October 16, 2018

Archaeology Part II

Revisiting the subject of archaeology, there was a time long, long ago...tens of thousands of moons that have waxed and waned over desert sands...when many archaeologists went ahead and did massive digs and excavations on their own in foreign lands without necessarily asking permission or getting proper licenses to do the work...and then took back home all the findings and treasures for their home country to be displayed in dark cavernous museums with dim lighting and where footsteps echoed in the hallways as hushed tones spoke of great findings and stories were told of their uncovering...however, countries began to tire of their artifacts and treasures being pilfered so they began to restrict digs so that the home countries itself were not stripped bare of their artifacts...the British Museum came to an agreement with the country of Egypt as they did their exploration for ancient Egyptian artifacts, such as mummies and alike...some of the findings were shipped to the British Museum in London, many on a rotating basis meaning that they would be displayed for a specified length of time but then returned, but many others found their way directly into the museums of Cairo and other cities across Egypt and the middle east for locals to learn about and admire...natives in many of those countries where archaeological digs were performed, grew angry that many of ‘their’ artifacts and indeed history, was being plundered by the outsiders...other people resented any digging up of any artifacts by strangers and claimed that the land and that which was under ground was sacred...and that’s where the paranormal comes in...in ancient Egypt for example, there was said to be curses that would strike anyone who dared to disturb the tombs of pharaohs and the mummies contained within...many people laughed at such an idea, but some people did die mysteriously giving rise to their authenticity...this spooked many and caused them not to return to the digging sites, but not the ‘men of science’ who continued their work, often in hot and dusty places that were inhospitable to those who were working there...many places around the world are considered sacred by the native people and they have acted in the courts and through other means to stop such digging activity...some findings that were sent off to other countries have been repatriated to their ‘home’ country or the ‘home’ country has been compensated by other means...others are still locked in a bitter dispute with differing points of view as to who should ‘own’ the artifacts...while this cantankerous issue presents enormous challenges and roadblocks to fieldwork being done, cooperation between the parties has had its benefits too...for all parties involved...tribal elders and locals who cooperate with visiting archaeologists can prevent the excavation of sacred areas and sites, supervising the sites while the archaeologists work, while the archaeologists can benefit from the elders knowledge in locating places where ancient findings can be found, understanding, and interpreting these finds to put the puzzle together...by working together, every boy, girl, woman and a man...both sides can benefit.

October 14, 2018

Out To Sea


Customs cleared finally, time to shove off, release the ropes, raise the sails...it has been said that the pessimist complains about the wind, that the foolhardy optimist expects it to change and the realist adjusts the sails...red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky in the morning, sailors take warning...able bodied seamen scrambling about...just do your job...weigh anchor and watchstanding...veer away...fair winds and following seas the captain mumbles and then says that sailing requires managing everything on the boat, plus all the controls on the boat, while keeping aware of the weather and the navigation...it's having planned everything to a fine level of detail and then making the required adjustments to the constant change...sheets bellying in the wind as a south-southwest wind comes up, full stowage and square meals to go around...let go and haul, trim the sails, keep those idlers on call...keep an even keel or risk getting keelhauled...four bells, salty dogs swinging the lamp and swigging rum...rumors of a nor’easter...get the foulies in case they’re needed...check the charts and find a safe harbor just in case it’s needed...in the meantime, get out the holystone...small ice and growlers possibly up in the Labrador current...maybe even field ice...lookout be warned...make the rounds...make sure everything is ship shape...keep on course...up and down the ladders...sun is over the yardarm now...wind’s up...the heave’s a-rising.. “Aye, the man who goes to sea doesn’t have the sense to stay on land” says the captain as he squints and puffs on his old black pipe...“yet, the call of the open water to him never goes unanswered”...instructions to the quartermaster, prepare to batten down the hatches, no time for a rogue wave now or an overfall...storm’s a comin’...take the helm...harbor of refuge sighted on map, fog now...looking for the lighthouse that really isn’t needed but it still makes you feel good to see it...make 15 more miles...get behind the jetty and into port...rest easier.

October 12, 2018

Mephistopheles

Tonight, we look at the story of Mephistopheles...although Mephistopheles appears to some to be a devil, an employee of Satan if you will, a demon, others chime in and have the opinion that he does not actively seek out those that he can corrupt but instead comes to serve and ultimately collect the souls of those who are already damned...in fact, he warns those about selling their souls to the devil...he senses those that are already been corrupted, or those that are in danger of being damned and of that there are tragically many...Mephistopheles himself is unable to escape from his own private hell by serving the Devil...Mephistopheles in some kind of strange light achieves a form of tragic grandeur, as a kind of fallen angel, not necessarily full of satanic pride, but filled with deep, dark despair...your interpretation may vary...maybe we can one day scramble up to it and be a good Mephistopheles...and if you are like many among us, you stay up too late, sleep too little, and drink too much...prowling the destitute jungles of bars and clubs that are dark and on the edge...just like a hungry panther; moving like jungle cat in search of whatever we are in search of...maybe not searching for anything, but we’re trying to find it anyway...nothing to do now but to share a forced smile or a knowing glance...late nights/early mornings are for the contrarian soul that defies convention, cruising deep into the night playing mind games, contemplating, regretting, forgetting, scheming, dreaming...music playing, bongos and percussion running wild...lonely and lost souls in clothes of silent indifference propped up by bars, worn out tables, backs of chairs supporting sleepy heads, leaning against each other, and bumping up against closing time and time itself that is running out...looking for answers when we really are not sure of the questions, or no longer even caring what the questions even are anymore...we are the soul that comes in when others are going out, and goes out when others are coming in...I remember one time when I was sitting zoning out at the kitchen table and my Father came out of his bedroom to go to work and saw me and said “You’re up early this morning”, and I said “Up early? I just got home.”...all in the name of research of course, research...plenty of good happens after midnight despite all the naysayers; a tide that defies the pull of the moon and seeks its own highs and lows, in its own time, not someone else’s...and many times these drifting souls finally find a harbor to pull into...but there are souls that just go on wandering across seas, empty vessels that never find their port or place, their niche, forever blowing in the wind...these are the souls, the souls Mephistopheles collects in due time...picking them up from the floor, collecting them in the bus stations, finding them in dark bars where the music has stopped and the world has stopped and the souls themselves have stopped...the wind has gone out of their sails and now they’re dead in the water.

