A Bone to Pick

The Adventures of a Second Career Archaeologist

Month: November 2020

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.

Dammit.

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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