Thursday, 31 January 2013

Even more journal access.

I have (of course) made use of the Cambridge Journal offer, but regrettably did not find much of interest for me in the 2012 yield of articles. (Though admittedly my topics are a bit special.)

There is also the journal "Internet Archaeology", a peer-reviewed online journal that has its back issues under an open access policy since this month. My check yielded no textile-related stuff, but for those of you who do not have such a narrow focus, here's the link. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Stuff! On the Intarwebz!

I have finally caught up with the time-critical links on the blog (at least I hope so), and now I can move on to diminish my list of links to stuff again.

So, exciting stuff on the web right now...

- The V&A is still working on establishing the Textile and Clothing study collection at its new centre, and the opening date is (probably) summer or autumn 2013. They do have a lot of their collection accessible and searchable online. Though it's not the same as seeing the stuff up close, you can head to their digital catalogue and search the whole collection.

- Less pictures, more text: the Textile Conservation Centre offers a list of all the thesis titles and abstracts written in connection with their institution on their webpage. The institution has ended its life in 2009, but has a successor: The Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History in Glasgow.

- The Germanisches Nationalmuseum (GNM) is planning a new exhibition on early modern clothing and textiles, probably starting in 2015 (see the German info page here).

- And finally and totally textile-unrelated, there is a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice running at the moment. It's in form of a video blog made by Lizzie Bennet (plus some blogs from her sister Lydia), plus Twitter and tumblr story bits, and I think it's an awesome and thoroughly well-done adaptation of the story to modern times. You might want to click this link to get to the official page with all the story... but then, if you have work to do, you might not. (Not want to click the link. Because it will eat up your time. Ask me how I know.)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Things you learn by disastrous baking.

Actually, to be honest, the title of this blog entry should rather read "Baking disasters that could have been completely avoided by thinking a little before substituting one leavening agent by a different leavening agent".

I was baking scones this weekend and used a powder that was not the usual baking powder but baking soda. What I did not know when I substituted the exact amount of baking soda for the amount of baking powder stated in the recipe: Baking powder is soda mixed together with a diphosphate that, upon contact with moisture and heat, will turn into an acidic substance that in its turn reacts with the soda. According to the order of ingredients on the packets, baking powder contains at least as much phosphate as soda, if not more. (Then, in addition, there is some starch in there serving as a stabiliser and separating agent, which according to the Intarwebz can be up to 30% of the total.)

So the result of my scone baking? Inedible scones (tasting weird and really bitter), a little chemistry lesson delivered by the internet, more knowledge about how kitchen chemistry works, a thorough understanding that:

baking soda != baking powder
and that
dosage of baking soda != dosage of baking powder.

Oh, and the total corroboration that our friends are really, really cool and wonderful. Because, when faced with the inedible scones, they took it very calmly, worked out together with me why this had happened, and then one just went to cuddle the cat while the other one helped me whip up a new batch of scones with less raisins (since there were not so many left) but with normal baking powder this time. Which turned out perfectly nice and very, very edible. (Plus that was the fastest scone-baking action ever - it took about 10 minutes until they were in the oven.)

And in the aftermath... I realised that I had used "baking soda" instead of "baking powder" in the recipes on this blog. Which has now been rectified - they all say "baking powder", as they should. So should you have tried one of the recipes (the lemon things or the nougat spritz things) and they turned out... weird (and possibly not very fluffy and/or less than yummy), the blame is totally on me and I am really sorry. I promise that both baked goods are really very, very edible if produced with baking powder.

Monday, 28 January 2013

"Independent Researcher"

The last few years that I've been at conferences, I have seen quite a few different ways of handling conference name tags.

Name tags are a wonderful thing. Not only are they a wonderful help for those who have trouble remembering faces, names, or both (where both is obviously the worst possibility), they also can serve as an icebreaker help (such as "Oh, you are from ... - I always wanted to see Museum X (or whatever else) there). (Yes, I know, not the smartest opening of them all, but still) or they can help finding someone you have always wanted to meet.

What has irked me, sometimes, is the labeling for those who are not affiliated with a Uni or similar institution. I then went around as "Independent Researcher", and somehow I felt like a sore thumb. Or something else that sticks out.

