Last Friday Elder Son and I went to the Maya exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St Paul. When he was in Chiapas as a volunteer teacher* he lived in an area populated by Maya, so he was eager to see the exhibit.
A few things I learned about the Maya:
- They had a base-20 numbering system. Andrew pointed out that they didn't wear shoes, so base-20 instead of base-10 makes sense.
- The civilization comprised isolated city-states. There were no navigable rivers and settlements were separated by steep mountains, so each was isolated.
- The carved stelae commemorate battles and various kings' conquests of other city-states, but no written record remains of day-to-day life.
- The paucity of written records is due to the first Christian missionary to minister to the Maya. He burned all but four of their books because, clearly, they were the devil's work.
- The Maya civilization appears to have crumbled because of severe drought and overpopulation, exacerbated by their deforestation of the hillsides to grow corn to feed that population.
- They could only store one season's worth of corn because of the damp climate during half the year, hence, loss of one year's crop was devastating. Continued losses = time to leave their great cities and go somewhere else where there was rain.
- Learning the history of the Maya is important to the indigenous people of the region because until now, they had no history. History, as taught in the schools, started with the Spanish conquest of Central and South America. Before that, there was nothing of importance.
- As interesting as the history was, the part of the exhibit that attracted my attention was the textile section.
We ate dinner at Cossetta's in St Paul, then I went to knit with my buddies at Starbuck's on Grand while ES went to find a bookstore.
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This week's adventure occurred on Wednesday, when Smokey and I drove into Minneapolis to attend the grand opening open house at Younger Son's new employer.
This may look like an ordinary tile floor, but It Is Special. It is an anti-static floor — who knew?
– and the chair has special metal wheels to prevent static buildup and has a couple copper grounding straps besides. Apparently, static is a bigger no-no around electronics than I thought.
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But we are not done yet. We left the open house to go to a concert at the Cedar Cultural Center.
The venue was only a couple doors down the street — literally, two doors away — from the storefront/apartment building that blew up on New Year's Day.
The concert was delightful. We heard Zoe Keating, who has been one of my favorite artists for several years since I first heard her music on Radio Lab. I encourage you to click on the player at the link and listen to her latest album.
* Or, as he puts it, hea was a Volunteer Teacher In The Zapatista Army Of Liberation.