Magnifying sheet reviews

I bought some magnifying sheets to help me with reading books and ingredients labels and things – off Ebay because Swedish stores stock with zero variety – and tested them out. All three are 3x magification (you can’t go higher unless you want binoculars, cameras or tiny tiny things meant for jewellers). I have about -9 sight in one eye and -11 in the other, in other words by normal people’s standards I’m almost blind. I CAN read normal books and papers but only if I stick them extremely close to my face, everyone can tell I see badly and my arms, hands or neck end up hurting. 12pt font is hard to read but I CAN read it (if it were up to me, I’d have 16pt font at the minimum). Frankly it’s becoming more and more common that everyone, online and offline, use smaller and smaller fonts – for example, on ingredients lists – and I got fed up with it.

The sizes I got were: “full page” (24,5 x 17 cm – a little smaller than half of one page from the newspaper), a medium-sized one that the description said was approximately 18 x 12cm (it’s really 18 x 11,5) and meant for reading books and newspapers, and a “bookmark” one that’s 19 x 6,5 and has a ruler on the edges. I bought them from spmart on Ebay, the total cost was AUD $12.42 including shipping and they arrived to Sweden after 4 weeks.

Before buying I was worried about two things, the first being that they wouldn’t magnify enough and the second being that they would be so thin and flimsy that they’d immediately get bent out of shape and become useless. Actually, they magnify much better than photos (including the seller’s photos) can show because the camera simply can’t focus well on this kind of thing, and they don’t bend as badly or easily as they seem like they wuld either.

Size comparisions:
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chinook jargon

since the last time i posted here i’ve looked at chinook jargon (also called “chinuk wawa”) and indonesian, and have gotten a lot further in learning japanese. the three are pretty similar, but to explain why it’s similar to japanese it would take way too long because most people learn japanese with only wrong info so they see the language in a completely different light. chinook jargon is basically the language i would have grown up speaking if the USA hadn’t forced all the native americans to live on reservations (which might as well be called “internment camps”….)

anyway, indonesian and chinook jargon don’t actually have any difference between nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions. that is to say, it’s as if every single word in the language was a “noun”, and it only turns into an adjective or verb by word order, common sense, or by other words that make the meaning clear. it’s just like how we say “the colour red” (=noun) and “the red dog” (=adjective) without any change, same thing for “I’m talking” (=verb), “the talking man” (=adjective) and “the art of talking” (noun?).

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Archaic Swedish Animal- & Place-names

This is mainly intended for people who want to write fantasy stories or make videogames (many of them use Nordic, or butchered Nordic, names). The words below are good for place-names, but both plant and animal names are used in even modern-day person names as well, so you can be named “Eagle Birch’s-Leaf” for example.

This is language from the 1860’s and a bit earlier, from Värend and Småland (south of Sweden), so it’s spelled a bit differently from modern Swedish and gives it that old-timey feel. Source is here. I wrote this post ages ago (back when my Swedish was a lot worse) and don’t intend to fix it up for some time, but it’s still usable.
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Stuff to do with the moon


In the 1600’s when a farmer wanted to know when it would be the next full moon, he held up his arm. He pointed his pointer-finger towards the sun and spread out his thumb in line with the moon. Then he measured how many thumbs were in the space between the sun and moon. If the distance from the sun to moon was, for example, seven thumbs, it had been seven days since the new moon. After this it was easy to count out how many days remained until the full moon, or to the month’s end and the next new moon. The only thing that’s needed is that both the sun and moon are visible in the sky at the same time, a phemenon that happens regularly in the Nordics (except for in winter).

Iceland still keeps the Old Norse calendar afloat because they have at least one holiday (“þorri”) that uses it. A quick search found this in English:

I came across a nice phase of the moon calendar on an Icelandic site, so if you want to know the phases of the moon simply go to this link and look on the right-hand side to find the calendar.
Key: Sun = sunday, mið = wednesday, fös = friday, lau = saturday.

