Friday, April 5, 2013

Meat

A couple of days ago, CW and I did something we haven't done for a while: we went to his uncle's place to butcher some hogs and make sausage. Last time we did this (and the first time I had ever done it) was just a few months before we were married. It turned out to be the best investment ever -- the purchase of a pig, plus a solid day's work, and we had pork for the year!

The last time we did it we reserved a fair bit of the meat for cooking as-is -- i.e., we saved pork shoulders and hams, and made only the leftover scraps into Italian and Polish sausage. We ended up loving the sausage so much that we vowed to make almost everything, save the loins, tenderloins, and ribs, into sausage.

Thank you, lovely piggies!

We met our pigs in the morning. They had been raised as show pigs, but didn't quite make the cut, so the farmer sold them off. They were lovely animals that obviously had been very well cared for. The time they spent at Uncle D's place seemed quite enjoyable for them, as they had the run of a huge pen, and seemed to have a whole lot of fun playing with the dog. I am very thankful to them (especially the one on the right, who was our pig) for providing us with food for probably the next year or so.

After we got them butchered, we trimmed up the pieces of meat, kept a few pieces for cooking as-is, and ground up the rest for sausage. I made a batch of Italian sausage, as well as two different Kielbasa recipes. We left the Italian sausage fresh, but smoked the two batches of Polish sausage. We put the sausages into the smoker at about 7:30 p.m., waited for the temperature to reach a certain point, then checked the smoker every hour until the internal temperature of the sausage reached the "golden point." That took us until 2:30 in the morning. We got started at 8:00 a.m., and a mere 17.5 hours later we ended up with about 65 pounds of sausage, 25 lbs of loins (pork chops!), two tenderloins, and two racks of ribs.

Piles of sausage, all smoked and ready for packaging.
We got home the next day and had to start packing up all our meat. We now have a freezer full of packets of pork!

Our chest freezer, half way full, and waiting for the rest that was freezing in the upright chest freezer.
We have company staying with us for the weekend, so we decided it would be an appropriate occasion for grilling up a rack of ribs.

Ribs, all ready to steam.
We got instructions, from one of CW's co-workers who used to be a chef, for cooking up a batch of ribs. We used a method that involved steaming them in the oven on a broiler rack, then finishing them on the grill.

All rubbed and ready to grill.
We decided to try a Memphis-style dry rub on these. I whipped up a batch that had brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper. It smelled fantastic and tasted even better!

Our "let's make some ribs" idea quickly turned into a "let's make a Southern feast" scheme. So, we cooked up some turnip greens and baked beans, along with baked potatoes and a salad. It was AMAZING, if I may say so myself! Everyone at the table was very quiet through the whole dinner, and ended up covered in barbecue (I had dry rub on my elbows at the end of it all). I took that as a good sign!

A feast!
I have no idea how my skinny husband can eat like this and stay so skinny. For me, it's a very good thing that this is a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of meal! It was incredible, though, and I look forward to trying the next selection from the pork smorgasbord!

CW's plate. That's a lotta ribs!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Wrasslin' with MS Word

Oh, what a morning that has been. Thanks to a simple idea and the good ol' internet, I learned something new in MS Word today. I have been polishing up my "Materials" chapter in preparation for submission, and I decided I wanted to include a nice graphical display of my Dust Cave chipped stone typological scheme. I have never done anything before that I felt required the use of the Smart Art Graphics function, but today I had the chance to learn it. I found a hierarchical scheme that worked beautifully for what I wanted. My only criticism is that there does not seem to be a way to get rid of the fancy little shadows behind the text boxes. I picked the most toned-down variation I could find, so that the "doodads" didn't overwhelm the information. Just a word to the wise, software developers: sometimes all we consumers want is SIMPLICITY!

I never feel like I am the most computer-savvy person on the planet (I can handle Office and all its applications, some statistical software packages, photo editing software, and I am well-versed in the use of the ol' "interweb"), so I was quite proud of myself that this turned out so nicely...although I can only claim so much credit. I think it looks quite professional -- much better than having to cobble something together with the "draw line" function like I used to do! So here it is, for your viewing (and archaeological education) pleasure:

Dust Cave Chipped Stone Typology

(I have no idea if the resolution is good enough in this little picture to actually be able to see what's printed in those boxes, but I still think it looks pretty! Well, just checked it out and, NOPE, can't see any of those words. Ah well, you get the idea. If you're desperate to know how I divided up the collection, you'll just have to read my tome when I'm finished with it. Bet you can't wait -- haha!)

