All posts for the month December, 2015

My mom was an English major, so while we were near the Mississippi, we visited Hannibal, Missouri, childhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain (and I will be using the name Mark Twain for the rest of this post). Twain’s book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is more than slightly autobiographical, and a number of locations in town are labeled as if the fictional characters and events of Tom Sawyer really happened. The house that Twain’s childhood sweetheart, Laura Hawkins, lived in, for example, is labeled as Becky Thatcher’s House, and is a tourist attraction.  Similarly, there is a cave on which the cave from Tom Sawyer is based has been named the Mark Twain Cave and is also a (very touristy) tourist attraction.

Overall, my mom was unimpressed; the town was a lot touristier than she had been expecting.  I wasn’t sure what to expect — I was barely a teenager and hadn’t traveled much yet.  I did buy a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in the bookstore there and I know I still have that book. I was, at this point, just going into high school, so I read the book for a book report I think it was my freshman year.

For some unknown reason, there is a picture of what certainly looks to be the Blount Mansion in Knoxville, Tennessee in this part of the photo album. There is a sign that says “Blount Mansion” and has an arrow pointing to the left in the foreground and the only Blount Mansion I could find is in Knoxville. There is also an unreadable historical marker in the front yard, so I thought that maybe this was a house near the Blount Mansion.  But the more I look at the picture and at the mansion in Google Street View, the more I think that this is a picture of the mansion itself. I don’t think we went to Knoxville on this vacation, and even if we had, why would it have been on this page? We’re still in Missouri. So that’s a mystery.

The War for Nigeria, by James Verini, Photographs by Ed Kashi

As a pharmacy technician in my day job, I have worked with several of the around 6,000 Nigerian pharmacists working in the United States. So, for me, Nigeria is at least a little more than just a blob on a map to me.

For many in the United States, though, the last time Nigeria made much of an impact on popular culture was with the kidnapping of the girls from Chibok school by members of Boko Haram, a group who want to create an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.  To this end, they have been, performing acts of violence against the population of northern Nigeria, targeting Christians in particular, but any Muslims that don’t support the Boko Haram agenda are targets as well.

The War for Nigeria is about the actions of Boko Haram in 2013.  We begin with the bombing of a bus station in Kano, the second-largest city in Nigeria. We then go to a local dispute between Christians and Muslims in rural Nigeria.  No one is sure where the dispute began, one villager says that it is based in the death of a cow, but the Christians in the village claim that they are being victimized by Boko Haram.

We then go into the history of Kano, which had been a caliphate before the British took over, and whose emir had been kept on as a sort of religious leader/figurehead.  There is still an emir in Kano, and while Verini doesn’t get to meet the then-current emir, Ado Bayero (who passed away in 2014 and has been succeeded by his great-nephew Mahammadu Sanusi II, who was apparently a banker before he became a religious leader), he does get to have a look around the emir’s palace.

In the process of writing this post, I stumbled across an assertion that “Boko Haram” is a reference to being opposed to western education.  And so I did some digging and found that apparently the Hausa word “boko” is a reference to “ilimin boko,” which means “fake education,” and means the western-style education brought by British colonialists.  “Haram” is an Arabic word that means that something is forbidden or a sin.  As a result, “Boko Haram” carries the meaning “western education is a sin.”

Follow the Water, by Verlyn Klinkenborg, photographs by Orsolya and Erlind Haarberg

Follow the Water is about the coast of Norway.  After reading about the harrowing lives of people in northern Nigeria, Klinkenborg’s lyrical musings on traveling up the coast of Norway was refreshing, but a little jarring as well.  Let’s hope for an era in which people will be able to write such gorgeous prose about the beauty of northern Nigeria.  I may not live to see it, but someday . . . .

Follow the Water is a beautiful article, and there’s not much to say about it that could possibly improve on it, but one point made in Follow the Water is that we have now made the to-date most accurate measurement of Norway’s coast, and the current figure is 63,000 miles.  That means that if you stretched it out, Norway’s coast would go around the equator just about two and a half times.

I have always loved visiting churches.  We didn’t visit churches much on vacations when I was growing up, probably because my dad is an atheist.  I do remember visiting what looks like Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg in 1979 and The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1988.

