Welcome to SpaCeMonKeY UK, the blog of Helen Wells (nee Berrington, aka FieryFred) since 2002.





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SpaCeMonKeY UK

Wednesday, April 30

Wow, Jaffa Kree was a hot pick at Scifi.com and I missed it!

I suppose that means I ought to put some new content on there. :)

Just read the Blade Runner comic. More the version of the film with the commentary than the one without, but still. Cool. ;)


(Along with "yikes" it's my favourite Monkey Island word.)

My gum's sore somehow. On the left hand side, right at the back. It really hurts when I move my tongue. Weird. It's been sore for a few days now, but I didn't want to bother you with it before. :)

Hence "ack".

Give stylish confetti to clown. Use goper repellent with horde of gophers. Or something.

Hmm. I'm sure there were things I wanted to say.

Today, when I tried to make gravy, I couldn't find any plain flour. I said to Ali that there didn't seem to be any flour, and she said she'd bought some. Lo and behold, she'd put it on the shelf for tins, not where the flour's supposed to live! And then she has the audacity to say that she doesn't care. Apparently she's a 'rebel'. That'd be the 'putting flour in the wrong place' rebellion as opposed to anything more violent, then. Honestly, if there was a flour emergency the extra seconds my confusion'll cost could mean the different between life and death!

I've been doing quite a lot of GIS lately. Yesterday I had a practical, and today I tried to figure out some of the project I have to do. I think I'm getting there, although I e-mailed myself a .dbf file I created only to discover it won't open in Microsoft Works Spreadsheet. It opened in Excel. I could have saved it as something else, but I didn't think of it. Ah well. I'll have to send it again tomorrow, or something.

I played with Turbocad this morning, too. That was fun. I hadn't used CAD before.

Um... can't think of anything else.

Oh, I can't believe Daisy hasn't seen Blade Runner!

Was there anything else?

I don't think so.

Gophers. Stylish confetti. Files. Idols. Woo-hoo!

Monday, April 28

Me again. Daisy was being so nice about my blog that I feel compelled to say things. *g*

Um... I'm back in Leicester now. Mum brought me back and I helped her fit a carpet in the living room. It's not a great carpet, but it's better than the tatty green thing that was there before. Well, I think it is, I don't know what Ali thinks. And it's her house. Ah well...

I'm at a complete and utter loss about what to say next.

Let me think, what have I done since I last blogged?


Went shopping in the afternoon. Didn't buy an awful lot - I mainly wanted to buy Blur's new single. It's cool. It was only £1.99 - I was torn between whether to buy the CD version or the DVD version (they were both £1.99), and now I think I should have bought both. At least I have the song, newly MP3ed onto my laptop, so I can enjoy it on a regular basis. It's called "Out of Time" and it's kind of... ethnic. Sort of an acoustic ballad. The B-side's good, too. It's all sort of... North African. Damon did the "Mali Music" experiment fairly recently and I think something stuck. Not that that's a bad thing. I like the way Blur evolves from album to album. And this time round there are lineup changes. No more Graham Coxon...

I also bought two T-shirts in the same shop, because they were reduced. One's Muttley, one's Animal. Cool. And I bought a fleecey hooded top thing in my favourite clothes shop, which is a really untrendy place, but it's dead cheap. The top only cost me £3. It was half price, or something. Coooool.

Oh, and I went back to that "2 for £5" CD shop (hooray, it's still there!) and bought two more albums - Melanie C's "Northern Star", which is surprisingly good, and Echo and the Bunnymen's "What are you going to do with your life"? (Like I don't have enough people asking me that as it is!)

And I went to the comic book shop and asked if the next (7th) Fray comic had come out. It hadn't, but it's coming out next week. FINALLY! I've only waited six months!

Went to my Nan and Grandad's for tea. With John. And in the evening John made me watch "Me, Myself and Irene", which his friend Chris had lent him. I didn't find it very funny. I don't like Jim Carrey's stuff. Apart from "The Truman Show".


In the afternoon I went to a barbeque. I went early, with my brother John, and helped them set up. I cleaned the gas BBQ's particularly black and greasy grill. The food was good, though, and so was the company.

In the evening I watched "Blade Runner". I love watching it. Even if I zone out and don't pay much attention to the plot, I find myself becoming immersed in the dark vision, the intricate and beautiful detail of the city where it's always raining, and always night. But every time I watch it I reach the same point in my thought processes. If Deckard is a replicant, how do the other replicants beat him up so easily? I reckon it's because he doesn't know he's a replicant. But maybe he's not a replicant, and the whole unicorn thing is misleading.

Anyone out there have an opinion? ;)


Went to the Elim church in the morning, and Nan's for dinner, and then went home to meet Jason. He'd kindly agreed to have a look at Dad's computer. After fiddling about for some time, he proclaimed that the monitor had ceased to be. It just won't come on any more. But Dad's computer worked fine (although it really is incredibly slow) when we used John's monitor. He said it wasn't my fault that it had died, so... looks like I escaped the firing squad!

And I went to Emmaus in the evening, and played the bass guitar.

Hmm, that's about it.

Ah, well, maybe some of you would like a "John's car update"? Apart from the leaky diesel problem, when it rained a lake formed in the passenger side footwell. Apparently there's a leaky seal in the sunroof, so the roof of the car's filling with water and the water's running through the electrics and out of the alarm system and interior light fitting. And there aren't any instrument lights, so he can't see how fast he's driving at night.

Hopefully they'll fix everything tomorrow...

That's about it, then!

I have to go to uni tomorrow. Yikes!

Friday, April 25

Haven't blogged for a while, eh? I figured that since I was MP3ing a ton of CD's for my brother John (honestly, how nice am I, he should be doing it!) I would take the time to tell you all what I've been up to. Because I haven't spent much time online - it's just not convenient here. At home. Sad but true.

I am having to use John's bizarre Advent keyboard, though. It's annoyingly difficult to use, but for no clearly definable reason. My laptop keyboard's easier to use, when you get used to the 'pressing two buttons at once' business to make some of the keys work. On this keyboard the end button's hidden away on the keypad, so you can't have number lock on and use the keypad. I find that annoying. It's probably just me.

This could be very long if I continue to completely fail to talk about what I've actually been up to. Thankfully I haven't been doing much. ;)

Last time I blogged was, what, Saturday? Hmm...


