Interests (the Diverging Rays!)
I've always been fascinated with both of these fields. Possibly this is my mother's fault. She was a true Renaissance woman. Even though she was a bookkeeper by trade and an artist at heart, she studied archaeology (among many other things) while she was in college and went on actual digs.
When I was around 12, we were card-carrying members of the archaeological association in New Orleans. With this group, we went on at least 2 digs - one was in New Orleans itself and it involved excavating a trash heap from the 1800s. I found pieces of broken crockery (I was told they were chamber pots) and both a bone and a mother of pearl button. The other excavation was a mound site in the middle of a soybean field somewhere in Louisiana. I can't remember the little town but I do remember that many of the people in the town seemed to speak with a thick Cajun accent. And chiggers. There were chiggers everywhere. Especially in the clearing where we camped out. But I was allowed to screen fill that was taken from the pits and I did find (although of course was not allowed to keep) several arrowheads. I was also shown how to sift through the fill with a screen and pick out possible items of interest. What a cool experience for a nerdy 12-year-old!
That was archaeology, which very basically is the study of human past through material remains.
I find anthropology, the study of what makes us human, equally fascinating. People have been, well, people, since the beginning. About 4000 years ago, Nanni wrote to Ea-nasir about the quality of his copper shipment and the treatment his servant received during the transaction. Ea-nasir was apparently a shifty businessman because the same site where that tablet was found yielded several more complaints from different customers relating to copper delivery and quality. But can't you just imaging Ea-nasir's Yelp reviews? Over 2000 years ago a Roman soldier serving in Vindolanda wrote that he had received the socks and underwear that was sent to him. And sometime in the 1200s there was a little boy who lived in Novgorod named Onfim. Onfim liked to draw. He left behind several drawings on birch bark which were preserved in the clay soil. We don't know anything else about Onfim, just this glimpse of a little boy doing what little boys have always done - getting bored while writing out lessons and drawing pictures.
I don't consider myself a "gamer" but I do enjoy playing games. I never had an Atari or any of the other early 80s game systems. Honestly, we were too poor for that. My mother did buy us a TRS 80 computer from Radio Shack. You hooked it up to the TV and used a cassette recorder to save your programs which you typed in, by hand, from magazines. I don't remember using that a whole lot, though.
We also loved going to the arcade and playing video games. Some of my favorites were Kick-Man,Ms Pac Man, Moon Patrol, Tapper, Tempest and Tron (but I could never get past the 3rd level). Mom loved Centipede. We both loved pinball machines and my mom could play a quarter forever.
Today I play games on Steam and I have a Switch which was a total impulse buy but which I find quite fun.
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- Cattails - I Kickstarted this game and first played it on Steam and now I also have it on Switch. It's so adorable! You're a cat who's been left to fend for itself in the woods. You join up with a colony, meet other colonies, make friends, go on quests. You can even build your own colony! A new chapter in the story, Cattails: Wildwoods, is going to be coming and I'm so excited!
- Stardew Valley - Talk about your weird places to hear about a game. I read about this on NPR. I thought it sounded really sweet and it is! I like how you can play what you want - you can focus on a specific thing (mining, harvesting, cooking, etc) or be a jack of all trades. There are relationships to build with the villagers, quests, treasures to find.
- Pinball Arcade I much prefer real life pinball but if I can't get to a machine and I'm craving some pinball action, this works just fine. Some favorite tables: Medieval Madness, Arabian Nights, Elvira's Scared Stiff, Monster Bash, Genie, Xenon, Addams Family, Ripley's Believe it or Not.
- Aqua Kitty - Milk Mine Defender - I found this when I had an Xbox 360. I now have it on Steam and I think it's available on Switch. Your job is to defend feline milk miners from deep sea creatures.
- Escape Goat - This link brings you to a browser version of the game but you can get it on Steam. You are a goat in this puzzle platform game and your goal is to escape various prisons.
- MagiCat - this is a side scrolling platformer. You are a magical cat, collecting gems, fighting bosses and questing to find a stolen artifact.
- Taipan - I used to play this in grade school. We had computer class in 5th grade and we got to play Taipan as a reward for getting our work done. I still like this game! You are a trader in the Far East in the 1800s. Your goal is to accumulate wealth through trading and fighting off pirates. You can read about the game's history here
- Doom RL - My son got me hooked on this game and I'm not sure if I'm thankful or not. This is a rogue-like game based on the first-person shooter, Doom. You can choose character classes - I always choose the Marine but I have to stay on the take it easy level.
So I totally bought the Switch on a whim. And it wouldn't do to get a regular one. I got the Animal Crossing branded one because it came in cool colors. I had no idea about Animal Crossing and, as it turns out, it's really not my jam. However, I have found a lot of neat games to play.
