This Month in Awkwardness

Classes are done & I’m all signed up for my last semester! Again. It should stick this time though, since I’m only taking three classes.  It will be nice to only have three classes to work on instead of four, even if they will probably all be relatively difficult.  Now that grades are done I wanted to share the 3D model I made for Digital Archaeology of the Pantheon in Rome:


Not a whole lot else going on, just looking forward to a few weeks of not dealing with school stuff!  Sometime this week I’ll post the paper I wrote on Photogrammetry, which turned out pretty good considering I wrote it in about 4 days.  I’m also going to try to post on Instagram more now that I’m not so busy.  We shall see if I actually accomplish these goals…

Added to the Travel Map:

Hontoon Island State Park, Deland, Florida – in the St. John’s River.

Greenwich Meridian Trail, Peacehaven to Sand le Mere, England – 273 miles of hiking along the Greenwich Meridian.

Peek & Poke Computer Club Museum, Rijeka, Croatia – vintage gaming & computers.

Hamilton, Nevada – abandoned town.

Bankhead, Banff National Park, Canada – abandoned coal mining town.

Fort Ross State Historic Park, Jenner, California – reconstructed Russian settlement.


Throwback Thursday: That Time I Tried to get to Munising & Ended Up in Grand Marais


So it turns out that roads don’t cross each other in the Upper Peninsula. I discovered this when I decided to wander my way in the general direction of Munising to see waterfalls, with no real timeline or plan except to be back on Mackinac Island when I had to be at work again. I just kept going north, figuring I’d turn west on the next road. That road didn’t exist until Lake Superior appeared in front of me, & then it turned out to be a horrible, rutted logging road that I could only go about 10mph on lest it shake my car to pieces. The first civilization I came to was Grand Marais, a good 45 miles east of Munising.

Grand Marais is nice though. I got to see the Pickle Barrel House, I had the beach pretty much to myself (although I didn’t go swimming – Lake Superior stays about 55° year-round & I’m not crazy). I did get to hike out to a waterfall & to some sand dunes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. All in all it was a nice little weekend jaunt, just not the one I had in mind when I started.

This Week in Awkwardness

We learned about photogrammatry in Digital Archaeology & it’s AWESOME.  Basically you take a bazillion photos of something & dump them into a software program that makes them into a super-realistic 3D model.  It’s more complicated than that but it’s still AWESOME & I really want to try it when I have time.

I finally started putting some stuff on my YouTube channel, so that’s something.  So far it’s just a couple of time lapse videos but I’ll keep working on it occasionally.

Added to the Travel Map:

Tobermory, Ontario, Canada – shipwrecks & islands & stuff.

Madame Sherri House, Chesterfield, New Hampshire – ruins of an elaborate mansion in the forest.

This Week in Awkwardness: Hurricane Aftermath Edition


My pre-storm experience can be read here.

Irma turned out not to be nearly as big of a deal in West Central Florida as they kept telling us she would be.  In fact, the biggest problems we had stemmed from the total mismanagement of the shelter we were in.

We were supposed to be in the elementary school but they had too many people showing up so we ended up in the high school without anyone ever telling the Red Cross we were there so we had no access to the resources they were bringing in.  Because we were the overflow section they were winging it, sticking people wherever, applying the rules here & there when they felt like it.  I guess after days of telling everyone to get out they didn’t actually expect anyone to do it.  It was pretty amazing on Sunday morning, with this monster storm bearing right down on us, all the hundreds of people who started showing up, a lot of them totally unprepared with no bedding, no cages for their pets, pretty much nothing.

They only had regular coffee so everybody drank that & sat around talking ALL. NIGHT. LONG. making it pretty much impossible to sleep in the echoing gym.

At one point an older lady came in the side door of our hall & said she just wanted to let us know that they were bringing four dogs through.  Someone asked if they were bad, and she said yes, two are aggressive.  Then a younger woman came & said she was bringing “four bad dogs” in.  They brought them through to one of the locker rooms because these people were too stupid to bring cages, but by then the whole hall was in an uproar because nobody wanted to be anywhere near these dogs.  They brought in someone who I think worked for animal control & was there to keep tabs on all the dogs, who then decided because these people had aggressive uncaged animals, they should get a whole locker room all to themselves!  As they were moving around the younger woman said that the problems were because “people don’t know what aggressive means” & something about the dogs getting up in your face.  OK, if you think that an “aggressive” dog is one that “gets up in your face,” YOU’RE the one who doesn’t know what aggressive means!  Somehow these people had “made arrangements” with animal control the day before, something none of us with well-behaved, controlled dogs had been able to do.  The complaints continued until the Animal Control employee brought in a Sheriff’s deputy & told him he would have to deal with it because she’d been yelled at all day.  Eventually the people left with their dogs, according to the younger woman they were leaving because her mom (I guess the older lady) was freaking out “because somebody had to open their big f***ing mouth” ummm…yeah, that was Y’ALL, when YOU BOTH described your dogs as aggressive!  The rest of us probably wouldn’t have noticed if YOU hadn’t said it!

