The Secret Agent(s)




A story of Secret Agents, meetings in hiding and the murky waters of shadowy societies as seeb through the eyes of Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle.

Photography and web adaptation by Mike Koontz , 2015, a Norse View Imaging and Publishing



Music of the day Avalanche - by Arch Enemy

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration








Chapters and pages, library and language menu to the left of the screen




















Skinny dipping



[like two little cute sharks]





Robinson, the boss wants you!”
“The dickens he does!” thought I; for Mr. Dickson, Odessa agent of Bailey & Co., corn merchants, was a bit of a Tartar, as I had learned to my cost. “What’s the row now?” I demanded of my fellow-clerk; “has he got scent of our Nicolaieff escapade, or what is it?”

“No idea,” said Gregory: “the old boy seems in a good enough humour; some business matter, probably. But don’t keep him waiting.” So summoning up an air of injured innocence, to be ready for all contingencies, I marched into the lion’s den.
Mr. Dickson was standing before the fire in a Briton’s time-honoured attitude, and motioned me into a chair in front of him. “Mr. Robinson,” he said, “I have great confidence in your discretion and common sense. The follies of youth will break out, but I think that you have a sterling foundation to your character underlying any superficial levity.” I bowed.
“I believe,” he continued, “that you can speak Russian pretty fluently.”
I bowed again.
“I have, then,” he proceeded, “a mission which I wish you to undertake, and on the success of which your promotion may depend. I would not trust it to a subordinate, were it not that duty ties me to my post at present.”
“You may depend upon my doing my best, sir,” I replied.
“Right, sir; quite right! What I wish you to do is briefly this: The line of railway has just been opened to Solteff, some hundred miles up the country. Now, I wish to get the start of the other Odessa firms in securing the produce of that district, which I have reason to believe may be had at very low prices. You will proceed by rail to Solteff, and interview a Mr. Dimidoff, who is the largest landed proprietor in the town. Make as favourable terms as you can with him. Both Mr. Dimidoff and I wish the whole thing to be done as quietly and secretly as possible—in fact, that nothing should be known about the matter until the grain appears in Odessa. I desire it for the interests of the firm, and Mr. Dimidoff on account of the prejudice his peasantry entertain against exportation. You will find yourself expected at the end of your journey, and will start to-night.

Money shall be ready for your expenses. Good-morning, Mr. Robinson; I hope you won’t fail to realise the good opinion I have of your abilities.”





































and its weight



[like a sea of light upon your crown of leafs]





“Gregory,” I said, as I strutted into the office, “I’m off on a mission—a secret mission, my boy; an affair of thousands of pounds. Lend me your little portmanteau—mine’s too imposing—and tell Ivan to pack it. A Russian millionaire expects me at the end of my journey. Don’t breathe a word of it to any of Simpkins’s people, or the whole game will be up. Keep it dark!”

I was so charmed at being, as it were, behind the scenes, that I crept about the office all day in a sort of cloak-and-bloody-dagger style, with responsibility and brooding care marked upon every feature; and when at night I stepped out and stole down to the station, the unprejudiced observer would certainly have guessed, from my general behaviour, that I had emptied the contents of the strong-box before starting into that little valise of Gregory’s. It was imprudent of him, by the way, to leave English labels pasted all over it. However, I could only hope that the “Londons” and “Birminghams” would attract no attention, or at least that no rival corn-merchant might deduce from them who I was and what my errand might be.
Having paid the necessary roubles and got my ticket, I ensconced myself in the corner of a snug Russian car, and pondered over my extraordinary good fortune. Dickson was growing old now, and if I could make my mark in this matter it might be a great thing for me. Dreams arose of a partnership in the firm. The noisy wheels seemed to clank out “Bailey, Robinson & Co.,” “Bailey, Robinson & Co.,” in a monotonous refrain, which gradually sank into a hum, and finally ceased as I dropped into a deep sleep. Had I known the experience which awaited me at the end of my journey it would hardly have been so peaceable.
I awoke with an uneasy feeling that some one was watching me closely; nor was I mistaken. A tall dark man had taken up his position on the seat opposite, and his black sinister eyes seemed to look through me and beyond me, as if he wished to read my very soul. Then I saw him glance down at my little trunk.
“Good heavens!” thought I, “here’s Simpkins’s agent, I suppose. It was careless of Gregory to leave those confounded labels on the valise.”

I closed my eyes for a time, but on reopening them I again caught the stranger’s earnest gaze.
“From England, I see,” he said in Russian, showing a row of white teeth in what was meant to be an amiable smile.
“Yes,” I replied, trying to look unconcerned, but painfully aware of my failure.
“Travelling for pleasure, perhaps?” said he.
“Yes,” I answered eagerly. “Certainly for pleasure; nothing else.”
“Of course not,” said he, with a shade of irony in his voice. “Englishmen always travel for pleasure, don’t they? Oh, no; nothing else.”

