A Bone to Pick

The Adventures of a Second Career Archaeologist

Fall Semester 2021 Wrap-Up

Well, the first semester of graduate school is done. It went faster than I thought it would. There was a definite learning curve between going to graduate school in the US versus the UK. US classes are a lot more regimented. What I mean is there are weekly reading lists and assignments due. It’s pretty easy to stay on top of work and keep up. In the UK there are weekly topics, but you’re told to read “around” the topics. There are mandatory texts, but then LOTS of “suggested” texts and it’s hard to know what to read. Also, it’s next to impossible to read all of them, so I got panicky sometimes wondering if I was wasting time on reading the wrong thing. I finished the first required text within a couple of weeks at the beginning of the semester and then didn’t know what to do for the rest. It was a very unsettling feeling. Sometimes the suggested reading for the week’s topic wouldn’t be posted until a day or two before the lecture and there wasn’t enough time to read it all. I got frustrated a lot. I then just started reading the stuff that interested me, which meant Iron Age and later for Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands. I figured I could read the other stuff later, maybe over the Christmas break. There weren’t any exams, just two papers, so a lot of the reading I did was research for my paper topics.

I did get to travel a little bit for research, which was fun. My last blog post was from Houston, but I also got to visit A&M in College Station. I wound up changing paper topics while I was there, but it’s ok. It was quiet and I actually got a lot of work done. My biggest problem being an overseas student at UHI is access to materials. I’m lucky enough to live in Texas where there are a lot of universities and archaeology programs. I’m able to access all of those libraries and collections, though it can mean a drive. I really don’t mind! Y’all know how much I love to travel. UHI also has a lot of its library materials available digitally and some of my sources can be found online at other sites. I’ve been able to cobble together enough to put together a few papers, so I think I’m ok. I definitely could not do a PhD this way, though. 

This semester also pushed me as a writer, but that’s good! I’m a decent academic writer but I haven’t been challenged in a long time. This semester gave me the push I needed. My first paper was honestly about what I expected, the equivalent of a B. I can’t remember the last time I got a B on a paper! I wasn’t upset, though I was confused with some of the feedback because it ran contrary to everything I’ve been taught. For example, I was told to write in the first person. I was like, “Whaaaaaat?” I never write in the first person in formal writing. It’s just not done. But, I used it in my second paper. I’m still waiting to hear the results for my second paper (I turned it in on the 5th), but I’m hoping it was a little higher than the first. I know I still made some mistakes, but I feel it’s a little better than the first paper. I really hope I’m not wrong.

Looking Forward

Next semester I’m taking Digital Analysis in Archaeology. I’ve never taken a class like that, but I think it’s an important one to have in my skill set. Technology plays an important part in archaeology (though nothing will ever replace a good field archaeologist with a keen eye and a sharp trowel). I’m familiar with Geophysics and LiDAR, but I don’t know much about analyzing artifacts digitally and I’m seeing it come up more and more in my reading. I’m really excited about this class, partially because it’s a project-based class and so I won’t have to do quite as much research as I did this past semester. It will be nice to have a break. 

This summer I’m taking Excavation, which involves some writing, but it’s all personal writing (field journals and a reflection). I’ve put in my preferences for sites and I’ll find out at the end of January which one I’m going to. Both sites are in the Orkneys. It will be either Skaill Farm on Rousay or The Cairns in South Ronaldsay. Either will be exciting and I’m thrilled to be able to explore a new part of Scotland!

Upcoming Trips

Speaking of new parts of Scotland, my family is going to join me either before or after field school, whichever one I wind up going to, and we’re going to romp around the West of Scotland with possible trips to Perth and York. Nora and I have been to Perth and York before. We have friends in Perth and York is just a fun place to visit. York is still on my list for a possible PhD location, but still not sure. 

