JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Painting the ceiling in the cottage

This week, I give tips about three different podcasts with the same theme: Russia's grip on the world. I painted the ceiling in the living room of the cottage.

Monday 4 March

It is a holiday! We slept well, with no fridge humming beside our cushions and no socks hanging over electronic devices with bright lights. On the other hand, there is no luxurious breakfast either. DW made her iconic fridge bread that I blogged about on 4 November 2022. Sweden has many good things, but bread is not one of them. DW uses dry yeast because fresh yeast is not easy to find in grocery stores in the Netherlands. For the rest, she used the same recipe for the bread.

It was near zero degrees Celsius tonight at the cottage. It is overcast. Later in the morning, the sun broke through. It was beautiful! A luxurious breakfast is excellent, but our regular breakfast is not bad. We had a smoothie of banana, apple, pear, and raspberries. In the Netherlands, we use stainless steel straws for the smoothie. Here at the cottage, we are using our last stock of plastic straws, which we bought just before we realized plastic is an environmental hazard.

We got a glass of orange juice. I sprinkle a little curcumin in the orange juice because it suits (or does it?) people with Heberden's nodes like I have. To this, we have coffee with oat milk and a bowl of muesli with almond milk.

After breakfast, we moved the furniture around in the living room, creating a free area to work on the ceiling. I covered the floor with plastic to protect the floorboards. While preparing the ceiling, it is perhaps not compulsory to use protection, but I think it is better, so I use it.

This time, I will work on the second one-third of the ceiling. It continues my work in week 43 last year from 29 Oktober 2023. Last time, I tried relying on machines to do the work. This time, I am trying to scrape more. Partly because the old paint is letting loose much better on this part of the ceiling. But I will not go back and contest the theory, so I will not know.

When the brittle paint and the loose flakes are removed, I will start sanding the ceiling with the sanding machine I bought last time.

At lunch, we had the freshly baked bread. It was delicious. After lunch, we had a walk to Jens stig to check on Jens Bridge.

I built the bridge from the 2nd to the 5th of August 2015. It is now coming of age and showing signs of becoming old. I will need to figure out how to patch it.

Talking about patching, our neighbor's old sawmill is in great need of repair. The last time we spoke to our new neighbors, they told us that the local municipality found great interest in restoring the building. It sounds like professionals will help restore the building so it can be kept for future generations. This was a carpenter's workshop. I suspect some of the cottage's ornaments are made in this workshop. Perhaps this will become a museum at some point. Who knows?

This is one of our roads. Last year, I ordered several tonnes of gravel for the road, which now looks beautiful. I want the grass in the middle; that is how I want it.

After the walk, I continued to chisel old paint from the ceiling. I gathered a substantial amount of paint flakes. I think the total effort going into the project will be less when I manually remove paint flakes and then sand the remaining surfaces afterward.

It is still Monday, and I am already at 588 words. If I go on like this, I will be at 4116 words at the end of this week.

Tuesday 5 March

I slept well, but I had stuff in my right eye. In the middle of the night, I tried to clean my eyes. I am unsure if I removed any stuff, but I got the dirt moved around so that I could sleep.

It had been snowing last night. Not outside, as you might think. It snowed flakes from the ceiling! While scraping paint flakes, the ceiling boards got static, and some flakes stuck. The charge slowly disappeared during the night, and flakes fell to the ground. It was snowing.

It was cold this morning. I went to the wood house and picked up a basket of chopped wood for our stoves. We got this wood basket together with the house. It had already been repaired, so we have used it as is ever since.

With the wood furnace producing heat, it was time to start working on the breakfast. I made a smoothie with apple, pear, banana, blueberries, and just a few raspberries. I like to balance tastes. Raspberries have a dominant flavor, so I like to make them barely compete with other tastes, like blueberries or huckleberries, as I think they might be called. It was delicious; a fruit smoothie is always delicious.

Today, we decided to go to the second-hand shop to search for treasuries. Recently, we found that the second-hand shop is now open several days a week. We went there on a Tuesday because that is what we are used to. I found clothing that will suit me. The changing room had plenty of mirrors, which was great fun. I found a stick for a roller. I planned to ducktape the scraping tool to the stick so that I would work easier.

I started working on the ceiling project when we returned to the cottage. The stick worked fantastically. My shoulders liked the stick very much. I finished today with 5 planks left to scrape from the paint.

While working on scraping paint from the ceiling, I listened to podcasts. The most exciting podcast today was Ukraine: The latest, by the British newspaper The Telegraph. It was the episode from 1 March I listened to. In that episode, they had a guest, Hayley Dixon, a special correspondent of The Telegraph.