His conduct was mysterious, to say the least of it. It was only explainable upon two hypotheses—he was either a madman, or he was the agent of some firm bound upon the same errand as myself, and determined to show me that he guessed my little game. They were about equally unpleasant, and, on the whole, I was relieved when the train pulled up in the tumble-down shed which does duty for a station in the rising town of Solteff—Solteff, whose resources I was about to open out, and whose commerce I was to direct into the great world channels. I almost expected to see a triumphal arch as I stepped on to the platform.
I was to be expected at the end of my journey, so Mr. Dickson had informed me. I looked about among the motley crowd, but saw no Mr. Dimidoff. Suddenly a slovenly, unshaved man passed me rapidly, and glanced first at me and then at my trunk—that wretched trunk, the cause of all my woes. He disappeared in the crowd; but in a little time came strolling past me again, and contrived to whisper as he did so, “Follow me, but at some distance,” immediately setting off out of the station and down the street at a rapid pace. Here was mystery with a vengeance! I trotted along in his rear with my valise, and on turning the corner found a rough droschky waiting for me. My unshaven friend opened the door, and I stepped in.
“Is Mr. Dim——” I was beginning.
“Hush!” he cried. “No names, no names; the very walls have ears. You will hear all to-night;” and with that assurance he closed the door, and, seizing the reins, we drove off at a rapid pace—so rapid that I saw my black-eyed acquaintance of the railway carriage gazing after us in surprise until we were out of sight.

I thought over the whole matter as we jogged along in that abominable springless conveyance.





































or is it perhaps



[The other way around]





“They say the nobles are tyrants in Russia,”
I mused; “but it seems to me to be the other way about, for here’s this poor Mr. Dimidoff, who evidently thinks his ex-serfs will rise and murder him if he raises the price of grain in the district by exporting some out of it. Fancy being obliged to have recourse to all this mystery and deception in order to sell one’s own property! Why, it’s worse than an Irish landlord. It is monstrous! Well, he doesn’t seem to live in a very aristocratic quarter either,” I soliloquised, as I gazed out at the narrow crooked streets and the unkempt dirty Muscovites whom we passed. “I wish Gregory or some one was with me, for it’s a cut-throat-looking shop! By Jove, he’s pulling up; we must be there!”

We were there, to all appearance; for the droschky stopped, and my driver’s shaggy head appeared through the aperture.
“It is here, most honoured master,” he said, as he helped me to alight.
“Is Mr. Dimi——” I commenced; but he interrupted me again.

“Anything but names,” he whispered; “anything but that. You are too used to a land that is free. Caution, oh sacred one!” and he ushered me down a stone-flagged passage, and up a stair at the end of it. “Sit for a few minutes in this room,” he said, opening a door, “and a repast will be served for you;” and with that he left me to my own reflections.
“Well,” thought I, “whatever Mr. Dimidoff’s house may be like, his servants are undoubtedly well trained. ‘Oh sacred one!’ and ‘revered master!’ I wonder what he’d call old Dickson himself, if he is so polite to the clerk! I suppose it wouldn’t be the thing to smoke in this little crib; but I could do a pipe nicely. By the way, how confoundedly like a cell it looks!”

It certainly did look like a cell. The door was an iron one, and enormously strong, while the single window was closely barred. The floor was of wood, and sounded hollow and insecure as I strode across it. Both floor and walls were thickly splashed with coffee or some other dark liquid. On the whole, it was far from being a place where one would be likely to become unreasonably festive.
I had hardly concluded my survey when I heard steps approaching down the corridor, and the door was opened by my old friend of the droschky. He announced that my dinner was ready, and, with many bows and apologies for leaving me in what he called the “dismissal room,” he led me down the passage, and into a large and beautifully furnished apartment. A table was spread for two in the centre of it, and by the fire was standing a man very little older than myself. He turned as I came in, and stepped forward to meet me with every symptom of profound respect.

“So young and yet so honoured!” he exclaimed; and then seeming to recollect himself, he continued, “Pray sit at the head of the table. You must be fatigued by your long and arduous journey. We dine tête-à-tête; but the others assemble afterwards.”
“Mr. Dimidoff, I presume?” said I.
“No, sir,” said he, turning his keen grey eyes upon me. “My name is Petrokine; you mistake me perhaps for one of the others. But now, not a word of business until the council meets. Try your chef’s soup; you will find it excellent, I think.”
Who Mr. Petrokine or the others might be I could not conceive. Land stewards of Dimidoff’s, perhaps; though the name did not seem familiar to my companion. However, as he appeared to shun any business questions at present, I gave in to his humour, and we conversed on social life in England—a subject in which he displayed considerable knowledge and acuteness. His remarks, too, on Malthus and the laws of population were wonderfully good, though savouring somewhat of Radicalism.

“By the way,” he remarked, as we smoked a cigar over our wine, “we should never have known you but for the English labels on your luggage; it was the luckiest thing in the world that Alexander noticed them. We had had no personal description of you; indeed we were prepared to expect a somewhat older man. You are young indeed, sir, to be entrusted with such a mission.”





































