Cool Pix

June 12, 2008 at 7:37 am (History, Travel)

Maybe it’s my Indiana Jones complex, but when I saw these pictures, I was pretty impressed. Apparently, these come from an early Christian sanctuary just recently rediscovered, a hidden cave underneath a known ruined church in Jordan. The cave may have been a secret meeting place for Christians, during the period when Christianity was still persecuted by the Roman Empire. Later, when Christianity became legal, they would have built the later church on top of the cave, and then forgotten about the original sanctuary. Read the rest of this entry »


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A Grand Experiment

May 12, 2008 at 6:26 pm (Computers, Environment, Family, Travel)

My two fearless readers: I am about to request your participation in an experiment so thrilling, so dangerous, that I would not be surprised at all if you disowned me at the very first mention of it. Yes, I need your help testing… my geotagging.

“Your what?” you might say.

“My geotagging,” I would calmly reply, only the fires of anticipation glowing in my eyes to display my real excitement.
Read the rest of this entry »

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World Enough and Time…

March 26, 2008 at 4:34 pm (Diving, Education, History, Travel)

Just when I thought that all of the great ancient voyages had been replicated, some visionary (and presumably financially well-connected) Brit has to go and prove me wrong. Sigh. If only I (a) didn’t have a baby on the way (not that I’d trade that in for anything) and (b) didn’t get seasick by stepping within fifteen feet of a boat. But it sounds like a grand adventure, doesn’t it?

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In Memoriam

March 20, 2008 at 1:59 pm (Books, Comics, History, Horror, Languages, Movies, Travel)

It saddens me greatly to think that we have lost two of the greatest minds in the history of science fiction and fantasy in the last two weeks. On March 4, Gary Gygax passed away, and then, just two days ago, Arthur C. Clarke died in Sri Lanka. Arthur C. Clarke, I must confess, never made that significant of an impact on me, although I recognize his influence on the field of science fiction and, frankly, science. I’ve only actually read one of his books, Rama Revealed (which was an excellent novel, although it will also make you loathe the base nature of the human race), and I’ve only seen 2001: A Space Odyssey once. However, he fell into the brilliant class of authors who wrote what is called “hard science fiction,” that is, sci-fi that is firmly tied into what we know/believe to be possible, and was quite a visionary: For example, he was the first person to suggest the system of communication satellites which currently orbit the Earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve Seen Stuff Like This Happen

February 27, 2008 at 10:42 pm (Humor, Travel)

And trust me, it isn’t pretty. But it sure is funny! One time on the excavation, our foreman came in with some tarps that he was setting up. After a minute or so, I could swear that I smelled smoke, but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Our foreman insisted that it came from the fields being burned in the area (even though there weren’t any actively being burned). After another minute, one of my diggers smelled it, too. But the foreman still insisted that it came from the burning fields. Finally, I insisted on looking around, and quickly realized that the smoke was coming from him! He’d been smoking a cigarette outside the site before coming into my dig area, and had accidentally tossed his cigarette butt onto the tarp he was preparing. The but had then ignited the tarp in a few areas. It was easily put out, after which Massoum (the digger) and I spent the next two minutes rolling on the floor with laughter. It felt like one of those Looney Toons where Daffy or Bugs sets his tail on fire and doesn’t know it. Or, maybe you just needed to be there.

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Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, anyone?

November 23, 2007 at 9:16 pm (Humor, Sports, Travel)

A month or so back, Penny Arcade linked to an old US military Titan missile base that was being sold.  I, of course, was immediately interested, not JUST because it still has the three missile silos intact, but ALSO because the bulk of the complex consists of a series of massive underground hangers and buildings.  I immediately began thinking about hosting Ren Faires and fantasy LARPers there, since what nerd would turn down a chance to hang out in a mothballed missile base?  It’s like the news that NORAD was being turned over to the National Park Service.  Camping in a cold war stronghold, anyone?

George, however, one-upped me.  He suggested turning one or more of the old silos into an underground climbing wall.  Then, we’d turn most of the underground hangers into hotel space, and make the whole thing a luxury outdoors/action sport resort.  People would be able to get their “game” on either above or below ground, and relax after a hard day of climbing or biking or whatever in the massage parlor, or the 5-star restaurant, or perhaps in the underground swimming pool.  So, if anyone has 1.5 million dollars that they want to use to fund this project, just get in touch with me…

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The Failed Experiment

November 1, 2007 at 1:36 pm (Dissertation, Family, Travel, Writing)

Sadly, I have been forced to mark my recent trip to Connecticut as a failure. Not because of any lack of fun or happiness in the trip itself; we had a great time, got to see a lot of family and friends, and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely. However, in terms of my “grand experiment,” to blog the entire trip on a daily basis, I was (as you can see from the lack of posting on the blog) rather unsuccessful. Read the rest of this entry »

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Digital Locative Storytelling

October 24, 2007 at 2:45 pm (Arts, Books, Comics, Computers, Movies, Travel, Writing)

I’ve been thinking rather a lot about geotagging lately, not only because my new job is with a project to map cultural heritage data, such as archaeological sites and antiquities collections, onto Google Earth. In fact, it really starts with my recent trip to Spain (which maybe I’ll blog about one of these days, if I can ever get over my perfectionist streak), namely, the possibility of geotagging my photos to construct a locative narrative. For those of you who don’t know, “geotagging” is the act of adding longitude and latitude data to a photograph (or any digital object, really), which enables it to then be plotted on a map. And “locative” is a great linguistic term referring to units which mark a noun as a place at which something happens, and which I’ve borrowed to also describe any narrative in which geographic location is an important component (not just that the actors in the narrative travel, but that the viewer of the narrative travels, as well). I have two main questions. The first is, “Why?” and the second is “How?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Santa Cruz Island

October 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm (Diving, Environment, Travel, Writing)

(I originally wrote this in mid-July, and just never got around to revising and posting it. So, here it is, months late!)

According to the official National Parks’ reservation website, Santa Cruz Island has campsites set aside for walk-ins.

Now, that may not seem odd to you at first. After all, doesn’t every national park have some campsites set aside for reservations, and others available on a first-come, first-serve basis? Sure. But other national parks aren’t, well, islands. Getting to Santa Cruz requires a one-hour boat ride from Ventura Harbor that sets you back $60. This isn’t really the kind of thing that you just do on a lark, hoping they’ll have space for you. Getting out to the island isn’t a jaunt, it’s an investment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Adventures in Riesling

July 1, 2007 at 3:22 pm (Humor, Travel, Wine, Writing)

Note: This entry is a fuller description of a story synopsized elsewhere in the blog. Please forgive me repeating myself as I play around with storytelling.

During a recent trip to California’s Central Coast region, my wife and I dined at a well-known restaurant, the name of which I feel inclined to withhold. This isn’t because our meal or the service was in any way lacking; in fact, the opposite was the case. It just seems more… polite, if you will, to grant the sommelier in question a certain amount of anonymity, since the experience, in the final analysis, wasn’t negative, just rather bizarre. Read the rest of this entry »

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