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, July 28, 2008

My life as a Spaghetti Western

The good: I just emailed the complete draft of my thesis to my readers. Took a day off from work to finish it, but I had some hours saved from last week, so it was mostly billable.
The bad: There are still formatting issues, MAJOR bureaucratic hurdles and hoops to jump, and only a short amount of time to do it all.
The ugly: My eating habits, my stress level, the heat outside.

It'll all be worth it for a few dollars more...

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Friday, July 25, 2008


And it's no secret. I was tooling around the Hill Country the last couple of days, staying in hotels which did not have internet access (which wouldn't bother John McCain, as he doesn't use computers), eating lots of good homestyle food. We lost a few hours yesterday to Hurricane Dolly, which basically had one of it's massive bands of rain going over Bandera County for hours and hours.
By the way, if you haven't been to Bandera County, it's absolutely beautiful. I think Bandera is a pretty fun little town to stay in, as they try and maintain a sort of outlaw country feel to the place. Today we were surveying around Tarpley, which has some really great hill peaks to go with the regular stunning hill country scenery. We also found a pretty cool little site there.
Anyhow, I ended up working a few extra hours this week, and since there's not overtime for this job, I can pool my hours for next week. I know it's not exactly right or fair, but that's how it is. So I'll be able to take a day off next week (after working a few more hours tomorrow to wrap stuff up) and finish the thesis. This weekend is pretty much out as Tina is finally back from East Texas and I'm going to hang out with friends I haven't seen for a while. And, at some point, add some entries to the food blog.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Laying low

So I've secretly (or maybe not) been back in Austin since last Wednesday afternoon. I've been pretty much a home/workbody since then, with a couple of exceptions. I went to a "last day of work" Happy Hour for my friend Carolyn, and a housewarming party for my friends Shelly and Kirsten (all of the above are fellow archaeologists and/or archaeology students). I also went to lunch with Carolyn at Roaring Fork (good, but pricy) to help her rate the food for a restaurant review. Other than that (and I guess it sounds like a lot), I've only been out to do errands.
I'm not really used to being in the afternoon heat. I know it sounds funny with my job and all, but we were working really early so that we could be done by 3 at the latest (with a couple of exceptions), and the time in East Texas was marked by even earlier departures most days. By the time the full heat of the day was in effect, I was in a hotel room, showered, drinking beer and working on paperwork or watching TV. I guess it makes sense that even though I'm here now, that's all I pretty much want to do after work as well. The a/c in my car also needs a tuneup, so it's almost unbearably hot being in there unless I'm on the highway. I guess I should take it in.
I can't say that I've gotten much accomplished besides some cleaning, some laundry, and getting through most of a tremendous backlog of magazines. I listened to some of the albums I bought when I was here last. I've given my cat a lot of attention, although I still don't know that it's enough for her or that it makes up for all the time I've been gone.
Tonight, though, I got to a point where the ennui was getting stifling and I realized I need to get my shit together because time is getting tight for the thesis. One good thing about the housewarming was talking with people who worked on the project and have worked there since. Not only did I get a chance to share some ideas, but I also learned that my understanding of the location of some of the later excavations was not correct. Now I have a chance to fix that before I submit the draft, and it doesn't really affect my argument at all. (EDIT: I just looked and I actually had it right already!)
Wednesday I get to go survey in the Hill Country for a couple of days. Wednesday night we stay in Comfort (Texas, that is), and Thursday is Bandera, which is a pretty cool little town. Even if it's hot (and restricted to the side of the highway right-of-way), I'll always enjoy getting paid to hike around the Hill Country.
So where in the hell am I? Austin, by god, Texas, sitting at my desk with my kitty curled up in the spot she sits while I'm writing on the computer, listening to classical music and eating ginger snaps.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

I know, I know

But if YOU knew how busy I've been...
Like, for example, I'm now in Oklahoma.
I worked a 13 hour field day today, and am only taking a break from working on the office portion.
I didn't eat dinner because I didn't want to once again eat a big heavy meal at 9pm and turn into a big heavy me.
This project is just mayhem at this point. I get nervous when things go smoothly, because we're basically operating in near-crisis mode as the norm.
I get to be in TxDOT Thursday and Friday and it's going to feel like a working vacation.
And I fear that I'll be right back out on Sunday.
My bank account is happy, my tummy is sad, our kitty probably hates us, I'm happy because I'm doing a really good job at my first big test, I'm worried because this schedule doesn't leave much time for a thesis or a thesis defense, and I miss my friends and my city.
Sorry, break is over.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Oh, Beaumont

How I missed thee so...
Today we tried to go into the field, but the GPS machines weren't set up right. Normally, this would be something to freak out about, but for this project, it's just another typical snafu, in the true sense of the word.
Tomorrow, my crew is doing a section in Port Arthur, pretty much right at the end of the 1250 mile pipeline. The civil survey crew apparently spotted some gators on our line, which makes things, um, interesting I guess?
Beaumont has a nice, big HEB Plus. I couldn't understand a damn thing the checkout people were saying to me, but the store was pretty nice. It also has a lot of fast food places but not many local joints that we could find. It also has one of the worst Mexican food restaurants I've ever had the misfortune of eating at. I'll write about that on the food blog sometime in the next couple days. I have to start winding down since we're leaving for a safety meeting at 6:15 am.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Time is flying

So I've been back from Oklahoma for about a week now. Worked 4 days in the office dealing with site forms and logistics for the Texas portion we're about to do. I was under the impression all week that I would be staying in Austin to do my stints at TxDOT. That was until around noon yesterday, when my boss managed to convince them to change my times there. So now I'm heading out to Beaumont on Monday to survey for 10 days. It's good money, but I've been in Beaumont in July before and it's pretty brutal. And that's WITHOUT steel toed boots and the brain broiler helmets.
I have enjoyed my time back. I've gotten to relax a lot, spend quality time with the kitty, hang out with friends, eat good food and drink a lot of Lone Star. We went and saw Wall-E on Wednesday, and it was a very good movie with a super cute main character. Then again, I'm a sucker for robots. Pixar has made some great, sly liberal agit-prop movies. Wall-E was a kinder, gentler Idiocracy.
Today I get to enjoy one of my favorite holidays, because it's time for Dan's BBQ! I think this is the 7th consecutive year. Meat will be grilled and much beer will be imbibed!
Tomorrow, if you're not already planning on it or involved in it, go to the Friendly Friends Fantasically Farraginous Fest at End of an Ear. I think I'm going swimming at someone's subdivision pool first.
Oh yeah, I saw a copperhead in Oklahoma! I imagine I'll need more than two hands to count all the water moccasins in East Texas, but that's for a future post.

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