This is what Hayley said (my transcription): It has been feared for some time that Russian agents have been using this tactic to destabilize the West by shipping migrants to the border or even giving them a little push across the border into Europe. But we have seen some intelligence documents detailing a militia set up in Lybia. What is really interesting is that it talks directly about the fact that this is about controlling the borders. It is not about oil or anything like that but about migration. It is not always clearly said by the Russian agents involved in this. The plan for that militia did not go ahead for various reasons we cannot discuss. But there are, as we know, many Russian private militias that already have strongholds in Africa. As one security source told Hayley Dixon, if you control immigration, you can essentially, perhaps control is too strong a word. Still, you can influence elections because immigration is a crucial issue in elections, not just in Britain. It will be a massive issue in the upcoming election and an important issue across Europe. So, a kind of tap of immigration that you can turn on and off to influence public opinion and policy is a powerful destabilization tool.

The plans we have seen, which were clearly about controlling immigration, did not go ahead. However, the Wagner Group, for example, has been active in Lybia for several years; it is not just the Wagner Group but other private militias taking over from Wagner, such as the Africa Core. They now have strongholds in Mali, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Libia. If you look at that map, you can see that this means they have a route to push these migrants straight from Central Africa up through Sudan into Libia and then up into the Mediterranean where every year we see those boats coming across and causing a significant problem for European governments. One expert told Hayley Dixon that if you look at that map of where Wagner, other militias, or private mercenaries are active, that map is indistinguishable from immigration routes. Frontex, the European border guard, has warned that this year, it will be a significant issue for the security of the EU's borders. They think it is going to increase as Putin becomes increasingly isolated over the war in Ukraine; he is going to hit out more and more and use issues like this.

I find this story absolutely fascinating. For a long time, I have wondered who controls the political climate around the world. It is Putin. Russia is going really far this way into manipulating democracies. With migration, directly influencing individuals like in the Cambridge Analytica scandal or Russia sponsoring political far-right parties in various countries.

Look, you might argue that immigration is only caused by climate change, but if you combine this with a slightly Russia-friendly attitude, then you are actually preparing the way for things to become even worse. We need to see the reality as it is so that we get inoculated from advocacy campaigns. Suddenly, in the middle of the winter, African refugees start biking into Finland on a border crossing with Russia. It is like an awful joke. You can come a long way on a bike, but trust me, these people have not biked from Africa to Finland.

Far-right don't fix immigration problems; they cause them. Themselves or via their allies. That is how they thrive.

Oh dear, I am now at 1457 words. If I continue writing this much, I will be at 5,100 words at the end of the week.

Wednesday 6 March

It was cold outside yesterday evening. The thermometer reached just above the freezing point of water. It snowed again on the inside. This time, I was better at taking a photo of it.

This morning, DW baked the dough as small breads with pumpkin seeds. The breads float into each other, but it is possible to break apart.

I started my third day scraping the ceiling. When the shoulders hurt, it is not that fun. It is much better to scrape the ceiling with the stick.

I am convinced we are wealthier than any previous cottage owners. We don't have as much time as the previous owners had. They had much more time on their hands. We, on the other hand, are poor on time. As the house has emerged from the previous owners, the cottage's style results from necessity. Mostly, it is a pre-1960 style. That style is something we like as it is. The style fits really well with our idea of a circulation economy. Currently, you would tear down this cottage in Sweden and build a new one. We are not doing that; Instead, I am scraping one-third of the ceiling on the third day in a row.

The scraping tool needs to be sharpened regularly. Therefore, I went to the workshop house and got a bench grinder. Well, it is cold so I put on my jacket, you might guess it. The zipper of the jacket stopped working. The bench grinder works fine, though.

At lunch, all 29 ceiling boards were ready to be sanded. Last holiday, I did 33 boards halfway, although I must say that last time, I did not scrape the boards as thoroughly as this time.

This week, we had a new type of animal visiting us. Cats! It is a new thing here. Roe deer, fox, and various birds, but not many cats. Now, we have two different cats that include our road in their daily routine.

I started sanding with the ceiling sanding machine we bought on 28 October 2023; it was so hard. The machine made noise, and the vacuum cleaner was also noisy. If I oriented the machine in a specific position, I got the motor's ventilation exhaust blowing in my face. In another position, I was scattered with hot flakes on my face. I had to push the machine pretty hard to the ceiling. I had hung the machine in the belt. It was as if every muscle fiber in my body tried to push this thing towards the ceiling.

When I finished sanding, I took a nap; I was tired. I cleaned the living room from dust and flakes when I woke up. DW pointed out that I had forgotten to scrape flakes between the boards. I have to do that tomorrow.

In the evening, we heard roe deer barking near the house. When I stood up to record it, they ran away, or at least the barking ended. At first, I thought I heard a fox, but I am unsure. There was also a bird calling, a tawny owl. I heard the double hoot sound. The Wikipedia article says this is a call and response between males and females. The tawny owl hunts mainly rodents. That is good news for our cottage.