And while it’s not Notre Dame de Paris, or even York Minster (as I was reminded several times by another transplant), I do love San Fernando Cathedral. I’m sort of an amateur tour guide and San Fernando Cathedral is on nearly every tour I give of the city.

The cathedral was originally the parish church for the colonists from the Canary Islands, who arrived in 1719.  The first stones of what was then called Nuestra Senora de Candelaria y Guadalupe (and which is now San Fernando Cathedral) were laid in the early 1700s.  I have seen numbers ranging from 1729 through 1738.  And, by the way, both aspects of Mary the Mother of Jesus, as Our Lady of Candelaria and as The Virgin of Guadalupe, still have their places in the cathedral.

Beginning in 1868, the building, which had fallen into disrepair, was fixed.  In addition, the church was enlarged and the Gothic front was added. One tower was finished decades before the other, and in 1874, the church was designated a cathedral. You can still see the original church if you go around to the Military Plaza side of the building.

San Fernando Cathedral San Antonio Texas

San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas

In 2003, the cathedral underwent a major renovation to stabilize the foundation.  Additionally, according to news sources at the time, the Second Vatican Council recommended placing the altar closer to the congregation.  In aid of this, the altar was moved from the front of the church to the center of the church and the seats were placed in a sort of cross shape around the altar.

If you enter the cathedral through the left-hand (viewing from the front) door, you will see a marble casket that says that it contains the remains of Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie.  This is one of the most interesting parts of the cathedral for me.

In the last years of his life, Juan Seguin wrote a letter saying that he buried the remains of Crockett, Travis, and Bowie under the altar of the cathedral (which had been a parish church at the time).  In 1936, when they were replacing the altar, they did, in fact, find human remains.  This caused someone to remember the letter, and so the decision was made that these were, in fact, the remains of Crockett, Travis, and Bowie.  The remains were put on display for a year and then placed in the marble casket.

While this is a romantic story, however, there is some reason for doubt. For example, it is an established fact that the dead from both sides of the battle were burned on three pyres near the Alamo, and no mention is made of any special considerations being taken for the bodies of those three men.  So far as I know, the only fighter on the Texian side whose body was given special consideration was Gregorio Esparza.  Esparza’s brother fought on the Mexican side and he got special permission to claim his brother’s body and give it a burial. Additionally, Seguin was not in San Antonio when the bodies were burned, so he could not have separated their remains out from the rest at that point.  Additionally, the marker says that “other Alamo heroes” are in the marble casket, so perhaps Seguin didn’t separate the bodies out, but took some ashes from the pyre that the three were supposed to have been burned on.

Additionally, the story in the Express said that the bodies were found in three separate graves, and I have found that apparently bodies have been buried in San Fernando Cathedral in the past.  Two of these bodies were Simon de Herrera and Manuel Maria de Salcedo.  Both had been governors of Texas while Mexico was still part of Spain.  During the War for Mexican Independence, one of the battles, The Battle of Rosillo Creek, was fought in 1813 at a location around 11 miles southeast of the cathedral.  Following the battle, Herrera and Salcedo, among others, were executed and a priest, Jose Dario Zambrano, took at least Herrera’s and Salecedo’s bodies and buried them in the church.  Is it likely that some of the the bodies that were exhumed in 1936 were those of Herrera and Salcedo?  Maybe not.  Is it possible?  Definitely.

San Fernando Cathedral is downtown on Main Plaza.  The cathedral is handicap accessible.

It is likely that nearly everyone in the United States has heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more popularly called “the Mormons.” In the 2012 election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney was a Mormon. Well, he still is.  The “was” is for the term of his candidacy, rather than his religious affiliation.

Never mind that. The fact is that my mom was always sort of interested in Mormonism. When my mom was a new stay-at-home mom with a young child, she answered the door when two young Mormon missionaries were at the door. She became friends with them, and, though she did not convert, she found a lot to like about Mormonism, particularly their family orientation.  She and one of the missionaries stayed in touch with one another for the next ten years or so.

So when the time came to plan our 1980 vacation, my mom wanted to go to Nauvoo, Illinois.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded by a man named Joseph Smith, in Palmyra, New York.  He claimed to have found a set of golden plates that had the story of the “lost tribes of Israel” having fled to North America and Jesus having visited them there.

