Monthly Archives: December 2007

End of an Ear

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See, I do print media too.

If you’re ever in Austin, check out End of an Ear, one of the few remaining great record stores.

I’m having an incredibly wonderful holiday–I hope all y’all are having the same.

PS: Anyone have advice on dealing with family/artifacts?  I keep having a couple of them bring me artifacts to look at and I tell them to leave them be, to no avail.  It’s not illegal (they’re from private property) but it’s still non-ideal, to say the least.  I’ve even told them that I can’t look at them.  Darned hard-headed Texans.

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Mission Life

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“He woke in the nave of a ruinous church, blinking up at the vaulted ceiling and the tall swagged walls with their faded frescos. The floor of the church was deep in dried guano and the dropping of cattle and sheep. Pigeons flapped through the piers of dusty light and three buzzards hobbled about on the picked bone carcass of some animal dead in the chancel.”

(…)

“The mission occupied eight or ten ares of enclosed land, a barren purlieu that held a few goats and burros. In the mud walls of the enclosure were cribs inhabited by families of squatters and a few cookfires smoked thinly in the sun. He walked around the side of the church and entered the sacristy. Buzzards shuffled off through the chaff and plaster like enormous yardfowl. The domed vaults overhead were clotted with a dark furred mass that shifted and breathed and chittered. In the room was a wooden table with a few clay pots and along the back wall lay the remains of several bodies, one a child. He went on through the sacristy into the church again and got his saddle. He drank the rest of the bottle and he put the saddle on his shoulder and went out.”

From Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy.

The photo is actually from El Morro, in Puerto Rico. I have a picture of the Mexican-American battlefield survey I was on, but it didn’t seem to match the passage.

Blood Meridian is a horrible, violent, crushing mass of a book. I enjoyed the hell out of it. Sometimes the nice story is not the one that should be told.

(Poems, prose, and comics that remind me of archaeology, pt 7)

Io Saturnalia!

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I wish I could be celebrating today in true Roman style, but I’ve still got too much work to do.  I’ll have to do it up right next year by having a party.  Friday, the day after the semester ends, I’ll be headed off to Colorado for an appropriately snowy Christmas, then back to Texas until January 8th.  I hope to get down to Mexico, but we’ll see.

Next semester is going to be rough–classes every day, Head GSI for Intro to Archaeology, finishing up my field statements and my dissertation prospectus, and scraping together a bit of cash for my final season at Catalhoyuk.  I actually wouldn’t mind going to a different dig next summer, but the set-up for developing a new media methodology for excavation (done during excavation by excavators) is pretty good there, and it’d be another big step toward finishing my dissertation.

Now, off to the library.

Decisions….

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I find these equal parts hilarious, obnoxious, and oddly compelling. I could wear them both at the same time! At a conference!

If only they had a “post-futurist” necklace, I’d be set. If only all archaeologists would so kindly wear their theoretical inclinations and aspirations around their necks. What would your necklace say? Hmm?

Climbing Trees

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So we finally had a full day of archaeological outreach at the Presidio, where we were able to work through our full program with a group of kids. At times I’ve been pretty tired of outreach, and wanting to get back to archaeology proper, but being able to interact with these kids was actually pretty amazing. They were a class from Hunter’s Point, which is a notoriously bad part of San Francisco and they were all scrappy as hell, even at the 4th grade level.

During the first part of the day, we take them on a small hike on one of the trails through the Presidio. We try to get them to imagine what it was like without all of the trees, which are only there because the US military planted them. It’s hard to do, to say the least, because they’re huge, imposing eucalyptus trees and their leaves and seed pods cover the ground. There’s also some Monterey pine and cyprus mixed in, which are closer, but still not quite right.

One of the kids noticed that the National Park Service has been trimming the lower branches of the trees and asked me why the trees “were all pointy like that”. I told him that they had been trimmed, but it was kinda nice, because they leave about two feet, which makes the trees easy to climb. I got a blank stare. I had to ask, “um, have you ever climbed a tree?” Only one out of eight had, and only once. My heart broke, just a little bit.

All-in-all, it was a good day, and we were able to convey some information about the Ohlone and the Spanish colonists at the Presidio, but I think the sunshine, big trees, and getting dirty (we made mudbricks, of course!) were probably the most valuable parts. I told them that the Presidio is a national park, that they owned it and could come back at any time. And while I couldn’t officially condone it, I told them that the trees were perfect for climbing.

More Comics + New Presidio Blog + Robots

This is the semester that refuses to die! Die, semester, die!

Anyway, so I made (even more) comics about how to make mudbrick and posted them to flickr. I don’t really like the front page much (it’s rehash), so here’s the third page:

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I think I’ll use this as the example comic for my short SHA article that I need to pound out.

Anyway, I also got a blog set up (with hosting from the ever helpful Noah) for the Presidio Archaeology Lab, so we’ll see if they keep using it after my research position ends there:

http://okapi.dreamhosters.com/presidio/blog/

I really like how the map header turned out. When I tweaked the scan to make it look “older” some of the pencil marks popped out, and showed how the map had been drawn a bit differently at first–unintentional photoshop archaeology.

On a slightly different note, Katy invited us to go with her to an art opening at the Exploratorium featuring a mind-reading robot. We got there somewhat late, so we didn’t have time to try out the thing or to look around, but I absolutely have to go back. We stopped by Lucky 13, then we made our way over to the Flaming Lotus Girls benefit, where I got a few good pictures of the Orb Swarm. The Orb Swarm are remote-controlled balls that have lights inside of them, but they’re counterbalanced in such a way that makes them very hard to control, so they tended to go crashing into things. Perfect!

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