Thursday 7 March

It was minus 2 degrees Celsius this morning. This morning, I decided to try to find a triangular scraping tool. We must have one, I am sure of it. I went to the workshop house, and I brought my jacket with me. I figured I could put the zipper head in the vise to push it together just a nudge. I think it worked! I did not find a triangular scraping tool, but I found a little more sharp tool. That will work. This means we must look for a triangular scraping tool at second-hand shops.

I put out new fresh plastic because the old one is worn out. It has so many holes it is not worth repairing anymore.

Then I scraped again. This time, the grooves between the ceiling boards. I started off with the idea that I would not be so thorough, but I went on pretty long scraping the grooves.

While scraping, I listened to a new podcast from The Guardian, Black Box, Episode Two, "The Hunt for ClothOff: the deepfake porn app." I listened to the entire podcast. Then I decided to listen to it again. The Guardian journalist Michael Safi has been trying to discover who is behind the AI company making fake porn images. The user pays a fee and can then upload images of any person, and the application produces an image as if that person is undressed. This application is causing havoc around the world.

Obviously, the creators try to remain anonymous. The traces to the creators go via their ClothOff website. It mentions the name of a Ukranian businessman operating from California. BS Europe linked to Sergei Charamoush. The Guardian contacts Sergei and explains the situation with ClothOff. Sergei is not related to ClothOff and does not want any bad reputation. Sergei then provides information, making it possible to contact the ClothOff maker. The makers are Alaiksandr Babichau and Dasha Babicheva.

There is something that the makers of the research IMHO missed. In the interview with Alaiksandr, the journalist calls the site how a British/Australian would pronounce the name. Alaiksandr does not have a good command of the English language, but he picks up the question from the journalist instantly. He does not only immediately understand what Michael is saying, but he also translates the site's name into "Clothes Off." He had stumbled over the word if he did not know anything about ClothOff; he did not.

Interesting podcast, indeed. It is challenging to grasp this phenomenon. How are we going to deal with it? One thing is sure: this has a connection to Belarus, and Belarus has ties to Russia.

After scraping the grooves, I cleaned the ceiling thoroughly. Now I was ready for painting. Well, the paint in the bucket was half full. We decided to go to the city and pick up more paint. While at it, we decided to go to the second-hand shop. I recalled I had seen a triangular scraping tool on Tuesday. It was still there! This time, I bought a book for myself. It was about the gardens of the impressionist painters.

When we came back to the cottage, I painted the ceiling! I must paint another layer, but that will not happen this holiday.

While we went to the city, we also bought Semlor! This is the third time I have eaten Semlor this year. The last time was on 13 February. It was good to celebrate the finished painting project with a feast!

In the evening, the prime minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristerson, appeared in Washington. Sweden delivered our application to become a member of NATO. First, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, held a speech. Antony is 178 centimeters tall (5'10"). Then, it was time for Ulf Kristerson to talk. He is 169 centimeters (5'6½"), and the camera panned from Antony to Ulf. It was as if the cameraman had initially just found the scalp of Ulf's head. No worries, 9 centimeters down, Ulf was ready to hold the historic speech.

It was a cold evening with 5 degrees below the freezing point.

Friday 8 March

Early in the morning, it was already sunny and still a couple of degrees below the freezing point of water. Crystals were lit by the sun and sparkled like jewels in the grass. There were rubies, diamonds, and amethyst stones lying in the grass. We were rich. If you don't believe me, click the photo and look for yourself!

A woodpecker hammered on a tree trunk behind our woodhouse. It was windstill.

This morning, I vacuum-cleaned in the living room. Those pesky flakes I scraped off the ceiling are statically charged, sticking to the wall and floor. We moved back the carpets and furniture. Hung up the lamp above the table.










I carefully chose the angles so you would not notice I still have one-third of the ceiling to do. That is for another time, though.

Then we went for a walk in the neighborhood. I am thinking of creating a new track through the forest. It is good to have an idea of good track options. I am still uncertain about one part of the track, so we decided to walk that part to see what that looked like. We crossed over a clear felled area and then ventured into the forest. Walking in the forest, even without a track, was nice, but I think I can find a better path through this area. Next time, I will try walking the other stretch to see if there are good opportunities. When I find a nice stretch, it would be nice to document the track, post it on sites with photos, etc. Put up some signs, etc.

It was sunny and beautiful. Here is the cottage this afternoon. The spire still needs to come back on the porch. It is firmly fastened on the workbench, waiting for more layers of paint.

When I work on the spire, it is in the cottage's workhouse. So here is the workhouse. In the background, you can see the chicken shed. I featured that in a YouTube video in 2018. It is a timelapse of how I painted the shed. It is actually fun to see. At some points, it is as if the painting is painting itself.

