Archive for April, 2009

Almost stereoscopy

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So, the other week I was looking at topos of way down in Decatur County, in south Georgia, and I saw this stunningly round, distinct, and dramatic landform. I finally got around to checking it out on GoogleEarth, and it seems even more interesting than it looked on the map. Next time I’m down that way….

Not sure what it is, but I’d start with Carolina bays; they are rounder rather than oval in these parts and this landform is sure round!

More on stereoviewing….

Sage in two forms

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2009 H1N1 flu. Learn that phrase. Avoid the real thing.

Left to right, that’s sage, something that tastes like yet doesn’t look like oregano, thyme, and (right front) young basil.

Is there GoogleIdea?

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One thing about the SAAs, most people throw up a Keynote (or that other MS format), and since archaeology has a lot of spatial variables, there’re often maps. Well, they used to be maps, hand-drawn back in the old days; now a GoogleMap or two creeps in….

Note that the cleared area on this image had just civic-ceremonial architecture—no normal residential area. Some of that was on the terraces that sprawl down the slopes, mostly toward the top and right of the frame (no, north is not “up”). When this was a vibrant community a millennia ago, it extended outside this image. It was BIG. Uh, scale? Those rectangular things are tour buses on one of the whitish patches toward the lower right….

I had a good idea today—at least I’m pretty sure, even now, that it’s a good idea. That makes today a superb day!

Milestones and bits

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In honor of today’s summer temps (high about 80°F, low about 60°F), I present a picture of the snow that accumulated on our patio furniture on 1 March, this year.

Recent birthdays: The Botanist is 92 and planting the garden. Another (terror-)pair is something over half that.

We’ve officially transitioned to summer here, based on the upstairs becoming “too hot” without AC—but only in the late afternoon/evening (so far).

I sat through upwards of two dozen papers at the SAAs last week, and only bought two books.

We joined the commemoration of the lively and well-lived life of JN Chamblee, sadly claimed by cancer earlier this month.

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On swine flu, the best I’ve read is here. Author David Kirby fingers confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, as one critical link in this outbreak, and notes:

“Classic” swine flu virus (not the novel, mutated form in the news) is considered endemic in southern Mexico, while the region around the capital is classified as an “eradication area”—meaning the disease is present, and efforts are underway to control it. For some reason, vaccination of pigs against swine flu is prohibited in this area, and growers rely instead on depopulation and restriction of animal movement when outbreaks occur.

But remember: most people are recovering, including all cases outside Mexico (so far). Repeat if necessary….

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Earlier today I figured out that the stimulus money that is flowing to the states through the National Park Service totals $700 million (a small percentage of the total American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies), and lowly Georgia is getting, tada!, a mere 0.33 percent of that (at most)—or just under $2.5 million. If all states got an equal amount, Georgia would get $15 million. Yeah, I know there are many important projects out there; I felt the need to point out the pattern, however.

Confused not-robin

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Why can’t I remember the trillium relatives? This one I think is a bashful wakerobin (that is: Trillium catesbaei), bashful I guess because it looks like it’s hanging its head (bloom), and the wakerobin, that one I don’t know its etymology.

Photo from several weeks back; this machine doesn’t have the up-to-date iPhoto catalogue…. But the observation’s still valid…. BTW, don’t you love the pollen?

Whicha-way?

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That hotel I’ve been hanging out in? I finally got something good out of the architecture—the view north from the 19th floor. Of course, I was turned around and kept trying to make this into the view east, but the shape of the bump on the horizon wasn’t looking right for Stone Mountain. I did think about it being a view north, since I couldn’t explain one building cluster in between…. So, conclusion, after consulting the multi-talented Guru: this is Kennesaw Mountain.

You’ve heard of New Coke?

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I just discovered New Coke Bottles….

Ah, material culture change…. I guess I don’t get out much. Or when I do, I’m not in the soda aisle at the groc store….

Conference news: I missed seeing the lovely Oralia because she’s suffering tooth problems. I’m sad. But I did see her hubby and get caught up a bit.

Conference news: Overwhelmingly, across the Maya lowlands, the “collapse” (whatever that is) preceeded the Maya drought you hear about. It’s hard to evoke cause-and-effect, therefore. And, prime-movers are out. At least with this example of sociocultural change.

As I write this, it is raining…*

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This gully is in the Mixteca Alta, which I’ve written a bit about here.

So, while much of the world was going about its business, I was cooped up inside an architecturally insipid hotel downtown listening to interesting and not so interesting papers on archaeology. Last night’s crop was really good, today’s more mundane….

The picture is of a “slide” someone put up (in these days of Keynote and it’s awful MS imitator, they’re no longer slides, but what to call them?), showing a huge erosional gully. The ladder is 4 m tall—that’s 13 feet. And the soil at the height of the guy standing on the ladder was deposited maybe AD 1400, so all that soil above his head was deposited in the last 500 years, then the whole mess suffered the erosion that made the eroded face we’re looking at. If that makes sense. (The soil at the bottom dates to about 7500 BC or so. That’s one heck of a lot of soil when you consider there’s a whole modest valley with this kind of deposition!)

Lesson: if you’re going to take away the vegetation in a mountainous region with friable soils, either maintain the ground surface or watch it wash away. There’s no middle ground.

*…and somewhere nearby I’m sure there’s plenty of red soil eroding (whosh!), too….

Big little (or little big)

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Whatever is that saying about acorns and mighty oaks?

We saw both on Sunday’s hike. This is the transition between the two Quercus states….

Capital idea

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I was downtown today, and it was windy. Sunny, too—mostly. Note how tattered one of the flags is; budget cuts?

KC Constantine (a pen name), in Blood Mud (1999, p. 278), speaks wry wisdom through his character Mario Balzic, now a retired police chief in a smallish rust belt town in western Pennsylvania (in earlier titles, he was still chief). Mario’s trying to reduce stress in his life, and struggling with that goal.

Naturally, he was immediately fascinated by the idea that a person could be addicted to thinking, which seemed to be the very opposite of addiction. Addiction implied compulsion, whether physical or emotional made no difference, and compulsion meant doing something repeatedly in spite of thoughts to the contrary. Not only that, thinking was something he’d been told all his life was ideal behavior…; all had told him to think before he acted or spoke, to not let any person or situation provoke him to do or say something he’d regret….

I think Constantine’s book The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes (1982) is my favorite. Plus, it’s hard to beat that title!