Mar. 3, 2021

The more yellow among these are definitely money cowries, Monetaria moneta. One website or another might call the more regularly shaped ones with orange rings money cowries, but they're ring-top cowries, Monetaria annulus. It's not clear to me if those were really worth anything more than the $4.95 (plus shipping) it might cost you for a baggie full on the net. Whichever medium of exchange was allowed, money cowries like these were used from Africa eastward across the Pacific. They were traded over an even wider range.

Mar. 2, 2021

What's it worth to you? Shells were used as money in lots of places in early times. It wasn't just money cowries in the Pacific, like I used to think. The ancient Egyptians were among those monetized by shells. These cowries are native to the Red Sea, and were among those with value in those ancient markets. They would have been worth whatever the people believed they were worth. Kind of like an ancient version of bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto has been around for thousands of years!

Mar. 1, 2021

Here are some male cones on a typically pendulous branchlet of Norway spruce. Norway wood has been used for small and large projects, including for instruments by Stradivarius. The twigs have been used for a variety of medical needs. And Norway spruce is the primary ingredient in spruce beer.

Feb. 28, 2021

The Italian name for cowrie shells is porcellana, which means little pig. Cowries are a very shiny group. Porcellana becomes porcelain in France. When glossy Chinese ceramics first appeared in Europe, they evoked a vision of shiny cowries shells and became porcelain. So now we have little pigs in every bathroom?

Feb. 26, 2021

Got my second dose of vaccine yesterday! (