Monday, February 26, 2001

Guess the Dictator and/or Television Sitcom Character (link courtesy of is downright scary. Admittedly I am a little less familiar with famous dictators than I am with sitcom characters (draw what conclusions you wish from this frank admission of ignorance, please). So I've only tried the sitcom character part of this site. The idea: pretend you are a sitcom character, doesn't matter which. Answer a series of yes-or-no questions (no if you don't know). After a little while the computer makes a guess as to who you are. It was frighteningly accurate twice in a row for me. Now I've never believed in card tricks (they're all scams) but this is several notches more interesting, because it makes you think of the thought, work, and ingenious yet simple algorithms that must have gone into this.

Another example of someone with truly, truly too much time on their hands. Use your powers for good, bruthah.

It all started with your basic Evil Overlord List, something that's been going around e-mail for years and probably has umpteen versions. This helpful list offers pointers on how to become a better Evil Overlord, for example: #59: "I will never build a sentient computer that is smarter than I am", and #32: "I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am; good messengers are hard to come by". Helpful advice, that. All gleaned from movies and cartoons, heretofore the only venue where those interested in Evil Science could find role models.

Well, it has now been taken a step further with the establishment of a website for Evil Science University, a supportive and nourishing environment for young, aspiring Evil Scientists to learn, grow, and perform unethical experiments involving unsuspecting human and animal subjects. The author of this site obviously has way too much time on his hands. He has put together a page for each of 16 academic departments, a thorough history of the University, resource guides, alumni and student affairs pages, and a helpful guide to the completely despoiled and crime-ridden surrounding area.

I have learned never to underestimate the creative (or at least productive) potential of a bored college student with too much time on his hands. Put this man in the SCA. He needs to be steered away from the Dark Side. (Though after seeing him in some of his photos, he looks like a future Horde Brother to me!)

Sunday, February 25, 2001

Bet you're surprised to hear from me. Long story. To sum it up: bad weather in some undisclosed part of the midwest (I'm assuming it was Minneapolis, because it wasn't here) forced the cancellation of two sets of planes I was going to take to Atlanta to visit Ellen. After talking about it a bit we realized we both have next weekend free, and Northwest was allowing free re-scheduling of flights until March 7, so we're doing it next weekend instead.

This weekend, which struck me as sort of a 'found weekend' (you know, like $50 you find in a purse you haven't used in a year), I've been puttering around doing little bits of nothing. Updated the Northshield Choir webpage with parts and a PDF for Chandler's gorgeous arrangement of Shield My Kinsmen. Did more Hare Affaire site tokens. (You know, I don't think I'm going to offer to do a webpage for them this year...they need to do that themselves, or realize that not having one is causing a problem. I tried to help with the group webpage before I left, and no one ever listened. Every group has a blind spot, I guess.) Did dishes, laundry, and flipped my mattress. Worked out plans for a small quilt I'm going to make for the May Feaste raffle for the La Crosse Chamber Chorale (who says I've given up all my non-SCA craft pursuits?). Ate a lot of pine nuts in-the-shell. Yum!

In other words, I stayed in and not much happened. No big deal. I like a blank weekend every so often.

Friday, February 23, 2001

I am amazed again: a company I hadn't heard of, NutsOnline, carries the pine nuts in-the-shell that my mom and I find so delicious and so hard to find. I ordered a pound, thinking that they must be stale or the wrong kind or mistakenly shelled or something, and they magically appeared in the mail yesterday, pristine, tasty, and just the way I remember them. It's been years since I've been able to get these in-the-shell and non-roasted (Ace Pecan stopped carrying them when I was in college; since then I have only found them roasted or roasted/salted, both of which constitute gilding the lily if you ask me). Now I know what it must feel like for an ecologist who has spent years documenting the sad extinction of an esoteric variety of mouse or raven or snail or whatever, only to be out for a picnic one day and suddenly see a representative of the species strolling casually down by the side of the creek.

Tomorrow: leaving for Atlanta to see Ellen. I won't be back until late Monday night, so you may not hear from me again until Tuesday (night, probably, unless Tuesday is very quiet here). I can use a little warmer weather, I think...! I'm sure it's no higher than 10 degrees here. I'm getting genuinely sick of the cold.

