archaesophilia: (goggles)
Spring has blown in; on a few sequential nights, the wind has been blowing. It smells of wet and spring. The bulbs are up and the trees are putting out leaves and flowers (my favorite are the native dog woods).

And I've decided to delay my thesis for a semester; it makes sense from a funding point of view. And it would mean a less rushed, better quality product. Which is important if I want to continue on in this program for my Ph.D.

So, with thesis pressure off, I'm really enjoying this semester. Only taking the two classes is a luxury, and I find myself looking forward to the upcoming conference (next week!) rather than dreading it.

Also, this summer should be awesome; the field season will be larger (in terms of people) than previously thought. This will be awesome, we'll get so much work done! And then I'll come back and bang out my thesis in time to defend at the beginning of the semester.

Down the rushy glen!
archaesophilia: (Default)
A few of the sure signs of spring are the dingle-hoppers on the aspen trees, robins migrating back, and girl scout cookies.

I like girl scout cookies a great deal; particularly thin mints (though I know few people who DON'T like thin mints). I ordered a few boxes from one of the profs' daughter.

The thing is, I tried to be a girl scout. But they kicked me out. Apparently I had "personality conflicts" (read: attitude problems) not with the other girls, but with the troop leader. That's right, I was kicked out of girls scouts at the age of six for arguing with the troop leader.

This may have been a sign of things to come; since then the only organization I did well in was 4-H. I think the common theme is that I don't take direction well. 4-H is very personally directed; kids can do what ever program they want, provided there's adequate conditions (you can't raise a pig in the city. I had rabbits). Even today, I baulk at doing things other people's ways. You cant rush me; but when I get going I go all out. A dichotomy, I know. But there it is. I am, apparently, the anti-scout.

And I'm ok with that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat more thin mints.
archaesophilia: (pic#)
Recently, my nice, quiet, apartment complex has gotten oddly noisy.

It seems that some undergrad 'dudes' have moved into the second floor, and I blame them for the appearance of a bunch of broken glass on the sidewalk this last weekend.

Also, my neighbor may be insane. Last night they started pounding on the walls at two a.m. Which is ridiculous. If it continues, I will have to complain, which I hate doing. I'd rather be doing my own work. They've done this before. Also, they like to yodel at odd hours, which I've previously regarded as kind of weird, but funny enough not be annoyed at. Now I'm getting annoyed.

I can't wait until the summer when everyone leaves.
archaesophilia: (tea bunny)
I've been thinking about the new Alice in Wonderland movie. Which, before I go on, I have to say that I liked. Well, parts of it.

But something has been bothering me; in the beginning, there is this whole message about not doing what is expected of you (IE- marrying the lord with digestive issues) and being true to yourself. Great. Fantastic. If I had fallen asleep for the entire wonderland sequence, and just woken up to see Alice telling every one to take their expectations and shove them where the sun doesn't shine, I would have been deeply gratified.

I didn't fall asleep. Instead, I saw this whole wonderland sequence where Alice fights and LOSES against fate. That's right, a complete one eighty from the initial message. What? Who missed THAT contradiction?

I'm pretty darn sure that it is the result of Disney demanding some sort of silly message, because, gosh-oh-gee, we can't just say that Victorian options for girls sucked, and why can't Alice be a strong female character without being entirely modern?

I would argue that it takes great strength of character to endure corsets and maintain sass. There's nothing that could be done; realistically, a girl without a father should have taken what she could get, and even if it was a slightly boring lord, well, a lord is better than nothing. And a husband that could be bossed around was a girl's best weapon.

So, Disney, I appreciate the message (and I'm sure lots of little girls seeing the movie appreciated it, too) but it was entirely unnecessary.
archaesophilia: (Default)
I ran across the term "commonplace book" today. I'd never heard of it, and indeed thought that it was a misspelling. In fact, further research revealed that "commonplaces" were little journals or notebooks that scholars have kept since the renaissance. They contain all the bits and pieces that need to be written down by a scholar, from lists, to thoughts, to relevant quotes.

On further thought, I realized that I keep a commonplace (and have kept for many years). In fact, I've gone through several. They contain notes, bits of poetry, lists, rants, all these things. I wonder how I could not have known that there is a name for this before now?

