Monday, 20 July 2015

It's time for a break.

If you're hanging out in the internet, you might have come across this one:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

I have a job I love, but I really, really disagree with that saying. Yes, having work that you love is a wonderful thing. It makes spending the bulk of your adult waking life on it something which is nice instead of dreary... but. But. It's still work.

I love running the little shop I have, finding new sources for tools and materials that are as close to the historical originals as possible. I love editing, and writing - this blog, the occasional book, instructions, or research excerpts for museums. I love preparing and giving presentations, talks, seminars and workshops. I love cutting and tailoring and sewing. It takes energy and effort, though, and energy needs to be recharged from time to time.

Furthermore, it's never just doing things you love, or that you enjoy, and nothing else. There is bureaucracy stuff to take care of, and there's the occasional troublesome thing coming up that needs to be dealt with, or you mess something up and have to own it and sort it. There is no work on earth that is all loveliness and rainbows all the time, ever.

What's even worse about that quote, if you ask me, is that it sort of insinuates that if you are feeling like you are working... you're not loving your job enough. Or you did a bad job at choosing your job. In any case, you're not doing it right, right?

Here's the thing - I love my job. It's full of challenges, it makes me look at all kinds of different things, it gives me the opportunity to work with people and with things, to do research and crafts. But it's still work, it will take energy and effort, it will tire me out after some time, and I am looking forward to having holidays just like everybody else.

Which is just a lengthy way to tell you that I'm on summer break from today until August 24.

I won't blog during this time, and any orders sent via the shop will be taken care of after the break. I'll spend the time taking care of things that had to take a back seat during the last months, and relaxing, and I am really, really looking forward to that. Especially the relaxing part...

See you on the other side of my summer break - and I hope you have nice, relaxing, wonderful holidays yourself!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Maney Journal of the Month, and other stuff.

Time for a few links for your reading delectation!

Maney's  Journal of the Month is Costume, the journal of the Costume Society. Which means they are offering 50 articles for free access until the end of this month. Most (if not all of them) are post-medieval and modern in focus.

Not enough reading? Not early enough? How about some Egyptian stuff? A 2010 conference at the Egypt centre had quite a few textile-related topics. The conference papers have now been published in book form, and there's also a streaming archive on this website so you can download the individual presentations in podcast form.

Not medieval enough? Go over to historyextra, where Gillian and I co-wrote an article about 7 weird and wonderful medieval facts in celebration of the Beast's publication.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Beast Blogtour has started!

You have surely been waiting for the exciting things to announce that I hinted at a bit ago... and I can finally reveal the news!

Do you remember that I posted about the blogtour we were planning a while ago, to celebrate (and promote) "The Middle Ages Unlocked"? Well, as things you plan tend to, it has shifted from the traditional blog tour we had envisioned. While there's still a blog or two in our list (such as Elizabeth Chadwick's blog), most of our pieces will appear on sites that are not typical blogs, or in some cases not blogs at all.

I'm very, very excited about this, and finally it's time to share.

Living the History: Guest post "Reconstructing medieval garments"

Gillian has also posted three posts on The History Girls, related to The Middle Ages Unlocked:

The History Girls: The Problem with Medieval Medicine
Historical Sources for Historical Fiction
On History and Medieval Cosmetics 

We're also having a series (a whole series, wheeee!) of six posts on

In the near future, we'll also have some more posts to tell you about, also in exciting places... so stay tuned!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Something new and wooly in the shop.

Just in time for some summer spinning, I have new wool in the shop - from a very rare sheep breed: Rouge du Roussillon.

Rouge du Roussillon, picture: Eponimm, CC BY-SA 3.0 (wikimedia)

These are red-legged, red-headed sheep originating in the French Pyrenees, with short-staple, fine wool. Just like many other heritage breeds, they have suffered with the changing times. These days, there are very, very few animals left - probably about two hundred.

Half of them are in Germany, and one herd for conservation breeding is living quite close to my place. You can see pictures of the herd in Nuremburg here.

A few weeks ago, I bought some of the freshly shorn wool from these sheep; now, finally (after a long wait for enough water for washing), the wool is ready to be sold.

