Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Intute Virtual Training Suites - Free Online Research Education

One of the most confusing and difficult aspects of research is finding exactly what you are looking for. With the explosion of web-based content, thousands (if not millions) of scholarly journals that can be difficult to access, and limited funds, researching can be a frustrating endeavor and one that leaves many people from pursuing their dreams. While researching learning opportunities in archaeology (a field that sadly my university did not have), I stumbled across the Intute Virtual Training Suite: Internet for Archaeology. This tutorial, which takes an average of an hour, is designed to teach the budding archaeology student how to perform research online. Written by lecturers and librarians in the UK, it's designed to take you from start to finish. It also includes a current list of resources for the archaeology student, and encourages you to click on them and create a "link basket" for future use.

For those who are not interested in archaeology, but would benefit from some modern day research training (short of going into an ancient library with a candle), there are approximately 60 other research tutorials to take advantage of.

Best of all? It's a free learning opportunity. To visit the Internet for Archaeology tutorial, click here. To choose another tutorial, click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Curing Headaches the Persian Way

Having a headache for ten days that refused to respond to conventional medicine or alternative methods made me wonder, what did the ancients do to relieve their pain? I'm familiar with ideas from willowbark tea, the staple of any fantasy novel and something that is well versed in fact, to Zeus's last resort of having Hephaestus take an axe to his head, thus bringing forth the fully formed goddess Athena. Since neither of those two ideas seemed plausible for the moment, I decided to do some further research and stumbled upon this article from 2003, written after a German report showed that ancient Persian techniques are starting to prove effective in treating migraines. While some of the techniques used (ie the method of administration) may need to be altered to today's more...cultured audience, some of the plants mentioned can be found in your everyday pantry such as garlic. Others, such as rose oil, can be found in any health food store or wherever Indian groceries are sold. Not only did the Persians study plants and their effects, but they also took catalogued different types of headaches and which remedies were the most effective.

Read the full article written on ABC Science Online back in 2003 here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Black Chalice by Marie Jakober

The Black Chalice plummets the reader back to an age where Crusaders arrive at your doorstep for uttering a false word against the one God and the Holy Roman Empire has its claws into every portion of Europe. It is a tale full of Christian knights and squires, as well as Pagan sorceresses and veelas who haunt the German forests. Jakober doesn't explain fully what a veela is, much less delve into veela mythology. However, the reader is able to draw a conclusion from scenes such as Raven's keening for her veela kin to come to her, while mortal blood runs cold at the very sound.

The main narrator is Paul von Arduin, a squire turned monk who is forced to write the tale of his beloved count Karelian Brandeis, count of Lys and his turn from light into dark, though frequent changes to third person for Karelian and the Lady of Car-Iduna (ie the Sorceress) help to even out the emotions that come from such a powerful novel. Particularly impressive in Jakober's novel is the interplay of religious customs and thought, between Christian and pagan. The common people waffle between their ancient pagan traditions and their new Christian lifestyle, seemingly embracing both. Yet, as always, there are people on each pole, those who seek to stomp out the pagans once and for all and those who wish to be left in peace (and these same fear the destruction of the earth). Jakober's novel also doesn't shy away from topics which would offend the intolerant. Themes of sexual preference and longing, spirituality differences, and betrayal carry the story through to its end. It is through these themes that the characters scrutinize themselves. This only adds to Jakober's ability to make the reader one with their characters. She did such a brilliant job of thrusting the reader into the closed mind of Paul that even I became uncomfortable under his scrutinizing gaze.

But underlying all of the sex and treachery was the main theme: the need to be understood and for some, the desire for tolerance. Nothing made me smile more than seeing characters with different viewpoints come together as one. It is a lesson that this book gives well, and one that should be well thought upon by all of us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lincoln, Nebraska's Pioneers Park - Bison Galore

Before heading out to Lincoln, Nebraska last week for a conference I attended, I heard a plethora of people tell me, "But what's in Nebraska?" It sounded like a challenge to me, so between seminars, I spent time researching and heading to a few of Lincoln's notable parks. I had a myth to unravel, are there any bison still left in Nebraska?