A bit more thought led me to the unavoidable conclusion that blogs such as this one are the modern era's commonplace books. We chronicle our every day lives, our art, our frustrations, here.

So, I switched the subtitle of my journal, from the slightly pretentious bit of fluff that it used to be, to "A Commonplace," which it is.
archaesophilia: (goggles)
Its amazing what a few days off will do for a person. I didn't do anything but take care of myself (eat real food,  clean house, etc) this weekend, and I feel amazingly better for it.

It is amazingly freeing to have an entire week to simply get things done, to work on projects, etc., with no other demands on my time like classes.

I predict that this week will be productive and relaxing.
archaesophilia: (Default)
(warning; drunk entry)

I am sitting here with a mostly finished bottle of wine, waiting for the corned beef to finish, with a new house plant and a candle. But what I am primarily writing about today is the effect that writing has on my mind.

I read various and diverse things every week. Usually academic articles, sometimes fiction (sometimes fanfiction). And I find that, for a time, just after I read something, my mind takes on its patterns. For a brief while, last night, I thought in the stream of consciousness style of the steampunk novel I had purchased that day.

Similarly, if an article that I read has a definite style, I may fall into that for a while. Even other people have remarked upon this; when I write reviews of longer thins like books, my chair has been known to comment that I take on their style.I don't know if it is unsettling or fascinating that my mind can be so versatile. I think the phenomenon is based partly on my ability to tune in an ensemble in band; the ability to detect and conform to the norm.

The very pliable characteristic of my mind makes writing a challenge; I don't struggle with basic thins like grammar, but the the essential question of style. This is probably a good thing in an academic; there is nothing so frustrating as reading the work of someone who cannot communicate their ideas, even when those ideas seem like good ones. And the most engaging academic writers don't necessarily write in academese, but in words that are understandable by every one. So I'll take this malleability. And I will do fine things with it.
archaesophilia: (goggles)
I read the Sherlock Holmes mysteries when I was in middle school. Besides precipitating a rocky relationship with a math teacher named Moriarty (no, seriously) the stories, at the time, didn't stick in my head. Or so I thought.

A recent predisposition for steam punk and victoriana, not to mention my extreme joy at the new movie, leads me to believe that the stories may have had a greater impact than I previously knew.

Instead of Austen, I appear to have Doyle. Anyone reading this who knows much about me would probably say that this explains MUCH.
archaesophilia: (goggles)
I dearly wish that I was gone from here. Or going. Whichever; the act of moving is the point, anyway. Away..

The point is that spring break starts (officially) for me in little less than three hours. However, I will not be going anywhere interesting. Instead I will be staying in the same place, working on my thesis and other miscellaneous things.

I think that I shall endeavor to make the break nice; maybe try to take in some culture, maybe listen to a lot of music. And sleep. My plan is to sleep a lot.

Maybe I need something to do other than school work. Some other sort of project. I'll think on it.
archaesophilia: (Default)
Or the tea cup, as the case may be.

Another all nighter, prompted mostly by my supreme disinterest in actually doing any work this spring. I am just burnt out, it seems. Bah! Bah sez I.

In other news, I just glanced at a figure in an article we were supposed to read for today and realized that one of the artifacts looks like an sex toy masquerading as a adze blade. Dear god, it really is spring, isn't it. Fertility symbols every where.

Hiring

Mar. 9th, 2010 10:35 am
archaesophilia: (tea bunny)
Our department, against all odds given the current financial climate, is hiring a new physical anthropologist. I suspect that if we didn't, the position would permanently disappear into the aether, as so many do when cuts are made in academics. The problem I have with this, though, is that while we need a physical anthropologist, we appear to be fielding candidates that are molecular anthropologists. Which are two different things.

What we need is someone who can round out the course offerings in the department with things like osteology and primatology. We don't really need another person who works on ancient DNA and suchlike.

It is odd, because you'd think that in a climate of tightening budgets, the smartest thing to do for a department would be to broaden its offerings, rather than focusing on relatively rare offerings. Better it be said that we are really good at a few things, but also an excellent over all school, than that we are only good at a few things. If the archaeology program weren't as excellent as it is, based on years of development, I hesitate to think what would happen to the department.

The archaeology program's success is partially based on its reputation as a school that produces excellent CRM archaeologists. We put out a lot of terminal MA students who go straight back into the work force. They are, in effect, the bread and butter of the department.