Thursday, February 22, 2001
WooHOO! Mythos Productions has finally begun taking orders for videos and DVDs of their long-awaited documentary, In Service to the Dream, which promises to be a gorgeous and detailed look at the world of the Society for Creative Anachronism and why its members do what they do. (If you want to purchase one, watch for the pop-up box saying "It's here!" when you get to the website.) I can't WAIT. I have, of course, ordered a video, and also a violently overpriced poster. I held myself back on the t-shirt. I figure, this summer EVERYone will have one, and I will be t-shirt! Nothing like being a unique individual. ;) Seriously, I am so excited to finally see the movie. Maybe I'll throw a Shire of Rokeclif ISTTD screening party when it comes.

A 76-year-old library patron just said to me as she was leaving, "Take care of yourself. We need you." I could have wept. This is one of those days when I've been too busy to think about why I do this job, but her comment just sliced through that. My library is NOT a frill, it's NOT just a nice service we provide. People NEED what I do. Madison or no Madison, I may never leave...!

Monday, February 19, 2001

Okay--after much procrastinating, I appear to have finished a humble little website for All in Motley Garb'd: A Fashion-Able Event, the costuming-themed event my Shire is putting on in April (April 21, 2001, to be exact). I think this is kind of a neat thing. In all the time I have been going to events in the SCA (going on 3 1/2 years), I have never seen a garb-themed event, and yet to me this is a no-brainer: we all have to wear garb, it's one of the cardinal rules of SCA participation (the other being that you have to pay site fees when there are any). It's a fascinating field with as much variety as there are fabrics/styles/time periods/places/trims/ideas/bodies/etc. And there are events for archers, heavy fighters, rapier fighters, horsemen/women, singers, dancers, even enamelers and potters! So why not one for costumers?

I am co-autocrating. We shall see how well I do at that. Toki is a pretty good co-autocrat so far; we seem to agree on our respective domains: he is in charge of arranging teachers/classes and the schedule and accomodating Royalty; I am doing publicity, seneschal flyers, the webpage, and invitations to special guests (i.e. Royalty). Our seneschal booked the site for us; we have a separate feast-o-crat and merchant liason to handle those things. And we'll all work at site on the day of the event.

(Note to self: you had all of February to get site advertisements in to the Northwatch and Pale; why have you waited so long? Get them e-mailed in THIS WEEK!)

The Open House was all right. Meeting at the WWTC site meant we got to scope out rooms for the event, and the room we used was very nice, perfect for what we needed Sunday. In all, I counted about 12 mundanes who came by (including my friends Julia from work and Jane from choir), which could be considered pretty pitiful by some standards, but for my first demo held independently of an event, I think it's all right. They stayed for awhile, ate, looked at books/photos/A&S items/martial items, asked questions, signed in (yay! More mailing list names!), and seemed intrigued. I'm going to mail out postcards with the next meeting time/date/etc. to the mailing list. Best of all, a couple carloads of friends from Coille Stoirmeil came over, true to their word, and helped us welcome the mundanes. It was relaxed and fun. What more could I ask from a demo? (How about 20 enthusiastic new members? Well, uh...maybe not.) ;)

Saturday, February 17, 2001

I had such big plans for today: I was going to go shopping, plaster downtown with Open House posters, and do dishes/wash/etc. Did make it grocery shopping (esp. for food for the Open House), but I never did get out to the mall or the fabric store, or downtown. Mostly I hung out on the computer and made some new sign-in sheets for the Open House, while the loaner garb was washing/drying. I also did dishes, and prepared some of the goodies for tomorrow (don't buy Sun Spree honey tea--that stuff is NASTY; I had to dump it out and put in some green tea with lemon that I had in the back of my kitchen cabinet. People expect iced tea to have caffeine, which rules out most of my personal stash, but it also has to taste halfway normal).

I am wondering whether I did enough publicity for this thing. I sent postcards to our Autumn Rose mailing list, sent press releases and requests to be put on the calendar to 5 TV stations and 5 newspapers in the area, and tried to put up posters wherever I could. No idea how many people this will yield (and I haven't made an effort to find this week's editions of papers to see if they have advertised us). I've had no phone calls and no e-mails, except from Shire members writing to ask "When is the meeting again? What time? Is it this weekend or next?" Sheesh, folks, this is why I put it on the webpage...and in the official Shire newsletter...

