usability struggles

Sep. 19th, 2017 10:51 pm
cellio: (Default)
[personal profile] cellio

I spend a lot of time on, and am a volunteer moderator for, several Stack Exchange sites. (Mi Yodeya is one of them.) SE has a banner ("top bar") that is the same across all sites. It contains notifications, information about the logged-in user, and some key navigation links. For moderators it contains a few more things relevant to that job.

Until recently it looked like this (non-moderator view):

original

The red counter is the inbox (waiting messages) and the green one is reputation changes. If there aren't any, you just get the gray icons that those alerts are positioned over. If I were a moderator on that site, there'd be a diamond to the left of my user picture and a blue square with the flag count to the left of that.

They've just changed this design. (Well, the change is rolling out.) Here's what it looks like now (for a moderator):

new, notifications

The most important links for moderation are the last two things, the diamond and the blue box with the number (flags). They're on the far right, where they're less likely to be seen for various reasons. (Non-moderators don't get those indicators.)

In the old design, those moderator indicators -- which are important -- were toward the center where they're easier to see. Also, all the numbers were a little bigger and easier to see.

When this was announced there was a lot of immediate discussion in the moderators-only chat room, during which I got a little upset about the reduced usability, especially those moderator controls -- which had a good chance of being scrolled away in a not-huge browser window, because SE doesn't use responsive design. After I calmed down I wrote a post on Meta about how this was going to make it harder for me to do my volunteer job, particularly with vision challenges. I expected to get a few sympathy votes, some "get a bigger monitor" snark (which wouldn't help, by the way), and no results.

That post is now one of my highest-scoring posts on the network. And I have a meeting with the product manager and a designer at SE next week to demonstrate my difficulties in using this in more detail.

Meanwhile, I've gotten some help with userscripts from some other moderators. It's hacky and a little buggy and it slows down page loads and I have no idea how to adjust some things, but at least I can see my notifications and the moderator stuff is in a better place. It'll do for now.

I sure hope I can get them to bake some of this in, though. The page-load delay is a little disconcerting as stuff jumps around on the screen. (Also, userscripts do not work on my Android tablet.)

Beyond the immediate problem, though, what I really hope for is to find some way to raise a little awareness that usability is hard, designers are not the users, there are all kinds of people with all kinds of usage patterns and constraints, and you need to somehow, systematically, figure out how to design for the larger audience. That's going to be the hard part.

In baby steps it goes forward

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:03 pm
kareina: (BSE garnet)
[personal profile] kareina
I am making tiny progress on preparing my application for a 2nd PhD through the University of Durham. Today I actually started filling in the on-line application form, so that the basics are ready when I finally have my project proposal and budget ready to attach. I have exchanged a number of letters with my potential advisor, who has written to various people in her network and forwarded me their replies. She sent me a copy of a very interesting PhD thesis by one of her colleagues who studied "war booty" from the Roman Iron Age, using LA-ICP-MS to study the weapons that had been deposited in a heap in a lake. What really amazed me about his thesis is that he did his data processing by hand, in a spreadsheet, since his department didn't have a licence for a program like iolite, which is what I use for my LA-ICP-MS data processing.

I also looked at the web page for the Swedish student financial aid people. It looks like it is possible for me to get a stipend from them to study in the UK, but only until I am 57, so I had better do it now and not wait. The stipend isn't huge, but it will make a difference in paying for lab work and possibly even getting to Durham now and then to actually see my advisor in person.

The only reason I don't already have a project proposal is that there are too many cool project ideas that we have been tossing back and forth at one another. The good news is that I will enjoy whatever project we settle on, the bad news is that I can only pick one. garnets? glass? soapstone? beads? cooking toys? Something Viking Age, anyway, and using Swedish artifacts. That much we know.

Some of you who have been reading this since I first got hired to run the LA-ICP-MS lab might remember that while waiting for the delivery of the machines I had contacted some archaeologists in Uppsala wondering if they might be interested in doing some collaborative research on some garnet-bearing sword hilts etc. It turns out that my potential advisor knows them, and is good friends with one of them.

The more letters we exchange, the more convinced I am that this is a chance of a lifetime, and I should go for it.

And, to make things even better, AMT was fun tonight, as always! I love the gymnastics training. Never mind that I am the worst kid in the class, I am showing improvement every week, and enjoying it.

I stopped by an open house today--one of the houses in our neighbourhood is for sale--the third since we bought our place (if you count ours). That house is slightly older than ours (1964 vs '66), not as big, weirdly laid out (who sets it up so that one has to go through the kitchen into and then through a bedroom to get to the garage and laundry area? Why did they take off the back door? They also have much, much, much less land than we have--just a small yard suitable for little kids to play in. I am so happy we got the house we did. The highlight of the house was a wall mounted can-opener in the kitchen, that, from the look of it, must have been put up when the house was brand new. but probably hasn't been used in years, since most "canned" food in Sweden comes in cardboard boxes, and those few items that are in metal cans have a self-opening lid.