Let’s just hope the Omicron variant gets its stupid arse gone by then so we don’t have to deal with too many travel restrictions. That’s honestly the only thing I’m worried about at this point. Like all of you, I am SICK of COVID-19 ruining everything. I’m fully vaccinated with a booster and had COVID in September (didn’t even know I had it until I lost my sense of smell and had a positive test, go figure), so I’m about as protected as I can get. I’ll be eligible for another booster in May if the CDC recommends a fourth shot and that’s all I can do until this effin’ virus fizzles out and goes endemic.

Texas Viking Festival

On December 18th I visited the Texas Viking Festival in Paige, Texas. I really like going to faires and festivals when it’s cold outside because I’m used to sweating my butt off most of the time. I wasn’t disappointed because it was COLD. I was glad for my warm cloak and scarf. I’m interested in Vikings from an academic and archaeological point of view, but the anthropologist in me was having a field day! I’ve always been intrigued as to what attracts people to historically-based activities, like Renaissance/Medieval faires and war reenactments. My personal reasons for participating on the casts of faires back in the 90’s was because they were honestly a lot of fun, I had the time, I loved costuming, and it was a great way to work on my improv skills as an actor. I really didn’t like improv, but it’s a vital skill for actors and being on cast most definitely improved mine! 

My first experience with Viking Fest was in March 2020, right before the stupid pandemic broke out. I just showed up and drank a lot of mead and watched people do horseback archery (which was pretty cool). This time I decided to immerse myself, but I didn’t have time to make a costume because of my studies. I managed to cobble together one off of Etsy. I like to support small businesses when I can and, with the exception of my cape, all of my pieces are from Etsy shops, down to the ribbon I bought to sew on my dress (the only actually sewing I did). Several people complimented my garb.

I didn’t think to have someone take a photo. I was too cold! Here’s a selfie, though.

Check out the following shops for my pieces:

It bucketed down rain all morning, so I headed out to the festival around 1 PM. It was raining off and on when I got there, so I honestly spent most of the festival hiding out in my friends’ shop. They sell tablet woven articles, soap and shaving supplies, and custom-made Viking shields. They will have an online shop soon and I will link it when it’s open. I did walk around the festival when the rain let up and saw lots of amazing stuff for sale and heard some of the skaldic storytelling that was going on across the way. The shop tent was along the main road in and out of the festival, so I was able to do a lot of fun people-watching. I did have some mead, got tipsy, and had to sit down for a good 30 minutes. I’m such a lightweight! I left a little before the sun went down and was exhausted from all the walking and the cold.

It was an interesting experience, much different from my days of doing faires. The next Texas Viking Festival is in June, but I’ll have to miss that one because I’ll be at field school either in Kerrville or in Scotland.

Last But Not Least…

My friend, Ty, gave this to me for Christmas and I wanted to finish off the blog post with it. He knows me entirely too well!

Houston…do we have a problem?!

WARNING: this is a LONG post.

I’m writing this from a sketchy hotel room in Houston. It didn’t look shitty on Hotels.com, but then again Hotels.com has lied to me before. I feel like I’m in a bad relationship. I kind of want to break up with Hotels.com and go over to Booking.com or something, but then Hotels.com slyly reminds me that I have Silver Status and I have to stay 10 nights a year to get a free night. I’ll admit I’m a sucker and would feel like a bad spouse if I didn’t uphold my end of the bargain, so I inevitably fall for it in a bid for my free night and occasionally wind up in a poop hole of a hotel. Unfortunately, I just redeemed my free night a few weeks ago at a not-so-shady hotel in Grand Prairie. Damn you, Silver Status. Oh well, it’s only one night. Thank God.

