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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

And there it goes

Hard to believe this year is done already.
Archaeologically, it has not been a very exciting year for me. I began the year working on artifacts from a data recovery and then spending 2 weeks in the field finishing the dig. I ended the year being told not to come in to work for the last 3 days because there's nothing to do. Several projects are awaiting funding which may no longer be available.
Outside of that two week period digging on 41KM226, aka the Little Paint site, the only substantial excavations I did was at a site outside of San Antonio that I still can't say much about (although there's an article about someone else's excavations there in the current Bulletin of the Texas Archaeological Society). Much of this year was spent on short surveys and doing menial work at TxDOT. Not exactly exciting stuff, although it's always nice to get out in the field and walk around nature (except in swampy far east Texas). And at least it was work.
The outlook for the upcoming year is cloudy (isn't that what the Magic 8-Ball says?). One of our major project sponsors (TxDOT) is facing major budgetary cutbacks and an order to reduce the use of consultants. Plus, the contract for the in-house assistant job I've been sharing ends in March (mixed blessing for sure). On the other hand, the high price of oil and natural gas means there's lots of energy work to be had, and we're hoping to get several long survey projects. The downside is that these type of jobs usually involve avoidance of sites, rather than mitigation through excavation. So even if we find some kick ass sites, it mostly means that the lines will go around them.
Regardless, I will be very busy trying to make a jumble of notes, photos, drawings and references into an acceptable thesis. I'm going to be in archaeology up to my ears one way or another.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2007

calendar boy

calendar boy
Originally uploaded by texasrobo
I'm a pin-up! This photo of me is in the TxDOT Environmental Affairs Division calendar for 2008. I have no idea how many copies there are, but I know it's internally distributed and should be in various offices around the state.
I didn't even know until someone at the office asked me how it felt to be famous. I asked them what I did this time (since a lot of people know me as the rattlesnake guy). After seeing it, I joked that I would be haunting them after I'm gone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I almost hit a deer

Well within the Austin city limits (well, I think Sunset Valley might technically be it's own municipality), but still. We were on Ernest Robles Way, behind the Kohls and heading towards Brodie Lane. There's still a little bit of open land there, and then the riparian zone along Williamson Creek, but it's mostly department stores and a huge subdivision. Certainly not a place where one would expect to have a deer dash out in front of you. Glad I was the only car on the road.
This is actually the second time I've almost hit a deer within the Austin metropolitan area. The first time was on Bee Caves Rd. in Westlake (on the way to Breed and Co) late on a Sunday morning. It was right after a blind curve and all of sudden 5-6 deer run down from a hill and cross a busy road. Amazingly, none of them got hit, and no cars collided.
In other news, TxDOT budgetary cutbacks are going to hurt archaeology companies in the state for the next couple of years. Our company Xmas party is tomorrow. Tini and I are leaving for Ohio on the 20th.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Check out my new ride

I got to drive this in the field today. It was awesome. We drove across creeks and down a really steep hill. We used it to get to the start of our line and then took turns leapfrogging and driving ahead, so we got a lot more done than we expected. We could also haul extra water and our shovels. I wish we could use one of these every time.
We also found a site!!! A real live archaeological site. As we were approaching the creek, there was a really nice cut by the two-track road and a perfect basin shaped, slab-lined hearth exposed in the cut (sort of like this, with much less rock). Tina also found a flake by her shovel test, and considering there's no good rock for knapping tools within a couple of miles of the spot, it was definitely brought there by people in the past.
I also got lost briefly when I had to try and survey an area not well marked, but that's neither here nor there.
I'll try and have some pictures up soon. The Glen Rose area is really pretty. Some day I hope to have some time to check out the dinosaur tracks.

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