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Welp, that’s two-thirds of my swag crammed into Badger House. The only casualty so far, a small bottle of patchouili oil that leaked out over a bunch of stuff in transit. My hands smell like the illicit lovechild of the Glastonbury Festival and Woodstock.

How bad is it? I poured Uncle B a drink and he turned it down because the glass stank of hippie.

Ow. I’m off. Bath. Booze. Laterz.


Comment from Gromulin
Time: January 16, 2009, 8:29 pm

Patchouli? Isn’t that classified as a WMD by now?

Just the sight of the word brings a mental image of a hairy-legged chick with a peasant dress and birkenstocks.

The offical odor of Berkeley (with a healthy chaser of BO).

And to think I was attracted to hippie chicks in the early 80’s. Glad I dodged that bullet.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 16, 2009, 8:39 pm

I was raised by wild hippies. It’s what made me a conservative. But I still love the smell of patchouli.

RIP Andrew Wyeth. He was very good. He was overrated, but he was still very good.

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: January 16, 2009, 9:31 pm

Patchouli, nothing a little Cat-Butt Air Freshener can’t fix, I’m sure.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 16, 2009, 11:38 pm

I too love the smell of patchouli, and I’m neither hairy nor a hippie.

But – I hate to bring this up – it’s always Weasel taking a bath..

Isn’t it Saturday over there yet? Should Uncle B be getting his too? 😛

Comment from TimB52
Time: January 17, 2009, 1:13 am

Ah, we finally see the Weasel’s lair. Great photo, love all the angles and stuff.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 17, 2009, 8:49 am

Heh, Sarah. Uncle B is a zillion times cleaner than I am. He uses the shower instead of the bath (which is getting on for hobbit-sized) and he handwashes like a surgeon before (and after) any major handling of foodstuffs.

In fact, I fully expect him to show up to breakfast with long, untrimmed nails and tissue boxes on his feet some day.

Tim, the door to that room is as high as my collarbone. It’s the lowest — and the newest! — door in the house. The Historical Building Nazis made the previous owner do that.

I’m going to leave a LOT of DNA on that lintel.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 17, 2009, 1:07 pm

Why is the door so low?

I want bathtub pics, I’m not sure why..but I do!

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: January 17, 2009, 2:51 pm

As I understand it back in ye olden tymes people used to be a lot shorter Sarah. Chronic malnutrition and grinding hard work from childhood to death makes for small-statured people. During my brief visit to Merry Ol’ years ago I was constantly bemused by all the ducking everyone had to do in the older villages.

Comment from harbqll
Time: January 17, 2009, 3:19 pm

Patchouli. Trust hippies to come up with a perfume with the exact smell of moist dirt.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 17, 2009, 5:11 pm

“Duck or grouse” is a sign you see in a lot of pubs, to warn people to duck under the low beams. Many of them hang hops along the beam to reach down and tickle you.

They were tiny people, our immediate ancestors. Human height has varied quite a lot from time to time and place to place. We’re not just getting bigger and bigger and bigger; they think it’s related to the availability of meat. Among other things.

Anyhow, yes. They made her put in an INCREDIBLY low door as they said it was historically more accurate. But as it is lower than any of the ACTUAL historical doors, I think they just did it to be assholes. And dash a weasel’s tiny brains out.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 17, 2009, 5:42 pm

As a member of the landed gentry you clearly need a lesson in humility, hence the crawl through doors. You will appreciate the plight of the homeless as they crawl into their refrigerator boxes.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 17, 2009, 5:44 pm

Or they might have just decided to be “assholes”, as you say.

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: January 17, 2009, 7:47 pm

Patchouli and henna, two odors of my youthful indiscretions in North Africa.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 18, 2009, 1:01 am

Now wait a minute. I’ve seen some medieval armor, and those guys were not hobbits.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 18, 2009, 4:48 am

Have you stood next to it? Some of those suits are really very tiny.

But, depending on the year or the era, the ones you’ve seen may not have been from a short era.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 18, 2009, 12:57 pm

Yeah, I was thinking about that – I can’t recall what the years were on all of them. I do recall some of the broadswords being massive. They were either hobbits built like tree stumps, or taller than average.

