About crankyprofessor

I'm an associate professor of the history of art and architecture at a small liberal arts college in Upstate New York.

Real mysteries of the ancients

No, no alien deus ex machina solutions.

The Spheres of Diquis really are mysterious. The only way most ancient civilizations had to shape stone was with another stone and then with polishing grit. We’re actually back to using that method, but the grit is in a high pressure water flow – much easier on the hands.

So the real mystery isn’t “how on earth did people make this??” That we pretty much understand. The real mystery is “why?” Spheres are obviously perfect shapes, enormously satisfying (once they’re finished!). Maybe they were astronomical? Maybe they were just expressions of power? Maybe they were aniconic representations of gods? No one knows – and probably no one will ever satisfy enough scholars that the problem will be declared solved. Still - a great example of how much there is to learn!

Here’s the Wikipedia entry, which is pretty good – despite a final section on ancient alien style myths.

70% less

I’m a little embarrassed – I should have done this earlier.

I switched last fall to using Apple TV instead of cable. Today, I finally got around to calling Time-Warner to have the TV service shut off, but to keep the internet and phone. I also mentioned the promotional price Verizon is offering for similar service right now. TW came back with a price $15 lower than that . . . and 70% lower than what I was paying. Wow – I’ve been throwing money down that well long enough!

I’m sure the promotional price won’t last more than a year – but I resolve to check up on it, this time.

Sherlock Holmes and Copyright

Most of Sherlock Holmes (everything 1922 and before) is now in the public domain! The stipulations are weirder that I would think. For instance, character development between 1923 and 1927 (the last Conan Doyle stories) is off-limits for un-paid adaptations. So you can’t make any movies or publish  any novels in which Watson has been married twice without paying the estate. Go read Eugene Volokh’s explanation.

Amazon and me

One of the least pleasant things about being abroad is being without Amazon Prime. So before I left Rome I went to my shopping cart and started hitting CHECKOUT. Luckily, I moderated my desires so that I only got about 5 boxes delivered while I was funeraling in Chattanooga. But my own kind of specialized life would be less possible without Mr. Bezos and his Prime shipping.

After a grey week a glorious Sunday

Upstate New York doesn’t get much more beautiful than this.

I walked down to the marina and back this afternoon. First, view back into the outlet of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal (the city Marina is just inside and to the left). Second, view out with the breakwater on the right.

In:

Outlet in

Out.

Outlet out

 

I’m lucky – I’m a Ph.d. who ended up (lightening strike!) in a place I enjoy a lot of the time. Now if I could just get more than a single week off in March . . . .

Surface water

Though the next few days look to be lovely, there has been a LOT of rain in Upstate New York lately. Even when it’s not raining the ground is pretty squishy – good thing reunion was last week! I’ve made a mental note to try to round up some folks to go to Taughannock Falls sometime in June. After a few disappointing, downright trickly summers the big waterfall should be running well

Sleep disruption

So Sunday night I slept too little – I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 3, never to get back to sleep. Last night I went to bed at 10:30 (and it was work to stay up that late) and got out of bed at 8:05 (I’d gotten up in the night to go to the bathroom once). Both mornings I’ve been equally groggy and useless. UGH.