Hippoi Athanatoi

General

Degrees & Stuff

After years of being indecisive, I finally decided to apply for the two degrees I am qualified for under the new, Bologna-adapted system at the university. So, now I have a Bachelor and what they call a one-year Master in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History.

I could have had the equivalent of the one-year Master in the old system some ... 3 years ago, I think, but the old system allows you to include more classes than the required number so I was holding off to finish up some more Latin and Greek. I may possibly still be allowed to apply for one of those as well, so I probably will if I do finish those classes before they stop taking applications under the old system (2015, I believe).

For now, though, the goal is to finish up the last requirement for the new two-year Master, which is a 30 credit paper. I already have another 30 credits of other classes within the subject done, but I have not been able to come up with a good subject for the paper. Ideally, it combines horses and Homer, or perhaps horses and something Bronze Age again. But I really, really suck at coming up with subjects that don’t turn out a) too general and b) too vast.

Then and Now

I was passing a bit of time in front of the TV tonight, and ended up watching parts of Henrik Schyffert’s “The 90’s - Ett försvarstal”. It wouldn’t, I imagine, mean much or make much sense to anyone who isn’t Swedish, though what it made me realize was that while I miss the 80’s, I missed the 90’s.

For the first five years of the 90’s, I was so busy clinging onto the 80’s with all my might that I didn’t pay what was going on at the time much attention. Then, in 1995, I moved to the Internet…which has resulted in me still feeling as if the 80’s ended rather recently.

Of course, being Swedish, I am an expert at nostalgia anyway, especially during the summer and in total disregard of the fact that its apparently very unfashionable today (or so it was claimed during the show). But I wouldn’t know much about that, because despite a very connected lifestyle in terms of the Internet, I can’t say I am very connected to here and now otherwise.

Though, we are going to a concert in June, but given that it is the Pet Shop Boys I am not sure it disproves anything about the whole “stuck in the past” thing. ;)

Scholarly Horses

Way back when I started my first big paper in Classical History, I got in touch with a fellow named David Anthony who was doing some really interesting work on early horseback riding. I ended up using some of his papers for my work to support the idea that the Mycenaeans not only drove chariots but also rode horses. I have since then followed his work on and off, lately more off then on. A couple of weeks ago, Elio reminded me to check what he’s been up to next (I think we were discussing my lack of ideas for a final Classical History paper ;P), and to my surprise and delight I found that he published a book last year titled The Horse, The Wheel and Language. How Bronze Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.

I immediately ordered it from Amazon.co.uk, and since it arrived a few days ago it has provided me with some very exciting reading material. I really like comparative linguistics, I find it completely fascinating, and of course I am thrilled to be reading anything focused on the importance of the horse in the development of human civilizations. Now, I was already in agreement with Anthony on his major point regarding the often argued point of where the Indo-European Homeland lies, but even so I think the book presents his case very well and in a way that is readable even for those who aren’t experts within the various areas. The linguistic sections are less fact-intensive than the archaeological, but even those are pretty readable (though you may want to skim some of the more detailed lists of finds at various sites), and overall I have found it very well-written. Lots of fascinating points are made about the development of cultures.

And now I really want to do my next paper on something that ties together Bronze Age Greece, the horse and Indo-European myths and religion. My first paper was sort of in that direction, but ended up being broad rather than particularly in-depth. Not sure if there’s enough material to work with, however, and its definitely not an area of expertise by any of the professors here in Gothenburg.

More Skating Stuff

Whew, the Men’s final turned out to be a very exciting affair. A lot of nerves meant less than perfect skates by most of the top 6 guys, but some of the ones further down with nothing to lose really did fabulously. Just like in the Europeans, the second-ranked of the two Swedes, Adrian Schultheiss, did better in the Long program than our number one, Kristoffer Berntsson, and placed one spot ahead of him in the final ranking. It looked like they would end up 14th and 15th, which would have meant just one skater next year in the Worlds, but then one of the favourites, Tomas Verner, fell through entirely and ended up below them. And 13th and 14th is enough for two skaters next year.