Maybe this first demo is something we can use as a test, to see how this sort of thing works. Maybe over time I will get to know what makes a successful demo. In the meantime I will be satisfied if this demo yields us 3 or 4 people who are interested enough to show up at a future meeting or two, and possibly to come to our event in April. Doubling our populace count by the end of 2001 may or may not be realistic, but it's not going to happen from one demo, so I'm not going to beat myself up over it if we have more visitors from Coille Stormeil than we do interested mundanes.

Went to Outback Steakhouse and to see Sweet November with Kristin tonight. Outback is one of those places popularized in the early '90's where everything is slightly larger than it needs to be: oversized plates, steak knives that are 14 inches long and two inches wide, massive mugs of water, booths that hold six people and have such deep seats that it's impossible to lean back without losing your balance and sliding under the table, and forks that impress with their sheer weight. Is that supposed to make me feel like this place is generous towards its customers? Maybe if the food had been a little better....The movie was okay, a rather trite piece of fluff with one of those unsatisfying did-she-or-didn't-she endings. I have a real problem with having my heartstrings played upon by as bad an actor as Keanu Reeves (though he did pretty well in A Walk in the Clouds). It is always fun to hang out with Kristin, though.

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Anyone in the SCA (and others interested in SCA period, 600-1600 CE) needs to know about Stefan's Florilegium Archive, where THL Stefan li Rous selectively archives postings from the very active Usenet newsgroup (and other articles submitted to him). This is the place for the collected wisdom of our [internet-enabled] kinspeople in the SCA, and references to other sources of information on the 'Net and in books.

Articles go back to 1989, but since each message file consists of relevant postings THL Stefan has culled from Usenet, most files have a mix of newer and older postings. Imagine a place where you can find information on such esoteric topics as medieval household pest control, food of medieval Byzantium, camp ovens for use at SCA camping events, period swears/oaths/insults, advice on holding SCA events at hotels, how to do false stonework on your campsite gate, acceptance of gays and lesbians in the SCA, and much more (even more 'normal' topics, and many of them!). This is it. Just about everything we do in the SCA, anywhere in the SCA, is covered here to some extent.

I am especially interested in the sections having to do with things we don't normally talk about in the course of a typical SCA event, or even on the listservs: How do you deal with a non-SCA significant other? Where did such-and-such a place name come from? What birthday gift should I give someone who is off to Pennsic the day after? Stories abound (SCA-significant other stories, Pennsic stories, history stories for most of the major geographical areas, You-Know-You're-In-The-SCA-When stories, and even SCA vanity license plate lists!) and make for good reading, in addition to a way to verify the SCA stories you hear around the Bardic fire (or find some new ones to tell).

Many, many messages and articles contain bibliographies, web links, or at the very least, the e-mail address of the poster so you can write and ask for more info. There are so many ways to use this archive.
Again, visit it at:

Totally by coincidence, leads to a needlework shop in Madison (my hometown). Someplace to visit next time I'm back visiting. ;)

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Did more Hare Affaire site tokens tonight. Did these take this long to do when I made them for 12th Night a couple of years ago? Probably, but I did them all at once and was done with them. These, I'm doing 15 at a time (and they need 250). Sheesh, they'll never be done...

It turns out I do get to go to Hare Affaire after all! Last night I found out that the choir rehearsal on March 31 is only in the morning, so I am going to put my garb etc. in the car that morning and leave for Hare Affaire right from rehearsal. I won't get there until mid-afternoon but at least I'll get to see the tail end of the fighting/classes/merchants, Court if they decide to have it, Feast, and dancing/post-revel stuff. And I won't feel compelled to drive back that same night (like I did when I was living in Marshfield), so I can post-revel if I want to! Then I'll have to come back for the concert the next day, of course, but there's time for that.

