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[sticky entry] Sticky: Steampunk Nusantara: Policies and Guidelines

Okay, serious face on. Comments in this post are considered fully-OOC.

This is the policies and guidelines document. It tells you, the potential applicant to the community, most of what you need to know about Steampunk Nusantara. We, the admins, reserve to revise rules and rights as we deem necessary. Please read this document as part of your Orientation Packet.

tl;dr, even if it is completely necessary tl;dr )

Please feel free to comment on this post to provide comments and request for clarification on anything we may not have made clear. We'll update this post if anything new comes up.

Notes on the Brass Tablet with Sketches

30. A flat brass tablet, containing erotic sketches.

Item measures 30.5cm × 21cm, with a thickness of 0.5cm. Despite the superior quality of the brass, it weighs a mere 200g. I am inclined to believe that the interior may be at least partially hollow (how else to account for its lightness?), but entering the item into the cross-sectional scanners causes the machines to inform me that it is constructed of lead! Yet another impossibility that I have encountered in the course of my work here.

The rim of the device is carved with an arabesque pattern of curlicues, but the geometric patterns, while very pleasing to the eye, do not correspond with the known artistic styles of any of the traditional civilisations of the area. Rather, it appears a blend of an Islamic-inspired Malay design and the stylised shapes of southern India. This is, however, merely an educated guess. My specialty does not lie in visual art, and I suggest further consultation with the experts in the Art Department.

I had originally imagined that the item was a tea-tray of some sort, but in the course of my examination I discovered a small, round patch in the top right-hand corner on one side. (You shall soon understand how I was able to ascertain how the item should be positioned.) This area feels smoother to the touch, as though it were made out of plastic or some similar material. Upon scrutiny, it was also found to have a slightly darker hue than the rest of the brass. Henceforth, I shall refer to the side with this switch or button as the ‘back’ of the item, and the other side as the ‘front’.

Pressing this button caused the opposite side of the item to display a calligraphic message in a script I was unable to recognise. The intern whom I requisitioned from Linguistics informed me that it was a regional variant of Jawi, but the text itself appeared to be a transliteration of Chinese in the Teochew dialect, reading: ‘Being an Instructive Manual for the Amusement of the Young: Please tap to continue.’

Under the impression that it was some textbook for royal or wealthy children, I therefore tapped what I shall now refer to as the ‘screen’ of the device.

How mistaken I was. )

My eminent colleague recently speculated that ‘photonic crystals’ were available for esoteric devices such as this. In light of the work that has been done upon this item, I am willing to concur. I would also offer the tentative conclusion that the richer classes, at least, were not loath to employ photonic crystals for entertainment gadgets, which might possibly extend to other forms of entertainment as well.

In the meanwhile, may I recommend that this device be kept strictly out of the hands of the younger interns. In fact, I would like to request a personal loan of the item for at least the next fortnight. For further study, of course. (I would also like to inquire into the feasibility of downloading the images from the device, and of printing them at high resolution. – I might be taking up Art Studies. Skills upgrading, &c., clearly.)

Item Abstract: A deck of 78 tarot cards, Tarot de Marseille.

Item is a pack of 78 cards, measuring 10.5 cm x 18 cm. Thickness of each card is no thicker than the kind of paper stock that normal playing cards come from. Each card seems to be made out of some kind of photonic crystal that constantly shifts and changes color, while the edges are normal paper card-stock. We can’t seem to separate the paper surface from the photonic crystal without tearing — the paper seems bonded to the crystal through some undetermined process.

Design-wise, the cards are, for all intents and purposes, classical Tarot de Marseille cards, with 22 Trumps and 56 Suit cards. The Trumps are numbered from 1 to 21, with the Le Mat card un-numbered, as per the usual, and card XIII (the D-Card) unnamed.

The most interesting feature of these cards are that they seem to shift and change with no apparent power source. The card design primarily stays constant — changing tones and mood to suit the image itself — but the card images seem to shift based on who touches it. Some of the guinea pigs junior researchers report seeing significant figures in their history appear as the players in the trump cards, while the suite cards seem to illustrate life events and realistic representations of the subject’s life situation with a rather eerie realism.