I went to the Elim church, had lots of comments about my hair (not all flattering - one person wanted to know if I'd been working in a mattress factory (using hair to stuff mattresses, see), then he wanted to know if I'd just come out of prison, and then he said I looked like Jo Brand. (Drat, tried to use the end key then, silly me.) I think I preferred the "drastic" comment.

After church I went to my Nan's for dinner, and watched the San Marino Grand Prix (which I always type San Marion, for some reason). It wasn't that exciting, really. Least exciting race of the season so far. But my Fantasy F1 team didn't do too badly.

And in the evening I went to Emmaus, at the Ashingdon Free Church. And played my bass guitar. There wasn't a large musical group - just me, bro John on the drums, Steve on the grand piano (he's so good) and Matt played the sax a bit. I miss playing the bass... ah well. That was about it for Sunday.

Tried to use the home key then. And delete. Who designed this keyboard?! Aargh...

And the end key. This is a surefire way to drive someone to insanity, making them use this keyboard for a prolonged period of time.


This was a day of car boot sales, because that's what happens on Bank Holidays! I went to... three in the end. At the first one I bought a picture frame, which is unfortunately just too small for the poster I wanted to put in it. That cost £3, and it looks like it's glass rather than perspex, which is good. It weighs a ton, anyway. I also bought a Simon the Sorcerer T-shirt for 30p, just because it's an old computer game and it was interesting to find a T-shirt hanging around. And a really old jigsaw of an F1 race featuring Brabhams, for 25p. That was at the Blenheim Primary School.

After that we went to one at Barleylands. That was mostly traders (new junk). I didn't buy anything there.

Finally, we went to the one by the bizarre roundabout system (Sadlers Farm). I found a guy with a crate of Star Wars books, so I was rummaging through them, amazed at the amount of books he had that you can't buy in this country. Lots of American series that were never published over here, as far as I know, like the Young Jedi Knight ones. And ones like this one. (The reviewer really hated it. It's amusing.) And the X-Wing books were in there, which I hadn't started collecting. I have 8 out of the 9, now. And better copies of some of the other books that I already had. A lot of them were pretty much perfect!

He said they were £1 each, and when I asked how much he'd take for the whole crate he said £20. I agreed rather hurriedly. I now have over 60 books (a few of which aren't Star Wars, but hey) sitting in the living room! One of my faves is a book that looks like a normal paperback, but it's actually the Marvel comics version of the Empire Strikes Back. Wow... John was immensely happy with the photostory paperback of Battlestar Galactica and the International Rescue badge, so all round it was a bit of a bargain. Especially since Mum gave me £20 for Easter. Hooray!

I'm selling about 30 of the books on eBay, so I might even make the £20 back! You never know.

Oh, and I looked at cars with John in the afternoon. Because he wanted to buy a Peugeot 306.

Finally, we crawled along Southend seafront because of the Shakedown - the enormous collection of motorbikes and scooters that gather along the seafront every year. We went that way on purpose, to look at the bikes, obviously. ;)


Went to another car boot sale. Didn't buy anything. Can't really remember what else I did. I think it was the day John found the car he wanted to buy. A white Peugeot 306, a diesel turbo with alloy wheels. Very smart.


Did some ironing. Went with John to buy his new car - I paid for it with my debit card (and my enormous interest free overdraft, don't think for one moment that I have loads of money!). Had lunch. John and Mum went to fix my scary aunt's car, so I stayed at home and pretty much wrote an essay about the presentation of small finds in archaeological reports. It's probably pretty awful, but at least it's almost there.


Went to the market with Mum. Bought the 10th anniversary issue of PC Zone for £1 from the magazine man. It has lots of exciting CD-ROM's on it, and a special DVD with 50 demos from the last ten years. I bet a lot of the games won't work, but hey. Some might.

I spent the afternoon doing something I now regret - namely taking my Dad's PC apart. Predictably, it no longer works properly. I thought it might be okay because the USB card I was trying to install was plug and play. (Ha.) Unfortunately, I couldn't squeeze it into the PCI slot without moving the modem card, because I had to move the parallel port gubbins etc (to free up a slot in the case) and their cables weren't very long. So everything had to move along. (Maybe moving that was the problem, I really don't know.)

Anyway, I put the cards in, closed up the case, plugged everything in, switched it on, and it beeped a bit and didn't do anything. I panicked, opened the back again, and put everything back the way it used to be. And now it won't work properly. It was having display adapter problems, and John reckoned he made that work, but then it wouldn't shut down. Beats me what I've done. I think I'll give up with the insides of computers. Or Dad's, anyway. When Jonty tried to fit its new graphics card it all went completely wrong. And he knows what he's doing...

I bet I made some grievous error by moving the modem card. Maybe it really matters that it was in the slot it was in.

Jason's going to come round and mend it, anyway. And I've set John's PC up so that Dad can check his e-mail (and eBay, he's obsessed!) in a separate profile.

My computer destruction was (thankfully) brought to an end by John. We went to pick up his new car, and then we drove around. He dropped me off at my old WHSmith work colleague Cheryl's house, and we chatted and watched one of her videos: Don't Look Now. It has Donald Sutherland in it (yeah, Ali, he doesn't half look like Keifer Sutherland... hey, wait a minute, Sutherland, could there be a connection? *g*). Barbara came round for a bit as well, and Cheryl gave us a virtual tour of Poland. I hadn't realised how amazing Poland is. For some reason I always figured it was kind of drab.

And that's pretty much it! Today I've been sitting here MP3ing and blogging. And John took his car back because it was leaking diesel. (Uh-oh!)

This is long enough, right?

I'll stop now.


Saturday, April 19

Well, I'm at home! In Southend on Sea. I was going to call it "Sunny Southend" but it's turned really cold! I mean, it was hot, now it's not. I brought summery clothes back with me and now it's grey, rainy and only about 10 degrees. Drat...

So... yesterday was taken up with packing and being driven back by my parents. They both came up to Leicester. Maybe it was an exciting day out. ;)

I finally got to see my brother John's new car stereo equipment. You may remember the car stereo thieves (they come in the night1) took his last CD player, amp and sub. Well, he had it all replaced (by the nice insurance company) on Tuesday. All in all, I think the stuff's better than the stuff he had before. Which is cool. Plus they fitted it. (Not that I'm saying John did a bad job!) And he paid for a funky car alarm, too. His new CD player plays MP3 CD's, so there's a lot of MP3 converting that needs doing. It's all great, though. I can't wait to be driven around with music blaring and my insides being vibrated to mush.

