The Opinionated Wench


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What I Did on My Summer Vacation
Summer 2002

August 27, 2002 I also like archaeology a lot, though I prefer the well-established to the specious. Some archaeology sites are comprehensive but just gloss over the surface of everything. Some appear to be mind-bogglingly comprehensive but have not been updated in 2 years and contain lots of broken links, or was that missing links? I prefer to read, but you can also learn about the ancient world on TV. On a related note, these pages are written entirely in Latin.

My friend Jean recently bought some fish for her fishtank, which had been sitting empty for about 2 years. This purchase seems to have brought to the surface the latent fishgeek in all of her male acquaintances. Fishnerds seem to be more common than you might think.

Meet Paracelsus, natural philosopher, controversial renaissance figure, and inventor of laudanum.

A return to the more scholarly websites I was linking to earlier this summer with The Schoyen Collection of Manuscripts

Today's list of patterns I think I might like to make but probably never will: Vogue 2677, 2679, 7608 (I was very pleased with the previous pair of Sandra Betzina pants I made)

August 23, 2002 Last night as I was driving home there was a beautiful full moon in the sky. I was inspired by this site to provide a list of links about the moon:

My mom now likes to vacuum at 6:45 in the morning.

A recently rediscovered review of Swordfish, a movie in which Halle Berry is not noted for her acting skills.

Here is an interesting piece of news. Unfortunately its lack of credibility is shown by the previous projects of the discoverer. Coffee geek that I am, I was also suspicious of their claim that the discovery of coffee grounds indicated the Vikings had been to South America. Coffee, of course, originated in the Middle East and Africa and did not reach the new world until the middle of the 18th century. SCA types might want to keep this press release handy, though, as a piece of "documentation" that Vikings had coffee. In case you really care about the period-ness of anything you're doing that early in the morning at a camping event.

August 22, 2002 Online version of the Gallery of Regrettable Foods, a book my mom gave Owen for Christmas. I was thinking that this site was in a similar spirit to Interior Desecration, a really funny site that savaged a Better Homes and Gardens book from the '70s. Sadly, said site is no longer on the net, though when I went looking for it I discovered that it was actually produced by the same person as the Gallery of Regrettable Foods and that there is a book in the works.

The Alphabet Synthesis Machine

I want to work for this law firm, or maybe this one.

More things I am not making up: Julia Child's kitchen is now an exhibit at the Smithsonian.

More proof that Albertans got culture: The 2002 World Horseshoe Tournament was held in Red Deer, AB (and, perhaps more alarmingly, has its own website -- these horseshoe enthusiasts could be more organised than we think!)

And another weird story I'm surprised was not featured on Fortean Times.

Confluence Hunting, something extremely geeky but kind of cool and, contrary to the way it sounds, not at all new agey or pseudoscientific.

More geeky stuff: Space Elevators. The Metafilter thread about them is suggesting that a space elevator would be a fantastic target for al-Qaeda. These people have probably read Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, because if I recall correctly, a group of terrorists brings down the space elevator in the second or third book. Of course, by the time any space elevator was built, there would probably be some new nebulous enemy in place of al-Qaeda, and besides, a terrorist organisation that was going to take out a space elevator would really pretty much have to hate the whole world, judging from the amount of destruction in Kim Stanley Robinson's fictional account.

August 21, 2002 Fruitarians Ate My Baby!!!!

Plus, xXx reviewed.

August 12, 2002 I added four new books to my annotated bibliography of non-costume books

August 9, 2002 My opinions on the Canmore Folk Festival and Men In Black II are now up. Just so you know, the producers of the Men In Black movie are not making them up. They are an established conspiracy theory and you can read more about them and other conspiracies at Area X.

August 7, 2002 So recently MetaFilter had a thread about people's favorite steampunk authors. Now, since I have been unable to register with MetaFilter despite my attempt to donate $5, I have decided to just post my link here. If you were reading my site back in the fall, you will know that my current favorite steampunk author is Kage Baker.

