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, August 31, 2006

Thanks captain!

Someday maybe Austin will have a light rail with a cool logo. How many have you ridden? Find out here:

Got at b3co.com!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Oh ye of little faith...

Driving to work today, I saw a bumper sticker that got me going. Being in Austin, you usually just get the Keep Austin Weird (or Reading, or Spayed) stickers. Sometimes you get a customized sticker made out of the Waterloo Records or Titty Bingo stickers. There are more "W: The President" stickers than one might expect (and those can get me going too, but I won't digress).

Today's sticker read:
If Mary had been Pro-Choice

There's the immediate reaction of "OMGZZZ WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE WITHOUT CHRISTMAS". Then there's the basic fallacy: Pro-Choice does not mean Forced Abortions for all Young Unwed Mothers-to-be, it means Pro-CHOICE!!!!! However, I think there's a subtle level of interpretation that would be very funny and ironic if it had been done intentionally. This sticker is essentially suggesting that, if Mary had been given the choice, she would have aborted Jesus. This is after she had been told by an Angel of God wasthat she was carrying the son of God who was being put on Earth to save mankind. If left to her own free will, her faith was so weak that she would have defied her God, who is omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent, etc. But since God told her she couldn't, well, she had no choice but to be his divine vessel.
I have a tendency to overthink things, especially when I'm tired and stressed. It comes from being the son of a preacher and a teacher.
Next post will be pictures or something more fun!

Friday, August 25, 2006

where in the hell have I been?

This week has been all about the new house. Buying it, starting to fill it, getting things working inside it, packing the old one. It's quite tiring and sometimes stresful, but it's for a good cause.
The week before I was in Roma, Texas. It was insanely hot, as expected. By 3 in the afternoon it was over 100 degrees outside and the breeze felt like the air coming from a furnace. We were leaving the hotel at 6:30 am, which put us in the field by 7:30, but even then it was usually 85 degrees. We also didn't find much of anything. At least the digging was pretty easy, and we got 8.5 hours of overtime due to all the driving.
Spent one day this week surveying out near Lago Vista. A new vacation home community out by Lake Travis. We had to look at some small drainages that were going to be heavily impacted. Of course, the area we were looking at was extremely small and basically in canyons. It was beautiful, but archaeologically sterile. Lots of walking up and down steep slopes, but we were able to drive relatively close to the locations (on the bulldozed areas that will be future roads with cutesy names). I also saw 2 foxes and they were very cute.
Next week should be a little less house-intensive, although there will always be unpacking.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I found a unicorn!

This is the only artifact that we found on the Texana survey on Thursday. It's a unicorn on a piece of china. Other than that surface find, it was just a lot of shallow, negative shovel tests. I tried looking it up online, but no luck. I thought it was really neat, though.
Next week is a testing project in Roma, which is in South Texas. It will be insanely hot. Here's the lyrics to a song that describe South Texas:
Monday we'll be driving for 6-6.5 hours. It's possible we'll work an extra day, which means extra per diem and overtime pay. On the other hand, it might be nice to be back on Friday so we can get the last couple of ducks in a row before the home closing. As it is, my phone and new laptop are my lifeline next week.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

painting rocks

So I escaped from TxDOT for a while, which has helped restore my sanity somewhat. Mostly, I've been working on labeling artifacts for curation (as Tina put it "Welcome to my hell"). You may have seen the little numbers painted on things in museums? Basically, you put a layer of something like nail polish down. After that's dry, you write the site number and lot number on the artifact. When said artifact is smaller than a dime and said site number is 41KR###, this ia a challenge. After THAT dries some, you put a top coat to seal the ink. This is the major grunt work of curation. We have over 100,000 pieces of debitage alone from that site, although we're only labeling 10-15% of that.
Outside of that, I got to do a background check of the online site atlas (for archaeologist eyes only) for a possible survey project. That was fun, because I like to know what all different types of sites existed in an area. I've also been doing some Excel tables for the report on 41KR###, which was a good learning experience, as well as a little insight into the ultimate analysis of a site I spent 4 months digging (and another 2-3 months processing and analyzing artifacts).
There's also some fieldwork in the near future. Thursday and Friday, I'll be in Edna, Texas (Jackson County) for a small pipeline survey. It's interesting in that the line is very near Lake Texana, in the vicinity of a town that was basically flooded when they dammed the Lavaca River to make the lake. Next week, Tina and I head to Roma (in South Texas, on the border between McAllen and Laredo) for a 1-week testing job. It will be interesting because it's being run by a TxDOT archaeologist, and I think I'll be crew chief. I've heard it might be an interesting site as well.
We close on the house on the 21st. We're going to move the big stuff (and most of the little stuff) on the 26th. It's very exciting and still pretty stressful trying to get the last little pieces in place.
Last bit of news is that my Mom is giving me a loan to buy a new laptop, which I should have tomorrow (with the contents of my old, dead laptop transferred on). The main condition is that I use it to write my thesis starting very soon. So friends, feel free to ask me how my thesis is going whenever you see me (starting after September 8, when the move is 100% complete).