Thursday, July 19, 2012


"It is uncanny how history seems to repeat itself, but with meaningful differences; otherwise history would be just sorcery, an enchantment that brings us back in a time loop." (Sansi and Pares 2011:2)

Today marks the 164th Anniversary of the First Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY.

I don't steal the air I breathe.

Sansi, Roger and Luis Nicolau Parés
2011    Introduction: Sorcery in the Black Atlantic. In Sorcery in the Black Atlantic, Luis Nicolau Parés and Roger Sansi, editors, pp. 1-18. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What's in Your Attic?

Clara Barton's Attic, Clara Barton National Historic Site. July 11, 2012

Clara Barton founded the Red Cross here in the United States. Her home at Glen Echo, Maryland was not just her place of residence, but also served as the American Red Cross headquarters, volunteer and staff quarters, and supply depot for many years. It was constructed to her specifications by the owners of the neighboring Chatauqua encampment; they offered her land and a home/headquarters as a way to draw more people to their National Chatauqua (the site later became Glen Echo Amusement Park).

A very practical woman, she used muslin bandage material instead of wallpaper to cover her walls and ceilings. In her attic, she kept furnishings and supplies donated for victims of disasters. (I daresay the attic probably held way more stuff in it during Barton's tenure than it does in this National Park Service interpretation!)

On a sad note, this amazing house is in dire need of exterior work, including painting and replacement of some rotting boards.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More travel photos...

I'm glad to be home, sleeping in my own bed. But being on the road and doing research was a real treat. I have learned (the hard way) that rummaging archives takes longer than I'd imagined. I thought two weeks in one archive with one collection was way more than enough time... nope. I'll need to make another trip to finish up. I also learned (the hard way) that I will burn out staring at documents all day, and I need to take waaaay more breaks than I was.  This is all stuff I was told and thought I'd taken into consideration. Just not enough consideration, as it happens....

More photos from the road:

Offering to the archaeologist? Ceramics found on a tree stump.
Warren County, New York, June 28, 2012

Spring head. Water oozes out of the ground here,
forming a stream just beyond the bend. Warren County
New York, June 28, 2012.

Family walk. Eastern Townships, Quebec, July 1, 2012

Toasting marshmallows. Eastern Townships, Quebec, July 1, 2012

Moonrise. Eastern Townships, Quebec. July 1, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Off the Interstate

Driving the old highways off the Interstates takes longer... but can be infinitely more rewarding.

Robot moose. Route 9, near Queensbury, New York. June 26, 2012.
World's Tallest Uncle Sam (and Shorty Santa),
Magic Forest (Diving Horse! 25 Rides! 2 Shows!),
Lake George, New York. June 26, 2012.

World's Tallest Uncle Sam sign, Magic Forest, Lake George, New York, June 26, 2012.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nerd Notes

There were fireworks today on the lake. Two towns, one at the head of the lake, the other a few miles up, had competing fireworks displays. The light show was pretty impressive. The booms, though... they exploded and then rolled around the mountains, traveling up and around the valley, smoke wafting over the water. With the rolling explosions from different towns, I couldn't help imagining that I was hearing the sound of cannon from the French and Indian War.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I'm on an archives adventure. Some more photos and travelogue from here:

Cayuga Lake Creamery, Route 89 Interlaken, New York, June 16, 2012
If you're in the Finger Lakes region of New York (especially the west side of Cayuga Lake), don't bother visiting any other ice cream place. Cayuga Lake Creamery is where its at. They make all their own ice cream (I'm a fan of the maple walnut, sea salt caramel, and butter pecan). They also make fantabulous wine sorbet with local wines. Sounds weird, I know... but it's yum. Extra awesome: you can mail order their ice cream.* Not just around for the tourists, CLC always has locals stopping by and they stay open throughout the winter (reduced hours, natch).

Roller derby admission. Ithaca League of Women Rollers, Cass Park, Ithaca, New York. June 16, 2012

Waiting for the derby. Ithaca League of Women Rollers, Ithaca Bluestockings vs. Capital City Derby Dolls (Ottawa, Ontario), Cass Park, Ithaca, New York, June 16, 2012

I have wanted to go to the roller derby in Ithaca since I found out they had a team called the Ithaca SufferJets. How perfect for a team out of the cradle of the women's rights movement. Since then, the Ithaca League of Women Rollers has spawned a second team, the Ithaca Bluestockings. Finally went... Ithaca Blusetockings vs. the Capital City Derby Dolls from Ottawa, Great White North and Homeland. It was very loud and very fun. Great community support synergy, with the community supporting ILWR and ILWR supporting the Ithaca community.  Dinner in Ithaca was at Moosewood. I don't have a pic of my dinner to post; it was too yummy (salmon with mango sauce). I did try a new brewery, though... Bacchus Brewery, in Dryden, New York. Had their Blonde Ale... good stuff. I wish them well... there is always room for good beer in this world.

