Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SWAT Port-a-potties

I know this is just silly, but...

You know when something awful happens in a neighborhood and the SWAT team comes out (thankfully) and maybe even the bomb squad? Sometimes there's a person barricaded in a home, and the police are there for hours and hours.

I never thought of this before, but they bring their own key-locked port-a-potties, bolted to a trailer. It makes sense. I mean, if you're evacuating civilians and deploying snipers, do you really want to knock on a door and say, "By the way, ma'am, may I use your bathroom?"

So I took a picture. Because even heroic death-defying law-enforcement officials have to pee at times.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Under the Sea Near Wales

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that the seas have risen over the millennia. Not making it up; as the glaciers receded and (now) the ice caps melt, more water is released into our oceans.

So historical sites are submerged.

An article from Wales Online tells how archaeologist Dr Andrew Petersen (pictured, looking quite rakish and Indiana Jones-ish) is searching off shore near the coast of Wales. Specifically, he hopes to find fish traps made of stone or willow, which may have been put in place a Long, Long Time Ago. Saber-tooth tiger era Long Ago. And in the process of seeking these fish traps--which are quite large--Dr. Petersen will also keep an eye open for things like fossilized forests that may tell us how people lived in the area many thousands of years ago.

Dr. Petersen did similar oceanic surveying in Qatar recently, and found an underwater mosque, fort, and homes. (Story here or BBC story-with-pictures here) So heck, who knows what may turn up?

Dr. Martin Bates, an environmental archaeologist, states in the Wales Online article that the current sea level was established 6000 years ago. "We are going to use multi-beam sonar surveys to look beneath the sand banks and see what is under the sea bed above the rock, that relates to the last Ice Age. This new science is still in its infancy.”

Exciting...makes me want to go back to school and learn all this new stuff. Except that there's probably tons of math and chemistry involved. More news will no doubt be forthcoming, since a Nations of the Sea Conference took place at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff three weeks ago, when this story appeared.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Good Earth Floors--a How-to

Now that I'm exploring the wonders of Twitter, I come across tons more stuff. Just what I needed, right? Only, since tweets are limited to a couple of lines, I don't have to read through much, just skim. Like scanning a counter full of scarves for a color that jumps out at you.

Here's what jumped out today: an article from England about putting in an earthen floor.

Once as ubiquitous as thatch roofs, over the centuries earthen floors have gone the way of ... um ... earthen floors.  Dirt is something you shake off as you walk inside, right? Not what you walk on inside the house.

Looking for pictures, I found a site called Build and Rebuild. Their "Earthen Floor" link sent me here, which is where ia found the picture and step by step instructions for the home builder.

I recall reading about how wonderful earth floors were, in The Horse of Pride. Helias recalled how his mother swept it--swept the dirt off the dirt floor, an image hard to shake. And as the UK Tobias Jones piece shows (the same one referenced above), a well-designed earth floor hardens into a rich, beautiful surface...eventually.

In the meantime, though, you're dumping sand (or straw or ash), manure, and clay together. In this modern effort, Tobias Jones laid in a gravel subfloor (I doubt that our ancient ancestors did that) and uses a cement mixer to toss his ingredients together.

Lacking a cement mixer, I wonder how the Celts put together their floor. In small batches, perhaps, mixing sand, manure, and clay in a vat and then dumping it on ground? A plot of ground cleared of large rocks, foliage, roots, etc...I don't recall ever reading about the construction of an ancient floor. A gravel subfloor makes so much sense, but has such a floor ever been found?

Tobias points out a couple of real advantages to the earthen floor. Flaws--cracks, dips, etc--can be so easily fixed. Second, there are no health risks--no asbestos hiding in the mix, no chemicals, no skin irritants, etc. That is surprising--isn't manure a prime ingredient? Not that I'd be setting food on the floor, but  isn't manure rather aromatic in an unpleasant way? Tobias never mentions a troubling smell.

He finishes with his plans to finish the floor with a layer of beeswax, although linseed oil is another option. Linseed oil, I learn from another blog (I love cob), is combustible, so be careful with that. This picture--of an earth floor after being treated with linseed oil, came from that blog as well.

An expert called in to consult on the floor was a felow called "Old Boar": Eddie Wills. His expertise is in Iron Age crafts, among other things, and he's trying to set up an Iron Age Lake Village. Another name to run through Twitter!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Garbled Spam

Time to award someone for their prodigious gall!

I delete a lot of spam commments on this blog. This one made me gotta credit this writer's stamina, hammering out a sales pitch with (I'm guessing) a dictionary and very cheap thesaurus before him or her.

I affair listening to music from my iPod while I'm on the emigrate, be it on the bus, the indoctrinate, or good while doing groceries. Quest of that saneness, I every time requirement a creditable span of stereo earphones with me, and of ambit on some days I'd like my earphones to be an whistles, where I match it with my outfit for that day. So I get a join of creator earphone every other month.

The typical links and garbage follow.

"on the emigrate"--was the writer looking for a synonym for on the road? and "the indoctrinate"--a class? But I'm mystified by the first phrase: "I affair listening to music".  I affair?  Too precious.