The cards don’t have a visible power source, like I said, but leaving them in a light-proof room with no visible illumination causes the cards to revert to a blank state — power conservation mode, perhaps? However, when touching those cards, or even looking at them and concentrating, the cards begin to shift and change — weakly at first, but then with increasing movement and vividness.

When we press-ganged persuaded Junior Researcher L, who scored unusually high in Ganzfeld and Zener tests, the cards began to emit light in the dark, as if the card surfaces were additive light displays (brightness levels similar to modern AMOLED displays). Running the same tests in fully-lit environments with JR L showed no difference from JRs who scored low in both Ganzfeld and Zener. Effect doesn't seem to work with any other researcher, junior or not.

UPDATE: I’d like to strongly advise that we terminate the employment of Junior Researcher K, based on the design that appeared once K touched the 5 de Épées. The other figures depicted in the cards, JR N and I, aren’t talking.

UPDATE: Also, we advise caution to researchers who touch trump card XIII, XV, XVI and XX, and suit card 3 and 10 de Épées. Some of the images are… disturbing, to say the least.

jhameia: GIF animation of a lemongrass bush, followed by frames saying "Jha is like lemongrass" (Lemongrass)
[personal profile] jhameia2010-08-01 01:57 pm

Abstract of Item: Bamboo Noodles

Item is a bag containing other items - 6 segments (or culms, if you want to get technical) of bamboo which contain dried preserved food.

The bag itself is an incurious brown linen slingbag, with no covering flap. It is enough to contain all 6 segments of bamboo

Each segment is 30cm long, 6cm in diameter, with one natural node on one end and the other end plugged with a screw-on wooden cap. The caps don't appear to all be the same wood.

When x-rays couldn't conclusively show us what was inside (the results look like meandering abstract paintings), so we opened one of these bamboo segments for closer inspection. It contained dried vegetables and fruits, as well as half-cooked rice and dried noodles. We've sent a few pieces to the labs for dating.

In the interest of science(!), we stood the segment on its end, poured in some hot water, screwed back in the cap, and waited a minute or so before pouring out the contents into a separate bowl. The result was a soup that smelled and tasted like it had pepper, a hint of chili, ginger, and what might have been beef, or might have been chicken stock. I won't lie, this Mee In My Bamboo thing is pretty nommy.

This raises some interesting questions: Why would instant soup be developed like this that it can be easily transported for long periods of time? Who would carry such a bag? The bag only contains six; perhaps the owner had one meal a day over a six-day period? Or did this bag belong to a worker, this food item being a form of cheap sustenance?
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Item Abstract: No Frog Under This Coconut Shell

Item appears to be bronzed coconut tempurung half, measuring 8 centimeters in diameter. I say “appears”, because the item seems to be made completely out of bronze, but with the thickness of a real coconut shell. No other decoration or design anywhere else, apart from what you normally expect from a real coconut shell.

UPDATE: Microscopic analysis results have come back: turns out that the coconut shell resembles a coconut shell, even down to the microscopic level — we’re seeing remnants of cell wall formation on at least part of the coconut shell, which either means that the bronzing process goes down to the cellular level, or there’s a species of bronze-based life form out there. Alloy composition is around 88% copper and just under 12% tin, with less than %1 being a material that should be tin, but doesn’t seem to give the same kind of spectral readings.

An interesting effect occurs when you place the coconut shell, rim-side down on any flat surface — within 20 seconds, the sound of a frog croaking can be heard. Our resident creepy-crawly nerd identifies the call as belonging to a Polypedates leucomystax, or a Malaysian common tree frog.

Removing the coconut shell reveals… well, nothing. No frog. Frog calls immediately terminate upon removal of shell from the flat surface. Even tipping the shell to take a peek reveals no frog, and terminates the sounds.

UPDATE: We’ve finally managed to take a good luck at the frog itself by the simple expedient of placing the shell on a glass table. Well, it’s a common tree frog, all right.