That wasn't sarcasm.

Today Mum, Dad and I went to the largest Saturday market in Britain, at North Weald. The only thing I knew about North Weald is that there's an airfield, and I don't know much more about it now. The market was on the airfield, you see. I didn't buy anything, though. And it was really cold. The wind made it even worse. Brrr.

I spent the afternoon making MP3's for John. While he played the last level of Stuntman. He only seems to have progressed one (maybe two) scenes into the game since Christmas, when I was last around to watch him play. Strange but true. He's on the "chase the stealth jet" level of "Live Twice For Tomorrow". Very clearly James Bond, but cool, even if it's a bit repetitive...!

Hmm, not much to say really. Dad told me an entertaining anecdote. He went to a thing a little while ago (a children's work thing), which Ishmael was leading. Apparently, once when he was leading kid's work a little boy jumped up onto the stage and said that he was going to sing with Ishmael. Ishmael said that he most certainly wasn't going to sing with him, and got rid of him. That little boy was none other than Daniel Bedingfield! Well, I thought it was funny, anyway. I'm not that great at retelling anecdotes.

But it's on Ishmael's site, here. If you care. ;)

I'll be off then. Lots to do and no broadband to do it with. Sad...

1 Both car thieves and hair thieves come in the night, then. Apparently.

Thursday, April 17

No more placement. It's kind of sad. I didn't do much today - finished off my documents. Which mean he was dictating a lot of stuff to me. I always make typing mistakes when I'm under pressure. I mean, come on, it's not like I ever learnt to touchtype! It's just that I had a mispent youth. :p

Yesterday's report from Aylestone was at Gilmore Avenue. I think. Gilmore something. I could look it up, but I can't be bothered.

So... back to coursework, I suppose.

Ah well.

Wednesday, April 16

Wow, this is the only site that caters for your Stargate Jonas "breathe underwater" needs!

Part of me's sad this placement's nearly over. Only one more day to go. I couldn't have asked for a nicer boss...

Today I worked on my mapping guidelines documents again. I think I've pretty much finished it. He'll have to take them the rest of the way. They seem to work, though. It's important that all the different 'monuments', 'activities' and 'consultations' are mapped consistently, you see.

I also put a few more reports on the system. There was a Desk-based Assessment for the old Leicester City stadium in Filbert Street. It's been demolished now. The archaeologists concluded that there wasn't likely to be any surviving archaeology (because of the depth of foundations), but the South Stand was a fine piece of 1930's architecture that ought to be recorded. I wonder if it was?

One was an Evaluation of a site on the other side of the road from the Jewry Wall. I can see it from my window. It's the Guru Nanak somethingorother temple. They were building a car park. Didn't find any archaeology, though. It might have been deeper than they went. Who knows. The other Evaluation was a site in Aylestone, where they were building some houses. Didn't find anything there, either. Can't remember what road it was. Ah well.

We went on a site visit, too. To the site of the Merlin Works. It was a dye factory of some sort. The archaeologists were complaining about the asbestos and barrels of chemicals that were lying around. They're having to wear white suits because of the health risks. Maybe the suits reflected the heat a bit. It was hot today. Too hot for me...

The reason for digging at the Works is that the site used to be right next to the river, on the alignment of the town's western wall. If there was actually a wall there. With the river it wasn't really necessary to build a wall. I suppose that's one of the questions they're hoping to answer. So far they've found a paleo channel (old river channel), a bit of a wall, and in another trench they've got some ditches. The other features are a bit vague. I'm sure they'll be explained eventually. ;)

I'd met one of the archaeologists before. He asked me whether I was at school. I said I was doing the MA, and he apologised for totally misreading my age. He said he recognised me, when I mentioned that I sometimes hang out with Matt when he's smoking. But it was too late.

People on forums say I'm old, people IRL think I'm younger than I am! Weird.

I think that's everything.

I did take a whole bunch of pictures today, though. They're all in my Yahoo Photolibrary. In the "Leicester Walking Home" album. There are some of the Jewry Wall, and a view of the office I've been working in taken through the arches of the Wall. There's St Nicholas church, the Saxon predecessor of which probably incorporated the Jewry Wall (which is why it's still there). A few views of the Baths in general. Views west, north and east from on top of the footbridge. A photo of the Norman Undercroft I keep going on about.

From the Castle area there's St Mary de Castro (a nice bit of Norman architecture), Castle House (lovely timber framing), the Great Hall (which is a medieval timber framed building underneath the facade) and the Castle Gateway. Then there's Leicester Prison (yes, it looks more like a castle than the castle does) and a few views of the aqueduct. One of which has the new football stadium in the background.

That's it. I don't think I've missed anything out.


Tuesday, April 15

I like the way eBay are displaying the feedback ratings. What a good idea! I looked at Dad's, and poppopman has 115 feedback reviews, 100% positive. I relisted something that didn't sell last time around so that I could see mine on the page like that, and fieryfred has 114 feedback reviews, 100% positive. My Dad is beating me! And some of my feedback came from when he was using my ID. He's amazingly quick. He posts things on the same day! He's always at the Post Office.

Ali only has 34 feedback comments, looking at her lovely signed Stargate DVD. (Blatant plug. Even has Christopher Judge's autograph on it!) But her feedback's 100% positive, too.

Almost makes me want to hunt down some people who've received bad feedback. Mwahahaha.

I really ought to stop blogging now.

Anyone know of any sci-fi novels about archaeologists? Maybe I should write one.

It turns out that I've been walking down a Roman road and past a Roman aqueduct every day, on the way to and from work. These are the things you learn from poking around in the SMR data too much. :)

Although they don't know for sure that the road went all the way down Aylestone Road. They've found the start of it, coming out of the city, but not much more. But the aquaduct is a funny shape, almost as if it's respecting some earlier feature. Like a road. And it's all pretty straight. And if it kept going it'd end up at a small Roman town to the south. Aaargh, I forget what it was called. Tripontium, I think. Yes, Tripontium.