Ah, Houston. Really friggin’ huge and pretty much every driver rides your bumper so hard and so fast that it’s like the whole freeway is behind you trying to shag your car at 65 MPH. Listen, I know some people love it here, and Houston does have some good qualities, but DAMN. Every time I come here, I can’t wait to leave and go back to Austin, where they ride your bumper less and wave their middle fingers more. I don’t find middle fingers that intimidating. The only redeeming qualities of Houston for me are:

  1. My cousin lives here.
  2. My sister-in-law lives nearby.
  3. One of my best friends from high school/college lives near by.
  4. This is where I legit first met John Barrowman and kicked off a period of my theatrical life that was insanely fun and exhausting (and I will never do it again).
  5. The Houston Archaeological Society lives here and they are awesome people who put up with my stupid questions, give me excavation experience, can throw a Field School party like you won’t believe, and are generally Good People.
  6. Rice University’s Fondren Library

And #6 is why I’m here. I’m swimming through my first master’s paper for Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands. I’m writing about the Iron Age gaming boards and pieces that have been found on random sites throughout the Orkneys and Shetlands. Pretty cool subject, yeah? It is, but most of the field reports are in print…only in Scotland. UGH. WorldCat is my friend and tells me if those buggers are available nearby. WorldCat told me that Fondren Library has three of them. WOO HOO!!! RESEARCH ROAD TRIP! It’s cheaper to drive 3 hours to Houston than hop on a plane, and anyway…I think the library at Orkney College is closed anyway, so that would be one useless trip.

I’d rather go to the Orkneys than Houston, honestly. But, I have Columbus Day off from work, Fondren Libary is open tomorrow, and I didn’t feel like getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to drive to Houston, so here I am.

I listened to Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, on the way here, which made the drive incredibly awesome and made Houston a little less sucky. Who’m I kidding? Jenny Lawson makes everything less sucky. I read her latest book Broken after I visited her bookstore Nowhere Bookshop last July. See photos of us at the very end of this blog. I bought the last autographed copy they had at the time and I ate the book up. Ok, no, I didn’t actually eat the book. I read the book. Eating books would be weird, but then…they are made from trees and trees are a plant and you can eat some plants.

I think Houston is messing with my mind and I’ve only been here for 90 minutes. I gotta get out of here. Anyway, Broken was amazing and funny and now I’m reading all of Jenny’s books backwards because…I’m secretly a Time Lord and we do everything ass-backwards because that’s how we roll.

I wrote that last line just to see if you’re still paying attention. Jenny’s stories about her struggles with mental illness and a body that basically wants to kill her reminds me to take good care of myself so I never fall back into the deep, dark place that I was a year ago when I had my mental breakdown. I climbed out of that hell hole and back into the light, battered and bruised, but a BADASS SURVIVOR. My archaeology studies kept me going when it felt like the whole world was crashing and burning around me. It’s important for me to stay focused on what makes me happy so I don’t go back to that dark place: my family, my friends, Doctor Who, and archaeology. Jenny Lawson has become a part of my recovery, now in its later stages. I’m no longer in therapy, but I am still on my Happy Pills (yay Wellbutrin!) and her books make me laugh hysterically and remind me to take care of my mental state. I’m a badass warrior woman like mother-frikkin’ Boudicca for destroying my depression demons. She knows what’s that like and it helps to know that I’m not alone.

And hey, you gotta laugh hysterically when you’re driving in downtown Houston and the amorous Ford F150 behind you is trying to hump your bumper and make illegitimate car babies with your poor, confused Subaru. Do they make birth control for cars?

Anyway, I’ve got a good feeling that because of my situation being an overseas student, I’m going to be getting to know several strange university libraries for research. I really like the idea of creeping around strange libraries and sneaking through the stacks like that freaky ghost at the beginning of Ghostbusters. You know the one:

This crazy bitch. I didn’t post the scary picture of her because it’s scary, but I did look at it. For the first time, I realized she actually looks like a deranged gorilla when she attacks the Ghostbusters. Not kidding. Google it.

Maybe that’s secretly why I want to be an archaeology scholar. I just have a thing about creepy old libraries. I hope Fondren is sufficiently creepy. I’ll let you know, as long as I’m not murdered first by a serial killer hanging around in the parking lot of this shady hotel. I’m serious, next time I have to go to Houston I’m either going to try to work out my abusive relationship with Hotels.com, or I’ll get a damn Air BnB.