This scheme is adapted from Andrefsky (2005), Odell (2003), and Driskell et al.'s (in press) typology for the Townsend Archaeological Project.

References
Andrefsky, William Jr. (2005) Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis (Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Odell, George H. (2003) Lithic Analysis (Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique). Springer, New York.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Proper "Lady Scientist"

Well, it has happened: the ol' dissertation has pushed my eyeballs past their limit. I had an eye appointment and the doctor suggested I invest in a pair of those over-the-counter reading glasses you can buy to give my eyes a little break. CW is excited because, as he has  told me on many occasions, he thinks I would "look adorable in glasses." I'm excited because my head is already starting to hurt less from the eye strain, and everything I read is a whole lot clearer!

So, here I am in my new specs, doing my very best "I'm a scientist" impression. Note the tell-tale characteristics: hair up in a bun; expression of deep contemplation; and the absolutely defining characteristic of the elusive North American Lady Scientist Grad Student -- the (Halloween) pencil in the hair! (That's how you know I'm bona fide!)


Hope CW likes them!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Garden Therapy

Hello again! I know it's been a while since I've written anything, but we have had....well, let's just say we've had a whirlwind few weeks at our house. Things have settled down, at least a bit, and I feel like I am easing back into my comfortable routine.

Somehow, in the middle of all the craziness, I have managed to keep writing up a storm. I submitted a gigantic (60 page) chapter all about my theoretical perspectives, and am now putting the finishing touches on my "Materials" chapter. I have spent the last few days reviewing my typological scheme and my artifact descriptions, and am currently writing up projectile point descriptions. This will certainly clinch my position as Queen of the Nerds to admit this, but I really like working on and studying artifact descriptions. It makes me feel like a much less jock-like version of one of those people who can rhyme off baseball stats. "Benton Stemmed: 5500-3000 BP; bifacial stem beveling; flattened hexagonal stem cross-section; parallel-oblique flaking." Yeah, I didn't make myself sound any cooler there, did I?

I don't normally mind putting my nose to the grindstone and writing hard on a Saturday, but when that Saturday is the first warm and sunny one in a long, long while, it becomes very difficult to remain focused and motivated! I had a peek at the garden yesterday, and saw that things were beginning to sprout...including the weeds. Well, I finally couldn't take it any more today. I decided, once I had gotten a certain amount of work finished, that I would reward myself with a wee putter in the garden.

Rather than tackle the monstrous amount of work that the flower beds are guaranteed to be, I decided to tackle a much smaller project: the raised vegetable beds at the side of our house. We put a couple in last year to see if we would have any luck with them. They were brilliant, and we're thinking of constructing a couple more for this season.

The raised beds still had the remains of tomato and pepper plants in them from the fall, so I pulled up the tomato cages and yanked all the veggie skeletons out. I cleared out around the strawberry plants (which were unscathed after the winter), and cleaned up the oregano. I think I may need to move that oregano out of the bed, into its own pot, as it seems poised to take over the entire veggie garden! It did quite well for itself last year.


Martin Scorsese, to whom the furry backside in the above photo belongs, was in heaven today while I was out in the garden! I don't think he quite understood the activities in which I was engaging, but he seemed quite convinced that, whatever I was doing, I was doing it purely for his entertainment. He is always a very big "help" when I garden.

He was extra "helpful" as I was trying to take a picture of one of my happy little crocuses. It took a few tries, and a lot of nudging Mr. Helpful out of the way, before I got a shot that was actually in focus! These little beauties make me so happy!


The next job will be to tackle the flower beds. I have some plants (hostas, heucheras, and a black-eyed Susan) that all need to be split this year. And I believe a little reorganization/redesign might be in order. All in good time...

In the meantime, I am (im)patiently awaiting the arrival of spring. That veggie garden needs to get filled up, the porch needs cleaning/pressure washing/painting, the planters need filling, and the garden needs some TLC.

The sun is setting, so back to the artifact descriptions I go.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Valentine's Day! We don't tend to be terribly invested in Valentine's Day around our house -- I'm not the kind of lady who wants expensive bouquets of flowers or fine jewels. But we do often take the opportunity to spend a nice day together if our schedules allow, and to make a yummy dinner. This year, though, I got inspired and had a lot of fun putting together a very fun Valentine's gift for my sweetie! As part of this gift, I decided to make CW a really nerdy card (sometimes I just overflow with nerdiness! Also, it felt appropriate, seeing as Tuesday was Darwin's birthday.)


