Showing posts from February, 2015


I just took one of those facebook personality quizzes, and I guess because I neither agreed nor disagreed with most of the statements, I was diagnosed as having Openness as my strongest character trait. I guess that's true enough, especially the part about holding unconventional beliefs. I've stopped telling anyone my views on abortion or guns or homosexuality, because my own weird position frustrates and confuses people on either side of those ingrained, polarizing issues. I also just finished reading Sidasti Galdrameistarinn. I like reading books in Icelandic, especially if the Icelandic is good and not too confusing. I remember trying to read Paradísarheimt by Laxness many years ago, and I couldn't even get through half of it. It doesnt help with language acquisition to read a book by an author who makes up words and favors convoluted metaphors. So I'm glad to read good juvenile literature. I can also read straight forward, plot driven novels in Icelandic with ease

Dating in the Viking Age

Today I was contacted, asked to answer some questions about dating in the Viking Age. It was an interesting opportunity to think that through. Although I've read books on the topic of love in the Viking Age, and taught a class on marriage, the specific liminal zone of dating is a bit different. The reporter was already keyed into the historic narrative that people used to date more for practical reasons, like the arranged marriage model, whereas the modern model is based more on dating for emotional reasons. I hope I complicated it a little bit by bringing up the idea of love at first site not as an emotional response, but as something fated, as something meant to be. There are so many sagas that deal with love matches, famously of course Laxdæla saga and all the skald sagas, all of which have thunderbolt love, like Kormak becoming obsessed after seeing Steingerdur's feet, that ends in terrible tragedy, like Gudrun having Kjartan killed. But I found myself talking a lot ab

Sun stones and cream buns

So, in the U.S. tonight, on the Travel Channel, was the "Expedition Unknown" episode about the sunstone, that piece of Icelandic feldspar that has refractive light properties which was supposedly used by the Vikings to navigate on a cloudy day. Like all shows on the travel channel, it is all about watching the host travel all over the world, eat weird foods, get in dangerous and unusual situations, but in this case, there is also a mixture of the "history's mysteries" format, where the host also tries to unravel some question about the past. It was OK. I'm on my own research expedition at the moment, trying to understand if all the Scandinavian countries do bollurdagur on the same day or not. I wish I could travel to all of them on Tuesday, and find out, but alas, my work will not allow it. Plus I have to give a talk about it tomorrow, so it would be too late anyhow. The bakery at Pacific Lutheran University is baking buns and filling them with whipped c