Mar. 18th, 2010

nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Greetings, fellow underpaid explorers of the unknown!

Due to recent upper management and strategic vision changes, along with some… ah… unfortunate accidents, it looks like we’ve got a whole new crop of contributors — that would be you.

Now, the thing about company culture is that you kind of need people to pass it along, and that’s kind of hard to do when you consider the events of the past six months or so. Yes, you could say that the disappearances have been a little too convenient, but as you will note in the next few points below, it’s best not to dwell on those matters too much. So, please don’t.

In any case, in lieu of several years of working together and slowly gathering the assumptions that characterize our work, here is a semi-ooc and somewhat self-referential list of things to keep in mind when you key in the findings into the database:

  • What we’re looking for, primarily, are fragments and abstracts. The company expects a 200-word precis of what you’re collecting, or an extract of the document that you’ve finally deciphered, or whatever you’ve got squeezed into, at minimum, 200 words. That’s a hard minimum, please; don’t go any lower.
  • Saying that, if the document you’re cataloguing is a 150,000 word monster, please do not place it into this database, verbatim. Pass it along to Scanning and Deciphering for a full-style Google Books-style scan, and put in a 200-word minimum extract. You can put as much as you like, but seriously, we don’t have the bandwidth budget just yet. Yes, I know, cloud computing is the Wave of the Future, but we don’t have the budget. Ask me that question next year.
  • Your KPI are, primarily, how many works you log into the system. Not, incidentally, how good your analyses are. You’re not disallowed to do them, they just don’t contribute to your year-end bonuses — yes! We have those! — and no one will read it, because we’re too damn busy. Do your analyses in your spare time, and don’t log it into the system. It doesn’t get counted, and it wastes precious hard drive space.
  • You really have two voices when it comes to logging in works — as you, the researcher, or as the person who wrote the works themselves. Both are fine, use your discretion.
  • Categorize the works properly. If it requires a new tag, inform any of the three Administrators: [personal profile] jhameia, [personal profile] nyarlathotep or [personal profile] frangipani.
  • You know that talk about there being no real analyses in this database? Sometimes someone will do a “milestone” post, that work as a timeline and organize particular events in chronological order. These are about as much analyses we do, seriously.
  • Yeah, you may have noticed that some of the documents contradict one another, and that the hardcopies of the timelines we’ve salvaged will contradict each other too! We don’t know why; some physics graduate that worked here in the late 90s speculated that it had something to do with the nature of “the quantum foam” or some gobbledegook like that. Don’t sweat it; if your work doesn’t fit the established timeline or contradicts multiple works, we’ll accommodate that, somehow.
  • What we won’t accommodate are what look like transcription errors. We’ll correct those if we need to.
  • Incidentally, as context, there will be entries that reference SPS S/B and its history. Those we’ve determined are necessary, but don’t go overboard in cataloguing those. The primary purpose of this repository is Steampunk Nusantara, not As The Sharekat Turns, or the Bold and the Samudera.
  • Speaking of soap operas, articles that reference the events of the past six months are strongly discouraged. Don’t mention it too often (translation: make up something and Try Very Hard Not To Talk About It).

I think that covers all of it. Any questions?

ETA: Incidentally, [personal profile] jhameia told me to told you that, once you’ve received your Employee Orientation Pack (i.e. you’ve been accepted into the comm), head over here for the employee roll-call.

nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

A single page of what appears to be old, but fairly high quality paper. Charred around the edges, as if from a fire. Catalogued with index number MDX-921-0001. Not our catalogue number; v. mysterious.

Transcript:

(in classic Malay, written in Jawi script. Words in CAPITAL LETTERS are underlined in original text):

Let Allah witness that The KINGDOM OF MELAKA grants permission to the Partnership known as LEDANG BOOK FOUNDRY to produce and distribute the following WORK (written as “karya” — کاريا):

The Book Of Mechanical Wonders, Second Volume.

Let it be known that this book is currently in it’s SIXTH PUBLICATION during the year 980 HIJRAH, with the previous publication dates are as follows:

961 H 963 H 971 H 975 H 979 H.

Let no other creature (makhluk — مخلوق), either in Heaven (Kayangan — کايڠن), Earth nor darkest Underworld, deprive the licensor of his livelihood via UNAUTHORIZED DUPLICATION and DISTRIBUTION, for not only is it a sin in Allah’s eyes, but also an affront to the sovereignty of the KINGDOM OF MELAKA.

DAULAT SULTAN AHMAD SHAH

Comments: …the hell’s 980 Hijrah again? I can’t find the damn calculator, and the ISP’s giving me grief and refusing to load Wolfram Alpha.