It's interesting, really. I mean, when I lived in Evington I was walking along a Roman road then, too. The Via Devana. I only used to walk along the Evington footway part, but it goes all the way along New Walk. Which is what I walk down from the uni to get to the city centre.

Anyway, today was a little more bearable than yesterday. I managed to work out a few things, and I figured out how to make the GIS do a couple of bits that might be useful. The SMR uses MapInfo, although I think it's only v4.5, not the v7.0 that they're selling from their website. I've never used that GIS software. I've barely even used ArcView - there are plenty more practicals after the holidays! So... I was trying to figure out how to add metadata (data about data) into the SMR's mapping module. If you care. :p

Three Word documents later, here I am.

My boss was being really complimentary about me to the Education person who works in the same office. It was embarrassing..!

But nice. :D

Monday, April 14

Haven't blogged for a few days. I must have been all blogged out.

I see James has decided to join in with Ali's rosary bead / paternoster discussion. Okay, I can see why a paternoster is more like rosary beads than, say, a lampshade, or a fish, but still, I don't think people would normally think, "Yeah, paternosters, they don't 'alf remind me of rosary beads!"

What have I done since last I blogged. On Saturday I met Geoff (and Ali introduced him to people as "Mr Random", heh). I don't think things went too badly, although I feel I was slightly uninteresting. Ah well. I don't make a habit of meeting up with people I've met online. Too much pressure. ;)

When we'd dumped Geoff at the train station, Ali, Mark and I (along with a whole bunch of other people) went to see Johnny English. It did make me laugh a couple of times, but I found it nowhere near as amusing as Mark did. It was fun watching Mark enjoy himself, though. :D

Incidentally, who decided that you should eat popcorn in cinemas? Am I the only person who tries to choke whenever they eat it? The little prickly bits get stuck in the back of my throat and... disaster!

On Sunday I went to church in the morning, as per usual. After lunch Ali set off on her mountain climbing expedition, from which she should be returning any time now. Mark came round for a while, then I played Broken Sword for a while. Did a bit of work. Ironed. Things like that.

And today I did SMR work. It wasn't as interesting as last week's. I'm working on mapping standards at the moment. Bleugh.

That's about it.

Can't get Broken Sword 2 to work.


Friday, April 11

I even made her that picture! And she's mean about me! Maybe the picture's not that great, but... still!

All Ali does lately on her blog is be mean about me. Honestly, maybe I just shouldn't talk to her. Or indeed interact with her in any way. Although she's dragging up things from my past too. But only thing that relate to things I've done recently. Ah well. I don't think paternosters are particularly like rosary beads. I prefer the "they're so scary to use that you have to pray the whole time" reason. :)

What did I do today...? Um... let's see. I did a load of stuff about the Roman Baths again. I ended up writing descriptions for the pre-conquest, early Roman, and medieval phases of the site. I've learnt lots of facts. I expect I'll forget them all, but hey. I don't really know anything about the time the Baths were actually baths, though. Because that description was already written. Ah well. Lots of researching. Nice.


Thursday, April 10

Brief blog today. Can't really be bothered. :)

Today I finished off the last bit of that Tesco report. Then I sorted out the paper trail for the Garage in Evington. You have to sort through all the planning application letters and plans and faxes from the archaeologists. Things like that. And then I read up on the Roman Baths, which was kind of fun, since you can see them from the window. Because in the afternoon I had to put three reports onto the system that were sort of about the Baths. They were about a lift shaft that they wanted to put into Vaughan College, which is upstairs in the same building as the museum. Where I am. They didn't find much, just the robbed out northern wall of the Baths and a bunch of Roman and medieval pits (the tops had been cut off due to landscaping when the College was built).

And then I went home. He'd left me to be "self managing" again for the afternoon. I forgot to close the blinds when I went home. It's annoying me so much that I forgot...

Ah well.

Wednesday, April 9

Looks like it's the beginning of the end for the war. A triumphant march into Baghdad? Maybe, but still... the looting and sporadic fighting aren't a great sign. *sigh*

One weird thing happened yesterday, while I was having lunch, that I forgot to mention. I was sitting on a bench outside the museum, gazing out at the ruins of the Roman Baths, when two people in white lab coats wheeled out a metal trolley. On this trolley was a large cardboard box. Then they brought out a ladder, and positioned it so that they could photograph into the box, from above. What was in this box? An Egyptian mummy, from Thebes. And then they brought out the mummy's head, which unfortunately seemed to have become detached, and took pictures of that. It looked like a deflated, perished leather football. Strange. :)

And today, although there were no mummies, was pretty good fun. My boss, the planning archaeologist, was there when I arrived. And he apologised for not turning up yesterday, so I don't think he minded that I went home early. What did I do today... well, I wrote up an Evaluation for that Garage in Evington. Then I learnt how to file all the reports I'd finished.

At 12 o'clock he had to meet a couple of people (one was on the Arts Council or something) out on site. It was the place that I visited a couple of weeks ago, at St Nicholas Circle. Next to the Noodle Bar. I don't know if I mentioned it or not. Anyway, they've taken the roof off of the Norman undercroft now, so you can see the surviving stonework inside. It's a shame that it's not in better condition, really - the Victorians took a photo of it and it had all its windows intact. The wall levels are much lower now. Although considering it was underneath a building, I suppose it's pretty good survival.

He said I could accompany him, so he gave me a flash jacket and hard hat and we walked over there. The Arts Council woman was amusing. She had some completely bizarre ideas about how artists could interpret the undercroft. My boss summed her up in this way: "If you said to her 2 + 2 = 4, she'd say, 'Yeah, it's somewhere between 3 and 5!!!!!', and you'd say, 'No, it's 4'." That amused me, anyway. :)

It was a fun tour. After that, I went back and had lunch. And in the afternoon... hmm, I wrote up that Tesco report. It's just about finished now. I seem to be a source of amusement because of the detail I go into. Although he did say that if he had the time they'd all be that detailed. So... good points and bad points, I suppose. ;)

We had some interesting discussions, too, about archaeology and related things. The time does seem to pass quickly, which must mean I'm enjoying it. I'm definitely learning things!

Goodnight then.

Tuesday, April 8

Why does Word make all the apostrophes and speechmarks weird? I mean, look at yesterday's entry! Honestly.

