Sunday, January 30, 2011

Writing... and writing... and writing...

A productive day so far in the world of writing, which is fantastic. I'm often easily distracted at home, so it feels good to get in a non-distracted groove.

  • Made some revisions to a report for work and edits in another. Have to remember to email the files back to the office (I *hate* when I forget that part)
  • Finished up edits (almost) for a paper to be sent out for publication in a regional journal. I hate conclusion sections, I really do. So I put that part off until tomorrow, along with manipulating the graphics into the necessary format. They said they wanted it by the end of January. Hey, January 31 is still January! Plus, I was a good girl and formatted that sucker exactly as they required in their guidelines for contributors.
  • Worked on tackling a scholarship application for grad school. It's a leadership-based scholarship program not an academic-based program, so the format is different than what I've been wrangling lately. It is very strange to me (and a little uncomfortable) to be tooting my own horn about myself in contexts that don't have anything to do with archaeology (yes, baggage, thanks). One thing I've been coming to terms with over the last few years is that no one will toot my horn for me, so I'm just going to have to suck it up and do it myself. And I don't have a lot of time to fret about it, the application is due soon (making that deadline work for me!).
One thing I've noticed in all this writing is that I use way, WAY too many commas when I write.* I mean, I knew that, but damn. I could delete every second one out of one of the reports I was working on and you'd hardly notice. Mostly they're in places where, if I was speaking, I'd pause. (See? I just did it right there. And left it in on purpose.) But there were a few commas that really, truly made me wonder what the hell they were doing there. No surprise, I suppose, that I'm a fan of the serial comma.**

* Dear editor friend: You're right, this is not news.
** Especially see the funny bit under "Unresolved Ambiguity" re: Peter Ustinov, Nelson Mandela, a demigod, and errr... personal accessories.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


That there is me squealing. Not like a piggie. Not in fear of a mousie (they don't scare me anyway). But in a jump-up-and-down happy excited way.


Because I just found out, in an unofficial because it isn't in a letter from Admissions way, but from a Very Reliable Source that starting this Fall semester, I will have a new academic home as a PhD student. At my first choice school.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Exposure to sawdust...

... inevitable.

Just saw a job posting online for a dendrochronology [tree-ring dating] tech position at Cornell. Pretty standard stuff... educational requirements, etc. etc. And then, what they're *really* looking for:
"Very detailed visual acuity and concentration required, as is the ability to lift 20 lbs. Limited exposure to chemicals, although bleach is often used to discourage micro-floral growth on wet wood samples. Exposure to sawdust inevitable."

Translation: must have good eyesight, be moderately fit, not have ADHD, not mind the smell of bleach, and not be allergic to sawdust.

Next thing I'll see is an ad for an archaeologist that says "Exposure to dirt inevitable!" A good giggle for a snowy Friday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

So here are some recent book acquisitions (yes, I know I'm trying to divest myself of stuff and am very careful about what books I acquire because of it). I saw this on another blog, and thought it was a pretty fun idea. Ok, I'm a geek. I get it! Enjoy :)

  1. Seeman, Erik R. (2010) Death in the New World: Cross-Cultural Encounters, 1492-1800. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. This *just* came in the mail today (thank you, Amazon Gift Certificates!). I'm very excited to read it, and the little bit I've skimmed indicates it is really quite readable. Chapters include deathways in the Old World, first contact in the Americas, the Chesapeake, New France, New England, African-American deathways, and the Seven Years' War. It's distantly related to The Book, too; I'll have to be careful not to get all tangential.
  2. Zinn, Howard (2003) A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present. Perennial Classics, New York. I've wanted to read this since I first heard about it, oh, five years ago or so? (Yes, I've been living under a rock). I got it about two weeks ago, and have been reading it. Good stuff; I'm very much enjoying the different view of history, and have actually already incorporated some of it into my work. I only wish there were more complete citations for information and other leads I could chase down. I understand editors often cut those things out for general audience books, but I'm *really* missing them.
  3. Drooker, Penelope Ballard and John P. Hart (2010) Soldiers, Cities, and Landscapes: Papers in Honor of Charles L. Fisher. New York State Museum Bulletin 513, New York State Education Department, Albany, New York. This one is available free online as a .pdf courtesy New York State (click on the title to get there). A quick peek suggests there are a lot of good papers in here, including early military stuff and two chapters on delft tiles in the state. Flipping through, I saw a very neat wolf-head effigy European smoking pipe, which I need to read more about, and I'm very interested in reading the chapter on the Tenant-To-Owner Agrarian Myth (agricultural ladder) in the Adirondacks.
Edit 1/20/11: I should clarify which fields these are from! #1: history, with some archaeology; #2: history; #3: archaeology, mostly historical. I almost applied for PhD studies in history, but I'm pretty hard-wired as an archaeologist.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reflections, Resolutions, and the Big Four Oh

