Dead Sea Seashells, Segment D, part 5 of 6


These shells are those of “keyhole” limpets. Like true limpets, the “keyhole” limpet has a conical shell. However, the creatures that produce these shells are a type of sea snails, and not closely related to limpets.The hole at the top allows the creature to expel water and waste. Typically, such snails are bottom feeders, feeding on vegetable or other organic waster material.

Bargaining with Calligraphy

A page from Queen Victoria's journalsI have been attempting to learn calligraphy.

You might be wondering why I decided I needed another hobby. Or possibly that was me.

Of course, I would simply tell myself that “this isn’t really a hobby, it’s just for this one thing.” And then, I would tell myself that for some reason, I’ve decided to share my internal dialog with you.

Probably, since you are not me, I need to add a few brushstrokes.

You might recall that new project I started in January? The peculiar museum known as “The SHUSH?”  Well, it’s still going on. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

Anyway, as part of that project of dubious exhibits, I have been working on calligraphy. No, I’m not going to be specific, you’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else. Suffice it to say that, I have a tendency to go to weirdly absurd lengths to produce results that a) no one other than me will notice, and b) will only hold the viewer’s attention for about 90 seconds.

To illustrate what I mean by “absurd,” here’s a run-down of tasks I have undertaken to produce a document that will likely be fewer than five hand-written pages:

  1. Bought four basic calligraphy pens, the kind with small ink capsules, with assorted nibs, in multiple colors (I will need two colors of ink for this project).
  2. Bought a pad of calligraphy guide paper.
  3. Bought parchment paper to use for the eventual end product.
  4. Bought a book on basics of calligraphy.
  5. Learned that for some reason I’ve not yet fathomed, I am only capable of getting an ink cartridge to work for about two lines of practice text, and then all I’m doing is scratching the practice paper up and bending several nibs out of wack.
  6. Spent hours trying to make the out of wack nibs work.
  7. Decided that I was NOT going to buy any more nibs if they weren’t going to last longer than this, and decided to go find some of the marker sort of calligraphy pens.  Buy a set of four.
  8. Get home and realize the tips on the set of four are *way* wider than I want, and that to write one sentence with these honking big tipped pens, I’d need 10 pages of parchment.
  9. Went to a different store to find smaller tipped marker style pens, and bought four more pens plus a fountain pen that had a reservoir built into it that was not refillable, in case none of the marker-types were going to work.
  10. Could not find parchment paper I bought months ago, and bought more.
  11. Started working with the new collection of tools, to disappointing results that look no different than if I had used a normal ball point pen, no matter how much I tried.
  12. Looked at actual examples of letters between persons of the Victorian era (including Victoria’s own handwriting) (that’s the only hint you’ll get from me) and realized that, for the most part, the handwriting is pretty much like my normal cursive hand, and even if written with a quill, could pretty much be produced with any pen and no one would be the wiser. Except me. And, let’s face it, I’ve already thought about this far too much.
  13. Covered my fingers in ink blotches, and tried to figure out how the accursed pens can get ink all over my fingers, the pen grip and the barrel, but leave no trail of ink from the tip of the pen nor on the piece of paper.

I can only say that when I finally do get this thing completed, I hope you have forgotten all of this, and you look at the finished result and think, “That is surely a handwritten letter from the late 19th century! How remarkable it is to have survived until today!” If you don’t think that, could you at least have the decency not to mention it to me? Thanks.

Dead Sea Seashells, Part 4 of 6, Segment C

Scallop-type shells
Segment C is a group of small bi-valve shells. One of the shells also exhibits the characteristic circular hole in the apex of the shell. Like the other holed specimens, the hole looks like it was made with a drill, and, in this case, makes a convenient aperture for affixing a cord or chain for use in jewelry or other decorative ornaments.

Will I Be Forced to Surrender My Geek Card?

Official Geek Card
I am taking this week off from my normal day job, and in my mind, I had imagined that I would spend the week writing, and emerge with many pages of finished work, and feel like I’d accomplished something with that time. I’m even house sitting, and I imagined that getting myself away from my house would actually force myself to work.

That was before I learned that my hosts had Netflix.

I am doomed.

You might recall I am quite fond of television, and I have not seen a single one of the shows produced exclusively for the streaming content provider. Sure, I’m connected to their DVD service, but, they don’t put their exclusive content onto DVDs. That means I’ve had to live without seeing the Gilmore Girls’ revival, and all that Marvel content that those in geekly circles have been raving about. I’ve been hearing talk that I might be required to return my geek card to whatever authority issues these things. I don’t acknowledge anyone as the Arbiter of All Things Geek, so, mostly it’s a way to disguise my own insecurities. Who am I kidding? I’m not anxious about my geek cred. I’m just jealous.

And here I am, presented with free time and access.

If I were disciplined enough to get things done *WITHOUT* the distraction of Netflix, I don’t really have much of a chance against this temptation.

And yet, as I type that out, I cringe at surrendering.

I can fight against my weakness. I can make it a story about how, against all temptations, I succeeded in conquering the insidious power of Netflix and their sneaky play the next episode in 5…4…3…2…1. Dangit.

It’s not easy. And they know that. It’s so easy to just let the episodes roll on and on in a continuous river of plots and characters and shiny things. Maybe I can use it as a carrot, to reward success and encourage me to turn it off after a single episode.

Anything is possible.

In my youth, I was much better at impulse control, and certainly, those that know me will say that I’m still pretty good about it in many respects. At least, I think they will. So long as my checks clear. But, they also know my Kryptonite, and might not be willing to take a bet on this either way, no matter how many zeros I add to the checks. Which is probably for the best, as it will only take one more zero before they all bounce.