That’s it. Well, that was exciting.

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Obvious puzzle, hidden weapon

Item is a cube item about sejunkal in height and width (create a fist with your thumb and pinky sticking out, that's the height we are talking about), with irregularly-sized movable parts. Looks something like this but is made of bamboo and many more tiny parts.

The assistants and me have discovered that while you can take apart the cube and assemble the many pieces into different items (tissue dispenser, the Twin Towers, and kampung scupltures just to name a few) if you want to reassemble it into a cube there is only one way to do so.

The reason for this seems to be the hollow centre of the cube. When we first discovered the box, there were a small packet of sago seeds within. While playing around testing the various assemblies of the cube, it was discovered that you could, assemble a gun (incidentally this was the only other shape of the cube that required us to use ALL parts of it besides its original cube shape). Insert the sago seeds into the hole and voila! Instant gun.

However, we soon discovered that the gun would not fire on its own. There was nothing to propel the seeds out of the gun. It turns out that there's an extra component that came with the cube that we originally neglected; the Mayan Empire's rubber band holding the sago seed bullets closed were the missing piece.

Considering the size of the gun and its relative power (and the bruises it left on my assistants, heh), we suspect that the cube's original intention was to be a portable and quick-assembly weapon, used mainly to fire at hyperactive kids and stray mewling cats. Theoretically, it COULD be used as a more lethal weapon in close range, but no one volunteered we were unable to test that theory out.
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani2010-07-18 03:18 am
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For the scanning and translation queue: Book of recipes

Item is a leatherbound book with blank paper pages, of which about three-quarters are filled with handwritten recipes.

Length: 28 cm
Width: 22 cm

Due to a small mishap in the labs, carbon-dating tests have yet to be conducted on samples retrieved from the book. It is badly damaged: there is a large burn mark on one corner of the back cover, and both covers and pages are partially covered with various combinations of soot, animal fat, vegetable oils, mineral oils, fermented chillies, fermented soy, spices, a number of unfortunate insects and various organic matter that was likely once involved in food preparation. There is a small hole approximately 3cm from the top edge, towards the right, a close examination of which yielded traces of gunpowder and lead. A dried Cinnamomum tejpata leaf was found tucked into the pages, possibly to bookmark a recipe for kerabu pucuk paku (young fernleaves salad).

There are two distinct authors. Author 1 writes primarily in a Chinese language, very likely the Southern Min dialect of Hokkien (traditional script, with a number of unique characters). Author 2 writes primarily in a dialect of Malay from what's now the northern peninsular Malaysia states and the Thai province of Satun (Jawi script). The authors appear to be very familiar with both languages and each other, leading to translation difficulties due to the utilisation of shorthand symbols and references to people/incidents. Can't we hire people who're less liable to throw tantrums over a text? Honestly.

I've excerpted two of the recipes, with the original annotations intact where possible. Both recipes were originally written in Jawi. Author 1 is in italics, and Author 2 is in bold. Translator's notes are in square brackets. The Management bears no responsibility for the results of attempts at recreating these dishes. )

I've just put in a request for a test kitchen to convert everything into metric measurements. Also, for any Finance pencil-pushers staff watching this: there's a line outside my department door for the recipes. Just so you know.
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani2010-07-16 06:51 am
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For the scanning and translation queue: Letters

Item consists of 7 sheets of good-quality woodpulp paper, folded in half and bound with a narrow strip of red silk. Each sheet of paper appears to be an individual letter, handwritten with black carbon-based ink, addressed to a “Varsha” (woman-identified, no surname or other names known) from a single unknown writer (see below). There is minor water damage to the outermost layers of paper, but the letters are in otherwise good condition.

The letters were written in the Marathi language, in a combination of Modi (primary) and Devanagari (secondary) scripts. A cursory analysis of their content by one of the linguists determined that the writer was proficient but not entirely fluent in the language, and that the writer and the recipient of the letters were engaged in a relationship that is romantic in nature. The content of the letters is composed of mainly personal news and descriptions of everyday life (extremely useful for the anthropologists).

