Routine Maintenance and Upkeep
The website has received its monthly links review with only a half a dozen links needing repair due to a small behind-the-scenes architecture restructuring, which were easy to fix once identified. The Groups Billboard which received a dramatic upgrade last month did not get the attention it deserved, and I still need to get the UK section outfitted with both images and group descriptions. The Merchant Roll received some significant work, both in reviewing the entries and adding new ones. Danegeld Historic Jewellery, Gemmeus, Gaukler Medieval Wares, and Nordens Historiska Fynd are now on the merchant list. The list has also undergone a much overdue schism. As described it was meant to be a place for businesses which have secure checkout, which I consider a way to gauge the ‘safety’ of a site in that it uses a digital merchant broker service of some sort. Many suggested retailers who operate websites with contact-direct order forms or who purvey through Facebook or other markets were not included because of the inherent risks in working with a seller one on one.
Nevertheless, a handful of non-web-store entries made it to the list because I could vouch for their trustworthiness. In the end, there is a level of inherent inequity when I exclude recommended merchants because I do not have experience with them… I include books I have not read based on other people’s endorsements. So, I have split the Merchant Roll and have added a sister page, the Artisan Roll, where all recommended merchants who do not have secure web checkout go. If there are entries you’re used to seeing on the Merchant Roll, nothing’s been moved to the morgue this month, they have migrated to the Artisan Roll instead. I have a back log of recommended entries which I will be getting up throughout the coming months.
Also, the Merchant Roll has been upgraded to include the languages the website has native translation into, and the currencies all the prices can be converted into by the website itself.
New Floor Plans Article
Published July 15th, 2020 as a continuation of a project first conceived of and started in 2017, I made a new set of digital CAD drawings representing the various configurations of height and diameter available among Tentsmiths Conical Tents. They give an idea of the relative standing and sleeping room each tent provides, with smaller preview drawings as well as full resolution images for closer scrutiny.
Community and Conversations
History Live North East Q & A
Matt Blazek, Executive Director, is fielding questions about the mobile museum project he is working on out on the East Coast. The basic idea is to assemble a fully mobile exhibit which can be packed into a van and brought out to rural areas to bring the museum to the students. The exhibits will be a mixture of physical artifacts, high resolution photography on posters, and VR/AR technology. If you have any questions email him at info@historylivenortheast (dot) org.
Units of Measure by Prices
For an upcoming video I made a medieval recipe for Barley Water. The translation and instructions I started with were from Medieval Cookery and I was dissatisfied with how the translation at the bottom did not seem to resemble the instructions at the top. The listed recipe excluded ingredients in the translation, and added ingredients which were not in it. Initially I ignored the recipe and tried to follow the translation, but was stuck on how to figure out how much two parisis’ worth of something actually was. So I took it to the internet and discovered two wonderful things. First, it seems a Parisis is actually a unit of currency, aka the “Paris Pound” and was worth 12 denier. So the measurement was not in a volume, so much as the volume of something you could get for a price. It would be like writing a cookie recipe that uses “$3 of chocolate chips” instead of saying to use a 12 oz bag. Inflation, economic collapse, booming economies… forethought was not at the forefront of the author’s mind it seems. But, all hope is not lost, Elliot Burton was kind enough to share with me a far superior recipe and translation from Kiriel’s Kitchen, which is what I used to actually make the drink. To see how it turned out, keep an eye out for the video which is due to release the second week of August.
Listening to Podcasts
As if I don’t record enough of them on my own, I also listen to too many podcasts myself. As of the 27th my backlog was over two days long (48 plus hours). So I thought I’d have a bit of fun with the community and see how many podcasts the household and I have in common. Everyone received one point for every podcast we both listened to. Congrats to Jack Ravenfeather! He had the highest score. How do you compare? Put your list to the test in the comments.
Discussions of Interest
Though not my personal discussion, I found Rosalie had a rousing discussion on specifically brooches, specifically from the 14th century, specifically from England. Her fierce commitment to cultural identity mirrors my philosophy on making an impression which conforms to the culture you’re portraying as much as possible, avoiding situations wherein you have to explain away an item of your impression. The thread is a good read, as it shows how to explore options under this level of scrutiny.
Guest Appearance: Abbey Medieval Festival
On the 28th I was featured on the Facebook page for the Abbey Medieval Festival doing a #MedievalMinute video. The video was a quick, one minute, commentary on the use of arming doublets underneath plate armor. You can watch it here.
This month I am pleased to share nine photos from all over the world highlighting some amazing impressions. The reenactors featured this month are La Compagnie de l’Arbre Mort, Vrouwen Mære, Минская Уния “Меч и Ворон”, Leah-Morgana Stadler, Cajsa Li, Emil Lagerquist, Josephine Eriksson, Sara Vidus, A Classic Roman Lady, Dinja Becude-Voeten, and PATAPARAT.
