Friday, September 29, 2006

Aches and pains

Urgh. I think this bug counts as flu. Have had aching joints, fever, sore throat, coughing and now generally feel knocked out. Didn't get to go into the Small Museum, as I felt worse yesterday than I did the day before :-( Have dosed up to the eyeballs with vitamin C and zinc. Hadn't restocked on echincea (sp?) otherwise I would have that as well. Am making myself eat, though am more interested in liquids. There's a small bottle of Asti Spumante in the fridge that has my name on it ...

On Tuesday, a friendly archaeological unit delivered a horrible bag of icky stuff for me to look at. I said I'd comment by Wednesday (oops). Better see if I can peer at it today and come up with something appropriate to say, other than 'yuck' Yes, some categories of finds bring out antipathy in finds people as well as site staff.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


First bug of the season. I was out a lot toward the end of last week, so it was only to be expected. The flu jab isn't until late October. But the bug it means I can't give blood today :-( Batman's going to, so he's doing it for us both ("That'll be 2 pints then, Mr Batman"). I'm hoping I'll feel a bit better tomorrow so I can do my hours at the Small Museum.

Conflict is in the air at present. On two fronts, in the past two days, I've been involved in email-trouble. But not really due to any mis-understanding inherent in the medium. First it was with the re-enactment group where some members were going to an event this weekend with another group. It was muggins who asked why this was a problem, given that there was no event on for our group anyway. Much flap ensued, but it seems to have quietened down now.

And then there's conflict over an archaeology course I'm running. One of the archaeology organisations involved (not the one hosting the event, I hasten to add) thinks I'm paying myself and another too much. Actually, we're being paid about the average, though it's a bit more than last year as we were able to raise the price of the course due to its popularity. Last year didn't cover my costs, and this year I'm only charging for one day anyway. Duh. Everytime I have dealings with main-stream archaeologists there is way more hassle than required. Related professionals - such as Museum Curators, Archivists, etc., are fine. Or perhaps I just have no tolerance left for archaeologists after over 25 years of being ground down.And I guess last week's bad news for Batman doesn't help now either. It's a mean-spirited profession, that's for sure and I would recommend it no-one.

And there I am, sick today. Boo Hoo ;-)

Monday, September 25, 2006

A couple of fun-packed days :-)

A few weeks back I volunteered to help out with an event at the small museum, and am glad I did. It's good to get out of the house, and I always find the museum and its goings-on interesting. The event ran this Saturday, so it took up most of the day, with two friends and their kids also popping in, as well as Batman. In the evening we went to a lecture on medieval hunting. The author Richard Almond showed us some slides of hunting from medieval documents and it was fascinating to hear about the different types of dogs and hunters around then. It was a long day for me and the foot (from 9.30am to 9pm) and the only side-effect was being very tired.

On Sunday we were in town doing a bit of much-needed clothes shopping. Every now and then me & Batman actually realise we need new clothes so actually go and buy some. Since we're dirt-loving archaeologists, I suspect we can easily look scruffy, as our casual clothes tend to be one-step from being consigned to site/digging-wear. But for a while the new trousers will look just dandy.

There was also a large market in Parliament Street, so we picked up some yummy fudge and I bought some venison and wild boar gluten-free sausages (for my consumption only as Batman is vegetarian). We met our friends again for a coffee and a final natter before they left, and then it was time to stagger home. Hardly a peep out of my foot, though I've got used to giving it frequent massages so hardly notice doing it now. I'm very pleased with the foot's performance, particularly as I've worked hard to get it more robust and it's obviously paying off.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beware: another one of my (serious) archaeology rants

Batman didn't get the big promotion job. I'm not impressed and could say many harsh things about archaeological organisations and in particular archaeological managers who ... I'd better say no more; archaeology is too small a world to be majorly indiscreet. I'm usually on the receiving end of this sort of sh*te behaviour, not Batman. Will doubtless sulk for a few days on his behalf. He's taken it better than me, needless to say. It's just as well.

Bad things come in threes (or more) so I'm battening down the hatches, waiting for the pack ice to set in, then I'll go out on the ice, haul boats over said ice, sail to Elephant Isle, sail to South Georgia, crawl over the mountains, and not be able to rescue the crew till my fourth attempt ... Err, I've outdone myself there ;-) I think I'm getting endurance mixed up with Endurance.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blackbeard's rugged ta ...