Being independent does, obviously, have its plus sides - there is no uni politics or uni programme making you do things that you don't want to research, you can pick which conferences you go to, you are very free in how you schedule stuff and who you team up with. On the other hand, it means that you lack a lot of opportunities and a lot of support, because it really can make a difference having an institution or a Big Name behind you - or not. And in the worst case, if you do not have (good) access to a library, you have to pay for all the literature access yourself.

On that note, here is something that is nice for everyone, but especially for independent folks: Cambridge Journals is having Free Access weeks for everything published in 2012 if you register at their site. The free access is available until March 5, so there is quite a bit of time to make use of it. There's a promo code you have to enter during registration for the free access, so do not forget to do that if you take up the offer!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Is this the end?

As probably everywhere, there is a lot of complaining about the bad economic situation here in Germany. And the (perceived or real) dire need to make budget cuts to save money.

Now, I can think of a lot of ways to save money sensibly regarding our state - but "closing museums" is not on that list. This is, however, what the individual federal states seem to think appropriate... even if they are comparatively rich federal states.

Case in point? There is the Heuneburg - a prehistoric hillfort that was excavated and is considered one of the most important early Celtic centres in Central Europe (more and links for even more info here at Wikipedia, and German Wikipedia).

In addition to a "normal" museum at the Heuneburg, explaining about the place in the usual museum way, there is also an open-air museum that was, unfortunately, not doing so very well in terms of visitors the last years. (The museum website for both is here.) The open-air museum was built between 1998 and 2001, is called Freilichtmuseum Keltischer Fürstensitz Heuneburg, and shows a number of reconstructions such as a large house, other buildings for storage and workshops, and a large gate with clay brick wall. The Heuneburg excavations showed the only known example of such a wall type north of the Alps.

And now the museum is about to close, because the community of Herbertingen does not have enough money to keep it running, and the federal state Baden-Württemberg is not willing to help.

There is, however, a chance to keep it going: An online petition is currently running and will be for about two more months. So please - go to the petition page here and sign the petition so that the Heuneburg-Museum can stay!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Life is much better with a cup of tea.

Which is exactly what is standing in front of me right now.

Now for today's content (more or less):

Norway has damaged one of its many road tunnels by burning goat cheese in there. Really. (h/t to Phiala of Stringpage)

Both Kalamazoo and Leeds are casting their shadows ahead - there is a sneak preview of the 'zoo programme available already, and Leeds programme is available. If you are interested in textile-related things, DISTAFF has all its sessions on Thursday, July 4. There are a few very interesting-sounding papers in there, a pity I will not be able to make it to Leeds this year. Online registration will be available from February 15, and the Call for Papers for Leeds 2014 seems to be already running as well.

And in totally different news: Our little cat has relented. Even though her performance in the piece written for at least one human and one cat, named "I have such a hard life and now you are making it even harder unless you do exactly what I want, meow" was absolutely flawless and Broadway-worthy, she did not get around inhaling her medicine. (Nor did she get called to Broadway for performing there.) Though there was a generous portion of cat treats afterwards, as usual. And wondrously enough, this morning it did not seem to be that bad anymore... since all that her performance amounted to was a longer wait for the treats and food and being allowed outside. There was even some purring while inhaling. Cats.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

More stacked-up notes.

Here are some more stacked-up notes and dates and things...

- There is a conference about Castles at War, AD 1000-1660, taking place the 29th and 30th April 2013 at Nyborg Castle, Funen, Denmark. More about it here.

- On February 9, the King's College London is offering a course called "Constructing Clothing: Exploring the Making of Dress". More info here.

-Just in case you did not know, there is a manuscript/picture search possibility of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, called Mandragore.

In other news, the cat was even less fond of getting her medicine this morning. Sigh. It's hard to stay patient and upbeat when it seems to be not at all appreciated... She also seems to think that we are running out of food, since she got us some yummy (in her opinion) fresh prey and gave it to me (only reserving the cat rights to play with it some more, of course). Cats. Says it all, right?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Somehow, this start of week is sort of crazy-ish, or at least madly uncooperative. The little cat has taken it into her head that taking her meds is a hassle, and she does not want it. So the morning and evening inhalation sessions (she has feline asthma) are turning into a battle of wills.