The Epilogue

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:42 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Today I got a guided tour of the new Arms & Armor exhibit at the Chicago Institute Of Art from the associate curator for Arms and Armor, Jonathon Tavares, who is a friend of the Chicago Swordplay Guild. With the demise of the Higgins, Jonathon claimed this collection was probably the 3rd largest in the country.

If I understand things correctly, the presentation of the collection was designed by Jonathon, and is stunningly well done. It starts with several paintings and sculptures with ecclesiastical themes, moving on to secular ones, and ending up with several rooms of magnificent arms and armor from the Viking Age through the Late Renaissance.

Jonathon talked about practically every piece we walked by. His knowledge of what he has is encyclopedic. He talked about the individual pieces, their origins, history, construction, materials, why he put them on public display, and some of the ongoing projects to recreate techniques of construction using the raw materials the armorers had available to them - down to ore from the mines they got their iron and silver from.

I generally don't take pictures of things, because (a) it distracts from my actual viewing of the piece; (b) the person who did it for the book/postcard/print in the gift shop will do a much better job; (c) I'd rather just go back and look at it again. But this time I did take one picture, of a painting depicting St. George and the Dragon. St. George is in armor which was done in silver leaf, and has tarnished to black over time. My plan, when I get home, is to photoshop the armor back to some version of silver, and then show the results in a side by side comparison. Don't know when I'll get to it though - probably not before October sometime, I imagine.

I also learned that Dr. Helmut Nickel, former curator for arms and armor at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, is still alive. Jonathon says he's 96 now, and so doesn't get out much. I met him once, when Patri arranged for him to come to Boston to give a talk to the SCAdians here. He brought examples. It was glorious. I didn't realize what a wonderful thing I'd attended until years later.

And now, I'm spending one last quiet night recovering at Rick and Libby's place, thinking "There's no place like home".

chicken of naps

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:19 pm
kyleri: (Default)
[personal profile] kyleri
it is Monday, & we are here

a breath for Monday

what worked?

small steps. small steps. a lot of naps. so much napping.

next time i might...


do fewer things in one day

the hard:


so tired. SO tired. so very, very tired. So tired of being so tired. hey, body, i got shit to DO here.

hanging out with someone i KNOW is a bad idea for me to hang out with. don't, just don't, if i don't have to, don't, & chances are i don't have to.

Tom's wandering off for more days at a time, still, so i'm worried about him pretty often. ugh, tomcats.

the good:

the house is still happening. i'm gonna be vaguely surprised this is working for probably six months after we have the title in hand.

rommmate spent the weekend at a pagan event, thus giving me some badly-needed alone time.

donkey races in Cerrillos, which was pretty much the best thing i'd seen in a month.

finally getting on top of the post-event stuff, which is pretty nice, i hate having stuff half-done & sitting

superpowers & such:

Take a Damn Nap. also, Take a Damn Nap.

the plan:


this week enough stuff is unpacked & refrotzed that i get to make things! i like making things. it's the best part.

The Myth of Mithridate

Sep. 18th, 2017 02:52 pm
[syndicated profile] saltatiomedica_feed

Posted by Slow Blink

During the first century BCE, Mithridates VI, the King of Pontus combined medical knowledge of antidotes of the time, he brought forth a preventative antidote dubbed mithridate.
Nearly a century later, Celsus recorded the formula in his De Medicina, which included 36 ingredients. These ingredients were primarily flora derivatives. According to the recipe, in completed fo rm the antidote weighs ~ 3 pounds and will last for six months if a dose the size of an Egyptian bean (approximately the size of an almond) is taken daily. (University of Chicago)
Named after its creator, various recipes for the antidote have appeared throughout time. Around the same time that Celsus’ De Medicina recorded the 36 ingredient form of mithridate, Pliny wrote his Cassius Dio, which is a book of Roman history. In it, Pliny describes that in order to avoid capture, Mithridates poisoned himself and his family.
While his family died from the poison, legend has it that it had no effect on Mithridates who, in the end, was killed with a weapon of steel. (University of Chicago)
Sadly, Galen’s second century CE translation for Mithridate’s original recipe as well as Andormachus’ recipe, which was expand to include 57 ingredients, including viper venom has not been translated into English as of this time. (University of Chicago)
According to W. G. Spencer’s translation of Celsus’ De Medicina, the 36 ingredients in mithridate are costmary, sweet flag, hypericum, natural gum, sgapenum, acacia juice, Illyrian iris, cardamom, anise, gallic nard [valerian], genetian root, dried rose leaves, poppy-tears, parsley, saxifrage, darnel, long pepper, storax, castoreum, frankincense, hypocisitis juice, myrrh, opopanax, malabath rum leaves, round rush flower, turpentine-resin, galbanum, Cretan carrot seeds, spikenard, opobalsam, shepard’s purse, rhubarb root, saffron, ginger, and cinnamon.  These ingredients are then put into honey and castor is added to entice a more pleasant scent.
While it was a regular ingredient in many Renaissance and Baroque era medicines, it is difficult and expensive to recreate modernly. For a few years, I tried to gain funding to create Mithridate.  Unfortunately, this is complex as several of the genus’ of these plants are no longer grown, or they are only available in certain countries, or they will make the DEA look at me funny.  There are currently two Ivy League History of Medicine programs that are looking to recreate Mithridate.
Sometimes it’s best to leave these things to the experts.

