Saturday, December 14, 2013

Timey-Wimey Stuff

Thomas More's clock
With Winter Solstice exactly one week away, the Shire of Rokeclif was kind enough to let me pack them into the TARDIS for a look at time in period.  A "day" in Kudrun's time was the time between sunrise and sunset, which was divided into twelve hours. Though there was no period way of measuring the minutes, each hour today was about 45 minutes long. (If I were really in Scotland, each hour would be 35 minutes.)

We read calendars from books of hours, and tracked the names of the days of the week and the months.  We looked at fourteen different dates when "Happy New Year" was an appropriate expression, and decided that May 1 was our favorite.
It was a challenge to describe period timekeeping without resorting to the conventions we're used to -- the 60-minute hour and the 60-second minute. What was it like in period to switch to thinking of time "of the clock"?  (Check Chaucer's Parson's tale prologue for the intersection of two ways of time-telling.)
At least we didn't have to try to reconcile the solar and lunar years, which was a challenge for Julius Caesar, Roger Bacon, and Pope Gregory. And no, we didn't attempt to calculate the date of Easter.
(We did learn that my cursor was as good as a laser pointer for entertaining the cat.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Aristotle renews his SCA membership

Falcon's Gate, the college subsidiary of Falcon's Keep, invited me to chat about persona. We had a lively discussion, partly because of the delicious brownies that provided a sugar high. Aristotle provided what structure we had, but as we chatted about aspects of medieval "thought" we detoured into bits of my class on period maps. Garb questions also abounded. Thank you, Falcon's Gate, for a delightful evening of geekdom.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Maps revisited

I had an opportunity to rerun my class on maps (from April 2013) for the Shire of Rokeclif. We took the whole afternoon (and had a potluck afterward) so there was more time available, but there were kids in a class that was originally intended for adults. So I added some kid-friendly activities, such as using toilet paper tubes and pricked paper to make constellation maps, which the kids could project on the walls of a dark room, and magnetizing a needle to make a compass.   Sam added the directions for our Northshield compass rose.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A&S 50 Gathering at WW

The twentieth incarnation of Warriors & Warlords, Northshield's largest event, occured on the weekend of July 13. There was fighting and dancing, foodie competition, three bardic circles, and, between Smiths' Row and the Authenticity encampment, enough A&S to impress even the most jaded observer. (The local paper had a beautiful color spread featuring many activities, including my first attempt at blacksmithing.) So I wasn't worried that people were doing Other Things when I hosted an A&S 50 gathering. There were a couple actual challengers, plus several who were just there for the shade. (I tried to draw them into the fold.)  It was still a great A&S event.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to be Dahrien

Many of you know Master Dahrien Cordell. One of his many talents is to create contrafacta instantaneously. I believe I recall him filking a song as the song itself was being written.  Since he took my name in vain in creating publicity for Bardic Skirmish, (formerly Border Skirmish, a Northshield/Midrealm event) I thought I'd get even by teaching a class in filking. It would contain a bit of background in SCA history and in period contrafacta, but the point would be to write a song, using "a tune we all know".
There were only a couple problems.  One is that most of the people who attended, including Dahrien himself, had already mastered the fine art of filking. The other is that Mistress Eliane's class was scheduled for the same time in the same 12x12 foot sunshade.  So we pretty much had a great conversation on the bardic arts in general, and then jumped headlong into a game of Bardic Kubb, which involved knocking sticks over by throwing other sticks at them, and coming up with bardic performance with any successful toss by the other team. (If you want a better explanation, ask Dahrien.  It was great fun.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Draw me a map

The theme for Bardic Madness XXIII was "Directions" so I thought I'd teach a course on cartography. That I knew next to nothing about cartography in the middle ages didn't bother me. I had more fun researching this class than any of the others, since every turn of the page brought some fascinating new insight. I started fairly early, about 6000 BCE (lest early period folk think I'm neglecting them). I ended with a crazy map from c.1590, in which a map of the world replaces the face in a jester's hood. Sayings including "Nosce te ipsum" (Know thyself) and "Stultorum infinitus est numerus" (The number of fools is numerous). A cartouche on the map ascribes it to "Epichthionius Cosmopolites", which is essentially, "Anonymous".
Other interesting maps include one on a coin, a circular one that was about twelve feet in diameter, one that features Paul Bunyan holding runestones. (at least he looks like Paul Bunyan.), and a heart-shaped world map. Maps that hung in churches featured Eden at the top (in the far East); Jerusalem in the center, griffins, elephants and bears in the north; monsters in the far south; and the Minotaur in his maze on Crete. As India and Africa were explored by Europeans, the Pygmies who battled with cranes (reported by Aristotle, Homer, and Pliny) had to be moved from there to Canada, where they lived with unicorns.
There were many revolutions in thought hinted at in this class, not the least of which was the shift from 12 directions to eight (or 16 or 32). And how maps changed in character from geographical, to theological, to nautical, to geographical.
I hope I find another opportunity to teach this class, because it was so much work and so much fun.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A day of science

The Stellar University of Northshield gathered in Rockhaven on February 9, 2013 for a day of classes, classes, and more classes.

For Science 101: Life, the Universe, and the Microcosm, Karyn had to take the reigns, since Kudrun would never have had reason to present a brief history of western scientific thought from the Babylonians to the printing press. (Especially since Kudrun lives in the thirteenth century.)  So Karyn ran through early astronomy, Eratosthenes, Plato & Aristotle, the "fall of Rome", Isidore, the translation mania that led to the twelfth-century renaissance, the scholastics, and the turn from science to other activities (art, music, the black plague) in the fourteenth century. Since the printing press changed everything, I left off there. That's another class.

Kudrun taught the afternoon class, which was an overview of humoral theory, with stern admonitions for everyone to consult their physician and astrologer, who understand the complexities of the effects of the stars, the seasons, diet, clothing, music, and exercise on the body.