Two real surprises were Sergei Voronov and Kevin van der Perren. Voronov had done really badly in the Short, but he’s got a lot of talent and showed it all in his Free program. He placed 4th today, which in total moved him up from 15th to 7th. Pretty darn amazing, and Russia gets two skaters next year. Big yay. And Kevin van der Perren, well, he jumped amazingly. And so did Brian Joubert, who really went out there fully determined to make up for his mistakes yesterday. Amazing program, and he finished with a roar (and with a kiss for the ice, heh). I so hoped he’d take the gold again, but the last man out, leader Jeffrey Buttle, held it together. He didn’t seem to have any nerves at all, and his win was in the end with a comfortable margin.

I suppose its really nice to see Canada get a gold again, though as I said in the last post, I really wanted it to go to Europe. Buttle is also a bit of a ... bland skater. Good technique, but not a stellar jumper or a stellar performer. For soft and artistic, he can’t touch Stephane Lambiel (or really, the much improved Johnny Weir, who came in third), and for powerful and explosive, he can’t touch Joubert (who really worked on selling his program today). But still, well deserved on the day. Now I expect I will spend the evening searching for figure skating videos on Youtube. ;P

Art on Ice

I have been been a pretty big figure skating fan since 87 or 88, with the first strong memory I have of watching being the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, where I was terribly disappointed to see Brian Orser lose to Brian Boitano. Since then, I have caught most of the big contest that we get on TV here; Europeans, Worlds and Olympics. The Men’s event has always been a favourite (nothing at all to do with the eye candy ... ;P), with brilliant Russian skaters such as Yagudin and Plushenko being my all-time favourites, but to begin with Pairs was my second favourite. Somewhere along the line, however, it changed to Ice Dancing, thanks to some Russian couples and the French Duchesnay siblings. Its another French couple that are my overall favourites, however, namely Anissina/Peizerat.

And what does this have to do with anything? Well, yesterday, Elio and I spent most of the day in Scandinavium, watching the Men’s Short program in the figure skating World Championships. Yes, Elio is now a fan too. He may not scream along with the girls, but just as he goes to the horse show with me every year, he watches most of the figure skating on TV with me too. Though he’s pickier about only watching the best and the ones that have caught his attention. Right now, we’re watching the Men’s Free program on TV (and the first Swedish contestant just did brilliantly again, yay!) and I am wishing I was back in Scandinavium, because I had such a fabulous time yesterday. When we arrived and I sat down to watch the first skater, it was such a thrill to finally see it live. It was almost a little surreal, and gave me a new perspective of the sport.

And yes, of course it is a sport. Probably one of the hardest out there. It may be judged in the end, but the combination if athletic and artistic ability needed is staggering.

Playing with Words

No matter how often I try to get started blogging ‘properly’ (that is, with some regularity) I can’t seem to get the decision to stick except for when it comes to chronicling my riding lessons. This may be due to everything else I do being terribly boring and really not worth writing about. It may also be the result of me being a nit picky perfectionist with certain hang-ups about either doing something ‘properly’ or not doing it at all. So when I do have stuff to post about, it feels silly to do so if its on an irregular basis. This usually leads to an end result of no posts at all. However, I am trying very hard as of a few days ago to keep myself in a writing mode as often as possible, so I might just as well use this as one of the exercises. Without, that is, trying to set any goals about doing it regularly.

Henna

A number of years ago, I noticed that I had inherited an unwelcome family trait; early greying. I’ve always hated the idea of using haircolour, so at first I was determined not to do anything about it. That didn’t last long, however. ;P But there was no way I was going to use synthetic haircolour after reading up on them. So, I looked into henna. Red is nice, after all. ;)

However, finding accurate information about henna, not to mention good quality henna, was not easy. Eventually, however, I came across the fabulous Henna for Hair site, run by Catherine Cartwright Jones, a henna expert with long experience and academic credentials. She sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did.

