Newsletters, a 2014 project of mine

One day this winter when the weather gets savage, I am going to sit down with a cup of tea and make a list of all the newsletters I have worked on over my years. The first was InformED, a newsletter published by the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Information Centre (library) at the Mowat Block around 1979-81 and today The Pot, the quarterly newsletter of the Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society. Newsletters may be going the way of the dodo, replaced by blogs and Facebook pages. Still for non-digitally inclined members of volunteer organizations they represent a value of membership and are still viable. The real battle for the editor is to hunt down content and fresh view of rountine information and somehow to get member to contribute. I have never found the secret for the latter. But with desktop publishing and digital photography and the net, making content is relatively painless and inexpensive. After I make my list I will likely create “a newsletters i have known” section of my blog gnawledgewurker.com – stand by for more on this topic in 2014.

camera into the forest and back in time

Some photos of a Huron village site, more precisely the midden next to the village.  Midden is the polite word for the village dump, which has been sitting on the edge of a gully side that drops down into a creek.  All of this near Penetang, Ontario.  The village, undated at the moment, either from the 17th century and the time of the French contact time or earlier.  This site was not officially known until a few weeks ago.  Sadly it has been picked over to some extent by people who some call “looters” and others label them “curiosity seekers”.

Today was day one of a two day public but controlled numbers access to the site hosted by the Ontario Archaeological Society Huronia Chapter with the site under the direction of the licensed archaeologist, Dr Alicia Hawkins.  The Simcoe County Forest was in on this as well.  There was participation by some staff from the Simcoe County Museum.

I took photos with my Nikon D3100 and 18-55 lens, with no light or with the Metz 44 flash unit or with the Polaroid ring light attachment.  It has rained hard yesterday and today, but not when I walked in and took photos.  The workers had a blue tarpaulin tied between trees to shelter the area being worked and where the dirt was screen shaken and checked.  Even with the tree cover there was good light and some good shots were possible.

The trees were about forty feet high.  On the forest floor rich dark soil growing small treelets, a lot of maples trying to make it and most at a height of about 12 inches, which created a kind of “false floor” of green shoots to step through and discover the uneven soil below.  There were also a lot of dead branches on the forest floor, but overall the walking was not too bad.  I had brought along a walking stick and it was essential.  My winter with an aircast on my left leg has left me with weak legs and they certainly felt weak today.  On the way out on my own I missed the trail and finally emerged from the forest about a 100 yards west of where the trail was and where I had walked in but that was ok.  Mosquitoes were few.  As for poison ivy, time will tell, probably by morning.

This was my first visit to a public archaeolgy day. I was at the field school public day last year as well. What struck me today was the enthusiasm of the people working. Also at the hard work that is involved. I missed the monsoon moments, but the conditions were difficult. People seemed both enthusiastic and highly satisfied to participate directly in archaeology, which can often seem to be reduced to sitting in a dusty auditorium listening to a speaker with modest presentation skills talking at a series of less than pulse-pounding documentary photos. Interesting but a little detached from direct experience. So a public archaeology day allows interested folk the chance to stand on a former village site and touch the past. In this modern day that is a remarkable experience.

database prototype built while getting my blood cleaned in Dialysis run

built a simple prototype database in the first hour or so of my dialysis treatment this afternoon…so built one hand  ed in Microsoft Access 2007….to hold information for an archaeology/heritage inventory for townships in Simcoe County.

I am the “long” guy on my dialysis shift, four and a half hours.  Most patients have their blood cleaned and excess fluid removed for  3.5 to 4 hours.  I go three afternoons per week. I Started dialysis in November of 2008.  Dialysis patients sit in a chair that resembles an easyboy recliner. Patients are given access to individual small television sets with earphones.  Some watch TV, some read, some nap. I use my laptop a couple of times per week.

I dug in on this after a presentation last night to the heritage committee of Springwater Township.   Jamie Hunter, curator of the Huronia Museum, and me, a member of the Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society and a semi-retired technical writer and Access Database systems analyst ( that is a little bit puffed up but not too outrageously), made the presentation which I had built in Powerpoint.  The two of us did wel and the committee seemed sold on the idea of gathering this information about First Nations archaeological sites,  early Euro-Canadian properties and still-standing heritage buildings.  A lot of information has been recorded but it is somewhat scattered.  A database is a good way to gather and share this information.

I am a little rusty in Access and need to brush up on a few things like  one to many relationship table linkage.  Today I built a primary table, one query, one online entry form, and two reports…..with a single test record.

I screen captured the form and the one columnar report and placed them in the revised Powerpoint slide show for use with the next township heritage committee.

It is always best to have a specific project to achieve when trying to learn or relearn software.