Archive for September, 2009

Rome in a day

Classical history geek that I am, I went this afternoon to the “24 Hour Roman Construction Project,” an art event in which participants build a replica of Rome in a day. Starting at midnight with the two huts of Romulus and Remus, volunteers make structures, well, more or less to scale.

Events, speakers and music were planned all day – wrestlers stage a match to mark the fall of the Republic and rise of the Empire; a fiddler plays during Nero’s reign. At the end, they stomp the whole thing to bits like the Visigoths.

Artist Liz Glynn handed volunteers laminated cards with a structure on them, and then you used your ingenuity and a pile of scrap cardboard and lumber to make the buildings.

I was there for about an hour around 2:30 p.m., during the late Roman Republic, my favorite period, and got to work on the rostra, the Forum’s platform for speakers.

Fran Gale, an architectural conservator and masonry expert, gave us Vitruvius’ advice on choosing sand to mix mortar: If you throw it against a white garment and it doesn’t stick, it’s good!

Though in the event I opted not to use them, I brought some notecards with Roman graffiti to scribble on the walls: some real (HELENE AMATUR A RUFO – Rufus loves Helen; LADICULA FUR EST – Ladiculus is a thief; ARPHOCRAS HIC CUM DRAUCA BENE FUTUIT DENARIO – Arphocras did it with Drauca here for a denarius) and some not (SONA SI LATINE LOQUERIS – Honk if you speak Latin).

I mentioned I was a geek, right?

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When I made roses from Sculpey III polymer clay for my rose and semiprecious stone earrings, the fine edges crumbled as I was assembling the earrings. Roses made from Fimo clay, though, stood up to abuse — and by abuse I mean my cats knocking them off the counter and chasing them around on a hard floor until my husband rescued them. So I’m switching over.

A white Fimo rose

A white Fimo rose

Another benefit: Fimo #0 White is really, really white. Much more pure than the greyish white of Sculpey III 001 White. There’s nothing wrong with a nice creamy off-white; it can be restful — I’m thinking of walls and woodwork, where pure white can practically glare. But Fimo’s white is an inspiringly pure white.

Here are some things it’s as white as:

  • Kitten belly.
  • Fresh new piece of paper, waiting for your thoughts.
  • The tops of those big ‘rooms’ up in the clouds I’d like to fly into.
  • Irish linen. Hemstitched. Ironed.

And these ‘Thalia’ daffodils. Hmmm…

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Further solidifying my title as “Workaround Sue” – Just copy one of these and paste it into your tweet. Here you go: ♥   ♡  ♪  ☺  ☹   ☮   ★   ❦  Quick ‘n dirty.

Even better, here’s a long list with tons of symbols. A sampling: ♘  €  ☯  ☂  ☀  ☛ ✓ ☢  ♀  ℞  ☎   ¢  ↑  ↓ anyone?

(This dodge also works when you are trying to watermark an image in Photoshop and you’ve whacked every key on the board trying to find the dang © symbol.)

Of course, this is only if you want to tweet symbols once in a while. If you want to fill all your tweets with diamonds and yin-and-yang symbols and ivy leaves and stuff, you’ll probably want a real solution like enabling the Character Palette on a Mac or adding a TwitterKeys link to your browser toolbar.

(P.S. Hooray for people who write up helpful how-tos like those posts out of the goodness of their hearts. That’s how I learned these are called Unicode characters. I found all this in a mad session of Googling after the whim struck me to tweet a heart… indeed, I do ♥ humans.)

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Of course the travel guide says it’s incredibly hot (2000C) on the day side and super-cold (-200C) on the night side, but it’s still the first rocky planet confirmed outside our own solar system. The planet, CoRoT-7b, orbits the star CoRoT-7 in the Monoceros, or Unicorn, constellation. The names all get more sensible when you learn the planet was detected in 2008 by the CoRoT satellite.*

Or you could just call it “the Lava Planet,” which is sexier and easier to type. Also cool: It’s so close to its sun and moving so fast that its year is 20.4 hours.  So dress in layers, and hang on tight.

The Knight Science Journalism Tracker has a dry little report on how various news sources have, or have not, irresponsibly inflated the finding’s relevance to the search for alien life. There’s a good roundup of links that show the spectrum of reaction, scientific and non-.

*The satellite’s name apparently stands for COnvection, ROtation and planetary Transits, but that tips back over towards unintelligibility.

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