Picked up this link from one of the blogs I read. It's historical - sort of. If you're a tough girlie, you'll probably be highly beguiled (and amused). And if you're a wimp ... well you're just a wimp ;-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Freecyle and computer gadgets

I had a couple of items I wanted to get rid of, but thought I wouldn't be able to sell, and didn't just want to chuck away, so I tried York Freecycle. Within minutes of my message going up, I was inundated by takers. And the items should be picked up this evening. Now I'll have to sort out a pile of redundant computer gear, including my very first modem. People advertise such stuff, and others take it. Presumably they can cannabalise the parts and make use of them. It was Martyn who put me onto Freecycle, so a big thank you to him. There's an International Freecycle Network, so if you have stuff to give away, why not check them out to see if there's a scheme near you?

Meanwhile, I got a Flash Drive for my computer.CDs aren't big enough to hold all my back-up information easily (mostly finds reports and photos ...) so I've invested in a 1GB Buffalo Flash Drive. Frankly, I'd call it a Data Stick, but what the hey. It's tiny, around 6cm long and 1.5cm across, and plugs into the USB hub. After last time's uncertainty about compatibility, I checked carefully that it could take USB 1.1 and Windoze ME. Worked a treat. I'm back in love with my old computer war horse. Transferring info is now a doddle - none of this time consuming CD 'burning.' Yaroo :-)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Views of the 5th century

There seem to be two camps in understanding the 5th century in Britain. I'm thinking here about novels I read, and the way writers (and readers) seem to interpret the era.

Camp 1
Britain as a whole was groaning under the weight of Roman occupation; it was a bit like Colonial America really. The brave Celts fought against their oppressors for over 300 years, and as a whole the island was happy to wave the Romans off come 410 AD.

Camp 2
Some Britons were happy to count themselves as Romans. Under the Celts or the Romans, there would have still been a peasant underclass who spent their time working on the land and leading cr*p lives. There were Germanics in the Roman Army, posted in Britain. Who, or what, the heck was a Roman by this point anyway?

Guess which camp I'm in ...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Aw poop

Just found another load of re-enactment stuff to pack up. This time they are lurking in the shed. Batman put them there. What are they? A gert big pile of tent pegs and ropes. It's never endin' I tell yer. By the time I get it all packed up, it'll be Easter and time to get it out again :-) It doesn't help that I am also accumulating leather working gear too, such as this Awl for All. Old-style shoemakers would have used hog's hair bristles for needles, but I haven't come across a source for those yet. What is a girl to do?

Currently mulling over whether to go on the group's horse riding sessions planned this winter. I could go and just use the archery range, buuuttt I might be tempted to get on a horsie. Some of them were the ones we used in our last show, so I roughly know their temperaments.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's all change

Lots going on in the street at the moment. The occupiers of the next but one house are moving out. They've only been in a couple of years, but basically did up the house and then sold it on. Previously it was owned by one Mrs Seddon, who I suspect may well have moved in at the same time as our now recently deceased neighbour Alf. That would have been in 1938, btw.

So, there'll be new people just down the way - good luck to them. They can now sample the dubious delights of the vehicle recovery business (hereinafter referred to as Cr*p Cars) resident on the street, who have a vehicle recovery truck going up and down at all hours. The latest car deposit took place at 3am in the morning, outside Alf's house. I know it was 3am because the accompanying chatter finally woke me up. Great ... That said, a polite request to move one of one of the Cr*p Cars from outside our house actually brought results. He might have been going to move it anyway, but at least Batman was able to park the site rented van outside the house for the weekend.

We need to keep a close eye on the van because it's full of digging equipment. Even Batman refuses to unload it all every night. He said it'd be like unloading a van full of re-enactment gear - nuff said. Instead, the really valuable stuff comes out, such as the theodolite, the site records and artefacts. The shovels, wheelbarrows, etc, are relatively easy to replace, so they can stay there.

I rather suspect Alf's house (as I still call it) will be subject to a major refit when it is finally sold. However, despite a couple of people appearing in the garden, obviously looking it over, nothing seems to be happening. There never has been a 'For Sale' sign outside it, so I thought it might be auctioned. But no movement so far.

