2019 Investigations of Protohistoric-age Hunter-Gatherers at Macy Locality 126

Stance Hurst, Field Manager, Lubbock Lake Landmark

Published in Current ResearchLubbock Lake Landmark

The focus of the first six weeks of the 2019 field season was excavation at Macy Locality 126 — a Protohistoric-age (1450-1650) site. Volunteers from Texas, Oklahoma, and California joined the Landmark research team. Notable among the volunteers was a returning member after 47 years who first worked with Dr. Eileen Johnson during her second season of excavation at the Lubbock Lake Landmark in 1973 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Volunteers excavating at Macy Locality 126 during the 2019 field season.
Figure 1. Volunteers excavating at Macy Locality 126 during the 2019 field season.

Macy Locality 126 was located on a terrace overlooking the South Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River within the Post research area. Previous surveys and excavation at Macy Locality 126 took place between 2008-2012 and 2018. The focus of this work was on the southern section of the locality that was more heavily eroded.

This locality was a regularly used campsite location. Multiple hearths were found and excavated in the previous field seasons. Two hearths superimposed on top of each other were found, indicating the same hearth was used numerous times in different years. Stone tools recovered surrounding the hearth features indicated they were being used for processing animal remains. Also, stone tool manufacturing debris suggested the manufacture of new stone tools and maintenance of transported stone tools occurred at the site.

Hunter-gatherers at this locality were regular traders with Puebloan agricultural peoples of the Southwest and possibly the Caddoan people of East Texas. Southwest trade items included obsidian flaked stone, Apache Micaceous and El Paso Brownware ceramic sherds, and a turquoise bead. The turquoise bead was a disk shape typical for aboriginal beads originating in the Southwest. The Apache micaceous sherds originated from the Taos/northeastern New Mexico area. El Paso Brownware had its center of production in the El Paso area. Obsidian often was gathered from gravel deposits along New Mexico’s Rio Grande River. Ceramic sherds with fingernail impressions suggested these hunter-gatherers also may have been trading with Caddoan people of East Texas. Further work, however, would be needed to confirm the source of these pottery sherds.

Excavation of a new area at Macy Locality 126, located north of the previous work, was the focus of the 2019 field season. In 2018, a survey revealed a new hearth feature and associated stone tool material that had eroded out of the terrace edge. Results of this further excavation showed that the occupations at Macy Locality 126 were much more extensive than previously thought.

Excavation of the new eroding hearth and surrounding areas has revealed numerous stone tools and associated manufacturing debris. Several large Apache micaceous ceramic sherds (Figure 2) have been found. The excavation of these new additional units indicates that the occupations at Macy Locality 126 extend much farther to the north of the site. The objects within the northern portion of the locality are more buried than at the southern part of the site. This observation is because it indicates much more is to be discovered at Macy Locality 126 than previously realized. The Landmark team currently is planning for additional excavations at Macy Locality 126 for next summer.

Figure 2. Apache micaceous sherd found during excavation at Macy Locality 126 during the 2019 field season.
Figure 2. Apache micaceous sherd found during excavation at Macy Locality 126 during the 2019 field season.

Volcanic Ash on the Southern High Plains

Link to original story: Current Research Lubbock Lake Landmark

Over the past three field seasons at the Post research area, the survey team has recorded the skeletal remains of several extinct Ice Age animals within the Spring Creek beds. The Spring Creek beds are lake sediments left from an extinct lake that had formed during the Pleistocene. During this time, under more moist weather conditions, several paleolake basins formed along the eastern escarpment edge of the Southern High Plains. The exact age of the Spring Creek beds and their relation to other regional extinct paleolakes has puzzled researchers for several decades.

The Blanco basin, located in Crosbyton County, Texas is the largest known paleolake of the region. This basin has been the center of early Pleistocene animal research for over a century, and also is the only one dated. A volcanic ash layer is located within lake deposits of the Blanco basin, and another upper ash layer occurs above the lake sediments within the later wind-blown sediments of the Blackwater Draw Formation.

Throughout the Pleistocene (~2.6 mya-11,000 ka), sporadic eruptions from volcanoes in the Jemez Mountains region of north-central New Mexico and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming blanketed the Great Plains. Where these ash lenses were preserved from erosion, they provided a reliable chronological marker for determining the age of sedimentation.