I guess the one bright spot is that I’m more addicted to sleep than I am to binge watching, so, I know I will turn it off so I can get a good night’s rest, maybe, I can just tell myself that I really need a nap, and then trick myself into staying awake. I’ll let you know if it works, but, in the meantime, I need a nap.

Dead Sea Seashells, Part 3 of 6, Segment B

A seashell with holes in it

This shell highlights one of the most unusual traits exhibited by about half of the shells known as the Dead Sea Seashells. While the shell itself seems to be that of a typical bi-valve (such as a clam, or a mussel), it has a series of holes, evenly spaced along its long edge. The holes appear to have been made with a drill, though the true origin of the holes has not been determined.

Dead Sea Seashells, Part 2 of 6, Segment A

Segment A, Dead Sea seashells

Segment A of the Dead Sea Seashells Collection is a assorted group of gastropod shells. Like the entire collection, these were from the cache of shells discovered in a plastic bucket on the shore of the Dead Sea.

One of the most common kind of shells found on the shores of beaches all over the world, these are produced by aquatic snails. There are an estimated 30,000 species of aquatic gastropods, and they produce an astonishing variety of shells.

When Your House is More Famous Than You

My hail damaged house

If you live in Denver, you know that on Monday, May 8, we got an epic hailstorm with stones up to baseball size. It came late in the afternoon. I was at work, which got little more than heavy rain. As I had also not gotten a text message from the dog, I figured things were probably fine at home.

When I got halfway home I started to see signs that perhaps I should possibly revise my optimistic estimation. It might’ve been the piles of hailstones heaped like snowbanks along the side of the road, or the leaf covered vehicles that resembled mobile hedges.

As I got to my neighborhood, I caught a glimpse of my house through the rear view mirror, and saw lots of dark spots on the front of the house. The fog of optimism convinced me they were clumps of damp leaves from the plum tree. I continued toward the library to discover a lake where the road used to be. I avoided the lake, and started seeing additional evidence of an extended neighborhood-wide machine gun battle, and I again adjusted my aggressively crumbling wall of denial into a nice river of panic.

I skipped the library and went home.

The “black spots” on my house turned out to be my insulation peeking out from the nice new holes punched into my house’s crunchy exterior. The shutters were shattered and lying in bits. The flower box had fallen into a bush. The screens looked like ragged curtains. One window was broken. It looked like a bomb had gone off. My neighbor and her family were out in the yard staring at the carnage.

Our house was the one that drew everyone’s gaze. While the neighbors ostensibly assessed their own damage, they cast surreptitious glances at our house of horror, and pretended they weren’t staring.

In fact, one of these schadenfreude suggested we were already set for Halloween. I wondered if she read my column.

Every car that passes comes to a dead stop as they encounter our house on the corner. Faces mouth OMG (except they don’t use the initials) and some unabashedly whip out their cell phones to capture the dramatic storm aftermath. Within hours, pictures of my house were on the news, via Twitter and as part of the lead storm story.

As far as the lookie-loos were concerned as they snapped pictures of the house which caused their eyes to bug out and their jaws to drop, there was only this blasted house – they did not register the people standing outside it getting the mail or stapling plastic over the shattered windows.

Friends from all over sent email and Facebook messages telling me that my house was on the news. It was the picture with the headline on the front page of the 9news website for all of Tuesday.

And the worst part is that the house KNOWS it is the poster child of the disaster, and this information is going straight to its attic.

It’s started to realize that it is much more famous than me, its image having been retweeted many more times than any tweet I’ve ever made.  It’s even taking credit for KTCL’s storm meme with a house that *looks* like it.

A few days ago, we got a flyer from a siding and roofing company (not hired by us in any capacity), that had a picture of my house as half the advertisement. The flyer was not mailed to me, but was put in my mailbox. The house decided that meant it was now too popular to put up with me as a resident. It demanded that I improve my social media standing, or get out immediately. In exiting, it wants me to somehow guarantee that the next inhabitant be someone who has more than 75 twitter followers, and who is worthy of the house’s fame.

I really don’t need another source of anxiety, so I’m blocking that ungrateful structure from my social media feeds. Watch me pick new siding that makes it look fat.

The Dead Sea Seashells, Pt 1 of 6

Seashells, arranged in 5 groups
One of the rarest collections in the SHUSH Museum, these seashells were discovered on the shore of the Dead Sea in a plastic bucket.

The wide array of shell types found were unprecedented, and studying the collection revealed some unique characteristics of this rare sub-type of seashells.

As a whole, these unique shell specimens remind us that the world is filled with undiscovered mysteries.

Ancient Roman Drawer Pull

A bit of bronze, turning green. It looks like a knob.

This is a bronze drawer pull was made for a wealthy Roman household. Once-elegant, this knob once adorned a cabinet or dresser in a home of of one of the Roman elite. Dated from 100 – 200 AD, this artifact was found in the ruins of the ancient city of Antium, a port known for being the home of many wealthy Romans, and as the birthplace of the Emperor Nero.

Antium is known today as Anzio, and even today, the remains of Roman villas can be seen. It is located about 30 miles south of Rome.

The Glass of Water Elvis Drank

A glass half-filled with water

This partially filled glass of water, was left on the nightstand half-full of water in the Hilton Hawaiian Village where “The King” stayed while he was filming Blue Hawaii. This glass has miraculously stayed filled at the same level since that stay in the hotel in 1961.

Buy this postcard