I photographed the last rays of sunlight on this beautiful, epic winter day. A winter that is actually a spring day, although nature is confused. Insects that should lay dormant are already awake. The birds that generally should feed their young with these are not here. They are a thousand kilometers away south. When the birds arrive, they are too late. The synchronization of life is disturbed. It is like a combustion engine that needs to ignite the perfect mixture of air and flammable gas at that moment. Now, the issue is the mixture is out of sync with the ignition. Sometimes, it works; nature's forces come together as they should, but things are often too late. Birds try again, and their eggs boil instead of hatching due to heatwaves. They get exhausted and fall dead from the sky. The acidity of the see increases so much that animal bone structures are dissolving. Dead fish float belly up. The stench will be horrible. North Texas had the most significant single forest fire in Texas history in February 2024, while usually, it should be a dormant season in February.

We will need to find a way forward with this. It is better to avoid this scenario than try to fix it later. It will be challenging, but it is possible.

Saturday 9 March

When I woke up this morning, I had hoped snow would decorate the lawn outside the house, but alas. Today, we are cleaning the house, packing, and preparing to return to the Netherlands.

Cleaning is a dreadful activity. That said, we are less thorough than when we still had the house for rent. While cleaning, I listened to the podcast "In Moscow's Shadows" by Mark Galliotti to lighten the cleaning task. I listened to episode 138, discussing how Russia has a grip on criminal networks worldwide. It nicely puts the podcast listening this week into a full circle.

In the afternoon, we spotted no less than seven roedeers. It was one group on the open field outside the kitchen window of the cottage and two more on the road to the cottage.





This time, we finished cleaning and packing well on time.

Sunday 10 March

We woke up at 5 AM in the morning. It was one degree below freezing. After packing the last things, we started the journey to the Netherlands. I programmed Google Maps to show the route, but it was stubborn again. We were not allowed to go over the Stora Bält bridge, so we had to take that ferry, which we decided to avoid. We solved that by inserting an extra waypoint along the route. We planned our route by driving E45 and E20 instead.

At Glumslövs Hills, we switched, and it was around 8 AM. Glumslöv is near the sea; an icy wind blew from the sea. DW took over the driving, and I could take a nap. I woke up in Denmark at quarter past ten. It was totally overcast, and there was even a smidge of drizzle. It was windy. I could blog a bit before we switched, and I took over driving.

I tried to use another navigation app, Waze. It is also from Google, but another team is programming it. I programmed extra points to ensure it brought us to the Netherlands how we wanted. There is one thing I do not understand about the design of both Google Maps for Android and Waze for Android. There is a speed indicator based on the GPS speed.

That is good, I like that. I like driving at the speed limit plus 4 kilometers per hour. When doing that, the app turns the digits red. That decreases the contrast of the text. Both Waze and Google Maps give the speed in a pale orange color. It isn't handy. I had preferred that they indicate that I passed the maximum speed limit with an exclamation mark or something. Exactly when you want to know if you are above or below, that is not the right moment to decrease the contrast of the letters. I cannot rely on the car's speedometer because it shows a too high speed. So when it says that I drive 110 kilometers per hour, it is 104 kilometers per hour.

In northern Germany, I might have been caught on camera. I was slowing down before a road works area, but perhaps I was not slowing down fast enough. I am not entirely sure if I was within the legal limit. We will see that in a week or two if I get a fine.

In Hamburg, Waze suggested that I would leave A7 and drive through the city. We came closer to the harbor that way. Two large boats were lying in the harbor. I think one had the name Evergreen as that ship that blocked the Panama Canal. Each sea container was a little dot, with hundreds, perhaps thousands of dots on each boat.

Last time, we stopped at the border to drink a cup of coffee. That coffee was cold. This time, we stopped at an author one exit before the border. The coffee there was hot, actually so hot is it rarely. That was magnificent.

DW took over the driving. When we left the Autohof, seven old tractors came along the road. This tractor was driven by a hoodie and a young girl. Even though I had a cup of coffee, I napped, which was lovely.

I must have worked hard with the ceiling; I can feel that when I step out of the car after a few hours. Especially the heaps are complaining. In the Netherlands, the wind had calmed down. It was 12 degrees above the freezing point.

We came home 17 minutes past 6 PM. Merida was happy to see us. Very happy. Our sheep and son and neighbors were also happy. DS got presents for his birthday.

Did the word count prediction I made on Monday hold true? I had predicted 4116 words, and it became 4245. Pretty close.

I was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. I grew up in the small village Vågdalen in north Sweden. 1989 I moved to Umeå to study Computer Science at University of Umeå. 1995 I moved to the Netherlands where I live in Almere not far from Amsterdam.

Here on this site I let you see my creations.

I create, that is my hobby.