Where in the hell am I?

Stories from the road, and home, by a contract archaeologist.

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Location: Texas, United States

I work out of town a lot as a contract archaeologist. Sometimes it's interesting. It can be quite funny, although probably only to other archys. Home is Austin, with my wife and our cute kitty and all of our crazy friends.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shovels and such

My shovel today was very inferior. I looked all over for a visual reference and this was the best I could find. Our Truper shovels are apparently not for sale online.
The shovel on the far right is what we generally use: sturdy, square, long handle. We also sharpen them with a belt grinder, or at least a bastard file (I love that term). The second shovel on the left is a "sharpshooter", which is good for digging postholes. That's what I was using today, thinking I could dig a bit smaller hole in the loose sandy stuff we would find today near the Red River. Of course, the shovel had not been sharpened, and the soil was baked like a brick. Imagine trying to cut stale bread with the back side of a butter knife. It also turned out, somehow, that the short shovel was heavier than the long shovel.
The moral of the story: sharpen your shovels before you dig!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sod off

Today we spent the majority of our day surveying a sod farm. Yes, it's where they grow the sod that people buy to make their lawns look nice. It was like walking across Hank Hill's lawn. We had to look for any bare patches, or dig in the wheel ruts left by the irrigation machines. I suppose it was a unique experience, but it seemed to me a waste of land (almost as bad as a golf course). But who am I to deny someone their livelihood? The fields smelled a little funny, since they were being watered straight from the Red River. There were also a lot of mosquitoes. We joked about seeding the fields with pot, which led to some pretty funny jokes and puns (like "the kind sod").
We went to lunch at a "restaurant" which was also the grocery for one of the tiny little towns that seem to litter far-south Oklahoma. It was a buffet, and I think that like 10% of the local population was eating there. The food was pretty good though. Handmade chicken-fried steak and bread pudding was worth the $6.50 to me, not withstanding the stares from the locals.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cinderella Man

I just got done watching Cinderella Man on the ol' Home Box office. Damned if that wasn't a great movie. I think it helped that I really couldn't remember the outcome of the final fight, and am a fan of the sweet science (boxing), but I suspect that it was just a great movie overall. It hit all the right buttons: underdog, class consciousness (and the Depression in general), cute kids. There are tons and tons of sports movies, and I'm a sucker for them. Especially the scrappy underdog ones, which I think is actually pretty much all of them. Cinderella Man had all of that, and was a true story, and was beautifully shot and very well acted. I even liked Renee Zellwegger!
It's funny that I like boxing, because I'm not a fighter. I've been in one "fight" in my life, in 8th grade. There were only 36 of us in my 8th grade, at a small private school in New York City. Of that there were 18 boys. I would say I ranked between 14th and 16th on the totem pole. Of course, I made fun of the guys below me (I was 13!) and one of them decided to start a fight with me. I think I threw the only punch, and it wasn't a knockout punch, but enough for him to back down. I've had a few chest-bumping incidents at shows since then, but that would be it. I suppose I just live vicariously.
In conclusion, I recommend Cinderella Man. Maybe it will make you cry, too. Big, manly tears.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh, the irony

I checked with a couple of co-workers to make sure this was actually ironic, and not Alanis Morrisette "Ironic".
Today, our crew had a safety meeting with the representative for the contractor. The meeting took place on the side of a 2-lane highway with trucks barreling by at 65 miles per hour.

Where in the hell am I? In a Holiday Inn Express, in Denison, TX. I'm about 10 miles (maybe less) from the Oklahoma border. Hank Hill once said "North Texas? More like South Oklahoma!" but most of the people I've seen here are wearing UT colors and not OU. It helps to be the national champs, I'm sure. The high points of this particular HI-Ex are the in-room wired high-speed connections and 3 HBO channels. Some of the rooms also have their new bedding, which is very comfy. This particular room still has the polyester blanket and lumpy pillows.

Up at 5:15 tomorrow, hoping to score a little free breakfast before leaving for Oklahoma at 6. Even though breakfast is supposed to start at 6:30, the woman in charge has been trying to get some bagels and muffins out for us before we leave.