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Rome Reborn 1.0

Rome Reborn

Scientists, historians and archaeologists came together to recreate Rome as it appeared on 21 June 320 AD. The 3D city runs in real time and took 10 years to develop. Travel back in time and see Rome Reborn 1.0.

I’d love to see someone develop something like this for Lisbon prior to the earthquake of 1755. Records and correspondence indicate the city was the jewel of Europe before that natural disaster. The fires and floods killed almost 90,000 people and destroyed the city’s infrastructure. It would be interesting to see what the city looked like before the wide avenues and squares were built.


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Encompassing the Globe

Encompassing the Globe

The Sackler Gallery hosted one of my all-time favorite exhibitions – Encompassing the Globe – about the Portuguese maritime explorations in the 16th and 17th centuries.

My mom and I attended the opening of the exhibit back in June and since then I’ve gone through the collection of maps and paintings and furniture and religious relics about two dozen times. I’m particularly fascinated by the armillary spheres.

I thought I had a good understanding of Portugal’s history during the age of exploration – but this show proved my knowledge at best inadequate and at worst disgraceful considering my parents were born there. I really need to bone up on my world history.

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The father and mother of all bombs


Nicknamed the Father of all Bombs, Russia detonated the new thermobaric device said to be four times more powerful than America’s Massive Ordnance Air Blast, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs.

First off, WHO names these weapons? I picture a short, scrawny guy with dark greasy hair and bright eyes who sits in front of multiple monitors, secretly watching old episodes of Get Smart while christening new weapons in an excel spreadsheet.

Second, am I the only one who feels Russia is not the confidante our fearless leader hopes she is, but is instead that backstabbing wench who’s constantly trying to one up America?

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Help find Stephen Fosset

Steve Fossett

Tara Calishain of ResearchBuzz just sent a message on the Mechanical Turk’s effort to help find missing adventurer Steve Fossett. Fossett went missing on September 3 while flying over the Nevada desert. Satellite imagery has been made available for his last known whereabouts (he did not file a flight plan) and Mechanical Turk HITs have been set up to review those images.

The link will be live for one week. You have 60 minutes to work on each HIT. The HITs are small squares of satellite images that you have to review for unusual objects. Examples are provided for you; if you want to get a closer view of the image, you’re given a coordinate to use in Google Earth. With each hit, you either report that you have seen nothing unusual or you report any strange objects — a space is provided for comments.

Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for tasks that require human intelligence. These tasks are called “HITs”, ‘Human Intelligence Tasks’.

Before you can start working on Mechanical Turk HITs, you will need to complete a short registration process. If you are already an Amazon.com customer, you can sign-in using the same email address and password you use at Amazon.

Good luck and spread the word!


A joke, a bore and a pleasant surprise

Bobby Z

I spent the entire weekend at the movies. And not just any movies… but action packed, gun wielding films featuring some pretty hot guys.

The Death and Life of Bobby Z

I love Paul Walker. I also love Joaquim de Almeida and Laurence Fishburne. Which is how I ended up watching this travesty. The predictable plot, the over choreographed fight scenes, the implausible shoot outs, and all’s-well-that-ends-well ending only gave me a greater appreciation for Shoot `Em Up.

3:10 to Yuma

Though I’m generally not a huge fan of westerns, my favorite two are Blazing Saddles and Young Guns. That said — Yuma was filled with so much drama. So. Much. Drama. The shoot out at the end was ridiculous. And Ben Foster delivered an annoying, one note performance as psycho Charlie. I was praying someone would put me out of my misery and just kill him.

Shoot `Em Up

From the opening tight shot of Clive Owen’s eyes to the credits — this is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long while. Apparently the critics don’t share my sense of humor. Or that of last night’s audience who laughed throughout most of the action. One guy belly laughed through entire scenes, egging the rest of us on. Owen should win a prize for his delivery of truly absurd and clichéd zingers with a straight face. If you have not already seen this — go. If you weren’t planning to see it because of the bad reviews — go. It’s bloody hysterical!

Shoot ~Em Up was the perfect remedy to the all-too-serious gun fights of last night’s Yuma and Friday’s Bobby Z.

What films do you recommend? Or not? And what did you do this weekend?

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Budget Buster


Today I dispensed friendly advice and provided clueless tourists with directions. For a slow weekend — especially in comparison with Labor Day — it was exceptionally entertaining.

The highlight of my day was a man who approached the information desk asking how to get back to Baltimore from DC. Apparently he and his family had checked into a hotel there and took the MARC train into DC to visit the sites.

Well, he was looking for a bus that would take them back.

