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.

Friday, June 29, 2007

stuy square park

I was supposed to post this yesterday, but I was dealing with exhaustion issues, so I watched TV and went to bed semi-early.
Anyway, yesterday, June 28, was the anniversary of my last day of high school, back in 1989. Graduation was June 26, but we picked up our last report cards and our actual diplomas on the 28th. This year, last day was the 27th (click the link if you don't believe me). I guess it was one more chance to get a yearbook signed and see everyone. It is a late date, New York City schools started rather late in September and went through late June. I actually went to my freshman orientation for college 2 weeks before I graduated, and I was the only one there who was still in school (some had been out for almost a month).
A couple of months back, while visiting New Jersey for Tina's grandpa's funeral, I got to drop by my old high school building. It has since moved down to Battery Park City, where it served as a triage location in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks before being evacuated (click the link for more history). I was never sure if the old building still existed, but it was there alright, serving as a teaching center of some sort (according to the security guard who wouldn't let me past the lobby). I also got to visit Stuyvesant Square Park, where I spent many a lunch period, and skipped periods, and after schools during my time there. It's where I got my ticket for drinking in a public park (but not for MIP!). I smoked up there, drank there, played spades and hacky sack and threw frisbee there, bought hot dogs and pretzels there, saw someone get mugged there, made out more than once there...you get the point. I didn't love high school, but I didn't hate it, and Stuy Square Park was certainly a part of that.
So here, 18 years later, having been out of high school longer than it took me to get there, having lost touch with every one of my friends there years ago (there's 40 people from my graduating year on Myspace, but only one that I ever really talked to), is the picture:
stuy square park
Originally uploaded by texasrobo

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On a clear day

As far as I know, it hasn't rained a drop in my neighborhood yet today. The sun was even out for a while, and I probably should have taken advantage and done some weed whacking in the front yard. The knocks and business cards at the door are letting me know that it's time to mow the lawn.
Man, TV in summer (when you don't have extended cable) is a total wasteland. Almost all crappy talent competition reality series. Tini is watching "So You Think You Can Dance" but I can't take it. I like dancing, but I don't like watching dancing, except for good breakdancing. I'm also not a fan of choreography. I mean, I'm okay with "couples dancing," be it ballroom or the 50s and 60s dance fads. But routines leave me cold. I can't explain it, beyond that it seems like memorization rather than expression.
Yeah, slow day around here.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Some photos of my garden

Originally uploaded by texasrobo
I've been talking about it, and I took advantage of a break in the biblical rains we've been having to pop a few photos of my beloved garden. There's more pictures on my Flickr page (click on the photo and go to the photostream), highlighting all the tomatoes, as well as some of out cacti and one of Jack the Live Oak.
Yes, there's some huge zucchini plants going. I hope my friends like it, because if these things keep growing and produce, we're going to have plenty to spare! Maybe some extra tomatoes as well. That is, if it ever stops raining!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cool story on NPR

Well, there's usually a lot of cool stories on NPR. Driving to the gym after work, they had a feature about old, "lost" recordings and a company called Archeophone Records. I recently read a book whose title escapes me (I think it lent it and the accompanying CD) to Eric, but it was written by a guy who spent a lot of time tracking down old blues 78 rpm records and the artists who recorded them. Revenant Records has released some similar albums. But I did like that the company called itself Archeophone, because it's very evocative of the symbolic "digging" for lost treasures that also provide glimpses into the past and culture.
When I was listening to the show, I remembered that my great-grandma Lona (who we called Grandma B) had an old stereo system in her house when we were kids, and how the record slots were designed for (and actually held) old 78s. Some of these were the thick, brittle old "wax" records, rather than the more modern vinyl equivalents. I can't remember any of the recordings, although I suspect it was inspirational music. I doubt it was the country or black gospel religious music, which would have been awesome. I want to say that after she died and some cousins moved into the house, that stereo was put into a barn. Next time I'm at the farm in Ohio, I'm going to have to look for that.
Later this evening, on Antiques Roadshow, one of the people brought in an old Edison home phonograph inside a large wooden cabinet, with 3 drawers of old cylinders. After telling about the history of the player and the cabinets, they ended the segment by actually showing that the player still worked! Unfortunately, they didn't spend any time talking about the cylinders, how rare they are, how valuable some of those might be, or any examples of what was in the collection. I guess they have time limitations, but while an Edison home phonograph is really rare (4-5k appraisal), it's not impossible that one or more of those cylinders may be the only existing copy of that particular recording, which is invaluable! Which brings us back to Archeophone, because not only are they preserving and reissuing these lost songs, but they're doing it for the cultural and innate worth of the music and history, not for the dollar signs, like most archaeology.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