Here is another moon calendar (in Swedish), which uses real photos:
Må = Monday, On = Wednesday, Fr = Friday, Sö = Sunday

Vintage inspiration videos

It’s good to know you’re not alone. Even if they like a different time period or are in a different country, or have a lot more money than you… Well, more as I find them.

England (1930-50’s):

Japan (20’s):

Esperanto-Nordic cognates

Words that look the same, or are the same, in Esperanto and the Nordic-Germanic languages. The Esperanto endings have been cut off to show their true closer similarity. Of course this isn’t a complete list. Sometimes I didn’t bother listing which Germanic-Nordic languages the words are similar to. First, true friends:

flug(i) – to fly (ex. flugplats in swedish, but false friend in icelandic where it means “a fly (insect)”)
sun – a sun
viol – violet
ĝarden – garden, a trädgård
en – in
freŝ – fresh, recent
roz – rose
blu – blue
brun – brown
oranĝ – orange (colour)
skrib – to write
ŝton – a stone
frukt – fruit
persik – a peach
feri – vacation (á feriu in Faroese)
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Vintage Iceland

More vintage-Iceland stuff is also scattered about in other posts.

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All the tiny ones are photos taken by the University of Iceland and were published on the cover of their centennial student paper. The other Icelandic ones were either bought in Kolaportið, the flea market in Reykjavík, Iceland, or clipped from an Icelandic newspaper. The others are from Sweden and London.
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Faroese fishball recipe







From Oyggjarnar, May 18th, 1905. Fetched from as usual. (I don’t have a Faroese dictionary so some words I couldn’t translate well):

Inexpensive and tasty fishballs for the household

Chop the fish well and for a long time with tallow and salt, then mix it with fresh milk (whole milk) for 20—25 minutes, add the milk in little by little, so “the mincemeat” is as thick as Christmas cookie dough. Place the balls out into a boiling solution, with a silver spoon or tin spoon. The spoon may be dipped into the solution in-between every trip, so that the balls can become nice-looking and round.

“Sauce” for the balls: Put out butter, with plenty of chopped onion, salt, crushed muscat and a tiny bit of flour, thin it up with fish broth (the leftover water from boiling fish) so “the sauce” is like thin [avsia – ???] oat-soup, and put a little of something sour and sweet in. Then strew it over the balls and have potatoes, wheat-bread or both things as a side-dish.

A finer “sauce” for fishballs would be made in about the same way, but without onion, and then one fetches: capers, lemon juice and white wine, and thicken “the sauce” with 1-2 egg yolks.

vintage DIY

WIP as usual:







Home-Made Sleeping Bag

These instructions from from the 1938 issue of “Fálkinn”, an Icelandic newspaper. This is intended for young boys to be able to make themselves.

We used these kinds of materials in our sleeping bag:
– water-proof tent fabric (oilcloth)
– thick wool fabric and stuffing/padding (you can buy cheaper, loose, un-dyed wool at knitting shops).
Each piece is 150 by 200 centimetres, like you see in the illustration.
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Vintage stuff compilation

Moving things from another blog to this blog.

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“To Iceland”. Sheet music from Kvennablaðið, 31st of May, 1901.


From the year 1900, Kvennablaðið (“The women’s paper”). I first misread the motto as “If you want not (to), then god is forgiving, but if you can not, that is another matter.” so I thought it was funny.


Women’s sport-clothing from the 1910’s: a bicyclist, bather (swimmer), and footballist (soccer player). From Fálkinn, 1930.


Esperanto – why it’s useful

UPDATE: 2015.08.27

This post has moved on over to my website. One year after writing it for the first time, I completely re-wrote it and added examples from Japanese and Indonesian (languages that I knew nothing of a year ago). Something like two of the examples of Faroese and Swedish are intact, but I wanted to do what I could to focus a little more on languages that weren’t European. I could make it better but I’m tired of working on it for now, especially after all of the needlessly rude comments I got on it when I shared it on a language-related community.

blah blah general disclaimer because SOME people can’t read a hobbypage by a nonlinguist without thinking i need to write it as perfectly as if i were publishing a research paper in an international magazine. i’m just a normal guy writing off what little i have in my brain, some of you may think the entire page is wrong, but at least i actually wrote something.