Laughter and trust



[my employer too can laugh]





My employer trusts me,” I replied; “and we have learned in our trade that youth and shrewdness are not incompatible.”
“Your remark is true, sir,” returned my newly-made friend; “but I am surprised to hear you call our glorious association a trade! Such a term is gross indeed to apply to a body of men banded together to supply the world with that which it is yearning for, but which, without our exertions, it can never hope to attain. A spiritual brotherhood would be a more fitting term.”
“By Jove!” thought I, “how pleased the boss would be to hear him! He must have been in the business himself, whoever he is.”
“Now, sir,” said Mr. Petrokine, “the clock points to eight, and the council must be already sitting. Let us go up together, and I will introduce you. I need hardly say that the greatest secrecy is observed, and that your appearance is anxiously awaited.”
I turned over in my mind as I followed him how I might best fulfil my mission and secure the most advantageous terms. They seemed as anxious as I was in the matter, and there appeared to be no opposition, so perhaps the best thing would be to wait and see what they would propose.
I had hardly come to this conclusion when my guide swung open a large door at the end of a passage, and I found myself in a room larger and even more gorgeously fitted up than the one in which I had dined. A long table, covered with green baize and strewn with papers, ran down the middle, and round it were sitting fourteen or fifteen men conversing earnestly. The whole scene reminded me forcibly of a gambling hell I had visited some time before.
Upon our entrance the company rose and bowed. I could not but remark that my companion attracted no attention, while every eye was turned upon me with a strange mixture of surprise and almost servile respect. A man at the head of the table, who was remarkable for the extreme pallor of his face as contrasted with his blue-black hair and moustache, waved his hand to a seat beside him, and I sat down.
“I need hardly say,” said Mr. Petrokine, “that Gustave Berger, the English agent, is now honouring us with his presence. He is young, indeed, Alexis,” he continued to my pale-faced neighbour, “and yet he is of European reputation.”
“Come, draw it mild!” thought I, adding aloud, “If you refer to me, sir, though I am indeed acting as English agent, my name is not Berger, but Robinson—Mr. Tom Robinson, at your service.”

A laugh ran round the table.













































Fatigued and weak



[the price they paid was death]





“So be it, so be it,” said the man they called Alexis.
“I commend your discretion, most honoured sir. One cannot be too careful. Preserve your English sobriquet by all means. I regret that any painful duty should be performed upon this auspicious evening; but the rules of our association must be preserved at any cost to our feelings, and a dismissal is inevitable to-night.”
“What the deuce is the fellow driving at?” thought I. “What is it to me if he does give his servant the sack? This Dimidoff, wherever he is, seems to keep a private lunatic asylum.”
“Take out the gag!“ The words fairly shot through me, and I started in my chair. It was Petrokine who spoke. For the first time I noticed that a burly stout man, sitting at the other end of the table, had his arms tied behind his chair and a handkerchief round his mouth. A horrible suspicion began to creep into my heart. Where was I? Was I in Mr. Dimidoff’s? Who were these men, with their strange words?
“Take out the gag!” repeated Petrokine; and the handkerchief was removed.

“Now, Paul Ivanovitch,” said he, “what have you to say before you go?”
“Not a dismissal, sirs,” he pleaded; “not a dismissal: anything but that! I will go into some distant land, and my mouth shall be closed for ever. I will do anything that the society asks; but pray, pray do not dismiss me.”
“You know our laws, and you know your crime,” said Alexis, in a cold, harsh voice. “Who drove us from Odessa by his false tongue and his double face? Who wrote the anonymous letter to the Governor? Who cut the wire that would have destroyed the arch-tyrant? You did, Paul Ivanovitch; and you must die.”
I leaned back in my chair and fairly gasped.

“Remove him!” said Petrokine; and the man of the droschky, with two others, forced him out.
I heard the footsteps pass down the passage, and then a door open and shut. Then came a sound as of a struggle, ended by a heavy, crunching blow and a dull thud.
“So perish all who are false to their oath,” said Alexis solemnly; and a hoarse “Amen” went up from his companions.
“Death alone can dismiss us from our order,” said another man further down; “but Mr. Berg—Mr. Robinson is pale. The scene has been too much for him after his long journey from England.”
“Oh, Tom, Tom,” thought I, “if ever you get out of this scrape you’ll turn over a new leaf. You’re not fit to die, and that’s a fact.” It was only too evident to me now that by some strange misconception I had got in among a gang of cold-blooded Nihilists, who mistook me for one of their order. I felt, after what I had witnessed, that my only chance of life was to try to play the rôle thus forced upon me until an opportunity for escape should present itself; so I tried hard to regain my air of self-possession, which had been so rudely shaken.
“I am indeed fatigued,” I replied; “but I feel stronger now. Excuse my momentary weakness.”
“It was but natural,” said a man with a thick beard at my right hand. “And now, most honoured sir, how goes the cause in England?”





















At last he spoke



[his colors shown]





“Remarkably well,” I answered.
“Has the great commissioner condescended to send a missive to the Solteff branch?” asked Petrokine.
“Nothing in writing,” I replied.
“But he has spoken of it?”