We also made a really yummy breakfast -- Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas with black bean mash, egg, and avocado. I found the recipe on the Bon App├ętit website, via Pinterest. It comes Sara Forte's "The Sprouted Kitchen" cookbook (http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2012/09/breakfast-tostadas-sprouted-ki.html). It is a delicious concoction -- a blend of fabulous flavors! And, to top it all off, it was incredibly simple to put together.


It's been a good day so far -- and it's not over yet! On tonight's menu: restaurant-style top sirloin steaks, pan-seared brussels sprouts...and, for dessert, dark chocolate mousse! All of this means that tomorrow's menu will consist of: coffee, with a side of celery; celery sandwich; and grilled celery!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Acculturation

Yesterday was a big day around here. My father-in-law's 60th birthday is coming up, so we held a celebration, which involved lots of family and lots of pie! He's a big fan of pie, so we baked up a variety of kinds and had a nice little get-together with the whole crew. (I made a key lime pie and a mixed berry crumble pie -- delicious, if I may say so myself!) Having gotten up bright and early to start baking, and having been in party mode all day, I was exhausted last night. CW and I had a nice lie-in this morning, and when I finally rolled myself out of bed, I was determined to keep today a low-key day. So, I put the makings for a vegetable soup into the Crock Pot (or, what I like to call "My Personal Chef") and just let it stew for the day.

When it got to be supper time, I decided that we needed some cornbread to eat with the soup, so I whipped up a batch in my well-loved, kind of ancient cast iron skillet. While it was cooking, I brewed a batch of "sweet tea" (AKA "iced tea"). I realized that I have been down here in the South long enough that I am beginning to "acculturate." Making tea and cornbread seemed like a perfectly natural accompaniment for the soup -- there was no question in my mind that meal demanded it. Cornbread was a rarity to me growing up, especially the kind that they make here in the South. I am fairly sure I had some version of it as a kid, but mostly when I used to think of cornbread I thought of a kind of round loaf we used to buy that happened to contain some cornmeal. It was bubbly and chewy, but more like loaf of artisan sandwich bread than the soft, crumbly skillet bread that is made down here.

I was plenty familiar with tea growing up, but to me "tea" is hot tea, served with milk and sugar. If you ask for tea down here, you will be given a tall glass of incredibly saccharine clear black tea served over ice. I'm still not quite Southern enough to drink proper "sweet tea," which is sweet enough that it sets my teeth on edge! But a tall glass of not-too-sweet tea is an incredibly refreshing drink, and I have developed quite a liking for it.

The whole point of this story is that it is amazing to me how quickly you can reorder your "world view" and become used to a different way of doing things and a new sense of "normal". I'm still a Canuck at heart, but after nearly 8 years, and many batches of cornbread and glasses of sweet tea (oh, and the best barbecue I've ever tasted), I feel like I can begin to call myself a Southerner-in-the-making. This dual sense of identity is a nice feeling -- the anthropologist in me loves it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

World's Oldest Figurative Sculpture

Sharing another nifty archaeology story, this time about the Lion Man sculpture from Ulm, previously dated at 32,000 years old. When it was discovered back in the 1930s, approximately 30% of this mammoth ivory anthropomorphic sculpture was missing. Researchers have tracked down another thousand-or-so pieces in recent excavations and have been working, painstakingly, to refit them back into their original form.

Photo: Thomas Stephan @ Ulmer Museum. Source: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Ice-Age-iLion-Mani-is-worlds-earliest-figurative-sculpture/28595

In addition to "fleshing out" this sculpture, these new discoveries provided additional dateable material from the strata where the ivory fragments were recovered. Dates have been returned that push the age of this piece back another 8,000 years, making the Lion Man the world's oldest figurative sculpture at 40,000 years old!

This is some exceptional artwork for having originated so far back in antiquity. Especially impressive, I think, is the quite expert 3-dimensional rendering. It is one thing to draw a 2-dimensional representation on a cave wall; it is quite another thing to be able to conceive of and render a 3-D specimen! Mind you, the Upper Paleolithic stone tool technology that was being produced at this time required impressive 3-dimensional cognitive abilities to execute, so the translation of these abilities into the production of complex artwork is not surprising.