BTW, the site I was working on yesterday was at Rectory Gardens in Evington. Honestly, I couldn't remember what its exact name was, even though I'd typed and written it however many times. D'oh!

Today was a bit strange. I arrived at 10am, fought my way though a pack of schoolchildren (there's a constant stream of schoolchildren arriving in lines of pairs, very scary) and made it to the office in one piece. Once there I discovered that my boss wasn't there. He'd gone on a site visit. He'd left me a note, though.

I changed the bits that he'd commented on (not too many, nothing serious, I must be okay!) and started on the next report he'd left me. This one was the old South Leicestershire Garage in Evington. On the High Street. See, I remember this one. I'll be an expert on the history of Evington at this rate. Anyway... it was another Desk-based Assessment. It didn't look like there'd be much surviving archaeology, what with the amount of construction that had taken place on the site over the years. There were some interesting pictures taken in the loft, though. They surveyed the Garage showroom because it looked like it might be old, you see. You could see the timbers in the roof space, along with a huge amount of junk. There were piles of things all over the place! TV's, all sorts of things. It was amusing (to me) to find photos of someone's junk in an archaeology report. So... I wrote the "source" and "activity" entries for it and wondered what to do next.

Using my initiative, I started making notes on another report that was lying around. I didn't put it on the computer in case he wanted to tell me something about it, but I pretty much worked it all out. That one was for an extension to the Tesco in Humberstone. When they built the store they built over a load of Iron Age houses. There wasn't much in the part the Watching Brief was for, though. A bit of an enclosure ditch... that was pretty much it.

It was the afternoon, and my boss hadn't come back yet. Perhaps he's avoiding me. I looked over things and read entries on the computer until 2pm (I'm supposed to finish at 4pm), then I figured I could do more constructive things with my time. So I wrote a note and left. Now, either he'll want to know why I didn't do something that it was completely obvious that I could do, or he'll wonder why I stuck it out so long. Or a third option that I haven't thought of.

I expect I'll find out tomorrow...

Monday, April 7

Ali’s using the broadband connection! Curses. So here I am, blogging into Word. There’s something not quite right about that.

I thought I ought to write about my placement today, before I forget. I figured that I could blog about it in great detail and then I’d be able to use the weblog to remember what I did! Because I think I have to do a presentation and a report on it. Or something. And I’ll forget if I leave it.

The placement went better than I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder whether he’ll turn up tomorrow, look at the work I’ve done so far and wonder why on earth he let me loose on his computer. Ah well.

It only took about 45 minutes to walk to the Jewry Wall Museum. I suppose that’s just over 2 miles, something like that. I arrived twenty minutes early, not that I could amaze anyone with my eagerness. They didn’t open the doors until 10am. :)

I’m working with the city’s “Sites and Monuments Record”, commonly known as the SMR. There’s only one person overseeing the city’s archaeology, so he’s quite busy. The idea is that I can do some of the stuff he doesn’t have time to do. It’s supposed to give me an insight into Professional Archaeology. And if today was anything to go by, I’m definitely going to learn things!

First of all, he explained how the SMR works. It’s basically an Access database linked up to something called MapInfo, so you can map the entries’ locations. But it’s not a simple Access database. It’s a nightmarish web of “events”, “sources” and “monuments”, which all have to be linked together. And there are certain ways every field has to be filled in, otherwise it won’t work properly. (Hence the dread that I’ve made some awful mistakes!)

After the explanation it was time to do some accessioning. I had three reports to accession in one day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But it’s slightly more complicated than you might think. The reports were all about one site in Evington. Someone wanted to build five new houses on a plot of land, which may or may not have archaeology lurking beneath the surface.

The site was a really clear illustration of how commercial archaeology works in the UK. You see, if it looks like a site will contain archaeology, a developer has to have a Desk-based Assessment written. If the DBA’s research makes it look likely that there’s archaeology present, then it might progress to an Archaeological Evaluation. And after that, they might decide to put a Watching Brief in place. These are the three sorts of jobs that are commonly undertaken by commercial archaeology units.

So, because of where the site was, a Desk-based Assessment had to be commissioned. I’ve talked about those before, remember? I did one for a project. Well, I had to read the DBA and work out what the important points were. I had to work out a summary, and fill out records for the “event” of research and the “source” that is the publication.

When the DBA was completed it looked like there might be medieval remains on the site. It was pretty much in the centre of Evington’s historic medieval core, plus there was a moated manor house nearby, and an ancient church. So it was decided that an Archaeological Evaluation had to be carried out.

The Archaeological Evaluation is the next step on from the DBA. Three trial trenches were dug on the site, covering 3.9% (I think) of the area. One of the trenches didn’t uncover anything. One had a pretty boring linear feature in it. The last one contained three parallel gullies that contained late Saxon/early Medieval pottery. It looked like they were probably property boundary ditches. They also had some residual Roman pottery in them (residual means it was ended up in the fill of the ditch at a later point, not during Roman times), so there was probably some Roman activity nearby.

Since the Evaluation turned up a few new “Monuments” that could be recorded (the western linear feature and the eastern gullies), they had to be added to the database and linked to the “Event” and “Source” entries.

Having done an Evaluation that didn’t turn much up, but did turn something up, it was decided that an archaeologist should be around when house one’s foundation trenches were dug. This is a called a Watching Brief. The archaeologist stands around and peers into holes, trying to see if there’s anything interesting in them.

The Watching Brief for this site was fairly pointless. They found another gully (or possibly a pit) near the other gullies, but it wasn’t easy to see what it was. Not only that but it was made even harder to record in the SMR because it wasn’t well recorded. The Brief had a lovely plan showing the section’s location relative to the house, but sadly the section didn’t seem to be marked on it.

And that was the end of the site. There are five lovely new houses in Evington, and I’m left wondering what those mysterious ditches really were...

Well, I’m not that bothered. But the reports were an interesting read.

Archaeology’s like a huge puzzle. :D

Hmm, just received a bit of a strange e-mail from an archaeology mailing list. It begins thus:

"I am looking for some pictures of women rolling cabbages with wooden spoons and guys doing football stuff."

Is that a bit strange, or is it me? :)

Sunday, April 6

I'd better do a quick entry about today's stuff, because tomorrow will be the first day of my placement. I expect I'll end up blogging about that, so I'll just write a short bit about the Grand Prix. (Famous last words.)