And there goes the weekend

Saturday I decided to be lazy and not do yardwork , so I played Neverwinter Nights for 4 hours or more. Then went to End of an Ear, for their second anniversary party. Ended up buying the Voxtrot LP, Prince's Dirty Minds LP, and a Donny Hathaway cd. Met up with Dan and Choo and Jennifer and went to Austin's Park and Pizza for someone's birthday. I had always wanted to check the place out, having driven by it numerous times. Now that I've been there, I can say it's not worth it. Much like a theme park, it's overpriced with long lines and lots of hidden charges. A lot of the video games were broken, too. The mini golf course was a bit challenging (I'll say something positive about the place). After that, went over to someone's house on East 11th and drank some more beers, listened to some good old school reggae and dub, and hung out with Eric and Joolie. By the way, I'm planning on voting for Joolie in the Best of Austin Awards for Blogger and you should too! Even though someone lame will win, I can't imagine it would take too many voted to at least get her in the top 10. And End of An Ear for record store (even though Waterloo always wins), and Dan's Austin Showlist page for fun local web page. Yeah! Do it!
Today was a very lazy day. Besides taking a walk to Randalls to get some lunch foods for the week (I pretty much have the same lunch every day, PB&J on wheat, baby carrots and a banana, usually with a small yogurt), just watched a lot of DVDs. Main thing was Fast Food Nation which was really kind of slow and low key. I mean, I should've known since it's a Richard Linklater film. I honestly thought the book was much more engaging than the fictionalized, character-driven movie of the basic topics. I will also say that if you are squeamish, there is footage of the killing floor from an actual slaughterhouse near the end. If you haven't read the book, get it and read it. It's about a lot more than just the meat itself.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer of Blog! Day 2

So today I came back to the house around 1 (for a long, uninteresting reason) and there was a wood chipper parked in front of my house (and probably 7-8 more on the street as a whole). I knew the city was doing tree cutting around utility lines, but they were allegedly giving 2 weeks notice by posting on doors. So maybe ours got lost while we were in the field? I knew that we have a 5-foot easement in the back of our property for the power lines, so it wasn't a huge deal. But they did apparently destroy the last remaining vestiges of our compost pumpkins, and smashed out nice little wildflower patch (both of which, by the way, are out of the easement). Too bad that Time Warner or whoever is responsible for the cable lines out back didn't piggyback, because the people today only cut the trees around the power lines, leaving big ol' branches everywhere else. Also too bad that they didn't take the little pile of brush that's left over from the downed branch in the backyard and chuck it into the chipper.
At least the garden was untouched. I need to spread some diatomaceous earth back in there (and maybe spray some on the leaves) because the bugs are chewing on the zucchini stalks, and the pepper plants they had devoured are actually making a comeback. But the forecast is for more rain the next day or so, so probably won't happen until Sunday or next week. Looks like a weekend full of Neverwinter Nights and inside cleaning.
Where have all the good times gone?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer of Blog! Day 1.

So I've been planning to call this the Summer of Blog and actully write a daily update every day this summer, just to get in the habit. Today is the summer solstice, so here we go.
The big dig in San Antonio was a mammoth task, to be sure. After 4 weeks of excavation, we were ultimately left with the same questions we started with. So we'll be sending off samples to the experts and doing a lot of fine-screening of collected matrix to see if anything will jump out. It was definitely a unique dig experience for me, one that I likely will never have again. It was also extremely challenging and a bit frustrating at times. When I'm finally cleared to talk about it in detail, I will.
The amount of rain this spring has been really crazy, but great for the yard and garden. Three of our tomato plants have 'maters on them (although I think they could use some sun soon to ripen), including both cherry and beefsteak varieties. The basil plants have gotten huge. Once the tomatoes have ripened, we'll be making some basil-tomato-mozzarella snack sandwiches! The zucchini seeds have all turned into large, tightly bundled plants, and the late-planted squashes have recently sprouted as well. The peppers got chewed up pretty badly by bugs. We did get one jalapeno and one serrano (sooo hot!) thus far.
Summer movies are going strong. All I've seen thus far are Grindhouse (which I loved but bombed) and Knocked Up. If you haven't seen Knocked Up yet, then go (especially if you live somewhere that has beer in the theaters) and laugh your ass off. Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen are an amazing team, and throw in Jason Segel and a bunch of other folks from Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks and Apatow projects and it's gold. Looking ahead, I'll be seeing Harry Potter and Transformers (low expectations) on the big screen for sure, and probably letting a lot of other stuff slide to DVD. I've been so spoiled by the Alamo Drafthouse that I can't really see movies at regular theaters anymore. But I'm pretty broke these days and we always spend a lot of money on food and drinks when we're there. I can't even spend the $20 to see De La Soul tonight.
So that's where things stand. I hope to have some photos to put up, and mix in some old memories and stories this summer to go with all the work and cheap fun stuff.

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