It is speculated that the writer is restricted to a single sheet of paper for every letter, hence the crammed but painstakingly clear writing. Despite the writer’s less than perfect fluency in the language, none of the letters bear marks of corrections, perhaps indicating the writer drafted each letter elsewhere first before writing out a final version. What free spaces there are in the letters are filled with small sketches or doodles: anatomically-correct renditions of bird wings, dragonflies, various flora found in the Southeast Asian region, and what appears to be diagrams of a ship’s hull.

Unfortunately the letters are undated, though preliminary tests on the paper and ink indicate that they are approximately 70 years old (1940s). We have thus far been unable to identity the name of the writer -- four of the letters bear a word that is likely to be a name (or perhaps a salutation) at the bottom of the last page, but it is in a script unfamiliar to any of the linguists.

Excerpt. )
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia2010-06-20 11:37 pm
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Item: Beaded and Embroidered Blouse

Item is a wraparound blouse made of linen, that appears to have been formerly white, but is now yellowed. It has long sleeves, down to the elbow, and the length comes down to the knees, with a sash that wraps around the waist at least twice. The result is a sort of cross between a ruqun and a banbi, perhaps adapted from China for the warm Nusantara climate.

Of particular interest is the extremely intricate beading and embroidery, in the same of bunga telang (butterfly pea) vines all along the edges of the garment . The beading style is reminiscent of Nyonya shoes, adapted from the English in the 19th century. The embroidery style is traditional Malay tekat with golden thread. The tekat style is used for the shape of leaves and vines, and the beading for the flowers.

I am dating this to the 19th century, since the Nyonya beading style has no history of appearing earlier in the region. But then, the beading style was also used for shoes, not garments, so this is up for debate.
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Several things:

[personal profile] geminianeyes and [personal profile] jhameia have brought [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw to my attention. I thought that was cool, and I hope you do, too! If you have an entry you’d like to include, feel free to tag it with “three weeks for dreamwidth” or “threeweeks”.

Feel free to plunder the prompts post or make up your own: activity’s dropped off a little in SN, but that’s because the administrators have been lazy buggers too busy with IRL matters, HOW DARE YOU IMPLY OTHERWISE.

That stuff’s supposed to stay on dreamwidth for three weeks, but since most of the conversation’s been here I guess that shouldn’t be too hard.

Oh! And also: this community lacks an icon. [personal profile] jhameia, [personal profile] frangipani and I are 1) too lazy or 2) too incompetent with graphics editing programs and 3) possibly bloody tyrants as well, so we’re delegating the wonderful task of icon-creation to you, our faithful peons minions slave labor subordinates partners.

That is all. You may continue with your business.

For S&T: "On The Transmission Of Information Over Great Distances Via The Aether."

Item is a technical schematic written on parchment-like surface, measuring 85 × 120 cm. I say parchment-like because although it appears to look like parchment, it is damp-insensitive and completely waterproof, as well as being completely nigh-indestructible to water, fire and almost all the corrosives we tested.

The technical schematics seem to be for a tower, the design of which is very reminiscent of etchings and carvings I’ve seen of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. There’s even a bit of scrawled text on the side, with an arrow pointing to the tower, that makes light of this, and confirms that whatever the design is, it is based on the same Wonder of the World. The primary difference seems to be that instead of a square base, it is hexagonal.

In any case, the technical design seems to be of a clock-tower of some sort, except for the inclusion of lenses and what appears to be electrical and crystal resonators studded in the inside of the building. I’ll let the engineers ponder on this, but without an idea of what the basic principle behind the operation of this tower is, I’m afraid it’ll remain a mystery for quite a while.

What’s most interesting is of course the number of marginalia that peppers the document itself — by my estimation, approximately three dozen marginalia notes were written, in at least six languages, by at least seven hands:

  1. Arabic
  2. Persian
  3. A variant of Chinese (Traditional)
  4. Javanese (written in hanacaraka, although examples of it also appear in Jawi)
  5. Malay (in Jawi)
  6. An unknown dialect of what appears to be Kelantanese Malay with heavy Thai influence, written in a variant of Hangul (v. strange).