University of Chicago. (n.d.). Encylocpaedia Romana. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from Mithridatum: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/aconite/mithri
datum.html

baronessekat: (book)
[personal profile] baronessekat
The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I am totally kicking myself for letting this book sit on my TBR list for as long as it did. I completely and utterly enjoyed this book and it was made all the better by Allan Corduner's narration.

This book tells the Norse Myths completely from the point of view of Loki, the Trickster god. The first person narration makes it even better.

I've always been a sucker for the anti-hero/bad boy and this was all about him. It gave a great perspective on the myths and I totally LOVED how it ended.

If you like stories of the Norse myths, I cannot recommend this book enough.



View all my reviews
tatterpixie: argent, in fess a mouse sejant erect contourny sustaining a harp proper (sca)
[personal profile] tatterpixie
So Saturday Mike and I drove allllll the way out to Middle Island NY for the SCA event St Andrews -- more precisely, A Funny Thing Happened to St Andrew on the Way to the Forum, An Investiture. It was called that because the Barony of An Dubhagheinn was investing a new Baron and Baroness, and the Baron's persona is late Roman. The main reason we were going, though, was to see the elevation of our friend Vettorio, mka Eric, into the Order of the Laurel, which is the SCA's highest arts award. He's a scribe who does exquisite work, and well deserved being made a Laurel.

ANYWAY. We got there in time for morning court, when Eric was going to be put on vigil, a day-long period of contemplation and receiving well-wishers and advice-givers. It was very entertaining -- the first snatch-and-grab summons to court I have seen in a long time. Kudos to His Majesty Ioannes for a lovely bit of shtick! He strolled through the audience with a fan (because it was really quite warm and muggy in the hall) until he came up behind Eric. He pretended to talk to someone else, then clapped Eric hard on the back and said "You're coming with me." Classic! And Eric was suitably shocked and surprised.

After court we went over to where Eric's vigil was being held and nibbled on the tasty spread made by his wife Lisa (how he had no clue of anything going on with all that food being prepared, I have no idea) and waited to speak with him. We chatted about persona (I'm going to send some Pictish art refs his way for a scroll) and about apprentices and the relationship between Laurel and apprentice. I think he got something out of it, despite being recently an apprentice himself. ^__^

Mike wandered around talking to people he doesn't get to see very often, and I stayed at Eric's vigil cause it was too warm and muggy to do much else. We left just before evening court, thus missing Eric's actual elevation; it was getting too miserable weather wise and we had a long drive home and were just tired and out of spoons. It was a good event though, and I was happy to see a deserving soul given the recognition he deserves!

Oh! Before we hit the event we went to Wertheim National Refuge in Mastic so Mike could collect the National Parks stamps. Then we went to Fire Island National Seashore and got more stamps, and the most adorable plushie ever for his niece: a plush horseshoe crab! Finally we hit the William Floyd Mansion after Google led us partly astray. (I swear, Google Maps kept sending us on backroads and cowpaths to get from one place to the next all bloody day.)

WeatherDork:
Currently at Bethlehem, PA at 9.59am: Overcast and foggy
Temp: 68F (feels like 68F)
Humidity: 87% (dewpoint 60F)
Pressure: 29.87"
Winds: NE 5mph
Forecast: AM fog/PM clouds, high 78F, low 64F

Summer seems to have come back this past week, no doubt due to the tropical weather elsewhere in the country. Temps were up close to 80 and the humidity was very high. Bleh. This week promises more of the same. BLEH.