Wesleyan Chapel, Womens Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, New York, June 17, 2012
Can't go to the Finger Lakes and not stop at Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. There are plans afoot (and tape on the floor) to do some work on the inside to re-create what little is known of the interior architecture. I'll be interested to see what it looks like; right now, the positions of the altar, vestibule wall, and pews are taped out on the floor.

Emily's direct route to the Adirondacks. June 17, 2012
Emily is my GPS. Actually, more specifically, Emily is the name of the disembodied voice that lives inside my GPS and tells me where to go (and scolds me when I get it wrong). The photo above is the direct route from Seneca Falls to where I'm staying in the Adirondacks. Yeppers, that there is a main road.

Purple paper lantern, Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York, June 19, 2012
I've seen these purple paper lanterns hanging from trees all over New York State. Fortunately, the Adirondack Museum had signage! It's a trap for emerald ash borers. There are thousands of these traps up all over the place, monitoring for this invasive species that will kill an ash tree as soon as look at it.

Up next? More research. Some family time. Do laundry. Write (oy, the book). More research. Then poof, the summer (which only technically started yesterday) is over....

* Not a paid endorsement. Not even for free ice cream. Just support for a really awesome small business in an area I love.

Monday, June 18, 2012


A couple of photos from upriver...

The river is smaller here.
Hudson River, North River, New York, June 18, 2012.

You are here. Hudson River, North River, New York, June 18, 2012.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Recent Acquisitions

The books, they do accumulate. Recent additions:

Actual books:
Howe, Daniel Walker (2007) What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford University Press. Bought to feed my obsession with the Finger Lakes area in the mid-nineteenth century (by going big picture). The title suggests a generalists approach, but the damn thing is over 900 pages. I've not read it cover-to-cover yet, but it's been super handy for dipping-in for references to obscure things like the establishment of the telegraph and the etymology of snail mail.

Sappol, Michael (2002) A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century America. Princeton University Press. Borrowed it twice from inter-library loan, finally had to get my own copy. Bioethics, revolutions in medicine, identity, anatomy, and popular fiction... all in here. If you're interested in what the living are doing in the nineteenth century, you should check out their relationships with the dead. Looking forward to reading it again (and having it handy when I need to cite it...)

Saitta, Dean (2007) The Archaeology of Collective Action. University Press of Florida. According to the book cover, it includes archaeology of protests, labor strikes, and slave uprisings. Looking forward to reading it.

Voss, Barbara L. and Eleanor Conlin Casella (2012) The Archaeology of Colonialism: Intimate Encounters and Sexual Effects. Cambridge University Press. This will probably be the first of this batch that I read; I find both Voss' and Casella's work fascinating. Lots of new things to read about in this edited volume that offers exactly what the title describes.

Kindle Accumulations:
The Hunger Games series. I liked it. Haven't seen the movie, but liked the books.

One of Robyn Hobb's Liveship Traders series (can't recall which off the top of my head).

Yep, I read fantasy/sci-fi when not reading archaeology. Don't judge.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Etymology of Snail Mail: Like, way older than 1983...

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives 1983 as the first use of "snail mail" to reference letters written on paper delivered by the post office vs. electronic communication.

They missed the mark by almost 140 years...

The Philadelphia North American [of January 15, 1846] welcomed the telegraph with the pronouncement: "The markets will no longer be dependent upon snail paced mails." (Howe 2007: 695)


Howe, Daniel Walker (2007) What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford University Press.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Baby Leasing

I stumbled across this doing research for something else. While I should not be writing blog posts but hauling ass on this last big paper due for this semester's coursework, I couldn't not share this. History is so far from boring that it makes my head want to explode:

The Letter. (Link to Source, Cornell University)

A 1929 letter, from the Superintendent of the Troy Orphan Asylum* (Troy, New York) to the Director of Cornell University (yep, that one) agreeing to lease infants to Cornell's home economics "practice houses." And asking please for 24 hours notice before Cornell comes to pick them up. Holy shit, people... when I was in school, it was dolls, or eggs, or, you know, seedlings. Real babies? Hard core. And very, very disturbing. There's something rotten at the core of domesticity...