A bus with a $2 fare.

The train was just too expensive. I was like “Huh?!”

What was this guy thinking? One gallon of gas in DC costs $2.80+ and he’s looking for a $2 bus to take him from DC to Baltimore — 35 miles away?!

Needless to say he was not pleased with his transportation alternatives.


A Microcosm of Life

restaurant dining

Last week a wise man said to me, “our meals — how we eat and who we eat with — are a microcosm of our lives.” And while I’ve forgotten the point of the rest of the conversation, that lost mind again, his comment stayed with me.

In fact, every time I put a morsel in my mouth, I think about what he said.


If I eat breakfast, it tends to be cereal with cold milk, a multi-vitamin and a Viactiv chew while watching the TODAY Show, scrolling through email, and applying makeup. More often than not, I eat breakfast alone.


Inspired by Freegan Girl, I’ve taken to pack homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cold pasta, or salads instead of running out to Au Bon Pain or Cosi. Four days a week, I tend to eat alone while writing or reading or answering email or searching the internet.

One workday a week, I’ll meet a friend or colleague at a restaurant for lunch.

On the weekends, I do brunch.


On Saturdays and Sundays, I meet one or two or three pals out at a restaurant for a leisurely brunch — unless I have to run to the Smithsonian for an afternoon shift at the info desk. Then the brunch is not so leisurely. Last month I hosted Sunday brunch twice and swore it would become a weekly occurrence, only to meet at a restaurant the following week.


I would say four out of seven nights, I eat a sandwich or salad or pizza or sushi takeout while watching a Netflix disc on tv or reading a novel/report/website. The other three nights, I eat out at restaurants with friends.

If my meals are a microcosm of my life, I’d admit that I rarely take the time to focus on one thing. While I’m eating, I’m also talking or writing or watching or reading something else. I also take most of my meals alone. Though I don’t often feel lonely.

And taking into consideration how often I eat out, I am spending a small fortune on tips, never mind the meals themselves. I could have saved up for a month-long cruise down the Nile with all the cash devoted to dining in restaurants this past summer. I think I need to start hosting dinner parties.

While now that I’m paying more attention to my bad habits and know I need to stop wasting as much as I do, I have to agree with Freegan Girl on the whole dumpster diving movement:

“I don’t believe that you can live off a system you’re trying to eradicate at the same time. And if you want to inspire people to act, I think you should start with something they don’t think is completely gross.”

What do your meals say about you?


Losing My Mind


This morning, on my way to recharge my phone, I got distracted by something on tv. So I walked into the kitchen, poured some cereal, and proceeded through my morning routine. As I brushed my teeth, I remembered that I had to recharge my cell battery. But then I misplaced my earrings and spent 10 minutes looking for them. On my way out the door, as I grabbed my phone to call a friend, I noticed one slim bar left in a flashing red battery icon.

I had forgotten to remember to recharge my phone!

I’ve noticed lately that I do this more and more often. I get up to grab a stamp, only to forget why I walked over to my desk. I’ll turn on the dishwasher, realizing too late that I had already washed those dishes. I remind myself to buy tokens for the laundry room, only to get to the basement with two filled bags of dirty clothes, detergent, and fabric softener and no way to run the machines.

Worse still, I’ll run into my neighbor in the laundry room and completely blank out her name. Until an hour later, while I’m playing Tetris on Gameboy, when I remember her name, her ex-boyfriend’s name, and the name she gave her new laptop.

Or while working, I’ll open a new tab to search for something, get sidetracked by incoming email or a phone call, turn back to the open tab with no recollection of what I needed to look for.

Is it ADD? Dementia? Early onset Alzheimer’s? Just another symptom of growing older?

So I’ve started paying attention to reports and new research on ways to improve memory. And though some studies recommend certain chocolate or moderate drinking or standing on your head while reciting the alphabet backwards, it seems that there are 10 basic ways to boost brain power:

1. Cardiovascular exercise for a least 30 minutes per day ie. a brisk walk

2. Daily cup of caffeinated coffee or soda

3. Green or black tea

4. Reduce stress and become a yoga enthusiast

5. Sleep

6. Eat foods like blueberries and grapes; include supplements like Omega-3 fatty acid, Thiamine, Niacin, and Vitamins B-6 and E

7. Use your brain — learn a language or how to play a musical instrument

8. Learn mnemonic techniques like a memory palace.

9. Organize your life — if you always place your keys on a peg beside the door, you won’t struggle to remember where you last put them.

10. Write in a journal everyday — even if you forget, you can always look back on your own private record.

Do you feel like you’re losing your mind? What do you do to better remember?