Is this a Dinosaur Tooth?

I found this fossilized tooth in my yard several years ago and I’ve been curious about just what kind of tooth it is ever since. It’s big, about 4 cm x 2.5 cm x 2 cm and it looks to be a tearing or biting tooth. If it were human I’d say it looks like an eye tooth. The bottom edge has been worn down to the dentin and the top end has no attached bone. It’s possible that it was buried in my yard, but it’s more likely that it arrived with a load of rock gravel that we ordered in. I have no idea where that rock originated so I can offer no real clues about its provenance. I know it’s difficult with only a few photographs, but I’m hoping someone out there can tell me a bit more about it.

Mystery fossil side view, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Mystery fossil root end, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Mystery Fossil biting end. ©voyager, all rights reserved

 

Youtube Video: Feudal Japanese vs Medieval European CASTLES

Shad of the YouTube channel Shadiversity is a bit peculiar fellow. His performance is a bit over the top, but that is his selling point and it has an entertainment value. He has some old-fashioned notions about gender, but that is sadly to be expected, because not only is he male, he is also a practicing mormon. Thus being another proof of the to me totally baffling fact that evidently intelligent and well-educated people can believe the most ridiculous, silly and multiple-times over falsified notions if those notions are under the guise of “religion”.

However his videos on medieval castles are very informative, educational and fun to watch, so I can recommend those with clear conscience.

Abandoned Pieces of a Life

* I wonder if I should apologize for once again bringing up the rather weighty topic of death – late autumn and early winter seems to be a pensive time, and the dark nights and misty mornings are ideal for darkly wandering thoughts. Also, this season, until the solstice, is traditionally known as veļu laiks – “the time of spirits”, where the souls of dead ancestors are, for a while, released back into the world, to tread through the fog on familiar paths, and be welcomed into the household. In olden times, extra place settings would be set out, and foods left by the door to feed the hungry ghosts. This is not to say that there are no celebrations – there is at least one more harvest festival coming up soon, and the dark season is also rife with mummers and random visits in costume to one’s nearest neighbours. But one must also be wary out on the roads, especially after nightfall, so be kind to your ancestors and remember them well (the ones who deserve it, at least). In any case, the point of this ramble is that I feel affected and the lack of sunlight is very conducive to not only depressing thoughts, but also existential themes. Not everyone has to follow me, though. I promise I won’t haunt you about it.

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Youtube Video: Medieval ASSASSIN’S CROSSBOW (Balestrino) ASSEMBLED & TESTED!

I could not decide between multiple videos, as usual, and last-minute decision fell on this one. It is a nice piece of engineering and the video is reasonably short and packed with interesting information.

It might also be Halloween appropriate? I have no clue, since I originate from and live in a country with no Halloween tradition whatsoever and honestly I do not understand what Halloween is supposed to be about at all. But I read something about murderers and monsters the other day, so maybe an (alleged) assasin’s weapon might fit in.

I have a day off and I planned to do some knife-work, but I have to pass on that since I am still not well.

How Hard is Hard Enough?

This is about steel and blades OK? Just to be clear upfront.

In my article Knifesharpenophobia I have mused a bit about how being all anal retentive about the hardness of a blade is not all that necessary. Now I wish to revisit that heme a bit, after my hardening attempt of a blade did not go as well as I would wish to.

If you remember when I was trying to harden the rondel dagger I was also hardening a kitchen knife blade and I was pretty sure that this particular blade is properly hardened. So I took it to work and measured the hardness on the tang (the knife is not finished yet), where it is hardened, but probably not as well as the blade. And the gage showed HRC 54. From technical standpoint, difference between 50 HRC and 54 HRC is not trivial (HRC is not a linear scale) and that knife is thus indeed properly hardened. What was the difference in the work process? For that knife then I have used the gas forge only for heat-soak, the final heating to 1050°C  before quench was made with charcoal, which allows for more even heating. HRC 54 is still not full potential of this steel, but if the tang has it, the blade has probably more.

But this whole thing got me thinking again – is that even relevant? Do I really need to be afraid to give that knife to a fried as a gift because the hardness of the blade is “just” HRC 50? Am I being unnecessarily obsessive about an inconsequential detail (again)?

So I tried to look at what is the actual hardness of historical blades. I did not spend too much time with it, but the article Sword Blade Hardness: A look at the current research is an eye opener and a good read. To be clear, it is about swords, not kitchen knives, but it still clearly shows one thing – the crappiest knife that I have ever made is vastly superior to most knives that were used throughout history before the invention of blast furnace. Not because of my superior skill, but because I have access to superior steel. Furthermore, HRC 50 is not actually bad at all and someone who takes a good care of the knife would probably not even notice any downside when cutting. And it has an upside too – a blade in this hardness range needs to be sharpened more often, but stropping and sharpening should be reasonably easy and quick and the knife will not break easily when you drop it on the floor by accident.

It is not the best that could be, but it is good enough.

Youtube Video: Pictish Crossbow – discussion and shooting

I would love to someday to build a crossbow. It definitively is on my ever growing to-do list.

Not that I feel particular inclination to be armed, but the simple yet not easy to make mechanism of a crossbow (or even a bow) intrigues me.