* The masthead on the letter for the Troy Asylum reads both: "For children under sixteen years of age, except juvenile delinquents, truants, and mental defectives, as required by law" and "The race marches forward on the feet of little children." I'm not even going to touch these, except to copy them down.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I'm working, I swear. Besides, these are both relevant-ish to my research. Yep, that's the story.

1. Gaga's Bad Romance a la 1919/1920 and women's suffrage. Much fun, appropriately white. (Things I Learned This Year include the effects of Jim Crow, including on voting access for non-whites. As much as I celebrate the Nineteenth Amendment, I've had to adjust my thinking, a lot. This is important stuff; why is it not part of the dominant women's rights narrative? Not entirely a rhetorical question.)

2. Angela Davis addressing students at the University of Maryland. Why we need to stop thinking exceptionalism and start thinking systemic. She speaks largely about race, but her points are equally valid for domestic violence, gun violence, hate crimes. These are not random acts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

End of Semester

I am officially out of Grading Jail for this semester (hallelujah). I may have some probation (straggling assignments), but my main sentence is over. It was a lab course; there was a shit-ton of grading.

The semester has a ways to go yet, but now it's Assignment Jail. For school: one presentation, one final exam, one short summary paper/bibliography, one substantial term paper, and a 5-day take-home preliminary exam. For not-school: one paper draft (overdue!) for pre-peer-review-review, one conference paper draft, some conference session wrangling. All with various due dates, from immediately to later, but all needs to be done by May 26.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm Doing What Now?!?!?!?


There, I said it out loud. I've started running. Not only am I in my third week, but I'm starting to crave it and I'm noticing improvements.

Some backstory: I stopped running in undergrad. Bad knee (which oddly isn't bothering me now), overweight, out of shape. Seriously, really no running for many, many years (which I understand is not really the appropriate response to being out of shape).

Why, suddenly, have I started? I'm still overweight (way more than I was in undergrad; I'm in the vicinity of 17 stone now and I'll let you do the math), still out of shape... But the last two years I took part in a team sport that involved heavy-duty exertion, especially on race days. Practices were twice a week. And I felt AMAZING. Then, winter, personal upheaval, grad school. I'm hoping to get back into team sport this summer, but the truth is I won't be able to participate fully because of research. I needed something to get me into shape, out of the house, and, well, moving. And something that doesn't require me being in a particular place at a particular time.

Meat world friends and bloggy friends run. Colleagues who are not little slips of things are running half marathons. I was inspired.

I'm using the "Couch to 5K" approach, which starts very, very slowly and over the course of several weeks, you work up to a full 5K (3 mile) run. Though I'm in my week three, I'm still on week 2 of the program because I lost several days in a shoe-exchange (the right shoes are CRITICAL. I had the wrong shoes, and I thought my ankles were going to detach from my body in a horrible, crippling way. New shoes: whoa, no pain!).

I also need lots of reassurance, so I splurged on a Garmin Forerunner 410 (purchased in Amazon's Warehouse where they keep the returns and dinged packages, for a significant discount). It has a GPS in it, so tracks time, distance, location, pace, and calories burned. I got the one with the heart monitor, but the damn thing doesn't work well, so I quit using it (really, save your money). You can upload your data to a free account at Garmin's website, and keep track. Being able to see my improvements in numbers over time is really helpful, and helps me set small goals (a little further, a little faster...).

Why am I telling now? Because I just got back from today's run, and absolutely smashed my previous personal best pace by a minute and a half. And I feel pretty damn great. And last night, I ran -uphill- to catch my bus, and both made the bus and didn't die. I'm a runner. Who knew???

Monday, March 26, 2012

For Extra Credit...

... describe what is wrong with the following sentence:

"The National Park System is well endowed to commemorate Women’s contributions to American Society."

(At the time I posted this, this was the very first sentence on the Wiki page for Women's History Sites (National Park Service)). Click to embiggen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thoughts on Writing and New Ideas

There were recently a series of posts online that took a different look at the horrible writing that we as instructors sometimes (often) have to grade (and by extension, the horrible writing that we, as students, hopefully less than often, hand in). I especially appreciated the discussions about how writing style can go down the toilet when people are struggling to make sense of new ideas. I am appreciating it as a student, as I find myself writing in circles as I tussle with new ideas, theories, and applications. And I'm appreciating it as an instructor, as I know my students are encountering ideas and information completely foreign to many of them (physical anthropology; 'nuff said). Here are the links; I recommend each of them.