In the early 1970s, researchers dated two samples of the Blackwater Draw Formation ash layer, above the Blanco lake bed, and the estimated ages of these samples were 1.4 and 1.77 million years ago. This ash layer was identified as the Guaje ash that has its source in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. The lower ash layer within the Blanco paleo-lake sediments was dated to 2.8 million years ago. If these ages are correct, then the Blanco paleolake sediments date between ~2.8 – 1.4 million years ago.

At the Post research area, the Landmark team has discovered a thick deposit of volcanic ash located on an upland ridge. The research team currently is tracing the lateral extinct of the ash layer and mapping the Spring Creek lake basin using a drone.

During the 2019 field season, Landmark crew member collected samples from ash beds for ³⁹Ar/⁴⁰Ar dating at the Oregon State Geochronology lab (Figure 1). This Argon dating method now is regarded as the most reliable for determining the age of volcanic ash layers. Results of this work will help to narrow down the age of the Spring Creek beds and their relationship to other Southern High Plains paleolakes.

Figure 1. Crew member collects samples from ash beds for ^39/^40Ar dating at the Oregon State Geochronology lab.
Figure 1. Crew member collects samples from ash beds for ³⁹Ar/⁴⁰Ar dating at the Oregon State Geochronology lab.

The Landmark team also is collecting ash samples from the Blanco basin to double check the ages of the 1970s results. Geologists at the time used fission-track dating, and some researchers have questioned these age determinations. Results of redating the Blanco ash layers and ascertaining the age of the ash found in the Spring Creek beds will help to refine the known ages of extinct Southern High Plains paleolakes and the extensive extinct animal remains within them.

My Cycling Virtual Life in Zwift

It started in January. I asked a cycling buddy of mine if he wanted to join me for a weekend ride. “I can’t,” he said. “I have already signed up for a Tour de Zwift stage.”

For the first time, I began to notice virtual rides posted on my Strava friends feed, noting their accomplishments. Not one to pass on the chance to look at new technologies, I did some fast research.

Zwift is an online social game for cyclists and runners to ride and run together. Zwift also hosts special events, aka the Tour de Zwift, and even races. The real game-changer for me was the game’s physics. Zwift models what real riding outside is like minus the wind and sun. Meaning if I do a climb of 5 miles, I am getting the equivalent of that workout in my own home.

This was a real game-changer.

While balancing work and family, I am also preparing for a 100-mile gravel race at Southland, Texas this May. Zwift provides a virtual world to get the training I need on my schedule. Also, not many hills in the Lubbock, Texas region, so getting climbing workouts is a significant bonus.

I started with the basic setup. I already owned a basic wheel-on- trainer and an Apple TV to run the game. The only additional items I needed were Bluetooth compatible speed, and cadence sensors for under 60 dollars to monitor my RPMs and estimate my power output.

Even with the basic Zwift set up, I could immediately see that Zwift was going to change my cycling life. My actions on my pedals had a direct correlation with my avatar. I could now ride with other people around the world on climbs, through a jungle, and on courses modeled after actual places in the world like the famous Alpe d’Huez climb in France.

Riding in London
Riding in London

The basic Zwift setup had a significant drawback; however, my trainer resistance did not change when going up or downhills. To feel the impact of climbing, I would need to get a smart trainer, which automatically changes my pedaling resistance and accurately estimates my power output.

I invited my cycling buddy for a coffee to ask him about his smart trainer — a CyclingOps H2. I wanted to know how well smart trainers worked in the game. He said that his trainer worked great and made the Zwift experience a lot more realistic. I had noticed with the basic Zwift setup that on climbs, I would have to pedal fast to get any speed on a climb, and people were passing me right and left. I would need the changing resistance of a smart trainer to get the full Zwift experience. My friend said that he purchased his smart trainer through Zwift directly and that they had 0% financing. I was sold.

