Archive for August 2008

Parkour is more than a pastime

August 19, 2008

Well I have submitted all three chapters of my dissertation to my supervisor and I am left with a gap in my life. I am currently filling that gap with exercise and Parkour. I have changed my exercise regime to cater to my weaknesses in Parkour so I am just dedicated to Parkour. After watching some interviews with Parkour practitioners or “traceurs”, I realize that I view my environment very differently. One “traceur” stated that you develop the eyes of child; the urban landscape suddenly becomes your playground and you’ll see new fun activities everywhere. Kids haven’t learned social norms and often just play when and where ever and you have to follow their lead, even when people give you funny looks or take pictures of you without asking.

Here are a few clips, which illustrate its true awesomeness. Note that these videos features pros, I am not that good, I do not claim to be a “traceur” (yet).

Here is a good documentary/intro into Parkour, from the Vancouver Film School (VFS), hurray for Parkour in Canada!

Parkour is not a male dominated sport, here are some of the ladies of Parkour Generation taking to the streets of London. One of the best constructed videos with just the right amount of humor.

Parkour seems in is element in chase scenes, there is some great games of tag on youtube.

Good collab- the shirtless guy is David Belle a co-founder of Parkour, part of the Yamakasi school, he is also featured in the movie District 13

Ok, here is one of the best chase scenes, ever, from District 13, this is hardcore Parkour, most Parkour is not that high risk

There is a lot more on youtube
“Parkour generation” has a lot of good videos which show the hours of practice that go into video/photo shoot jumps (such as “behind the jump”). You develop a sense of familiarity with your training grounds and it feels very weird to suddenly see it on youtube. “Rottenrow” is my turf, and there are a few videos which feature the spot.

Bibliography referencing software- please bear my children

August 8, 2008

I love technology when it creates useful tools for me and bibliography referencing software is truly one of those gems. You only have to type in the important referencing information once (like author, journal, pages etc) and with one click of the mouse the software will reformat ALL of your citations to almost every reference style. As mentioned earlier, I am writing a dissertation and it has already saved me about a hundred hours. I am using EndNote X1 (through a university license) but there may be better options out there.

I am simply trying to bestow this newfound awesomeness to others as I remember a Classics professor made his class type up a bibliography, oh, and then an Archaeology professor did the same thing. They were to be completed in different citation styles and they were due around the same time. Clearly, I was in both classes and my apparent disrespectful misplacement of periods and commas, as I was unable to separate the two styles in my mind, cost me marks.

I know technology can solve many of humanities issues, however, I don’t think THIS problem is entirely necessary. Here is an anthropological solution for this problem. Why don’t we only have one reference style? Seriously, why are those damn many ways of presenting, essential, the same information? Say, why don’t we take the spokespersons from the most widely used reference style and have them battle it out. It can be an academic battle or one to the death, I know which one I’d rather watch. The winner of this battle royal would be the sole style used. Anyone caught using a rogue style would be forced to watch the “academic” version of the battle in the style of Clock Work Orange. I call it the “Universal citation style”. I imagine it written with the text used on Metallic album covers and drenched in the blood of its enemies. I don’t like to ring my own bell but seriously, I’ll make an awesome politician one day.

Sorry, I’ve been busy (Scone excavation!)

August 8, 2008

I have been plugging away on my dissertation and it has been absorbing my life. It is due September 1st so you can see that I need to buckle down. I am working on the applications of geophysics on battlefield sites. I am talking about locating war-graves, and a through time (aka chronological) perspective of battlefield characteristics and what can be detected with different geophysical techniques. Normally, I’d say ‘please don’t rip me off’ but given the time frame I will instead say ‘good luck ye intellectual pirates!’

Well at the end of last month, I helped to excavate Scone (not pronounced like the baked good, more like Schooner without the ‘er’), which was the seat of power in Scotland and the site of a medieval abbey. I also did a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey there a few months back.

I was there for three days and I did the following. I helped uncover the abbey floor, I excavated a 500 year old mother and child burial (well the “mother’s” gender has not be confirmed), I found more scattered (AKA “disarticulated”) human bones then I would have liked and I helped to backfill the trenches. Going back to the disarticulated bones, sadly, looters and 19th landscapers simply dug through burials, and managed to both scatter and shatter the bones.

I have pictures of the eight or so burials that we encountered, however, I will not post them out of respect for the dead. Speaking of the dead, it is very interesting to see how the tourists reacted to the visible presence of human remains. Children, well mostly children, would race up to you and ask ‘where are the skeletons?’ I got so blasé about pointing out the best viewpoint to see burials that after informing a group of people I was shocked when one lady indigently replied “Oh, how macabre!”

The questions people ask you when you are working on a burial never cease to amaze me. They range from “are they going to be reburied afterwards” to “are those real”. I’ll just assume they were talking about the burials. Here is what I wanted to say – no people, I spent hours creating mock burials so I could spend even more time “back-breakingly” and publicly excavating my own forgery. Ain’t I a stinker!

Jokes aside, spiritually and religion is always on the forefront of many questions. Many would ask if we could determine the religious beliefs of the dead; others would ask about crystals and spiritual alignments. Hey, it takes different stroke for different folks.

While the dig was on the peacocks were malting so many of us archaeologist were carrying on with feathers in our caps. Well, at least I was; just call me Yankee-doodle-dandy. On second thought, please don’t. Oh and here is a picture of one of the peacocks from the last time I was a Scone.

The Albino peacock complex

The Albino peacock complex

Right, back to Roman sieges, and their components that are visible to different geophysics techniques. Hell, if I get good enough grades on this puppy I will post it.