How Two Medieval
July 13th Todd and I came back with the beginning of a two part episode on camping, from the perspective of reenactment and living history. We focus quite a bit on the things one can forget if they have never done this before, what you may think you need but certainly do not, and safety concerns. It even wanders a bit, with some conversation about the nuances of historically medieval vs. modern medieval camping trends.
The Medieval Herauld
What To See
Normally I end the newsletter with a list of project ideas, a run down with various levels of detail depending on how well developed the idea is. The purpose of the list is to give the members of the household an idea of what I have brewing in my head, so they can be involved in and have influence on upcoming content. This month however, I am swapping this segment out with a summary of the various ways in which you can find and enjoy The Turnip of Terror content. This stems from two separate, but eerily similar, conversations I have had in the last few weeks where people have been unaware of the variety of things I do for the reenactment and living history community online. Starting at the top:
The Turnip of Terror is the central hub which the other activities really radiate out from. The website’s acts as a way-station between the individual with interest in medieval living history and reenactment; and the online tools, services, entertainment, and content which benefits them. This is done in a variety of ways, serving to host my curated Medieval Resources Patch which includes book lists, tutorial lists, online content creators, places to shop, and more. The article roll is where I post my unique content, which includes not just this newsletter and my own writing, but is a central feed for the other projects I’ll be mentioning here today.
The YouTube Channel
The Turnip of Terror TV as I like to cheekily refer to it as, is meant as an outlet for medieval education and reenactment community content which lends itself to a visual format. I have bounced around a bit between trying to do videos which show off something physical, and more “talking head” visual essays which are more lecture than visual based. I am leaning toward trying to keep the “moving picture” content on the “moving picture” service, though I also debate transcribing my more theoretical videos and simulcasting them as both articles and videos. Video is an incredibly challenging medium to produce and I have a lot to learn. The upcoming video, which should air the second week of August, is a food related piece which lends itself strongly to being video based and, in a way, it would not work as audio or text. These are the kinds of projects I would prefer to focus on when making videos. However, they are more challenging to produce, so video essays may remain part of the repertoire.
I am far better at recording and editing audio than I am at video. Some of this is the reality of the two different formats, and some is just my experience with video. Ultimately, having done both, audio will always be easier to produce more quickly and consistently at the same level of quality until I have a production studio or something otherwise outlandish. As such, I am involved in three podcasts at the moment.
How Two Medieval
The podcast which started it all. This is a collaborative effort with a friend of mine Todd Cornell. How Two Medieval is a How-To show, hence the play on words, where we discuss medieval living history and reenactment, especially all the issues a newer member of the hobby may have never thought about before. We supplement our own ramblings with interviews from people who are more expert than us in specific topics to supplement our own experiences and research. It is hosted on anchor, which automatically publishes it to a long list of podcasting apps. If your app doesn’t have it, Anchor also provides an RSS feed.
The Medieval Herauld
I spend a lot of time scouring the internet for interesting developments in the community. There is a lot of medieval content out there, many different groups doing their own experimental archaeology, academics doing their research, and people sharing their experiences in living history and reenactment. I find the best possible nuggets from all these genres and niches as they pertain to reenactment and living history of the medieval period and distill then down into short headline type news briefs. The podcast, which stays five to seven minutes long, is released fortnightly. It is a quick and easy way to get an overview of the new and interesting things a medieval reenactor would want to hear about. The podcast comes with its own newsletter with links to all of the content mentioned in the episode. It is hosted on anchor, which automatically publishes it to a long list of podcasting apps. If your app doesn’t have it, Anchor also provides an RSS feed.
Admittedly the least developed of my podcasts, and the least regular or reliable in its release, this has been a stream of consciousness outlet for everything from after-event chat with people to narrations of past articles. As it finds its groove, I think I will continue to narrate articles which lend themselves to it, so people can listen to them when they don’t have the opportunity to sit down and read. I am also interested in doing more interviews, as I recently had an engaging chat with Jake from the Company of Little Dunmow which will release on The Greenwood podcast soon. I enjoyed the conversational semi-interview format and may do more of those as well. Turnip Talk is hosted through WordPress itself, where the site is housed, and does not have automatic updating to all the different podcast apps the way the other two podcasts on Anchor do. I cannot seem to recall why I used to think it was a reasonable concession to host the podcast direct to WordPress. I may move it to Anchor.