Before diving into a smart trainer, I scoured the internet looking for other cyclist’s Zwift setups, and I needed to discuss this with my partner — of course. In doing this research, I discovered a new world. I fell deep into the rabbit hole of YouTube videos of cyclists showing off their setup referred to as pain caves. I think on Shane Miller’s GP Llama channel, he has managed to test every conceivable Zwift configuration. I settled on purchasing a Wahoo Kickr from Zwift — 50 dollars per month through a financial agreement with Affirm, which provided the 0% financing credit. I also needed to get a Zwift monthly membership — adding another 15 dollars per month to my expense. My total cost per month with Zwift was now 75 dollars. I justified it to my partner as the cost of a gym membership fee.

My smart trainer arrived within a week, and I set it up that evening for a test run. Everything worked perfectly, but I was eager to try it in a Zwift event. Using the Zwift Companion Mobile App, I found that Stage 4 of the Tour de Zwift had events scheduled approximately every 2 to 3 hours the next day. To fit in this event, the only time slot that would work for me was 4:00 am. I am an early riser, but earlier than usual. But I was excited and eager to try the full Zwift experience.

At 3:55 am with coffee in hand and an egg cheese sausage English muffin, I quickly nuked in the microwave, I was ready to ride with the over 500 participants that had signed up for Stage 4: Watopia Volcano Climb After Party. A 25 mi stage with under 1,000 ft of climbing. I felt the excitement, at any time of the day, I could ride with other people from around the world.

When starting a Zwift event, the game shows all the participants warming up on their trainers before the event. I thought it was a nice touch. Like a typical bike ride, I was expecting the ride would start slow while I finished scarfing down my breakfast in warmup. As the final seconds, before the event ticked off, I thought I was ready. How wrong I was.

At the start, most of the cyclists were going all out 100%. I quickly fell behind. I would later realize that in Zwift races, the riders ramp up on their trainers before the start so that they are at full speed. In most Zwift events, the top racers go fast at the beginning in an attempt to drop as many riders as possible. In this first event, I learned this and also quickly learned the importance of drafting and the effect of my weight in the game.

During this first race, I had managed to find a group of riders with a pace I could hang on too. That is until we reached the volcano climb. At that point, my avatar started falling behind.

In Zwift, your speed is mainly determined by your ratio of weight/power. I am a big guy. I am 6 ft 7” (200.66 cm) and weigh 253 lbs (114.75 kg). On the higher climb gradients, your ratio of weight/power is the critical factor in determining your speed. On flats yo,ur weight is not a hindrance. Just like in real cycling outdoors.

After my first Zwift event ride, I was exhausted and motivated. This was a place that I could ride with other people day or night.

Over three months, I have made it to Level 15. I have ridden a total of 896 miles, climbed 11 miles, and burned 35,431 calories by spending over 49 hours on my trainer. I have lost a total of 10 pounds without any significant dietary changes.

I managed to complete all nine stages of the Tour de Zwift thanks to three makeup days at the end of January. I just completed the 797 mi Ride California challenge and unlocked the Specialized Tarmac Pro bike. I am now onto the Climb Mt. Everest challenge with a goal of climbing 50,000 m (164,042 ft) to unlock the Tron Concept bike.

Glorious Completion of Ride California Challenge and Unlocking the Sweet Specialized Tarmac Bike.
Glorious Completion of Ride California Challenge and Unlocking the Sweet Specialized Tarmac Bike.

Since my time on Zwift, they have introduced both a Men’s and Women’s professional league with live broadcasts. This past month they introduced the Drop Shop. As you ride you now accumulate sweat drops that you can then use to purchase bikes and other equipment in the Drop Shop. Definitely a motivator. I am currently riding a Specialized bike setup since that is my bike in real life.

Specialized Tarmac Pro is Now in My Virtual Garage.
Specialized Tarmac Pro is Now in My Virtual Garage.

The point is that Zwift provides plenty of carrots and motivation while riding alongside other cyclists from around the world, even professionals, at any time. Riding in Zwift is still exciting and fun, there are five virtual worlds to explore: Watopia, Richmond, London, Innsbruck, and New York. This allows a person like myself with limited time to get up early every morning to get a workout in to achieve health and fitness goals and to prepare for a bike racing event.

How to create amazing GIFs that tell a story

the amazing tools in Apple’s iWork Keynote

Adding animations to presentations and your writing can make what you have to say more clear and stand out. The update to Apple’s Keynote presentation software (Keynote 5.0) now makes creating GIF animiations easier than ever.

