June 2012


1. The Customer Support team in the Office of Information Services, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, really saved my bacon yesterday. I now have a SAS license good for another year. Thanks to Reuben, Sidney (who did 95% of the work), and Belinda, who was emailing with me at 4 in the morning EDT yesterday. Now I have no excuse for not finishing these analyses.

2. Yesterday I told you about using the iPad app, 123D Catch. Here is the link to the view of the object in the AutoDesk gallery. I had a blast making that one, I think I’ll make a few more while I am here.

3. If you listened to the media player file in the Sounds of Samothrace post, you might have heard a lot of wind causing an unpleasant situation with the microphone. I have crafted a solution to this problem that would make MacGyver proud:

Thanks to my Dear Husband and my future Son-In-Law for helping me figure out what to do, and to Stephen Koob, who is here teaching the students in the conservation lab, for helping me with the taping. I knew that extra piece of foam would come in handy!

4. Now I’m off to work on my analyses. We don’t work on Sunday, so no post tomorrow. See you on Monday!

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I have a lot of gear with me. Approximately 100 pounds of gear. I would guess that only 20 pounds or less of that is clothes and toiletries. The rest is all manner of computers, associated drives and cables, cameras (I am packing 4 of them), the Gigapan. And then there are the plugs, adapters, and batteries, lots and lots of batteries. Here is a picture of my work station.

iPad, MacBookAir, iPhone, plugs, cables, adapters, thumb drives galore.

Alas, yesterday the Great God of Technology  was vacillating in the favors shown to me.

The Good: About a month ago I ran across 123D Catch, a product of AutoDesk that has an iPad app. The app supposedly allows you to take pictures with the iPad of a person, place, or thing, then it stitches them together to produce a 3d model that you can rotate in space. It was free, so I thought, why not?

Yesterday, during the Ugly, I tried it out. I decided to see if I could reconstruct this object:

This is an architectural fragment from one of the buildings here.

So I took a bunch of pictures of this object and let 123D Catch work its magic. It is difficult using just still photography to get a really good sense of how easy it is to manipulate this “object” as it has been reconstructed by the program. But here is how it initially appears

and now I have swiped my fingers across the screen to rotate “it” “in space”

It took 45 minutes from the time I started the tutorial until I had this finished “object” – this is just too cool for words.

The Bad: Internet service is really slow here. We must be only one step up from dial-up in terms of speed. And cell phone service is even worse. A lot of the time I have no coverage, and there are at least 3 different companies that alternately appear as the roaming service provider.

The Ugly: My focus on this trip has been in doing statistical analysis, and I depend on SAS, a widely known software package, to do this. Now for days my SAS log has been saying that my license is due to expire in 45 days. But yesterday afternoon I noticed that the log said that my license is due to expire TOMORROW! Yikes!!

I dashed off an email to the help desk back at home. I even tried to talk to them twice, but the call was dropped both times before I could do much more than to say hello. Fortunately both Reuben and Sidney were most responsive – Thanks, guys. Unfortunately I might be out of luck beginning midnight EDT until sometime late afternoon my time on Monday if they don’t figure out how to upgrade my SAS installation to the next version, then renew my license. That means I would lose all day Saturday of working as well as most of Monday. Since I leave on Thursday on the 7 am ferry, I am not very happy with this prospect. Let’s hope that they can figure out a way…

There are lots of bugs here, and you can see some of the fine specimens here. They have been particularly problematic this year, since our leader, Bonna, was bitten not once, not twice, but three times by a centipede while she was asleep on Saturday. One bite would be bad enough to cause nausea and vomiting, but she had three. Fortunately she is just about recovered today.

Nevertheless the bugs constitute an important part of the environment here, as does the wind. Moreover they constitute the major part of the aural environment. Major contributors are grasshoppers, like this guy.

One of the criticisms of the animated fly-throughs of the reconstructed model of the Sanctuary is that there is no sound. So I have taken it upon myself to record some of the ambient sounds. Here is a recording I made yesterday afternoon. Nothing much happens except that the chirping volume waxes and wanes, as does the sound of the wind. Anyway, here is your short taste of the Sounds of Samothrace:

Crickets attempt 1 from iphone

On-line education is currently a hotly debated topic now in the higher education circles that I frequent. It is not that people doubt the technology, rather the controversy evolves around the extent to which it should be incorporated into the collegiate experience. As an example of the extent of the controversy, the president of the University of Virginia recently lost her job. Part of UVA’s board’s reasoning was that she was too slow in incorporating online learning. (The other part, from what I can tell, is that she was dragging her feet about killing the Classics and German departments.) (UPDATE: President Sullivan has been reinstated. You can read more about the controversy here.)