July 31, 2002 If you really love clothes, like me, you can check out all of the runway shows at, although the pictures are often too small and/or too dark to see any really interesting details. In case you love clothes but have no money(also like me), you can always make your own clothes, provided you can find a pattern to make something you would actually want to wear. Here are websites for the 4 big pattern companies (actually now just 2, but still maintaining their separate identities)

  • Vogue
  • Simplicity -- this website has the most functionality of the bunch
  • Butterick
  • McCall's, which has the least functionality of the bunch. When you click on the thumbnail images, allegedly to bring up a larger image, the larger image is often smaller, but you can't access any front/back views or pattern information, often more helpful (to me) in determining what a garment actually looks like, and a feature which definitely obtains at all the other pattern websites. You'd think they could get a clue.

So, to satisfy my mysterious and inexplicable preference for bagpipe music over something normal like Enrique Iglesias, I am going to the Canmore Folk Festival this weekend. In grand folk festival tradition, it has already started to rain.

Just so you don't think Canmore is some place the Royal Canadian Air Farce is making up, they're not. They're also not making up Kicking Horse Pass. You have to wonder, though, why the Air Farce never makes fun of funny sounding places in Ontario.

July 30, 2002 My second to last day at this job is almost over, which is good, because I ran out of things to look at on the web about a week and a half ago and I'm not allowed to read a book (or, presumably by extension, embroider or spread out my drawings). There are some scholarly articles at and more pseudoscientific nonsense at The Hall of Maat, Maat being of course the ancient Egyptian goddess/symbol of truth.

In a similarly ironic vein, there is (in Calgary) the Truth Church. This particular Truth Church does not have a website, but here are some others that do. I had some piano students who went to the Truth Church. They told me that they had been to the Tyrrell Museum, but that dinosaurs had never really existed -- those were all just big dog and cat bones. In contrast, I once worked with a girl who was very capital-C Christian (a word I use to refer to people who, when asked what religion they are, reply "I'm Christian" as though being Anglican or Lutheran makes one not Christian) who told me that she did believe in dinosaurs, because there was scientific evidence for them, but that she didn't believe in evolution.

On a related topic (World Heritage sites in Southern Alberta), I used to think that humor columnist Dave Barry was just making stuff up, even when he specifically said "I am not making this up", but then one day I was reading a column of his in which he said that he was not making up Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, and that's when I knew he really wasn't making stuff up, because I've been there.

July 26, 2002 Finally, get an honest answer to "Does this dress make me look fat?"

July 23, 2002 In the "This Is SOOO Weird" category, back in the fall my friends and I at UVic concocted a giant conspiracy theory after watching "From Hell", a movie which attributes the Jack the Ripper murders to Masonic activity. In our theory, the Canadian Masonic HQ are located in a giant catacombs underneath the Legislature building. This, of course, necessitates a giant generator-driven pump to continually pump the water out of the catacombs because the Leg. is right on the waterfront. Just to add a touch more weirdness, based on a couple of articles I had recently read in the Fortean Times about the Taos hum, I decided to invent the "Victoria hum", which would be inaudible to a large percentage of the general population and which the city would inexplicably (to the people whose lives it was destroying) decline to investigate further. This Victoria hum would be caused by the pump keeping the water out of the Masonic catacombs.

I stress once again that we were making this ALL up as a joke. I had never read anything about any kind of Victoria hum or anything. I have never heard a Victoria hum. But here it is, nonetheless. Weird. Note -- on August 9 I moved the Victoria hum story to my own page because it was no longer archived at but I assure you it came from there and I am really not making this up.

July 22, 2002 The Fortean Times is back up and running -- yay!

July 19, 2002 Two new arts and sciences projects I just finished:

Hmm. Maybe I should try and enter Kingdom A&S after all...

July 17, 2002

Playford Dances

More Illuminated fun at Warehouse 23

While it's true that the Fruitarians could be a clever and satirical hoax, there are several sites dedicated to Fruitarianism and only one to Bonsai Kittens. As an additional piece of evidence that there are actually people out there who only eat fruits, nuts, and seeds, I first heard about Fruitarians in late 1995, when the world wide web was still in its infancy. Crackpots, on the other hand, have been around forever.

July 15, 2002 I had zero inspiration for my story today, but I did complete a new A&S project today, hopefully the documentation will be done tomorrow.

More things I am not making up:

July 12, 2002 I just saw the Longhorn Limo, possibly the most conclusive indication that Calgarians are rednecks and have no culture.

A few days ago, MetaFilter posted a link for baby names given in BC last year. I thought it might be instructive to see how my name and my friends' names ranked.