I recently created a GIF to illustrate the difference between the aggregation and social boundary defense models I use in my archaeological research on territoriality. A dry topic for some, but the difference between the two models comes alive with an animated GIF.

Animated GIF Created in Keynote 5.0

Five Steps:

  1. Find or create elements (e.g., pictures, vector art) and add them to a new Keynote slide.
  2. Animate element actions in the slide.
  3. Order element actions to sequence the GIF story.
  4. Alter the timing duration for each element’s action.
  5. Export the slide as a GIF.

Create GIF in iWork Keynote 5.0 Workflow Example

  1. Find or create elements (e.g., pictures, vector art) and add them to a new Keynote slide.
Add or create elements in Keynote

In this example, all of my slide’s elements were created within Keynote. The human figures were people shapes added from the Keynote shape menu. I made the “spear” that the woman is holding by modifying an arrow shape.

2. Animate element actions in the slide.

Selecting a slide element brings up the option menu in iOS (iPad or iPhone). On MacOS the same options are available on the slide’s right side. Animation options are Build In, Action, and Build Out.

Animation options Build In, Action and Build Out within the Animation menu in iOS Keynote

Build In and Build Out make slide elements appear or disappear in different ways (appear, dissolve, move in, etc.). In this example, I used the Build In and Build Out animations to make the words Aggregation and Social Boundary Defense to appear and disappear using the appear option.

Action is used to move a slide’s element on the slide in different ways (along a path, rotate, scale, etc.). In this example, I moved the human figures along a path. Note, on MacOS it is referred to as Move rather than Create a Path on iOS.

3. Order element actions to sequence the GIF story.

I created an action to move the human figures along a path from within the Animation menu in Keynote.

This step is necessary to double check the order in which the animations will occur. In most animations, the timing of Build In, Build Out, and Actions are important to sequence the story. In this example, I had to change the order of the animations several times until they were in the right sequence.

Adjust the animation sequence and animation timing within the Build Order menu in Keynote

The Build Order menu is accessed through Animation. Place the animations in order of occurrence (top first – bottom last) by dragging and dropping.

4. Alter the timing duration for each element’s action.

The time duration needed for each element to complete its animation is also adjustable within the Build Order menu. In this example, my words Aggregation and Social Boundary Defense were appearing and disappearing too quickly. I adjusted the timing duration for each of these elements to more slowly appear and disappear.

At the bottom of the Build Order menu are the options: On Tap, With Build, After Build. This menu is used to determine how the animations will be initiated during a presentation. A click or touch is required to initiate an animation with On Tap. With Build is used when more than one animation needs to occur simultaneously. It is grouping animations together. Select After Build if an animation needs to happen after a previous animation. In creating GIFs the On Tap and After Build are the same option. When Keynote exports the GIF it automates the presenter’s tap or click.

5. Export the slide as a GIF.

The export menu is reached by tapping the three dots on the upper right corner in iOS or through the Files menu on a Mac. Animated GIF is one of the export options. Within the Animated GIF menu are several choices to further customize the GIF including resolution, frame rate, and auto-advance. The Auto-Advance feature is how Keynote automates the presenter’s tap or click. Adjusting these settings will change the size of the final image and the speed of the animated GIF. In this example, I changed the size of the animated GIF from medium to large.

Export Animation GIF options in Keynote

Another important feature of animating a GIF within Keynote is that a GIF can be created across one slide or more. In this example, the GIF was created within only one slide. It is possible, however, to use transitions between slides as part of the GIF creation process. The options to create a compelling animated GIF are endless within Keynote.

Forgiving Lance Armstrong?

Photo by Roman Pohorecki from Pexels

Lance Armstrong was fueled to seven Tour de France victories by doping. His admission to Oprah of cheating only came after his lifetime ban from the sport by the U.S. anti-doping agency. Several of his former teammates also testified to doping, but Lance was the very last to admit his guilt.

Lance could have rode off into the sunset by keeping his mouth shut and ending his career after his 7th Tour de France title in 2005, but he had to try his 2.0 comeback. His explanation for his comeback was to increase cancer awareness. I am sure this was a partial reason, but I think it was a banner of deception.

