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Louise Valmoria
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Green Roses

Dug this one up from the archives of my colleague Adam Dimech's photography (see wattle post earlier). I have never seen a green rose before and the detail about this is fascinating.

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I didn't know there were so many different kinds of wattle plants at La Trobe! Adam Dimech has taken some beautiful shots highlighting the different wattle varieties found on 'wattle walks' around the campus.

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Duolingo in French beta

Duolingo is now offering French language in beta. The idea of Duolingo is that you learn a language by learning words in sentences (conjugated etc.) and you confirm your knowledge by translating articles from the target languages.

Every time I log into it (which is not often, despite all of the sadface owls I get in my email) it always reminds me of memrise (, visually, but I don't think they're by the same group.

The layout reminds me a bit of Rosetta Stone (learn a word, learn a word in a sentence, translate a sentence, write a sentence from dictation) except for the part where you translate articles. As there are many language learners crowdsourcing the translation of articles I am really curious as to what defines the 'correct' translation - the literally 'correct' one (and isn't translation an ambiguous thing?) or the translation given by the most users, even if it is incorrect (although I assume by learning, the 'correct' translation will eventually surface). As users we get to rate each other's translations.

I'm not a regular enough visitor to the site to know whether or not it's effective or supports my studies (too many resources to measure efficacy) but I do like the idea of translating the web, I also know that sadface owls (the daily practice nudge email) kind of irritate me.

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El Peregrino del Camino postcards - #1

Supported by a Kickstarter campaign, Carter Maddox is journeying along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela and creating a modern-day travelogue of postcards and vlogs along the way. Apparently lack of a good internet connection means that he can't update in real-time as originally planned, but backers are still getting postcards and travelling with him of sorts. Also, it's lovely to get mail :)

As one of his backers I asked him to write about the architecture that he sees on the journey. This is my first postcard I have received from him!
2 Photos - View album

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The mission of the Association for Gravestone Studies is to foster appreciation of the cultural significance of gravestones and burial grounds through their study and preservation.

There is an upcoming conference at Monmouth University in West Long
Branch, New Jersey, June 19 - 24, 2012.

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Rock gardens, or Lithic Mulch Agriculture, on Easter Island

Just looking for more images of Easter Island rock gardens on the Internet and found what appears to be a more modern one from a shore walk:
Lithic Mulch Agriculture on Easter Island

Later this year I'll be taking part in an Earthwatch expedition looking at the role of prehistoric rock mulching in Rapa Nui's agricultural system.

The idea of lithic mulch is that, in some circumstances, can improve the soil by protecting it from wind and water erosion and evaporative loss, as well as have minerals leech from the rocks over time (thus providing extra nutrients). In the context of Easter Island, where there is little forestation and a lot of exposure to the wind, these rock gardens, or manavai are considered to be important clues as to how they maintained their agriculture.

My understanding of the Earthwatch project ( is it is mainly about reforestation but there is some element of 'experimental archaeology' as well - looking at models of these rock gardens that have been set up in modern times, and add data about how the rock gardens have been going to build a cumulative picture of their effectiveness.

I've only started doing some focused reading into the lithic mulch aspect of it (up until now it has just been 'squee! easter island!') so I'll start tracking what references turn up until my Earthwatch trip (speaking of, I'm not sure I finished my narrative on last year's archaeology project, so would be good to get back on this).

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Anthropology of the 'how are you?' icebreaker?

A couple of days back in the SciAm blogs there was this thoughtprovoking piece on the anthropology of goodbyes. I've got my own farewells to make soon, so it did make me stop and think.

On the flipside - of the rituals of renewing contact or just meeting people for the first time - just now I was chatting with a friend about the banality of 'how are you?' and started trying to look up the anthropology of icebreakers - didn't really get too far with that search. 'Anthropology of introductions' just gave me lots of links to 'introductory anthropology', which, come to think of it, might be a good basic place for me to start. Any tips?

It's one of the first phrases you learn when learning a new language "Qué tal?" "Ça va?" "Как дела? and there is some ritual involved in the preliminary small talk, which I've observed at times but never really considered in the same context.

Paper journals are indeed so much in the past but I still have a stack of print Nature and Science journals. A couple of years back I'd heard of a couple of programs that helped send these off to smaller institutes (in developing countries? doesn't really matter, as long as they could use them).

So ... is it still relevant to have print journals in the advent of the cloud age? Has anyone used any of these programs and can recommend them to me? Does anyone want them for their own archives? I don't think I have messaging activated for G+ so if you're interested / know of where I can send these where they will be used, I can follow up from comments.

To be honest I really like having them to browse through over a coffee but in the interests of keeping my library from overflowing into every corner of the house, I need to start managing my stacks better.

(I'm keeping my Nature Physics, Neuroscience and Medicine journals as I no longer have a personal subscription - also, there was the time when the short sci-fi stories moved to Nature Physics and I sort of want to keep those. Also, pretty, pretty covers on the Physics journals. I'm superficial sometimes...)

Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth's collected folktales ...! Or some of them anyway.

Etliche Stunden östlich von Bärnau in Böhmen haben die Riesen ein Schloss gebaut, Frauenberg genannt. Es waren ihrer zwölf Paare, und die Weiber trugen die Steine in ihren Schürzen auf den Berg.

It's a thin booklet, but my German isn't good enough to be able to read through them all in one night. Also, it lead off with a discussion of the word 'dwarf' in different regions, which thrilled my love of linguistic diversity, but completely intimidated my German ability.

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The Bourne Soundtrack with Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto - wow!

Via +Ahmed Zeeshan
#music #mindblown

Bourne Vivaldi
Bourne Soundtrack with Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto

You've never seen a more epic video than this. I'll probably watch Bourne again over the weekend just because of these guys. Watch it in Fullscreen HD 1080p.

via +Peter Hollens
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