Soon after founding his church, Smith and his followers moved to Ohio, then on to settle in Nauvoo, Illinois. While they were living in Nauvoo, Smith and his brother Hyrum were arrested and held in the jail in Carthage, Illinois.  While they were incarcerated, they were murdered by an angry mob.

The central part of town, at the time, was the space where the Nauvoo Temple had once stood (the Nauvoo Temple was rebuilt in 2002). We visited a lot of houses, as usual, but the site of the temple really stuck in my head.  Human memory is fallible, but I seem to recall that they asked non-Mormons (I was raised United Methodist, though I’m sort of between churches at the moment) not to walk on the ground where the temple had stood, since it was still considered holy.  I didn’t find out until later that the Mormons had sold the Temple, and, after the Temple had been damaged in a fire, the purchaser had sold it to someone else. The Mormons purchased the land back in the middle of the 20th century.  Maybe they had rededicated it, or whatever it’s called, reconsecrated, maybe? I don’t know.  And maybe I’m misremembering and non-Mormons were able to run around freely on that land. Now that there is a new Temple on the site, only Mormons are allowed to go there because of the nature of a Mormon Temple.

Nauvoo Temple site

The site of the Nauvoo Temple in 1980.

Due to stress between the Mormons and the other residents of the area, soon after the Mormons elected Brigham Young as their new president, they moved on, eventually settling in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I have to admit that there are some things about Mormonism that I find appealing.  Particularly, I like the health codes. I probably drink more soft drinks than is strictly healthy for me, and I’m a moderate consumer of caffeine (which is forbidden to Mormons) but I already don’t drink alcohol or smoke. I come from a family of alcoholics and my reaction to alcohol is more “Really?” than “Whee!” And the plan is for me to spend more time in a Mormon situation next year — Alex and I will hopefully be flying into Salt Lake City, then driving to Yellowstone for our 2016 vacation.

No, this is not a hint.  I actually already have one of these and am seriously considering the other.  I am also not making a single penny from any sales that come from these links.  These are literally two of the neatest travel-related posters I have seen in 2015 and I want to tell people about them.

Though if either creator would offer me a commission, I don’t think that I’d be averse to accepting it.

Central Park Entire, the Definitive Poster Map is the one that I already have. It is, however, still in its tube. I unrolled it just long enough to admire its beauty and realize that I don’t have the foggiest idea where I will hang it. At 59 inches long, the poster is nearly as long as I am tall, and the ceilings in my house are not so high that I can keep my cats and dog from making it smell like them, if they choose to do so. I am considering having it professionally laminated, then if anyone rubs on it, I can wipe the oil off.

The poster is beautiful, with water features, structures, bridges, and every tree in the park marked on it (that’s over 19,000 trees).  If you need, for some reason, to know where the Turkish filbert tree is, this map will show you. There is also a folding version available for much less than the cost of the poster version.  I haven’t bitten yet on that version (though I may buy it before Alex and my next trip, which may be in 2017, depending on how finances go).

The second poster, Subway Systems at the Same Scale, is just what it says on the tin — the 140 largest subway systems in the world all on one map. These are not the transit maps — the ones that are not to scale and have all of the color-coding. These are pictures of where the actual train lines run, so straight lines are few and far between.  As a result, this poster is not as pretty as Central Park Entire, but it does look interesting.

Neil Freeman, the creator of Subway Systems at the Same Scale has more geographical posters, including Street Chains, which lays the streets of cities end-to-end alphabetically. It looks like these are only named, and not numbered, streets, because the far left edge of the Chicago one sure looks more like the half-block-long Abbot Avenue than all of the east/west expanse of 9th through 138th Streets.

Now that I’m back earlier than 2014 in this project, I sure hope that I can remember to put what year each issue came out. This is sort of an advance apology if sometime down the line, I goof and put “2012” instead of “2011” or anything like that.

The Last Days of a Storm Chaser, by Robert Draper

The Last Days of a Storm Chaser is a very long article about the life and death of Tim Samaras, who chased tornadoes, not for the thrill, but for the opportunity to study them in hopes of better understanding them and eventually saving the lives of people in the paths of them.