Here is a link to a good article about this find:

http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Ice-Age-iLion-Mani-is-worlds-earliest-figurative-sculpture/28595

Cozy Feet

I am pleased to report that, as I was eating my breakfast this morning, I finished my other sock, and now have a PAIR of socks! Yay! CW is very excited that I can now start on his. I believe that might be this evening's project, although I may need to just start with swatching, as his feet will still be at work by the time I'm done for the day.

I am in writing mode for the afternoon, and I must say my feet are exceptionally cozy, which is a nice change from them freezing this morning). These socks feel fantastic (as CW said "They'd better, seeing as they are custom knit to your feet!") and they're so nice and snuggly. I think I may be hooked on sock knitting. It's a nice kind of project because they're so very usable, being something you can wear almost every day. I always feel a little sorry for my lovely and exceptionally cozy hat that I knit that spends most of our mild winters languishing in the front coat closet. I only bring it out on particularly chilly state occasions. But socks...well, those I wear most every day in the late fall - early spring.

I am going to have to get paying work, though, to support my new habit. This is not an enterprise for a starving student! Thank goodness for Joann, Michaels and Hobby Lobby 40% off coupons!


Back to work I go, with toasty toes!

*ADDENDUM: Just thought I would mention, for the benefit of anyone who wants to try knitting socks but is intimidated by the prospect (as I was), I used Ann Budd's book "Getting Started Knitting Socks." It is a 2007 Interweave Press volume, and it is fantastically user-friendly! She provides readers with an understanding of the "sock formula," which can be adapted to meet any gauge your yarn happens to produce. The illustrations are very clear, the patterns are easy to follow, and she even provides some excellent "troubleshooting" information -- how to prevent gusset holes, for example. All-in-all, a great addition to a knitter's bookshelf!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Lovely Surprise

I mentioned in an earlier post that we really haven't had much in the way of winter down here in the Midsouth this year. We never have much of a winter, compared to the winters I grew up with, but this has been an exceptionally mild one. Today felt particularly spring-like; the sun was out and the air felt a little "warmish." It was beautiful, and all the critters outside seemed to agree! The birds were chirping, frogs were singing, the bees were buzzing, and the feral cats in the woods....well, let's just say they seemed intent on making a few more feral cats!

The cats were making such a racket out there at one point that I decided to poke my head outside to make sure they weren't messing with Martin and Fred, our outdoor cats who are skittish and obliviously friendly, respectively. Marty was thrilled to have me outside with him. He was positively rumbling as he trotted along beside me while I went in search of the feral critters. (I never did find them, but they were quiet after that, so I assume they went in search of a little more privacy!)

On my way back from the woods, I paused to have a little peek at the garden. Mostly, I wanted to check up on my little daffodils that had budded-up right before the snow and freeze we had last week. (Incidentally, they made it through the freeze quite unscathed and look primed to "pop" any second.) What I hadn't noticed before were the fat buds on my reticulata irises. They caught my eye today when I saw this:


 Aren't they beautiful?! They are such quietly pretty little things -- a spectacular color in a small package -- and a lovely harbinger of spring. I think this was the Universe's way of telling me it is time to weed the garden! I have been quite surprised by how much "green stuff" has remained in the garden over the winter. I really thought my last fall weeding session would have been my last until March, perhaps. I could easily have weeded a few weeks ago, though! Crazy Southern winters. Well, I know what I'll be doing on my next (warm) day off -- can't wait to play in the dirt!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Richard III

This is just a neat archaeology story I wanted to share. Check out Alan Boyle's article on the skeleton discovered at Greyfriars last year. Results of the DNA studies have come back and, along with some good physical evidence (e.g. the poor fellow's horrific scoliosis), it seems to indicate that it is the skeleton of Richard III!

http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/04/16832540-verdict-issued-on-skeleton-found-under-parking-lot-its-king-richard-iii

You can read all about it on the Cosmic Log.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Art Day!

We had a somewhat rare treat this weekend: the husband had an actual Saturday/Sunday weekend off! It does happen on a regular, albeit infrequent, basis. I don't know why, but a Saturday and Sunday off together always feels more special than two weekdays off together. I take my days off when he has his days off, so I think it makes me feel like a member of "normal" society, someone who gets to work M-F. (I realize that this isn't a lot of people's "normal" but it still feels awfully nice!)

We had company with us for Friday and Saturday, but they headed home this morning, so we designated today as "Art Day." This is one of the many reasons that I adore my husband: he suggests a day full of art as the ultimate relaxation/date day for us.