I’ll let you know if I was murdered or not.

And now for an apology and something completely different…

I realize it’s been eleventy-billion years since I’ve updated this blog and I’m sorry and I’m a bad writer. I mean…my only consolation is that no one actually really reads this thing, so I don’t even know why I’m apologizing.

But just in case someone other than me, or occasionally my dad (hi, Dad!), is reading this. Um…I’m sorry?

So the rest of this entry is devoted to my graduation in May and my summer frolicking through the dirt at Field School in Kerrville with Nora.


Graduation in May was fun, but I highly recommend against driving to Illinois in one day from Austin. Longest. Car. Ride. Ever. It rained most of the time we were there, but we still had a great time. It also rained on graduation day, which stank, but meh. ‘Tis what it is. Here are some photos of our adventures.

The walls at the Air Bnb didn’t quite reach to the ceiling…Nora discovered she can be a creeper and peer over the wall into our bedroom from the top bunk in her room. Freaky!
Downtown Macomb, Illinois. Yeah, we bad. Seriously though, downtown Macomb is really pretty and has some terrific restaurants and shops!
Nora and Paul and some WIU bulldogs on a wall. Nothing weird here.
Yes, yes I practice safe sex six.
Paul and I discovered this FABULOUS place called the Forgottonia Brewery. Nora thought it was too loud. Here’s the flight of beer that Paul and I shared and we wound up taking some home (I think it was the sour?).
So because of the rain, no one was able to get a great photo of me coming off the stage. 🙁 This is the crappy one that the university took and I got in the mail for Ye Olde “Buy me buy me” photo packages (I did, 2 5X7’s for shits and giggles).
Proof that I’m smart or something. Degree number…four?

After graduation, we went to a rather rainy picnic at a local state park with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Alveshere. It was nice to meet her in person and our kids had a good time playing together.


June bringeth field school, something I look forward to all year. I was so excited to go and we had a great time, despite the saga of the dead air conditioner at our Air Bnb and our host was kind of a jerk about checking out, but whatever. It’s over and done with. I can’t blame Hotels.com for that one, but I’m starting to suspect that Hotels.com is talking about me behind my back to Air BnB. We’re going to be back there next year and I’ve already found a different place that’s closer to base camp, anyway. Anyway, selected photos!


Fabian wanted to go, too. I keep telling her that cats can’t be archaeologists, but she won’t listen. Meh, cats.
I took Nora to a park on our first night there. There were massive oaks. Two minutes didn’t pass before Nora was up a tree. That’s my girl.
God, what a dorky photo. I was at the Historic Site looking for a German dance hall and helping with the Total Station (GPS points). I thought I’d look cool, but that is probably the Dorkiest Hat in Existence. Oh well, better than a sunburn.
I’m an English teacher when I’m not playing archaeologist. Sometimes they overlap. And no, I don’t go around licking rocks…unless I think they’re bones. Sometimes you can’t tell the difference, so you lick them. Bones stick to your tongue, rocks don’t…I realize that just makes me sound way weirder than I am.
Hey, a test unit! I think this was the entrance? I can’t remember. I was on a different unit after this, when I wasn’t screening.
Speaking of screening, here we are…shoving buckets of dirt through a screen. We found a lot of nails…A LOT. And some melted glass, which was pretty cool. The dance hall burned down, so that was one hot fire.
While I was finding nails, Nora was at the Prehistoric Site. She found this nice little mortar. Or maybe it’s a cobble? I can’t remember. Prehistoric archaeology isn’t my thing.
Me at 6:30 in the morning with no coffee. That is why I look so sad.
So another group found one of the piers for the dance hall and that bad boy was burned most of the way down. I got a photo before they pulled it.
Some wonderful soul brought us popsicles. I love that person because it was HOT.
Archaeologists are hard at work.
God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt. After a morning of digging the shower water would be black. This is why I don’t camp. I have to take a midday shower.
Chert. Some more random rocks Nora brought me.
Nora obviously takes archaeology very seriously. 6:30 in the morning and she was hanging upside down playing Pokemon Go. That colorful thing is her sit-upon from Girl Scouts, which cleverly doubles as her dig kit and chair.
So I spent like THREE FREAKING DAYS looking for the northwest corner post of the dance hall and we found it on the last day! The black rectangular-ish bit is the burned-out post.
Frantic digging because we were on a time crunch.
I was tasked with cleaning up the hole and making it pretty for photos.
All cleaned up. I got the walls pretty straight and I was proud of myself for mostly mastering this skill. It actually isn’t easy to do a 90-degree wall.
Behind the dance hall was a frontier schoolhouse. These are the foundations that were uncovered. The school was TINY, like 16′ by 16′.
I had to get a selfie with the schoolhouse. Paying my respects to those frontier teachers. I don’t know how they taught multiple grades at once, but they were the forerunners of our modern education system and my job.