On My Plate:
Tags and Other Writins:
  • A Smile and a Song (Three Wishes)
  • Where The Gods Live (Three Wishes)
  • My Favorite Punching Bag (ItNotM)
  • Some Light Research (ItNotM)
  • Welcome Home (ItNotM)
  • Putting The Band Together (ItNotM)
  • All On A Summer's Day (ItNotM)
  • The Lady in White (ItNotM)
  • Promises (ItNotM)
  • Stargazing (EoP) started
  • Moving Up in the World (EoP) start x5
  • Three Tribes, One Holt (Oakleaf)
  • All the Single Laddies (Oakleaf)
Art:
  • continue with scribalry practice
Etc:
  • list stuff on Ebay
  • reading: A New History of the Picts (still -- I haven't picked it up in awhile XD)
  • reading: Parsival, or A Knight's Tale
Weekly Things Checklist:
  • Thing Arted: nothing
  • Thing Writed: OMG TAGS
  • Thing Cleaned: dishes and catbox and trash and recycling
Tuesday I see my VA shrink, but that's the only thing planned. Gonna try to get some scribalry accomplished -- I have not been feeling it for some reason, but now I am inspired. ^__^

The Finale

Sep. 17th, 2017 09:43 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
It was a great last day. I've loved the whole thing. I'm coming back in two years (next year we're cruising the Eastern Med.) I can recommend this event to anyone with a serious interest in European weapons fighting. While HEMA uses its own rules set to play the game they play, the classes all have adaptability to varying rules sets in mind, even when that wasn't built in explicitly, so far as I can tell.

9:30 Armizare Free Expression: Working across the System. Greg Mele may well be the finest martial arts teacher I've ever encountered - and I say that even though I'm not really a Fiore guy. He is certainly a far better teacher than I am. In this class, he didn't teach plays or techniques, though both were in the class - he taught ideas, and used the techniques to explicate them. It was a tour-de-force, and I'm glad I got to see it.

13:00 Pole Arm fighting in the Leichtenauer Tradition. This was pretty much the class that I came to WMAW for, and it didn't disappoint. Even though Christian Tobler gave a very basic class, I got to practice a thing I'd seen in passing and never gave enough credit to.

There are generally two pole arm grips people use - thumbs in the same direction for distance work and powerful oberhau's, and thumbs pointing at each other for close work. Ideally, you'd like to switch between the two.

The problem is that in gauntlets, it's generally difficult to do so, and transitioning from one to the other really can only happen when you are not at hazard. But having one or the other grip telegraphs your intention. It's basically why I always try to fight in close - I pretty much always use a thumbs pointing at each other grip. It's a weakness, and at my age, weaknesses magnify.

But there's a solution to the problem - instead of gripping the pole arm with your leading hand at all, you can let the shaft sit along the palm of your hand. It is easy to shift from this to either of the other two grips, and so if you take that initial neutral grip, you can make your entering move without your opponent having a preview of whether you're going to come fight in or out.

I've done that in practice now, and I'm going to try to do it in tournament at the next convenient opportunity. If I like it as much as I do now, I am going to incorporate it into my teaching.

Monday morning I get a private tour of the armor collection at the Chicago Art Institute, sponsored/arranged for by the Chicago Sword Guild. I expect it to be grand.

Tuesday I get to come home again. I love traveling, but I love coming home just as much.

a nice, easy day

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:21 pm
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
Didn't get as much done as I had planed, due to an unexpected 2.5 hour nap after lunch (and thus didn't manage to get out the door on time to go to folk music), but I made some progress on my great colour-coding of sheet music to make it easier to learn to play the songs on the dulcimer project.

I had much fun at folk dance class tonight. A couple of my friends who normal play folk music and don't dance have decided to start dancing with us, and I am delighted that they did. Then I came home and checked registrations for Norrskensfesten, and we had two new sign up since yesterday--one is a friend from the Helsinki area of Finland, who is pretty much always playing music at events, so he will be a delightful addition to the event.

Does anyone know where to find "saved drafts" on Dreamwidth? When I pushed the "post" button a bit ago the page asked me "would you like to restore from a saved draft?" and gave me the title of yesterday's post (plenty of newcomers), and I was confused, as I remember actually posting that. I went to another tab, checked, and the post doesn't show, so I returned to the first tab, intending to click "yes" to the question, but it had vanished, and I can't find any buttons anywhere to find the draft...

Much of the same ol' same ol'

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:14 pm
christina_maria: (Default)
[personal profile] christina_maria
 Life has been doing it’s usual puttering along at it’s zoomie speed. Daily routines and everyday usuals have been the norm for a while.

I find that when days vastly resembled each other I forget to come here and write. To be fair, during the same ol’ same ol’ weeks it probably would seem like someone just went wacky and hit the re-post button over and over if I did. No one wants that.

So I will attempt to catch you all up in my daily ho-hums in this post….