Why did Lance finally admit to doping? He wanted to compete, to race, and test himself. He won several triathlon events in 2012. He attempted to compete in a masters swimming event in his hometown of Austin, Texas, but had to withdraw due to the USADA reminding masters swimming to abide by its ruling.

Why couldn’t Lance just stop competing and walk from the public spot light?

Lance was a self-deceiver. People and athletes in particular that lie and lie to themselves are more successful.

For athletes the act of self-deception can reduce stress levels and increase pain tolerance, which helps in motivation and performance. Athletes that believe in themselves and have higher unrealistic performance expectations of themselves are more successful. This is not a surprising characteristic. We hear it all the time from athletes “psyching themselves up for an event”. Athletes before an event start to focus and tell themselves that they are the best and that they will win. There can be no doubt. This activity of getting ready for an event is self-deception. It ignores the reality for most athletes that they will lose. However, to actually be successful you have to think you will win and that you are the best.

Starek and Keating published a study in 1991 to determine the effectiveness of self-deception on athletic performance. Forty collegiate swimmers were given a self-deception test. An example of a question is “Have you ever questioned your sexual adequacy?”. People that answer no are self-deceiving themselves, and in contrast people that answer yes to this question are being more realistic. This is based on the idea that self-deceivers lie to themselves and other people to keep up their social appearance to conform to social norms. In this study of forty swimmers, those swimmers who scored higher on the self-deception test more likely qualified for the national swimming championships than non self-deceivers. Therefore, the act of self-deception is a quality for success.

Was self-deception an important factor in Lance’ victory over cancer. Remember, Lance was given less than a 40% chance to live. He had brain surgery and one of his testicles were removed.

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”

― Lance Armstrong

I think self-deception was a very important reason Lance survived cancer. He maintained hope, and probably thought to himself that since I am a great athlete I will be able to beat cancer. I am different than other people, I will be able to beat the odds. We will never no for sure, an intimate struggle to survive cancer likely required several different self-deceptions to survive that kind of hell.

Can we forgive Lance Armstrong? It is very hard to forgive a person who lied, cheated, and used cancer as a shield against incrimination. Millions of people looked up to Lance, which also included thousands of people inflicted with cancer who saw Lance as a ray of hope, a symbol of possibility — that yes I can battle cancer and survive.

Lance deceived us, but he also deceived himself. He deceived himself in that it would be okay to try a comeback 2.0, that he could continue to keep up a lie. However, his crazy self-deception made him a successful athlete and also allowed him to survive cancer.

I do believe most cyclists during Lance’s era were taking some kind of PED. Lance and his team just did it better, and for a competitor like Lance, all Lance had to do was self-deceive and incorporate PEDs into the training regime. Lance may have thought to himself that I am special, I deserve to win, I beat cancer, I am racing for a better cause than any of the other cyclists, therefore, it is ok that I do PEDs, after all everybody else is doing it. Lies upon lies became a tangled mess that Lance believed would be okay because the cause was just.

I forgive Lance Armstrong. He didn’t have to admit his guilt. He confessed to doping so that he could continue to compete. Deep down I believe all that Lance wanted to do was compete with himself and against other people and he risked and lost his whole integrity in the process. Self-deception is a tricky slope.

Virtual Racing with the Pros on Zwift

Stage One: Giro d’Italia Time Trial Race

The 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia, a 20 stage three-week grand tour, opened up in Bologna, Italy with an 8.2km time trial. The course starts flat at the Fountain of Neptune and remains even until the final 2.1km climb up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. This climb is a killer with a 9.7% average gradient with some steeper 16% gradient sections. Primož Roglič, a Slovenian rider with team Jumbo-Visma, was 19 seconds better than the next rider making it to the top with a blistering recorded time of 12 minutes and 54 seconds.

Zwift, a virtual gaming platform for avid cyclists and runners, recreated Stage One of the Giro d’Italia to allow cyclists to compete virtually against the best in the world. This course became open to riders on Saturday coinciding with the start of the Giro d’Italia. Along with 393 other riders, I signed up for the 9:00 a.m. race to see the new course and how I measured up.