Any time I think armor and swords I immediately wonder just how bad the smell must have been.

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: January 18, 2009, 1:03 pm

Armor was worn by the nobility and by those employed by the nobility as men at arms. As such, they had more access to a protein enriched diet. Most of the peasants subsisted on grains and carbs. Therefore, . . .

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 18, 2009, 1:27 pm

Has anyone ever tried to pick up one of those broadswords? I’m guessing they are heavy.

Though reading up on it, it says that they weighed between 3 and 5 pounds. Maybe I’m thinking of a different sword?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 18, 2009, 3:00 pm

The only arms museum I’ve ever been in was the one in Chicago (I think). Some of those two-handed swords in there were so over the top, they looked totally ridiculous. By sheer length alone, I don’t know how anyone could swing them.

The arms museum in Worcester, MA is supposedly really good, and I could kick myself for not going when I lived half an hour away. That, and the art museum. I’ve only been to Worcester once and it was with a hippie friend.

Comment from harbqll
Time: January 18, 2009, 3:44 pm

Sarah – 5 pounds is *heavy* for a sword. Trying swinging 5 pounds of blade around for a minute or two; it gets old very quickly.

Now imagine doing it under a blazing sun, wearing 100 pounds or so of armor. This is why I quit fighting in the SCA. Got old enough that my adrenaline no longer outweighed my common sense.

Comment from Jill
Time: January 18, 2009, 4:52 pm

Homey, yo.


My cousin is a hostage negotiator for the Atlanta (GA) Sheriff’s Department. He participates in those medieval reenactments, with the real armor ‘n stuff. He’s a big boy, and he’s told me the weights of the things they wear, like chain maille, and carry. It’s unreal.

Perhaps the reason that doors were shorter back then is because the majority of the population were shorter than the armor-clad warriors.

Kinda like why I couldn’t play in the NBA, but Shaquille O’Neal could.

Does that make some sort of sense?

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 18, 2009, 5:49 pm

Yes, over the top, exactly. Were they real? But harbqll has a good point, 5 pounds IS heavy. Those guys must have been either really sucky with those swords, or built like tanks.

I’d like to see statistics on friendly fire/hacking off ones own horses head.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: January 18, 2009, 9:20 pm

dunno about back then, but more recent warriors have shot their own horses out from underneath themselves. Custer wacked two.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 18, 2009, 9:48 pm

The normal broadsword was used in one hand with the other holding a shield. The two handed sword was a specialist weapon for use on foot. It required two hands to use so it was important to have regular troops to protect the one wielding it or someone could get inside the swing and kill the him. Weapons like this were to reach mounted men or reach past the length of normal swords and were not for everyone, just as grenade launchers or anti-tank rockets were not issued to all troops. The only movie that comes to mind where these were used was “El Cid”. It’s a good film.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 18, 2009, 9:54 pm

A young man who was to become a knight started his service as a page at five years old. He would become a squire at twelve. By the time he was knighted he had many years of brutal training with these weapons and armor. Imagine if you started a child of five, swinging a baseball bat with one arm and for the next fifteen years the bulk of his schooling was in swinging and fighting with that bat. They were VERY good at killing.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 18, 2009, 10:31 pm

I didn’t know that jwpaine, I’ll bet there were many accidents back then too. I can imagine them bonking a mace off the side of a fellow warriors head.

I guess if you didn’t spend all day at school learning about how crappy your country was, or working in the fields to survive, you had plenty of time to practice war.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 18, 2009, 11:36 pm

Only the wealthiest families could outfit a knight. I have seen figures for a sword of 20 to 40 thousand dollars in today’s value. A good horse, armor, and weapons cost a fortune. These men had no trade or skill but killing. They practiced no sport but fighting and this included a good risk of crippling or death, plus loss of their equipment if beaten. Their only profession was fighting and their life was focused on it.

Men at arms were not so versatile or well prepared. They would wield one weapon like a pike or crossbow and had much less equipment and training.