Apart from that, the only other notable matter seems to be a series of glyphs used by all the writers, which can be divided into two:

  1. A series of glyphs that seem to be anthropic and/or based on objects. Used the way we use emoticons.
  2. Another series of glyphs that are appended to the beginning of each marginalia, and used by the writers to identify themselves and others in the document.

The glyphs will be marked as « double angles » and will either be « emoticon descriptor » or « PERSON IDENTITY »

Here is a short summary of these marginalia; S&T can fill in the rest:

transcript text as follows )
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For the Scanning and Translation Queue: Multiple Envelopes, with Letter.

Item consists of 5 sheets of paper. measuring 21 × 13 cm, contained several envelopes, one after the other:

The letter appears to be hand-written in hanacaraka using what appears to be a fountain pen (same ink as on first envelope), and appears to be some variant of Old Javanese, although one of the linguists I managed to threaten bribe persuade to assist me in this indicated that there were enough unknown words, abbreviations and variants of modern Javanese words for this to warrant as either a new language or a creole of some kind.

Excerpts of the letter are as follows. S&T can fill up the rest. This is the first page:

frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani2010-04-16 04:55 pm

For the scanning and translation queue: The Tale of Admiral Wan Zafirah ibna Wan Mahmud

Item is a leather-bound book that has been badly damaged, missing half or more of its original pages and obscured with soot. Its contents appear to be a stylised biography of well-regarded admiral (laksamana), written in classical, highly poetic Malay and printed in the Jawi script.

Length: 23 cm
Width: 16 cm
Origin: Unknown

An examination of the item reveal that the book was machine-produced. The binding and the woodpulp paper pages are of serviceable but medium-lasting quality, perhaps suggesting that the item was -- for lack of a better term -- mass-produced. The edition notice tell us that the book is the tenth edition of the original publication, though attempts at salvaging the rest of the text revealed only that the date of printing is 1340 Hijrah. Two words are written in a childish hand on the title page, one on top of the other. The second one was written in Jawi, transliterated as Muhang (no other name given), while the first utilises a writing system unfamiliar to the researchers. These are, presumably, the name(s?) of the owner(s?). There are other written notations in the book, but written in a finer hand. Numerous creases, stains and dog-eared pages point to the frequency with which the book was likely to have been read.

I have excerpted below some rough translations for what remains of the book, with accompanying notes. Regrettably the full measure of what the book has to offer for our ongoing research will only be evident after it has spent some time in the hands of the linguists and literary experts.

Title and notes:
حکاية لقسامان وان زافيرة ابنا وان مهمود
ڤڠليما بايو ريبوت کراجاٴن ملاک

Hikayat Laksamana Wan Zafirah ibna Wan Mahmud
Panglima Bayu Ribut Kerajaan Melaka

The Tale of Admiral Wan Zafirah ibna Wan Mahmud
Warrior of the Storm Wind of the Kingdom of Malacca
It is clear from the admiral's name that she is identified as a woman, though the use of the prefix "ibna" is quite uncommon in the literature catalogued so far. It was also suggested that there may be two ways of reading the subtitle: that the admiral is a "storm wind warrior", or that she is a warrior of the storm winds of Malacca. More on these points later.

Translated excerpts and notes )

EDIT: Speaking of Aceh, after much persuasion from the minions assistants, I've included excerpts from a chapter particularly favoured by some of the staff. And, if the state of the pages is any indication, the owner(s?) of the book found it equally riveting. The chapter is set just after Wan Zafirah was appointed by the Sultan of Malacca to lead three airships to the Kingdom of Aceh on a diplomatic mission to strengthen ties between the two kingdoms. Earlier passages narrate that this mission was a set-up by rivals in the court, who (understandably) assumed that a warrior hitherto known solely for her skills on the battlefield would fail quite thoroughly.