We start out with the video that Samaras made of the storm in question, then go back to discuss how he came to be there on that day. Draper discusses Samaras’s research, then goes a bit into how tornadoes form. Then he goes back farther to Samaras’s childhood

Samaras was well known for being very cautious. If he didn’t think that he and his coworkers, who included his son, Paul (who died in the same tornado), could get in and back out safely, he wouldn’t even attempt to place probes in the path of the tornado.

And yet, somehow, Samaras managed to make one tragic judgment call that led to his death and the deaths of two others. Samaras was videotaping the tornado and the videotape ended three minutes before his death, so it is likely we will never know why he opted to be where he was in those last minutes. Draper suggests that perhaps they were trying to deploy probes at the time, or perhaps they were attempting to get away.

Paradise Revisited, by Cathy Newman, photographs by David Doubilet

Doubilet is not only the photographer for this article, he is also the point of view character. Doubilet visited Kimbe Bay, off the coast of Papua New Guinea “seventeen years ago,” so presumably that would be 1996. We’re never told specifically. Since then, Doubilet has longed to return, to see if the coral reef in the bay is still healthy. And it is, for the time being. With global climate change being what it is, however, there are no guarantees that the reef will stay that way.

I am unsure why this is structured like a traditional article with the writer’s name at the top, rather than like other articles that focus on the work of the photographer, where top billing is given to the photographer and the writer’s name is given at the end. Perhaps over time I will see more examples of this kind of article and I will be able to figure out the pattern.

Expanded Boundaries and Hidden Treasures, by Robert Ballard

I had the pleasure to see Robert Ballard speak in person in the late 1980s. Ballard was speaking on the JASON project, which he founded to give children a chance to work with working scientists. He is an engaging speaker, and we had a chance to actually speak with him (very briefly) one-on-one after the talk.

But I digress. Expanded Boundaries and Hidden Treasures is about the exclusive economic zone (“EEZ”), which allows countries to lay claim to undersea territory at least 200 nautical miles from their coasts (if they can prove that the continental shelf extends beyond that 200-mile mark, they can claim more than 200 nautical miles). Needless to say, landlocked countries do not qualify to have an EEZ.

Through its coastline and also its island territories, the United States has claimed an area nearly the size of the continental US through the EEZ. “Last June,” presumably June of 2012, the United States sent its exploration ships out into its EEZ to uncover the natures of both the natural and the economic resources to be found there.

The Field Museum of Natural History has always been my favorite museum.  Some of my earliest memories are of the exhibits, and I swear that I had a dream about the Field Museum in which the artifacts were hung on pegboard hooks, like merchandise in a store, when I was very little.

First, a little (very little!) history.  The Field Museum of Natural History was a sort of outgrowth of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The area which is now Jackson Park was the fairgrounds, and some of the prominent citizens of Chicago decided that this would be a good opportunity to start a hopefully someday-world-class museum. The original museum was called the Columbian Museum of Chicago, but they changed it to Field Columbian Museum a year later and then, still later, to the Field Museum of Natural History.  The original displays were in one of the few permanent buildings constructed for the Exposition, the Palace of Fine Arts (which is now the Museum of Science and Industry). Construction on the current building took about three and a half years, from September 1917 to early 1921. The museum’s grand opening at its current home was on May 2, 1921.  Also, apparently they changed the name from Field Museum of Natural History to Chicago Museum of Natural History for nearly 20 years.  I had no idea that the name had been changed like that, so I guess you really do learn something new every day.

When you first enter the museum through the monumental entrance, you arrive in Stanley Field Hall, a vast, open two-story marble space that serves to set the tone for the museum.  In my childhood, there were fountains at either end, and a cast of what used to be identified as an Albertosaurus, but which is apparently now identified as a Daspletosaurus (that’s a new one on me!).  The Daspletosaurus used to be mounted in a very stiff, unnatural position, like it just noticed you taking his picture and being photographed makes it anxious. The bones of another animal lie at its feet.  They have since removed the fountains and the Daspletosaurus has since been remounted in a more natural position and is now in the Dinosaur Hall in the Evolving Earth display (more on that later). The reigning dinosaur in Stanley Field Hall is now Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex. Sue, being one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever found, is mostly real bones.  Her head, however, was crushed, and is too heavy to mount besides, so they created an uncrushed cast and mounted it.

