Streak of Chalk by Miguelanxo Prado

I recently bought this comic album (which I didn't even know existed, even though I'd read much of his earlier work since it had been published in a Swedish magazine, which stopped around the time Streak of Chalk was published) and have read a few reviews of it on the net.

Reviews which mostly seem to miss the point.

Yes, the island and the people are possibly allegories and metaphors and symbols and is quite possibly analysable in that way. But for example there's also one comment that Raul can't tell dream and reality nor past and present apart which must have been written by someone who didn't read the comic carefully enough.

Agreed, it is weird in parts, for example if you're in a house on an island and someone says "there're no houses on the island" and "nobody lives on the island", do I think that's weird because I think in Swedish, read it in English and it's been translated from Spanish or possibly Galego and it's understood the meaning is no other houses? I don't know.

The album even has an instruction manual. It's that difficult to read, and apparently even harder if you're not used to reading comics.

First in it is the quote "You have seen and heard the same things as me, only we interpret the facts differently." (S.S. Van Dine, The Kidnap Murder Case)

In the afterword the author points out that "it's not excluded" that the reader after reading the last page will come to the same conclusion as Raul, the main character, and that it's also possible the reader may interpret what happened differently. He then goes on to mention that some readers may focus on details others find unimportant or suppose are due the the author's negligence or lack of rigor in telling the story -- and then discover a more complex, more disturbing and more surprising story. I did.

Here be spoilers.

This is comic album; you're supposed to look at the depictions, not just treat them as illustrations of what's being said.

Take a look at the last chapter. Raul returns to the island, he thinks, and two days after he left it. Note that in the second to last chapter Ana says that Raul has been gone for almost a week.

What do we see? Well, without looking for it I noticed two items: The trees weren't the same kind of trees and when Raul names two visitors on the island it's very clearly not the men he thinks they are. Then after the last page comes two naturalist illustrations, one of an oak species one of a seabird. And sure enough, when I go back through the last chapter we can see that the seabirds aren't the same species we've seen in the previous chapters.

The conclusion can only be that the woman he thinks pretends not to recognise him nor know who Ana is isn't the woman he thinks she is. I think I see differences between them too and the interior of the houses are probably subtly different.

The reader who notices this gets a completely different story than the reader who only notices Raul writes something in the last chapter which appears to have already been written in the first chapter.



Seasons in Sweden

Official meterological season definitions in Sweden

If average daily temperature betweem +0.1C and +9.9C seven days in a row, spring started the first of these days.
Note: Can not happen before Feb 15 or after July 31.
Average dates, north to south
Kiruna May 1
Östersund May 11
Stockholm March 16
Malmö Feb 22

If average daily temperature +10C or more five days in a row, summer started the first of these days.
Average dates, north to south
Kiruna June 18
Östersund May 29
Stockholm May 13
Malmö May 8

If average daily temperature +9.9C or lower five days in a row, autumn started the first of these days.
Note: Can not start before Aug 1:st or after Feb 14:th.
Average dates, north to south
Kiruna Aug 16
Östersund Sep 5
Stockholm Sep 29
Malmö Oct 12

If average daily temperature +0C or lower five days in a row, winter started the first of these.
Average dates, north to south
Kiruna Oct 10
Östersund Nov 4
Stockolm Dec 6
Malmö Jan 7

Today we have three seasons in Sweden in different parts of the country.

Some years we don't have four seasons everywhere: Summer can arrive quickly so no spring and during 2007-08 autumn ended without winter but when it wasn't warm enough to be "spring".


Swedish railroad signals

Swedish railroad signals and signs

Not complete, just an overview.

Main signals

1 red = stop
1 green = go (80 km/h which is maximum speed unless you've got ATC)
2 green = go 40 km/h
3 green = go 40 km/h but you'll have to stop shortly after

Distant signals

1 flashing green = next signal shows stop
2 flashing green = next signal shows go 40
1 flashing white = next signal shows go
no light at all = consider it as next shows stop

This has historical background because in the beginning green meant "stop" and white meant "go".

