Monday, 20 October 2014

Games! At Essen!

It's autumn, and that means it is the time of year where me and the most patient of all husbands go off to Essen for a long weekend and spend that time having fun with friends, playing new (and sometimes mostly new) boardgames and cardgames, get too little sleep, eat unhealthy amounts of chocolate and spend a bit of money buying games that really tick for us.

So, with a few tweaks to the usual food and sweets supplies we pack, that was exactly what we did during the last days. The "Spiel" at Essen is, according to the organiser, the world's largest consumer game fair, and going there really is an experience. As usual for our group of four, we spent a lot of time in the parts of the fair with the smaller publishers and non-German authors. These are games that you often only get to see (and play, and buy) in Essen unless you happen to know the authors, or the publisher, or stumble across them due to sheer luck. Going through the small publishers' hall has resulted in quite a few games in our collection that are now out of print or hard to get. Many of these are getting played regularly here - such as Snow Tails, my favourite racing game, or Totemo, a cube-placing game where you are trying to get more points than all the others.

This year was a bit weak on overall, at least in our impression. We did like a handful of games, and some of them enough to buy a copy - we picked up the new extension to Flash Point (a cooperative fire-fighting game that we play a lot) and a copy of the new edition of Monster Derby, a racing game with monsters with a nice mechanics twist we did enjoy a lot. There was no real Winner of Essen this year, however.  Usually, there was one game that the whole large group of folks we go to Essen with are all excited about, and that game then gets played a lot in our quarters, plus many of us pick it up. Said game is usually something in the medium complexity range, rarely a highly complex one. This year, there was no such game - the one closest to being the Winner of Essen 2014 was a prototype one of our group brought with him. A lot of us played it, and we had an insane amount of fun, so of course we now all hope that he and his co-authors will find a game publisher.

Fun was had. Mission achieved. And now? Tea, and back to work...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Even more sprang.

After yesterday's blogpost, I had some more of a look around the internet - and lo and behold, there is one of Dagmar Drinkler's presentations online.

You can download it, as a pdf file, here. It's in German, but even if you do not read the language, it might well be worth a look, since it contains a huge number of pictures of tight-fitting legwear, plus a number of pictures of sprang with diverse patterns.

And with that, I shall leave you to the weekend : ) which I am planning to enjoy thoroughly!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Sprang, more of it.

One of the things that I really learned much more about at the London conference was sprang. Dagmar Drinkler and Carol James did a joint paper about tight-fitting trousers in Antiquity and Renaissance, and their arguments for at least some of the depicted trousers in artwork being made in sprang were, in my opinion, absolutely solid.

Even better was seeing and touching the sprang objects they both had brought, and seeing a pair of trousers in action (worn by Carol James). Together with seeing lots and lots of pictures of the Coptic sprang "hairnets" (many of them look more like caps or bags to me, since the word "net" does evoke some kind of openness or lacyness for me), my understanding of what is possible with this technique has grown a lot.

Carol James, by the way, has a website and a blog; she has made a few instructional videos, and you can also buy a book with instructions from her. Do check out her website, there is amazing stuff to be found on it!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn has come.

These days, the light has become golden, and leaves are starting to fall off the trees in nice autum colours. Mornings and evenings are colder, and I'm waiting for the first leaves of our willow fence to fall off, too - they are still hanging on, but are getting yellow more and more.

Now, autumn is definitely pumpkin season. Not only because of yummy things you can do with pumpkins, but also because of the pumpkin art that is done around Halloween (and yes, Germans do enjoy that too). If you are looking for some inspiration, look at this gallery of pumpkin carvings.

And should you be one of those that like a bit of garlic in their pumpkin meal, here's a nifty trick for peeling a lot of garlic, really quickly:

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Online stuff for your reading pleasure.

There's two things online that I recently heard about, downloadable for free.

One is the conference proceedings of Computers in Archaeology from the 2012 conference: Archaeology in the Digital Era: Papers from the 40th Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA)
 and the second thing is Christina Petty's thesis about the warp-weighted loom, both in archaeology and in current practice, available here.

Monday, 13 October 2014

That was input. Serious amounts of it.

I'm back from a breathtakingly wonderful conference! It was lovely all around: the venue with the absolutely brilliant and incredibly helpful staff, the papers and, of course and most important of all, the people. The only more-exciting-than-necessary part of the journey was the journey itself, where I had regular adrenaline spikes due to delayed trains. (I arrived in time, and safely, on both legs of the journey even if it did include some running.)

Quite a few of the topics in the conference were things that I had heard of before and that I had a basic concept of, but the papers gave me a far deeper insight and in some cases real revelations. I have learned so much more on the possibilities of sprang alone that my mind still feels slightly boggled. I'm also feeling a very noticeable desire to run into the basement, put my sprang frame together again and finally delve a little deeper into the technique. The possibilities shown at the conference... let's just say my skills need to improve.

Sadly I couldn't stay in London for longer, and I did not get to see too much of the city (the walks that I did, most of my concentration was focused on something else, such as chatting, or looking for a specific place, or shop). I got to meet with some friends, though, who took the trouble of travelling into London just to hang out with me for a few hours. I also got the compulsory shopping done, among that consolation biscuits for the most patient husband of them all, and mustard powder, and clotted cream. Things you just can't get in Germany.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Even more links.

Jstor has launched a new thing called Jstor Daily - you can find it here. The idea behind it is to take news articles from normal news and link them up with science related to them. It sounds like a nice idea!

If you prefer reading science stuff right away, maybe this thesis is something for you:
Christina Petty, Warp-Weighted Looms Then and Now. Anglo-Saxon and Viking archaeological evidence and modern practitioners. It's a brand-new thesis, and it is downloadable for free. Enjoy!