It's almost white wool, fine and not very long staple, with a fine crimp. You can find out more about the wool here - and also get some of it, if you are so inclined!

I'm very happy to be able to offer this wool. Selling it supports the conservation breeding herd and, in addition, the conservation of the habitat that the sheep graze in, which is a very species-rich kind of grassland on poor, sandy soil (Sandmagerrasen in German). Plus it's a beautiful and rare fibre - what's not to like?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The blog silence, explained.

If you've been wondering about the unannounced blog silence yesterday... that was because of a relapse into my childhood days.

The little town where I grew up has a festivity each year, something like a country fair, perhaps - there's a parade of the school children through town, and some dances and sports things for and by the children, and then there's the fair area which is full of fun rides and booths where you can buy food, and a big tent (the Bierzelt) for sitting in (if you don't mind very loud music, that is). And a place where you can buy helium-filled balloons.

The fair runs for two days - Sunday and Monday - and everything is closed on Monday, because it's like an extra Sunday. It also feels like an extra Sunday, which is why I completely forgot to blog yesterday. After a few years of not being able to make it to the Wiesenfest, I managed to go home again this year for the two days. Most of my time was spent at the place where you can buy balloons, helping to knot them after filling with the gas.

My parents have been part of this since it started, so I have fond memories of the place, and the people, and I've always liked helping there. Let me tell you: I have knotted many balloons over the years, and I can knot a balloon very, very quickly.

I came back and it was just like always this year - a lot of fun, and on Monday a lot of knotting of balloons. A huge, huge lot of knotting, because one of the fair's traditions (and tradition is an important thing for this one) is children taking one or two balloons into town on Monday evening, when it's the official end of the fair, and letting them fly.

It is a spectacular thing to watch when almost two thousand balloons in all colours rise up into the sky. It's also slightly weird to know that you have held a substantial percentage of these balloons in your hands... and that everyone letting go of a balloon has done a good deed as well, since the money from selling them goes to charitable organisations that help children in need.

So this is why you got no blog post yesterday - because in my personal universe, it was totally a day off and everyone of course knows that nothing work-wise ever happens on Wiesenfest-Montag, because for all practical purposes it's just like an extra Sunday. (And now you know that, too.)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Friday Linkfest.

I can't believe it's already Friday again, time really is flying by!

Here are a few interesting or amusing links to spice up your Friday:

The Con Man trailer has been released.

Andreas has found an interesting snippet about dietary preferences of the French as compared to the Germans - from the fifteenth century.

Alasdair blogs about the Amazon review system (which the Big River wants to tweak), and reviews in general.

Finally, if you read German, here's an article about a lawsuit that Unicef is running against one of their benefactors. If you don't read German, here's the summary: A man who died in 2013 willed two thirds of his >one million Euro to go to Unicef, the rest to his brother. His brother died before he did, but, assuming it is clear that the money then would go to his brother's family, he did not change his Last Will. Now Unicef is trying to get all of the money through a lawsuit... and the internet is not amused.

That's it for this week. Don't forget to tune in (if you can) for the radio interview Gillian and I will have on this afternoon, some time between 14:15 and 15:00 CET (see yesterday's blog post for details if you need them).

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Update your Adobe Flash Player!

There's been a leak about a possible exploit for the Adobe Flash Player, so if you are having that thing installed on your machine (chances are high you have), you should update it as of right now.

You can do that by installing it from the Adobe website (don't forget to uncheck the boxes that say you totally want their crapware), or use this link to download the full installer you need and get it without the crapware stuff.

I do not want your antivirus thingie, Adobe. Go away.

Go download and install. Do it now. Seriously. Adobe classifies this as a real risk, and the how-to instructions on using the loophole in their code has been leaked to hacker sites. According to Adobe,

Successful exploitation could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.   Adobe is aware of reports that an exploit targeting this vulnerability has been published publicly. Adobe expects to make updates available on July 8, 2015.

Theoretically, you could deinstall the thing completely and be utterly safe... but so much on the 'net these days uses flash that it could really prove a nuisance. If you are running Firefox, however, you could consider using noscript to block unnecessary stuff including flashy stuff when you don't want to see or use it.

And that's your internet security note for today. : )  Surf safely.