“Yes: he said he had watched it with feelings of the liveliest satisfaction,” I returned.
“’Tis well! ’tis well!” ran round the table.
I felt giddy and sick from the critical nature of my position. Any moment a question might be asked which would show me in my true colours. I rose and helped myself from a decanter of brandy which stood on a side table. The potent liquor flew to my excited brain, and as I sat down I felt reckless enough to be half amused at my position, and inclined to play with my tormentors. I still, however, had all my wits about me.
“You have been to Birmingham?” asked the man with the beard.
“Many times,” said I.
“Then you have of course seen the private workshop and arsenal?”
“I have been over them both more than once.”
“It is still, I suppose, entirely unsuspected by the police?” continued my interrogator.
“Entirely,” I replied.

“Can you tell us how it is that so large a concern is kept so completely secret?”
Here was a poser; but my native impudence and the brandy seemed to come to my aid.
“That is information,” I replied, “which I do not feel justified in divulging even here. In withholding it I am acting under the direction of the chief commissioner.”
“You are right—perfectly right,” said my original friend Petrokine. “You will no doubt make your report to the central office at Moscow before entering into such details.”
“Exactly so,” I replied, only too happy to get a lift out of my difficulty.
“We have heard,” said Alexis, “that you were sent to inspect the Livadia. Can you give us any particulars about it?”
“Anything you ask I will endeavour to answer,” I replied, in desperation.
“Have any orders been made in Birmingham concerning it?”
“None when I left England.”


“Well, well, there’s plenty of time yet,” said the man with the beard—“many months. Will the bottom be of wood or iron?”
“Of wood,” I answered at random.
“’Tis well!” said another voice. “And what is the breadth of the Clyde below Greenock?”
“It varies much,” I replied; “on an average about eighty yards.”
“How many men does she carry?” asked an anæmic-looking youth at the foot of the table, who seemed more fit for a public school than this den of murder.
“About three hundred,” said I.


“A floating coffin!” said the young Nihilist, in a sepulchral voice.

“Are the store-rooms on a level with or underneath the state-cabins?” asked Petrokine.
“Underneath,” said I decisively, though I need hardly say I had not the smallest conception.

“And now, most honoured sir,” said Alexis, “tell us what was the reply of Bauer, the German socialist, to Ravinsky’s proclamation.”

Here was a deadlock with a vengeance. Whether my cunning would have extricated me from it or not was never decided, for Providence hurried me from one dilemma into another and a worse one.
A door slammed downstairs, and rapid footsteps were heard approaching. Then came a loud tap outside, followed by two smaller ones.
“The sign of the society!” said Petrokine; “and yet we are all present; who can it be?”

The door was thrown open, and a man entered, dusty and travel-stained, but with an air of authority and power stamped on every feature of his harsh but expressive face. He glanced round the table, scanning each countenance carefully. There was a start of surprise in the room. He was evidently a stranger to them all.
“What means this intrusion, sir?” said my friend with the beard.
“Intrusion!” said the stranger. “I was given to understand that I was expected, and had looked forward to a warmer welcome from my fellow-associates. I am personally unknown to you, gentlemen, but I am proud to think that my name should command some respect among you. I am Gustave Berger, the agent from England, bearing letters from the chief commissioner to his well-beloved brothers of Solteff.”
One of their own bombs could hardly have created greater surprise had it been fired in the midst of them. Every eye was fixed alternately on me and upon the newly-arrived agent.
“If you are indeed Gustave Berger,” said Petrokine, “who is this?”


“That I am Gustave Berger these credentials will show,” said the stranger, as he threw a packet upon the table. “Who that man may be I know not; but if he has intruded himself upon the lodge under false pretences, it is clear that he must never carry out of the room what he has learned. Speak, sir,” he added, addressing me: “who and what are you?”
I felt that my time had come. My revolver was in my hip-pocket; but what was that against so many desperate men? I grasped the butt of it, however, as a drowning man clings to a straw, and I tried to preserve my coolness as I glanced round at the cold, vindictive faces turned towards me.
“Gentlemen,” I said, “the rôle I have played to-night has been a purely involuntary one on my part. I am no police spy, as you seem to suspect; nor, on the other hand, have I the honour to be a member of your association. I am an inoffensive corn-dealer, who by an extraordinary mistake has been forced into this unpleasant and awkward position.”
I paused for a moment. Was it my fancy that there was a peculiar noise in the street—a noise as of many feet treading softly? No, it had died away; it was but the throbbing of my own heart.
“I need hardly say,” I continued, “that anything I may have heard to-night will be safe in my keeping. I pledge my solemn honour as a gentleman that not one word of it shall transpire through me.”
The senses of men in great physical danger become strangely acute, or their imagination plays them curious tricks. My back was towards the door as I sat, but I could have sworn that I heard heavy breathing behind it. Was it the three minions whom I had seen before in the performance of their hateful functions, and who, like vultures, had sniffed another victim?
I looked round the table. Still the same hard, cruel faces. Not one glance of sympathy. I cocked the revolver in my pocket.
There was a painful silence, which was broken by the harsh, grating voice of Petrokine.
“Promises are easily made and easily broken,” he said. “There is but one way of securing eternal silence. It is our lives or yours. Let the highest among us speak.”
“You are right, sir,” said the English agent; “there is but one course open. He must be dismissed.”
I knew what that meant in their confounded jargon, and sprang to my feet.