Videogames for Learning Japanese

NOTE: post is currently in progress, i’m too tired to fix it properly before i publish the updates

I’ll add more to this list as I find and play them. Last updated 23rd February 2015.

Usually you’ll want to (or it’s only possible to) emulate a game instead of buying a physical cartridge. Emulation means you use software to play the game on another gaming device, for example playing a gameboy game on a 3DS, or a PS2 game on a computer. Emulation software is entirely free, and runs on “ROMs” (digital versions of the info that’s on a game cartridge), which you can download online (techically, having a ROM copy of a game you already own is not illegal, and emulators aren’t illegal, but downloading ROMs of games you don’t already know is illegal – anyway you can find ROMs easily online.) If you have a device like a 3DS, you can buy a “flashcart” (flashcartridge) which is basically just a fake game cartridge that’s actually a USB, and you can load the emulation software etc onto it. Anyway!


Games only in hiragana or katakana:

1. (GBC, NDS) All of the Pokemon games (although X and Y can switch in-game between kanji and hiragana by changing the settings). Pokemon Gold, Silver or Crystal are actually the easiest to understand and learn from out of all the games (Red/Blue/Green have stilted text with not enough context, and the later games have way too much text and aren’t as easy to play if you can’t understand what they’re saying). Warning, the Mystery Dungeon games have really tiny text that’s hard to read.

Pokemon X:



2. (DS) こどものための読み聞かせ えほんであそぼう – A series of “games” which are actually illustrated children’s books. There’s both English and Japanese stories, and the stories have audio. The stories are just things like that one about the peach boy, and Peter Pan, summarized.

3. (GBC) 不思議のダンジョン 風来のシレン This game is entirely in hiragana and the only real text is when you’re in a town or other “resting place”. It’s easy to figure out how to play even without being able to read anything. You wander around, picking up objects and fighting things, trying to get to deeper and deeper levels of the “dungeon” (ex. get to level 15 to rescue someone) then climb back out:

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Skärmavbild 2014-08-04 kl. 20.13.52

4. (SMS) Phantasy Star – Written entirely in katakana, except for some sort of cutscenes which use a few basic kanji. I haven’t played it so I dunno how easy it is to understand things in.

5. (SNES, GBA) Mother – also known as “Earthbound”. There’s three games and as far as I know, all of them only use hiragana and katakana.

6. (SNES) Final Fantasy III – has small text and is difficult to understand the “cutscenes”, but the normal “walking around town talking to random people” is much easier to understand.

7. (GBA) Breath of Fire. Text is also relatively big and easy to read.

8. 3×3 Eyes – Only has kanji in the opening scenario-type text, all the dialogues and in-game stuff are just in hiragana/katakana. has huge text!

9. Soul Blader – the hiragana is relatively big and clear to read.

10. Lagoon

Only basic kanji, without furigana:

1. As far as I know, all the Zelda games for GBC and GBA. “Oracle of Seasons (GBC)” has barely any kanji (as in, extremely few even from the basic kanji) from what little I played, but unfortunately the kanji looks like this:

(GBA) Fushigi no Boushi has more kanji (still probably all in the most common 1.000 though) and is still a bit hard to read because the letters are squished:

2. Dragon Quest I, II – again, the kanji looks like this:

3. Ougen no Taiyou – fairly big font with clear kanji

4. Akazukin Chacha – huge text

Kanji with furigana:
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Remnants of Cases & Genders in Swedish

in icelandic and faroese the cases and genders still remain, and basically the first word of a compound has its ending changed to genitive etc. (and depending on the word’s gender) when put in a compound word. prepositions also decide which case the related words go into, so ex. till would govern genitive case, which often added an -s to the end of the word, as in “till havs – to sea” but directly translated is “to sea‘s“.

when i was newer to sweden/swedish i went to SFI (Swedish For Immigrants) and asked my teacher if they had a list of words that did this so i could just learn them since i already knew some icelandic and it was easier, and she didn’t know what i was talking about and i never got any sort of list. when i search online i don’ really find anything either. so i started making my own, hopefully this can eventually help other learners of swedish out.
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Svenska ord som existerar inte på engelska

Last update: 2014.11.30

Swedish words that don’t exist in English. Not “unique Swedish words”, as many or even all of these exist in other languages, but just ones that aren’t in English. Occasionally updated as I find more.

