Deadlines Approaching

It’s hard to blog when I have so many deadlines approaching. I can’t blog about biking, since I am not riding much (weather, workload). No one wants to hear about the things my students write (well, maybe you do, but I won’t share them in a public forum.) And I’ve been working on comps prep, which is interesting to me, but doesn’t leave me much interest in writing here, mostly because by the end of the night, I’ve run out of words. (I wrote 2700 words yesterday. I have to do that 8 times. I’ve got 6 of them done.) I could show you or tell you about the books I have from the library (77 books, plus 3 from interlibrary loan) and all the things I am reading, but again, too tired and running out of words. So, instead, I made this silly picture of our big dog:

Boyfriend has been playing a lot of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 lately, so I decided we should try to make a picture of the dogs in his headphones. Maddie is the only one who would sit still long enough to take a photo. 

In other news, we went to see the Pompeii exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was interesting, sort of. Of course, a traveling exhibit is always tough, because certain things can’t be moved. What this exhibit did is try to recreate the culture and lifestyle of the Pompeiians by displaying artifacts uncovered from the site. There were things like jewelry, dishes, and furniture, tiles and wall frescoes, and even a water pump for indoor plumbing. The walls around the exhibit featured photos of the “recreated” site – what houses and village squares would look like. I thought that was interesting, but it didn’t seem to tell me anything unique about Pompeii, other than the observation that the boyfriend made: culture *stopped* at the point of the volcanic eruption. So details on a lot of the things we saw were “in fashion” at the time, but they never went out of fashion – the world just stopped.

3/4 of the way through the exhibit, the museum featured a room presenting a digital video reconstruction of the day of the eruption. Over a period of 5 minutes, it showed the dramatic effects of the ash falling from the sky, the shaking of the earth, and then when all seemed clear, the gas and ash cloud that rolled across the landscape, killing people who’d managed to make it out of the direct path of danger. In the final room, they displayed resin casts from the site. The ash preserved details so finite that you could see that a man had covered his face with his cloak while sitting in a stairwell. There was a cast of a dog that had suffocated. That one broke my heart. There were couples, a man reaching out for a woman. Groups of people. The most dramatic was a small plot filled with skeletons who had escaped the direct path, and were waiting for a boat to take them out of danger’s way, when the gas cloud asphyxiated them all. There were skeletons of thirty people, include 9 tiny skulls from children. Hands wrapped around each other, and some died on their feet and feel. One skull was frozen with the mouth open in an expression of horror.

That last room was poignant and moving, but I was also aware of the construction of the exhibit around it. The lights in this area were lower. The walls were darker. Each resin cast was set on a bed of lava rocks in a frame raised off the floor. There was contemplative music playing. And of course, as you walked out, the exhibit dumped you into the special exhibits gift shop.

I have the great opportunity to work as a research assistant on an interdisciplinary team this semester, working on a project about experience design – things like this exhibit, but also the extent to which this design approach can be utilized beyond the museum. I’m really excited about it. However, that also means I am even MORE busy than I was before.

All other things are good, though. Puppy is awesome, Europe trip is coming up, school is almost out for the semester, teaching is going well, and classes are good too. I’m just busy! But this week, Thanksgiving week, is here at the perfect time. I have a break from the external part of my work load, and can focus on the research and writing for my comps preparation. I was originally supposed to take them this past Friday, but due to some scheduling conflicts (minor advisor out of town, other events) we’ve pushed it back. All the better to study and prep!

So, I will just be thankful for that. And for the chocolate that my boyfriend brought me when he came home from work today. And the adorableness that is the dogs, and the cat, and the boyfriend, and our life, and all that. I am definitely thankful!


3 thoughts on “Deadlines Approaching

  1. My museum studies group went to A Day in Pompeii as well. We didn’t like how it ended either (with the mournful setting with the casts and then being dumped into the gift shop). I thought it would have been great if they had added an additional section onto the end that discussed the current preservation plight of the Pompeii site: ever since I went there in 2006, 2 buildings have collapsed because there weren’t enough funds to stabilize them. It would have been a slightly less dark way to end the exhibition experience and add something contemporaneously relevant since, like you said, it’s like the world seemingly stopped existing for Pompeii in one day. I also didn’t like how overly family-friendly the exhibit was (Pompeii was filled with prostitution because it was the Aspen/Las Vegas of the Roman empire), but whatever. Glad to see you’re doing well amidst all the sh** of the end of the semester!

    • YES! The contemporary issues would have been a great ending, and more information about the city itself, including issues like the culture, would have been very helpful. It seemed very….sanitized.

  2. Statistically Speaking…. « Bikes, Books, and Blues

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