The Englishman that would not be slaughtered

“By Heaven,” I shouted, putting my back against the door, “you shan’t butcher a free Englishman like a sheep! The first among you who stirs, drops!”







A man sprang at me. I saw along the sights of my Derringer the gleam of a knife and the demoniacal face of Gustave Berger. Then I pulled the trigger, and, with his hoarse scream sounding in my ears, I was felled to the ground by a crashing blow from behind. Half unconscious, and pressed down by some heavy weight, I heard the noise of shouts and blows above me, and then I fainted away.

When I came to myself I was lying among the débris of the door, which had been beaten in on the top of me. Opposite were a dozen of the men who had lately sat in judgment upon me, tied two and two, and guarded by a score of Russian soldiers. Beside me was the corpse of the ill-fated English agent, the whole face blown in by the force of the explosion. Alexis and Petrokine were both lying on the floor like myself, bleeding profusely.
“Well, young fellow, you’ve had a narrow escape,” said a hearty voice in my ear.
I looked up, and recognised my black-eyed acquaintance of the railway carriage.
“Stand up,” he continued: “you’re only a bit stunned; no bones broken. It’s no wonder I mistook you for the Nihilist agent, when the very lodge itself was taken in. Well, you’re the only stranger who ever came out of this den alive. Come downstairs with me. I know who you are, and what you are after now; I’ll take you to Mr. Dimidoff. Nay, don’t go in there,” he cried, as I walked towards the door of the cell into which I had been originally ushered. “Keep out of that: you’ve seen evil sights enough for one day. Come down and have a glass of liquor.”
He explained as we walked back to the hotel that the police of Solteff, of which he was the chief, had had warning and been on the look-out during some time for this Nihilist emissary. My arrival in so unfrequented a place, coupled with my air of secrecy and the English labels on that confounded portmanteau of Gregory’s, had completed the business.

I have little more to tell. My Socialistic acquaintances were all either transported to Siberia or executed. My mission was performed to the satisfaction of my employers. My conduct during the whole business has won me promotion, and my prospects for life have been improved since that horrible night, the remembrance of which still makes me shiver.











A Night with Nihilists

by

Arthur Conan Doyle



Author(s), and photography

Michael A Koontz
Arthur Conan Doyle

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

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     Arctic Sunrise - Year 4.5 Billion
    The camel that could have been a leopard.

     


    One of planet Earth´s most unique land-living animals still roaming about in the wild also happens to be one of the cutest and most enchanting, and gentle colossuses that have ever existed. Yet, somehow, despite the towering size and unique characteristics of these majestic critters they are also one of the lesser talked about wildlife stars. And so it happens that by now they are like so many other species highly endangered without anyone really paying attention.

    But perhaps that is the reward that life gave these majestic beings that float across the land they call home as if they are majestic land dwelling whales. A backseat in the human consciousness as we proceeded to decimate their global population with 40 or so % in less than 30 years.

  • Fitness school, question 41: The science of our human fitness anatomy. Scalenus Anterior, medius and posterior.

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    Fitness is built upon your own anatomy.
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 41 in our School of Fitness.
    Beneath the tasty, delicious joy and sexiness of a life built on plant-based food and fitness, the weights you lift, the miles you walk and run. The mountains you climb, and the sandbags you punch and kick there is not just a burning passion and increased life quality. Nor is it just a question of the enhanced health and joy you can touch and feel deep inside both body & mind.
    No, there is also this marvelously progressive thing called science. Because all the physical fitness things, the sweat and healthy living discipline that others see are ultimately powered by the all-encompassing facts of biological life.

  • Fitness school, question 40: The science of sugar and intestine tumors... In both mice & men.

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Yet another study on food & health.

    Looking at the impact of sugar in food and beverages.



    Sugar is a much beloved sweetener. Craved like a lovers touch by most biological beings that dare to ever look into the abyss and allow its tastebuds to grace this natural force of addiction.


    But as much as all things living seemingly enjoy the taste of sugar and more modern artificial sweeteners. Scientifically speaking the bad health impact of sugar ( from obesity to diabetes and cancer risk, poor dental health and non existing nutritional value ) and other sweeteners have thankfully turned countless of humans into die hard "no sugar" please sentinels. So let us take a brief look at a brand new 2019 study and let us find out if this study too will add even more reasons to say no to sugar and other sweeteners in your food and beverages.

  • Fitness school, question 39: Telomeres, the fancy sounding tail that connects healthy fit aging with fitness activities. Dive right in as we take a look at recent studies.

    Quality time needed: 13 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 39 in our School of Fitness.
    I have talked about telomeres in years past, and fitness too obviously :).
    But such is the world of fitness, science, and health, it often revisits old "truths" and sometimes upends them because our knowledge has deepened, while new studies at other times will simply fortify and acknowledge what we already knew to be true.
    So what will happen today as we travel back to the world of that peachy sounding telomeres thingy that keeps wiggling its cute little tail inside of us? Let us find out.
    My Question:.
    For this particular study, published in European Heart Journal, Nov 2018, we´ll uncover what happens to the length of our telomeres when we do long distance endurance training, high-intensity sprint intervals, nothing at all or lift weights in a so-so way in the gym ( yeah, color me unimpressed by the strength plan in this study, but hold on to that thought as you read on because I will get back to the fairly inadequate strength training and why that too matters. ).
    The question, which option is the best for maintaining the length of our telomeres and what is the worst?.