I apologise to everyone who reads this regularly that I didn't namecheck yesterday. I had no idea people would feel so hurt and disappointed. :p

Ezmee, Daisy, Shadow and (quite probably) James, I appreciate your readership, support and friendship over the years! (I feel like an Oscars acceptance speech.) I hope you never tire of my uninteresting, badly written weblog entries! (That sounds more like a curse than anything else.) Thankyou! My enduring thanks to each and every one of you!

Anyone else want to be namechecked? Anyone else have a weblog (or other thing) I can link to? Because Mr Geoff Random set one up purely for that reason. :p

Okay, so, the Grand Prix. The Brazilian Grand Prix. And yeah, it was overcast and a bit chilly here but wow, I'm glad I wasn't in Brazil. It was very wet. Which was a bit of a problem, considering that none of the teams had proper wet tyres. (Cue much slipping, sliding and frequent excursions into various tyre walls and armco barriers.)

The most interesting corner on the circuit was undoubtedly turn three. I think about eight cars went off in roughly the same place; due to someone's clever planning meaning water was draining onto the circuit. The cars hit the water, aquaplaned and ended up in the tyre wall. It wasn't a matter of the inexperienced falling victim to something that could have been mastered - even the mighty Michael Schumacher ended up sliding off of the track. Yes, this year's world championship attempt isn't looking so good at the moment...

The race was a patchwork affair of intermediate tyres that were either wearing out on the dry parts of the track or failing to grip on the wet parts, the safety car leading them around after yet another incident, and bizarre happenings that made the end result a bit of a lottery. Rubens Barrichello failed to win, even though it looked pretty certain, when his car mysteriously broke down. The poor man has never even managed to finish his home Grand Prix, let alone do well in it!

And the end of the race... well, it ended on lap 56 of 71 due to two huge accidents on the start/finish straight. Poor Aussie Mark Webber (after doing so well in the not so great Jaguar) somehow lost it and removed half his car via the armco barriers. Then the star of the last Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso, arrived. He crashed into one of Webber's unattached wheels and totally smashed up his own car. He didn't manage to walk away from it like Webber, though.

The race ended there, with carbon fibre strewn across the track. Confusion reigned. Who'd won? Was it the person who'd crossed the line in the lead on the last lap? Or the lap before? Was it the extremely excited Jordan driver Giancarlo Fisichella, or the incredibly boring (or laidback, can't quite figure him out) McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen?

In the end they decided it was Kimi's race. Amongst the confusion over the results there were a lot of strange goings on. Fisichella's parked car appeared to be on fire. Jarno Trulli seemed to be singlehandedly pushing his Renault along the track. Fernando Alonso was sitting propped up against the armco barrier, clearly in pain. Eventually he was bundled off into the back of an ambulance. He was classified as finishing third, but the third place step on the podium was occupied by nothing more sentient than a bottle of champagne...

The annoying thing is that David would have won if he hadn't pitted when he did. Two laps earlier and he'd have been on the top step, not Kimi. Ah well, there's still time. I can't believe I've been saying that since 1995. Eventually he has to win a championship, right? :p

I can but hope.

My grandad calls David my "young man", too, so I suppose his previous comment about Mark may well have been entirely innocent.

Heh. ;)

Saturday, April 5

Have these blog entries been boring lately? I mean, is anyone actually reading them apart from Mark, Ali and Mr Random? (And they're too nice to admit that they're boring, so...)

I am pleased to announce that I've finished Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. *sigh*

Today I went for a walk to the fields where the Battle of Bosworth took place. It was a pleasant enough walk, although we were with a dog (called Nutmeg, maybe that's why it's evil) that barked at every single living thing it could see. It's only a small dog and it picked on a Rottweiler at one point. Piercing barks of evil.

Hmm... also I've made £48 on eBay. Not bad for a load of stuff that was just lying around.

And... there was something else... ah, I've learned some Latin today as well. Ubi sunt nautae? Nautae in taberna sunt. In tabernis puellae non sunt. (Where are the sailors? The sailors are in the tavern. The girls are not in the taverns. Strange but true.)

It might get useful eventually. :)

Oh, I've added a few bits to the menu at the top, too. Check out my photos and my roleplaying page, if you dare.


Friday, April 4

6,500 hits? Crazy!

So, some people don't think I'll be this "focussed" for long. Perhaps I won't, but I was thinking about things. Throughout my life I've somehow been directed along a certain path. I don't know why God would want an archaeologist, but I suppose it takes all sorts.

You see, I suppose I chose all my subjects at school because I enjoyed them and I was good at them, not because I had a specific career in mind. Somehow the subjects led onto an archaeology degree. Well, two of the GSCE's I took (Latin and History) and two of the A-levels I took (History and Classical Civilisation) were archaeology related.

School was hard work, but I came out with good results. You want to know what they were? I could tell you. I'm a little ashamed of my Maths A-level result, which is why I always say, "I got an A in Statistics!", but the Maths I learned does come in useful. So it was probably worth it. (I changed from English Literature to do Maths. Maybe that was a bit daft. *g*) I have 10 GCSE's, 8 A's and 2 B's and 4 A-levels (2 A's a B and a D). Now you know.

Where was I? Ah, the direction thing. Why did I choose archaeology? I suppose I looked for a degree that sounded fun. Something historical, but not history. Something hands on. The sort of job that defines history. Archaeology! After looking at costs of living, distance from home, course structures and general niceness, I decided I wanted to go to Leicester. And lo and behold, there was no problem getting in. They actually wanted the lowest grades out of all of my choices!

And so I headed off. I was amongst the last lot of people to get my tuition fees paid as well as getting a grant to cover some of my living costs. If that hadn't been the case, there's no way I could have afforded to go to university. My parents don't have money to spare, and I don't want to get into a load of debt before I've even started my working life. So that's another strange point for the direction thing. I was actually being paid to study.

I worked pretty hard, did a ceramics module that I found strangely interesting, and came out of it with a upper 2nd degree. Only a few people get firsts, and an upper 2nd's the next best thing, so I was happy with that. I did so well in the ceramics module that the lecturer pulled me aside to tell me how enthusiastic I'd appeared to be in the write-up. I'll probably never forget that. It was surreal, but in a good way.

