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Murder to hoover

Not a carpet. Tile floor rucked up by centuries of earthquakes.

This family in Turkey wanted to build a hotel on land they owned, but because it was in a historical section they had to do an archaeological survey to see if there were any ruins. There were. And how. Traces of over a dozen different civilizations were found down there.

So they built the hotel on giant pylons right over the ruins, and the archaeologists just kept working. Pretty cool.

That tile floor is 4th Century and the largest single mosaic ever found.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m reduced to sourcing an article from the Daily Mail.

March 31, 2021 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 9

Bantam, my ass

My littlest chicken next to my biggest. Don’t worry about her, she’s quick and agile and more than capable of avoiding surprise chicken sex from that hulking lummox.

It was a GLORIOUS day here today. Sunny, not a cloud, getting near 70F. I sat in the garden most of the day, soaking it up.

I discovered an Ipheion uniflorum growing wild. No, no…don’t worry. I’m still allergic to horticulture. I looked it up with Google Lens.

Maybe everybody knew this, but I’ve just discovered that Lens – an app most known for reading QR codes – will identify plants for you. Take a snapshot, tap the Lens button, and it makes its best guess. I used it to figure out who the survivors are in the herb garden.

Here’s the thing about our little flower friend, though. How the hell did it get there? It’s growing out of a crack in the sidewalk. Wikipedia tells me the variety was brought to the UK in 1820 from somewhere near Buenos Aires and it’s grown from a bulb. We’ve been here 14 years and we didn’t plant it.

How in the Sam Hill did this bulb get under our pavement?

March 30, 2021 — 7:55 pm
Comments: 7

Lambs!

We went looking for lambs Saturday, as it was a bit early for our local woolbabies. Uncle B knew where to go that has early lambs every year.

You’ll notice the fuzzy dude in front is on the wrong side of the fence. He was in a panic because he couldn’t get back through.

Fortunately, we spotted someone in the barn behind, so we drove up and told him he had an escapee. Forty five minutes later, we were able to go on our way. People are starved for conversation.

Same thing happened at a farm stand later that afternoon – half an hour of jawing with a stranger.

Same thing happened to me today. Someone came into the office and spent an hour reminiscing. Then my neighbor caught me outside as I came home and bang went another forty five minutes. They’ve relaxed the rules just a tad and people are tumbling out of isolation.

I have a lot of talking in my future, I suspect.

Oh, and we have local lambs! Quite big ones. They are usually born right in the field behind us, but these appeared by the dozens looking some days old, so they must’ve used a lambing shed.

March 29, 2021 — 8:24 pm
Comments: 5

But what does it meeeean?

Not a lot is known about the Mesolithic in Britain – it starts just after the last Ice Age ended 11,000 years ago and ends 5,300 years ago with the beginning of agriculture, pottery and barrow building. So nothing left but rocks, basically.

But someone poking around an agricultural field in Yorkshire discovered it was a silted up ancient lake. Or, to be more precise, a peaty lake. And we know how good peat is at preserving things.

All kinds of cool things have since been dug up at the site, now called Star Carr. Like Britain’s oldest house (okay, a series of postholes) and those nifty antler hats. And this pendant, which is carved out of shale. They call it the oldest bit of Mesolithic artwork yet found in Britain.

But was it art? The lines are barely visible (they’ve been enhanced here). Such shallow cuts…I wonder if it was a counter of some kind. Or even a map.

The article at the link compares them to Danish amber jewellery of about the same time. I see the similarities, but the “barbed line technique” looks clearly decorative.

The Star Carr pendant looks like information to me, like it was somewhat quickly scratched into the surface. A crib sheet?

I’m getting in to this prehistory stuff. Have a good weekend, everyone!

March 26, 2021 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 12

Friends in low places

I’ve bitched before about my inability to get cinnamon candy in the UK. At least, not without paying scary Amazon “we flew these over first class for you today” prices. Well, lookee who has a 24-pack!

I made friends with a candy shop owner in town, who declared himself an essential business (candy is food, dammit) and thus is open. Dude knows his stuff. He got these and Hot Tamales for me. Also, he sells a mean chocolate-covered raisin.

The reason I put my big stupid hand in every photo is for scale. And so you can’t see how cluttered my countertops are.

Oh, watched Joe Biden’s presser earlier. I don’t usually watch press conferences, but his has the exciting unpredictable-but-potentially-disastrous atmosphere of Formula 1 racing or a high wire act.

He didn’t exactly crash and burn, though. He rambled, made a few oopsies, but his eyes were clear and his speech was a lot less slurred than it has been of late.

I want a bucket of whatever it is they shoot him up with before these things.

March 25, 2021 — 7:27 pm
Comments: 7

So that’s where they’re coming from

Got an email from MyHeritage, the family tree site, offering to let me try a thing called Deep Nostalgia™. I knew it was going to be that creepy deep fake face animation thing. And it was.