A second set of excerpts and notes )
yifu: (// scremies @ lj)
[personal profile] yifu2010-04-15 11:03 am

Abstract of Item: Poem on A Piece of Paper

Item is a piece of high quality but otherwise unexceptional Xuan paper. Judging from its lower edge, researchers believe it to be the top half of a longer piece. Discovered in Medan, North Sumatra, the paper has been confirmed to originate from China, early eighteenth century. It is preserved within a slim tube (20 centimeters in length, 300 grams in weight, made of gold) which bears the character for "spear" and no other distinguishing mark. Due to its age, extracting the paper from the tube was done with great care, and unfurling it required an even greater amount of concentration and caution.

Written on the paper were four lines of poetry - believed to be the first half of a complete poem - in the Li-shu calligraphy style. There is no title. The four lines describe, in a straightforward manner, an expedition to the northwest of China made with the blessing of "the all-seeing heaven." Said conquest might have taken place after the imperial army expelled Galdan from Outer Mongolia and Tibet, and crossed Kobdo toward areas that are part of modern Kazakhstan. The missing half of the poem is speculated to contain further details of this conquest. Both the writer of the poem and the original owner of the paper are unknown as yet.

Abstract of item: Leather sling bag

Leather bag
Bag looks like a simple messenger's bag, slung across the body. It has one zip, which is along the length of the strap, and a simple flap to open the bag. Discovered by accident that if you open the zip while thinking about an object that's in the bag, it'll be in your hand. You can pull things out of the strap, which I think is a pretty interesting spell. We pulled out two metallic spheres, and one shaver's kit, among others.

Otherwise, opening the flap to put in and take things out works. We found the following in the bag:

A thin metallic box was found in the bag. It was the size of a thin matchstick box with a thin detachable end. The flap actually did resemble a matchstick. Remove detachable end. Flip box open. Remove choice of razor from box. Slide into end. Voila! Razor is now yours!

Interestingly, there were blades of various sizes within the box. Two of these were coated. One was coated with lime juice (it had a dull sheen), the other was coated with what looks like blood. It's been sent for analysis. If it's really blood, I would like to know how it got there, cause the blade's practically covered in it.

Metallic spheres, size of a palm
We found two metallic spheres, both with tiny patterns etched on them and an indentation on one end. Pressing against the indentation pops up a nozzle. We discovered that the nozzle delivered shaving cream, but I suspect that the ball may have more secrets, because it did not smell anything like the shaver it dispensed. Which leads me to the next item:

Bottle of colonge
Which doesn't smell like it. Despite the fact that it dispensed liquid, the scent of this cologne nearly made me sleep. It's that relaxing. The nozzle at the top of the bottle is made for the metallic spheres mentioned above. Inserting the nozzle into the ball created a hiss, and after a few moments, the ball disconnected itself from the bottle and simply rolled in one place. Then it stopped and was simply a ball.

The rest of the items in the bag looked and smelled like someone's dirty laundry. -_-"
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Abstract of Item: Javanese / Balinese Hand-Cannon.

Item is a handcannon, measuring 20 cm from butt to end of barrel, and weighs approximately 10 kilograms. Barrel is smoothbore, and made out of a novel corrossion-resistant steel alloy, approximately 15 cm long. Barrel diameter is approximately 3 cm.

Firing mechanism has been removed, but we suspect it is in some way an analogue of how modern shotguns work; suspect that item was a museum exhibit, judging by a piece of string that was tied around the grip area, which resembles the twine that can be used for tagging and cataloguing. Twine was cut.

The design of the handcannon is, by all indications, of either Majapahit or Balinese design; the stock in itself is carved into the shape of a lion/tiger, and resembles, to a significant degree, a roaring Barong.

Materials analysis places the barrel to be at least as approximately 500-600 years old, but carbon-14 analysis of the wood indicates that the stock in itself is a later addition, and cannot be any older than 50 years old. Marks on the handcannon indicates almost constant tinkering and improvement, and our firearms specialist speculates that not only is can handcannon fire lead balls (which, according to our specialist, is possibly what it was originally designed to do), but also allows for the firing of loads that resemble those that can be fired out of a modern shotgun — from buckshot, birdshot, nonlethal “bean-bag” projectiles, as well as possibly a kind of net.