Now Catherine has put together a stunning Henna bible as a free pdf download. The Henna for Hair ““How To” guide includes tons of information about what henna is and what sort of results you can get with it. It also explains how you can use additional natural dyes, such as indigo, to get brown or black instead of just red. Though Elio says he’s not sure why anyone would want that. ;)

Overdueish Things

Occasionally, I get sudden urges to clear out tasks that are way way overdue. Like uploading and commenting pictures that I prepared for upload in 2004. ;P In theory, the gallery module in ExpressionEngine should make it easy to have a photo gallery. Unfortunately, I am anal retentive. This means I have to do the uploading more or less manually in any case since I have to change the date of each picture to the exif date in order to make sure they’re all sorted properly. I am still hoping they might make a plugin that reads exif data and enters it wherever you want. Of course, I still have to comment each picture manually.

In any case, more pictures of various kinds have been uploaded. I finished up the Levade 2004 gallery (still have some 60 photos left to add to the Levade 2005 gallery, though), the WorldCon 2006 gallery, the Las Vegas 2006 gallery and added two new galleries for photos of our boxer puppy (well, the family’s boxer puppy): Ringo 2006 and Ringo 2007.

God Jul

Well, we just passed midnight here in Sweden, so its officially the 24th of December. God Jul!

No sign of snow, so I’ve put my well-used ‘Absolute Christmas’ CD on repeat. It just isn’t Christmas without ‘Mer Jul’ or ‘Fairytale of New York’. Or without the masses of work I’ve done in the kitchen today, for that matter. I am now appropriately exhausted. ;)

A Clash of Books

I came across an interesting entry while doing one of my regular blog searches for A Song of Ice and Fire-related posts, featuring a peculiar head-to-head between A Clash of Kings and The End of the Affair. Clash triumphed in the end, but I do agree with the first comment on the post; God as the primary villain of The End of the Affair was a particular highlight.

Of course, if the comparison had been between ACoK and the movie version of The End of the Affair, I am afraid the latter (which I saw a bit of at 4 am the other day) would have won hands down. After all, A Clash of Kings doesn’t feature Ralph Fiennes (*swoon*, *drool*).

Hippokrene

It took me rather longer than I had planned, but now a first, basic site for Hippokrene, the business I registered this spring, has finally gone live. Of course, between working with Elio on The World of Ice and Fire and potential assignments from Softitler, I am not sure how much time I will have left for other projects for the next year or so. Given this, I won’t exactly go out hunting clients. I definitely want to start off nice and slow. Any more stress and I’ll never be rid of my current bout of depression.

This also means that, for the first time in a darn long while, I’ll have virtually nothing to study this semester and possibly the next one too, as I opted against another semester of Literature knowing I’d be too busy to have the energy to force myself (I really have no interest in these periods) to read lots of 19th century and early 20th century literature. I do have a pair of English exams I hope to finish up during the autumn, but the only real option for the spring is Archaeology, and that one is pretty time-consuming.

WorldCon: Day 5

This one was intended to be finished days ago, but since we didn’t go home straight after the con (we’re in Las Vegas at the moment), we still aren’t fully caught up on everything.

Somehow, despite getting just four hours of sleep, we actually woke up pretty easily at 8 am for our last day at the WorldCon. We had to get up early to check out, and to try to catch some final panels.

Worldcon: Day 4

On Saturday, we were determined to do as many panels as possible, but never go to a WorldCon expecting to actually do the things you were intending to do. It foils the best-laid plans.

Worldcon: Day 3

The third day of Worldcon was jam-packed with events, from a reading by George to the Brotherhood without Banners Human Chess Match and private party in the evening.

WorldCon: Day 2

And now our report for Day 2: