OMG I CALLED THE GOVERNMENT

aardvark7

If you’re an American (and even if you’re not) you probably have lots of opinions right now.  I won’t beat you over the head with mine, this isn’t that kind of blog, but I did want to tell you that I CALLED THE GOVERNMENT.  I hate calling people.  I order pizzas online so I don’t feel like I’m bothering the workers.  Contacting our senators and representatives and telling them how to vote about things is completely within our rights, after all they do technically work for us.  I’ve signed a bazillion petitions and sent all sorts of emails, but I keep reading that it’s more effective to call their offices directly, so tonight I gave it a shot.

The format for defeating the Calling-the-Government panic attack:

  1. THE CONGRESSPERSON IS NOT GOING TO PICK UP THE PHONE.  They have staff for that.  You’ll be speaking to an underling (or an answering machine) who will just log your opinion and tell their boss about it later.  That’s not so scary, right?
  2. Familiarize yourself with how this works so there aren’t so many unknowns to cause you anxiety.  Google and YouTube have an abundance of material.
    1. If you want to talk to an actual person, watch this video to get an idea of what the process is like.  The woman who answered asked him for some information but as I understand it they don’t usually ask a lot of questions and if they do you can tell them you don’t need a response if you don’t want to give it to them.  I think they do need your zipcode though, just so they know you’re in their district.
    2. If talking to humans isn’t your thing, plan to call outside of business hours so you can leave a message.  Watch this video, she’ll show you exactly how easy it is and even has a little sample script in the description.
  3. Write out your script so you’re not stumbling over yourself.  No need to rant, just a couple lines.  “Hello, my name is Awkward Globetrotter and I am a voter in zipcode 12345.  I’m calling to speak against the unlawful imprisonment of aardvarks.  Aardvarks are beautiful creatures that should roam free.  Thank you.”
  4. Find your representatives on the aptly named www.WhoIsMyRepresentative.com.  Click on their names to see their contact information and leave each one up as you go so you don’t forget whose office you’re talking to mid-message.
  5. CALL!  The first time I tried it I found out that apparently Marco Rubio doesn’t believe in voicemail, as the line rang for 2 solid minutes before going to a busy signal.  I did manage to leave a message for Bill Nelson though.  Name, zipcode, issue, that quick.  Took all of 30 seconds.

Now get out there and make yourself heard!

 

Aardvark photo from FuzFeed.

(Did you know aardvarks live in Africa?  I didn’t.  I assumed anything that ridiculous must be from Australia.  The more you know.)

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This Week in Awkwardness

Everything that’s been happening in American politics lately has really made me notice how incredibly diverse USF is.  All day long I hear different languages as I’m walking around campus – Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, French, who even knows what all.  The other day in sociology my teacher was looking for the African American viewpoint on something, he pointed at a black girl in the first row & asked if she was African American, she said no, she’s Haitian.  Guy behind her, nope.  The next person was Nigerian, the one after him was from St. Martin.  And the teacher is Brazilian!  Another of my teachers is Dutch, my neighbors are Sikh, two of my classmates are Russian.  It’s amazing.

I signed my apartment up for clean energy for $10 extra per month!  Or at least I think I did, the email I got said they’d be in touch but I haven’t heard anything….  Anyway, if you’re like me & pine for solar panels & windmills you can’t afford, check with your power supplier to see if you can pay a little extra to support their projects.  Here in Florida of course electricity just falls from the sky pretty much continuously, so there’s solar arrays all over the place.  I also decided to buy some rope & clothes pins so I can hang my laundry to dry on my patio instead of using the dryers in the laundry room.  Every little bit helps!

I’ve spent most of the last year figuring I would go to the summer field school that USF runs at George Washington’s boyhood home in Virginia, so OF COURSE this is the year they decide not to do it…  It’s OK, there’s a zillion field schools, including one in Maryland that I had considered going to that I think I’ll apply for.  It’s longer, I think it’s actually cheaper, and I might even get more credits than I would’ve with the USF one.