The most popular girls' name was Emily (310) and the most popular boys' name was Matthew (320), showing that most parents still have the sense to name their children something solid and respectable. However, Madison, Mackenzie, and Taylor were also in the top 20 for girls. Jessica and Jenna are also there, but Jennifer has dropped right off the list (only 70 parents named their baby girl Jennifer last year). Below, compared for your edification, are the frequencies of names of people I know compared with names given by parents who have had too much pop culture.
Good, solid, respectable names Too much pop culture
Owen 84 Trinity 38
Shannon 20 Willow 11
Gordon 8 Anya 9
Bruce 6 Maximus 9
Manmeet 5 Phoenix 9 (this was listed as a boy's name)
Jean fewer than 5 Destinee 6

July 11, 2002 You might be turning into a grownup if you think surfing Real Estate listings is fun.

July 10, 2002

There once was a landsknecht named Hans
Who wore the most brilliantly slashed pants
His codpiece was puffed
Some said it was stuffed
But oh! How he wielded his lance!
         --Bjar the Blue

July 9, 2002 Apparently tripod users now have an option to put a message board on their page, so visit mine and if lots of people (ie more than 2) post stuff I might keep it up, otherwise it is probably just a waste of bandwidth.

And some sites to visit today:

  • Okay, no sites to visit today. I had a bunch listed to look at, but none of them were very compelling, so I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon adding to my list of books I want to take out from the University Library.
  • Check back for more random thoughts you didn't think you needed to know about later.

July 8, 2002 Wow, do I love my job as a receptionist. Here is an actual quote from a guy I just talked to on the phone: "I don't have a pen to write that phone number down with. Hang on, I got a bullet here, that'll write." Anyway, you can read about my weekend at the Stampede, or check out this newly published costume book I got from the library, or my annotated bibliography of non-costume books, which I expect to keep adding more to.

Some sites I thought were cool today were

  • The Blackwork Archives, all original designs in-the-style-of by (it looks like) a former Rennfaire lady.
  • La Couturiere Parisienne, a site with costume pix sorted out by era. Unlike many costume sites on the web, this features period sources for the periods it's covering, rather than images from reprints of 19th-century historical costume books. The index page is in German, but don't worry, as soon as you start following the links it switches to English. It looks like she also maintains an Early Music website but unfortunately many of the links are broken.
  • Medieval/Renaissance Brewing Homepage

July 5, 2002 Yes, folks, it's time once again for the annual Calgary festival of Giving Off the Impression to the Rest of the World (Toronto) that Calgarians are a Bunch of Rednecks and Have No Culture -- oops, sorry, I meant the Calgary Stampede. Of course, just because I think that the Stampede gives Calgary a really bad image doesn't mean that I'm not planning to go Stampeding. Just to prove that Calgary has cultural diversity as well as calf-roping, tomorrow I am going to the Ismaili Muslim Stampede Breakfast, at which will apparently be served traditional Muslim foods as well as the requisite doughy pancakes, nasty coffee, crunchy hash browns, and charred sausages. Oh, hang on, maybe there won't be sausages at a Muslim breakfast. I'm also going to Stampede breakfasts on Sunday and Monday, and I think another one on Thursday. Yum, yum. All those doughy pancakes. I just can't wait.

July 4, 2002

  • for all of your sinister-plot-to-take-over-the-world needs
  • Just fill in what's on hand in your kitchen and Betty Crocker will suggest recipes for you. It probably only works if you fill in at least one item in the "Betty Crocker merchandise" column.

July 3, 2002 Links for today:

July 2, 2002 I had a pretty good Canada Day. Today I think I am going to work on my story some more, especially if the long weekend hasn't caused me to forget all of the extremely brilliant and literary ideas I had for it. There is also Medieval Drama Links on line, where if I'm lucky I might find some information on the Elizabethan "maske", which was something I decided on the weekend that I wanted to research after listening to a bunch of Gilbert and Sullivan. Hey, the connection makes sense to me...

