Friday, June 29, 2012

What is Moodle?

Over the last thirty days, my post Ethics of a Sinking Lifeboat has skyrocketed to the top of the charts.  In only a few days time, the post received almost 300 hits.  In the all-time history of the Journal, it has quickly gained almost double the number of visits as the old popular contender on Somali piracy.  All of this is due to Curtin University in Sarawak, Malaysia, where my post is a thread on some kind of discussion group.  While attention and fame are not to be belittled by an old swag-bellied pirate such as I, I do want to know WHY.  If ye anonymous hundreds care to speak, can ye let me in???

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Of Weather and Ancient Mariners: Brian Fagan's The Great Warming

How Lou met archaeology (after Jones)
Brian M. Fagan introduced a lot of people to archaeology, including myself.  The first book I remember reading on archaeology, well before getting to Berkeley, was Quest for the Past, which exposed me to some of archaeology's most famous moments, like Louis Leakey finding "The Cradle of Mankind" in Olduvai Gorge, Howard Carter getting into Tutankhamun's tomb, and, more locally, Richard Daughtery excavating the amazingly preserved, pre-contact Makah village of Ozette right here in Washington State.  Fagan's Archaeology:  A Brief Introduction, quite possibly the most widely used textbook in introductory archaeology classes, is now in its eleventh edition.  Fagan, now approaching his 76th birthday, is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is still a very prolific writer.  So when G'Ma once again had a book to pass down, I was pleased to see Fagan's name.  I hadn't read an archaeology book in a long time, and this was an old friend.

The central topic of The Great Warming:  Climate Change and the Rise an Fall of Civilizations, is the Medieval Warm Period, hereafter to be referred to as the MWP.  Proposed by the British meteorologist Hubert Lamb, the MWP was a period between roughly AD 800 and 1200 of what we would now call global warming.  The MWP was first applied to Medieval Europe, and for those cultures it was a grand time.  The general warming meant more settled weather, leading in turn to better farming, population growth, and that legendary time of kings, knights, serfs, and alewives; yes, the MWP was most definitely a factor in the history of beer.  Elsewhere, the MWP was downright malicious.  This is perhaps what drew G'Ma to this book:  It is a set of archaeological cautionary tales of how cultural strategies did and did not successfully respond to drastic climate change.  Here are a few of several striking cases, representative of Fagan's approach.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Logan storms Lake Union again!

Less than one week away now is the Seattle Center for Wooden Boat's annual festival.  Once again, "Pirate Lou" will be educating, fascinating, and frightening the youngsters with Pirate Storytime aboard the tugboat Arthur Foss.  Big up the CWB:  The Festival is five days long this year!!  Funny thing is, I was scheduled--and nearly in print--for all five days until I phoned and told them that I actually have a day job.  So for anyone in tune, in the area, and so inclined, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, at 1:00, I'll be puttin' on my me show.

Two challenges.  One, me chest, heavy with swag (garb, weapons, journal, booty), is in a shed by the carport behind three bicycles and a long set of stairs away from the captain's cabin.  Two, One Reel, the marketing force behind such Seattle pop behemoths as Bumbershoot, has "joined hands" with the CWB for the 4th of July.  I won't sully the partnership with a Planet of the Apes quote--oh, wait, I guess I just did--but if I see even more crass commercialization of the festival than I did last year, I'm gonna commandeer the whole gorram event.  Fortunately, the 4th is outside of my immediate sphere of influence, i.e. I won't be there.

My anti-establishment posturing aside, it'll be fun as always.  Peace ties don't matter here:  It's quick's the word and sharp's the action.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dodge again

It is a consistent, known problem.  I think too much.  I worry too much.  I look forward to things, but I can become so debilitated by my own brain that something I want to do, something I am looking forward to and know that I enjoy, can be put off over and over again because I feel, for no actual reason, like I'm not going to be able to, because I'm chicken.  It's human, I know.  But I get so sick of it as a human condition.

Am not!

The last time I went sailing was aboard the Betsy D in February.  Since then I have survived the cold of winter, the pollen of spring, the exhaustion of work, the ordeal of Zanne having an emergency cholecystectomy (she's OK), the shock of G'Ma nearly flatlining at Group Health Bellevue (she's OK), the stress of a drawn out move, and the damned old feeling that came with my own diagnosis of hypertension.  There's been a lot going on, but I have to admit that procrastination and needless worry are just as responsible.  Not any more.  On Tuesday, Zanne and I joined Dan on the Mirus again and returned to the Duck Dodge.  I'm back on the water.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Liberation is not without its bumps


1.  The relocation is done.  There is detritus, but there was no other way.  Our old landlord, always more than a bit clueless, was previously informed yet inevitably surprised and, thence, luckily (knock on wood) and fortunately silent.  Now we settle in...nest, if you will.  This will take a while, but in the mean time we have a second floor deck with a phenomenal view of Lake Washington.  I just spent a couple of hours watching the shifting wind and how one little sailboat, main only and trying on a broad reach, responded to the weather change.  We also have a newly adopted pet, the most purely white cat I have ever seen, a big girl transitioning by name from 'Mara' to 'Pyewacket,' which, in case you didn't know, is a moniker important both historically and fictionally.


2.  Liquor in Washington State has been emancipated.  This event is rightly to be celebrated and remembered, akin to Juneteeneth.  Yet I must admit to both mixed emotions and initially mixed results.  First, I had come to know the staff of the Renton State Liquor Store on a first name and very familiar basis.  Amy was Faire kin, and Christopher was a kindly, young soul...who also kept me in free moving boxes.  I'm not sure if I'll ever see them again.  Then there's Safeway.  A week before you could actually get any, there was an aisle previously occupied by bulk wine that was slowly stocked but unpriced and unattainable.  On June 1st, after work, I headed to our local supermarket to mark the event that I could get booze at our local supermarket.  The shoppers milled about, crowded and dazed, like they were not only new to drinking but also unsure how to deal with it.  I entered this confused school of thirsty fish knowing what I wanted but left a bit disappointed.  Gosling's satisfied me, naturally, but Gentleman Jack did not satisfy Zanne's taste for real bourbon, and there was no sign of legitimate potato vodka.  I was assured by the store manager that this would get better as they could actually order for themselves.   It never occurred to me that Initiative 1183 was going to be like transitioning private preschoolers to public kindergarten, but I should have known.  It's a learning experience.  It will get better.

So long, it's been good to know yuh.