This semester I’m studying a lot of past anthropological theorists who use language that we find appalling today. I literally can’t write the words “primitive” or “savage” without putting them in quotes, even in my own notebook that nobody else will ever see.


Added to the Travel Map:

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, Massachusetts – stained glass globe that you can walk through – only place in the world where the entire surface can be viewed without distortion.

Convento de Cristo, Tomar, Portugal – castle built as the headquarters of the Knights Templar in 1160.

Olšany Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic – oldest cemetery in Prague, a literal walk through history.

St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, D’Hanis, Texas – ruin.

Racist History

 

I never really understood why we have the group-specific History Months.  Like it’s all history right?  Why the need to occasionally single out this group or that group?

A couple of weeks ago in one of my anthropology classes some guy from the department asked us to do a survey so they could figure out if we were learning the right things, and gave each of us a question.  I don’t recall the exact wording of mine, but I was supposed to define the concepts of sex vs. gender and write about a recent change in gender roles.  I picked a quick & easy topic: women entering the workforce during World War 2 & the long-standing changes that stemmed from that.  Easy.  I could write about that in my sleep.

In that moment, I realized that I have no idea what that experience looked like in any other racial community.  Like I’ve never seen a non-white Rosie the Riveter (not one of the original ones anyway).  Not once in my life have I come across a photo of a bunch of women building bombs and not every single one of them was white.  I’m sure they’re out there but I’ve never seen them.  It never even occurred to me to look for them, which says a lot about how I’ve been educated.  Chalk it up to media racism in the 1940s, ethnocentrism, whatever, it doesn’t matter, I’ve taken a zillion history classes and nobody’s ever brought it up.  We don’t talk about black people between slavery & civil rights.  Not much is ever said about Hispanics outside of colonialism and whatever happened in Texas.  Asians get passing mentions with the railroads & internment camps, maybe somebody mentions a Chinese laundry, but that’s about it.

I still don’t care much for the special History Months, but I think that’s because it’s not really an inclusive concept, plus they recycle the same history over and over.  Make all of history class inclusive.  Bring in more perspectives on a wider slice of of life.  Please!

This Week in Awkwardness

Thanks to Google Street View, I was able to find the exact spot where my train was sitting two years ago when I took a picture out the window in the middle of the night: North Walnut Street, Hutchinson, Kansas.  These were taken 7 years apart; the tree on the right appears to be gone, and they’ve painted the crossing sign on the pavement, but that same van is still sitting next to that same streetlight.  Some things never change.

 


Added to the Travel Map:

Belle Isle Aquarium, Detroit, Michigan – oldest aquarium in the United States.

Tishomingo State Park, Tishomingo, Mississippi – hiking & rock formations in the Appalachian foothills.

Clark Creek Nature Area, Woodville, Mississippi – waterfalls.

Tianmen Mountain, China – huge plateau with temple, cliffhanging & glass walkways, Heaven’s Gate rock formation (literally the Stairway to Heaven!), half-hour cable car ride to the top.

Istvántelek Train Yard, Budapest, Hungary – old abandoned trains?  Yes please!

Brough of Birsay, Scotland – island with Viking ruins, walk across at low tide.

Creswell Crags Museum & Heritage Center, Creswell, England – ice-age cave art, ancient tools, extinct animal remains.

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This Week in Awkwardness

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I thought an Instagram might be fun but they wouldn’t let me upload from anything but my stupid phone.  Well, the more I’ve looked through it the more I realize how many pages are uploading pictures that definitely WERE taken with other sorts of cameras and then uploaded by some workaround (I’m pretty sure NASA’s telescopes aren’t plugged into an iPhone), so while it’s still stupid, I’m going to give it a shot anyway.  You can find me at awkwardglobetrotter if you want to keep track of whether or not I remember to upload anything.

Spring semester starts on Monday!