Ah, and during my time there I met Ali at the Christian Union. We ended up renting a house for the two years we weren't in halls. I can honestly say that she's my bestest friend. And I also met Mark, although he was actually an online acquaintance. He just happened to live in Leicester. I don't think we really met up until the end of the course. I could be wrong about that, mind you. Brain like a sieve and all that. :p

After graduation I stumbled upon slightly harder times. My lecturers had said that jobs in archaeology weren't really available unless you had a masters degree. I applied to a few places, but I didn't get a job. I ended up on the dole, with the job centre people trying to make me do jobs that really weren't career options. In the end I applied for a few Christmas jobs, was rejected a fair few times, and in desperation applied for a couple of nights a week filling shelves in WHSmith.

At the interview the personnel manager asked if I'd like more hours, if they were available. Suddenly my job turned from a couple of nights a week into 5 days a week looking after the toy department. I took it, of course! After Christmas they kept me on, I was given more hours, and I became a fully fledged member of the book department. That year and a half or so were good in so many ways. The work wasn't disagreeable (who doesn't like books?!) and I made some great friends. I'm so glad that I didn't get the other jobs I applied for. Although things had looked bleak, I ended up with a steady income, made friends and saved up a fair bit of money.

My friends at work always said that I shouldn't stay there forever. They said that I needed to move on and take the next step, go and do a masters degree. And before you say anything, they weren't trying to get rid of me! Leaving there was one of the saddest moments of my life. We went out for a meal, we were very emotional - I was even given a helium balloon with a sad puppy on it. I keep in touch, and I feel I need to do well because they believed in me. That sounds odd, but it's true.

This is turning into a sort of epic blog again, isn't it? And it's not even that interesting. Ah well. I don't think many of my online friends know all the ins and outs of my life up to this point. :)

Applying to do the masters was strangely easy. I had to attend an interview, but when I arrived it turned out that it wasn't really an interview at all. It was a "how have things been!?" sort of meeting. Informal, cheery and there was no problem with me doing the course. I landed a place on a masters degree at the third best archaeology department in the country.

And so, here I am. Maybe I read too much into things, but I've always been heading in a direction, even when it seemed that I was drifting aimlessly. The most directionless decision in my life was probably to take the job at WHSmith, but I met one person there (who became a very good friend) who loved talking about archaeology, and a whole bunch of great people who actually believe that I'll be a famous archaeologist some day. Whenever I wonder what on earth I'm doing, I just have to think about them. I can't let them down.

Somehow, I've ended up doing something I love. The next few months are going to be horrible at times, but I have to try my hardest to come out of this with an excellent degree. To have ended up here so easily... I can't throw it away. It would be so wrong to squander the opportunity I've been given. Plus I have a Roman pottery related dissertation to look forward to over the summer. How fun is that doing to be? *g*

Maybe I'll stop being focussed, but if I do stop, remind me of this blog entry.

Or make me watch The Last Crusade again. ;)

Thursday, April 3

You know what? I love archaeology. Do you ever have that thing where you don't want to start working at something, but when you've started work you realise that you really love it? I mean, I know I love it, deep down, but somehow it's not always immediately apparent to my brain. But when I started researching... Ah, I dunno. I felt the pleasure that I remembered feeling when I did archaeology. The pleasure that gets pushed aside with all the deadlines and panic of university life. This time round, I'm going to do archaeology. I'm not going to make do with another career. This is my life, and this is the direction it's going to head in.

I sound assertive, don't I?

I expect it'll pass. :)

Wednesday, April 2

Back again. Like you haven't had enough of me. :)

Today I actually got some work done. I've inked up all my pottery illustrations. Since I've lost my thicker ink pen I'm working with the only two I have left. It's probably not ideal, but they came as a set and were quite expensive. They're the sort you fill with ink, you see. I could probably buy a replacement, but it means finding somewhere that sells them and forking out the money... or I could fudge it. As I have been doing. I'll reduce them to the size they're supposed to be and see what they look like.

Hmm... what else have I done? Some more of the neverending washing. Is there anything nicer than clean bed linen? The smell alone is one of the best things in the world. Ahem. Also, I watched Temple of Doom and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I didn't watch them until I'd done those drawings. I should be doing more than a few drawings, but at least this way I got something done. Aargh...

Anyway... it was the first time in ages I've watched commercially produced videos. There must be children being born who'll only ever see DVD's. Well, I suppose people still record things from the TV onto video tapes, but soon they won't. It's another milestone in the development of the human race, like vinyl and CD's. What was I saying? Videos. It's annoying that you have to sit through the trailers. And both of the tapes had little fuzzy bits at points. The white crackly lines. But they went away as soon as they arrived. DVD rocks.

At least the videos were widescreen. Much better than pan and scan. :)

I definitely like Raiders more than Temple of Doom. Raiders seems a much more accomplished film. I mean, it has a longer, more detailed sort of plot. A plot that kind of makes more sense. Not just a lot of "hocus pocus". Temple of Doom almost descends into a collection of action cliches, gross moments and supernatural gubbins. Heap on some more bugs! Let's see more monkey brains! And so on. Mind you, Temple of Doom did make me laugh several times. And the cheek of calling the establishment at the beginning "Club Obi Wan"... very amusing. :)

I watched them in chronological order as opposed to the order in which they were made, which throws up a few inconsistencies. Indy seems much more developed in Raiders than in Temple of Doom, which is interesting. Because Raiders was actually the first film made, but Temple of Doom was the first film in Indy's timeline. The biggest inconsistency is that Indy doesn't seem to believe in "hocus pocus" in Raiders, even though he's seen the inner workings of a scary Indian cult and almost fallen victim to the evil Kali. And seen what's so special about the sacred stone.

Yes, Raiders was very cool. What things did I like in particular? Well, I like the part where Marion asks Indy where it doesn't hurt, and kisses everywhere he mentions. It looks like something might happen between them and... he falls asleep. I love that. There are lots of good bits. Woo-hoo!

On a personal note, I found it interesting how strong all the main characters seem to be. Indy and Sallah lifted the stone covering the Ark - how did they do that?! Ali and I were lifting paving slabs on Saturday. They were pretty big ones, admittedly, but they weighed a ton. We might have managed to lift one between us, although we didn't take the risk of damaging ourselves when there were men around who wanted to prove their worth. (Silly macho people, they always injure themselves..!) And then Indy pushed a stone block out of the way so that Marion and himself could escape the Well of Souls. The place with the snakes. You know.

