International Darwin Day, 2022

Today is February 12, 2022, which means that it’s today we celebrate the birth of Charles Robert Darwin. He is credited with discovering evolution, but in reality evolution was known about long before he started floating around and looking at animals. Rather, his genius lie within discovering the mechanism by which species evolve. That mechanism is natural selection.

We all know that by now. And we know that much of what is now known about evolution by natural selection could not be known to Darwin, for lots of reasons…not the least of which is the discovery of DNA and the birth of modern genetics. Regardless, it’s his day, and things seem to be coming together quite well enough for me to pop my head up again here. I’ll be posting weekly from here on out, at least until further notice.

Darwin, and the study of evolution more broadly, is what led me to study science and then narrow that down to paleoanthropology and then broaden that to four-fields, public anthropology. The way he laid out Origin of Species, arduous a read though it can be, was foundational to my thinking and approach to anthropology and research. And it’s with that in mind that I’ve sort of come full circle. Or…maybe about 300 degrees, with another 60 to go before I’m completely devoted to studying the human fossil record once again.

We are just about 6 months out from our move to Germany. We have a lease signed for a temporary (90 day) furnished and serviced apartment in the Gohlis-Sued neighborhood of Leipzig, toward the northern end of the city. From there we’ve gotta carve out a bit of a foothold for the three of us. We’ve gotta register with the Auslanderbehoerde (immigration), establish a bank account, register our address, and get a work contract. And yes, I said the three of us.

On January 2, 2022, we were joined by our amazing son Robin, who will more than likely be popping up in images shared in the near future. One of the project we’ll be putting together once we are closer to the move is a weekly podcast that discusses settling into a new city, new country, new culture, new language, with a new baby. There will be a lot to talk about and we’ll touch on the discoveries and challenges as well as the surprises. More on that later.

This is the first blog post I am typing in quite some time. It’s also the first in the new place (a cottage in northwestern Rhode Island). My computer is freshly set up and this is the first boot up since getting here. It’s here I’ll resume and hopefully finish Scrimshaw before we leave. I’ve also been working on a new book, entitled The Cast Iron Field Guide, which is part collectors identification guide to 19th century cast iron cookware, but also discusses labor history and patent research with the hopes that my methodology translates into a broader understanding of what we can learn on our own when we decide it’s time to dig.

I just got back from my first bike ride of the area. I am horribly out of shape. It’s fine. It’s been a long year and a half and we are all tired. But I’ve gotten enough sorted to where today I felt ready to and comfortable going on a bike ride. There are hills here. Hills the likes of which I haven’t seen since Pedal for Pongo. I should be back in shape very soon.

There are also historical cemeteries. They start within a mile of our cottage. I already made note of the first I want to look into–Glocester Historic Cemetery 10. It looks pretty well messy. Lots of raking and a good amount of branches to cut up. That will probably be the first event schedule here. There’s already an event scheduled for February 26–I am going to be on a video chat discussing cycling and my approach to studying cultural history from two wheels. I’ll post more about that later, too. It’s getting dark and this room has no lights. It’s a big departure from my 14 years in Providence. It’s a welcome respite if not a bit jarring at times.

Tomorrow I’ll be picking up a new chair for my computer desk. There are two new board members who should be joining us at the next board meeting, where we will talk about upcoming projects and grant/other funding opportunities. That should carry the lot of us through till August. At which point you’ll see several new short documentaries, one new feature documentary, and a new book.

Here’s to new beginnings, and new stages of evolution.

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