I am glad at the thought of going to Hare Affaire. This was going to be the first Falcon's Keep event I had missed since I joined the SCA. I think that site has a special place in my heart, too (after all, counting all 3 events we held there in 1999, I have been to 5 events there, plus several Keep moots and Gate meetings, plus a dance demo, plus's like home. ;) ). I don't want to stop being a part of Falcon's Keep. Those people are very special to me. They helped me with garb, advice, and feast gear at my first moots and events, encouraged my first SCA ideas, answered my questions, gave me space to store my stuff when I eased into camping events by day-tripping, and recommended me for my AoA. They tell stories about me (hi Janvier), they give me huge hugs that are not influenced by how low my cleavage happens to be that day, and they always, always listen when I sing. How do you ever really leave people like that? You don't, you just have a longer way to drive to be with them.

In case you want to search the world of blogs: try BlogFinder.

I did a search on "SCA" and found my own blog--and several non-blog personal webpages, plus some non-blog pages from my own site, so obviously it's not that great at searching blogs. Oh well. It's what we've got right now, I guess.

All right. I'm really going to bed now. Promise.

I came back from That Moot Thingy with an allergy thing going (too many people in a small space, most of whom let their cats sleep in their garb and camping gear when they're at home), which then developed into a cold; either that or I already had the cold coming, and the allergy stuff just made it worse. Doesn't matter. Either way my nose has been alternately stuffy and dripping. Tell me this isn't what it's like to work in a medical center...not even halfway through February and I've had two colds this season. Yech.

Sunday, February 11, 2001

Pretty fun event this weekend! The folks in Coille Stormeil really know how to throw a shindig. The hand-kissing contest was an excellent idea, though next year, I would like to be on the receiving end instead of the giving end (never kissed a hand before in my LIFE, so I was pretty honored when one judge gave me a 10 out of 10!). The site was a little small, but I have a feeling next year we will look back and remember fondly how cozy we were at this site. ;) I didn't quite get the shtick having to do with incursions into Shattered Oak by Nordskogen. Maybe someone reading this will write and explain it. I have heard people say our Society is based on shtick, which I don't quite believe is true in the Northshield (unless you have a REALLY broad definition of what comprises shtick). No denying that it can be fun, though.

I totally frustrated myself by forgetting my Bardic Book (in fact my whole music tote) at home. In fact Her Ladyship Corynne heard me lament that fact so many times that she took to asking me at random, "Oh no, Eliane, where's your Bardic Book?" ;) Luckily some various friends had music along with them, plus I was able to write out a couple of my own pieces I had wanted to sing. (See, it's all in there; I just can't get it back out again in rhythm...!) So, we got plenty of singing in, despite the fact that quite a few bardic folks (and others, including nearly all the Royalty and many Nordskogenites) abandoned us after the early-afternoon shtick was over, making us wonder whether perhaps they thought of themselves as part of the entertainment. Hmph. Got news for you, folks, the hand-kissing contest has you all beat for entertainment value. ;)

p.s.--Owen shaved his beard. He claims he did it so that he could play his heavy-fighting alter ego, Odd, in the shtick mentioned above. Whatever the reason, I would like to register my vote in favor of reinstating the facial hair. He looks kind of like a balding blond Fred Flintstone without it.

Friday, February 09, 2001

All RIGHT! I got my beautiful t-shirt in the mail today. Erica kept her promise to fulfill existing red t-shirt orders even though she was in the process of switching to CafePress for her new shirts. She did this for me even though I sent in my order after seeing that she was in the process of switching over. (I figured, what's the worst she can do? Send me a white t-shirt instead? Send my check back?)

Oh boy, did Erica come through for me, one of her loyal fans: the shirt is not red, it is a sexy dark mauve, and has a gorgeous star logo on the front and a full-color picture of the Look It Up woman from Erica's original Why you should fall to your knees and worship a librarian page. I'm wearing it Sunday, including at site while we are cleaning up and having breakfast. It is so seldom that I get anything of which I immediately think, "Everyone I know has GOT to see this...". I might as well play it up. ;)

Do you know, I finally got a little irritated at wearing my Felix Needleworthy gown open down the front, and decided to make an underskirt last night. In one hour and 15 minutes I had a tapestry and light canvas underskirt completely finished--except for a line of rope trim along the bottom of the tapestry, which took me another 15 minutes after trying everything on to find out if I was going to need to hem it. (Nope, and it's all selvages so it was my decision.) Not bad, I think...granted it's on a drawstring, which means I have to pull the gathers out of the front if I want the tapestry to lay flat, and also that I look like I have a bum roll on from the bulky gathers, but hey, that's period, right?

