjorth & Co, abbreviated Bahco. And still today, when Dutchmen and Dutchwomen refer to the tool they call it “Bahco verstelbare moersleutel”. Here is a photo of my precious tool:
And here is a tribute to the amazing colors of Spring, in total blossom in the Southern hemisphere right now.
In my earlier post of 212’2021 (2021-07-31), I talked about how fantastic it was to enjoy the Olympic Summer Games from Tokyo, but also showed an example of an anachronic feature, the use of security pins to secure the number tags of the participants, something that really should be improved in Paris in 2024.
Another thing that really needs to be improved is how the organisers treat the names of the participants. It seems that we are still in the stone ages of information technology, when all texts had to adhere to the 128-character ASCII set, with no non-US characters allowed. Fortunately, that has been improved through the UTF-8 and UTF-16 character sets, so why should IOC still behave as it was the 1970’s? Can we hope that the four athletes below, and their colleagues, may have their names written in the correct way in 2024?
More about current text coding can be found in reference # 1 below.
It is always interesting to see photos from the same place during different seasons. You may remember that in my post of 120’2021 (2021-04-30), I showed a photo from Hundfjället (“Dog mountain”) when there was a ski season. Now it is Summer and of course nature looks very different.
We are half-way through the Summer Olympics and if you thought that Beijing would be the first city to host games of both the Summer and Winter Olympics, when they will take on the Winter games in 2022, then you are WRONG!
The fact is that the Northern Japanese city of Sapporo already held the Winter games in 1972, only eight years after Tokyo had arranged the memorable Summer games in 1964, and now Sapporo is back again. As everone knows, Tokyo is the main city of the games, but some sports are organized in different cities around the Japanese islands. In fact, Sapporo organized an olympic football match already two days ahead of the official opening ceremony this year. On July 21, 2021, Great Britain beat Chile by 2-0 in a female football match in the Sapporo dome, and other examples of events to be held in Sapporo involve the marathon road races and the race walk events. The reason is that these time-consuming events should be kept away from the normally hot Tokyo streets in summer and permit better conditions for the athletes further north in Japan.
If you are interested in more about the Sapporo Winter Olympics in 1972, see reference #1 below.
As I mentioned above, Tokyo was already the host of the Summer Olympic games in 1964 and the plans were to come back with the games in July and August of 2020. But as everyone knows, the on-going pandemic postponed the games one year. Tokyo had been awarded the organization of the 1940 Summer Olympics, but that honor was subsequently passed on to Helsinki due to Japan’s invasion of China, before ultimately being cancelled due to World War II.
More about the Tokyo Summer Olympics of 1964 can be found in reference #2 below.
I had the pleasure of visiting my sister-in-law and her family in Tokyo in April of 2005 and I must admit it was one of the busiest cities I have ever known. More about that visit can be found in my post of 108’2016 (2016-04-17).
So we have come to the end of the first half of year 2021 AD. The last month has been quite exciting with all the thrilling matches in the UEFA European Championships in football for national teams. That competition has now arrived at the quarter-final stage and is taking a break until Friday 183’2021 (2021-07-02) before its four games will be played on that and the following day.
I am also taking a small break in my blog posting, but promise to be back very soon with new, interesting topics.
In a society that does not seem to be interested in protecting their citizens against lethal dangers, which is the new trend? Instead of using the year 2021, they keep on insisting to still use 2020, as if it did not already exist. Currently, there are at least three big sporting events that were cancelled in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that just happened or are about to happen, and which keep 2020 in the name.
Please look at the following image. More information about the events can be found in references # 1, 2, and 3 below.
We have experienced yet another interesting month in our lives, and what follows below is of course only a small portion of what I really wanted to publish.
Complement to my post about Vasaloppet
In my post of 87’2021 (2021-03-28) , I wrote about the traditional ski race Vasaloppet. It starts in the town of Sälen and ends in Mora, 90 km away. One of my faithful readers sent me a nice picture from the same Sälen, where he recently enjoyed a different kind of skiing, going downhill. You can see it here, taken at the peak Hundfjället (“Dog mountain”).
Making it easier to deal with the proposed numbering of days
In my post of 9’2021 (2021-01-09) , I suggested that we started to think about a new, unified way of writing dates, abolishing the months and changing to a sequential count of the days in the year.
Many people have expressed their support of the proposed scheme, but raise doubts about how we more easily can get used to it. Therefore, here is one way, turning the cell phone’s lockscreen into a monthly calendar, with both the current and the proposed day count and making it also function as a communications tool between peoples and languages.
