June 16th, 2013

Dead Dog Cat

Archaeology class from Coursera, week one assignment.

Artifacts: 1. Pen: plastic, colored red white and black, with advertising for the drug Vytorin on the barrel (Context: sitting in front of monitor on the computer desk). Inorganic.

2. thumb drive: black plastic and metal, emblazoned with "Microsoft" (Context: sitting in front of monitor on the computer desk, approximately 7cm to the right of the pen above) Inorganic.

3. postage stamp, USA, 22cents, with Uncle Sam on it (Context: partially covered by thumb drive) Organic.

4. deck of standard playing cards, marked on the back with the Magic: The Gathering logo, still in plastic wrap (Context: on shelf above the monitor) Organic

5. metal can of gas, marked "Dynex Compressed Gas Duster" (Context: 4cm to right of playing cards on same shelf) Inorganic

Features: 1.Pair of filing cabinets filled with ancient papers from at least 16 years ago, heavily filled with dust (I couldn't lift them as is. Maybe when I was younger...)

2. Bookshelf, filled with books and a number of other artifacts. Pretty heavy; two of us could probably lift this, but I couldn't alone.

After some thought, though, I choose to return to this portion of the question. Two features of the room come to mind, the first being the window shades, wooden slats stained dark brown, attached to the wall around the window, and therefore immobile; the second shelving in the closet: not particularly heavy, but immobile.

Association: Within 6cm lies an external hard drive, a bag of Moong Dal, opened and partially eaten, and a stack of papers topped by a Nook in a black leather protective cover. These seem to be randomly tossed together, however all three are within easy reach of the computer desk chair. Not too far away are also a plastic bottle of water, partially drunk, a Zip drive, not presently connected to the computer, and a stack of Zip discs. Under the pile of papers is a scanner.

Stratification: On the upper shelf, there are stacks of computer program packages, some still plastic-wrapped. They are irregularly stacked, not straightened. There are also in other places in easy reach several stacks of papers and folders, some spilling off to the side. The programs are in order of age of purchase, not necessarily age of production. On the very top of one of the stacks is a pile of about a dozen pieces of colored paper. The contents of these papers are not visible from this position, and their contents are long forgotten by me.

The most valuable artifact in sight of my seat is probably the Nook. The most meaningful artifact in sight is an aloha shirt hanging from the back of the door, handmade by my wife. They are not one and the same. Although I use the Nook constantly, and have it loaded with hundreds of files, the emotional value of the shirt is vastly higher.
Dead Dog Cat

Assignment two from archaeology class

Option 2:

Artifact 1: A cardboard box, rectangular, partially filled with soft papers folded in such a way as a new piece rises as each is pulled out. The box has some writing on it including a logo, and a gray and white design. There is an opening on the top out of which the papers extrude. This opening is partially filled with a cellophane material slashed in the middle. Organic.

Artifact 2: A green glass bottle 750ml capacity with paper labels and an aluminum screw cap. A small amount of sparkling mineral water remains in the bottle. Inorganic.

Burial in Egypt would cause a breakdown of artifact one, leaving little more than powder. What little might be found would easily be buried under sand. There is a question as to whether or not there would be any remnants of the cellophane. Artifact two would survive fairly well unless crushed by pressure; even so the shards should be in proximity of each other, and might be able to be recombined. Note that there would be variations of survival depending on the positions of the artifacts with respect to the proximity to the Nile River. In addition, there are fault lines not far from the region which would cause some diffusion of artifacts.

Burial in my neighborhood in the Inland Empire of Southern California would rapidly destroy artifact one between intermittent rains and occasional wildfires. On the other hand, artifact two might be destroyed by debris flows that occur in response to rains in the mountains. Pieces under those circumstances would likely to be spread over a wide area, as we live in an alluvial fan several miles from the foothills of the local mountain chain. In addition, these artifacts presently sit only a dozen miles or so from the San Andreas fault, not to mention dozens of other faults in the area that could slip, causing earthquake activity which could cause liquefication of the underlying ground, spreading remnants of the artifacts in terms of stratification as well as in surface area.

Were the items to be left on a glacier in Alaska, first of all, both artifacts would be in constant motion. The surface of the glacier is in constant flux, cracking and melting. This would likely lead to artifact two slipping into a crevasse, falling underneath the ice sheet and then being crushed and powdered by its weight, and unlikely to be ever found. I doubt that paper would be any more likely to survive. This leads me to ponder what sorts of artifacts we are unable to find from thousands of years ago due to the effects of the Ice Ages. Finally, any remnants of the artifacts would be dragged to the shoreline, to be washed out to sea or left at the terminal moraine.

I would have to say that both of these artifacts are fragile, but the bottle is more survivable than the box.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

OK, so I'm doing a Coursera class again, this one being Archaeology; the instructor is a hoot (from Brown University), and the coursework is interesting. Considering that there's dozens of courses from a number of major universities and it's all free, it's worth the effort.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Over the last several days, I've streamed or watched on DVD a number of movies and other similar entertainments. The first was Jay and Silent Bob Go Down Under which was forgettable. Second was My Name is Modesty which could have been better. Thirdly, I put on Beasts of the Southern Wild, which disinterested me. Then finally, I popped on Cloud Atlas which was seriously odd, hopping through many storylines, in the end all connected albeit in sometimes precarious ways. That one, I'd recommend.

We've also been dabbling in TED talks, previously viewed Battlestar Galactica episodes, and season one of Veronica Mars, the latter of which is pretty fantastic.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

I forgot to post, a few days back, that I'd finished reading another book, this one being: Osprey Fortress #20: British Home Defenses 1940 – 45, which was mildly interesting. It dealt with whatever fortifications, harbor defenses and air defenses that the British used during WWII.