You know, where someone takes a mug shot of Hilter and credibly animates him singing “Yes, We Have No Bananas.” That thing. Lot of it about lately. Here’s an example, if you can stand to go to Faceache.

Well, the MyHeritage one doesn’t make granny sing. There are a whole slew of websites and apps that do this, I found when I poked around (Mug Life is an iPad version that seems to do a better than average job).

Back to MyHeritage, I uploaded a picture of a weasel first, but I got an error message telling me the app couldn’t detect a face.

Rude.

So I uploaded an actual picture of my face. I was smiling and wearing shades, which confused it a little. It did a moderately clever job of it, for the most part. I didn’t think the animated version was a very good likeness, but none of us is a good judge of our own face.

I notice it struggles most with the silhouette after bigger shifts in head angle, not surprisingly. Still, if it’s this good now, calculated in realtime, running on a web-based app, I can’t imagine how good it’s going to get.

I can see this posing a major problem to someone who’s bereaved.

March 24, 2021 — 7:28 pm
Comments: 7

This is me, now

I make coffee while I unload the dishwasher every morning. The first thing I take out is a spoon to stir the carafe. When the dishwasher is empty and the coffee is ready, that spoon is the first thing I put back in. This morning, I caught myself thinking what a shit life that poor spoon has. Five minutes a day outside a dishwasher.

That’s right: I started the day sharing empathy with a spoon.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the lockdown in the UK. They sold it to us as “two weeks to flatten the curve.” I have lost count of the number of times since then they have offered a little freedom only to snatch it away at the last minute. Classic behavioral psych.

“National Day of Reflection” my ass.

I wish I had done something worth doing for the past twelve months, but I’ve mostly drunk coffee and shitposted.

Oh, speaking of which – I am out of Twitter jail. I got put inside February 1st for reasons unknown. I’m a mild voice, so I suspect it was because my VPN showed me coming from someplace stupid and improbable. Albania is a favorite.

They wanted a phone number to unfreeze it and I really, really didn’t want to give them one. So today I tried the novel approach of writing them and asking nicely to unfreeze.

Ta da!

March 23, 2021 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 24

They were different then

If you were anywhere near social media yesterday, you probably saw this story, but I wanted more than the tweet version.

In 1930, Indiana Bell needed a new headquarters because the old one was too small. They wanted it on the same lot, but the old building had to keep functioning throughout. So they moved the building sixteen yards South, rotated it 90 degrees and then moved it 30 yards West and built the new building on the spot it had just vacated.

It moved about fifteen inches a month, mostly by way of hand-operated jacks. When all the jacks were pumped, the building moved 3/8 of an inch.

The building was fully functional the whole time: gas, electricity, sewage, phone. There was a wooden sidewalk built in the shape of an arc around the movement.

The original building was demolished in 1963. 🙁

More story from Kottke, Amusing Planet, Wikipedia. Animation: YouTube, GIF.

March 22, 2021 — 7:58 pm
Comments: 7

Makes watching paint dry seem dizzying

Have you heard of the Pitch Drop Experiment? It’s the longest-running ongoing lab experiment EVER.

Pitch, like what they put on the hulls of ships, seems like a solid at room temperature. Even brittle. But it ain’t. It’s a very, very viscous liquid, 100 billion times more viscous than water.

To demonstrate this, Thomas Parnell, University of Queensland’s first Professor of Physics, made a thing. In 1927, he heated some pitch and poured it into a sealed glass funnel. After three years – I guess he wanted to make very, very sure it was cool – he snipped the end of the funnel off and waited. And waited. And waited.

It has taken eight to thirteen years for each drop to fall. It’s a demonstration, not a proper experiment, so it isn’t in an environmentally-controlled environment. Meaning, it makes faster progress when it’s hot out.

Nobody has ever seen a drop fall. Per the link above: “In the 86 years that the pitch has been dripping, various glitches have prevented anyone from seeing a drop fall.” I don’t know what ‘glitches’ happen outside computers, I merely repeat what I have read.

But you might see it! It has a webcam! The ninth drip fell in 2014, so only another two to eleven years to go on Tenth Watch.

I know what I’m doing this weekend. Have a good one!

March 19, 2021 — 7:16 pm
Comments: 6

Darling, Darling

The caption to this one is:

Edwin (suddenly, after a long pause) “Darling!”
Angelina “Yes, Darling!?”
Edwin “Nothing, Darling. Only Darling, Darling!”
[Bilious Old Gentleman feels quite sick]

I have found the Punch cartoon archives! Naturally, I’m paddling around in the Victorian era, when the magazine was most influential.

It was founded in 1841 by a writer and a wood engraver, reached peak circulation in the 1940s, declined until its demise in 1992, revived in 1996 and died again in 2002.

I love a good editorial cartoon. We saw a program the other day about editorial cartoons that lamented that, with the decline of newspapers and magazines, there weren’t many any more.

Dude, what do you think memes are?

March 18, 2021 — 9:13 pm
Comments: 5