Ammunition seems to be loaded from a side hatch, similar to how shotguns are loaded. We’re still trying to figure out how the firing mechanism works — there are several levers on the gun itself that don’t seem to be connected to anything right now. Our firearm specialist will be coming around next week with a proposed design on how it works, along with proposed designs on possible ammunition that may be possibly fabricated for testing purposes.

It’s possible to actually lift the weapon with one hand, although it seems difficult to aim this the way you would aim contemporary firearms. It’s likely what you did was hold it with both hands at waist level, possibly using your body to balance itself against the inevitable recoil, likely making sure that the thing doesn’t drive itself into the wielder’s abdomen, possibly to cause internal bleeding.

jolantru: (steampunk)
[personal profile] jolantru2010-04-13 01:52 pm
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Abstract of Item: Rapier.

Item is a rapier of hybrid Arabic/French design. Breathtaking artistry, displayed in the gold-filigreed saucer-shaped guard, with pomegranate leaves and embedded rubies and emeralds. The hilt is crafted with embracing simurghs. Blade reminds one somewhat of a scimitar, even though it is obviously a rapier.

Along the blade are Arabic inscriptions -
Front: Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul
Back: For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

The lines seem to hail from Kahlil Gibran, though I couldn't seem to find the reference. [Linguistics, want to have a go at it?]

Length: 110cm.
Weight: 1.3kg.

The rapier constantly vibrates, even though there is no obvious power source. I suspect a strange technology has been involved in the crafting of this item, perhaps similar to the chainswords I have heard about during intellectual discussions.
inkstone: xxxHOLiC's Yuuko smoking (smoke)
[personal profile] inkstone2010-04-12 10:34 am

Abstract of Item: Barrel of Pickled Vegetables

Item is a glass barrel, filled 3/4 full with pickled vegetables in a vinegar solution.

Height: 75cm
Diameter: 65cm

Glass is red in color and inscribed with a large, stylized banyan tree on the side. Lid is similarly inscribed with a twining vine design along the perimeter.

A metal locking mechanism in the shape of an unfurled flower holds the lid latched shut. Metal is of indeterminate origin but color changes depending on how the light hits it, ranging from dark grey to pale gold. A request has been submitted to the metallurgy department for further analysis.

Care must be taken to unlock latch as edges are extremely sharp; shallow cuts occurred during every examination that did not utilize personal protective equipment. Note that any attempt to unlock latch using gloves results in failure. Thus far, only bare hands have yielded success. In the open state, locking mechanism resembles a flower in full bloom.

Pickled vegetables consist of shredded papaya, carrot, ginger, red bell pepper, and onion. No test subjects displayed adverse effects after consuming a small sample. Continued observation of test subjects is recommended for any signs of long-term effects.

The interior of the barrel is noticeably cooler than the ambient, room temperature but there is no sign of a temperature control unit anywhere on or inside barrel. Frost was observed on plates and dishes containing food samples. A sample of the vinegar solution has been submitted to chemistry for analysis.

The following message is inscribed in Tagalog on the interior of the lid:
For those not like us,

We graciously thank you for your continued protection, and the baranggay appreciates your longstanding forbearance.

There is no signature.

Steampunk Nusantara: First Member Roster Cleanup -- April 2010.

You heard us right. Anyway, we're going through a cleanup of the member roster, as per the following section in the policies and guidelines document:

Clean-up periods:

As administrators, we will run through a regular cleanup of the member roster, looking for inactive members and lurkers. When that happens, we'll post a announcement in the group with a deadline (typically a week after the announcement post). After that, we'll be looking at posts made between the time of the last announcement and the current deadline:

  • If you haven't made a post in the employee roll-call thread, we'll remove you from the group immediately.
  • If you have made a post previously, but haven't done a post between the last announcement and the current deadline, we'll remove posting access but keep you in the membership roll.
  • If you haven't made a post between the last announcement and the current deadline, and you don't have posting access (likely because we removed posting access during the last round), we'll remove you from the group membership.