Well, I think I've used up all of my creativity for the day, especially since, as usual, what I was writing took on a life of its own and didn't go quite the way I intended. The drama links did contain some interesting material that I might make a project out of when I am back in front of my own computer and not having to answer the phone every 5 minutes. For now, though, here are some more links:

  • Medieval Urban Studies at ORB, the online reference book for medieval studies (one of many, as we have seen)

June 28, 2002 So because I am pathetic and have no life I have spent the last 3 days reading synopses and quotes of all of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes that have ever been made. I feel so much more culturally literate now that I know why Spike likes Weetabix. In real world news, I was remarkably unaffected by any sort of protesters in my daily journey from suburbia to light industrial park and back, but I am glad the G8 is over because now I can go back to hanging out in the park with a bunch of guys in armor without worrying that I might look like a protester myself.

June 25, 2002 Some sites to look at today:

June 24, 2002 Well, I had a pretty good weekend, I got a really big haul at Value Village and then again at Costco, so that should keep me happy for a while. I also watched the first 8 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I can definitely see why people are so enthusiastic about it. Sure, it has a dumb-sounding title, but it is very true-to-life. Vampires excluded (they were all in my head), my high school was exactly like that. Now I can't wait to see some more episodes. Does this make me shallow? Maybe. But I don't really care.

Sadly, it looks like The Fortean Times is no more -- the link hasn't worked in more than a week. Now where am I going to go for my source of news about unusual phenomena on the web? Anyway, today I think I am going to start with The Historical Text Archive and, and then if I have time I might go on to some other historical text sources.

Not so much exciting stuff on Isidore of Seville (all Classical and American history documents with no Early Modern Europe) but here are some other links for this afternoon:

June 21, 2002 Happy Solstice! Not too much happening around here today. The food site is enormous -- I've barely scratched the surface -- but it's pretty cool, so I'm going to stick with it for today. Yesterday I had a new task added to my already challenging job -- I was asked to search for off-colour jokes for my boss to give to a man-eating friend of hers who is turning thirty. Honestly, I don't know how they expect me to keep up with the barrage of tasks I already have to juggle.

There should be a special punishment for people who build websites that look like this. Maybe this person is color-blind?

And some more sites I looked at today:

  • Ardalambion a site about Tolkien's conlangs
  • Omniglot a guide to the world's writing systems
  • Avesta, information about my favorite obscure but legitimate religion, Zoroastrianism (just so you know I'm not making it up)
  • Coron's Sources of Fonts because 250 is just not enough fonts for me, I have to keep looking for new ones to download
  • Reconstructing History doesn't have any resources on anything I really know anything about, so it's hard for me to comment on its value. I think it's pretty good, although some of their conclusions about Celtic costuming ("canary yellow isn't period") don't quite mesh with what I thought I knew about early period costuming. I highly recommend the articles listed under humor, however.
  • The Old Cookery Book looks like it has recipes from most of the usual sources (Apicius etc)
  • Old English Pages more resources for Old English on the web
  • The Indo European Database

June 20, 2002 Today: The Food Timeline, which looks like it has links to outside pages about various foods and their history. The Salt link looked like it it had some weird agenda to bring an antitrust suit against organized religion of all kinds because -- well, maybe you'd just better visit the site. Some people carry anthropological theories TOO FAR.

June 19, 2002 I had a sudden flash of inspiration for a story I've been working on, so I spent most of the morning working on that. I don't know if you would call it an Aldous Huxley fanfic or what. Anyway, I'm now ready to spend a pleasant afternoon reading Gothic Literature. No, I don't mean Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton, I mean Sheridan le Fanu and Ann Radcliffe.

Well, some interesting stories on the Literary Gothic site, although one that started out to be quite promising devolved into a discussion of dog-fancying (a type of Victorian dog-napping) in dense Cockney. Anyway, I have since also visited English Through the Ages, a sort of whirlwind tour of the history of English, with a few useful things like declensions, conjugations, and pronouns for various stages in the development of English. Not very in-depth, but a nice overview.

We also have Essentials of Music, a not-very-in-depth overview of music history. It has some listening samples but the computer I am on right now has no speakers, so I can't vouch for their quality.

