Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Archaeological News

How cool: an award-winning site that brings me all the daily news in archaeology . . . kind of like yahoo used to do. The site is called Archaeologica.com, and here is the page that displays the daily news.

How else would I learn about a Colchester grave that may turn out to be the first druid grave ever found? Archaeologica has a link to that story in The Independent--but don't bother. Go
right to the source instead: British Archaeology magazine has the story online here.

The 1st century AD grave, excavated in 1996, is at Camoludunum. It contains a set of surgical instruments and a game board with glass pieces set up for play. If that sounds familiar, you may have read about the grave in published books about the Celts (Peter Beresford Ellis mentioned the find, I think).

Discovery also covered this in February. (isn't Google great?) That's where this picture came from, but the story on Discovery.com has a larger version of the picture and a map--this is just a bit of a tease.

Of course, labeling this a druid grave is all based on the assumption that only druids practiced surgery and played board games, which is a bit of a stretch. But it looks good on paper.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Wooden Horse Brings News

. . . which is not always a good thing. Ask the ghosts of Troy.

The Wooden Horse Newsletter of Meg Weaver brings both good and bad news each week, mostly about magazine publishing.

Today the report covers losses in ad revenue for news weeklies, but increases in the same for certain food magazines like Every Day with Rachel Ray. Related to that (in the sense that we're still discussing food mags), the Horse says:
"BON APPETIT* has sold its masthead. In the May issue, coffee retailer Starbucks takes over the business-side masthead, asking the roll call of the magazine's executives, "What do you like best with your Starbucks coffee at home?" The answers are as "eloquent" as: "The House Blend is perfect with an afternoon snack of lemon yogurt and granola," said Lonore Rivera, director-finance and business operations; "My pecan pie and Starbucks Colombia were made for each other," said Stephanie Baker, merchandising director. The masthead, which is marked "promotion" at the top, is one page in a two-page Starbucks spread… "

OK, my stomach's churning, and it ain't from overly-strong coffee. I love Starbucks, but in limited quantities. The thought of these tough editors--who make freelancers cringe--toadying up to the big mermaid with these quotes gives new dimension to the word obsequious.

This is only one small blurb from The Wooden Horse. The weekly newsletter is free and full of specific info on staff changes, new mag launches and closures, and the ups and downs of markets.

The Wooden Horse Magazines Database - "the media directory that's more like a magazine factbook" -is not free, but you can get trial-period, low cost subscriptions to see what sort of information it holds and whether it would help you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back to Work!

Move actuated and completed. Unpacking: 70% done. Most important, thanks to the wonderful techs who work through the night in Manila, my internet connection is now stable

Do I have anything of value to say today? No, my mind is still mush thanks to family medical emergencies on top of moving. SO....
Here is a link to a great article on Salon by Catherine Price: "What Every Freelancer Should Know." It's entertaining and lists 13 tips on how to "better manage both my finances and my emotions" as the freelancing life, with all its perks (and lack of organization) takes its toll.

I especially like tip #3: "Pay your taxes quarterly. The bastards charge interest." My tax guy (bless him!) makes me do that, but I didn't realize why. Tip #5 is good, too: "Do not wear your pajamas after noon. If regular workers can brave 9 a.m. traffic, then you can change your underwear by lunchtime."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Moving Revelations

How technology has changed what I value:
I am throwing out a carrying case of at least 70 cassette tapes that I used to keep in the car. They've spent the last couple of years in a closet corner, being very, very quiet. They knew this day would come.

I can't even give them away. Who wants them? Used cassettes of Beethoven, Holst, Vivaldi, David Bowie, ELO? Trash.

Video tapes? I've given away a ton; the rest will go to Goodwill. I don't even own a device that will play them, although there are some family tapes I'll keep and pay to have put on dvds.

All the classic books I was proud to own: Hemingway, the Dune set (bought in the days when it was still a trilogy), studies of Plato and Greek mythology and Medieval thought, all completely out-of-date to the point of quaintness. All available either online or in a library. Why have I lugged them around for 20 years?

I know why. Because until recently, they weren't available--or at least, I didn't realized they were available--online or at a library. Now I get it.

Among the tomes being "donated" (a euphemism for dumped) is one about the pleasures and worthiness of book collecting. In the 21st century, that's funny. What is the point of book collecting? Is it to hoard? To impress others with one's collection? Is it economic, as in--the books are an investment? Living in a large city with so many libraries near, I honestly don't see the point.

Ergo, many of my books . . . rather, the books formerly known as mine, are being donated.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dude, who stole my sidebar?

The mystery of my missing (well, actually down at the bottom of the blog) sidebar has been solved, after about 4 hours of work. Unproductive work in the sense that I should have been writing Q&As that would actually have earned me some money. But--having a presentable blog is worth something too, right?

One post (now saved as a draft) had Amazon product links that were just too long. So they kept my sidebar from appearing. I could see my sidebar if I looked at my posts individually, and I finally found a good help topic (I finally found the right search terms, iow) that clued me in.

Done. I'm posting this so I'll feel like I got some work done today.

In the process of trouble-shooting the html code, I stumbled onto a way to stretch the page horizontally, though. Yay me!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Site in Brittany!

For nine months, archaeologists in Brittany have been studying 60 (so far) menhirs unearthed at Kerdruelland--about eight miles from Carnac (pictured). The stones were toppled around 2,500 years ago and have since lain in mud, which is good. The UK Independent has a story about this new discovery, but sadly, not too many other places do.

Professor Jean-Paul Demoule points out that the site was preserved because it was destroyed and buried, ironically . A 3000-square meter preliminary dig will soon be ten times larger. This is big news.
How come pagan and megalith fan websites and blogs picked up on this, but no mainline news agencies have? Geesh. Can't CNN stop watching Britney for five minutes to bring us important news on the real Brittany?

Stonehenge Excavation

Whoopee! Archaeologists and Stonehenge afficianados get to delve down and try to discover more about the world's most famous rock pile. According to these sites:

excavations started March 31, 2008 at Stonehenge, with an aim of dating the earliest bit of building, the bluestone circles. This is the first dig there in 44 years. The archaeologists will hand-dig a trench 1.5 meters deep (that's around 4.5 feet, right?) by 3.5 meters (10.5 feet) wide in one quadrant of the henge.

The bluestones come from a quarry 160 miles away and were the first stones set up around 4,500 years ago. Personally, I doubt that archaeologists can find anything hinting at a reason for the initial building spurt (prove me wrong, please!), but anything that they do find will thrill history buffs like me to pieces. The presence of springs at Stonehenge Bottom will be investigated, which may link it to healing springs in the Preseli Hills--source of the bluestones.

Large chunks of funding come from groups like Smithsonian, who will make a documentary of the project that all of us can salivate over in the fall. Hopefully, I won't have hocked my TV by then.