Added to the Travel Map:

Cunard Atlantic Crossing, New York, New York – Southampton, England, 3,568 miles – I’ve never traveled by ship before, so why not?

Oasi Zegna, Piatto, Italy – nature park in the Alps.

Saxon Switzerland National Park, Bad Schandau, Germany – fortress, hiking, rock formations, what’s not to love?

This Week in Awkwardness

I started using Google image search to find my stock photos all over the internet, which turned out to be REALLY FUN.  I’m selling everything from snazzy bottled water to real estate, and my images are included in goofy quizzes, horror stories, and travel articles.

I also posted a term paper I wrote for school as a 3-part article on the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica.  The interesting thing about it is that there are so many first-hand accounts of buildings collapsing and people being sucked right down into the sand.  Two thirds of the town just slid into the sea and was covered over by silt, creating one of the best 17th-century colonial sites anywhere in the world.

Lowry Park Zoo has evening hours around major holidays so I was able to be there when the giant fruit bats were getting dinner and watched them crawl around which was both creepy and awesome.  They also gave presents to the orangutans (one little girl thought the male was Chewbacca) which was pretty fun to watch.  The Christmas lights were pretty of course but being a retail worker I CAN’T WAIT until the Christmas music stops.  I always feel bad for the kid in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”  I mean, from his perspective, he thinks his mom is cheating on his dad.  Should he tell him?  If he doesn’t, then he’s keeping a big secret from his dad, but if he does, they might break up and it would be his fault.  Poor kid.  Also, whoever wrote the Chipmunk Song, I’d like to give you a high five.  With my fist.  On your face.

Also, this 360° video of the Lascaux Cave replica in France:


Added to the Travel Map:

Reykjanes Geopark, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland – spot where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge lies above sea level. Has a footbridge between North America & Europe.

Great Falls Park, Virginia, USA – waterfalls.

Bois Blanc, Amherstberg, Ontario, Canada – abandoned amusement park – TECHNICALLY, anyone who steps foot on it is trespassing, but….

Burgruine Gösting, Graz, Austria – castle ruins.

Nuclear Shelter 10-Z, Brno, Czech Republic – hotel in a bunker!

Fort des Dunes, Leffrinckoucke, France – abandoned fort, important in WWII.

Aran Islands, Ireland – lots of ruins.

Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska – Alaska-specific aquarium & wildlife rescue.

Port Royal Earthquake, Part 3: The Archaeology of Port Royal

This post comes from a paper I wrote for my History of the Caribbean class at the University of South Florida.

Part 1 | Part 2

As the silt from the landslides drifted down the rivers and out into the bay, it settled in a fine layer over the ruins of Port Royal, sealing away a perfect snapshot of seventeenth-century Jamaican life.  The first real archaeological survey of any importance occurred in 1959, when Edwin and Marion Link led an expedition sponsored by National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Institute of Jamaica.  This was the first mission with their new boat Sea Diver, the first in the world specifically designed for marine archaeology.  The precise time of the earthquake is known from x-rays of one of their finds: a brass pocket watch with hands stopped at 11:43.  They discovered the location of a shipbuilder when they uncovered a trove of ship parts with no fittings and unearthed a fifteenth-century Spanish swivel-gun that may well have been on a vessel belonging to Christopher Columbus.  They found that a man named James Littleton was likely running a tavern by the amount of kitchen equipment cemented together within the ruins of a building that property maps said was his house, including a copper pot still containing the bones of a turtle being cooked for lunch.  They even know what the building looked like because the muck preserved red roof tiles, blackened hearth bricks, and white plaster still imprinted with patterns of the wattle walls it had covered.  Numerous clay pipes and beer bottles gave them a good idea of what the inhabitants did with their spare time (Link, 1960).