For my project I settled on a portrait inspired by Lindsey Bugbee's work over at The Postman's Knock (http://www.thepostmansknock.com/how-to-create-a-crayola-crayon-portrait/), which I found through that marvelous social networking medium: Pinterest. Her work is done using wax crayons, but all I had was a pack of 24 Crayola crayons that didn't have quite the color range I was looking for, so I busted out my stash of Prismacolor colored pencils. (My Mom and Dad gave me those pencil crayons many, many years ago, and they remain one of my very favorite art supplies!)

The husband (CW) and I had gone on a lunch date the other day to one of our local favorite Thai restaurants, and our sushi looked so pretty that I pulled my camera out of my purse and started snapping photos. In the middle of my photographic frenzy, I took a picture of CW that I really liked, and I decided it would make a suitable subject for this portrait experiment.

So, I began with a nice light pencil sketch:
(Sorry for the not-great photo quality, but I really was trying not to use to heavy a touch with the pencil!)

Next step was to ink it in. I reduced the saturation on the original photo (so it became black & white) and boosted the contrast so I could see the light and shadow clearly.
And then came the colored pencils. While I normally would be quite concerned with trying for "photorealism," this time around I just wanted to emphasize broad swaths of color in order to integrate it nicely with the sharply defined areas of shadow. Here is the finished product:
There are a few little finicky issues I have with it, but overall I think I'm fairly content with how it turned out. And CW seems to approve, so that's a bonus!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Wee Bit of Winter

We haven't had much winter to speak of here in the Midsouth, except for a couple of blasts of colder air that have actually brought with them some picture-worthy weather. It snowed on us one day, which sent everyone into a bit of a frenzy of course.


This doesn't look like much snow, and it's not...not until you put it on an incredibly steep driveway and add a nice layer of ice underneath it. Husband got stuck at home one day as the driveway was utterly impassable. (Ask me if he was upset about having to take a "snow day"!) He did make one attempt to get down the driveway, and jack-knifed off into the woods about half way down. This required an emergency call to Father-in-Law, who rescued us with his tractor!
Martin Scorsese, the cat, was not amused by this weather and he made a couple of extremely valiant attempts to be an indoor kitty on the night of the storm. By the next day, though, the sun had come out, and he seemed to be enjoying this strange turn of events.

This snow melted quite promptly, and made the air all nice and moist. But the morning after the major thaw, the air was still quite cold. The moisture condensed, creating a dense fog that froze on to absolutely everything! I grabbed my camera quickly and ran around trying to get some pics of the foggy, frosty morning. It was quite stunning, and I'm not sure these photos do it justice.


I really couldn't capture just how incredible our little pin oak looked, but as you can see in the photo, every leaf was outlined in white. It really was quite spectacular!

And now, although it is a bit chilly again, it is starting to look like spring. My daffodils are up about 6 inches, with fat flower buds already starting to show. The winter isn't over yet, though, and I really hope they haven't gotten ahead of themselves.

Sock!

Just finished my very first sock ever! Well, technically it's my second sock, but I wasn't happy with the first version so I frogged it and tried a different style. I'm much happier with this one! Now I just need to do exactly the same thing one more time.
It's surprisingly difficult to take a picture of your own foot, but this gets the idea across, I think. Husband has requested a pair -- I have some nice woolly brown yarn for him! I must say: home-made socks are really comfy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ol' Fuddy-Duddy

I have realized something about myself: I am stuck in the past. I suppose that's why I gravitated to archaeology! Today I have been working on mapping out the last section of my theory chapter, in which I really get into the nuts and bolts of the Organization of Technology and the various design considerations that are relevant to my work. I had already written 37 pages of other theory leading up to this point, and was now at the stage where I needed to figure some way to compile, condense and communicate the volume of information that has been written on the subject of Technological Organization....which is not an easy task. For a theory that sounds so simple (it's all about relating artifacts to the behaviors that produced them, including the immediate technological behaviors, as well as broader cultural patterns that reflect the ways humans interact with their environments and solve adaptive problems posed by those environments) it is surprisingly complex.

So there I was, surrounded by articles and pages of notes, and staring at the chapter-so-far on my laptop. I read and reread what I had already written, and was attempting to devise a plan for inserting some additional information and references but, somehow, I just couldn't seem to figure out exactly what to edit, and where it needed "beefing up." It finally hit me: I needed it on paper, not on a computer screen! I have gotten fairly good over the years at being able to sit down and just write on the computer, without the copious handwritten notes that I used to require in my undergrad.  If I have a basic outline, and my necessary resources right at hand, I can usually sit down and write relatively extemporaneously. But when it comes to editing, that is a whole different story!