In any case, scan of document is pending, until we can get that cheap-ass scanner fixed again. Which probably won’t be any time this budget cycle.

geminianeyes: Cute sisters from PW as kids (Coffee is your friend)
[personal profile] geminianeyes
2 stacks of round wooden pillars found in the warehouse. Intricately carved, the styles are reminiscent of the Kedah/Kelantan woodcarver masters. One stack, with carvings of the garuda and other creatures, was found leaning against the wall. The other had geometric shapes, suggesting it was meant for an Islamic house. At least that's what the delivery sheet said (what ink did these guys use?)

Measurements:
Weight: 0 kg
Height: 9 feet long
Diameter: 6 inches

Closer inspection reveals a hidden compartment in just one pillar in each stack, while the rest have hidden openings designed for the insertion of what might seem a tiny vial glass tubes. All pillars have tiny holes and a hollowed centre. There's not enough holes to weaken the wood, but enough to suggest they have been drilled deliberately.

Comment: We found some glass tubes and containers nearby these stacks of wood. Judging from the old, old notice stuck on both the stacks and the glass containers, they're meant to work together. Perhaps it's a prototype perfume-releasing kind of pillars? The Garuda ones were to have been sent to a Balinese shrine I think.

Also, who took my portable weighing machine??
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

On behalf of SPS S/B, we would like to welcome our Esteemed Colleagues from PIJA to our noble endeavor.

Just a note of reminder, please: if you haven’t read the introductory memo that I’ve included in your welcome pack, please do.

Just a quick reminder, ladies and gentlemen: this is a scholarly database, and our primary goal here is to get through the huge backlog of stuff that our organizations have mutually acquired from multiple sources.

Obviously we’d appreciate it if you could assist us with the cataloging, but please note: our first task is to get those resources digitized and online, so that we can prevent whatever the events of the past six months from happening again (translation: you know as well as I do that means Trying Very Hard Not To Be Biased ;D). That means: MINIMAL ANALYSIS FOR NOW.

Since the primary goal of this database is to host transcripts, please ensure that you use it for the stated purpose. Memos and other bits of drama should be kept, as much as possible, off the repository. (translation: inter-organization drama is okay, once in a while, but you’re supposed to record stuff, not squabble over allotments. Memos and drama should primarily reside in the comments; the occasional memo-post is okay, but seriously, more awesome stuff, less bureaucratic comedy).

Now I understand that PIJA doesn’t have an online repository; you’re welcome to place records into our database while you set up your own at some point. Obviously the data you enter will still belong to you, and we will comply once you have cleared your approval from the Indian government. Which might not happen in the next 300 years, but hey, accountability, right?

What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

In any case. Welcome! NOW GET TO WORK.

nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Fragments of what appears to be a royal letter, likely used for correspondence between heads of state, and a messenger tube. Seal indicates that it is from the Kingdom of Majapahit, circa early 20th century.

Letter was almost disintegrated, either from heat or mold — it’s hard to tell, for some strange reason, so fragments remain.

Here’s the transcription of the original text, as much as I can salvage from the blasted OCR machine. Will need to sit down with the linguist when I can and hammer out a translation:

Arabic Text ahead; but it's in Malay. )

God, what a nightmare, trying to fix all that. I know for a fact that letter-order is all out; I’m going to need to bring the frags out to the linguist, damn it. Why can’t computers deal with other languages properly, I’ll never know.

I’ll try and bring up a translation later this evening, once I’ve fed that drunkard enough booze to get his job done.

I tell you, I don’t get paid enough for this crap.

UPDATE: Well that was a very strange letter. A space program? In the early 20th century? Huh.

frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
The object is a carved hardwood figurine identified as a human female. Preliminary tests indicate that the figurine is carved from the wood of Fagraea fragrans and dates back from 1800s. The artist have chosen to carve these details: eyes, nose, breasts and mouth. The head is disproportionately large to the rest of the body. She is slender, and shown sitting upright on a circular base with her hands on her knees and wearing a conical hat. Geometric designs (possibly based on plant or animal life) are carved into the base. An examination of the bottom of the base reveals three circular holes of approx. 2 cm in diameter and depth carved into the wood. At the center of the bottom of the base is a slightly larger circle of rough wood, as if something had been snapped off.

Measurements:
Weight: Unknown due to fluctuations
Length: 2.5 meters including base
Width: 40cm at its widest diameter
Origin: Unknown Possibly Sabah (see update)

Object was first identified as a bundle wrapped in cloth (cotton, white, stained with dark brown splotches), tied with rattan. Examination by archeologist, S.A., during the removal of the exterior cover suggests that the object was wrapped with precision and care, presumably indicating that it is an object of importance.

