Sunday, May 29, 2016

More Kittens

Week Ten is upon us, which means never ending writing. Just not this kind.

A couple nights ago, we had a very surprising knock on the door while I was laboriously correcting footnotes. A friend/classmate/neighbor had found two very pathetic looking kittens in a broken down car on the street, and not knowing what to do with them brought them to us. Also, hey, kittens. What better study break?

I really should have taken a real "before" picture, but here they are after their first bath:

When we first saw them, the boy's (the more-orange one) eyes were swollen completely shut. We weren't sure he was going to make it. And they were (are!) so tiny. The girl ate some wet kibble right away (voraciously and angrily), which made us all very happy, but the boy wouldn't eat and even after a warm towel could only open one eye. Our friends who found them called animal control, but animal control decided it wasn't an emergency, so we kept them for the night. After a bath and several more cleanings with a warm towel, we got the boy's eyes open. And both were eating and making attempts at using the litterbox. They often missed (cats are great about not really needing to be trained, but still, they're wee tiny), but all systems were working. Celebration. They're maybe four weeks old, assuming they're stunted. The boy's ears were still slightly folded. They weighed three pounds between the two of them with bulgingly full bellies. We were planning on taking them to the shelter in the morning, both because we thought the little boy might need more than the antibiotic eye cream we had, and because we didn't want to expose our two cats.

Well, that was the plan. Unfortunately, Abdiel flipped out and when we wouldn't let him in to see them, he dug the towels out from under the door so he could peer in. So, they introduced themselves and we gave in.

Octavian is much more dubious. And by that I mean he ran away hissing and hid under the bed. He's starting to adjust.

They are doing so very much better now. Once they made it safely through the night, and since they aren't bottle babies that I really don't have time for, we decided to foster them until they're adoptable (re: vaccinatable & spay/nueterable) age. Their rescuers are already sorely tempted and will probably take the girl. Anyone want a sweet snuggly orange boy kitten?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Musings on Melancholy

This week for one of my classes we're reading Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. We are invited to post our musings before class, and considering what I decided to write on this week I thought I would share it here as well:

At *every* conference presentation I've given on horse-related topics I have gotten a question about eating horses. So, of necessity, I collect assorted references in order to answer this entirely off topic question. 

"horse...which although some countries eat, as Tartars, and they of China; yet [1354] Galen condemns. Young foals are as commonly eaten in Spain as red deer, and to furnish their navies, about Malaga especially, often used; but such meats ask long baking, or seething, to qualify them, and yet all will not serve."
Robert Burton. The Anatomy of Melancholy (Kindle Locations 3815-3818). 

     Here the eating of horse meat is dismissed as a foreign practice, and the meat considered of lower quality. It is rightly compared to red deer (much larger than white tail), having a similar low fat content and long muscle fibers. Studies by John Clark suggest that horse meat went out of vogue around London in the 14th century, but survived at a lower volume in more remote areas (in those cases possibly indicative of lack of other meat sources, or inability to feed the horses). With Anatomy of Melancholy first published in 1621, it is reasonable that the practice of eating horsemeat was well out of memory, especially in light of the long rhetoric of the Church against the eating of horsemeat as a pagan practice. 

"At this day in China the common people live in a manner altogether on roots and herbs, and to the wealthiest, horse, ass, mule, dogs, cat-flesh, is as delightsome as the rest, so [1447] Mat. Riccius the Jesuit relates, who lived many years amongst them. The Tartars eat raw meat, and most commonly [1448] horse-flesh, drink milk and blood, as the nomades of old."
Robert Burton. The Anatomy of Melancholy (Kindle Locations 4043-4046). 

Again both China and the "Tartars" (Tatars) are mentioned as eaters of horse. I expect this actually does have basis in fact (although "raw" is a bit of an exaggeration– acid cooked is more likely). Despite being in a section that claims to be fairly moderate in view, suggesting that there are in all parts (including those close to home) dietary customs that others would consider unusual, and each man's body has its own unique nutritional foibles, the inclusion of cannibalism in this section makes it unlikely that Burton actually supports other unusual practices.

Also of note:

On November 20th 1627, Charles I of England issued a proclamation outlawing snaffle bits for horses "employed for [military] service." Had Charles I not been deposed, he would likely be credited with the creation of the Thoroughbred horse; the General Studbook was published in 1791, but despite the dispearsal of Charles I's herd and brief suppression of racing, horses he imported still had a large effect on the new breed. The outlawing of snaffles for military use suggests than many lords were employing their race or hunt horses (ineffectually) for service. Burton seems to have a comfortable familiarity with "modern" racing (despite sometimes trying to shoehorn in ancient comparisons), but still upholds the hunt and the height of gentlemanly "disport;" I've been wondering at why, and these are some possibilities: hunting was still more in vogue; hunting was a more "active" and therefore healthful sport (air & exercise); or the possibility of "real" racing still being reserved to the most elite, while hunting was available to the gentry.

