Friday, September 5, 2014

Ride (poem)

With the wind in my hair
Each moment I’m aware
The thrill and the movement
My body forward bent
Even steady breathing
Wheels below spinning
One with this machine here
No traffic can I hear
All disappears around
Except for my breaths sound
I push on and beyond
Every care dead and gone


Most that know me also know I ride a bike as my main transportation. Quite often it feels just like this. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Viking ship building

   Viking shipbuilding wasn't done quite the way we would do it today. Most of the ships were what's called clinker built. The boards of the hull were split, then shaped with draw knives to fit, and then were riveted together. Around eighty trees were used in the process of building a single ship.
   Once the hull was completed you then made the framework to fit inside. Right over the keel between the middle framework pieces you'd install the mast fish which would hold the bottom of the mast in place. Ropes would secure the top of the mast. Any stresses were transferred to the hull as a result.
   Of all things a Viking ship builder did it all by eye and by feel. They'd have a basic plan in their head only and nothing was written down. They were quite the craftsman I think.

   In this video they are splitting a tree into boards, shaping them, and installing them. They are even using the types of glue and flax caulking that would have been used. This video is about 5 minutes.

   This video shows much of the process in less than two minutes.

   It's been fascinating contemplating all of the process. I've done some woodworking over the years and some of the projects have been pretty cool. Some of the projects closest to how the Vikings would have accomplished it were railings that were made from deadfall branches. I had to use a draw knife to clean off the bark and had to create notches to join the pieces together.
   Today if we were going to build a ship we'd most likely make a framework first and then attach the hull. It's a totally different process.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Viking Ring Fortresses

    I was doing some research for Long Boat when I came across the ring fortresses built by King Harold Bluetooth of Denmark. As usual when I come across something that might pertain to a story I file it away. It occurred to me that one of the scenes probably happened at one of the ring forts. Here's my attempt in our garden. Note, it's not very large as I was just trying to envision the structure of the fort.

     There were six of the ring forts built in Denmark. They're all built on the same general layout. Here's an image of one of the actual ring fortresses and the image is courtesy of Wikipedia.

     Around the outside ring there was a ditch that was filled with sharpened stakes. Your only entrance would have been through those notches in the big dirt mound ring. Around the top of the dirt mound was a road. It would have been difficult to gain entrance if you were an invading army. You also didn't have much of chance if you were in the local populace and you tried to overthrow those who were your overlords. Yes, Christianity was forcibly introduced at that time. Many liked their old gods and didn't want the new one. I guess I can understand that.
     If you look at it from above you of course notice a general cross shape. It also crossed my mind that the four openings could also represent the four cardinal directions. Each of those were ruled by gods in Norse mythology. Therefore Christianity might be more easily accepted by the local Danes was what I was thinking. I may be a bit off there but I would like to see further studies done on the concept.