Ingoldian update, minus the Ingold.

My pseudo-barefoot running experiment has been going quite well… sort of. As reported earlier, switching from my standby trail runners (I avoid running on pavement whenever possible- boring and crowded) to VFF KSO Treksports reinvigorated my running. Initial observations included a lower heartrate for comparable time/distance, a much higher degree of engagement with my surroundings, and generally a greater desire to run more. I’ve kept it up, too. After an overly enthusiastic first outing that left me sort for a week I gradually built up my distance and am running the same distance in my VFFs as I was earlier in my regular shoes (~8-10km unless I’m feeling sluggish). In the process I have made a few additional observations. Continue reading

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The Cake is not a lie.

The Cake

My cake. Yes, that's a miniature excavation scene on top, complete with trowel, tarp, micro rite-in-the-rain notebook, flagging tape and marker flags indicating surface lithic scatters.

Today was my birthday. My folks came over for a visit from Vancouver and Chris (my wife) presented me with the cake to end all cakes. This thing, Chris’s first attempt at baking a cake, was a work of art: not only delicious, but thematic and just generally delightful.

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Some sweet knapping

As I sat at my computer this evening, diligently plugging away at the ol’ thesis (biface analysis makes it almost fun!), my wife came out into the garage my study and commissioned me to knap a few objects for some sort of mystery project of hers. The specific pieces were up to me, as long as I used the provided raw materials and deposited all of the finished products and debitage on her desk. I was explicitly told not to eat any of the debitage- not generally something I would be tempted to do!

A super-tiny quartz crystal microblade core? Think again!

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The best thing since stabbed bread.

Sorry for the delay since the last blog post. Non-procrastination on the thesis (yay!) has equated to procrastination on the blog (boo, I guess). But I’ve had enough of writing about gravel and fish bones for a bit, so I figured a little microblade break (with minimal latinate jargon) might be in order.

Ballistics gel: the other... ummm... translucent meat.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, slotted points with inset microblades should provide a suite of benefits over their bifacial counterparts. The inset points should be more durable and more lethal, making them preferable in high-risk hunting situations. At this point, these seem like null hypotheses to me: how can the inset points be anything but better? Nonetheless, when I actually hafted a few of the points and prepared to impale a few proxy animals, I had a niggling lump of doubt sitting in the back of my mind.

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This is my inset point. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

A beauty indeed. Photo: Nick Waber

Anyone who has talked shop with me has probably learned of my affinity for microblades. Microblades are tiny stone bladelets that made up the sharp parts of brilliant multi-component tools. This technology was prevalent on much of the Northwest Coast throughout the early Holocene (~10,000 BP-ish-4000 BP-ish), and is the focus of my thesis. Part of my thesis involves experimentation with microblade tools, and today’s post is devoted to one of these.

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Ingoldian Running

Photo: Nick Waber

I recently read Chris McDougall’s excellent book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. The book is a mash-up of a sports/travel memoir, ethnography-lite, and biomechanics-for-dummies. My thumbnail synopsis:

McDougall travels to a remote region of northern Mexico, following a story about the Tarahumara, an indigenous people whose social identity is effectively defined by running.While there, he meets an eccentric loner who wants to put on the ultimate long-distance trail race in the Tarahumara home region. The Tarahumara are known for running hideously long trail races, some lasting several days, covering hundreds of kilometres. A few Tarahumara runners were convinced to take part in the Leadville 100: a very serious Colorado ultramarathon. The envisioned race will see a small group of top American ultrarunners take on Tarahumara runners on their own turf.

That’s the sports/travel and (more or less) the ethnography bit. Perhaps more interesting than that was the topic of why the Tarahumara are such dominant runners, and how they can cover such grueling distances over rough terrain without suffering the standard sort of overuse injuries that most runners seem to be plagued with. The answer apparently lies to a large extent in their choice of footwear (though that is an extremely techno-deterministic idea, completely ignoring any ideas about human agency and people choosing to run well and adapting their footwear to it over generations, rather than the other way around). Running in minimalist sandals, the Tarahumara runners run with an extremely efficient stride, landing primarily on the mid/forefoot, rather than the heel. Most running shoes encourage the opposite, by raising and cushioning the heel, though several “barefoot” and minimalist options have been introduced of late (and in no small part due to the popularity of McDougall’s book).

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Welcome

Back to bloggery! Some mid-thesis writer’s block has forced action and has prompted me to take up the blogging pen once more. This time, however, I will abstain from extended political commentary; last time ’round my political tirades made me so angry that a day of research and blogging would ruin my mood for the week. As such, instead of spending valuable energy on griping about the state of the nation’s leadership, I will spend valuable energy musing, navel-gazing and observing on various other subjects that drift through my mind. Archaeology is clearly my bag. Within that field, technology, flintknapping, and how us moderns engage with the past will likely make up the majority of the posts. Chances are, this will serve as a journal for my own thoughts (I don’t foresee a hell of a lot of traffic coming through this site), but I guess we’ll see.

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