The route starts in the square containing the Fountain of Neptune constructed in 1563. The trident Neptune is holding was the inspiration for the Maserati brothers for their iconic automobile logo. I missed seeing the fountain in my first pass through on the course — too busy ramping up my watts at the start of the race.

The first turn is at the Porte San Felice. This gate was constructed in the 12th century and was the westernmost gate and wall of Bologna at the time. This iconic landmark is all that is left of the medieval city boundaries of Bologna. I was able to maintain my pace fairly easily through virtual Bologna while also reserving energy for the impending climb.

With a hairpin turn, the climb up to San Luca began. This was a challenge. I immediately had to find a cadence I could maintain to avoid crashing and burning. The 16% sections were slow going.

I was able to take notice of the Portico di San Luca. A 3.8km monumental roofed arcade comprised of 666 arches. The portico was constructed between 1674-1793 to protect the icon as it was paraded up the hill to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. This is one of the longest porticos constructed in the world, and now often used by walkers and runners.

To add insult to injury, I noticed people walking through the portico’s walkway faster than me on my bike.

At the top of the hill, and thankfully at the end of this time trial sits the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. The present church was constructed in 1723 on top of older churches that have occupied this place on the landscape since the 12th century.

My final result was a dead even 25 minutes. I was able to average 291 watts, 2.6w/kg. I finished 250/393 in my group. I was over twice as slow as the winner Primož Roglič.

The new Giro d’Italia course was a blast to ride in the context that the average cyclist can ride the same route on the same day as the professionals. Zwift keeps hitting it out of the park with these unique events that give riders a virtual chance to participate in events that they usually can only witness on TV.

A Look at Deep Fusion — “Computational Photography Mad Science” Coming to IPhone 11 Pro this Fall

Apple unveiled their latest and greatest new 2019 iPhones in a Keynote event viewed by approximately 2 million people live last Tuesday.

What these viewers may have missed is how Deep Fusion will transform some types of photography.

The two main key features of the new IPhone 11 and IPhone 11 Pro models that sets them apart from last year’s iPhone Xs and Xr models are new camera lenses and A13 bionic processors. The iPhone 11, an upgrade of last year’s Xr model, now has a dual rear lens camera system — a 12 megapixel wide angle and a 12 megapixel ultra wide. I think most iPhone buyers will get more use out of the new ultra wide angle lens, however, I really love the telephoto lens on the iPhone Xs to zoom two times closer to subjects. The lack of the telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 camera will stop me from purchasing this more affordable iPhone.

Phil Schiller Introducing Deep Fusion at the Apple September 10th, 2019 Keynote Event
Phil Schiller Introducing Deep Fusion at the Apple September 10th, 2019 Keynote Event

The iPhone 11 Pro, an upgrade from last year’s iPhone Xs dual camera lens system, now also adds the ultra wide lens to give the Pro three 12 megapixel lenses: a wide angle, ultra wide angle, and telephoto. What really peaked my interest during the keynote is when Phil Schiller introduced Deep Fusion coming to the iPhone Pro later this fall. Schiller playfully referred to this new feature as “computational photography mad science”.

In Deep Fusion, the iPhone 11 Pro cameras takes 4 short and 4 long exposure images simultaneously and combines them into one image that is sharp throughout with very little noise.

Example of Focus Stacking. I Used a Series of 3 Images to create 1 Complete Focus Stacked Image in Photoshop — the Entire Image is Now in Focus.
Example of Focus Stacking. I Used a Series of 3 Images to create 1 Complete Focus Stacked Image in Photoshop — the Entire Image is Now in Focus.

The concept of Deep Fusion, however, is not a new feature to photographers. Deep Fusion is focus stacking — a computational algorithmic used in software like Adobe’s Photoshop that can combine several images together into a new improved image. Photographers focus stack images to bring both the background and foreground in focus in one image.

What is amazing about Deep Fusion is that I do not need a computer and Photoshop for focus stacking. Instead the IPhone Pro 11 can do these intensive CPU tasks within seconds. This speaks to the great progress and innovation the ARM chip designers are making at Apple. I am looking forward to trying out Deep Fusion images to see how they work with macrophotogrammetry — creating 3D models from images this fall.