I love the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.” This challenge makes me pay attention to my world in the search to document the awesomeness of my life.
1. An Introduction to Your Colon
Last week we visited the Pacific Science Center in Seattle to see Pompeii: The Exhibition. The Pacific Science Center focuses on educating children, and one of their approaches is Grossology, which heightens the yuckiness quotient to get kids to learn about how their bodies work.
Part of the Grossology approach is a set of Grossology restrooms. Here, courtesy of the women’s Grossology restroom, is an introduction to how the human colon works:
Gross! Yucky! Great!
2. In a Galaxy Not so Far Away…
When we came out of Costco last weekend, the characters from Star Wars were participating in a fund raiser for the Children’s Miracle Network. I didn’t notice them until we were well across the parking lot. I snapped this quick shot:
I particularly enjoyed seeing the Sand Person, who doesn’t usually get as much publicity as the major characters.
3. Want to Go Parasailing?
The return of warm weather this past week brought with it the return of parasailing to beautiful Ruston Way along Commencement Bay.
(Click on any of the images to see a larger version.)
Mount Rainier is so beautiful and majestic to see that it’s easy to forget how potentially dangerous it is. Here in Tacoma, WA, we live in the shadow of this active volcano:
Washington is home to five major composite volcanoes or stratovolcanoes (from north to south): Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. These volcanoes and Mount Hood to the south in Oregon are part of the Cascade Range, a volcanic arc that stretches from southwestern British Columbia to northern California.
On our recent visit to see Pompeii: The Exhibition, we found the Pacific Science Center in Seattle used the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in 79 A.D. as a springboard for education about our local situation:
This map shows the potential danger zones if Mount Rainier were to erupt:
My home town of Tacoma is up there near the top, on the left.
The beautiful Cascades have been around for years. Long before the USGS (U. S. Geological Survey) started keeping records, Native Americans knew of the mountains’ power:
Washington’s Volcano Preparedness Month announcements and activities remind us that it’s not a question of “if Mount Rainier erupts,” but rather “when Mount Rainier erupts.”
Dzurisin, D., Driedger, C.L., and Faust, L.M., 2013, Mount St. Helens, 1980 to now—what’s going on?: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3014, v. 1.1, 6 p. and videos. (Available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2013/3014/)
The Roman city of Pompeii, on the western coast of Italy, was a thriving port in the first century. The region’s fertile soil made it a leading source of agricultural products, including grains, nuts, and fruits, particularly grapes that were made into wine. But life in this prosperous city came to an abrupt halt in 79 A.D., when Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered everything with 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) of pumice and ash.
Pompeii lay buried and forgotten until its rediscovery about 250 years ago. The artifacts found there were well preserved because of the lack of air and moisture. Archaeologists have carefully excavated the site and uncovered many artworks and objects that indicate what life was like for the residents of the city in the first century.
Selected artifacts from Pompeii comprise an exhibit that has toured the world. We caught the exhibit today, near the end of its run at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA, the final stop on its current tour.
This terracotta cup was found in a house in Pompeii packed in a wooden crate with 89 similar pieces and 37 lamps. It indicated the high quality of North Italian ceramics manufactured from the end of the first century and throughout the second century A.D.
This bust is thought to represent the 10-year-old Gaius Caesar, grandson of the Emperor Augustus. It was found in Herculaneum, a city near Pompeii that was also destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The marble bust is thought to have been made between 63 B.C. and 14 A.D.
Pompeii was a vibrant, cosmopolitan city because of its trade-route location. By 79 A.D. many wealthy Roman citizens had holiday villas there furnished with artworks, such as statues and mosaics, and painted walls called frescoes:
During the excavation of Pompeii, archaeologists used plaster to fill in the voids that had once held human bodies. These plaster casts reveal the exact positions people were in when they died.
I was a classics major in college and had read the surviving letter by Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius. In the letter he describes not only the eruption itself, but also the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet who died trying to rescue Pompeii’s citizens from the devastation. As much as I enjoyed seeing the many artifacts and artworks, the location of these body casts at the end of the exhibit reminded me of the sudden extinction of so many lives. (Estimates of the population of Pompeii at the time of the eruption range from 11,000 to 20,000).
I am glad to have had the opportunity to view this exhibition. It features not only human cultural achievement but also the massive power of the natural world.