  • Anthropocene & the survival of our brilliant but simpleminded species. Just another morning.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Breakfast stuff and morning thoughts.

    climate inaction is an existential threat.



    Nothing fancy or big worded to say today, I am just drinking some tasty fresh black coffee while various death metal songs keep pumping through my livingroom gear.
    Yes, what a glorious morning :).
    But while I am enjoying my morning routine, getting ready for the gym and my own workouts as well as the health and fitness regimes of today's PT clients I am also reading up on science and sustainability from around the world. And one of the pieces that stand out is a tonally laid-back piece by Swedish outlet DN. They spent the better part of a month or so following Swedish sustainability advocate Greta as she continues her quest to bring much-needed awareness to the sad state of the world and the essential, deep-rooted changes we as a species and global civilization urgently need to undertake.

  • Fitness school, question 38. Is obesity itself tied to diabetes type 2 and coronary artery disease?. Yes or no?.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 38 in our School of Fitness.
    Time for a short one.
    Obesity is no friend of the bettering of our health and longevity.
    Just as how the old school act of serious bulking never did anyone's health and fitness levels any favors. And pointing this scientific reality out is not about fat shaming. It´s about helping the world and its individuals turn the tide toward better health, and better fitness. And doing so does not remove peoples individual right to pick whatever body size and fat percentage that they so prefer.
    My Question:.
    We already know that obesity ( and a fat powered high BMI ) increases unhealthy factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And it often increases depression, drowsiness and general sedentary choices. Which indirectly leads to worse health in numerous ways. But if a person with a high fat powered BMI is deemed healthy as far as those traditional markers are concerned is excess fat itself still bad?
    Put in another way, will a higher amount of excess body fat still lead to worse health even if your bloodwork turns out ok and you do not feel depressed and drowsy and you do hit the gym?.

  • Fitness school, question 37: Can something as simple as a reduction of daily walking decrease our lean muscle mass in a noticeable way in just 2 weeks time?

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 37 in our School of Fitness.
    Yes, it is once again time for you to put your thinking cap on before you proceed without hesitation through the hallway of healthy fit wonders and science :).
    You already know that keeping fit and lifting your weekly weights and doing your daily cardio is nothing but a rejuvenating choice. It's good for your strength, duh.. It is wondrously good for your harty heart health, and it aids your cognitive and creative processes. It scientifically speaking lowers depression and tardy drowsiness. And if you have been keeping up with me over the years, you also know that keeping fit on a regular weekly basis also lowers your physical age by quite a noticeable margin too.
    But even small ordinary things like taking a daily walk carries with it a huge life long health and fitness impact.

    My Question:.
    What happens with our skeletal lean muscle mass for people above 70 years of age if they take a few thousand steps more or less per day for 2 weeks time?.
    Read on to reveal just how big the impact of that tiny change can be below the break.

  • Fitness School, Question 36, Will lifting weights 1-3 days per week be enough to lower cardiovascular related mortality?.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 36 in our School of Fitness.
    All forms of fitness activity is a tiny little pill of good health no matter who you are.
    But is the simple act of lifting weights one to three days per week enough to substantially lower the risk of cardiovascular related mortality?.
    Yup, that is how easy and straightforward question number 36 turned out to be. And why? Because we have a brand new study to lean back on when it comes down to the (obvious) answer.
    Read on to reveal the complete Q and A below the break.

  • Going beyond 1.5C. Our world and daily life behind the IPCC report.

    Quality time needed: 27 minutes


    Cause & Consequence.

    Life on Earth laid bare by the IPCC report.



    But before we head on over to the meaty real life data of our reckless modern day life, which the 2018 IPCC report painfully laid bare, walk with me as I step out on frosty cold northern shores for my morning walk.

    Just a Thursday, spent on northern shores.
    And this is the way I started this gorgeous little Autumn day.

  • Roundabouts in the milky way galaxy. The duality of a sustainable earth, and interplanetary living.

    Quality time needed: 14 minutes


    Walking through the gates of autumn.

    We see a brand new dawn.



    Life itself is this majestic mirror world of brilliance and incompetence. Eternally merging and reflected, individually disengaged yet perfectly synchronized and attached to each other and everything else.

    Like the leaf that finds itself stranded on the wayward peaks of a stormy ocean. They are each others counterpart, yet entirely different. Individual objects, entwined and interconnected. Disengaged and perfectly unique.

  • Into Autumn, the spider´s lullaby. Random thoughts on life from another gorgeous day.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Walking through the gates of autumn.

    Together with a tiny little spider.



    And today, there´s officially a full-blown Autumn song playing out there in nature. Gorgeous and sunny, on a Sunday =). Wind free, except for the tiniest of breeze that you can almost not see or feel as it slowly makes it way through the crown of leaves that towers above.