Tenured Radical, So You Think You Can Write During The Semester. Well, yes I did. And it's difficult to the point of not happening, at least not re: The Book. Though I have written other non-class stuff, including conference papers, an article, a book review, and two grant proposals. All of these are good, productive things, but they've also been procrastination about The Book. There is navel-gazing going on over this issue that will hopefully result in unjamming the jam. Back to TR! Though a lot of what she writes is about academics and squeezing in the writing, I saw several places where prof and student writing lives were not that different (last minute-ness; hopes for a social life; being unprepared...).

And two really great posts from Dr. Crazy about evaluating writing and why it's important (and where students need more direction, specifically: take what you learn here and apply it Over There...) and about writing quality when students run up against Unfamiliar Things:

Yes, English Majors Submit Crappy Papers, Too
I Know This Sounds Weird, but Thank You Dr. Crazy for the C-

And Flavia with a follow-up: Bad writing ≠ bad writer.

I think I'll talk with my students about some of this in class on Monday, and share with them some edits on one of my (not bad but still inked-up with edits) papers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

*That's* Not Good!

I'm working on a grant proposal. Of course there was hardly any time between when I found out about the grant and when it is due. I finished a draft late Thursday and sent it off for comments.

The comments I got back from someone who I trust to know these things included "yikes," "dreadful" and "horribly awry." I have some serious re-writing to do...

Update 3/13/12: 5 drafts later, it's much better and on it's way. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Good to Know... order to boil water for much-needed morning coffee, it is necessary to not only put water in the kettle, but to turn on the stove.

Yes indeedy, it is one of those days.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Surprised in the Wilderness

Potomac Falls, Maryland/Virginia, February 18, 2012.

Well, it wasn't *quite* the wilderness... but there were trees and water, and a few surprises. Friends and I went for a hike near DC, vising the falls of the Potomac River, which is really quite stunning. 

Maryland Gold Mine, Great Falls Park, February 18, 2012.

The surprises? There's gold in them thar hills. These mines in the hills outside DC were operated until the mid-twentieth century. Over 5,000 ounces of gold were extracted. That's somewhere around $7.5 million at recent gold prices. Dang. I shouldn't have been surprised at gold in the hills; after all, there are emeralds not far away in North Carolina and a silver mine underneath Sing Sing prison. What surprised me was gold mining practically in sight of the National Mall into the late 1940s.

Finally, there was a Barbie Doll Murderer in the vicinity. We came across two, count them TWO, Barbie corpses. One death by drowning, one death on the rocks. I know they're only toys, but it was a little disturbing. 

Death by Drowning, Great Falls Park, Maryland, February 18, 2012.
Death on the Rocks, Great Falls Park, Maryland, February 18, 2012.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pink Slime ... WHAT?!?!?!

I've slowly been changing my diet to eat better food. Two "things that grow" a day... check. Cut out beef entirely... check. Cut waaaay back on potatoes (a particular weakness) ... check. Cut out soda, artificial sweeteners, and things dyed weird colors... check, check, and check.

Things took another turn recently when I saw photographs and read about "pink slime" ... the mechanically-separated meat byproducts that are bathed in ammonia to make them "safe for human consumption" and sold as ground beef, pork, turkey, etc. etc. If your butcher didn't *personally* grind the meat, it was done in a factory using this disgusting process. Not only is the process disgusting, but god knows how many cows are represented in your pound of beef... I saw a package at the grocery store the other week that was labeled "Product of USA and Canada." What the hell?

I like ground meat... you can make yummy things with it, like burgers, meat loaf, chili (I've been substituting critters other than cows for these... chili made with ground pork is pretty good). But I can't bring myself to eat industrial ground meat anymore... so, I bought a little hand-powered meat grinder on Amazon. It works like a charm! I found pork chops on super-sale, ground them up, and made enough chili to last me 5 weeks of Monday lab sessions.

Grinding pork. It makes a disturbing sound, but works like a charm.
And yes, I'm short on counter space.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Inside the Wesleyan Chapel

Wesleyan Chapel, Women's Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, New York.
December 4, 2011.

This past December, I traveled up to the Great White North. Although it's a little out of the way from where I'm at now, I still stopped in Seneca Falls at Women's Rights National Historical Park. It was unseasonably warm for December, and had been... yes, that's green, green grass in Upstate New York in December. I was fortunate this time to get a tour (finally!) of the inside of the Wesleyan Chapel. It looks good; it makes much more sense to be standing inside a building than in the ruins that were there formerly, and for what it's worth, the building seems to be settling into its new self. There's a little signage inside explaining the Chapel's history, but mostly it is empty space. I'm interested to see what the programming inside the Chapel will be.

Interior, Wesleyan Chapel, Women's Rights National Historical Park,
Seneca Falls, New York. Rebuilt south wall. December 4, 2011.

