Random weirdness for the week of May 24, 2016


Call it six degrees above zero of separation, as the four snowmobiles in the picture above are sinking slowly into the salt water just beyond Svalbard Snøscooterutleie since they’re unable to send out an SOS on their own, meaning their owners may soon be SOL. Local Good Samaritan Vide Brandt posted the picture on Longyearbyen’s “Jeers, Cheers and Info” Facebook page hoping the absent-in-mind and absent-in-body owners will toss their scooters a lifeline, but no responses so far other than the expected “only in Svalbard” quip from a random commenter…


Since we’d burn the house down trying to install it: We’re thinking this fireplace accessory might work better as the ultimate politically collect paddle since it had handles for both left-handed and right-handed punishers.
and righties. Photo courtesy of Svalbard Museum.

Can you identify the object in the picture to the right? If not, don’t feel bad – the experts at Svalbard Museum couldn’t either. They posted the picture on their Facebook page Monday asking for help, with the following description: “The object was found in Nilsebu in Husdalen on Hopen. The diameter of the circle in the middle is 16cm, the entire object is 55 cm long. On one half side of the circle there are nine holes, on the other half side there are 10 holes. The holes are about 0.5 cm in diameter. There are varying distances from the hole to the edge. From all the holes there are a slot that goes to the edge. The hole in the center has a diameter of 3.2 cm. The circle has a thickness of 3.6 cm.” It took roughly four hours for Tone Aalstad to post the correct response (and a helpful weblink at tinyurl.com/zpzzqbf). The answer (in our possibly incorrect translation) is it’s an ancient register plate which, according to the internet, “seals off the chimney so that only the flue connection of a stove installed into a fireplace with an existing chimney is passing through it.” The museum folks, BTW, now say that was their assumption all along…

Speaking of fun Facebook inquiries, we’ll leave another mystery unanswered so the waves of tourists starting to arrive during the next week can solve it on their own: what’s the story beyond those local parcels with “TNT” labels? You’ll be able to find the answers and many other fun facts on our newly revised “Alternative Walking Tour of Longyearbyen” map that will be available free next week. Among the other new additions this year are town’s ugliest (yet most coveted) housing sites, the real (and non-intrusive) attraction worth seeing for those near the avalanche zone and the place where it’s relatively cool to engage in a bit of disaster tourism if that’s your thing.