“The law, or the thoroughly realistic formalization of certain conditions for the self-preservation of a community, forbids certain actions directed against the community. However, it does not forbid the disposition that produces these actions, for it needs these actions for other ends.”

—F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power, §204 (edited excerpt).

A crystalized neanderthal skull found inside of a sinkhole in 1993. Due to its isolation, the skull was not effected by most detererating forces.


The Problem of Plastic

Plastic, like all organic materials, can deteriorate in a variety of ways. This degradation can cause changes to its appearance and physical properties. Deteriorating plastics are found occasionally in the Official Military Personnel Files held in St. Louis when plasticized identification cards were kept with the record. Some plastics, like this Navy ID card, shrink as they age. The photo inside the plastic has been forced into a severely confined space over the years as its plastic housing has contracted. Although physically distorted, the photograph itself is chemically stable. Once free of the plastic, the photo ID only needs to be relaxed with gentle humidification to become flat again.

Another ID card issued to a Marine was laminated in a plastic that became sticky over time and oozed out of the card making the edges sticky. At some point, it was placed into a plastic zip bag used by the Navy as a “document envelope” in order to contain the sticky deterioration. This plastic envelope also deteriorated, yellowing and contracting. Inside, the entire bag became one sticky mess. The original plastic laminated card has been removed from the plastic envelope and is now housed in a polyester sleeve meeting archival specifications. Unlike the “document envelope” we found the card in, this sleeve is stable. (Those plastic sleeves you buy at the office supply store may also be polyester, but they contain additives and slip agents that make them more attractive products so that they are clear and paper can slide in easily—but can deteriorate over time.)

For laminated paper, additional conservation treatment are available but are time-consuming. Although readable as it is, the paper has become translucent due to the laminate’s adhesives and will continue to deteriorate inside the laminate card. Since we do not have the resources to do further treatment for this ID, we have made a preservation photocopy for the file and will keep the original card in its new sleeve in the record. 


I recently gave a TEDx Talk on the stigma and misconceptions attached to the American insane asylum.  I conclude by asking the listener to change their viewpoint - or if they cannot manage that, to at least acknowledge the history and preserve the buildings.  Please check it out & share with your followers to get the word out!

The old ice-house at Ackergill harbour in Caithness.  A well preserved example.   One of many around the coasts of the British Isles that were used to preserve the valuable salmon catches. 

There are also some on the north-eastern seaboard of the USA for exactly the same purposes.  They tend to vary considerably in design but often are dug into the local terrain so as to assist insulation. 

They’re not only found on the coast though. Some large country houses in Britain and France also have them; a sign of considerable wealth and status.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed and strafed Hickam Field to prevent U.S. planes from following them back to their aircraft carriers. This photographic reproduction of a map of Hickam Field, by the Joint Committee to investigate Pearl Harbor, was treated in the conservation lab to stabilize it for display at the Congressional Visitors Center. Losses in the emulsion were consolidated and the document was encapsulated and mounted for exhibit.

[RG 128, Map of Hickam Field by the Joint Committee to Investigate Pearl Harbor]
'Pinocchio' Video Glimpses Disney's Animation Research Library
Each of the meticulously drawn frames of an animated movie flashes by in a fraction of a second, but at Disney’s Animation Research Library they’re given the star treatment. In a recent…

Preserving the legacy of Disney animation. “In a recent behind-the-scenes video to promote next week’s Pinocchio Blu-ray release, manager of research Fox Carney pulls back the curtain on the facility where Disney’s vast collection of animation artwork is archived.”


A Victorian Christmas by Brenda
Via Flickr:
.Located in Brimfield Towhship, Ohio, this grand home was built in the early 1840s 


Oswald’s Radio

When Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President Kennedy, the contents of his house were removed by law enforcement. This radio, known as FBI Exhibit A2, was one of the items seized. It was recently in the conservation lab for a new custom box that will permanently house it and associated items. The inner compartments are lined with Ethafoam for cushioning, and the radio and its case can be safely removed using the included tabs and supports.RG 272, FBI Exhibit A2

Happy birthday to my #1 man... John Muir

Here is a dump of my favorite Muir quotes to commemorate this day:

“This is one of the still, hushed ripe days when we might heat the beating of nature’s heart”

“Of all the paths you walk in life, make sure a few of them are dirt”

“The world is big, and I want to get a good look at it before it gets dark”

“You may be a little cold some nights, on mountain tops about timberline, but you will see the stars, and by and by you can sleep enough in your town bed, or at least in your grave. Keep awake while you can in mountain mansions so rare”

“I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God, than in church thinking about the mountains”

“Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures, all scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts”

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storm’s their energy, care will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn”

“The sun shines not on us, but in us”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees”

“I am losing the precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news”

“Keep close to nature’s heart…. and break clear away once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean”

“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”

“Who wouldn’t want to be a mountaineer! Up here all the world’s prizes seem nothing”

On Glacier National Park: “Give at least a month to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal. Nevermore will time seem short or long, and cares will never again fall heavily on you, but gently and kindly as gifts from Heaven”

On Yellowstone National Park: “…healing, reviving, exhilarating, kept pure by frost and fire, while the scenery is wild enough to awaken the dead”

“The question comes up ‘What are rattlesnakes good for?’ As if nothing that does not obviously make for the benefit of man had any right to exist: as if our ways were God’s ways… Anyway they are all, head and tail, good for themselves, and we need not begrudge them their share of life”

After trying to describe Yosemite: “I can write only to incite good wanderers to come to the feast”

“Even the blind must enjoy these woods, drinking their fragrance, listening to the music of the woods in their groves, and fingering the flowers and plumes and cones in their richly furrowed boles” (I love this because I always forget to use my other senses outside)

Last but not least (for now…), John Muir on ants: “As soon as a vulnerable spot is discovered on man or beast, they stand on their heads and sink their jaws, and though torn limn from limb, they will yet hold on and die biting deeper. When I contemplate this fierce creature so widely distributed and strongly intrenched, I see that much remains to be done ere the world is brought under the rule of universal love and peace”

Former Lerner, Downtown Atlanta, Georgia
Photo by Wendy Darling

Former Lerner, Peachtree St., just south of Five Points Station, Downtown Atlanta. Would love to see pic of how it used to look. All the buildings in this area of downtown are great actually, it’s just most of them have been degraded and severely neglected.