- Ding Dong XL - Best .99 I spent, ever! Super simple game - only one button to control, which is exactly my speed. You're bouncing a ball from the top to bottom and back again, avoiding obstacles and getting powerups. Sounds simple - not so much! I think my high score is something like 139.
- Figment - Something has happened to a young boy's mind. You're Dusty, the former voice of courage, and it's your job to solve puzzles and fix things.
- Yoku's Island Express - This is basically a pinball game! You're Yoku, the ant, and you have become the island's mailman but you also have a quest to complete. I really like this but I have to play in limited doses because the motion makes me queasy.
- Crypt of the Necrodancer - I like this game but I will admit that I hardly know what I'm doing. There are a lot of key combos. I kind of button mash, I really like the music and I have accidentally gotten to the 2nd or 3rd level. One of these days I'll really figure out the game.
- Box Boy! and Box Girl! - You're a box person in this game and you use boxes to help you around obstacles. This is either a 1 or 2 player game. I have only played the solo version so far.
These aren't all the games I have on the switch. Some I also have on other platforms (Cattails, Stardew Valley) and others I haven't played yet (Guacamelee 2)
- Egyptian Senet - Senet is an ancient Egyptian board game. Try to get all your pieces off the board before your opponent.
- Simon's Cat - Crunch Time - I love the Simon's Cat cartoons! This is a simple match 3 game which I find very addictive and better than other match games for the simple fact that it is feline themed.
- Two Dots - Connect matching dots. I pretty much don't play the main game anymore on this. I love the scavenger hunts and I play the Treasure Quest/Treasure Rewind/Arcade Games.
- Double Down Casino - This is a pretty obnoxious app but I play it solely because it has Kitty Glitter on it. I've played Kitty Glitter in real life but it's much better playing on the app because it's done with fake money.
- Wordscapes - This is a word search/crossword kind of game. This is the only game on any of my platforms where I play on a team. On a whim I decided to join one and I think I picked the best team. A majority of the team are an extended family and sometimes I feel like I'm crashing a family get-together in the chat but they are the nicest people and welcome anyone to join the team. We don't always win but even when we're 23rd place, someone is in the chat cheering the team on.
- Smash Hit - My son introduced me to this game. You fly through levels, throwing steel balls at glass obstacles and targets. It is amazing how satisfying it is to hear that glass shatter!
- Pin Out - Another game shown to me by my son. This is a pinball game with neon lights and cool beats.
- Secret Cat Forest - This is an idle game. There's no time limit, nothing has to get done on a schedule. Just play with the cats when you feel like it! Such a cute game. The goal is to gather fish to feed the kitties and gather wood to build furniture. The background music is nice and it's also soothing to listen to the in game rain. There are in-app purchases available but you don't have to spend money to enjoy the game.
- Jewels Switch - This is your basic Bejeweled-style match game. I like this better than other match 3 games I've tried. Some of the levels can be frustrating. I've been stuck on levels for months and then one day the stars align and boom, cleared it and on to the next level. Once again, you can choose to spend money and get power ups or you can go hard mode and play without any help.
- Seedship - You're making decisions for an AI guided ship full of colonists searching for a new home planet. How long can you search for a new planet? What compromises are you willing to make? Completely text-based, randomly generated game.
- WazHack - Roguelike dungeon game. You can choose a variety of characters to play. You and your pet dog make your way down dungeon levels while picking up loot and fighting monsters. I'm not very good at this game but I liked it so much that I actually have it on both my phone and my iPad.
- Word Search - There are probably a zillion word search games out there. I like this one. It's a very basic word search with no bells or whistles.
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I listen to podcasts using the Podcast Addict player on my Android phone. These are the ones I am currently subscribed to:
- ArchaeoEd - not even sure how I found this but it's one of my new favorite podcasts. First of all, gotta love wordplay. ArchaeoEd stands for archaeology education but also refers to the podcast creator, Ed Barnhart. The subject matter is ancient civilizations in the Americas. There are 3 seasons so far and I've made my way through 2 of them. These episodes are usually on the short end, around 30-45 minutes. Sometimes the subject matter is about general archaeology and sometimes it's about sites he has personally been involved in.
- 99% invisible - the website describes it best, the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. This is a podcast about design but it covers such a breadth of topics, from techno music to mail order houses to cardboard box design - it's just endless and endlessly fascination. Also, I find Roman Mars' voice to be very soothing.
- Darknet Diaries - Now I'm not a very technical person and certainly not a computer person. But despite that I find this series very interesting. I think part of what appeals to me is the social aspect involved in hacking. And part of what appeals is there are just some really interesting stories here, even for a layperson like me. One of the more interesting episodes was the one on the Flash Drives for Freedom project.
