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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So now what?

I'm trying to decide if the best song to use as the theme for this is Slack Motherfucker by Superchunk or I Don't Know What to Do With My Life by The Buzzcocks.
I finished, almost two weeks ago. I graduated last Monday officially, although my status hasn't changed online and I don't get a diploma for a few more weeks. My mom was here for the weekend that I was done, and she took me out to dinner at The Belmont to celebrate (by the way, very good food and a nice atmosphere and not all that expensive for what it is. Try it!). We also went to Dan's for a get-together and a birthday party for some co-workers. Since then, I basically spent a good week working, drinking beer and watching the Olympics until bedtime. I played some video games. I did go to Dan and Chad's for dinner and some movies, which was good because I think I was needing some company but was not making the effort. I also have finally peeled myself off the couch/computer to work out a couple of time.
Not having something to do, even though I spent a LOT of time not doing, feels uncomfortable. I'm almost chafing at the feeling of freedom, missing the little feeling of guilty mischief I felt doing things that weren't my thesis. A part of me wanted to go on an epic drunk, like I always thought I would do back in college when I was really into Barfly. I can't exactly say why I didn't, except that I think I was feeling too much ennui to do it.
I think part of the problem is that Tina has been gone since I've finished. I think having someone around to talk to makes you feel like you're doing something even when you're doing nothing. I guess there's also more things to do when you have someone to do them with.
It really would have been nice to be out in the field right now, but I've been office bound. Unfortuntely, now that I have the advanced degree (and I'll soon be turning in official change of status forms and bucking for a raise/promotion) I'll be spending more time in the office writing and less time in the field digging. Maybe not, they're going to be pulling me out of TxDOT soon, which means I can go on multiple week projects again. I missed out on a lot of money because of the TxDOT gig this summer.
I realized recently (and maybe I mentioned it here before) that in many ways I'm almost back where I was 5 years ago: working all day staring at a computer in a windowless cubicle. One of the reasons I love archaeology so much is because it's such a change from that soul-sucking existence. It's certainly a hell of a lot better sitting at a desk at SWCA working on a report and getting a co-author credit than it was sitting at the Texan slapping together ads. But it's almost like a phantom limb. Sometimes I get a sensation of something that's no longer there, but I still feel it very deeply.
That's where I stand right now. I'm sure I'll figure something to do before too long. I also hear I might be back in Oklahoma next week. Who would have thought I'd be excited about the possibility of going to Oklahoma!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Consider it defended!

I said I would try and keep up this week with updates on the thesis countdown.
The defense went very smoothly. I ended up presenting for at least 20 minutes and maybe closer to 30 (those who know me know how I can ramble). I only had a few simple questions, and my advisor had already tipped me off about his. Both professors had a lot of praise for me, which felt great.
Funny thing: I was way more nervous before my Spanish oral exam earlier this year.
I now have all the signatures on all the forms as far as I can tell. I'm about to print my abstract to the 25% cotton bond paper. Tomorrow, I'll make the minor edits suggested by my second reader (and they're very small, which is why I'm going to do it tomorrow). I'll make a pdf file and burn it to a CD, and sometime tomorrow late morning or early afternoon I'm going to turn it all in. That leaves me 2 full days to take care of anything I somehow missed.
I'm still pretty full of nervous energy. I think I'm going to be pretty exhausted by the time my mom gets here this weekend.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Another step closer

Met with my advisor today, and went over my draft thesis. He only made minor edits, almost all involving consistency errors in using numerals versus words (as in 5 times in three pages I switched back and forth). He said the content is good. I actually made all of the corrections and edits in about 45 minutes.
So I defend at 2:00 tomorrow/today (Tuesday). I have to prepare a 10-20 minute presentation, and then take a few simple questions. My other reader will also give my his comments, which he says are minor. Conceivably, I'll have this ready to turn in on Wednesday...
I decided to be lazy and watch the Olympics tonight. If only they could have started one week later! The mens 4x100 freestyle relay had to have been the greatest swim race of all time. If you missed it, you have to track it down online NOW. I was on my feet yelling and cheering for the last 25 meters. It's also a treat watching the merman Michael Phelps just destroy record after record. I know I'm cynical about politics and not a rah-rah patriotic guy, but I do love the Olympics, and I cheer for my country.
Time to work on the Power Point. I'll probably end up using a vacation day tomorrow at this point. Maybe not a bad idea, just to make sure everything is 100% ready to go.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Kinks said it best

Oh so, tired of waiting...
My professors are getting back into Austin this weekend, and next week I will finally receive my edits and comments, have my thesis defense, get my signatures and finish the thesis once and for all! This week has been sitting on pins and needles, feeling like there should be something I can do but knowing that there really is not, that it's completely out of my hands at the moment.
We had a handyman come in and fix the leak in the porch roof and replace some water-stained drywall. It was not cheap, but once I saw what the roof looked like from up top and how close the small leak was to becoming a big hole, I was glad. I'm just about out of sick hours, and have even been taking work home to try and make up some hours.
The field crews are going back to Oklahoma on Monday. Tina is going with them, and will likely be gone for three weeks. I wish I was going too, not just to be with her but because I actually miss being in the field with those guys. I miss the exercise, and I definitely miss the money. Writing about the Oklahoma survey (which is what I've been doing this week) is not nearly the same.
I've been able to spend some time hanging out with friends, basically just drinking beer and relaxing. I also caught The Dark Knight, which was indeed great. I think I'd like to see it again. I must admit that I was actually a little more blown away by The Watchmen trailer. I do have a bit of comic book fanboy in me.
Saturday I'm heading to Dallas with Tina, Dan and Staci to Ozzfest. We're getting in courtesy of The Sword and Metallica. Yeah, I'm on Metallica's guest list. I don't even know or care about most of the bands on the bill, but I'm excited to see Ozzy and Metallica finally and it'll be superfun people watching.
That's about it. I'm sure there'll be some updates next week as the ball starts rolling again and the clock counts down to zero hour.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New photos on Flickr

site 3 overview
Originally uploaded by texasrobo
So I've been at somewhat of a loss what to do with myself since I turned in my thesis draft. I cleared two major bureaucratic hurdles, I went through my draft and fixed all the dumb little mistakes, I even cleaned up one of my figures.
Today, I got my car's A/C fixed (it's been tough driving the last couple weeks!) and did some cleaning. Plus, I finally got around to posting some of the photos I took during the Hill Country survey I did two weeks ago. So check them out and stay tuned for more news about my thesis!