A day Robert’s (12) life in 1973

(This post is sort of about how a reader’s mind works. By example.)

Nordiska Museet did a collection for their 1973 anniversary, and asked people for a “birthday present for the future” in the form of “please write about your day today”.

Robert, 12 tells the story about his day. In 1973. Young Robert (“Bäba”) tells us about his family, his pet’s name, his crafts teacher, his dance lessons, but then goes into a crafting project that’s about building canoes. They were group-building them, and would make 7 of them. One for each participant. That’s a lot.

När vi har ätit ska vi ha musik sen ska vi skriva om oss. Sen ska vi till slöjden och jag har syslöjd och vi har också träslöjd. Jag håller på med att knyta makrame. Min sy fröken heter Britt . Jag går på dansskola på tisdagar och bygger kanot på måndagar. Vi är 7 st. som ska bygga en varsin kanot. Vi har gjort en kanot. Den skulle han som vi lånade formen av ha. Vi håller på med den första. Den ska Dag ha. Jag och Torbjörn ska ha en blå färg på våran kanot. Snart ska vi spola is. Då kan vi åka skridskor. Det är toppen:

Den 24 oktober 1973

Minnen.se (Swe. memories) is a website dedicated to such digital collections. It is a part of Digitalt Museum, which has a nice about page in English. (Notice how this blog post now stopped being about the young author of a letter?)

If you want to search digitized collections for things and documents, Digitalt Museum is pretty good. The search results take you to records shown in a uniform way, but the data is stewarded by different actors – different museums all over Sweden. With Digitital Museum I have searched for, and found, many woodworking implements, medieval paraphernalia, industrial-age mementos, and other ephemera.

Some of the collected information is generic – a sled, a belt, a bucket. Other things are unique documents, such as these photos of a boat trip in the early 70s. Lots of fashion details to savour there.

And this taxi car: “Old car outside scouts building” (Photo: Roland Burman / Marinmuseum)

I liked the process between these two images: the set-up and the party. Note the short and stubby shape of the beer bottles.

Photo: Roland Burman, Marinmuseum. “Långborden på styrbord däck”
Photo: Roland Burman, Marinmuseum. “Långborden på styrbord däck”

The word “rubric”

In Swedish, headings are called “rubriker”. That’s also the word for news headlines.

I learned that the name comes from rubrica, a Latin word that’s about the red ochre pigment.

a word or section of text that is traditionally written or printed in red ink for emphasis


Then the text says:

Rubric can also mean the red ink or paint used to make rubrics, or the pigment used to make it


And then it just goes on and on about different meanings that the word can also have.

I think I’d like to begin making these red (or other-colored) section markings. Just the text being in a different color. Simultaneously subtle and flashy. Also, it’d be quite easy to say “third paragraph”, when they are marked in red.

This example is from The Gradual of John I Albert (Poland)

Practical: rust removal

(This is a post which had sat so long that it became… history. It has been a while since I used the magic of Evapo-Rust, but it exists, it’s there, and perhaps you should give a can of it to someone you think needs a nice birthday present.)

It entertains me to remove rust from metal things that I can use. Turning something from trash to useful is pleasing.

Like many others, I saw Canadian Youtuber Hand Tool Rescue use Evapo-Rust on his show. I was wowed. It couldn’t be that easy, nor could it be available to me, in the EU.

I’m happy to be have been wrong about that. On finding a dealer, I ordered a 5L container and studied its usage. Soak, wait, rinse. Huh. Then, reuse the liquid until it won’t activate any longer.

Get yourself a plastic container to do all this in. Perhaps a few different ones. Low, long. Wide, low. Perhaps one with higher sides, for washing rusty parts before drying them and submerging them. Well, you’ll figure out what you need. Your perception will alter. Alter to include also Stuff Your Shop Might Need.

Foliate borders: An intricate illumination

Houghton Library has the manuscript from the 1400s, that has the small title part “Foliate borders”

I zoomed in on this illuminated manuscript fragment, and it just kept adding more detail. I remain very impressed with these. Right, this is a time where one ought to use those “download the whole image” kind of tools that does the zooming for you. Yes, dezoomify. Here’s a direct link, with the above document page filled in.

When zoomed all the way in, the little details in the gold foiling, the dotted lines, the multicoloured shadings all come out. Neat craft.

Source: “Houghton Library. pf MS Typ 995. Foliate borders : manuscript, [14–].”

RSpec: Quiet a socketry/console logger in a test

You are writing a test.