The biggest issue with social media is how difficult it is to filter out the noise. The nonsense to usefulness ratio is pretty poor. Perhaps there’s a living history group who you follow because they had an amazing story from a reenactment, but their other posts all seem to be internal chatter which does not interest you, or you follow an Instagram personality because of a stunning impression and then have to deal with pictures of their cat. Some people may enjoy seeing these things for individuals they care about and have close associations with, but for the majority I have heard expressed frustration about this issue. For every one group you like enough to care about what they ate for lunch, there are a dozen you just want tasty reenactment content from. My goal on social media has become to hunt down useful content which is pertinent to the medieval niche and post only this content for those those who follow The Turnip of Terror. The household knows I’ll sift through the noise for you, so you don’t have to scroll pass someone’s political views, little sister’s first birthday party, or gif’s of someone’s TV during a sports match. I do it for you! Another thing which happens with The Turnip of Terror Social Media accounts which doesn’t happen elsewhere is the tendency for cross promotion. A photo shared to Instagram can be included in the newsletter which goes out to the email subscribers and then is also posted to Twitter and Facebook, etc. So cross platform exposure when included in TTOT channels is higher than through most other communities and personalities.
Facebook is the primary social media platform and the first place I started interacting with people online from a TTOT perspective. Since Facebook lends itself to both sharing of links and conversation better than almost anywhere else, the majority of community conversations, questions for the hive mind, and exploration of other people’s content happens on Facebook. Many of the stories which make it up onto The Medieval Herauld are shared first on Facbeook and/or, as well as many conversations, albums, and images from around the hobby community which are not headline-type content. Apart from email, Facebook is also the quickest and easiest way to get in touch with me through their messenger service.
Instagram (@theturnipofterror) is focused, as a platform, on photographs and short videos and is not suited for either conversation or the proliferation of off-network content such as videos or articles from around the web. So instead of trying to shoe horn the functions which seem to have been intentionally programmed out of Instagram, I embrace the solipsistic, glamour focused purpose of the place and highlight gorgeous photography of high quality living history and reenactment impressions from around the web. I find these people and their amazing impressions and highlight one of them every day by posting them to the account and featuring them in the page’s story. In addition to hunting them down, I also established the #turnippicks hashtag which is the best method for submitting your pictures for use as the daily pick. Whenever available, I choose from among qualifying (high quality, period correct, historically authentic) pictures tagged with #turnippicks first for promotion.
I resisted having a Twitter account (@turnipterror) until earlier this month, when I decided to take the plunge and see what is out there. I do not have a personal Twitter (not exactly true, I have one I just don’t use it) so I did not quite know what Twitter was for. The low character count for posts (brevity is not my strong suit) was off putting and I was never sure what to put out. When adopting a new platform I try to consider what makes this new social media environment different in a way which adds value to the people who follow it. What purpose is there to follow my Twitter if it has the same content as Facebook? There will always be crossover, but if they are identical there seems no incentive to adopt the new platform. There will be people out there who use Twitter but not Facebook, but then it brings me back to the fundamental problem, if Twitter provides them a service they prefer to Facebook how could a Twitter which is just a clone of my Facebook appeal to them or enrich their lives? Watching Twitter for a few weeks in June and into July I realized something, on Facebook people are guarded about their personal friendships and contacts. Twitter is a much more open environment, and major professionals in the living history and the academic medievalist community are more accessible there. In keeping with the theme of curating the internet for reenactors, I have started to find wonderful access to the projects and developments of the hard-academic medieval community and share those for reenactors. It is also a great place to share news stories.
The Turnip of Terror is not a business as such, the goal is not and has never been to sell a service or to lock any of what I do behind a pay wall. I want this website, and the things I contribute ancillary to it, to serve as a community resource with no upfront costs or commitments. However, the world we live in, to keep websites hosted without ads, to gain access to better digital tools and resources, to get over the other paywalls in the world which come part and parcel with curating and developing this resource have monetary costs associated with it. The Patreon exists so those who benefit from what I provide have a mechanism to give back and support future endeavors which will enrich the hobby as a whole. And, since I run my patreon as an umbrella for everything I do, each subscriber is getting more mileage per dollar. Pledging $1 to two and a half podcasts, a YouTube Channel, a Facebook curator, an Instagram influencer, a Twitter crawler, a blogger, a hobby focused newsletter, and fastidiously maintained online resources and tools could cost almost $10 if supported individually. I like to call financial supporters “members of the household” to invoke a medieval-ish feel. Members of the household deserve recognition and appreciation for their support, but I cannot maintain equal access to content if I also lock some of it behind a pay-now button. So in appreciation, in addition to the satisfaction stemming from supporting contributing he household receive creative influence and creator access, such as exclusive discord servers and the ability to vote on upcoming topics.