Which brings up another point, that the university is currently pushing all departments to retain more Ph.D. students. So, the department is discussing options to stop funding (but not admitting, though not funding someone is almost the same as not admitting them) terminal MA students. IE, those archaeologists who are just coming for their MA's.

I don't envy next year's new department head (my chair, incidentally) his job in between these opposing forces. But I do hope that we eventually get the right physical anthropologist for the job. And also that we can somehow get at least a linguist in the future.
archaesophilia: (Default)
It was nearly sixty degrees yesterday. Today we have rain/snow. That, I believe, is the definition of a meteorological Dick Move. Spring only comes in fits and starts in the Northwest, apparently.

This weekend was at once awesome and rather awful. To start off, I lost my debit card on Thursday afternoon (for me, Fridays start the weekend) but didn't notice this fact until Friday at lunch when we went to pay. Oops. The rest of Friday was then spent frantically searching for the debit card. I eventually concluded that it must have been eaten by an ATM machine, or that I just left it in the ATM machine.

So, Saturday morning I got up early and went to the bank to get it fixed. The new card may take two weeks to arrive. Bugger. Then I went to breakfast (awesome) and then to Alice in Wonderland (awesome awesome) and afterword hung out with friends and dyed hair and played settlers of catan (awesome cubed). But later that night I ran into a door quite hard with my head.

So most of Sunday was kind of head achy and furry. I eventually got enough energy to get to the store (food is required for life, after all) and then later to D&D. Which was awesome.

Hopefully this week will be considerably better. To that end:

Dear Universe,

I understand that I do, at times, curse you in a most unladylike manner. That you and I have a rocky relationship is a well established fact. However, I ask, as your long time adversary, that you show honorable mercy to me at this time.

I argue that, without an adversary, the running of the world is most boring, and that in order to continue our game, some fundamental allowances should be made.

A chance to get my feet underneath me is all I ask.

Sincerely,
archaesophilia

Sandals

Mar. 6th, 2010 08:17 pm
archaesophilia: (Default)
The weather is finally breaking fifty degrees in the afternoons, and as such, I have broken out my summer footwear. And summer nail polish.

As an archaeologist I might be a fraud. I somehow feel that I'm letting the side down a bit because I like the pretty things. Its hard to get away from the stereotypes that even the academic world imposes upon us. I maintain that archaeologists can also be female, but its hard to be your own archaeologist when we're still sort of breaking into and establishing ourselves in the fields.

This is something that every field experiences when women really start to break into it. Women have to conform to the standards set by men at first in order to break into the field. Now we comprise more than half of the field. The guilt is residual; we should be able to define the field according to who is working in the field. I propose that we go back to the pith helmet-dirigible-khaki-gentile-archaeologist model. I would also like camels at every field site.
archaesophilia: (Default)
There are few moments in my life that I will remember as well as last night. For last night, I became a bug.
archaesophilia: (Default)
The thing is; I wish that I have been born in a time when tea was served more regularly. The thing is; I like the thought of dirigibles better than I do airplanes. Thing is, I'd rather be the kind of archaeologist who gets to discover the really big things, rather than one of those who come after that discover the small things.

But, I'm not. I live in a time, in a world, where there are too many people, and too few ways to connect. There are too few conversations, and too much talking. Time isn't the biggest commodity any more; attention is. We divide it and split it, and somehow wonder which part is definite.

The thing is; to look for a place where the world spins around, rather than you doing the spinning. We think that we can move the earth with our wishing, but only a shovel will do.

A change of perspective; the mechanics of seeing, that is what needs to change. The world will not change through willing, we will change.
archaesophilia: (Default)
I am not a morning person.

I warn people about this if they ever run the risk of associating with me before ten a.m. It isn't a surprise, therefore, that each morning I have about a fifty percent chance of being incoherent, with or without the application of caffeine.

Which is the odd part. The application of caffeine has been a part of my morning routine since high school. And, most of the time, it works. But there are some odd mornings (like today) where the fluffy headed sleep haze just doesn't lift. And worryingly, it is happening more and more often these days.