For some reason, despite the ease of the "delete" button, the handiness of "track changes," and the impermanence of the MS Word "highlight" tool, I still find myself needing a stack of paper in front of me, and a pen in hand. There just does not seem to be a substitute, in my mind, for crossing out, jotting in, drawing arrows, flipping the page over to continue my notes, and even for doing a little doodling in the margins (hey, it helps me think!). I seem to be a very visual and hands-on person in my approach to learning. I can get the glimmer of an idea in a more abstract manner, but when it comes right down to it, I need to "draw it out" to make it coalesce.

A fuddy-duddy I may be, but it's worked for me so far!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Great White Northern Funk and its Effects on Mental Gymnastics: a Thesis Submitted for No Particular Reason

Well, I've had a bit of a setback over the last couple of days. I think that, while we were up in Canada visiting the family, I picked up some of the "funk" that seemed to be circulating. I like to think that I had built up something of an immunity to the Southern Funk that has been making the rounds down here for some time now, but apparently I wasn't prepared for the Northern variant! I have been absolutely out of commission for three days with a rumbling cough, sinus pain, persistent fever, and spectacular lethargy! My sweet husband, fortunately, was off work for the last two days, so he curled up beside me on the couch and tended to me while we knitted/crocheted together and watched our "stories." But he's back to work today, so I figured I should attempt to get back at it myself.

How am I progressing, I hear you ask? NOT WELL. It is surprisingly hard to do the mental gymnastics required to explain the ins-and-outs of the Organization of Technology when your head is full of cobwebs and your body kind of feels like it's floating and sinking at the same time. Apparently I'm not quite over this bug yet!

Sitting here, trying to write while feeling a bit detached from my own brain, I began to get rather frustrated until I heard a little voice in the back of my head. That voice belongs to my advisor who, in addition to being something of a character sometimes, is also a very wise man. I frequently hear him in the recesses of my mind saying "Great is good. Done is better." Those are words to live by, I do believe! In the end, producing something...anything...is better than being so stuck on the end product being perfect that you never actually manage to produce that end product. So, I am just ploughing on ahead, writing what I can. It won't be Shakespeare, and it likely will require a lot of "post-funk" editing, but at least I will have something down on paper. I am, in fact, being so relaxed about my work today that I am frequently just writing down detached pieces of thoughts or partial sentences and using my favorite tool -- the MS Word "highlighter" -- to remind myself that I need to return to that section at a later time to make it coherent!

I think a nice warm drink might be in order for the next incoherent burst of writing. If I wasn't worried that they might not get the joke, I'd almost be tempted to send this highlighted piece of nonsense off to my committee and say "Look what I wrote all by myself! Whaddaya think?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Return to the Routine

After a wonderful (but hectic) Christmas and New Year, and a quick trip to Canada for my Mom's 70th birthday, I am working on settling back into a routine again. It's always amazing to me just how un-restful the "holidays" are! As much fun as we had, I am very glad to be back in my comfortable little grad school rut, ready for the final push toward graduation.

I am working right now on finishing yet another chapter to send off to my committee for review. This one is my theory chapter, covering all the Behavioral/Evolutionary Ecology work that has already been done at the site, as well as the Organization of Technology perspective that I am adding to the project. OT is not new to me; it formed the basis of my MA thesis, way back in '03. I realize, though, as I sit down to write this portion of the chapter, just how much I have grown academically in recent years. As familiar as I once was with these ideas, I am approaching them from a brand new perspective now. I feel as though I finally really understand the implications of these ideas, and I can see much more subtle connections to other facets of hunter-gatherer theory. (It makes me want to go back and re-write my MA!)

Getting to this point in the writing process is also reminding me of exactly why I love archaeology so much: it is a discipline that forces its practitioners to become a little bit expert in a vast array of subjects. I am pulling together evolutionary theory, lithic technology, hunter-gatherer theory, paleoecology, paleoclimatology, design theory, etc. into a story that seems, upon superficial examination, to be a simple one about why a group of prehistoric foragers decided to change the way they made stone tools a few thousand years ago. I have too many interests, and this job forces (or allows) me to be a "Jill of all Trades," pursuing each and every one of them!

Back to the theory I go.