Let’s see (I’ll just skip past the usual household chore rambles for this, shall I):

  • Oh! I can’t recall if I mentioned in older posts or not, but my car is totally paid off now (as of July 14th). So no more monthly car payments for us. Aaron’s car was paid off the year prior, so…  now we just need to figure out the best way to smush the mortgage with out lots of penalties …. smush smush
  • Aaron’s mom was supposed to be over for a two week visit at the beginning of September because she had time scheduled off at work, but caught a nasty flu and couldn’t make it. And so she’ll be over mid October for a weeks visit instead.
  • So far the deer are staying out of the fenced area I made. So I actually have a few tall Canna plants growing in there right now, as well as gladiolus and mini roses!! In a last ditch effort to get ‘something’ to grow a while back (when the fence bits first went up) I had scattered some left over tomato and pepper seeds any where/every where. One pepper seed seems to have germinated next to the big Canna, and has flowers on it. I am staggered. That, to me, is amazingly cool.
  • I seem to have killed off my poor iceland poppy plant. But I think the seeds from it have sprouted in a few spots, so maybe all is not lost?
  • This year has been pretty smokey and miserable outside due to all of the fires around the US and here, and so for once I can honestly say I am looking forward to the rainy days of Fall.

 

  • Inside the house I have been continuing the downsize of useless clutter.
  • It’s going well, although I’ve pretty much given up on the donation place I used to use. They have been a no-show at least four times (Probably more than that, but I am feeling generous). And so now I just post things to the local FB group when I want to get rid of it. More of a hassle, as things take several days (or more) to be gone, and not everyone who says they will show up does. But hey, it get’s the stuff gone sooner than that donation truck, so at this point I’ll take it.
  • We upgraded the TV in the bedroom to a 55″ one.  I’m the only one that really watches TV in the house, so no beaking about how TV’s shouldn’t be in the bedroom because blah blah blah please. Aaron’s not a big TV watching person, period.  We generally don’t watch TV when we are hanging out together, unless we have decided to watch a film, and so there is no intimacy issue there. =P
  • The old TV from our bedroom has been moved to the guestroom now, and the old guestroom TV will be donated some time soon.
  • I’ve also been rearranging most of the rooms in the house. Aaron’s office and the exercise room still need a bit of a reorganize. But the rabbits live down there with him, and we don’t want to really change their space just yet. So that will be left alone for the time being.
  • I’ve been taking various barely used shelves and stands, ones where the sole use seemed to be as a clutter catcher, and tried to find them a more useful spot in the house. If I couldn’t find a spot where they were more than a clutter catcher, then I posted them on the FB group to get rid of.  I also went through the damn clutter piles and got rid of what was just a waste of space.
  • I got a few small profile comfy chairs for the downstairs front room, moved around a couple of the larger comfy chairs so that there is seating in Aaron’s office, and one more place to sit in the upstairs livingroom now. It’s funny, we had lots of shelves/bookcases scattered about the house .. but very few places to actually sit and read. I don’t know what that was about, but it’s been remedied now.
  • I downsized my nail polish collection, and made some local ladies on FB very happy in the process. My collection is now half the size, which is still quite massive. I also went through all of the makeup and passed most of those on to them as well.
  • I’m winding down a bit more on the whole go crazy and decorate everything outside on holidays thing, too. We’re at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, most of the neighbors before us don’t decorate, and so decorating to the nines is just too much for too few views. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still do it. The people across the street do enjoy it. But I won’t be going as crazy as I would have if we still lived on a busier road.  I will be going through the boxes of that stuff and getting rid of what ever has not been used in years of holidays (I’m looking at you ‘skinnier me’ halloween costumes.. time to go bye bye.)

 

  • Bongo kitty is still reacting well to the pills that keep him alive. One and a half pills every day. So he may see another couple years through with us. Knock wood. He’s more of a cuddle bug these days. He will play with his toys for a bit, but it wears him out pretty fast, and so he doesn’t bother most times. As the weather changes his joints get a bit more creaky, and so there are some failed jump attempts here and there. We just lift him up to whatever chair he was trying for, and he happily nestles down for a nap.
  • Our lop rabbits have become slobs of sorts. And so they keep us on their toes more than a few times daily as they potty wherever they please and proceed to lay in it if we are not quick enough to catch it. Bunny baths are becoming a regular thing. Cocoa Banana is still a sweet gentleman dwarf bunny, and we have no such troubles with him.

 

  • Since moving here we’ve gotten at least six new families moving into the neighborhood. So far we’ve been lucky and they’ve been pretty nice people (even the bear ignorant ones are nice, they just are not used to living near wildlife yet is all). Just recently a house a few doors down just sold, but we have no idea who has purchased it yet. Fingers crossed it’s more good people.
  • Oh, The people who purchased the empty lot beside us have been visiting there and spending the day there every now and again. Trying to get a feel for the space as they plan their new home setup, I assume. They recently brought their camp trailer and set it up, and so we’re getting a mini preview of what it’ll be like with neighbors there. Still have lots of deer that go through there, even when the new neighbors are hanging out, and so at least for now that isn’t changing.

I can’t think of anything else at the moment to add, and so I best post this. I can always continue on page 2, as it were, if I think of more.