June 18, 2002 These sites ought to keep me busy for a while today:

  • The Artchive, similar concept to the Web Gallery of Art but representing a wider range of styles like Escher, Aubrey Beardsley, and Edward Burne-Jones
  • Beauty Worlds has all manner of scholarly-looking articles on the topic of beauty and grooming. We'll see if I have the patience to read any of them all the way through. This is, after all, my summer vacation.
Beautyworlds turned out to be mostly stuff I knew and not very in-depth. After lunch I tried:
  • Bede Net All things Venerable Bede on the net, including a whole bunch of Anglo-Saxon texts, which I would have had more fun with if I knew how to pronounce Anglo-Saxon
  • One Ring: The Complete Guide to Tolkien Online including links to various Tolkien-language pages and a page where you can get your Hobbit name

June 17, 2002 The Web Gallery of Art kept crashing on me on Friday, so I tried some other sites instead:

  • The National Portrait Gallery has about half of their collection online for your viewing pleasure at a size of about 100 pixels by 100 pixels. If you want to see them at any higher resolution you have to purchase a print of it, and if you want to display their pix on your webpage you have to pay for permission.
  • The Hermitage Museum in Russia has a really excellent website. Only 2 to 4 pieces of the collection per room are featured on the web, but there's one of those 360 degree room shots that you can move around in with your mouse for every room in the museum and the architecture is amazing.
Here is some other stuff I found last week:

June 14, 2002 I have been working as a receptionist for about three weeks. The people are nice, and the pay is okay, but it's not very intellectually challenging or demanding on my time, so I get to surf the web a lot. Here are some sites I'm intending to visit today:

  • The Web Gallery of Art: This site has high-resolution images of many paintings, famous, and not-so-famous. I think it's a pretty good costume resource, even if you sort of have to dig through to find what you're looking for, because it's in color, it's high resolution, and it's free. Since I have become so suddenly enthusiastic about making wire jewellery, I have decided that this site is a good place for inspiration.
  • The Seventh Sanctum has lots of cool phrase generators intended for gamer geeks but also of interest to language enthusiasts like me. No, I don't quite consider myself a gamer geek yet.

June 13, 2002 With nothing to do at my current job except surf the web, I have discovered a very large number of websites, ranging from the impressive to the retarded.

Old Favorites:

Alternative Viewpoints: This is really the only way I can classify this, because if I label it as "Actual Explanation Rejected in Favor of More Interesting Theory" then I'm being dismissive of viewpoints that other people might find totally valid, and if I label it as "You ABSOLUTELY MUST read this otherwise you will never know the TRUTH about how we are being LIED TO by the GOVERNMENT" then I'm a raving lunatic. In fact I like to think of myself as an informed skeptic, and besides, a lot of this makes for fascinating "what if" discussions as well as good seeds for an Illuminati campaign I'm thinking of running. Incidentally, many of the links I would have liked to include for this section led to "404 Not Found" or "You are not authorized to view this page". I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that...

  • Otherkin: For those for whom being a transsexual is just not strange enough
  • disinformation: Coherent but paranoid
  • Mind Pollen: Paranioa bordering on fanaticism
  • Insight Magazine: American News magazine with some kind of agenda. I can't be bothered to read enough to discover what their agenda is, but they definitely have one.
  • Common Dreams: "News and Views for the Progressive Community", whatever that means
  • Masonic Info: Website apparently maintained by a Mason, is either a rebuttal of claims by, like, the entire rest of the world that Masons are trying to run the show, or is disinformation disseminated by Masons to throw us off their track
  • Disaster Center: Keep track of everything bad that could happen to you in the United States. Canada does not exist on this website
  • Metafilter: "More addictive than crack"
  • Memepool: "Govertainment"
  • Goth Babe of the Week
  • Goth Boy of the Week
  • Anomalies Unlimited

Humor: With most of these sites, we can only hope the authors meant them to be humorous. Otherwise the world is in much more trouble than we thought...

Satire: This is stuff that pretty much everybody can agree is not the way it really is, although some of it is pretty dead-on. There was, however, that freelance reporter in China who got hold of The Onion's story about the US Capitol threatening to leave Washington, failed to get the satire in it, and proceeded to have his story about this shocking development published nationally...

Science and Social Science: This, of course, is either "the truth" or "what THEY want you to believe", based on your choice of viewpoint. Having taken several courses in historiography and history of science at University, I have come to the perspective that even if there is some kind of objective reality somewhere, it is not observable in an objective manner by any observer, and therefore, there might as well be no objective reality at all, because what really matters is the way we _think_ things are.


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