    But it is, none the less, Autumn.
    The colors of the trees reveal it. The pale blue September moon that hangs high up in the middle of the day is another telltale.

  • The anatomy and fitness function of our gorgeous human ass ( The mighty three we call the Gluteus ).

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes


    The gorgeous strength of Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

    The science of health and fitness should always be your lifelong guide.



    Fitness is as wonderful for your health as it is for landing you a more sculpted and capable body over time.
    But that will never change that even fit people (quite a lot of them) are doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Case in point the fit and good looking girl you can see in the IG video I am linking to, she obviously trains hard and regular while being in great shape, and she does know quite a few things about the body and the science of staying healthy and fit.
    Which is wonderful on all counts.
    But like so many other gym goers she is seemingly misinformed about a few things too ( on the other hand, so are we all :P ). Allowing wrongful information and knowledge to shape her choices and the choices of other people that gulps up everything we fit people believe to be true. However, if you are willing to listen to it the beautiful science of health and fitness will guide you towards a better body and better health and better workouts if you pay attention to real fitness science instead of personal opinions. You see, there is nothing wrong with the exercises she is doing. But outside of the wonderful world of human anatomy, there is no such thing as an upper or lower butt muscle as far as your exterior appearance goes, nor is there a meaningful difference as far as your practical fitness capacity and workout goes.

    Click through and let us talk about Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

  • Earth over shoot day is one of many events and situations during the year that signals the mindless gluttony of our evolving hybrid species.

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Planet Earth - studies & life in the Anthropocene.

    A new way of life is needed.



    But what is it exactly? And why is something that sounds so cute something truly terrible that we need to take seriously as a global whole.
    To most people, it is more than likely just another ridiculous phrase keyboard warriors throw around once a year while they too waste this world to the point of no return.
    But this ever-moving yearly event day is anything but deadly essential.

    Every year this day signals the point in that year where we have used up all the naturally replenishing resources of this planet.
    And beyond this point, the planet is losing its inventory for the next year(s) ahead and it's capacity to restock.

    Which if we are talking about corporations and business leaders is something that would cause pretty much every corporate leader out there to die from a heart attack if it persistently happened to their business. But when its Earth, people just shrug their mindless shoulders and look the other way as if the greenhouse we are subsisting in isn't the singular thing that feeds and house us all.

  • Fitness facts: How and why does the range of motion in any given strength exercise matter?.

    Quality time needed: 10 minutes


    Diving down into a range of motion and squat study.

    The science of health and fitness should always be your gym guide.



    Right now, if you enter any given gym, the wonderful world of barbells will conjure up as many opinions as there are fitness girls on Instagram, no matter the subject.
    And plenty of opinions are exactly that, personal opinions, formed by peer pressure in the gym, on social media, or by fit vixens looking to make a bigger following by posting daily stuff which may or may not be factually correct.

    There are out of date school gym coaches still living in the past, badly informed parents, friends, big brothers, big sisters, commercial interests only looking out for the next conference call, as well as uninformed writers working for big tabloids which just happened to draw the assignment to make a puff piece on fitness.

    So let us instead look at science and what it actually has to teach us about the range of motion for any particular exercise. And for the purpose of this article, let us focus on a Squat centric use case since legs and ass are thankfully all the rage anyway :).

  • Moments from the Anthropocene, the fox and my morning coffee.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    The scent of black coffee.

    And wild breakfast companions.



    'Today' (another today ) while enjoying my first cup of coffee standing outside on my sun-drenched porch, I could hear something sneakily make its way through the underbrush and thick tall grass and florals that intermix with the deep dark, and thankfully, untouched old forest at the edge of my property.

    Fast forward just a little bit and I could start to see the movement in the thin youngling trees and the tall flowers. Something was out there, touching here and there making the wild plants and florals sway as it drew nearer me.

  • The savagery that is the carnivore dietary plan vs the science of health and fitness.

    Quality time needed: 15 minutes


    The error of your way.

    Could be spelled 'the carnivore diet'..



    A growing number of people in the world adopt healthy, fit living by going increasingly more vegetarian for a long range of personal reasons and or due to scientific reasons. Some of those reasons often include the substantial increase in cancer and diabetes risk that eating red meat and highly processed foods causes, or the impossible mathematics behind an entire world eating ever higher amounts of meat, or the incredible amount of pollution that animal food production causes.

    And facts are, that all those reasons are equally good, sound and true, so it does not even matter why you do it. It is a good and healthy choice to eat less red meat, and by doing so you will contribute towards a healthier you, and a healthier world.

  • Anthropocene: 12 vaquitas left in the world before they too face the ultimate end of line which is called extinction.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    The vaquitas are sadly not alone.

    This is the Lost World of Planet Earth.



    Around the world, the vaquitas are sadly not alone, there are countless of animal species, plants and all that´s facing the threat of extinction in ever greater numbers. And the pace is accelerating, so it´s not business as usual.
    Worse, this is all down to man-made issues.
    It got nothing to do with prey and predatory fluctuations. And it got nothing to do with natural events and Earths naturally changing cycles.