[sci hist] A Most Remarkable Week

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:52 am
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
(h/t Metafilter)

This link should take you to the audio player for The Moth, cued to a story, "Who Can You Trust", 12 minutes long.

The Moth, if you didn't know, is an organization that supports storytelling – solo spoken word prose – true stories. This story is told by Dr. Mary-Clare King, the discoverer of BRC1. It concerns a most extraordinary week in her life, when pretty much everything went absurdly wrong and right at all once. It is by turns appalling and amazing and touching and throughout hilarious.

It's worth hearing her tell herself before the live audience. But if you prefer transcript, that's here – but even the link is a spoiler.

Recommended.

a conversation snippet

Sep. 16th, 2017 10:36 pm
cellio: (shira)
[personal profile] cellio
Tonight at our s'lichot service (something tied to the high holy days), a fellow congregant greeted me and said "I haven't seen you in hours!". (We'd both been there this morning.) I said "hours and hours!". He complained that I was getting carried away.

I responded by saying: "hours" means at least two; "hours and hours" therefore means at least four; it's been longer than that since this morning, so "hours and hours" is not inappropriate.

It was at this point that somebody standing nearby said "oh, that's where I know you from!". We'd both been in a talmud-heavy class a while back.

There are worse things to be remembered for. :-)

Day3

Sep. 16th, 2017 07:15 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
So running on fumes for the past couple of weeks finally caught up with me, and today ended up being a very laid-back day for me. Just as well, given the intensity of yesterday.

9am: lecture of the flexibility of historical fencing swords. Daniel Jaquet presented some findings from studying the physical properties of three "fencing swords" (swords specifically used for practice) in Zurich.

11:00 Armored combat clinic and monitored sparring. Mostly I hung out with Bob Charette and talked about differences between HEMA and SCA combat, and we both talked to some people about some finer points of poleax fighting.

12:45 Wrestling techniques for armored opponents. Daniel demonstrated several of his reconstructions from a German fight book about wrestling techniques in armor. I think he's still in an early stage with a lot of this stuff - he has a couple of techniques down cold, and thinks some of the other techniques are fanciful. This is a sort of well known place reconstructors end up in when they have had the first insight into their material, but haven't worked through enough to understand beyond the first flush yet. Sort of like archeologists calling unidentified items religious artifacts. I think it sort of ends up being a placeholder.

Anyway, I got some insight into throwing people around in armor, but it was during this class that I sort of shut down for the rest of the day. I ended up auditing

15:00 Monte's Two Handed Sword - The Levata. So there was this early 16th century guy who published a hodgepodge of instructions on fighting. Like many fencing masters of his time, he thought two-handed sword fighting was the basis for everything else, and so used those techniques, which he called the Levata, as the foundation for a lot of his instructions on a variety of forms. This class went through some of them. I was I'd had some gas left, because they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

I'm skipping the feast and entertainment tonight, in the hopes of being back up to form tomorrow. The premier HEMA pole arm guy is teaching a pole arm class, and he knows stuff I do not. That's got to change, at least in small part.

Day 2

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:51 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Today I took two longer classes

9:00 Bruchius and the Dutch Rapier Tradition. I gather this wasn't what was actually taught - the instructor decided to talk about Dutch rapier fighting as it relates to tempo. There was still a ton of information I got. Amongst other things, I got some info on why Thomas Of Effingham holds his rapier the way he does. :)

It also turned out most of the class was above my pay grade. The first half of the class was introductory rapier techniques, reminiscent of techniques Quinn has briefly shown me. I was terrible at them. Apparently, trying to finesse your way through a guard so you can poke a person isn't all that much like knocking them into next week with a poleax. Who knew? Someday I may get good at that - it is certainly my intent. Today was not that day. I bowed out at the half-way point when they started doing much more advanced stuff, and went and audited (since I didn't have equipment) the Spanish sword and buckler class.

13:00 Persian War Wrestling. I did somewhat better in this class. :) Though it was still a bit problematical, for reasons I'll go into below. The instructor was quite expert, and of a very serious nature. He wanted us to know that this wasn't a class where the partners are cooperative to get to the right result, but really wanted us to resist and try to frustrate our opponents at every turn.

I have no formal background in wrestling at all, but have picked up a thing or two over the years - there's a reason why in my heyday charging opponents all bounced off me. This is important for later.

What the instructor stressed was: (a) you need to get close to your opponent, putting your body on theirs a lot; (b) you can't just charge in, but have to frustrate their guard first; (c) you need to mix up which part of the body you go for, so your opponent doesn't know a priori if you're planning on lifting him up or throwing them down. He then started on a variety of techniques of breaking through guards. I learned a lot in a short period of time.