If you get removed due to inactivity, what do you need to do? Easy! Just reapply, and once we re-accept you, post! We'll put you back in, but keep your posting access off. Once we've received a post from you in our moderation queue, we'll reinstate posting access, and everything will be peachy.

Right. As this is the first member roster cleanup, we'll be looking at posts made from the time this community opened up, up until the deadline period, which will be Monday, 25th of April 2010.

Would like to contribute, but feel your creative juices running a little low? Take a look at our first prompts post -- you might find something there that inspires you.


The prompts )

[Full OOC]: What to do to participate:

So we've got a list of stuff here, generated by me, [personal profile] jhameia and [personal profile] frangipani. Now, the rules are simple:

  1. Prompts to be picked up by members only. If you're interested in contributing, please apply for membership, and the usual membership process applies.
  2. Pick an unclaimed item that you find interesting.
  3. State that your preference in the comments. You can either do it full-OOC (I want to claim this item!) or lazily-IC (Ha ha, I laugh at your misfortune, you wouldn't catch me researching item #!). I will either cheerfully (fully-OOC) or angrily (lazily-IC) assign you the task of researching that item. Either way, you get a slot, which will be updated on the original list. First come, first serve; if you don't get it, you're next in line in case the person who beat you couldn't finish the deadline.
  4. Once you do that, you have a week from your assignment to complete your post; the usual minimum-word restriction applies, and the processes are the same.
    • Please don't over-extend yourself in in the number of items you select to write about. You'll only frustrate yourself and disappoint others.
  5. If you can't finish it by the end of the deadline, we'll release the entry and the person next in line can take the entry, or someone else can claim it.
    • Same goes if you say that you cannot finish it before the deadline. We'd prefer it if you could tell us as soon as you you cannot, please. We'd prefer earlier notifications, and people in line waiting for that cool item to write up can step up to the bat.
    • For items with a queue behind it, we'll ask the next person in line if they want it. If they don't, we ask the next person, and so on until we reach the end of the line. If no one takes it the item goes back to being open.
    • People taking up entries from other people: please let us know if you need an extension. If you do, you'll get a week from our confirmation to finish up, and that's it.
  6. Once you're done, post your entry link to the thread where you were assigned. We'll update the post to reflect your contribution.

I'll let this sit until the weekend before picking which prompts to take, so go wild! :D

frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani2010-04-04 01:59 am
Entry tags:

For the scanning queue: Ink sketches

Item is a series of ink sketches on heavy paper, rectangular in size, with one ragged edge, probably torn off a longer scroll of paper. The sketches were drawn in carbon-based ink with a nibbed writing implement, and the paper was manufactured from woodpulp.

Length: approx. 46cm
Width: 30cm

There are six sketches altogether. The centrepiece is a sketch of a man with his eyes closed, lying on his right side, cushioning his head with an arm. The sketch peters off just below his sternum, and a patterned cloth covers his shoulders. He is, presumably, asleep. His features are loosely rendered, though the artist paid meticulous detail to the fabric pattern. There is some argument as to the exact influences shaping the style of the artwork, among the hypotheses being Pattachitra and early Ming-era paintings. A minority further opined that the floral pattern of the cloth bears some meaning related to the subject of the sketch.

Far more interesting is the sketch above the centrepiece, about a third larger than the first, towards the upper right-hand corner. It appears to be a diagram of a combustion engine. Given that the sketch of the engine is not as elaborately detailed as the fabric in the first sketch, it is likely plans for the engine were still at the theoretical stage when this drawing was made. The subjects of the other four sketches, surrounding the centrepiece, are also mechanical in nature and likely to be be parts of the combustion engine. Given that the same nib and ink were used for all sketches, the engine sketches were almost definitely drawn contemporaneously with the sketch of the sleeping man.

Frustratingly, there are no notations to the sketches and no writing with which to assist us in identifying the artist. Tests indicate that the paper dates back to the late 1400s.