Efforts to obtain an accurate reading of the weight of the object have so far failed. Readings range from 1.6kg to 4.8kg, and each attempted weighting of the object has rendered the machine nonfunctional. Tests on the wood show biochemical anomalies that are as yet unexplained in composition or function. The dark brown stains on the cloth wrappings have been positively identified as that of human blood.

It is speculated that the conical hat may be a woven leaf hat related to the Malaysian topi mengkuang and the Vietnamese nón lá. Due to the preponderance of similar headwear in the region of Southeast Asia, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of the figure.

Update )
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
A small statuette, most likely for decoration, of a mousedeer in a crouching pose. Unlike our regular mousedeer, it has a single horn, like a goat's, sticking out from the right side of its forehead.* Nonetheless, it is recognizable as being from the Tragiludae family - possibly a Greater Mousedeer.

The statuette is carved from meranti wood, although hints of sandalwood scent can be detected. Its surface is unpolished, and thus a bit flakey. Sample flakes have been sent to the labs to determine the true specie of wood it was carved in.

The base of the statuette has no signature of the artist, although under the base, there is a Jawi phrase reading, "Untuk Zafarina, dari Rosenblommu."** ("For Zafarina, from your Rozenblom.")

Weight: 800g
Height: 30cm
Width: 20cm
Base: 50cm in circumference
Origin: Indeterminate, although judging by the writing, Malayan for sure.

Notes:
* The placement of the horn indicates another one on the other side of the head. Possibly in reference to the old Amalthea myth??
** This is inconclusive as it is the sloppiest Jawi writing I've ever seen. If not for the practice I get in reading my children's handwriting, this would have been all Greek to me.
jolantru: (steampunk)
[personal profile] jolantru
A silver broach, intricate worksmanship (royal artisan), filigree silver. Inlaid mother-of-pearl. Upon examination, a secret compartment under the main jewel (ruby - expensive).

Measurements:
Weight: 30 g
Length: 9 cm.
Width: 3 cm
Origin: Peranakan? (Hints of Majapahit Empire).

I found this broach tucked under a whole pile of fabrics. After a careful cleaning, the item was examined, weighted and catalogued. I theorize the item might have been used in espionage missions. The secret compartment seems to have contained traces of an unknown chemical (which I have duly sent to the Laboratories for an in-depth evaluation). My esteemed colleague in Fabrics And Garments has suggested that this might be a kerosang of some sort.

The silver broach is beguiling and begs to be examined further.

PS: Dear esteemed colleagues, I have catalogued the item under 'Artifact: Clothing'.
PPS: I need to go back to my collection of pterandon bones - there are sightings I need to investigate, but alas! the items! the items!
geminianeyes: Cute sisters from PW as kids (Bwuh Daisuke)
[personal profile] geminianeyes
The golden statuette was brought to my table by one of the assistants. Apparently there's some ruckus about a security guard who was seen trying to smuggle it out. The workmanship on the statuette is exquisite; the woman is depicted sitting down with what looks like a mousedeer on her lap. In her hand she holds a sheathed keris which looks suspiciously like the blazing keris my colleague has so kindly entered into the records before this.

Weight: 0kg (not more than a few grams though, this thing is LIGHT!)
Height: 30cm
Carbon dating: Approx in the 1600s
Origins: Suspect Thailand, as the woman is garbed in the Thai Jakgree Style

Note: The details that I thought were part of her dress seem to be something more. Lab reports suggests that the gold itself did not originate anywhere in the Nusantara, even if the workmanship. It's not pure gold, but it is mixed with something else. That metal is yet to be determined.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a little booklet. Cover is made from brown leather (and smells like cow); pages are so well-preserved, technicians and myself are tempted to believe it was printed only ~50 years ago, but print date (1793) says otherwise. Embossed and filled with black ink on the cover is the title. The pages are yellow, but still quite sturdy.

There is no credited authour. Full title is "Jahanam Francis Light: Riwayat Peristiwa Akibat Pertempuran Antara Negara Kedah & Briton Curang Pada Tahun 1780". The book is 10cm x 13cm, and weighs no more than 10 grams.

The booklet is a 10-page sajak (poem), written in Jawi and printed in a large font. Inside the cover, the name "Yusuf Jaksin" is scrawled in what appears to be a child's handwriting. The pages alternate from writing and illustrations of the scene being described. From these we infer that it was used as educational / propaganda material.

Possible origins are Kedah or Penang, although the printing and writing style point to a writer of Kelantanese descent, perhaps even Pattani, but I work with rudimentary knowledge.

Further actions taken: Sent to transcription department, and from there will be forwarded to the linguistics department for further analysis.

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