I’m not going to bore you with more vacation photos, but Paul and I ran away to Hot Springs for a week while Nora was at Girl Scout camp. We had a great time and ate the best ramen EVER from a food truck called Tasteful Noods. Nora and I spent a week in San Antonio later in the month. The first half was in a shady Airstream trailer (that was Air BnB’s fault, for once) and escaped to a nice hotel for the second half (when Hotels.com wasn’t being abusive). But, here’s the two of us making a not-really-pilgrimage-to-Jenny-Lawson’s-bookstore-because-that-would-kind-of-be-stalking-and-I’m-not-into-that-I-promise.

Now I feel slightly guilty and like I have to justify myself. Long story short, the bookstore had JUST reopened after being closed to in-person shopping because of COVID. Also, I’m a reading teacher, so it’s ok for me to stalk bookshops (and libraries) in general. Also, I felt like I wanted to say “thanks” to Jenny Lawson in some weird way by visiting her amazeballs shop and buying her book, which turned out to be autographed. WOO HOO!

Nora approves.

It’s Over!

I just finished my final exam for my last class for my BA and these are some very tired (and emotional) reflections and thank yous to the people who have helped me make this possible.

Graduation and an Exciting Announcement…

I waited for a while to update because I’ve kind of been in the doldrums. Winter is the quiet part of the year when there’s not too much going on in the field. Add on the COVID pandemic and it’s all dead. I’ve been buckling down for this last semester of my studies. Last month I was surprised to learn that I won Spring 2021 Departmental Scholar for the Anthropology Department at WIU. That was a surprise! I received a nice medal to wear at graduation next month. I also was invited to join Phi Kappa Phi, which is the oldest honor society in the United States and very prestigious. I was pretty shocked about that one, but I decided to join because I decided that I’ve earned it. I am really proud of how I’ve managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA while working full-time and being a mom. It’s not an easy feat.

I wasn’t planning on attending graduation, but when I won Departmental Scholar I thought, “Why the heck not?” Paul and I are both fully vaccinated now. I don’t know how Illinois is, but Austin is back to Stage 3 and the risk for us going to Illinois next month is negligible. In February I found a decently priced Air Bnb nearby to Macomb. All of the hotels were already booked up and also exorbitantly priced. Then WIU canceled graduation, so I canceled my reservation. I found out about 10 days ago that graduation is BACK on and will be held outside and socially distanced. Oooookay. Hot and cold graduation, yay! Unfortunately, the first Air BnB was no longer available and I hesitated to book a place that didn’t have a generous cancellation policy in case WIU calls off graduation again. I had to do some hunting, but I finally found another place that is in the country on a lake with giant swings. It’s about 30 minutes to campus, which is reasonable, and I can cancel up to a few days before. We are bound for Illinois next month!