Thursday, February 08, 2001
You like to laugh. I can say this without knowing exactly who you are, because we all like to laugh. Therefore I can honestly say you have to see, an extensive personal site produced by a writer in Minneapolis. In addition to a Daily Bleat and pictorials devoted to his dog Jasper and his new baby daughter Natalie, his site, steeped to the brim in 40's and 50's pop culture and the irony that time must necessarily bring to it, offers:

  • The Institute of Official Cheer, a gateway to such treats as The Gallery of Regrettable Food ("124 Ways to Serve Fat"? Why only 124?), a tribute to the Gobbler (a motel I remember passing many times on I-94 as a child--now I wish I'd stopped to see more), disturbing pinup art of women with their undies falling off in public, dog photos from newspaper photo files, bad celebrity publicity shots, and much, much more. All with incisive and funny commentary.
  • The Comics, featuring such enduring classics (that you've never heard of) as Lance Lawson, Jerry on the Job, and Mr. Coffee Nerves (which sounds like a bad SNL sketch if I ever heard of one...). These were real comics, folks! Nothing doctored or pasted in.
  • Many photographic items, including fascinating pictures of fading mural ads, and photo tours of Minneapolis and Fargo, ND, through the eyes of someone who clearly understands the history, good and bad, of each city.
  • Curious Lucre which does what should have been done a long time ago: puts to the mock all that silly stuff other countries call money. Beautiful photos and cutting sarcasm. It's a winning combination (all over this site, really).

You must, must, MUST see this site. Every page is funny. It is bountiful funny. It provides more ongoing laughter for me than any other site on the internet, in ever-growing treasure troves (you wonder how this guy stays married, when he obviously spends all his time either at the computer, out taking photos, or running through rolls of microfilm at the Star-Tribune). In fact, for those of you lazy with the 'up' button, here is another link:

Go! Read! Laugh!

Wednesday, February 07, 2001

That Moot Thingy news: Not only will there be a Jaravellir Baronial court at the event (which we knew) and Her Highness of the Northshield will be there (which we also knew), His Highness will also be there avec entourage, plus there will be a WW meeting. This last makes sense, as it's tough to disrupt the schedule of an event which has no schedule. ;) So, my Shire will be just a little more occupied than we thought with lunch, now that the expected number has gone from 40 to 100...

No problem, the more the merrier, is what I think. But this is undoubtedly the most royalty--maybe the most PEOPLE--to descend on our neighbors in Coille Stoirmeil in quite awhile. Hopefully it will help to have us there to pitch in. In any case, it should be a truly amazing event (and a real eye-opener for our newbies, if we can convince them to go!).

The world of medicine never fails to amaze me. I was listening to a choir acquaintance tell me how, before she began voice lessons, she sometimes needed to have a doctor spray her vocal chords with cocaine and adrenaline before she performed, to get them to relax. I had never heard of this procedure. Doesn't it sound like something straight out of early 1900's patent medicines? She described it as unpleasant; you have to have a doctor do it (of course) and they basically push your head back, crank your jaws open as far as they'll go, and shove this apparatus down your throat to get the spray centered on your vocal chords. She said it did work (she sounded great on the recording), and lasted for 45 minutes, but during the performance she felt "high as a kite" and didn't remember much afterwards. I don't know...maybe it's different for people who make their living on their voices, but if you ask me, if you have to take narcotics in order to sing, you probably shouldn't be singing. My opinion only.

Monday, February 05, 2001

Tonight, after perusing the challenge list for the upcoming Bardic Madness, I felt inspired and thought I would write a story about Eliane, my SCA persona. It turns out to be too long to read at Bardic Madness, but it's the closest I think I will ever come to a persona story: it tells the where, when, what, who, and why of my persona, and weaves in things I love: fabric, choral music, books, stained glass, and more. I hope to post it on my Bardic Book page soon.