- You're Dead to Me - I don't remember how I found out about this podcast but it is just DELIGHTFUL, especially if you like your history with some humor. Each episode the host discusses a topic with a comedian and an expert in that particular topic. Even topics that I wouldn't have thought I'd be interested in I ended up really enjoying.
- Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me - I feel like I've been listening to Wait Wait for forever! Weekly hour long quiz show from NPR. Check out the link to see what the format is but it involves quizzing the panelists and also callers on weekly news events and interviewing a noted person.
- Dust - I first found Dust on YouTube where their channel has a lot of sci-fi shorts. They also have a podcast which has 3 seasons and 2 mini seasons. Good stuff and all 3 seasons are very different.
- I Spy - My son turned me onto this podcast. It's hosted by Margo Martindale, who we quite enjoyed in the show The Americans. This is a show about spies, with stories told by the spies themselves!
- Mission: Interplanetary - This has been a fascinating podcast to listen to because the hosts (Cady Coleman and Andrew Maynard) discuss all sorts of aspects of space like the hazards of space junk, what laws are followed in space, how to decolonize space exploration.
- In Our Time - Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, history and events that have shaped the world. Anything and everything is discussed - you really have to see the podcast listings to get an idea of how vast the topics are. As well as being interesting I also find these podcasts soothing to listen to.
- Historic Royal Palaces - This is a collecion of talks and lectures given by experts and curators. An example of topics: Queen Anne, rituals of the royal bedchamber, England's medieval queens, a whole lot of episodes on the Tudor court. These are recorded live so often the sound quality isn't the greatest. Don't let that scare you away, though!
- X Minus One - this was an American science fiction radio show that was broadcast between 1955-1958. The stories for the radio shows came from the science fiction magazines Astounding and Galaxy.
- The Edge - This podcast was promoted on another podcast I was listening to and I don't know what made me listen to it because I can't even describle how NOT interested I am in baseball. But this 6 part series on the Houston Astros cheating scandal was so interesting!
- Click Here - This is another podcast I found because it was promoted on another podcast I was listening to. Darknet Diaries played an episode of Click Here and I was hooked. Very much the same type of material, discussing ransomware, cyber operations, disinformation campaigns. Absolutely intriguing.
- Big Brother: North Korea's Forgotten Prince - an episode from this podcast was played on Click Here and prior to listening to that I was fairly uninterested in how the ruling family of North Korea came to be. This ended up being intensely interesting! From the podcast page: Kim Jong-nam should be the ruler of North Korea. Instead, he was the victim of the 21st century’s most bizarre assassination plot. A deep look inside a decades-long saga broiling with deceit, palace gossip, and political backstabbing—shedding light on the machinations of the most secretive nation on the planet.
So that's not all the podcasts on my player but gives you an idea of what I'm into and what I find interesting.
Several years ago I found out about Postcrossing. This is such a cool idea! You sign up to send and receive postcards from all over the world. This isn't a penpal situation. You get an address and send a postcard to that person. A different person will get your address and send one to you! It has been a lovely experience. A couple years ago I stopped because.. well, 2019 and THINGS .. but I've been thinking about picking it up again. It was really cool to find a postcard in my mailbox!
I get excited like a little kid when I find a pressed penny machine. I don't know, I just think they're cool! Not too long ago I found a little book to keep my pressed pennies in. Before that I would just put them "someplace safe" and as a result I now find random pressed pennies when I go through stuff. I have so far found 11 pennies to put in my book. I'm sure I have more tucked away somewhere.
I thought I was just a weird adult, being excited about the pennies because really I think of these machines as something for kids. But apparently pressed penny collecting is a thing and I've found a lot of sites that are everything from where to find pressed penny machines to how to clean your pennies. Crazy, man.
My goal is to get photos of the actual pennies for you all to see but if I wait until I have taken them (and edited them then uploaded them) to upload this section, then no one will ever see this. So I'm going with what I have and it will be an exciting day whenever I add those photos.I have pennies from the following places:
- Rosson House (Phoenix, Arizona)
- Cabazon Dinosaurs (Cabazon, California)
- Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum (Tucson, Arizona)
- Keepers of the wild (Valentine, Arizona)
- Rattlesnake Museum (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
- Meteor Crater (Williams, Arizona)
- Wild Burros of Oatman (Oatman, Arizona)
- Wikieup Trading Post (Wikieup, Arizona) - unfortunately, this place burned down in May 2021.
- Top of the World (Stratosphere Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Arizona Museum of Natural History (Mesa, Arizona)
- Queen Mine Tours (Bisbee, Arizona)
If you want your own pennies, you can check out machine locations here, and here. If you are specifically into Walt Disney World pressed pennies then do a Google search on that because there seem to be a lot of resources out there specifically for that subset of pressed penny collector.
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