So some of y’all know that one of the reasons I wound up in archaeology in the first place was because of Time Team. I’ve talked about this show before, but if you’re not familiar with Time Team it was a British production that ran for almost 20 years. Every episode featured a dig primarily in the UK that took place over 3 days. Tony Robinson was the host. Time Team has been off the air for around 8ish years but it still has a loyal fan following. Recently, the producer of the show announced that he’d like to bring the show back and set up a Patreon account. The response was overwhelming and yours truly decided to pledge to bring the show back. It’s the least I can do for this show changing my life! I’m excited to see the new shows once they’re made!

I happily blame Time Team for this insanely wonderful adventure I’m on now!

So here’s the biggest news….


I just found out about a week ago. This September I am starting a masters program in Archaeological Studies at the University of Highlands and Islands in Orkney, Scotland. It’s an online program that will take me about two years to complete from start to finish. I also may have the opportunity to dig in the Orkney Islands next year, something that I have ALWAYS wanted to do! I am beyond thrilled about the next step in my journey to becoming an archaeologist!

I’m also excited that I’ll be getting my degree from a school in Scotland and one that specializes in my fields of interest. I am so blessed that there is an online program that aligns with my needs. This was pure serendipity. I can continue with my studies and still work full-time to prepare for an eventual move to the UK for doctoral studies.

I often have moments that affirm that I’m on the right path. Let’s face it: what I’m doing is NUTS. I have a good job, a nice house, a great car, and am in a loving marriage. It’s insane to drop the 9-5 and go chase my dreams in my forties, right? I say hell no. It’s not crazy. Life is too friggin’ short to be satisfied with the status quo. I love what I’m doing! Archaeology is the one thing in my life, besides my family, that makes me insanely happy. I am blessed to have a partner who is willing and eager to go along with my crazy ideas. Even my current job is more than enough to pay for trips, weekend digs, and annual field school. I am where I need to be right now, but I won’t be here forever.

I started this journey so unsure about everything, but I also knew that I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t at least give it go. I never imagined how amazing it would turn out to be!

You never know what will happen unless you try.

Sing Along Sunday!

I’ve been meaning to post this song for a while. It’s by Danny Weinkauf, who was the bassist for They Might Be Giants. He’s released a couple of kids’ albums, many of them based around science and education. I was tickled when he wrote this number and it’s very catchy!

Field School is ON!

Yeah, I know I posted two days ago, but this is big news!

I’ve already booked an Air Bnb in Kerrville for the week.

I am so freaking excited it’s not even funny.

Yes, things will be socially distanced, but I think the world will be much improved by June. Back to normal? No. Safe enough to do a socially distanced dig, especially if the majority of the adults have gotten their vaccinations? Yep.

Also…I changed my phone ring to the Time Team theme song. I confess that I do a dance when it goes off before I answer it (or let it go to voicemail if I have no idea who’s calling).

I’m such a geek.


I couldn’t think of a better title for this blog post, sorry.

It’s been 2 months since I last updated because nothing much has been happening. I was in between semesters. Today was the first day of my last semester before I graduate in May. I’m taking Old World Archaeology with my favorite professor and Anthropological Theory. I’ve read through the syllabi for both classes and WOOOOEEEEEEE this is going to be a writing intensive semester! I don’t mind, though, because it will be good practice for writing my master’s thesis starting in September (I’m speaking positively, see, because I haven’t actually been accepted yet).

We already kicked off Old World Archaeology with talking about ancient aliens building the pyramids. HELL YEAH! I love pseudoarcheology (hence my last post about the Archaeo Fantasies podcast). It’s so ridiculous.

Masters of the ARCHAEOLOGY


Old School She-Ra. Hell yeah… This post actually has nothing to do with She-Ra. I am just feeling dramatic today. Sue me.

I think I finally figured out what to write for my masters thesis. FINALLY! It’s been driving me nuts. If you know me then you know I am really impatient and I want to walk in the door in September knowing what the heck I’m going to write about for the next two years.

I’m still nailing down an exact research question, but I do know that I want to do some work with finding missing African American cemeteries, locating graves, identifying the individuals by historical record if possible, and using genealogical databases and records to notify descendants of the location of their ancestors.