-Meow! I want breakfast! And outside!
-Come here, cat. Take your meds. Have some more cat treats. Good cat. Here are the me...
-Oh lookeee, it's so much nicer to lie down just outside your reach. And oh, even better, over there at the door.... I like to sit at the door. Did I mention I want to go outside?
-Come here, little cat. Take your meds. Yes, good cat, take that treat. And now stay here for...
-Ah, nice treat, and now I sit down at the door again.

So... not so good. I'm now hoping for some feedback from other feline patients for hints on how to solve this.

In addition, I did not get that much work done yesterday, at least not the types of work I intended to get done. And I think the first action of the day (after the Battle About the Meds has been resolved and I have some coffee) will be to clear some more space on this desk. Piles of work... somehow not comforting.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Lemon Things.

A few years ago (about three or four, I think) I got introduced to very yummy, very lemony things that formed part of the Christmas cookie collection a friend's mum was baking yearly.

I fell in love with those things, and thus asked for the recipe - and now it has become one of my Christmas baking staples as well. (Though it also makes a nice summer sweet, due to the lemon taste). And now, very recently, I made some more people fall in love with these things - so here, upon request, is the recipe.

Originally, it was for half the amount it is now, equalling half a normal German baking sheet (which is about 30 x 40 cm in size). Adjust the amount to your preferences and baking equipment. (Me, I prefer large batches, especially for things that keep well - and the Lemon Things will keep well. Unless they get eaten. Then they only keep one well fed for a while.)

Shortcrust Dough: 500 g flour, 150 g sugar (including vanilla sugar, if desired), 250 g butter, 2 eggs, 2 level teaspoons baking powder
Filling: 250 g ground almonds, 300 g sugar, juice of 5-6 lemons, grated peel of 1-2 lemons
Glazing: juice of c. 1/2 lemon, icing sugar

Mix the ingredients for the filling; it should be a spreadable mixture, but not too liquid.
Make a shortcrust dough from the dough ingredients; contrary to the normal procedure, do not let the dough rest. (If you do not know how to make a shortcrust pastry, there are gazillions of instructions on the internet. Basically, you mix fat and flour (in this case, flour with the baking powder mixed in) together to form small crumbs, then add sugar and eggs, then knead to make smooth dough.) Divide dough in two halves; roll the first half to a sheet and place in baking sheet, covering the sides of the sheet as well. Spread the filling on this bottom dough, then roll the second half to a sheet and cover the filling with it.
Close the edges by pinching with your fingers. (You can then puncture the upper dough layer with a fork - I have also omitted this and found no great difference in the result.)

Bake for about 30 min at 170°C (convector fan oven). When cool (or at least not hot anymore), mix lemon juice and sugar together for the glaze/icing, spread on top.

I like to cut these into slim lozenges, but you could also do squares, fingers, or larger pieces and serve them as cake. I find they make a lovely addition to the Xmas cookie plate, but they are a refreshing summer confectionery as well.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Catching up. Or at least trying to.

Having been off blog (and mostly also off computer) for the best part of the last month, there is a big heap of not-urgent-but-possibly-interesting stuff that has accumulated and is now cluttering up my inbox.

So to get a few of them off my list, here you go:

- Hortulus has issued a call for papers for the next issue, topic: Wounds, Torture, and the Grotesque. Deadline for contributions is February 15, with the possibility of a later deadline upon request.

- There has been a stack of book reviews and book summaries in the yahoo list MEDTC-DISCUSS; I will not repost them all here. Instead, go join the group to access the back mails. 

- There is an exhibition about Tudor fashion in portrait paintings coming up, called "In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion". It will be in The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, and run from Friday, 10 May 2013 to Sunday, 06 October 2013. An exhibition catalogue will also be available.   

That's the first stack of possibly interesting things - more to come in the next days...

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Now, apart from going to the conference, we had a little extra time to spend in Cardiff, and just in case you would like to hear about that as well... here you go.