It's my birthday. The big 4-0. I didn't post a New Year round-up/resolutions post because, well, I didn't. So I'm going to do it now, all balled up with my holy-shit-I'm-40 post. I may decide this is too much personal information, at which point I'll take it down. *shrug*

I started this blog as part of an exercise in expressing my voice. There's a backstory, of course, but the upshot was feeling that everyone elses' stuff and voices were more important than my own. That I didn't matter. Sounds bleak, and it sucked. It's not a "poor me" thing; just how it was. Some of it was taught to me by others when I didn't know better, some of it was self-imposed as survival strategies that became less effective over time, and some of it was tied up in low self-esteem issues. I was getting by, and I thought that was enough.

In my 38th year, with my eye on the Impending Forty and catalyzed by a series of events that I have a hard time passing off as merely coincidental, I had a good hard look at my life. And I didn't like it. I wanted more... to be happy, for one. To pursue my interests. To find my voice. I poked my head out of the tiny little existence I'd built for myself, and holy shit, there's a whole amazing world out there!

I made a lot of changes. Left a long term relationship. Got back into reading and researching. Cultivated a social life. Applied for grad school. Piped up and pissed a few people off. Piped up and apparently scared a few people off. Piped up and got misunderstood some. Piped up and made some new friends both in person, via email, and in blog-land. Piped up and met some great people both within my field and in others that share similar research interests (also in person, via email, and in blog-land). Started taking pictures again. Had FUN! Ups and downs -- deaths, divorce negotiations, good days and bad days, neighbors who shovel their snow behind my car, health scares.

Overall, though, life is pretty good. I laid a lot of groundwork over the past couple of years, and things are looking up.

My resolutions for 2011 and my 40th year:
- Speak up
- Speak out
- Do things that scare me
- Get out of my head and into the world

They served me well last year, so I'm dragging them out this year too. Ya gotta do what works, ya know?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's not really about wheels...

I've been hammering away at The Book. I'm happy to say I've made some progress. I'm sad to say it hasn't been in the parts of the book that need it most. That is to say, I've spent a lot of time tweaking parts for which I already have a Shitty First Draft. What I need to be doing is buckling down and writing Shitty First Drafts for the parts that I have notes for but no text.

At least I've been able to reconsider the structure of the thing. There's been enough work on the subject that I no longer need a chapter Inventing The Wheel: Chronology, and I can therefore collapse two chapters into one. Instead, I'll write the chapter, Wheels Are All Round But Not Necessarily The Same Thing: Dating Your Wheels Is More Complex Than It Seems. Or at least jam the discussion somewhere into The Book.

Really, the only chapters I have left are:
  • The Introduction (write this last)
  • Why Wheels At All, Really? (the Bear in the Book. OMG. I have over 100 pages of notes that are freaking me out. I need to just bite the bullet; I suspect they will condense nicely. I don't need to regurgitate everyone's take on Wheels, just summarize and refer. Right? Right.)
  • Wheels Are All Round.... (as I write this post, I'm mentally condensing this chapter into a blurb and incorporating it into a Case Study Introduction section that I didn't know until right this minute I'd be including)
  • Special Wheels: The class of Wheels that won't fit right into my overall organization of Wheels, but which make their own easily identified, tidy little class
  • Case Study: The Necessity of Wheels
  • Case Study: Variations in the Use of Wheels by Religion
  • Case Study: Variations in the Use of Wheels by Ethnicity (possibly too uncritical a use of "ethnicity", but pretty sure this isn't the place to resolve the nature of the concept in historical archaeology)
  • Conclusion: Aren't Wheels Cool? Future Directions in Wheels.
Hmmm. That looks like a lot. I'm confident I can get through the Case Studies pretty easily, as long as I don't think about stuff TOO hard, and go off on TOO many tangents. I need to do the Why Wheels At All chapter. That's my hangup right now.

And I'll get right on it, as soon as I've finished messing around with my Really Early Wheels chapter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cold. Brrrrr.

Both images Taughannock Falls, Tompkins County, New York January 9, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Applications: Done!

I submitted my last grad school application this evening.


Now... the waiting. Patience is something I'm working on and the next couple of months will be an exercise in it, for sure.

In the mean time, more work on the book, apply for an outside "take it with you" fellowship, and (gods help me) write a book review. Because I volunteered. Because the book looked cool, and I've not written a review for publication before.