It raises a well-known exception, and you check for it.

Suddenly, there’s log output, since you are working with some concurrent task. Your mood sinks. What’s the way to disable this library’s logging? In this case, I was kindly helped by the library’s author.

Quiet a Console.logger in an RSpec test. Use an around hook:

around do |example|
  level = Console.logger.level


  Console.logger.level = level

First, store the existing level, in order to restore it after the test (aka example) has run.

Then, disable the logger and run the example.

Finally, restore the logger’s previous level.

The Console gem is amazing, and comes bundled with the Async gem. Well thought-out gems.

Pictorial sources in books

Nerd alert.

I was reading a (modern classic) book about medieval costume in different centuries. The book was written in the 1960s, when pictorial evidence was hard to come by. “The British Museum has published a photograph postcard of the tomb effigy, which is rather good.” Now, the book mentions manuscript & effigy sources for all of its pictures, down to the part of individual work. (All but a few plates are black-and-white redrawn images, from looking at the manuscript illustrations, I assume. Must have taken a lot of work!)

Since we now live in the Age of the Archive, these references are golden doors to so much content. One of the texts was called “Lives of the Offas”. So, I entered that into a search engine and was rewarded with a wealth of information about this source, its author, its role in history et cetera.

The Vitae duorum Offarum. This was the entryway article. There’s just so much information.

One of the source notes included mention of a “D1”, which I learned was a library ID for a manuscript: List of manuscripts in the Cotton library. Wow, the Robert Bruce Cotton way of organizing was interesting:

Robert Bruce Cotton organized his library in a room 26 feet (7.9 m) long by six feet wide filled with bookpresses, each with the bust of a figure from classical antiquity on top. Counterclockwise, these were Julius Caesar, Augustus, Cleopatra, Faustina, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. (Domitian had only one shelf, perhaps because it was over the door).

Anyway, I had a lot of fun learning to identify early-medieval dress details in pictures.

Bonus: Vair is called gråverk in Swedish. That is “gray-work”.

Ossy: a maintainer’s CLI tool

ossy is a new release, by Piotr Solnica.

Solnica releases a lot of software packages, most of it, as Rubygems. Doing that, in the small, one package at a time, is not very time-consuming, and can be wonderfully automated on places such as GitHub: author a Release text in a textarea, press a big green button and then automation can happen for you.

It’s just that, when you run a family of packages, just look at the volume of packages, then even that can be a drag.

So, ossy would allow for… bulk maint. Pretty strong.

(I never published this post, but, hey, I decide when to!)

Ruby package maintainers in *nix distributions: thanks

I got an email from code hosting provider BitBucket.

“You were mentioned in a commit”, it said. OK. But, I don’t often use BitBucket. What could it be?


This long link led to pkgsrc – which sounds like package source to nerds.

It turns out that a NetBSD package maintainer puts together packages for each of its distributed RubyGem packages. A kind of packaging of a package.

Well, in the NetBSD package, there’s a Makefile with some information about its dependencies. These are the values taken from the RubyGem’s .gemspec file.

I wonder if they use tools to read out the gemspec values, or if this is powered by humans toiling together.

Ruby: Concurrent::ThreadLocalVar

Web framework behemoth Ruby on Rails is using the concurrent-ruby project for some internal book-keeping. I like that project. A bursting-packed tool bag of ready-to-use widgets and doodads – great, if you know how to use them.

One of those things is ThreadLocalVar. A variable? Local to a… thread?

Its documentation’s example is eloquent about what it does for you: In thread t1 we can read the ThreadLocalVar and have its starting value. Then, we can locally set and keep using that variable, without changing t2‘s value, nor the starting v‘s value.

Here, this is the example linked above:

v = ThreadLocalVar.new(14)

t1 = Thread.new do
  v.value #=> 14
  v.value = 1
  v.value #=> 1

t2 = Thread.new do
  v.value #=> 14
  v.value = 2
  v.value #=> 2

v.value #=> 14

I glanced at this, when Rails 6.1 is getting this new feature: being able to accept some deprecation warnings, while failing on all the other. See this Pull Request for usage in context.

I said book-keeping things, above: The only file in Rails which is currently using ThreadLocalVar is the one which manages deprecation warnings, ActiveSupport::Deprecation.

This was a short call-out of one of the Ruby Concurrency library’s many small tools, I can only invite you to explore it further. For example, by looking at these issues that are looking for a contributor.