Also the month of March has been quite interesting with some things that can only happen this month. Here they are:
The first Thursday of March
Although this special day started to be celebrated a decade ago, I only learned about it this month. It is a kind of unofficial local holiday for the Swedish landskap (province) of Småland in the South East of Sweden. I already spent five months of my military training there during the 1970s and so of course I had already notice that the locals have a big difficulty in speaking the combination of r and s in Swedish words. In normal Swedish, this is pronounced as a so called supra dental, where the r and s flow together. However, in Småland, that is not the case, they pronounce it as a sound containing two s’s. A linguistic explanation (in Swedish) can be found in reference # 1 below. It is linguist Jenny Öqvist at Institutet för språk och folkminnen (Institute for Language and Folklore) who has broken the sounds down into minute details. She also took the following photo of a cake served on this special day. It is a popular sponge cake in Sweden, with whipped cream and vanilla in between the layers, with a topping of marzipan, normally known as Princess cake, due to its connection with three Swedish princesses in the 1930s.
A man from Småland named Jonas Svenningson came up with the idea to start celebrating the pronunciation of ˜första torsdagen i mars˜ (meaning the first Thursday of March) in Småland as particularly interesting, because it is ˜fösta tossdan I mass˜. The idea spread like wildfire and now it is celebrated as Småland’s local, ˜national day˜.
The first Sunday of March
In my post of 66’2016 (2016-03-06) , I wrote about the traditional Swedish ski competition Vasaloppet, which is held every year on the first Sunday of March. This year, due to the on-going pandemic, only 400 selected top athletes could participate and what a race they made! The excellent weather conditions, well prepared tracks, sunny weather and -6 degrees Celsius resulted in that both the male winner, Tord Asle Gjerdalen from Norway, and the female winner, Lina Korsgren from Sweden, broke the records for the race. More details can be found in reference #2 below.
Sweden’s floral emblem
Each of the landskap (provinces) in Sweden has its own flower, but so far there had not been any national flower for the whole of Sweden. Until now!
Svenska botaniska föreningen (Swedish botanical society) invited the Swedish population to vote for their favorite flower. In the first voting phase were selected ten candidates, which participated in a final round to decide the winner.
And the winner is:
Liten blåklocka, Latin name Campanula rotundifolia! See also reference #3 below for more details.
The Öresund bridge
And last, but not least, my sincere thanks to my friend Graziela Gabrielli, who so graciously gave me her permission to publish the beautiful photo she took from the Swedish side on the high summer day of 197’2019 (2019-07-16), showing the bridge that since 2000 connects Sweden and Denmark over the straight of Öresund, thus called Öresundsbron (Öresund bridge).
More about Öresundsbron can be found in reference #4.
During the month of February, there have been some quite interesting things I have taken notice of. Here are two of those:
Railway on pillars
In my post of 33’2016 (2016-02-02) , I made a comparison between electric circuit theory and the then on-going process in Sweden on how to choose which routes would benefit from a planned high speed train network. That planning still goes on, but many people are scared about the costs involved and the time it will take until the network would be available for public transport.
Now there are rumours that the responsible authority for the project, Trafikverket (the Swedish Transport Administration) finally has started to make calculations using not the conventional rail system on flat land, but thinking about the advantages of constructing an elevated system, using what they call landbroar (“land bridges”). So I ask, what is new with that concept? It has been used for more than a century around the world, think of the Loop in Chicago, the elevated railways around New York City, even on various places within Sweden, such as the Stockholm subway.
And as I wrote in my post of 101’2016 (2016-04-10), in April 2005 I spent almost a week in Shanghai on a business trip, where I also had the chance of doing quite some tourism. I did not show it in my blog then, but during those days Shanghai was also executing the final tests of a magnetic levitation train of German origin, called Transrapid. It was built to transport passengers between the Pudong international airport and downtown, a 30 km distance which takes only 7 minutes. Since the operating hours during the trial period were restricted to some hours during the day, I did not have the chance to ride the train, but in the following picture you can see it en route on its elevated railway.
See also references #1 and 2 below.
You have probably heard about the Swedish physician Hans Rosling, who was a fabulous lecturer on matters that should interest every one. Together with his son and daughter-in-law, he wrote, among many other things, the book “Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think”. If you have not read it, then you do not know what you are missing. Look up the book online and buy it immediately! It will be an experience you will never forget! Unfortunately, Hans Rosling died in cancer in 2017, but during this month, one of my students of the Swedish language sent me a link to a very interesting series published by the Swedish public service television SVT. Thank you Graziela for that hint! More about Hans Rosling and his amazing book can be found in references # 3 and 4 below.
So, in the wake of Hans Rosling, one person who has picked up his role is Anders Hansen, a Swedish physician and psychiatrist. He wrote and presented a series called “Your brain” which presents some mind (sic!) blowing facts about this organ, with the physical size of only two clenched fists, with an extraordinary capacity to control everything we see, hear, taste, feel and smell. SVT has now published two seasons, with a total of ten episodes, in their SVT Play online. Do not miss it, it will be removed in the beginning of the second half of 2021. The series is entirely narrated in Swedish, except for the various interviews in English that Anders Hansen performs with world famous specialists on site in San Francisco, San Diego, Oxford etc. But if you use the web browser Google Chrome and its function Google Translate, then you can enjoy the whole series with subtitles in the language of your choice. More about Anders Hansen in reference # 5 below. The URL of the series and detailed instructions about choosing the preferred language can be found in references # 6 and 7.