Interior, Wesleyan Chapel, Women's Rights National Historical Park,
Seneca Falls, New York. Interior, west side showing original
structure and additions. December 4, 2011.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What I've Been Up To...

Sunrise over Lake Ontario, December 2011. The anniversary of my dad's death.

Here are some photos, mostly from my December travels. I don't quite know where December and January went, and here we are in the midst of February. Finally, a little bit of wintery weather, by which I mean, there was a dusting of snow on the ground when I left for school this morning and the temps are hovering just below freezing, at least for now.

The Metro. October 2011.

I started TA'ing this semester; a run of three 2-hour labs, all on "when I left for school this morning" was around 6:30am. I'm not a morning person, but the campus is beautiful that early; quiet, misty. And the light is changing as we get closer to spring. One morning I'll remember to bring my camera.

The mornings are beautiful, but the Monday schedule is kicking my ass. I'm a bit of a dishrag by the time I get home. It's nice to be in front of a class again, though. I've missed it. I will say, however, that students treat you quite differently when you're a professor (even "just" an adjunct) and when you're a TA for a class.

I did a lot of traveling back to the Great White North; first for a memorial on the anniversary of my father's death, and not a fortnight later to spend the holidays with family. January was full of more coursework, a conference, a family visit, and the start of a new semester. This grad school gig is going to FLY by.

Sunset, Perry City, New York, just outside Ithaca. December 4, 2011.

Monday, January 2, 2012

As the Meme(s) Turn(s)

New Year's post... late, but wev!

First, One Word (from Reverb10 that I never finished, but I liked this one, so I'm doing it again, tweaked current; here's my entry for last year):

December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

My word for 2010 was upheaval. The word I wanted for 2011 was resolution.

I think, in retrospect, that 2011 was both upheaval and resolution. I mourned my dad (still do), lost my second grandmother, quit my job and moved a few states away for grad school. School was what I expected and then some; I'm missing my friends that I moved away from (but more or less managing to keep in touch) and struggling a bit to find my place here (and trying to be patient). Divorce negotiations remain unresolved (but we're getting closer). So less upheaval than 2010, and significant resolution in 2011... and it's not all doom and gloom. I'm making new friends, I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff (I forgot I liked theory as much as I do. Geek runs deep, apparently!). Learning a lot about myself. Loving where I live. Connecting with family.

So the word I'd like for 2012? Balance.

New Year's Meme (Questions lifted from Flavia, Squadrato, and Belle):

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Got involved (i.e. not just a paying member) of a national archaeology society
Organized a conference session
Made a commitment to engage with other disciplines, met some folks in related fields and committed to presenting archaeology at a history conference
Started doctoral studies
Won a prize in a baking competition

2. Did you keep your 2011 resolutions, and will you make more this year?
Resolutions for 2011 (and 2010): Speak up; Speak out; Do things that scare me; Get out of my head and into the world.

Kept? In general, yes. Still challenging, so keeping the same list for 2012, but adding 2 goals: more physical activity and eating at least two things each day that grew in the ground (friuts/veg).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Colleagues having babies and expecting all over the place.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My paternal grandmother. I would really like to not attend a funeral in 2012.

5. What countries did you visit?
Great White North.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
A fucking finished book, already.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Quitting my job, packing up all my shit, moving South of the Mason Dixon Line, starting over, and surviving my first semester of doctoral studies (it was touchy there for a bit).

8. What was your biggest failure?
Not really a failure, frustrating: a continued inability/reluctance to let go of a particular circumstance.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Random normal stuff. Several trips to a chiropractor got me moving without pain in the summer; some steriods got me to not look like some deformed monster after a bad allergic reaction.

10. What was the best thing you bought?
My own bed.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State and Elizabeth Warren running for MA Senate (almost wish I'd gone to school up there so I could vote for her...)

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Congress. Pretty much the lot of them, but most especially the Party of No.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Moving, furnishing, and schooling.

14. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier. Don't know about thinner/fatter, but less fit for sure. Grad student.

15. What do you wish you'd done more of?

16. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Not leaving my house.

17. Did you fall in love in 2011?

18. What was the best new book you read?
Margaret Atwood's "In Other Worlds." I didn't read many new books this year (lots of older stuff, tons of school stuff...). I love Atwood's essays, so enjoyed it a lot.

19. What was your favorite film of the year?
Hrm. Really haven't seen movies this year. Hated the new Muppet Movie though.

20. What kept you sane?
Friends. Dancing. Sleeping. Eating right (better).

21. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
I'm stronger than I thought I was. A little anxiety is normal. I need to trust myself more.