First of all, Cardiff was really, really nice. They have a very good and quite affordable public transport system, with a bus going out to Cardiff Bay every few minutes and buses going everywhere about all the time. (Except to the airport on a Sunday morning!) There is lots of small and large shops and many different shopping arcades, a large covered market where you can buy food and other stuff, several parcs, the very imposing castle, lovely food for fair or very fair prices and lots of friendly people.

My only problem with the friendly people that were chatting at us randomly was that I sometimes had a lot of trouble understanding the accent. It’s a lovely accent (I am a fan of locally different forms of language anyways) and I had already heard a little bit more of it due to watching Torchwood, but sometimes… well, sometimes it could as well have been Welsh they were speaking at me.

Apart from all this, there is also lots of culture going on in Cardiff – events at museums, galleries, there’s the Millenium Centre with lots of stuff happening and so on and so on. We had not enough time to take advantage of all that, but altogether, it reminded me a tiny bit of London, only much smaller and less expensive. (And with probably more Dr Who and Torchwood.) We did manage to stroll along the Bay and visit the Dr Who experience, which was a lot of fun.

The only disappointment was public transport to the airport. It is called “Cardiff International Airport” but should probably called “Wales International Heliport”, judging from its size. It has exactly one runway and is tiny, and with only very few flights going in and out. (Nuremburg has only one runway and is sort of as tiny, but much more busy.) Now, I’m all for small airports (I find them much more charming and nice, in general, than the huge ones), but if it is not possible to get there by train or bus by 9:30 on a Sunday… well, that is kind of inconvenient. We had to take a taxi out to get there in time, not something I had planned on.
To be fair, we had to take a taxi to get out to Nuremburg airport on our way to Cardiff as well, but that was for a flight taking off at 6 in the morning, and I can understand public transport not running then! 

That minor issue aside, I totally enjoyed being in Cardiff, as well as the conference, and I could well imagine going back there some day in the future. Probably in the summer, though, not in January!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Back home from Cardiff.

It feels enormously, deliciously nice to be back home again after several weeks of being only there for a very short breather and then off again to something somewhere. Even though I enjoyed all the away-time a lot – Christmas with the family, New Year with friends, the EAC with colleagues – I am now really content with being home for some time, getting stuff into order and taking care of all the interesting things that were on the back-burner all this while. And catching up on cuddling the cat!

But you probably want to know about the conference much more than about how happy I am to be home again, so…

 The EAC took place in two locations - one of the university buildings (which was ample room for the ~100 participants of the conference) and at St Fagan's, a little ways outside Cardiff. It started with a very nice meet-up in the Pen and Wig on Thursday evening and then went into a tightly-packed programme of papers all Friday long. The topics were varied and interesting, and I enjoyed most of the papers very much. (With a few, I had some trouble understanding everything, since the speakers sometimes mumbled a little, but that's to be expected.) 
I especially enjoyed the paper about the ovens used for cooking on the Mary Rose, which was a totally astounding contraption that I'd love to cook in. Well, maybe not really, seeing as it's for feeding about 500 people.

After the papers, there was wine, snacks and a poster session before almost all of us walked off to a conference dinner.

Saturday we were taken to St Fagan's in a bus that seated 70 persons (though the persons it was intended for were much younger than archaeologists usually are), which was a little cramped but must have looked very amusing to anyone watching the bus spit out almost 70 adults instead of the schoolchildren that its bright yellow colour would lead one to expect.

The papers at St Fagan's were as nice as those the day before, but unfortunately the weather was not. Any open air museum will look much nicer in sunshine and good weather than in fog, grey clouds and drizzling rain - but I still enjoyed having a little walk around the premises and peeping into a few of the houses.

As all conferences, this one was too short, and unfortunately I was quite tired and not up to my best networking abilities. There's always the trade-off at conferences between a programme packed full of papers*, getting much into a short time, or leaving lots of room for questions and socialising at the cost of having fewer presentations. Cardiff EAC clearly opted for a full programme which left me more exhausted than I would have wished. So somehow I have the feeling that I could have gotten more out of it - but then one never knows what will follow later. At least I did manage to deliver my talk, do a spinning presentation and meet a good number of new people, as well as catch up with old aquaintances. And hear about a number of very interesting topics!

* It should be mentioned here that all the speakers kept to their allotted time and did not overrun - which was amazing!