Meanwhile, up the street, what I think of as Martyn's house (as he brought it to my attention) has been sold, and the For Sale sign has gone. So I presume it's changed hands. Since it's further up the street, I don't think they'll be affected by Cr*p Cars. Lucky beggars :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006


The other day I visited a leather supplier called LeProvo, in Newcastle. The premises are only a few minute's walk from the station. However, I got a bit lost (as usual) so it took me longer than it should. My map didn't show Charlotte Square, but I found it by following my instincts in the end. I was there to get some shoemaking supplies. My shoemaker guru was supposed to go with me, but he didn't turn up due to having a meeting at short notice. I'd already bought my ticket, so I set off.

Thanks to very helpful Jez (who does Live Action Role Playing, so has a natural interest in things historical) at LeProvo, I got several pieces of veg tan leather. It was a bit of a trial for my credit card, but the stuff will last me a while. I got some shoulder for the making of shoes, some kip - thinner than shoulder - for making pouches and the like, and some thick leather for making soles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

History Holidays

Whilst trying to find out more about the unusual fifth century baths in Faversham, I came across some guided holidays that are really rather tempting. Roman Holidays have a super programme of tours including Roman Germany. Ohh, I want to go. But it costs too much :-(

Monday, September 11, 2006

Star Trekkin'

YouTube is very much a Box of Delights. Just found the video of Star Trekkin' by The Firm from 1987. This was the theme tune for a dig. For once, it wasn't one I was on, but I can see the lure for archaeologists. We come in peace, shot to kill might be the catch-word for excavations - because of course when we dig we actually destroy the site. And as for It's life Jim, but not as we know it ... Much hilarity ensues on listening to this one.

Also high on my appreciation list is the person who put a clip of the ballet Romeo & Juliet on the website. It stars Alessandra Ferri who was with the Royal Ballet many years ago, but she left to join the American Ballet Theatre. A big loss for us in the UK. She was my favourite RB dancer. This clip, from the balcony scene, using Prokofiev's shimmering score and what looks like MacMillan's choreography, shows her at her finest. Don't know how old she is, but it's later than my Royal Ballet recording, but she's still wonderful. At the beginning it's almost as if she's breathing in the music. She never just goes through the motions. She makes sense of every movement and is completely with the detailed narration provided by Prokofiev's music. Bravo.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I'm on a bit of an Antartic kick at the moment. So I am currently reading Huntford's Shackleton biography. Also got Nimrod by Riffenburgh (2004) which I picked up cheap at Spelman's. I shall be interested to read the latter, as Huntford is proving to be a frustrating biographer. Shackleton was published in 1985, and perhaps they did things differently then. I shall have to find other biographies from that time to see if they are similarly judgemental. Huntford has no time for Scott at all, and other figures come in for a beating too. Huntford always finds some sort of negative comment to make, to the point that I wince on average about once a page. He also occasionally uses a foreign phrase, expecting the reader to understand what he means.

I think that his comments regarding the barking mad British idea of man-hauling around the Ice are reasonable. If everyone else was man-hauling, there would be some sort of excuse. However since Nansen and Amundsen used dogs without any problem, why didn't the Brits? They were also not keen on skis (or plain ski as Huntford has it), but it's mostly to do with not being taught properly how to use them (same possibly goes for the dogs). I note that Scott was using skis for his last journey though. But Shackleton doesn't use them for the Nimrod expedition, even though on the Discovery expedition with Scott, he used them when he was sick and they eased his trip a little.

On DVD, out of the Library, I also got the recent Shackleton series, shown on Channel 4 in 2003, starring Kenneth Branagh. In addition, there is a video version of the film shot on the Endurance expedition itself, called South so I shall watch that too soon, though I've seen a version of it in the cinema. And btw Shackleton's written account can be read as an e-book.

I shouldn't be doing this, as I've got a review book to read, and, er, review by the end of September ... However, it's taking my mind off job prospects admirably :-)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another one

No, not another complaint. Another suitable-is job was advertised in the press today. This time it's working at the other University in the city. Only this one is more convenient (being on a bus run that goes from just round the corner virtually to the door of the library) and the pay is more pro rata than the other Counter Assistant job, for virtually the same task. The drawback is that it's all Saturday and half Sunday, two weeks on and one off . But it's only during term time, so that I hopefully wouldn't miss any of the really good re-enactment shows. Also, I haven't gone for a library job at this University before, so that's also to my advantage in some respects. Just got to fill in yet another job application is all ... :-)

Complaints, I got 'em ...