But now for the problem bits. We get to the end of the indoor part of the session, and he asks for a couple of volunteers. Naturally I go up. Another guy, 6'5" or so, and very fit, is the other volunteer, and asks him to demo the first technique we learned. He does. It doesn't work. That is he can go through the motions of the technique, and sort of get to the desired position to throw me, but in doing so, he didn't actually restrict me, and is therefore unable to throw me to the ground. We talk a bit about why that happened, and then the instructor has a third volunteer come up to demonstrate the second technique.

Same thing. Doesn't work. The guy sort of executes the move, but I frustrate him enough that he doesn't control me at all when the time comes for the throw. We go through the same rigamarole again.

The instructor decides to do the third technique himself. This time it partially works. He displaces me, and I'm not free of action, but I am in a solid stance, so he can't actually throw me directly. However, if he wanted to, he was in a position to punch my kidneys very hard, and the way for me to get out of that was to go to the ground, which I did.

He then did the submission move, but I managed to get an arm up to fend things off, so I was in a place of distress, but not yet helpless. His counter to that was, interestingly, to roll back and forth across my chest so I expelled all the air in my lungs, and then I was done.

But here's the thing. I'm pretty sure that rather than just hold him off like I did, I could have thrown him off me and recovered. Maybe he was prepared for that, but I decided not to try that, and here's why:

The problem was the situation. (a) he was teaching basic techniques. The thing about basic technique is that if the sport is fair and interesting, it can be countered. If the first easy thing was guaranteed to work, it wouldn't be much of a sport. (b) The instructor could, in fact, have seriously injured me anytime he wanted to. But of course, he'd never do that. By setting up a situation where I was supposed to resist to my utmost, we escalated to the point where he'd either have to do some other technique or do something more drastic than was reasonable for the setting we were in.

I face this problem teaching historical poleax sometime. Since I do a lot of set play teaching, we often get to a point where one of the partners can do something to frustrate their partner - but the point is to teach the technique. The technique isn't flawed because there's a way to frustrate it - if someone does, you switch over to Plan B. The point is to get a lot of different techniques into the repertoire.

So the bottom line is I did learn a lot, I wasn't all that happy with how I behaved during the demos, and I also wasn't all that happy with not seeing some better way to navigate through the situation. It's a teaching moment I don't have a good answer for, and I wish I did.

I love Fridays!

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:54 pm
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
The best part about working half-time is that I get Fridays off (why work five 4-hour days, when I can work four 5-hour days?). This means that I get an extra day on the weekend to accomplish whatever needs doing. Today I:

*washed my bed sheets and underwear
*cleaned out the gutters on the house (boy, did that need doing)
*put the deck furniture into the shed for the winter (we are into rainy autumn weather now, we probably won't need it again before the snow flies)
*cooked a yummy lunch for myself (kale, broccoli, zucchini, broad beans, carrot, garlic, alfalfa sprouts, almonds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, eggs, butter, and a hint of curry spices)
*made a bread dough to bake tomorrow for the Frostheim picnic
*read an amazing short story (if you haven't read it yet, read the prequil first)
*cooked 7 liters of black currants down to 3.5 liters of jam
*finished the painting on the bridges of my hammer dulcimer
*vacuumed

By the time I was done with that it was 17:00 and David was home from work, so we carried the extra desk downstairs, where it will have its top replaced with Caroline's nice table top before it is taken to the apartment so they will have a pretty table, with raise-lower legs. Then our friends Birger and Siv from the Luleå Hembygdsgille dropped by for a visit, and I showed her some of the wool fabric I have left after having used some for costumes for me, and she liked both the brown/indigo wool and the light blue/grey wool twill enough that she bought both. She plans to make a viking dress before Norrskensfesten to go with the broaches she bought at the Lofotr viking museum in Lofoten this summer. (I really need to go back there!)

After they left and David went to the other house took the time to clean up, package up the jam into plastic containers for the freezer, and then sat down to the computer to tell the world (via FB) how wonderful the story I read today was. Seriously, while I love all of [personal profile] hrj's writing, Hyddwen (and Hoywverch, which I read on Wednesday) were even more my cup of tea than usual. I think it was the delightful blend of very traditional story telling and classic tropes with a powerful loving relationship of a sort which might have been unexpected in such a time period, but instead felt totally natural, normal, and right. I wish I had read this story while still in high school. Sadly, she hadn't gotten around to writing it that long ago.

After that I updated the Norrskensfesten spreadsheet to show the latest registrations, and worried for a bit because we have only 22 people registered so far. Then I checked last year's spreadsheet, and as of 15 September we had only 21 people registered, but by the time the event happened that had grown to 100 people, so perhaps we will yet get enough to cover the cost of the hall (not that it truly matters--Frostheim can afford the site if we don't, but it is nice if an event doesn't lose money). Of course, the fact that this year the event is two weeks earlier than last year means that I can't really compare the same date, but I am trying to let these numbers comfort me anyway, since worry never helps.

