Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mesa Verde National Park

A former boss of mine, who must have thought I wanted his job, admonished me for taking out of the trash can copies of his business magazines. He was hard to convince that I liked reading anything of interest. So it was that I glanced through a copy of "The American Surveyor", a magazine my retired husband still gets (free) and found an interesting article about an organization I didn't know existed: CyArk.

CyArk is a high definition Heritage Network which goes about "preserving Cultural Heritage Sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modeling, and other state-of-the-art technologies."

Having recently visited Mesa Verde Park, I was interested to note that CyArk was asked to be on a location shoot in this area, and just happened to pack a scanner to be used as a "prop" for the show. That prop became an important tool in scanning and measuring some of the cliff dwellings that are in danger of disappearing due to wind, rain, erosion, and temperature changes. CyArk studied the park's Square Tower House site, whre a large boulder had detached from the alcove face and damaged some of the walls of Square Tower House and one of the kivas.

According to "The American Surveyor" report by Elizabeth Lee, CyArk's founder Ben Kacyra loved the park's old dwellings and decided on the spot that his company should collect information and give a structural analysis of parts of one place, the Square Tower House. Tourists like this site which has the only square building seen among many round ones in the entire park. Alongside is a large kiva that was included in the scanning and getting equipment down to the site from a ledge above was a trial of gymnastics. Computer files of the results can aid field personnel with remote access for researchers and students.

The close-up photos of the work and the area are large and easily identified, compared to my eyes peering across a wide canyon. Anyone interested further in CyArk's work in preserving historic sites around the world will enjoy their website:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Disaster Strikes Again in Mississippi

I was having a great vacation out West only to be informed that at home another rip-roaring storm of great magnitude was uprooting gigantic trees and dropping them onto houses, ripping utility poles from the ground and leaving homes without power. When I returned three days after the storm, the weather report stated that up to six tornadoes had roared through North Jackson, and the metro area, skirting my City of Madison. The angry winds pushed so many trees down that streets had to be closed for the weekend. Now all you see are piles of cut limbs, huge tree trunks uprooted in yards, and tarps over affected roofs. Some areas look scary. This area hasn't been hit like this since Katrina, so say those whose homes were damaged.

We are seeing our own area, years ago on the firing line, once again in the path of these tornadoes. This hasn't happened since we first moved into the area forty years ago. In those early days with our three kids really kids, the lot behind us was our safety net. It has a crevasse where we'd huddle when the warning came. Now we just grab our pillows, all necessities, and sit in various closets. When my elderly parents lived with us some 10 years ago, I held "tornado drills" to get them accustomed to basic moves. We used that education only once. Like little children themselves, they sat quietly for 20 minutes, only to ask the question, "Can we get out now?" I had to laugh. They were seriously sitting with pillows in their laps, their robes and slippers on, following directions. I had to take a photo of them to remind me of that one serious night.

Our state has had it easy, compared to you who have seen so much rain that flooding is occurring. The Mighty Mississip is getting to the overflow stage---any hour now. I wonder if these acts of nature are in any way showing the wrath of God for our obscene behavior here on earth? Many believe that. Me? I'm not sure.

Who wants to hear about my vacation? No one. They're too busy cleaning up debris in and outside their once-happy homes and trying to figure out how to get back to normal.