I have occasionally talked about the tools we use in our work, but it’s been a while and I felt the need to discuss our latest piece of office equipment. It’s a meter-long stick. More specifically, a selfie stick. So it’s a bluetooth-enabled stick. When I first started doing field work, way back in the …

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Why Did They Do That?

A large part of field investigation is trying to get inside the head of whoever designed and built the structure you are looking at.* The idea is that people do things for rational** reasons so if we can figure out those reasons we have a head-start on understanding the built result. The more you understand …

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A Bad Script

You watch horror movies, or thrillers, and people are wandering around haunted houses or abandoned hospitals alone with flashlights, and you want to yell at them “stop being an idiot.” And then you need to get the sizes of some joists in a building that’s been empty for years, so you wander around it alone …

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Trace Evidence

That photo is from an early-1800s house upstate. There’s nothing exceptional about its structure, although architecturally and historically it’s interesting. But there are traces of the past in building materials, and it’s fun, and sometimes instructive, to take a look at them. Here’s a marked-up version of the photo for reference: The most obvious trace …

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Hard As A Rock

That picture is from a recent investigation. It’s the point of impact where a car hit a solid granite structure. The damage to the stone is unfortunate, but the car was totaled. Our analysis showed that the force of the car going at 60 mph was about one-tenth of what was required to cause real …

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