Ah well.

I watched the interview bits, too. At the ends of the tapes. They were done in 1999 and were pretty interesting - Mr Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford. The most interesting thing I learned is that Tom Selleck was signed up to play Indy, but he couldn't do it because he was contracted to do Magnum P.I.. So Harrison Ford took over. It reminds me of Timothy Dalton, because he only got to play Bond because Pierce Brosnan was signed up to do Remington Steele.

But that doesn't really matter.

George Lucas always scares me.

Dunno why. ;)

Tuesday, April 1

Ali said Blogger wasn't working, but it seems okay. I should probably tell you about some of the exciting things I've been up to over the last few days. Hmm... where to start. My life is so exciting. :p

Maybe I should start with today and work backwards. This could be an epic blog entry, you know. When I said my life was exciting, I wasn't kidding! Okay, maybe I was, but do I care? No, I don't. Maybe a bit. Hmm.

April the 1st

Yes, April Fools Day. And have I seen any decent April Fools jokes? One. And the person who started it seems to have ended up in trouble. Honestly, some people can't take a joke! I thought it was obvious it was a Fool, but people have taken it seriously. It got their hopes up, I suppose. I'll reproduce it here, for your reading pleasure. (It was posted on the Jonas Quinn list, just in case you were wondering.)

Snagged this off the SciFi bboard:

March 31, 2003

SCI FI Channel, already a leader in original dramatic
series in cable, announced today actor Michael Shanks
has left the "Stargate SG-1" series to accept a lead
role in the new TV series, "Sumuru," that will air on
the SciFi Channel in September 2004.

Actor Corin Nemec graciously accepted a request to
return to the series full time as Jonas Quinn.

Please feel free to forward with credit to Solutions.


(who reminds everyone to check the calendar)

I thought it was funny, anyway. :)

Hmm, didn't do much else today. I should have done lots of work. I have lots to do. I think I'll reach a point of blind panic, as opposed to the work avoidance techniques that I'm currently employing. For instance, I've played a fair bit of Jedi Knight 2. I worked out when I have lectures (because Dad's been pestering me so that we can work out when I'm going home). The Dad pestering isn't entirely bad, since a large part of the scheduling debate is working out how I can go to see the CART and Touring Cars at Brands Hatch. We're going to be on the start finish straight! We'll be able to see into the pits! Very cool. I just need to resarch CART. It doesn't seem to be on the TV in this country any more, which makes watching it difficult...

CART is the American equivalent of Formula 1. Along with the Indy Racing League. They split a few years back. Anyway, CART tends to be where old F1 drivers go to die. (Or break their legs hideously, anyway...) Mark Blundell and Johnny Herbert both gave it a go. Who's there at the moment? Well, Roberto Moreno, one time Forti driver, Alex Yoong, a young guy who briefly drove for Minardi, and... that's it. There are only 19 drivers?

I wanted to cheer Dario, what's happened to Dario Franchitti? *searches internet frantically* Ah, he's gone over to IRL. Hmm... So... the driver I'm most interested in is now Darren Manning. I've seen him race single seaters at Brands before. I think I'll cheer him.

Now I've got that sorted out, maybe I should talk about yesterday.

Monday, 31st March

The day I had an interview for my archaeology placement. And before you ask, no, I'm not digging things up. Digging things up was an option, but I thought this would be better for my career prospects. (What prospects? I have no idea what prospects. What a cheerful thought.) I can always dig for free in the unit when my course is up, but two weeks in the city's SMR is potentially interesting.

I was at an advantage from the start, since the person who I'll be working for forgot he was meeting me and turned up about half an hour late. He could hardly be nasty to me when he'd turned up late! Although he seems like a nice guy, so I don't think he'd have been nasty. Plus I'll be working for free, doing the stuff he doesn't have time to do. So... things worked out well all round. I'll be putting paper records on the computer and maybe having a bit of GIS related fun. Who knows?

The placement kicks off at 10am next Monday. Tune in for exciting placement related blog entries. :)

Oh, and since Ali's worked out how to make the cable widescreen (all this time things were in widescreen - they hid the setting away in the menus - can you believe it?!) I've made many exciting discoveries. Possibly the most exciting is that Neighbours is broadcast in widescreen! Wow! :p

The other cool thing that happened today was that my Indiana Jones box set turned up. Very fast service from HMV. I am very happy. Woo-hoo! Now I just have to make the time to watch them. You see, it dawned on me that I've never really watched the first two films properly. There are many films that everyone's seen, like Die Hard, Terminator 2 and Lethal Weapon, that I've never watched. I didn't spend my childhood watching the TV... the geek thing started later. I used to go outside and socialise! Shock horror. However, Last Crusade is one of my fave films. I taped it when it was on the TV and I've watched it, let's say several times. :)

I looked on eBay, but the videos weren't that cheap. And also they weren't widescreen. So I looked around online and HMV had £18 off of the box set and I get a student discount! Deep joy.

Okay, I can't really afford it. I shouldn't have bought it. But I did. :p

I want to watch all the films at once. That'll be cooool!!! And hey, it's sort of work towards my MA. Right? Definitely. It's archaeology. "X never, ever marks the spot!" See, I learnt something.


Sunday, 30 March

Mark came round today. That was cool. Can't really think what else I did. Ah, I went and watched Ali act like a complete pyromaniac. There was a bonfire and she just couldn't leave it alone!!!

And I phoned my Mum, because it was Mothers Day. I'm so good. Not that I sent a card. My brother John tried to give her the present she'd bought for her Mum, but she didn't fall for it.

He did buy flowers, though. Bonus points for him, eh?

I have said I'll do ironing for her, if she saves it up for when I visit. Although at the rate things are going, it'll be months and there'll be rooms full of it. Yikes! Although if she did that she'd have to keep buying new clothes. So I expect she'll do some of the ironing. ;)

Bah, this is deteriorating into even worse rubbish than it usually is! I'll just shut up, shall I?

Yes, I shall.

Seeya later. :)

Is this working?

He has a bowler hat, go figure.


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