You can see Stanley Field Hall more or less as it looked in my childhood in the movie “The Relic.”  The book that “The Relic” is based on was set in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, so the rest of the interior shots were filmed in a studio, back before the American Museum of Natural History refused to let them film any scenes inside the museum.  Fortunately, the Field Museum was fine with using their museum, so the exterior shots are of the Field Museum and the scenes in Stanley Field Hall were filmed there, but the rest of the interior scenes look like the American Museum of Natural History.

Much of the rest of Stanley Field Hall is the same as it was in my childhood.  I cannot remember if the Brachiosaurus was in Stanley Field Hall during my childhood or if I am remembering other people’s photos of the room. Looking around it looks like I missed it entirely. It looks like they got the Brachiosaurus in 1994 and then had to remove it to make room for Sue.  The original bones are in the back room and a cast of the fossil Brachiosaurus is now outdoors at the northwest corner of the museum.

One side of the rest of the main floor is taxidermied animals, from birds to mammals to sea creatures.  The other side is primarily dedicated to displays about Native Americans.  One little section is the upstairs of the Ancient Egypt display.

The basement, or “ground floor” as they call it on the map, used to be Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Roman and Etruscan artifacts, with a McDonald’s and some dioramas of prehistoric people.  The original dioramas have since been determined to be historically inaccurate and been replaced by better researched dioramas of other prehistoric people.  This was one of my favorite places in the museum, and not for the McDonald’s.  I love learning about the ancient world, and Ancient Egypt has always been one of my favorites. I wouldn’t go back to then on a bet — I like antibiotics and anesthetics and being able to make my own decisions about my body and my life, despite being female.

There is the tomb of Unis-Ankh, the son of a lesser-known pharaoh on display in the museum. My mom and I used to disagree on whether it was a genuine tomb or not. The Field Museum website says, “The reconstruction is based around original pieces of the tomb, creating two authentic chamber rooms dating back to 2400 BC. “ So it’s possible that we were both right — parts of the rooms are genuine, but the rooms themselves are recreations.  Also, in the basement, is a sort of mini-recreation of the Nile, and visitors can try using a shaduf, which is a bucket on a pole on a fulcrum, to remove water from the “river” and other activities.

The Ancient Egypt section seems to be right where I left it, but it looks like the Roman and Etruscan area has been been replaced by an exhibit called “the Underground World,” and the McDonald’s is now the Explorer Cafe.  I glanced at the Explorer Cafe menu and at first I was all, “Pizza and chicken fingers.  Blech.” But when I look farther, I see more variety including salads (they have a Mediterranean salad that sounds pretty good — what’s not to like about kalamata olives and feta cheese?), a third-pound burger, and an Italian beef sandwich.  So that seems promising.

Upstairs is the Plants of the World display, the museum’s collections of artifacts from Asia, the Hall of Gems the Hall of Jades, and my other favorite place in the museum, the Evolving Earth exhibit.  When I was a kid, there was no Evolving Earth display, just the Hall of Dinosaurs, a large sort of light-blue room filled with dinosaur skeletons. The largest of these is the Apatosaurus, which was known as the Brontosaurus for my early childhood, and which used to have the wrong head. When I was a young teenager, we went to the Field Museum after several years of not visiting and I took one look at it and said, “that’s not the same head.”  No one believed me, but, thanks to the magic of the Internet I have been able to determine that I was right.  They replaced the head, which had been from a Camarasaurus, with the correct one in the 1980s. Around the room, near the ceiling, were paintings of the evolution of the Earth, with particular focus on the dinosaurs, done by Charles R. Knight (Knight’s paintings were done when Apatosaurus had the wrong head, so it doesn’t look like the fossil on display now).  I’ve always loved those paintings, and was surprised to find that, like another one of my favorite artists, Claude Monet, Knight had limited vision. While Monet lost his vision gradually over his life, Knight was legally blind from a young age and used special glasses to see well enough to paint.

The “Hall of Dinosaurs” is much diminished from what it used to be, though they still have the same dinosaurs.  The room is about one-third the size, which necessitated putting them at different heights and linking them with ramps.

In my childhood there was a whole room devoted to meteorites, including one that fell in Illinois and passed through the roof of someone’s car.  The section of car was on display as well, if I recall.  That room is gone now, as well.  I can find some evidence that they are working on some kind of fossil meteorite exhibit, but it does not show on the map that one can download from the Field Museum website.