Now I should do my yoga, gather a few things to bring to the picnic tomorrow (especially wool, as it is likely to rain, at least some), and get some sleep.
baronessekat: (book)
[personal profile] baronessekat
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in AmericaFunny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What a fun book. An enjoyable look at one woman's struggle growing up in the 70's and 80's in California after immigrating from Iran and dealing with being both American and Iranian by culture when her parents were strongly Iranian (pre- Iranian revolution Iranian culture, not what we associate with Iranian culture today).

I found myself smiling throughout the entire book and have already obtained a copy of the author's next book as I am looking forward to more of a glimpse into her life and family.

Highly recommend.



View all my reviews

Day 1

Sep. 14th, 2017 07:38 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
10:30 Abrizare class with daggers and rapiers. This was grappling with weapons. The dagger stuff was reasonably easy, the rapier arm lock was a big trickier. It was all a lot of fun, and I'm going to be interested in the results of the Midrealm wresting-while-fighting experiment - it seems like a pretty dangerous thing to incorporate into a full-contact sport, because it would be awfully easy to break bones. Still, with a modicum of care, it is both a lot of fun, and brings people to closer contact with judicial combat.

13:00 Drills for Armored combat. This was HEMA-style armored combat, and so these were all drills meant to get at the unarmored bits of fully armored people - armpit, palm, eyeslot, and other creases in the armor. It was all half-swording drills, which were fascinating.

At the end was a drill that I may try to see if it'll fly in the cut and thust practices. Basically, it's build your own set play. Partners start in a defensive position, in or out of range. The leader makes some sort of entering play against that which the follower doesn't respond to. Reset, and do it again, until the leader is happy with their entering move. Then do it again, except now the follower responds with both a defense and attack. Keep doing that until the responder is happy with what they have, and then the leader adds segment 3, responder segment 4, etc. until the logic of the situation requires a break. That drill really supercharged my learning how to half-sword.

14:30 Montante class. A Montante is a Spanish great sword. No, that's not right. Well, it's right, but its not descriptive. A Montante is an impossibly large weapon. It's a level 120 Horde weapon from World Of Warcraft. Its a weapon large and heavy enough that even Flieg would approve of it. It isn't meant for single combat, it's made to clear streets in a riot, to knock a Ritter off his horse, to stove in the side of a pike formation. It is a weapon best wielded by Demi-gods.

You know how you use different moves when you are fighting half a dozen people, and aren't just worried about one? Those are the moves we practiced. I keep thinking, somehow I've got to be able to use this stuff in an SCA melee to bust up a line, but I don't think I could get a weapon passed that could do what we did today - and that's counting that I have an in with the Earl Marshal. :)

After the Montante class, I was done. By done, I mean no longer able to lift my arms up, and wondering why it is people think expending the energy to walk is a good idea - so I skipped the last class of the day, which is too bad since it was Persian spear technique, and I gather the guy who teaches it really knows his stuff.

The hotel I'm staying at has a pool with a jacuzzi. I may have to go buy swim trunks.

Tomorrow is another day.

Celebrities in Sooke

Sep. 12th, 2017 01:10 pm
christina_maria: (Sofa Girl)
[personal profile] christina_maria
 Although I am through and through an introvert… but a curious one, I’ve been following the goings ons from the comfort of car windows and computer screens. Honestly, throw in a dash of being leery about actually meeting the people behind the curtain (to misquote a line from the Wizard of Oz).

Regardless, I still am quite giddy that they are filming a movie here in our little town right at this very moment.

The crews have been set up in the area for a few days now, and have just been quietly filming in various areas in the town core. We’ve even passed their set-ups a few times as we went to get groceries or pet supplies, and it’s all fairly quiet and laid back. No Parker Posey or Ken Jeong sightings for me, but that is to be expected when you prefer holing up at home. XD

I am looking forward to the photo’s others who are more outgoing may share… but Canadians are mostly a polite sort, and so there may not be a whole lot of impromptu star pics being strewn about the internets after this all has wrapped up.

There is a cute spot on the news with Parker Posey being interviewed with an adorable puppers in her arms. She is standing near the Evergreen mall, which is walking distance from our place. –

Actress Parker Posey gushes about Sooke while shooting new film

So that is pretty cool. I love that she usually has her dog with her in the photos I have seen so far. Such a cutie.

#Repost 2 @hximenez ❤️ @itsparkerposey @adenyoung @chrisacole@jtodd_branded @jackietohn @rayabruzzo #elsewherethefilmpic.twitter.com/CuutfUjkeA

I’m not sure when they will be wrapping up the filming, but it’s been pretty neat having them here, even if I am living vicariously through others experiences.

Added Thursday, Sept 14th :

Latest I've heard, now they have moved on to the 17 mile pub heading out of town, so they may be done wandering the streets of Sooke already *lol*

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