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.


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 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.