Sunday, February 04, 2001

Quiet weekend. Friday night a Falcon's Keep newbie/friend came to see Gaelic Storm, aka the below-decks Irish band in the movie Titanic. They deserve to be known as an excellent Celtic band in their own right, though, rather than for one song that a fictional character danced to in an over-hyped movie, IMHO. They're young but energetic and put on an informal but entertaining show. From what I hear they have recently gotten a shot in the arm with the addition of Kathleen Keane, proving that you don't have to be an Irish citizen to REALLY know your Irish music (Kathleen is from Chicago).

It was also nice to talk Falcon's Keep/Falcon's Gate stuff with Jessi, who is as enthusiastic a newbie as I have met in awhile. She reminded me that being a chatelaine needn't always be an uphill battle. Sometimes new people join the SCA ready to get to know people and participate--and the smart chatelaine will do best to stand back and let them begin to grow.

Last night I went to see Chocolat, looking for a lighthearted and cute movie, and got it--but it made me moody all the same. I think it made me feel sort of alone. Then I went to dinner alone at Boatworks (which probably exacerbated the problem, though the Grilled Vegetables on Angel Hair with Tomato Jus Lie was excellent), and when I got back to my apartment it was really moping time. I guess when I spend most every weekend with people (in the SCA, choir, or whatever), a weekend alone feels somehow wrong. I felt better this morning, though.

Next weekend: That Moot Thingy, where I will have all the sociability I can handle, and (probably) then some. ;)

Friday, February 02, 2001

Every so often (less often recently) I find a personal webpage that impresses me because it is what I believe personal webpages should be: a reflection of the best of the author, intelligently and humorously written, self-indulgent without being self-involved (that's the part I'd fail on), with responsible and judicious links. Because people are people and there's no law that says everyone has to share my opinions or be compatible with me, it is even more seldom that I find one of these excellent personal pages that makes me want to meet the person.

Found one today. @Man doesn't give much concrete information about himself, so all I know is that he has something to do with California State University at Chico (on thinking, I didn't even know there was a Chico, California until I tried out to see what csuchico stood for). The guy has the most healthy attitude towards today's Internet that I can imagine, especially regarding commercial uses of the Internet; he seems to be a member of that Internet Old Guard I remember so fondly from my very first days on Usenet/listservs. At least in attitude, and that's what counts (I mean, you don't have to know Kibo PERSONALLY...;) )

He writes strange but cheerful poetry and he has instructions on how to block web ads ( to try that) and how to make a garlic braid (that too). Cecil Adams links to some content on his site in his revisiting of the "Eskimo snow words" debate. He grouses over privacy, encourages people to vote, champions free speech, and grows things in gardens. He draws a fair Bert but got Ernie all wrong (oh lordy, he isn't YELLOW...!). He calls himself a World Class Data Snuggler, which has the smack of an extremely Freudian typo that your roommate read over your shoulder and passed around the dorm. (It also makes me want to call him up and say, "Oh baby, you can snuggle my data anytime...") (Is he married? Involved? Gay? Not telling on the Internet. Fine. He'll probably never see this anyway.)

Enough gushing; let me just say that if @Man reads his site stats and finds my page, I would love to get an e-mail from him. I'm too shy and retiring to be the first e-mailer. Yes, I AM shy and retiring. Yes, I am. Well, all right, I am on the Internet. Yes, I am. Yes--I'm not going to argue about this.

The new Governor has been (as Douglas Adams would say). It turns out he's really cute, not that that has anything to do with anything. That's two tall cute men I've met today. ;) He wandered all over the library before giving his speech, shaking hands and greeting people, and even came right up to the library desk to ask why we got to stand in the special area ("We're the library staff!" we chorused as he shook our hands). We had some pictures taken of HRC staff with him; I think I made it into the picture. We even gave leftover food to some hungry-looking library patrons after he had gone off on his tour. All in all, a worthwhile visit. And for those who cry "Republican", let me just say, he has one big virtue: he's not Tommy Thompson. Everything else remains to be seen. Hallelujah, amen.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

True randomness harnessed for semi-mystical, mostly-fun purposes (but then, that's what tarot is too, huh?): Discover Your True Name, thanks to Clarablog.

Me? I'm Audible Whisperer. Wooo. That's deep, you betcha. ;)

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