I feel like this work is important because for too long the individuals buried in African American cemeteries were deliberately ignored and forgotten. They weren’t deemed important enough to be remembered. I think that is disrespectful, sad, and needs to be rectified.

I don’t really think of archaeology when I think of social justice. You probably don’t, either. Archaeology, though, is the physical story of our past and that includes minimalized and historically oppressed peoples. I’ve always said you can tell a lot about a culture from how they treat their dead. This holds true for many African American cemeteries and graves. People didn’t respect them in life, so why should their final resting places be treated with the same care and attention as Caucasian cemeteries? Their cemeteries were often unrecorded and lost, only to be mistakenly discovered when they are dug up. This happened in Florida recently when a high school discovered it was built on top of a black cemetery.

It is positively shameful.

I cannot be held responsible for the reprehensible things my ancestors did, but I believe that I am responsible for making it right as well as I can. I have the skills to bring awareness to this issue and to help give a name to the people who were deliberately forgotten. Every person who has walked this earth deserves the dignity of having their name and their resting place remembered. I want to research what archaeologists and communities are doing to correct the wrongdoings of the past.

This also ties into my interests in funerary archaeology, so complements the work I want to eventually do when I’m working on a PhD (see, more positive thinking). I’m thrilled that it’s all seemingly falling into place.

Now I just need to narrow it down to a research question, which is the hard part. This is when I feel less like She-Ra and more like Shaggy.

Zoinks! We need a research question, Scoob!

I’ll gladly give a whole box of Scooby Snacks to anyone who helps me out here.

Archaeological Fantasies Podcast, Grad School, and Other Stuff…

So I discovered this wonderful and hilarious podcast a few weeks ago to listen to when I was driving 2 hours each way through the backass roads of Texas to get to the dig site. It’s called the Archaeological Fantasies Podcast hosted by Sarah Head with Dr. Kenneth Feder basically debunking all of the pseudoarchaeological crap out there.

I love it.

There’s nothing better than driving to a site at the buttcrack of dawn with a cup of Buccee’s coffee and listening to two people and a guest rip holes through fake archaeology. It’s really a great way to start your day in the field. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the deal…I’m just an undergrad (not for long, though!) and I can’t tell you how many times when I’m talking to strangers about what I’m studying, they start going off on some weird random mystical artifact or archaeological conspiracy they saw on a TV show. It’s annoying as frak because I usually have no idea what the heck they’re talking about. I don’t have cable and I don’t get the History Channel or whatever channel shows that crap. I don’t watch the shows because I just don’t care to.

Last year some guy at a teacher’s workshop started blabbing at me about some artifact in New Mexico (I don’t even remember what it was) and then got pissed off when I didn’t know:

  1. WTF he was talking about.
  2. Clearly couldn’t keep the look of “oh god, not another crackpot” off my face when he mentioned aliens. I mean, I get it. New Mexico. Roswell or something, right.

He mentioned a cover-up by the Feds and at that point I was about to burst into laughter and I moved to a different table. I just couldn’t. As soon as you mention aliens, I’m out. Bigfoot, out (sorry, dad). People other than the Native Americans who built the mounds, out. Giants, OUT. Young Earthers, out (and for the record, I am a devout Christian). Romans in Texas, GET OUT.

And I’m only an undergrad. I get the distinct impression that this crap gets worse the higher I move up in my academic career. This podcast has made that abundantly clear to me.

Yay? Well, there’s weirdos everywhere. It seems like they’ve just gotten worse in the last several years since there’s been a pushback against solid science in general. I guess it just comes with the job?

