Question of the Month: What’s the difference between ‘medieval’ and ‘middle ages’?

Could you clarify the difference between the “medieval” and “middle ages”? Are they related or do they represent two different time periods? I am writing a paper and I am not sure what to use. I was under the impression that medieval is earlier than middle ages, the year 1000 maybe, and middle ages is closer to the Renaissance.

Thanks for the question. There is no difference in meaning or in the time period covered between the terms “medieval” or “middle ages.” Here are two definitions of the period:

From the World Book Encyclopedia, 2009 edition, vol. 13: “Middle Ages is a term that describes the period in European history from about the 400s through the 1400s. The Middle Ages are also called the medieval period from the Latin words medium(middle) and aevum (age).” Continue reading “Question of the Month: What’s the difference between ‘medieval’ and ‘middle ages’?”

History Gone Missing

Once upon a time, I was a history major and I think I stay pretty current, historically speaking.  One day, not too long ago, I realized that I had basically missed an entire era and civilization.  Byzantium – hummm, wasn’t that some sort of precursor to the Ottoman Empire.  Decadent and short lived right?  Wrong. 

In late 2009, I stumbled across Lars Brownworths’ podcast series – 12 Byzantine Rulers: the history of the Byzantine Empire and I was stunned.  And then I was hooked.  The Roman Empire didn’t fall in A.D. 476 but survived for another thousand years in glorious splendor (and yes, decadence) with its magnificent new capital at Byzantium.  The podcast series is delightful and Brownsworth deserves all the praise heaped upon him. Continue reading “History Gone Missing”

October Question of the Month: an irregular series

The reference librarians at Seattle Public Library are pretty darn amazing. They don’t know everything, instead they know where to find everything. As part of an irregular series of posts we salute the talented and dedicated reference staff at your local library. Names and other identifying information have been removed from the questions we showcase. Got a stumper? Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.

I have a Steinway Model O baby grand piano, serial number 145183, and understand that its age may be determined using the Pierce Piano Atlas. Do you Continue reading “October Question of the Month: an irregular series”

Paralyzed by anticipation

The book is sitting on my bedside table.  Its been there, unopened, for two weeks already. I pick it up every evening. It mesmerizes me. And it paralyzes me.

For my entire adult life I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett.  His amazingly inventive sardonic wit has caused me endless embarrassment as I laughed out loud in restaurants, on planes/trains/buses and once while walking down the street.  Jingo was the first book I thought of immediately after 9/11.  And my daughter has literally grown up with Tiffany Aching.

So why is I Shall Wear Midnight causing me such distress?  Pratchett has a rare form of early Alzheimer’s. I don’t know if he will ever write another book. Perhaps I will never again have the wonderful thrill of opening a new book by my favorite author. So the book sits unopened. And messes with my mind.

It is never just about food

I may end up regretting this. After all, Seattle is a pretty organic, locavore, foodie, green sustainable culture sort of place.  And perhaps, I should establish my credentials by saying up front – we’ve been an organic, sustainable, grow it and preserve it, co-op purchasing family for over 30 years.  But — I’m getting a bit fed up. Fed up with the all or nothing attitudes of so many in both the locavore and the agribusiness communities.

My frustration started when I read The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt.  It’s a good book, engaging and well written with lots of personal connection between the author and his subject.  But it really started me thinking in ways that Hewitt perhaps didn’t intend.  If this small town in Vermont is the model for the future of sustainable food cultivation, as Hewitt implies, then all the folk in New York, LA, Minneapolis, Atlanta — well you get my drift — all those folk are out of luck. Cities as we know them can’t exist in the world that Hewitt is describing.  How can you possibly grow enough food to feed the population of New York within 100 miles of that city? What do you do in the depths of winter?  And if Continue reading “It is never just about food”