An older couple in one of the other locker rooms moved all their stuff out into the hall, including their dog, an unassuming cocker spaniel, because I guess there was a two-year-old in there SHRIEKING & they just couldn’t take it anymore.  Around lockdown time the Animal Control employee who had been so nice to the people with the big mean dogs got after them for having their quiet smallish dog in the hallway & argued with them about it before finally threatening to call the deputies back down!  The lady said “yes, bring them down, they can kick me out but I’m not going back in there!”  Eventually they moved them & a couple of other people into the locker room vacated by the mean dog people, including one woman who had been sleeping in the hallway but moved her dogs out of the room with the two-year-old.  I can’t even imagine having a kid so out of control that people in a disaster situation don’t even want their DOGS around him/her.

They kept saying that all pets had to be in their crates & everyone had to be in their camps by 6 because they were locking things down to keep everyone safe, OK fine. They locked the pet hall (which you had to go outside to get to) so nobody could go in but never actually stopped anyone from going outside. People were allowed to go out & smoke, but nobody could so much as visit their pets, never mind take them outside or even walk them up & down the hallway, so they were locked in their cages for 12+ hours for basically no reason except It’s The Rules.  My mom’s dog is a tiny, elderly, quiet poodle who stuffs easily into a sleeping bag & doesn’t move for hours at a time so we got one over on the mean Animal Control woman & kept her with us all night.

They made us gather all of our stuff up at 2:30 in the morning to run through ankle-deep water in an open walkway in the middle of the hurricane to the cafeteria because after 5 hours of pouring rain someone finally noticed that the water in the courtyard wasn’t going anywhere & was about to come pouring into the hallway where we were trying to sleep.  The people in charge were out there digging around up to their knees in water trying to find the drain & get it unclogged, which they finally were able to do before all the people in the gym had to be moved.

Finally, around 6 am, we were in the eye of what was then a minor storm that was rapidly breaking up  & people were frustrated enough that they wanted to just get out of there.  The first announcement was that they couldn’t stop us from leaving but they couldn’t say for certain if it was safe for us to do so until the deputies had had a chance to go see what the road conditions were like.  A little later another announcement said, essentially, that it was safe outside so we should gather up our crap & get out.  I think they were as sick of us as we were of them.

Irma passed directly over Crystal River around 6am. My mom’s house is in Hernando, and we spent the night at the high school in Lecanto.

The one gas station in Hernando that actually had gas had a line from the pumps, around through one of the stalls of the car wash next door, & about another half-mile down the road, which is pretty amazing since it looked like that before the storm too so I have no clue what everybody did with all the gas they were buying then.  That was the only time I actually saw anything close to violence – somebody tried to cut the line & the people behind them ran them off.

Once we got a look at things it really seemed like Irma just made a mess.  Some trees & power lines down, the occasional metal overhang roof peeled back like the top of a tin can, but it didn’t look like anybody’s houses had flooded or blown away, at least not on the inland halves of the counties I drove through.  There are still a lot of people without power, but the worst real damage I saw was a number of large trees down in a yard around the corner, that was likely because of one of the mini tornadoes Irma was spinning off rather than the hurricane herself.  My mom’s yard was covered with twigs & Spanish moss, a situation quickly remedied by hiring a couple of neighborhood teens to rake it all up.  Temple Terrace was largely untouched, my neighbor said the ducks that hang out in our complex’s pond had a great time in the storm.

I certainly have no desire to do the storm shelter thing again after this ridiculous experience.  There’s probably a lot of other people who were there who will be more likely to try to weather storms at home now too.  So thank you, overzealous newscasters desperately trying to make yourselves interesting & county officials who don’t know how to organize anything properly.  Thanks for that.


This Week in Awkwardness: Hurricane Shelter Edition

My shelter experience & aftermath of the storm can be read here.

