November 9th, 2011

Shiny Astrolabe

Vikings at sea + Jam

It is a source of great satisfaction when a major news venue runs an article on a medieval topic the same week I have proposed a session related to it. This week's coincidence was particularly good: my proposed session is (in part) on Viking navigation - and The Economist ran a news article subheaded "Viking navigation", about the feasibility of Icelandic spar as a navigational tool usable for tracking the sun even under heavy cloud cover.

In an unrelated moment of context, I went to a history of jam event earlier this week. I had far better jam there - raspberry with lime, blueberry with black pepper - than I did at my afternoon tea venture. I also learned, satisfyingly, that Girl Scout/Guide badges were real, valuable, meaningful qualifications before the 1960s. Not just collect-them-all accruals as they have, in part, become. It was also one of two occasions this week that the role of the Women's Institute in jam-making in the UK came up in conversation.

If you ever require an approximate rhyme for "almanac", may I recommend to you the obsolete word "quidaniac"? It's a fruit syrup or jelly, often made from quinces, where "often" is "probably not since the seventeenth century, at least, by that name". Known use from the OED:
1655 T. T. de Mayerne Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus (1658) cxlviii. 100 To make Quindiniackes of an Apricocke Colour.