Friday, June 25, 2010

Fieldwork Pix

Some photos taken while doing preliminary fieldwork. The house (probably eighteenth century) is long abandoned, and unfortunately not part of the project. The buzzard on the chimney is a nice touch! Anyone know what those little white flowers are? They look like morning glories, but are very small.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster and Cultural Resources

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster continues to unfold. While there is some good news that they've been able to capture some of the oil currently spewing out of the ground, they're not catching all of it. Frankly, based on BP's track record of blowing smoke on how much oil is gushing into the oceans, I don't believe their numbers. I will go with "they are catching some of it."

Part of the problem with BP bullshitting about how much oil there was flowing into the ocean, is that the emergency response was planned around those really, really low numbers (1,000 barrels a day, they said). Most people are aware of the ecological impacts of the oil to the fisheries, marshes, and wildlife, and of the economic impacts to the fishermen, tourism industries, and even the oil industry. But most people are not aware that the spill also has impacted, and will continue to impact, cultural resources, including historic and prehistoric archaeological sites, historic structures, Civil War military sites, shipwrecks, etc.

For starters, here is the oil spill as it was on June 5, with Binghamton, NY as its source (still nothing personal, B'ton...):

The spill projected with Binghamton, NY as its source, as of June 5, 2010. Via

Here is the projection as of June 18, 2010:

The spill projected with Binghamton, NY as its source, as of June 18, 2010. Via

US/ICOMOS (U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites) has a website with an interactive map where you can see cultural resources that are threatened by the spill, and areas where the spill has reached the shore. It doesn't translate as anything I can reproduce here, but click on the link above, and then click on the icons for details on the cultural resource. It looks like a lot, but they've left off archaeological sites and shipwrecks to discourage looting. The potential for archaeological sites along the waters' edge, particularly around marshes and tidal estuaries is generally pretty high -- transitional zones like that often provide a huge variety of food resources, as well as access to the Gulf for travel and trade, and easily accessible areas for initial exploration and settlement. The number of shipwrecks noted for the area is "many." I was alerted to this link from the Historic Preservation Group at LinkedIn.

The National Park Service also has a website detailing their response to the Spill. Several National Parks and properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places (which is managed by the National Park Service) are being affected.

And finally, we shouldn't forget that eleven people lost their lives when the rig exploded in the first place. This huge disaster and its media circus is also a very, very personal tragedy for people who have lost friends and loved ones, and for those whose means of making a living have also been lost.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Camera Spin

Trail at Ganondagan, New York, June 13, 2010

I just returned home from an unscheduled trip to the Great White North. It was a mixed trip; sadness for a grandparent who is very, very ill and joy at seeing a very dear friend and watching siblings and second cousins mix it up at a local contra dance for the first time. As I get older, I get more and more practice at simultaneously holding wildly conflicting emotions.

Seneca Knitting Mills, Seneca Falls, New York. Wesleyan Chapel is to the right. The National Women's Hall of Fame is restoring the Knitting Mills and will move in when the work is done. I can't wait to see the inside! June 9, 2010

During the drive, I made a few stops to get out of the car and stretch my legs. A couple of stops, at Taughannock Falls and Women's Rights National Historical Park, are standard for me when I'm in the area. I also made a new stop at a place near Victor, New York called Ganondagan -- the former location of a Seneca town destroyed in 1687, and now a New York State Historic Site. Really nicely kept trails; I took "The Earth is Our Mother" trail out to Great Brook. Quite the workout, especially in the humidity, but well worth a visit to falls on Great Brook at the end.

Taughannock Falls, from the overlook, no zoom. June 9, 2010

Taughannock Falls, taken from the same location as above, using the camera's zoom. I'm pretty happy! June 9, 2010.

The Longhouse at Ganondagan, June 13, 2010

The falls at Great Brook, Ganondagan, June 13, 2010

It was a good excuse to take my new camera out for a spin. I need more practice with it, but so far, so good!

Reconstruction of the Wesleyan Chapel at Women's Rights National Historical Park continues. It should be finished by the end of June. The exterior structure is mostly done; I couldn't get a good peek inside. June 9, 2010.

A closeup of the new brick (lighter) and the original 1843 Wesleyan Chapel brick and stone foundation (darker, to the right). The brickwork looks fine to me; at the moment, the discontinuity in the foundation from stone to nothing bothers me. June 9, 2010

A structural history of the Wesleyan Chapel. Quite the dog's breakfast; I am still amazed that any of the original building was in there, and that people remembered its significance. The folks at the Park very kindly let me take a photo of their display. I need to figure out how to kill the fisheye effect, especially for flat things like this. I left this file big; click to embiggen for details. June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Courseblogging: Course Blog

One week from now, this online course will be behind me. Which is good, because then I can sleep!

I have to say that my students really stepped up. The online discussions, conducted in blog format, have been particularly successful, in my opinion. I start with an overall theme, pretty general -- for example, "culture and evolution," and give them a few resources to start from. I've used radio podcasts, websites, YouTube, TED talks, and blog posts (secretly exposing them to The Internets Beyond Google). They need to summarize and respond to the posted resources (at least 2 posts), and to each other. As the course has progressed, the students have increasingly engaged each other in discussion, including posting their own internet resources. Some of what has been posted has been fantastic, and I'll be using myself next semester. Periodically, the discussion gets off track, or someone draws an incorrect conclusion from the material, and I'll hop in to push things back on track.

I may well try integrating a similar discussion blog into my real-world classes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Toy

I just bought a new digital camera. I've had my Olympus D-460 Zoom forever and a day now. The photos are still pretty good, and fine for work stuff, but I've noticed the quality starting to deteriorate. The colors are off, and at 1.3 megapixels, grainy for any sort of zooming in. The D-460 will be moving to my car to continue service as a work camera.

I just received a shiny new Kodak EasyShare Z915. One of the big office box stores just had a ridiculous sale on it; originally $199, they had it for $120. My test photo of my computer screen came out all fish-eyed and weird, but that may be because I'm practically sitting on it. I am looking forward to taking the camera out for a spin and putting it through its paces.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Visualizing the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The spill projected with Binghamton, NY as its source, as of June 5, 2010.

For several weeks now, I've had the blog "Strange Maps" in my RSS feed. Today, as I flipped through my RSS, Strange Maps had featured a website where, through the magic of Google Earth and data made available by the government, you could project the current extent of the spill over any location on earth. It looks so small when you see the extent in the Gulf itself.

When I dropped it over where I live, much of it extended into the ocean, so I shifted it inland (nothing personal, Binghamton, honest!). It's huge, people... and getting huger.