304’2021 (2021-10-31) – Sunday

Today, I learned about:

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:

This “skiftnyckel” has been with me ever since I received it in a marketing kit from Ericsson, when I started to work there in 1979. This 11 cm long tool from Bahco, made in vanadium steel, is very practical and I still use it from time to time.

And here is a tribute to the amazing colors of Spring, in total blossom in the Southern hemisphere right now.

Photo taken on 294’2021 (2021-10-21).

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Adjustable spanner

2: Johan Petter Johansson

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271’2021 (2021-09-28) – Tuesday

Today, I learned about:

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?

Four prominent athletes who participated in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and had their names spelled in the conservative IOC fashion. In the upper row, from left to right, are Sarah Sjöström, Sweden, the queen of world swimming, but due to an elbow injury earlier this year only managed to squeeze one silver medal in these games; Novak Đoković, Serbia, currently outstanding in world tennis, but who had to settle without any medal this time. In the lower row, from left to right, are Batuhan Çiftçi, Turkey, a boxer that did not do very well this time; Gabriela Braga Guimarães, Brazil, member of the Brazilian female volleyball team which took the silver medal in Tokyo.

More about current text coding can be found in reference # 1 below.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: UTF-8

*: What did you learn in school today ?

212’2021 (2021-07-31) – Saturday

Today, I learned about:

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.

As always, watching the Olympic Games on TV is a fantastic show. I particularly like the Augmented Reality, which permits e.g. to show how far the leader in a race is from breaking the current world record. The top picture shows the final in the men’s 50 m freestyle swimming, where the leader Caeleb Dressel is chasing not only the gold medal, but also the almost 12-year old world record. However, the two lower pictures show examples of how ancient technology is still used in the games. In the left photo, the holder of the current world record of 400 m hurdles, Karsten Warholm is struggling to fix his number sign with old-style security pins. In the right photo can be seen how bad it can look, besides probably being a nuisance for the athletes, in this case Warholm’s competitor, Alison dos Santos. The French are known to invent crazy things, how about a novel number sign for the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024?

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).

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Sapporo Winter Olympics 1972

2: Tokyo Summer Olympics 1964

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181’2021 (2021-06-30) – End of first half!

Today, I learned about:

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.

See you again on the other side of 2021!

That’s what I learned in school today!


*: What did you learn in school today ?

151’2021 (2021-05-31) – … or is it still 2020?

Today, I learned about:

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.

Three sporting events held in 2021, all with 2020 in their names, from left to right: The first one is from the European Aquatics Championships, which were held in Budapest earlier this month. The second one is the European Championships in Football, to be held in June and July in various countries over Europe, and the last one is from the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, scheduled to start on July 23, 2021.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: European Aquatics Championships

2: UEFA EURO 2020

3: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

*: What did you learn in school today ?

120’2021 (2021-04-30) – Valborg

Today, I learned about:

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”).

Hundfjället is a popular ski resort in the Swedish town of Sälen, province of Dalarna, close to the Norwegian border.

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.

This is an example of what I write above, and which also helps Swedes and Brazilians to know the holidays in each other’s countries. It is meant for the lockscreen of an iPhone SE with 640 x 1136 pixels, but can easily be adapted to any cell phone by anyone with a little patience and imagination. The picture at the bottom was taken last week in the Southern Swedish city of Lund, with its well-known university in the background. It shows how Spring is invading Sweden from the South. Thanks to my friend Eva Pulverer for her delightful participation!

That’s what I learned in school today!


*: What did you learn in school today ?

87’2021 (2021-03-28) – Only in Marss

Today, I learned about:

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˜.

A typical cake celebrating the First Thursday of March. Photo by Jenny Öqvist from Institutet för språk och folkminnen.

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.

Sweden’s floral emblem, liten blåklocka (small bluebell). Photo by Leif Engquist

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.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Fössta tossdan i mass

2: Vasaloppet 2021

3: Campanula rotundifolia

4: Öresundsbron

*: What did you learn in school today ?

59’2021 (2021-02-28) – Interesting Swedish facts

Today, I learned about:

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.

The magnetic levitation train Transrapid leaving Longyard Road station en route to Pudong international airport. The whole trip takes only 7 minutes and the train reaches a top speed of 431 km/h.

See also references #1 and 2 below.

Your brain

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.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Pelarmetod kan pressa priset på nya höghastighetsbanor

2: Shanghai maglev train

3: Hans Rosling

4: Factfulness

5: Anders Hansen

6: Din hjärna

7: Instructions on how to change subtitles into English using Google Translate in Google Chrome

*: What did you learn in school today ?

9’2021 (2021-01-09) – 5 YEARS !!!

Today, I learned about:

Once more, here we are, on the anniversary of my blog. And today, we are celebrating five whole years! Thank you all who participated on this journey, both those of you who read the first blog post and decided to stay and those who have joined me and my followers later on. THANK YOU !!!

There is a link to the very first blog post in reference #1 below.

It’s time to start a new way of counting the days!

As an anniversary present, I would like to make a proposal to make it easier to write dates. In my second blog post ever, I wrote about how different it is over the world, and although there is an international standard, which was adopted in 2004, there are few people that use it. If you are curious about how that standard is, look up the link in reference # 2 below.

I have had quite some ideas about how a new system for counting the days could be implemented, but what really made me going was a post on the Quora site, that I read some time ago. It was written in 2016 by an American professor named Dave Consiglio. Thank you, Dave, for your excellent ideas! See his thoughts in reference #3 below.

My proposal

In line with Dave’s ideas, I created a way to write days that everyone could adopt, easily. You can see the notation in the headline of today’s post. Basically, it abolishes the inconsistent system of months and considers the year as the main unit for counting the time, subdivided only into 365 days (or 366 days in a leap year). Each day would consist of 10 subunits, named Planck, as a tribute to one of the greatest scientists of all times, Max Planck.

See my proposal in detail in reference #4 below and details about Max Planck and his works in reference # 5.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: 9’2016 (2016-01-09)

2: 10’2016 (2016-01-10)

3: Dave Consiglio’s thoughts on time

4: A new way of counting the days

5: Max Planck

*: What did you learn in school today ?