Most of you probably know that we’ve been watching Hurricane Irma barrelling at us for the last week or so.  I was going to ride out the storm in my mom’s house in Hernando, figuring with the path she was taking she would have slowed significantly by the time she got so far north.  Then she decided to swing to the west & pummel Tampa instead of Miami.  We can’t drive north because the entire population of Florida is already out on the roads and taking a direct hit from a Category 2 hurricane in a manufactured home isn’t really an option so we’re in a high school gymnasium for the duration.

It was a total zoo getting in here, literally and figuratively.  We came here because it’s a pet-friendly shelter so my mom’s dog and a couple hundred other pets are here, stacked in their crates in a hallway around the corner.  We waited in line for an hour to get her registered, alongside many other barking dogs, yowling cats, and even a handful of screeching parrots.  Then we had to take her to another building because the first one was full, and send her away with some guy because the new pet area wasn’t ready for the public to be in yet.  But I’ve seen her since & she’s alright, aside from I’m sure being very confused & trying to bury her food so the dogs in the cages around her can’t get it.

Besides being in an open gym with a hundred strangers this isn’t so bad.  They’re feeding us 3 meals a day, there’s wifi, & we have air mattresses to sleep on.  It’s kind of amazing how many people are here thinking they’re going to sleep on the hard floor with only a blanket under them.  Little tip – air mattresses, flashlights, batteries, bottled water, & bread all fly off the shelves during a disaster, to the point where they are totally unavailable, so stock up early.

Every store I’ve been to the shelves are picked clean of emergency supplies.  I’m not totally sure why, since most people have perfectly good tap water to fill containers with & generally buy more than one day’s worth of food at a time, but I guess panic begets panic.  In one Winn-Dixie I was watching people snag cases of water off of a couple pallets they’d just put out, then when I wandered back to the meat section I found gallon jugs of water that everyone was ignoring.I heard stories about trucks getting mobbed when they brought more water to the stores & somebody getting stabbed for gasoline.  There’s a bunch of National Guard people here at the school so things shouldn’t get too crazy.  See you on the other side!

This Week in Awkwardness

I got to throw an atlatl in my North American Archaeology class, & didn’t do too bad with it.  I mean I didn’t hit the mammoth outline but the spear stuck in the ground instead of just lamely falling down so that’s something.  I was wearing my field school t-shirt & my teacher was like “oh you did the St. Mary’s one, that’s a good program” so yay me for choosing well!

I found an app called StayOnTask that occasionally asks if you’re actually working, says “Get back to work RIGHT NOW!” if you aren’t, and if you try to use your phone it very ominously says “You should be working…” in the taskbar. It’s surprisingly effective, because I know it’s just sitting there, watching me…

I downloaded Blender, the free open-source software we’re using in class to make our 3D reconstructions, & started playing with it.  It’s a lot of fun!  It’s funny, I have a strong need for a creative outlet but I’m so obsessed with details that I can’t really draw or paint without getting frustrated, 3D rendering of actual buildings is nothing but details so it really fills that void.  I hope to have something worth showing off soon.

This Week in Awkwardness

I have my first week of fall classes in the bag!  It looks like I’ll be at USF one semester longer than I had planned though.  Trying to cram in everything I needed to do in order to graduate in December was just way too much.  I was taking 17 credits, but my 4-credit Archaeological Science class turned out not to be what I thought it would be.  For whatever reason I thought it would be remote sensing, which is what I wanted to learn, & there’s a little bit of that but it’s a lot more “let’s shoot a bunch of rocks with a laser so we can see exactly which volcano they came from!” which is a really cool thing that SOMEONE can do, I just don’t want to be that person.  Anyway it seemed like it was going to be a lot of work for something I wasn’t that interested in, plus it was keeping me from going to Anthropology Club so I nixed it.

My Digital Archaeology class on the other hand looks like it’s going to be AWESOME.  It’s all 3D modelling & virtual reality, I spend the whole lecture just drooling over the beautiful recreations & how amazing it is that we can do this stuff & share it with the whole world.  You can walk through a laser-scanned model of an archaeological site in some totally different part of the world, put whole museum collections online for anyone to study, manipulate virtual replicas of dinosaur skeletons, it’s just amazing what’s possible with this technology.  We have a hands-on project to make a digital recreation that I’m pretty excited about, honestly I’ll probably start playing with the software LONG before we actually learn anything about it.  You can see some of the work they do at the USF Center for Virtualization and Applied Spatial Technologies on their Sketchfab account.

So this won’t be my last semester after all but I’m actually pretty glad to be staying.  I like USF, I like my apartment, I like my job, there’s no reason to go running out of here just yet.