Mounted knights were effective out of proportion to their numbers. They mostly ruled the battlefield until the development of efficient firearms. The only real exception would be the Swiss pikemen, but they were too expensive and perhaps there were not enough to be employed in numbers that would be significant.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: January 19, 2009, 12:40 am

I always enjoy areas where everyone else has to duck. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!

Comment from Nicholas the Slide
Time: January 19, 2009, 12:29 pm

Wow. All the nerdy stuff I had to say about knowing far too much about medieval weaponry, armor, combat and traditions thereof has already been said. Dangit.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: January 19, 2009, 1:26 pm

Stoatie – That seems to be the way of things when Lemmings and Vogons take power in the world…….

Comment from Mrs. Hill
Time: January 19, 2009, 1:40 pm

Speaking of things medieval: if true, this


would be delicious!

Comment from Matt P
Time: January 19, 2009, 6:53 pm

The Chicago Museum of Art has a nice collection, not huge but nice. Some of the larger swords you see there were ceremonial rather than functional, especially the Claymores. If they needed distance weapons, I expect that a good pike or halberd would be more handy.


Comment from Lemur King
Time: January 19, 2009, 7:16 pm

Mrs Hill… at first I thought “wow, they have prairie dog problems like here in the US” … that is, referring to the rodentia carrying disease.

But then I thought what was probably obvious to every other living thing on the planet besides me… what if it was something they were cooking up? The article didn’t come right out and say. But that still begs the question… do al Qaeda members harbor the hordes of fleas required to propagate the plague?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 19, 2009, 7:33 pm

The Japanese weaponized the stuff in WWII. They came up with flea bombs that detonated in the air and spread them far and wide. At least, I read that once. The Black Death is my favorite plague.

It wasn’t a very effective weapon, but I gather plague is endemic in parts of China still.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:27 pm


There were certainly ceremonial weapons but the two handed sword had a place on the battlefield. The pike and halberd were effective in mass formations but at close quarters, when the line was broken, the man with a pike was very vulnerable. The long sword would let an armored man on foot strike at infantry or mounted men from outside the range of the common close quarter weapons such as the ax, sword, morning star, or mace. It had the power to hack through the limbs or bodies of men or the legs or neck of horses while being more flexible than a pike or halberd. The user did need armor though as he could not use a shield.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:37 pm

Plague is one of those things that is just lurking and simmering out there all the time, waiting for it’s opportunity. It’s there in the wildlife in the SouthWest and I don’t know where else. It’s easy to stop if you know what to do, but it’s had it’s effect on history, good and bad.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:37 pm

What’s the difference between a morning star and a mace? (no I don’t feel like googling)

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:39 pm

Plague isn’t fatal here though, as it responds to medication. I guess modern medicine isn’t something Allah thinks his faithful need.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:43 pm

I don’t think that the fleas that normally live on humans tend to carry the plague. It is more readily spread from rats to people than from person to person. There seems to be a temperature component to the vector. The germs can’t pass from the fleas digestive tract if it’s too warm. The spread of the black death through Europe corresponded to periods of cooler climate, I believe.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:46 pm

I think a morning star has a spiked ball on a wooden handle, while a mace has a spiked ball that is attached by a chain to the handle. The mace is better suited to a mounted knight as it has a longer reach. The morning star is more of a close combat weapon like the ax.

Comment from Lemur King
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:49 pm

Plagues, fleas, and maces… oh my!

Seriously, Machinist – is the temperature aspect of it true fact? I’d never heard of that.

Whatever, it’s nice to see that some other fleas stepped up to the plate to finish the job. OR the idiots did themselves in with weaponized stuff. Hope it doesn’t kill innocent folks, but then al Qaeda is good at killing innocent people.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 19, 2009, 8:57 pm

There’s also some question whether the flea-borne disease and the person-to-person kind are really the same disease. And, if so, how it mutates from one to the other.