Both main and distant signals may be combined or stand alone. This means a main signal can have 2 - 5 lights and a distant only 2 or 3 lights.

Instead of distant signal there can be a sign warning that there will be a main signal in 800-1000 m (or with an additional sign stating the distance). It looks like a black triangle with yellow border over a round sign looking like a distant signal without lights (black circle with white segments left and right).

Road crossings

At the road crossing there's a signal with a "V" below (väg = road)
1 red = stop if possible
1 white = gates are down and/or red flashing light shown for road traffic. Optionally also no vehicle detected on the track. (Not green because road traffic isn't under positive control like other rail traffic.)

Distant road crossing

3 flashing yellow in triangle = next road crossing shows red
3 yellow in triangle = next road crossing shows white

Road crossing alert

Black triangle with yellow border over a yellow sign with a "V" = when you pass this the distant road crossing signal should show OK to pass. (Meaning between here and the road crossing you can brake to a stop but not if you start braking at the distant signal.)

Bridges (like road crossing but with bridge icon instead of "V")

1 red = stop
1 white = bridge is not open


White or yellow square tilted 45 deg with a black circle marks a place where ATC can send changes.

Speed limits

Yellow circle with black numerals.
ATC speed limit signs are shown as a black arrow, either alone or together with one showing km/h for non-ATC. Pointing down if speed limit is lower otherwise up.

Black triangle with yellow border over a rectangular yellow sign with numerals means there's speed limit sign with that speed in about 1000 m.


Black triangle with white border, pointing down = sound the horn for 3 seconds.

Can have additional sign saying only give signal between 06:00 and 22:00.
Can have additional sign "V" meaning horn should give sound again about halfway to the crossing. In bad visibility many times between the sign and the crossing.


At a platform
Flashing "A" = depart
Flashing red = stay

Square with horizontal black and white lines = lift snow plow.


Two sources with illustration: Wikipedia in English and Banguide in Swedish. And a really good one showing signals' placement along the track.
Also the official document.


Casio RAF G-Shock watch

G-Shock GW-A1000RAF-1AER

It's unusual for me to buy more than one watch from the same maker, at least in the same year, but now it's happened. I decided I wanted this watch when it was first announced, then it was delayed and then it looked like it would be hard to get one of the 2000. (There are or will be similar non-limited models with more colour and less the RAF logo.) But it really wasn't; I got it five days after I ordered.

I like it very much. It's not very complicated, it's on purpose made with rather few features, a lot less than technically possible, because that's how RAF wanted it.


We meet another ferret on our evening walk

Regnar meet another ferret for the first time in almost a year.
At first everything seems very friendly, but as we walk nearer to home, Regnar starts to try to dominate him by biting him in the neck. Not fun, but not very bad either. So we go our different ways.


Web Dominators

This is a useful product which had slipped under my radar, mainly because I don't think I understood what they were meant to do.

I think the photos speak for themselves. Now I'm going to get some more of them.


Regnar is extra active when I come home

That the insides of shoes is interesting, that's normal, but today he was more interested in the outside and he was very keen on investigating the interior of my backpback. He also wanted to go out immedieately and after a short while back in again and search the area closest to the door. And repeat. He also seemed extra eager to mark territory outside.

There's a reason, for on my way home I met another ferret.

I'm not sure if this was a territorial defensive behaviour or if he'd want to meet another ferret again.


Elk leather gloves

Hestra model 2087 Tällberg (which I think is a winter sports place).


Ballograf Epoca ballpoint internals

It's a really ingenious mechanism. Only these parts and you just drop them into the barrel in this order and it's assembled.

Someone else's video of how it's put together.


Mister Baby Head

"Mister Baby Head" was the working title for Walter Jon Williams' latest novel. Instead it's published as The Fourth Wall. Me, I think the working title was more rememberable.

Learned about it the 5:th, got it in the mail today. That's quick.

Haven't started reading it yet, but I ditched the book I was reading and will start on this tomorrow on my way to work.