I rather suspect that this is due to an increase in my general exhaustion and stress, which are both directly related to my thesis. I should be able to sleep when it is done, I think. But not before.
archaesophilia: (Default)
I bought a truck. The idea of it is still slightly surprising. Possibly because I was minimally involved in the purchase (it happened in another state, and then it was driven to me). But the thing is, the surprise, and the sort of weird, half real quality to it is not unusual for me these days. The last couple of months have been sort of hazy, though I'm not sure exactly why. Possibly a little bit of seasonal depression, I'm thinking is the cause, as well as a couple of incidences with the plague.

And I'm behind on writing my thesis (which still seems very far away as well) due to aforesaid plague (of the mind and body). The trouble is that I am worried that I have simply burnt out. I suppose that that is the true test of academic character, whether I can muscle my way through the thesis.

The Thesis (which in my mind does have capitalization) can be, depending on when I think of it, an immensely simple or impossibly complex beast.

Sometimes all I can think of is the summer, and the bare six weeks of fieldwork we have planned, and what I will do with the rest of the summer. I feel like I ought to take a break, take a vacation. Maybe go on an old fashioned road trip.

The News

Feb. 1st, 2010 11:47 pm
archaesophilia: (Default)
Reading the BBC website today for news I came upon two noteworthy articles.

The first one concerns China's reaction to the possibility of a meeting between the Dali Lama and President Obama. The language used by the Chinese government is very strong, threatening even. One wonders, just how far is the US willing to go in order to bring together two of the most well spoken world leaders on the planet today? The thought is sobering. I hope that the US government has more balls than to capitulate.

Second, more than a baker's dozen of renowned stem cell researchers have accused scholarly journals of letting biased reviewers block key new research. When I read the title, I will admit that I at first expected that the article would be about some religious objection getting into the system. It wasn't. It was about the decidedly poisonous politics that are part of that field. Being from a social science back ground, I don't understand this. But then again, our grants don't have quite so many zeroes in them, either.

My problem with it is that academics are supposed to welcome advances, supposed to let their science be above their petty politicking. It is ridiculous that we haven't self policed better. It also drives home the point that academic journals are no longer run for the benefit of science, but for the benefit of profit (and there is little of that). We may need to alter the schema of the system a little.
archaesophilia: (Default)
One of the duties of a grad student is, essentially, to do the work that your advisor doesn't want to do. In my case, that means summarizing unit summaries from three years of excavation at the site we work at. Now, I know that anyone who has had to read my own field notes is laughing hysterically at me when I say, good, god, people! Is a complete sentence all that much to ask for?!

I will not even comment on the spelling mistakes.

If it was just field notes I am translating, then I could maybe understand. Those are written to be referred to when we are writing reports, yes? But unit summaries, you'd think that the name itself would imply some sort of...planning. And grammar.

Maybe part of our training for undergrads should include a "how to form coherent thoughts in hundred degree heat" lesson. Assuming that any of us have mastered it, that is.
archaesophilia: (Default)
The first post to a new blog is always awkward, like the introduction at any gathering of strangers, full of the need to repress judgment. Though, really, who are we kidding? The anonymity of the internet ensures that, for the most part, there are no repercussions for making asses of ourselves. Probably this is why many blogs quickly devolve into over share. I will try my best to avoid this in this blog.

So, here are a few things that a reader might want to know about me. I am an archaeologist, a grad student, literate, inclined to pedantry and introspection, often un-social, enamored of this thing called steam punk, and anything antique. If it has superfluous vowels I will probably like it.

Today my horoscope in the student paper informed me that I know exactly why I am not getting any work done, and that every one else should just accept this state of affairs. It was the most interesting part of the paper, which, given the state of the world, is a sad statement about the general quality of the paper.

I like nice smelling things far more than an archaeologist is allowed to, I think. So I may mention soap on occasion. I have almost no will power against hats and other dapper and elegant things. I suspect I would be better adapted to a Victorian environment. I like black and white photography more than other visual media, and am a closet audiophile. My tastes in music run to the specific, such that I can't like a genre so much as one, possibly two, composers, or even just songs, from a genre.

I buy more books than I can read, but am eternally optimistic that I will have the time sometime. Recently I've been reading Mieville, McKillip, and Pratchett.

I drink too much tea and coffee, and expensively. I like Lapsang Souchong tea best, and dark roasted coffee.

Off to TA class now. To be continued.
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