In the mid-1960s a plan emerged to develop Port Royal into a tourist destination with hotels, condos, a marina, and a huge cruise ship pier that would require dredging of the sea floor.  A series of small earthquakes shifted the silt around enough to reveal walls and small artifacts, which were immediately picked over by treasure hunters and sold to tourists.  The Jamaican government realized that the only way to protect the site from looting was to excavate it themselves, and hired marine archaeologist Robert F. Marx to lead the project.  In just his first day of exploratory diving, he found shipwrecks, anchors, and numerous objects from the time of the earthquake.  He also discovered a clay pot that was the first evidence of an Arawak Indian settlement on the site.  Years of uncovering buildings and artifacts stymied private development by rich outsiders, despite arguments with the government and threats to Marx himself (Marx, 1973).  This is fortunate because Port Royal was by then considered one of the best late-seventeenth-century sites anywhere in the world.  The Link and Marx excavations proved that the area had the potential to be better than any other British colonial location of its time period (Mayes & Mayes, 1972).

Port Royal Project Archaeological Excavations, Building 4/5.

Throughout the 1980s Donny Hamilton led the Port Royal Project, a joint venture by the Nautical Archaeology Program of Texas A&M University, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.  His team found that the oxygen-free mud had preserved a large amount of organic material for the last three hundred years, including the remains of the HMS Swan, which they were able to identify because it was still lying on top of a house.  Another building in their investigation was divided into three separate two-room shops.  Leather scraps, shoe soles, and a lathe revealed that one probably had a cobbler and wood turner in the front room, while animal bones suggest that a butcher occupied the rear.  Pipes, bottles, and kegs in the other two sections show that both were most likely taverns or wine shops (Hamilton, 2000a, 2001, 2006).  Historical documents such as wills and probate inventories kept in the Jamaican archives allowed the archaeologists to connect their finds directly to the people who had lived and worked in Port Royal around the time of the earthquake.  The combination of written records and recovered objects allowed them to find out exactly who owned particular houses, what sort of trades they practiced, and how their lives intersected with those of their neighbors (Hamilton, 2000b).

Today, Port Royal is a town of just two thousand inhabitants.  Little of its wild past remains on the surface: just two historic buildings, both of which date from after the earthquake.  The underwater ruins, however, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Pots remained in their hearths with bits of charred wood attached to them and one trash barrel still contained the remains of a 1692 haircut.  It is the only submerged city in the Western Hemisphere and the slice of life preserved there gives us a clear picture of how people lived in a time of colonial expansion and industrial transition.  Its artifacts and documents reveal how trade flowed across the world and what people wore, ate, and used in their everyday lives.  (“The Underwater City”).

Port Royal burned hot and bright but only for a moment.  Despite existing for just thirty-seven years, it was among the wealthiest and most important cities in the colonial Western Hemisphere.  It was populated by people from an unheard of variety of classes, nationalities, professions, and faiths.  Three hundred years after its demise, it has become one of the most important archaeological sites of its time period anywhere in the world.  The homes, belongings, and in some cases the bones of its residents provide an unparalleled view of what their lives were like at the very moment of destruction.  Not much has been excavated so far, and Port Royal undoubtedly has many more lessons to offer.

References:

Hamilton, Donny L. “Archaeological Excavations.” The Port Royal Project, 2000

Hamilton, Donny L. “Historical Research.” The Port Royal Project, 2000

Hamilton, Donny L. “Port Royal Archives – Building 1.” The Port Royal Project, 2001

Hamilton, Donny L. “Pirates and Merchants: Port Royal, Jamaica.” X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy, 2006, pg. 2-30

Link, Marion Clayton. “Exploring the Drowned City of Port Royal.” National Geographic February 1960, pg. 151-83 (Online archive requires access.)

Marx, Robert F. Port Royal Rediscovered, 1973

Mayes, Philip, and P. A. Mayes. “Port Royal, Jamaica: The Archaeological Problems and Potential.” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration, March 1972, pg. 97-112 (Online archive requires access.)

The Underwater City of Port Royal.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre

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