Flippin' 'eck. It's not fair. Currently, both Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis are not slated for either CH4 or CH5 in the UK. Instead, I have to content myself with what amounts to very small previews from YouTube. This one shows the opening titles to what must be series 2 of SG Atlantis, which features the music, by Joel Goldsmith, I rather like. I call it The Full Russian, because of its general demeanour, and the choral music (which is my favourite part)

Bet you thought I'd be complaining about something else a the moment ;-)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No news ...

Batman's not heard the outcome of his interview yet. Apparently it could be weeks rather than days because the two sets of panels (a total of four people) will need to meet and discuss the outcome first. So I'm not holding my breath.

The closing date for 'my' jobs is tomorrow, with the interviews (should I get some) the 2nd and 3rd weeks in October. I can hardly wait. Thanks to all those who commented in support. Unfortunately, these days I get very wussy about this stuff after having one long continuous streak of bad luck (lasting over 20 years) in my previous 'career' I'm under no illusions now, and it's frankly like pulling teeth; I know all about that after my dentist failed to remove my wisdom tooth in 2004. It wasn't for the want of trying (You're very patient he said after an hour or so of tugging) and I was in pain for weeks afterward. It's still rather odd back there. All of this serves as a lamentable metaphor for my job experiences so far ... The only thing going for me is dumb persistence and a faulty memory. Having re-read my blog about the last university interview after I'd sent my applications in, I rather wished I hadn't wasted the time and stamps this time round as well. Ho hum.

This time, should I get any interviews, I've resolved to revise something about team work as they seemed very keen on that. It's all Library Management Speak and don't mean squat when you're actually working. But never mind.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Job's a good 'un

The theme for today seems to be jobs.

Batman is having a job interview today. It's at the place he's worked at for many a long year, but constitutes a major promtion - if he gets it. He's the only really serious internal candidate. Another chap in the department has applied, but it's more a sign of being willing rather than serious contention, as the chap is much younger than Batman and probably doesn't have the combination of experience yet. External candidates are being interviewed as well, though ... Fingers and everything are crossed. 2pm is the time he's in with the first interview panel. After that, he'll see another panel (keeps the senior managers employed, I suppose) and at some point he'll hear the result. Come on Batman! Sorry, but I think a screamer is required here, Diane.

Back at Frog Hall, I've just finished filling in two application forms. Oh dear. It's me own fault. They are both for the University which rejected me a few weeks back. One of the jobs is a very lowly Counter Assistant job, working one evening per week. I applied for that in case they might let me in there as a sort of consolation prize, though I suspect they'll say I'm over qualified (after saying I didn't have enough experience for the earlier job). The other is for a job at the same specialised library that I applied for before. This time it's working Tues-Thurs, which suits me far better than last time, which was every afternoon. This 3-day one would mix well with my re-enactment activities, where I often need the Friday & Monday off as travelling days. However, the University has a culture which seems to frown on the likes of me (not quite sure what doesn't match, but they patently don't consider me to be one of them), so really all I'm doing is setting myself up for rejection. On the other hand, I might get some more much needed interview practice ... Eyes rolled, rather than fingers crossed, for this little escapade, I think ;-)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hubs a go-go

Crikey. I bought a Trust USB hub from my local Tescos the other day and it actually works. After buying it, I realised that it said it needed USB 2.0 - whatever that is. Anyway, I became convinced it wouldn't work on my ancient computer. I found the receipt the other day, and I purchased this old nag at the end of 2000, so it's coming up for six years old, which is ancient in computer terms these days. Checking on the Web, it looked grim. USB 2.0 was only adopted late 2000 or early 2001. However, it looked like some hubs could cope with with lower specs OK. The documentation with the hub was non-commital (USB 2.0 preferred).

Having been revitalised by the Broadband, it turns out that my valiant computer was also game for the hub. So now I can have the mouse plugged into one port, and the hub in the other, supplying four more slots for the likes of the Broadband modem, the scanner and the digital camera. Sorted. I hope ...