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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Précis Writing

This morning I have come to the conclusion that my writing, my essays and term papers, are a series of précis.  The subject of this paper is the looting of archaeological sites.  At about 3,000 words it is not as long as an average book chapter, however, it divides easily into sections.  There are four examples, each very different from one another, that cover the related topics of looting, conservation, and education.  The discussion brings the examples together and talks about who is doing what.  The conclusion looks at the who and the what and I make a suggestion.

It is a pretty normal paper but, I think that maybe it could be a bit more….  I hand it in this afternoon.  I am, and this is not normal for me, already looking forward to receiving it back!


I have a habit, when writing papers, of opening the file and immediately re-saving it using a consecutive numbering system.  For this paper my files were labeled  with the name of the paper and the numbers 1 through 10.  Shorter papers may only have 3 or 4 revision numbers.  These are not really revisions though, they are simply a growing work.  Baby steps that take me towards a finished product.  Each step adds a few paragraphs or even pages.  These will be rearranged and sometimes dropped as unnecessary or redundant.  The final step before editing will be to add in transitional paragraphs.


Kierkegaard began Fear and Trembling with the story of Abraham on the Mount.  The first chapter of this book is taken from the Bible.  Word for word.  The second chapter almost repeats the first chapter, there are only a few changes and they are not easy to spot.  When I read this book the first time I thought the publisher had made a mistake and printed the first chapter twice.  No, it was not a mistake!  In the third chapter the retelling of Abraham’s story becomes much more noticeable.

If you have not read Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard I recommend it.  The book is not a long one, however, it is memorable.


Translations of a translation.  This morning I am pondering a project that I thought of a while ago.  Kierkegaard did not use a translation to get his points across.  He rewrote the story to make it clear to his readers what the story was about.

I am not Kierkegaard.  (There are friends of mine just let out several deep sighs….)  My thoughts, my project, is to take a work of old or middle English and to translate it.  Then to translate my translation, and again….

What to choose?  Where I could I take it?

There are so many tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  Many written in old and middle English.  Chaucer is in there, and Mallory.  I need to think about this.  I could just choose a small piece of writing to work with – definitely more approachable than an entire work.


Isn’t translating and revising and retelling what we humans do?  Writing books, building houses, making dinner?  Mmmm….  This tastes wonderful!  How about if we have the leftovers tomorrow and we can add those wonderful tomatoes your mother grew!


Translation  —  Transition  —  Transformation

Pictograph  —  Linear A  —  Linear B

They might all say the same thing, but then, maybe not….

Ex-Situ: Archeaological Chaos Theory….

Chaos in the Classroom:

I actually received permission from my instructor to do this!

I have a tendency to freak out a bit, okay – a lot, when I have to do a class presentation and therefore, I neither enjoy either figuring what to do nor doing them so….  When the professor announced that everyone gets a good mark for their presentation “no matter what, you just have to do it!”  All of a sudden this enormous weight was taken off of my shoulders and I thought, “why not have fun?”

…and I did!

I cut paper meant for the recycle bin into small pieces and turned each piece into an artifact.  There were pottery shards, broken bits of things, gold jewelry, jewels, and pieces of cloth.  A small assortment of these artifacts went to each of the sixteen tables in the classroom.  The students immediately starting sorting the loot!

As I walked and distributed the artifacts I talked about Belzoni and the raiding of the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt.  Then I asked, “What happened to it?  What happened to all of the artifacts that were taken from Abu Simbel?”

The class became quiet.  This really, really happened!  I asked, “Who has a nice piece of pottery?”  Several hands went up.  I walked over to one of the first and I said, “You just dropped that on floor and held out a garbage bag.”  She pouted and put the paper artifact into the garbage bag.  I asked, “Who has pottery shards?”  Several hands went up.  I walked around with the garbage bag and collected pottery shards and told one sentence stories about using the 6,000 shards at the bottom of plant pots.  I asked,”Who has gold?”  A hand went up near me – he really wanted to keep it.  It was shiny and perfect!  I asked, “Who has a piece of broken jewelry?”  Hands went up, some reluctantly….  My one story became, “you melted it down and had it made into a lovely necklace for your girlfriend.  She left you…”  And, I held out my bag.

I told a few very quick stories about owning an antique shop and some of the re-purposed treasures that have passed through my hands.  I talked about silk, its ultimate decay and what happens when it gets very old in an uncontrolled environment.

Back at the front of the classroom I did a Google search for Cycladic figures and talked about the loss of opportunity archaeologists are facing.

The other name for ex-situ artifacts are collectibles.  The shinier and prettier they are the more likely mainstream society will find the temptation to own one or a reproduction irresistible.

Studies have been done on ex-situ artifacts.  The book Dragons of Silk, Flowers of Gold: A Group of Liao-Dynasty Textiles at the Abegg-Stiftung edited by Regula Schorta is a good example.  These studies do put more knowledge out there, however, it is only knowledge about things, not about the people who made and used the things.

Archaeology isn’t just about things, nor is a museum.  Archaeology is about discovering our past.  Museums are about preserving it.

The final question in my paper, due next week, will need to deal with my thoughts on ex-situ artifacts and whether or not they should be purchased for preservation.  My opinion right now is that yes, they need to be purchased and preserved, however, doing so rewards those who are still looting, obtaining artifacts illegally.  Even though most people have a difficult time with the ethics of what Belzoni was doing in 1817, I do not believe that he was doing anything illegal.  Today, we know better.


Hire Me….

Because, I have a lot to say about a lot of things.  And, I could be saying it for you!

There is a lot of experience behind me.  I have put more than 50 years into looking around, reading, communicating and learning about life in general.

My experience, a lot of it anyway, is unique.  I am back in university as a mature student and loving it.  I have raised a daughter who is a university graduate.  I own a web based business – actually two of them.  One is a vintage and antique shop and the other is a bead store.  I work in the fabrication industry in my family’s welding shop.  I have worked in the pulp mills and oil refineries of British Columbia and Alberta as a Journeyman Boilermaker.  I am a condo owner and I do a lot of my own repairs — and I know some of the reno’s that I would not touch, even though I am quite capable of doing them!  Reno’s and repairs are always a challenge and definitely worthwhile!  I have been a member of a strata council and I have recently been asked to be on another council.  New building, new people, new ideas and new experiences!

Looking at the list I have just written it looks like I am pretty busy and I am.  I am busy making deadlines!  Getting jobs done!  And, most importantly, I am busy enjoying my life!

The most wonderful thing about all of this experience is the connections between all of these diverse activities.  Those connections are not just mine, those connections are a part of our lives.  Our backgrounds expose us or protect us from whatever it is that our future interactions may hold.  Depending on our backgrounds each of us sees  things a little differently than the person beside us sees them.  The angle of our vision is always varied by our background and this makes every insight just a little bit different.  It has to be if we are to be individuals.

I think that I am pretty normal, a little outspoken about things I am passionate about and just busy enough that I keep out of trouble, sort of.  And, idle enough that I can enjoy sitting back and taking a look around.

It is all connected.  Everything.  Figuring it out and writing about these connections is giving me a lot of happiness and now I would like my passion for writing to be a larger part of my life.

My writing does not have to be about me.  My writing could be about you or for you!  If you are currently looking for a freelance or ghost writer, you might find me and my writing to be interesting and might possibly be an interesting connection….

Please follow me here, or on LinkedIn.  Or if you would like to, please leave a comment or send me note because, I more than just wanting to connect with you, I want to write for you!