The Field Museum is wheelchair accessible and there is handicapped parking available in the lot closest to the museum.  If one is comfortable on public transportation, the Museum Campus stop of the Metra Electric line is handicap accessible, two bus lines have stops at the museum and it looks like the Red Line train stop at Roosevelt Road is also handicap accessible. It looks as though the East Entrance is the handicap accessible one. Getting to the East Entrance from public transportation may take some effort, since the Metra stop is several blocks away (Google Maps sends you down to 14th street and back up for some unknown reason), and I think the buses let out at the South Entrance, so plan accordingly.

I can find references to the Roman and Etruscan artifacts on the website, but cannot find it on the map for the life of me.  I may have to call the museum to ask whether they have been retired to the back room or if they are on display somewhere and I just don’t see it on the map.

Wild Obsession, by Lauren Slater, photographs by Vincent J. Musi

Wild Obsession is about people who share their homes with wild animals. The cover image is of a hedgehog, but there are no hedgehogs in this article — most of the animals mentioned are large cats and things of that nature. Slater talks to some of the people who currently own wild animals, and also to those who have given their animals up.

Slater comes across fairly sympathetic to the feelings of these owners, except during one instance which Slater interprets as an attempt of a juvenile kangaroo to mate with a pig (and which the owner of the animals says is a grooming behavior), which Slater sums up with “here, in this wired enclosure, the natural order has been altered.” For some reason, this sat wrong with me. It came off as dismissive of the animals’ owner’s assessment of the situation. We never see what is happening, merely what Slater tells us has happened, for one. It also seemed judgmental. Interspecies attempts at mating do happen in the wild, after all. I’ve found stories of moose trying to mate with horses or cows and of seals trying to mate with penguins and I didn’t have to dig far to find them. The seal/penguin story was on the first page of the Google results when I searched for “interspecies mounting” and the moose/horse(cow) one was in the comments to that article. The Wikipedia article has eight footnotes relating to interspecies mating in the wild. Additionally, if species were the kind of impermeable barrier that Slater seems to imagine, we wouldn’t have the Sherpas, since their ability to withstand high altitude comes, from everything I have read, from Denisovian ancestors.

For what it’s worth, I would never consider owning a large animal. The cost of feeding it would be prohibitive, but mostly I wouldn’t consider it because it would be cruel to force a large cat to live on a quarter-acre of land in a residential neighborhood. Also, however, it could be dangerous to me, personally. About 20 years ago now, one of my cats was walking from Point A to Point C and I was at Point B. As he crossed my lap, his rear foot slipped. I still have the scar. If a 15-pound cat could do that, what could a 300-pound tiger do?

Domesticated cats and dogs are plenty for me, thanks.  I would maybe like to get a large parrot someday.  Alex has said that he’d be willing to inherit it from me.  I would, of course, only get a parrot that was born in captivity from a reputable breeder.  I would do this largely to avoid participating in animal trafficking but also so that I would know the health status of the parrot’s ancestors.

Romans in France, by Robert Kunzig, photographs by Rémi Bénali

For some reason, Romans in France starts out with an overview of waste management solutions in Rome, in which we’re told that Monte Testaccio is actually a pile of empty amphorae that were thrown out of warehouses along the Tiber. Then we move on to the meat of the article, which is about an archaeological, well, “dig” is the wrong word, and I’m not too sure about “excavation.” We’ll go with “project” beneath the waters of the Rhône in Arles, France.

In 1986, archaeologist Luc Long was dared by a friend to dive into the polluted waters of the Rhône. Long found a truck under the water, and in the driver’s side of the truck was a Roman amphora.

In 2004, the archaeologists found a Roman barge 102 feet in length. Almost a decade later, the money came along to build a home for the barge once they excavated it. In order to remove it, however, the archaeologists had to work with the seasons and also replace the cellulose, that had long since dissolved in the water, with a polymer.

While I very much enjoyed this article, there is one curiously written sentence in this article that seems to say that because a nail fell out of one of the timbers it was probably similar to the ones that were used in the crucifixion of Jesus. I was unaware that one of the properties of the Holy Nails was that they came out of the wood easily. Kunzig, the blurb at the bottom of that page says, is a senior editor. He could probably have used the services of an editor for that sentence.