I spoke with a park ranger at Pioneers Park to find out. Most bison left in Nebraska are on ranches, with the specific purpose
to be used for meat (or possible for their milk). Unfortunately wild bison have left, and most reside in more northern states such as South Dakota. However, Pioneers Park is home to a bison sanctuary, and we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures by parking our car and walking only a couple hundred feet. The bison can be viewed in this manner, or by taking a hiking trail that leads around their enclosure; it may be up to a mile before they can be spotted (thus our luck).

The park is also home to elk, muskrats, various types of snakes, wood ducks, white tail deer and herons, making it a nature lovers paradise. Nature trails are carefully maintained and guarded in order to keep the animals safe and the humans from intruding on their natural habitat. Their staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and their interpretive center has impressive displays on local wildlife as well as a shop and other activities. The park is free to visit, though donations are always welcome.

Click here to learn more about Pioneers Park Nature Center and to visit their website.

2009 Reading List

One book, which might be thought of as trashy or drivel to one person, is another person's treasure. My reading interests are varied, and I'm not afraid to delve into other genres or topics, though I tend more to fantasy and non-fiction. I'm always open to hearing suggestions as to what I, or my blog readers, should read next. Below is a running list of what I've read since the inception of my blog.

Starred books are books that I particularly enjoyed and will (eventually) have a book review on my blog. Please show these authors some support by purchasing their books, or visiting their websites. As a side note, if it appears here, I enjoyed it enough to finish it, so even if it wasn't my favorite, you may want to check out the non-starred ones as well.

February 2009
The Tower of Ravens by Kate Forsyth
The Acharnians by Aristophones
The Shining City by Kate Forsyth *
The Heart of Stars by Kate Forsyth *
Lysistrata by Aristophones
Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski *

March 2009
The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antineau
Bacchus: A Biography by Andrew Dalby *
Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes *
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips *
Etruscan Myth by Larissa Bonfante and Judith Swaddling

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye
Athene: Virgin and Mother by
Karl Kerenyi

April 2009
White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison *
Out of Time by Lynn Abbey
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan *
The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt *
Living With the Dead by Kelley Armstrong *
Alphabet of Thorns by Patricia McKillip
Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth

May 2009
Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass *
Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
The Gift: Creativity and the Modern Artist by Lewis Hyde *
Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey

June 2009
Gods' Concubine by Sara Douglass *
Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris *
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong *
Deus Ex Machina by Maria Aragon *
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane
Secret Book of Venus Book 1 by Tanith Lee

July 2009
Secret Book of Venus Book 2 by Tanith Lee
The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes
The Book of 1000 Days by Shannon Hale *
Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius *
The Buried Pyramid by Jane Lindskold *
The Grammar of Fantasy by Gianni Rodari *

August 2009
Darkwitch Rising by Sara Douglass *
Druid's Sword by Sara Douglass *

September 2009
Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong
Warrior Rising by P.C. Cast *
Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon by Stephen R. Wilk *
Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold by Terry Brooks

October 2009
The Black Chalice by Marie Jakober *
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Cape Storm by Rachel Caine *
Mistress of the Art of Death by Arianna Franklin *

November 2009
Linear B & Related Scripts by John Chadwick *
Memory & Dream by Charles DeLint*
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli*

December 2009
Wolf's Blood by Jane Lindskold
Goddesses, Whores, Wives & Slaves by Sarah B. Pomeroy*
Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler*
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Website Recommendation: Best German Web Sites

It's great to know that there are people out there willing to compile a large list of useful websites on a subject. Jim Becker has created one of the most prolific collections of links on the German Language and German culture that anyone could hope for. Whether you're looking to study the German language, research German culture, or you're looking for the website for a German newspaper, start your journey by clicking here.