Tod Todeschini not only makes crossbows, he also likes to share his extensive knowledge about them. Here he uses that knowledge to speculate a bit about how pictish crossbows could look like.

A Soviet Heritage

So this happened. And yes, snowflake that I am, I find it offensive. Deeply so.

“We are disappointed that the largest retailer in the world and in the U.S., Walmart, does not acknowledge or respect the millions of victims of various nationalities, who suffered under the Soviet regime – those deported, including the elderly, infants and children, political prisoners, dissidents, members of resistance movements and all those who lost their lives, health or family in the Gulag or other repressions of the Soviet totalitarianism,” a letter to Walmart, signed by the chairman of the Estonian Pro Patria party, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Estonia’s minister of justice, Urmas Reinsalu, and the Estonian member of the European Parliament, Tunne Kelam, said.

It’s like some symbols of authoritarian regimes are verboten, while others… are hip and trendy? By virtue of being labelled differently? (And yes, the term ‘communist’ as applied to the Soviet Union bears little resemblance to its application to the underlying philosophy, but this is not that discussion.)

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Why Did You not Try to Stay in USA?

As readers of Affinity know, I was growing up until 13 years of age in a totalitarian state with little real autonomy, an effective satellite of USSR. I also grew up in a poor family so it was a bit of an uphill financial struggle for me to get a university education.

Towards the end of my education I had to decide how to actually start my independence and one of the options that presented themselves in 2000 was to go to USA with a “Work And Travel” program and J1 visa. I might write about my American adventure maybe some more later, today I wish to only briefly discuss the question in the title, which in various forms was posited to me in later years from many people here, old as well as young.

Even before venturing to USA I was of the opinion that it is a proto-fascist state and my opinion was further solidified by my experiences there.

So my answers at that time were these four points:

  1. Crappy healthcare. I have met ordinary people fearing that a simple case of flu might send them down the spiral of personal bankruptcy. I have seen outrageous prices for one course of antibiotics. I knew that USA had, in contrast to European countries, no universal healthcare, but seeing it first hand was a real eye opener. Fear of loosing even the crappy health insurance provided by the employer kept many people in essential slavery, when the were putting up with blatant abuse by their managers. For my friends I summed this argument up as “if I have grown up in USA, I would not live to become an adult, because my parents would not be able to pay for the medication I needed”.
  2. Crappy education. I have already mentioned that for me to get a university education was an uphill struggle. I was not bad student, but I am not so intelligent as to be able to study and work (not to mention that job availability was not that great – unemployment rate 8%), so I had only negligible income and I had to rely on my parents, which was hard – I had to live by with about 100,-$ a month to pay for my lodgings, food, books etc. For my friends I summed this argument up as “in USA I would not get a university degree, because even without tuition fees it was not cheap and with tuition fees it would be ruinous”.
  3. The mony that I made n USA was worthless there, it only had worth here because of the very favourable exchange rate. In US, the measly 5.50$/h were to barely live by – even though as a student I was tax exempt. So staying in USA would mean to lock myself into perpetual poverty. I find it incredible how many of my peers with university education failed to grasp this reality, that money’s worth is contextual and 1.000,-$ monthly income in USA is shit, whilst being absolutely amazing and nearly unattainable here.  I tried to sum it up as “for the money I was making there, I could not even rent a flat. And I would be forced to do work well bellow my qualification even for that. Here, I could use it to at least repair my house.”
  4. Absolutely inane laws and judiciary process. I have always thought that outcome of a judicial case should not be decided by a bunch of barely literate amateurs and that precedent law should not still be employed in any civilised country. And what I particularly did not admire was the “sue happy” culture in USA, where people try to win the lottery by suing each other for money. And the lack of properly functional system for “ex officio” advocates for people who cannot afford to pay. I summed it up as “any time you could get sued by some idiot over some trivial thing and if they could afford better lawyer than you, you are screwed”.

And mind you, this all was in 2000. The only progress that I see from behind the Atlantic was on health care, everything else got  much worse since then. And it seems that USA is managing to drag back the rest of the world as well – in last decade or so the main American exports are jingoism and creationism.

The USA was never democracy and never free. It only managed to convince its enslaved citizens that they are free. I am entirely content with my decision to not even try to live there permanently.

Youtube Video: Forging a Viking Dane Axe – With Tord of Thor’s Forge (part 1)

I enjoyed this video immensely. Tord of Thor’s Forge in Sweden shows a process of making a two-handed Dane Axe blade the traditional way – from recycled wrought iron and carbon steel, both refined by bending and forge-welding. As close to a Viking-era technology as possible.

I learned a lot just by watching and I hope that some day I will have a chance to try out some of those things myself.

Video is 40 minutes long and there is about 4 min introduction by Matt Easton. Take that into account if you decide to watch.

Harakka Island – Chapter 5

 

It’s time for another chapter in Ice Swimmer’s series Harakka – an IslandThanks again Ice Swimmer. Now, take us away…

 

Chapter 5 – On the Way to the Top of the Island

 

Fireweed behind the laboratory, ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

We come back from the shore and take a closer look at the fireweed behind the Artists’ Building, the former laboratory. [Read more…]