So I don’t really listen to podcasts in general. There’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just that I rarely have time to sit down and listen. I’m not really able to listen to them while doing activities that take a high amount of concentration, like writing a paper (that reminds me…I really need to stop procrastinating and get crackin’ on that Navajo burial practices paper for Dr. Anderson that I keep putting off). They’re great for long drives, obviously. Now that the site is shut down because Phase 3 ended and I’m not doing any driving because of the stupid pandemic, no more podcast.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve started listening to it in spurts while doing the dishes, folding the laundry, and while out and about doing socially distanced errands.

I’d heard of Dr. Feder before. His book Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology has been recommended to me many times and has been on my to-read list for ages. It’s on the 10th edition now and I can only find older editions at Halfprice Books. It’s on my Christmas wish list, so hopefully Santa will hurry down the chimney and leave it for me under the tree this year.

I’ll admit that I’m only on Episode 9 of over a hundred, but I have subscribed and I intend to listen to the rest as much as possible.

Graduate School!

Uh…ok, not much has happened here, but everything is now officially in! The professor I asked to write a recommendation did it for me (thank you, Dr. Alveshere!).

So now we wait.

Might be until spring.


Other Stuff

I have come to the sad realization that I may not be able to go to TAS field school next year if I can’t go back to work soon. I’m still on FMLA and will probably still be out for a while. I AM doing better, but just not to the point where I can handle work yet.

That means 2 summers that I will have missed field school. Of course, I don’t even know if TAS is even doing field school yet. I guess it all depends on how distribution goes with the vaccine.

However…I am considering applying for a summer internship with the Texas Historical Commission in the Lost Cemeteries project. If you know me you know I can’t sit still for 5 minutes and I have to do something until my grad school classes start in September. Cemeteries and burial practices are areas that I am very interested in working. I think it would be close to what I’m thinking for a PhD dissertation (something I’m considering) and would be a great experience.

That’s me, always scheming and dreaming.

Season Wrap Up and Grad School News

I found out yesterday that the site where I’ve been working is going to be closed down because they feel they have enough information to define the site. I’m pretty bummed because I really enjoyed working out in the field again. I managed to make it out there three times before the sudden shut down.

Sadly, those three sessions were all the digging I managed to do in 2020. I’m thankful I had the opportunity because it was cathartic to be back in the field and I’ll take three sessions over none.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to dig next. If (and a big IF) field school happens in June then that will probably be the next time. It’s possible HAS may do some work in the spring, depending on how the pandemic is going and whether a vaccine is available by then. I’ve heard Pfizer’s vaccine is about 90% effective and they are going to submit it for FDA approval soon, with the hopes it will be available for healthcare workers by the end of the year. I really hope it does because I don’t want to have to wait almost another whole year before digging again!

In other news, I applied for graduate school a few weeks ago! The University of Highlands and Islands has an MLITT (same as a Master of Arts) in Archaeological Studies and it’s totally available online. I’m just waiting for them to make a decision and I’m not sure how long it will take. If I don’t get into their program, then my second choice is University of Leicester online because they have a pretty decent archaeology program, but it isn’t as specific to my interests as UHI’s.

What I really wish I could do is go to Texas State San Marcos because the skills I need to learn are there. However, I can’t afford to quit my job and commute down there every day. It’s an hour one way. I earned my M.Ed. from Texas State, but I lived in South Austin back then and it was only a 30 minute drive. I’m stuck with online classes for now and I guess I have to be content with that. I hope I can pick up those skills down the road when and if I can go to the UK to do a PhD.

Sometimes I feel like this whole archaeology journey so far has been like running around on a hamster wheel. I’ve been going in circles and not really getting anywhere, but now I know that isn’t true. In six months I will have completed the first major step in this journey and applying for graduate school was when I realized that I’m getting off this hamster wheel.

I mean, maybe graduate school is another hamster wheel, but it’s a wheel filled with different challenges (DISSERTATION, YIKES!) and is closely aligned with my field of interests. I also may have the opportunity to excavate IN THE MOTHER FLIPPIN’ ORKNEY ISLANDS! I have always wanted to go there, so this pandemic needs to skedaddle so I can hone my practical skills and become a better archaeologist.

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