Online education is here to stay, and those of us in higher education are going to have deal with it. I will be amused to see, however, how many of the children of proponents of the online only institutions actually “send” their children there.

Enough of that rant. I am really thankful that I work at an institution that is as supportive of education in all of its forms as Emory. An example of one of the many guises of education is how my colleague Bonna Wescoat brings a new team of students to Samothrace summer after summer and guides their field experience. Here is a picture of the most formal part of this educational experience:

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This picture was taken at the start of the tour of the site, and we are sitting in the block field for the Propylon of Ptolemy II. The Propylon is the point of entry for initiates into the sacred cult that conducted its rites here. Bonna is on the far left, placing the building in the context of a map of the site. There are three Emory students here (third, fourth, and fifth students from the right), as well as students from Princeton and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Now these students can sit at their computers in the comfort of their homes in NYC or ATL and learn about the process of initiation, but NOTHING will replace the experience of being in this place.

One of the major things that these students will be working on this summer is the precinct that housed the famous statue, Nike, aka The Winged Victory of Samothrace. She sits atop the Daru staircase in the Louvre Museum in Paris, as seen in this picture:

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Here is a closer view:

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The statue was discovered here in the 19th century by French archaeologists and shipped back to Paris. The arms and head are missing, although a hand was discovered here in the 1950’s which was reunited with a finger later found in a drawer of an Austrian museum. The hand is also on display in the Louvre.

Speaking of education, the members of my department, students and faculty alike, all received departmental T-shirts. Our charge was to take them along on our travels and be photographed in them. So here is my picture, in which I answer the charge about the T-shirt, and pose as the Nike. This is taken in the precinct where the French found the statue.

More tomorrow!

Some of you may know that I have started working out with a trainer, Jeremy, aka ETG for Excellent Trainer Guy (although sometime I substitute Evil for those 60-90 minutes every week during our sessions). I have made a lot of progress since we started in April, and I wanted to continue my momentum.

So that raises the question, how does one maintain one’s girlish figure while on an excavation? I can’t pack up the Blomeyer Center in my suitcase. My answer is “Blomeyer in a Bag”.

At least once a week, Jeremy has had me working out with elastic bands. I recalled that several years ago, the Emory EVP of the Health Sciences Center sent a set of elastic bands to all of the faculty as a holiday present. I dug those out of the cupboard, thinking that those would be a relatively light way of bringing along resistance training. I asked Jeremy to write out a workout that I could do with the set of bands, which he obliged. So yesterday morning I arose at 5:15 and got my workout done before the heat of the day made it an impossibility. It remains to be seen if I can manage to repeat that feat tomorrow morning.

So now, for your viewing pleasure, I present, “Blomeyer in a Bag”:

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Other than that, I spent yesterday setting up my workspace, and getting myself organized for working the rest of my time here. More later!

The Greek expression for “Hello” is “Γεια σας” (sounds like Yah sis). I’m back on Samothrace for my abbreviated season, and back in the blogging business.

I left Atlanta on Thursday June 21, taking the 5:30 pm flight to Amsterdam (dratted Delta has discontinued direct flights to Athens), then flew on to Athens. The first leg was delayed in ATL for equipment repair, then delayed getting to the gate in AMS due to water leakage into the gate area. Other than that my flights were remarkably unremarkable. I checked into the Sofitel right at the airport, and fell asleep. I had hoped to watch the Greece v Germany match for a semi-final berth in the UEFA 2012 tournament, but I could not stay awake, then I slept right through my alarm.

The next morning I grabbed a cab and went to the Archaeological Museum in Piraeus. There I got a picture of the object known as the Salamis relief, as well as a couple other objects related to metrology. There is a saying that the best camera is the one that you have at the moment, and at that moment I had 3 cameras so I took pictures with all three of them: iPad, iPhone, and my big girl camera, a DSLR. On the ferry to the island I played around with the Snapseed app on my iPad. It was very intuitive and really pretty amazing. Two thumbs up for Snapseed!

Anyway, here is the SOOC shot of the Salamis relief (from the iPad)

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and here it is after applying the Sharpen and Black & White filters to it

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Pretty cool, huh!

Another cool object there is one for measuring liquid volume which was found in the agora in Piraeus. Here it is SOOC:

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and here it is after some post-processing with Snapseed

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Finally this shot is of a stele found in Piraeus

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I took this shot with my iPhone and have not yet played around with post-processing yet. It definitely needs it. Inscribed on this stele are reports from market inspectors, reporting on the prices of meat. Pork is the most expensive, then goat, then beef.

I arrived yesterday and we have spent thia morning setting up – daisy-chaining extension cords from the one working electrical outlet around our work space, so that we can power 5 computers, a scanner, a printer, lots of lights, and fans. This afternoon I will get to work on analyses. More tomorrow!