And a final fun note:

"To see horses ride in a coach, men draw it"
Robert Burton. The Anatomy of Melancholy (Kindle Location 1204). 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sample Syllabus

Quarter Year
HIST #: Horses Through History

Kat Boniface                                                                                      Office: #
                                                                                                            Office Hours

Course Overview
            This class will offer a broad overview of the history of human-equine interactions. Students are expected to develop an understanding of technological and social changes within this history. Along with general information, students are expected to learn to recognize and evaluate a variety of sources including art, archeology, and textual sources.
            Students will divide in to groups of 4-6. All groups must be finalized by Tuesday of Week Two. Groups should sit together in class, and will be assigned a group channel on Ryver (see Technology). Your group is who you should go to first if you need to miss a class or have a question about the material or assignments. There will also be collaborative projects (see Assignments below) done within your groups. Lecture outlines will be posted before class with key terms and ideas. These should help you structure your notes. If you find yourself with large gaps, please consult your group.

            Students will need to brinb a web-enabled device to every class. This class will make use of two programs: Ryver and Socrative. You will need to make an account at and are expect to engage actively with the class via this platform. Quizzes (see Assignments) will be given via Socrative. You do not need an account for this, but you must use your full name for your quizzes every day.
            University policy.

            Texts will be posted on iLearn.

            Daily Quizzes – 15%
                        Each day, there will be a short, simple quiz with 1-3 questions either from the readings or the prior class. Quizzes will be given using Socrative, and room codes will be posted to the Daily Quiz channel on Ryver.
            Papers – 15% each
                        There will be two 1-2 page response papers. The first is due no later than the day of the midterm, and can address any topic from before the midterm. The second is due no later than the day of the final, and can address any topic from after the midterm. A rubric is available on iLearn. If you turn your paper in early, you will have the opportunity to write an additional paper on a separate topic and the higher grade will be counted.
            Midterm 20% ­–  Final ­– 30%
                        The midterm will cover the first half of class. There will be 12 ID questions, of which you will have to answer 10. The final will cover the entire class, but emphasize the second half. There will be 18 ID questions, of which you will need to answer 15.
            Video ID Project – 25%
                        Each group will be required to create a short 2-3 minutes documentary ID video. This will be discussed in Week Six, after the midterm.
            Group Evaluations
                        Each student will submit evaluations for every student in their group, including themselves. There will be a rubric posted to iLearn with questions to consider. These will be taken into account for group project grades.

            Week One
                        Tuesday: Intro & Pre-History
Go over syllabus
Quiz: Syllabus Items
Note taking strategies
            Lascaux & Related sites
Thursday: Domestication Theories
What is domestication?
What happens when animals are domesticated?
Quiz: Which of these are domestic? (check boxes)
Four type model
Single site theory & the Kazak find
Complications: Spain & Al-Magyar

            Week Two
                        Tuesday: Hittites & Egyptians
                        Thursday: Bucephalus & the Macedonian World
                                    Representations of Legitimacy
                                    The War of the Heavenly Horses
            Week Three
Tuesday: Greece & the Roman Republic
            World Trade
                        Thursday: The Roman Empire & “Barbarians”
                                    Germanic Horsemen

            Week Four
Tuesday: Mohammed
            What’s in a name? The Arabian, the Akhal-Teke, and ideas of purity.
                        Thursday: Chinggis Khan
                                    The horsemen who conquered the world
                                    How did they do it?   
            Week Five
Tuesday: Review
            Students will review in their groups.
                        Thursday: Midterm
                                    The midterm will cover the first half of class. There will be 12 ID questions, of which you will have to answer 10.

            Week Six
Tuesday: The Stirrup
            What it did, what it didn’t do, and where it came from.
            Video ID Project discussion.
                        Thursday: The Armored Knight in Medieval Europe
                                    Who he was.
                                     What he wasn’t.

            Week Seven
Tuesday: Those Other People
            Horses for the non-warrior in Medieval Europe.
                        Thursday: From Tourney to Carousel
                                    The Manage
            Week Eight
Tuesday: The New World
            The Spanish influence
            The Commanche Empire
Thursday: The New World
            The New Bloodhorse
            America’s Family

            Week Nine
Tuesday: “Classical” Horsemanship
            Blundville to Baucher

                        Thursday: Iron Horses
            Week Ten
Tuesday: “Natural Horsemanship”
                                    Modern ethics.
            Modern sales.

                        Thursday: Review
                                    ID Videos Due
                                    Review for Final
                        Friday: Movies
                                    ID Video Showing (popcorn & snacks)

Final Date

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Collective Truth

  So this quarter I'm taking a class on teaching college history. I have taught, but it is a required course...and let's be real, I'm a pedagogy nerd and I'd take it anyway. Today we started with the Colbert Report on Wikiality. Which was just as pointed as all the articles we read, but far more entertaining.

  To be fair, Wikipedia has improved since 2006. It is a useful tool, and I think it is important to teach students how to use it correctly rather than institute a blanket ban.

  Also to be fair, the issue of collective truth in writing is not a new thing. I am currently researching Hanoverian Cream and White horses, and am running into the same problem. Not just in the (very sparse) modern mentions of them, but also in sources that are three centuries old.

   Nihil sub sole novum.