The latter is incredibly quick and deadly.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 9:00 pm

Lemur King, I’m not an expert but I believe it is true. This is why you don’t see plague in the tropics or sweeping through the ancient world when the climate was warmer. Cooler weather also makes people huddle together and avoid washing themselves and their clothes. This is why you used to see your big typhus epidemics in the cities in winter. When the allies liberated Italy they were expecting hundreds of thousands of deaths in the coming winter. It was DDT that stopped a typhus epidemic in mid winter for the first time in human history. DDT should be listed as one of the wonders of the modern world, cheap, safe, and effective. I suspect it has saved far more lives than penicillin, though I could not support that.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 9:02 pm

Pneumonic plague needs no stinking fleas. Frightening.

Comment from Lemur King
Time: January 19, 2009, 11:40 pm

DDT did save more lives and that is why it was a crime to stop it. Steven Milloy (Junk Science) has a really great write-up on DDT and all the ways it was pushed through. While I have yet to really run down it’s veracity, it had so many similar sounding screeches that the global warming inquisition has… well, let’s just say it was spooky.

Millions of people’s lives have hinged on the presence or absence of DDT, that’s for sure.

Anyway, M. – thanks for the info. Gives me enough to go on when I find time to learn more about it. I’ll find time, just a matter of when.

Sigh. Picturing an old-timer saying “Remember when plagues were carried by fleas? Those were the good old days. Now they got them newfangled diseases that don’t even need parasites for transmission. Hmmmph.”

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 19, 2009, 11:53 pm

I saw it in a documentary. I have it on tape and will try to find who’s work was mentioned, but as I have over 1500 VHS cassettes it may take a while. If I find it I will pass along whatever info might help research it at your blog (which I like, by the way).

It seems that the germs live in the bodies of the fleas but above a certain temperature they can’t pass out of the digestive tracks to spread to the rats or humans when the fleas feed. Below that temperature the fleas’ passages open and the germs can be transferred to the host when the fleas bite (most blood suckers inject anti-clotting and numbing agents. When you feel a mosquito “bite” it is really as he pulls out).

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 20, 2009, 1:41 am

Lemur King,
Temperature has two effects. Colder weather with more rain produces more rats and encourages plague outbreaks. This has been established by the CDC in studies in the South West.

Also, the plague germ reacts to form a clot in the flea’s gut that causes the flea to feed ravenously on any host available. When the plague kills the rat the fleas jump to humans in desperation as they are starving from the blockage. This clot only forms below 25 degrees centigrade. Above this temperature the germs pass through the flea and exit in the feces in the normal manner without inducing the flea to feed uncontrollably and leave the rat. I think this is about 77 degrees F.

This was explained by Dr. Frank Clark, a biologist at Leicester University.

Comment from Matt P
Time: January 20, 2009, 11:09 am

Machinist, good points. I was referring specifically to some of the swords at the Chicago museum, but I certainly see your point (snicker).

Mind you the whole thing makes me hope that Her Weaselness will bless us with some sort of graphic of an armored weasel (or should I say armoured weasel) wielding her weapon of choice.

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 20, 2009, 12:05 pm

What a splendid idea. That would be great!

Comment from Lemur King
Time: January 20, 2009, 3:27 pm

Armor for animals…


Comment from Matt P
Time: January 20, 2009, 3:52 pm

Amazing stuff, alas my furball is more rouge than knight!

Comment from Machinist
Time: January 20, 2009, 4:14 pm

Matt P, in many cases an accused could demand trial by combat where it was believed God would help the innocent win. It was literally “Might makes right”. I think some of these knights would not have been people I admired.

Cats on the other hand, PWN me. I am their bitch.

Lemur King, I could not comment on your blog without being too far off topic so I answered above.

Comment from NancyB
Time: March 14, 2009, 10:37 am

I read an interesting article years ago by the curator of historical costumes at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, about the smallness of surviving clothes and suits of armor from olden times. His theory was that since clothing was very expensive, it was passed on and worn by others. Larger sizes could be cut down if necessary and used until worn out and turned into dust rags, but few people could fit into the size 2 ball gown, so it was hung in the back of the wardrobe and survived to our time. Large and medium sizes could be made smaller, but small sizes could not easily be pieced out and made larger.

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