On this list are not words that English has taken from Swedish (ex. ombudsman, smörgåsbord), and not words that relate to things only done/available in Sweden (ex. äggost which is a type of food, skogsrå which is a mythical lady in the forest who is part fox or something).

Since some nouns have verbforms and vice versa those repeats haven’t been added either. I tried to limit them to compounds with only two words, and while there exist a lot more slang words that don’t exist in English, I’m only adding slang words that are so common you can see them on advertisements and they’re in the Swedish-English dictionary etc.

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Japanese full 50 kana: yi, ye, wu

When learning hiragana and katakana, we’re quick to notice that some are missing. wu, we, yi… wi (ゐゑ) and we (ヰヱ) are in Unicode and in most fonts, as they were used all the way up until the 1950’s and show up sometimes even now (in places like usernames). Type them in the romaji-style input by writing “wyi” and “wye”.

There is no yi, ye or wu. Historically speaking, the Y sound is really just a short I with a bit more forceful breath, so yi would really be ii. E is the sound created in-between I and A, so it would have historically been iia for the same reason. The Japanese W is actually the same exact sound as its U, it’s just that U uses the voice and W is simply a puff of breath, so saying the two fast and close together is just too difficult (it’d be like saying “sz, td, pb”). Our English W is slightly different from our U, which is why we can say “woo” and Japanese can’t.

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Faroese Shrimp-Mint Sandwich

Translated from here.

300 g. shrimp
¼ cucumber (ca. 100 g)
300 g. fresh peas
200 g. cream cheese with garlic 29,5%, ex. Buko® Garlic
100 g. sour cream 9%
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. largely-chopped fresh mint
¾ tsp. coarse salt
freshly-ground pepper
12 slices sandwich bread

some shrimp
and a few peas

Dry the shrimp with a rolling pin or dish towel. Cut the cucumbers into small pieces and simmer (lightly boil) the peas.

Stir the cream cheese together with the sour cream. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper. Then add shrimp, cucumber, and peas into the dressing – mix them together well.

Divide the filling into 6 sandwiches. Stuff them well with filling and put them in the fridge for a day. Cut the crusts off with a good knife, and then cut each sandwich into 4 pieces. Decorate with shrimp and peas.

Salmon Pudding

Note: Salmon pudding is seen as typical, traditional Swedish food.
This was my first ever translation of anything from Swedish. The original recipe had steps that didn’t logically make sense, so I’m mostly cobbling together three recipes:

Salmon pudding: serves four

800g (or 10-20 mini) potatoes
1 T butter
400-500kg salmon file, scaleless and de-boned (“you can use plain, gravad or smoked salmon”)
a leek
salt and white pepper (the Nordics use a lot of white pepper but I think substituting black pepper is fine)
3 eggs
2 dl milk
1 dl whipping cream
1 lemon for garnishing
fresh dill for garnishing, finely chopped

1. Peel and boil the potatoes as normal. Set the oven to 200°C. Butter a 1-1 1/2 liter baking dish.
2. Thinly slice the potatoes. Cut the salmon file into 2-3cm thick sheets/slices (if it isn’t already thinly sliced). Chop up the leek and dill.
3. Put a layer of potatoes into the bottom of the dish. Strew half the leek over top.
4. Lay down the salmon slices in a compact layer. Strew the rest of the leek and some dill over top.
5. Lay the rest of the potatoes over top.
6. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, white pepper, and cream. Pour this egg custard into the baking form. Bake in the middle of the oven for 45-55 minutes. Test with a toothpick/”stick” that the potatoes are done and the egg custard is stiff the entire way through in the middle.
7. Melt the butter in a little skillet. Use it as something to strew over the salmon pudding if you cut it into servings. Separate the lemon into slices(?) and serve it with the salmon pudding. Garnish the salmon pudding with some freshly-chopped dill.