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, July 27, 2006

A wedding photo

This is not one of Joolie's. Those are still in the scanning stage. But I wanted to shre this. Whenever work gets me down, I think of this day and this girl.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stupid laptop

My laptop will not turn on. I tried to get it fixed yesterday, but the Apple store was too busy. Then I went and left it at Dan's. So I guess I'll get it fixed this weekend. I've not bothered to back up some of the stuff on there, and I use the auto-fill and password manager a lot too.
Archaeology for me is very non-glamourous right now. I feel like I'm back at my old job, staring at a screen all day, in a windowless cube, doing relatively mindless data entry. Every now and again, I get to read something interesting. Mostly, though, it's just clicking tabs and changing dropdowns and checking for mistakes. The only thing saving me right now are the breaks I take to read articles and reports in the extensive library that's behind my cube.
Project Runway this season has not been as interesting as the first two. There's only really one person I really like and hope does well, and a lot of people I'm indifferent towards. The person who annoyed me the most is off now. Most of my friends last night felt bad for Malan, but i think he's a total phony. He reminds me of someone from high school I couldn't stand.
On a different note, our offer on the house has been accepted, so come August 21 (assuming I get all the financing stuff finalized) Tina and I will be closing on our sweet new pad.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

the house.

We are in the process of buying a house. It has subsumed almost all of my time (not just free time, but time period) and energy lately. The offer, securing a loan, inspection, quotes for repairs. It's got me pretty burnt out right now, and Tina has even been having dreams where she's going through all the stress.
Here's some pictures of it:

It's nice, and the neighborhood is in a good location. It has some flaws, for sure. And it would be nice if it were a little cheaper. I'm just ready for it to be ours, with some repairs, and ready for some of my own elbow grease.
If you haven't seen me or heard from me this week, this is why.
Tonight is a farewell party for one of my bosses, who is moving to Lubbock to be a professor at Texas Tech. We'll miss him, as he's a good boss and also a good friend. So we'll celebrate by eating BBQ, drinking lots of beer and giving him bottles of wine so he has something to do in Flatland.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Beer, houses and sausage

That's been the theme of this weekend, and basically of the time since I've been back in Austin. The lovely wife and I have been househunting, which is a rather stressful affair. When not out looking at houses, we're getting together stuff for the bank or looking at new listings and trying to decide how much we can pay a month and not have to eat ramen and whatever was in the dented cans.
Obviously, beer helps ease the stress. Plus it's hot and a cold Lone Star on a hot summer day in Texas is pretty close to heaven. Throw in some Red Stripe (on sale at Central market) and that's my weekend.
Being in the office means not having good archaeology stories to write about. I did go out in the field as a TxDOT "employee" for the first time. We assessed 2 bridges due to be rehabbed or replaced. The first is in Williamson County. You might not know this, but most of Williamson County east of 35 is farmland. We went to check around a bridge between Thrall and Thorndale, on a small County Road. The bridge had been built in 1915, moved to it's current location in 1920, and "upgraded" in 1930. It is eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Properties, so the bridge itself is not being replaced, just some of the timber that is attaching it to the road itself. I wish I had taken pictures. The arch I was with snapped the shovel handle in half on the second shovel test. So I dug a third shovel test with the broken shovel and we decided there was nothing there that would be impacted by the bridge rehab.
Then we went to Elgin for lunch. I've driven through Elgin before, and I've had Elgin sausages before. But I'd never had them at the source. We ate at Southside Market which is one of the two competing Elgin Sausage places (the other being Meyers ). My sausage sandwich was really good, although I think I prefer grilling my own (and I think I like Meyers a little better) and I had a hand-dipped Blue Bell Butter Pecan cone for $1.50.
After lunch, we drove to Bastrop County, outside of Paige, to check out another bridge. I don't know how old this one was, but it was definitely needing replaced. It was essentially a bunch of planks across a creek with some concrete pillars holding them up. The mailman drove across while were there and expressed his gratitude at the new bridge, as you could see the creek through the gaping holes in the old one. Since we had a broken shovel, we didn't dig any holes, but we decided that some backhoe trenches would be needed to properly survey this crossing. It was a really beautiful setting, and I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't both a prehistoric and a historic (read: white settler/early farmstead) site there. There were some out of place maple trees there for sure.
Hmmmmm, working at TxDOT I've learned that it often takes more words to say that you found nothing that something, and I think I may have absorbed that lesson a bit too well.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Some photos from the field

Out in the middle of a cow pasture, we stumbled on a duck decoy. Or at least that's what we guessed it was. Maybe it was just somebody's weird lawn decoration. It was just weird enough to get a picture with.

This is the Carpernter's Bluff Bridge. It connects Oklahoma to Texas over the Red River, in the town of Carpenter's Bluff, Texas. The bridge was built in 1910 as a railroad bridge. That's the part I'm on, which is used by cars now. Off to the right is a wooden walkway that was used by people, horses, and buggies. It's closed now. The bridge itself is really cool. There's only one lane, so if a car is crossing from OK to TX, you have to wait until they're done before you can cross in the other direction. There's no lights or signs, just a little place to pull off and wait.
We crossed this bridge on Wednesday, and I asked if we could go by it on Thursday so I could read the historical marker and get a closer look at the bridge.

Where in the hell am I? Back in Austin, in my apartment, watching Men In Black. A bunch of us had a yard sale today. I made $40, Tina made $100, and we got a lot of our old kitchen stuff out of the house. My boss thinks I should be in Austin for a few weeks now, which gives us time to (hopefully) buy a house. I'm glad to be back.