October 10, 2018

Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of human activity of long ago...through the strategic recovery and then detailed analysis of the material that was left behind by a civilization and their culture...digging for bones, bones and stones and ten thousand other things...buried in the ground that holds secrets like a teenage girl’s diary...an archaeological record isn’t one you can play on your hi-fi stereophonic player that you bought at Woolworth’s...but it can consist of artifacts (some being rare antiquities which can be extremely valuable and desirable), styles of architecture, assorted biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural landscapes...archaeologists take it upon themselves to study human history, crude stone tools from over three million years ago up until the recent decades...people who have left behind a sort of legacy, an encyclopedia that needs to be deciphered...it’s like hieroglyphics but its pots, and bowls, jewels, buttons, bits of clothing that have to be read...people often confuse archaeology with palaeontology which are entirely different things...palaeontology is actually the study of fossils...archaeology is extremely important for learning about prehistoric societies because there are often no written records to study and learn from...it is estimated that over 99% of the development of humanity took place within prehistoric cultures...most of them didn’t write so there aren’t any written records that exist that can be studied by scholars...without written material, the only way to understand and learn about these prehistoric societies is through archaeology...the process of archaeology involves careful surveying of a site, delicate excavation of the materials that are buried there, some of which may be located involving a method called ‘remote sensing’ which sounds very paranormal like but is actually done using technical instrumentals, and then the analysis of the findings are benchmarks of modern archaeology...it’s important work that has to be performed, but archaeologists face many problems these days, such as dealing with posers and ‘fake’ archaeology which is also known as archaeology forgery...archaeological forgery is the manufacture of supposedly ancient items that are then sold to those in the antiquities market...they might even wind up in the collections of prestigious museums that are fooled by the ‘fakes’...in that way, it is related to the forgery of paintings which are then sold to art galleries, sometimes for millions of dollars...one of the greatest art forgers was Elmyr de Hory, who could manufacture fake paintings quite quickly...Matisse’s, Picasso’s, Modigliani's...although of course he never actually admitted to it...but it is rumored that several of his fakes hang in the galleries of prominent museums all over the world...in the world of archaeology as well as art, accuracy is sometimes overlooked or a head is turned in order to present a ‘great find’ and the prestige of presenting it to the public...there is also the looting of artifacts and digging sites in general, a lack of public interest in their work, and strident opposition to the excavation of human remains by some cultures...some of whom will go to great lengths to protect their artifacts from what they feel are profit seeking poachers...and remember as the famed archaeologist Dr. Jones once said, “Archaeology is the search for fact…not truth”, and...“We do not follow maps to buried treasure, and "X" never, ever, marks the spot. Seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. Reading and research."

October 8, 2018

The Fourth Quarter


It may dawn on us one day like the orange-yellow circle that glides out of the pitch black darkness and then begins bursting in the eastern sky, that we have spent many years on this earth, walking and wandering, traipsing and trudging, and stumbling and bumbling, and if we were lucky, dancing a little to our favorite music...and then on one not so pleasant day when we really aren’t expecting it, we may realize that we’re closer to the two minute warning than we are to the opening kickoff...the first half of the game went by baby and you’re entering the fourth quarter already...where the hell did the third quarter go?...you must have been standing in line for popcorn or beer or grabbing a water...distracted, displaced, disorientated, discombobulated, and not even aware to the fact Jack that the clock was still running all the time that you weren’t paying attention, and you can’t call any timeouts and nobody’s gonna put time back on the clock..the cheerleaders might still be cheering, but there comes a time when time is running out...time...time...time...the time has come today...time...maybe worst of all, worst of all, maybe you never even really got in the game...you were standing on the sidelines, helmet in hand waiting for your big chance, or sitting on the bench watching everybody else playing, but whatever, that chance never came...nobody called your name or number and told you to get in there, so there you stood...life seldom comes by and grabs you by the collar of your jersey and tells you to get in the game...in life, you often have to put yourself in the game...better to wear out than rust out...we may look at the game recap and study the tape and see a few big plays we’re proud of, some nice completions here and there, but a lot of missed opportunities too...incompletions of passes that should have been completed, too many throws (actions) that you’d like to have back, too many bad play calls, careless fumbles, and inexcusable interceptions, and no doubt some penalties for screwing up...upon further review, you had too many times you were playing behind the chains and in 3rd and long situations and it’s probably because you put yourself there...and there were probably a lot of plays (days) that we took off figuring there were a lot more to go and what the hell difference would it make if we give less than 100% sometimes?...what kind of recap would you come up with?...a human highlight reel, a compilation of bloopers, or something in between?...in the post-game press conference, could you defend the decisions you made?...would you ‘own it’, or would you make excuses or blame the referees...but really, did you make any difference in somebody’s life?...I know I probably put some bartenders’ kids through college so I guess that counts for something...you may find yourself comparing your life to the life of others your age and wondering how you stack up against them...my guess is that you’re probably doing not much better or worse if you add up all the statistics and what difference does it really make?...ultimately, the final gun is going to go off when the clock ticks down to 00:00, the band stops playing, and we all head to the same locker room.