  • Let us talk about the concept of 'Half Earth' and why both Dr Cristiana Pașca Palmer, UN and I share the opinion that it is all about 'Whole Earth'.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes


    People & Planet is just a mutual ecosystem.

    The Lost World.



    A long and well established connective tissue in the way I talk and write, and think about health & fitness is that we are all connected through this global ecosystem we all share.
    Which is why I have over the years pointed out that living in a sustainable way is ultimately all about health. Individual health & planetary health. People that are opting to eat shit just isn't healthy.
    Neither from a planetary or individual perspective.

    Just as how healthy fit people that´s living unsustainable, just isn't healthy living people either.

  • Fitness School, Question 35, Let us dig deep down into 'standing barbell row' and the complete amount of muscles it will engage and activate.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 35 in our School of Fitness.
    Once we venture beyond the glorious realms of leg and glutes training, there is the never-ending hallway of kicking and boxing to explore and conquer.
    But what else lies beyond the joy of those fit & healthy cornerstones?.
    Well, if it was not obvious so far in life, martial arts and legs and glutes have their equal in the colossus that is weighted back training.
    And when it comes down to weighted back training, actually, when it comes down to working the upper body at all, there is one exercise which I will never hesitate to put front and center (together with deadlift), and that is 'Standing Barbell Row'.
    Here is my question:
    Standing Barbell Row will challenge and work you from top to toe.
    But can you list all of the muscles which you will activate when you do this bad boy in a properly challenging way?.

  • The things we see in the rearview mirror, the world meat free week, and Scandinavian winter scenes.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    Views we catch in the rear view mirror as we leave #worldmeatfreeweek behind us.

    The Lost World.



    Good and healthy vegetarian food is able to provide health & fitness improving nutrition for far more people, despite polluting much less and using up a lot less landmass vied towards animal farming.
    And you can quote me on that because that simple statement is 100% based on science & clear-cut facts instead of peoples personal opinions and conjecture.

    In fact, food production from animal farming is already using up 83% of our global agricultural land. Yet, it is only managing to deliver about 18% of the calories we consume. And does that situation not sound completely unsustainable and fool-hearted to maintain?.

  • Fitness School, Question 34, Is there a connection between weighted leg and glute training and your brain maintaining a healthy neurological cell production?

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 34 in our School of Fitness.
    Yes, we absolutely love our leg and glute day. The challenge it provides is a huge mountain of fun to climb every single week.
    But, did you know that you are not just strengthening your lower body when you are building stronger legs, ass, and hips?. Of course, you do. You know damn well that those leg days are crucial for the health and wellness of your lower back and abs too. And it sure does tax your heart and metabolic functions too. However, let us go upstairs towards our brainy area with this question.
    Here is my question:
    Is it true that weighted exercises in the gym for your leg and glutes will increase the production of healthy neural cells? ( which are crucial for the capacity and health of our brain and entire nervous system )

  • The Lost World XVIII and the enemy of all things living. #Connect2Earth

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes


    This is the lost world XVIII.
    And how life in the Anthropocene is the tale about the enemy of all things living.
    Healthy living is nothing but the science of life.



    With the rising tide of the Baltic sea far beneath me, I towered the surrounding world.
    Looking out from the crest of the Scandinavian coastline. This was still a place lost in time and mist. A mountain entirely dressed in green and trees, moss and berries, sand and soil, and it is, as much a mountainous castle growing ever taller as it is the place where salt and cold black water comes crashing in to embrace the land of the Vikings.

  • May 22 mark the crucial 'day of biological diversity'. But it is also so much more than that, #Connect2Earth.

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes


    At the crossroads of the Anthropocene.
    May 22 is 'The International Day of Biological Diversity'.
    A day which, is by now, our essential every day reality.



    May 22 is both a perfectly ordinary Tuesday in your life and the global 'International Day for Biological Diversity'.
    But that is not all this week is all about. We also have the endangered wildlife day, which happened on May 18, and birthday number 70 for IUCN. And, as such this entire week represents an opportunity for each of us to make it a healthy fit day for the entire planet and our individual self.


    Also, if you are present in the incredibly lush and beautiful high coast area of Scandinavia, Sweden next Tuesday you are more than welcome to join me and my coworker from Scandinavian.Fitness for a sweaty fit workout at the gym, lifting weights and grunting at Friskis, Örnsköldsvik at 0730. Once we are done at the gym, we will head outside for a walk at 0830 and hopefully enjoy beautiful weather together with the pristine nature of Scandinavia.

  • Fitness School, Question 33, Let us talk about that mighty beast called the Quadriceps.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 33 in our School of Fitness.
    Legs and ass and back. That is the holy trinity ( together with the fourth pillar, our abs ) of building a strong and capable and athletic body.
    But what about the makeup of our upper legs?
    We have the backside of our legs, which we call the hamstrings, and on the front, there´s the thing most people simply call the quads.
    But let us dig deeper down into those mighty looking quadriceps and the rest of the anterior side of our legs.
    Here is my question:
    Can you specify which muscles make up the bulk of what we call our quadriceps and anterior leg muscles?.

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