I just finished the semi-mediocre powerpoint presentation that I cooked up for the paper that I co-authored with the four other San Quentin teachers. I don’t really like powerpoints and when I do them I try to do something nontraditional. I just didn’t have time to do much with this one. Tufte be damned, I guess.
No, I didn’t come up with the title to the paper.
Spring break is next week and everyone is cranky. By everyone I mean me.
Stay tuned for more academic make-work!
So, while I enjoy browsing at the lovely little clothing boutiques around the Bay Area, the true hot ticket shopping is done at home:
Oh yes, the Forestry Suppliers 2007-2008 catalog has arrived. 700+ pages of tree ball carriers, reptile tongs, and crack hammer belt holsters. While I’m very happy as an archaeologist, when I was young I wanted to be a park ranger and this catalog fits both professions just fine.
They have a website too:
But the catalog just feels nice. On the to-buy shortly list:
Munsell Color chart, as mentioned in jlowe’s post:
And I really need a new compass.
A girl can dream.
A few weeks ago I desperately needed a photo scale, so I ordered it and threw in a plum bob for good measure. Plumb bobs are really nice to map with because when you position a tape measure over an area you are excavating (particularly if it’s a broad, areal excavation), it’s often hard to see where exactly that tape measure is in relation to the artifact/feature/whatever you are trying to plan map. So, you measure from a plumb bob string back to the measuring tape and it gives you a better reading than just estimating with your eyes by standing above it. I don’t think I’m explaining this very well. Nevertheless, plumb bobs are nice to have around.
Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the size/weight of this thing when I ordered it and ended up with a what could be described as a small missile. It’s heavy, too. Whenever I heft the thing, I immediately think about it falling into my eye. Though that might be a residual from being in grad school.
My next one will hopefully be about two inches long. I might keep this one though, in case I need to do some real cartographic violence.
“The philosophical argument of this book is simple in its outlines: images are like living organisms; living organisms are best described as things that have desires (for example, appetites, needs, demands, drives); therefore, the question of what pictures want is inevitable.”
“We need to reckon with not just the meaning of images, but their silence, their reticence, their wildness and nonsensical obduracy. We need to account for not just the power of images but their powerlessness, their impotence, their abjection.”
“…when students scoff at the idea of a magical relation between a picture and what it represents, ask them to take a photograph of their mother and cut out the eyes.”
What Do Pictures Want: The Lives and Loves of Images by W.I.T. Mitchell
Urban assemblage #2. Click on the picture for notes.
Woozy drowsy from staying up too late reading and the sleeping pill I finally had to take hasn’t worn off yet. I’ve been watching Masculin/Feminin while sorting through the million emails from my students…oh, to be a french girl in the 60s. I do pretty okay though, ever since my New Year’s resolution I’ve been out out, running around and socializing, meeting people and going to lectures, art shows and DJ sets.
As far as scholarly life goes, I’ve been reading a lot of visual studies work, and I find most of it incredibly naive. Trying to link modernity and postmodernity to some kind of increase in visuality seems ridiculous to me, but I’ve been unable to articulate it in any kind of manner acceptable in an academic arena.
Last night was the last day of class at the Q. We were almost finished with presentations and had a few make-up tests to give, so only a few of the students showed up. I had said most of my good-byes on Friday night, shook hands with everyone, and assured them that I’d be back. Last night was nice though, a few of the guys showed up just to talk about things–parallels between Yoruba and Hopewell religion (!), NAGPRA, and the Navajo were all topics that were bandied about. There was a big “feast” put on by the Catholics, and so everyone was Catholic for the night–the Muslims, the Sikh–everyone.
On Sundays we teach in “Arts and Corrections” which is the prison art room. There are works by inmates hanging all over the walls and a few old instruments in the corner. I have no idea what it was originally, but there are high ceilings with windows so that the prison guards that roam around on the catwalks above the yard can look in. Sometimes I wonder if we could teach them too–but class is a haven where the students can learn and escape, and talk without reprisals. It’s usually pretty cold in there, and last night was no exception. So we all kept our coats on, and sat and talked.
I’m not sure what to say about prison anymore–I’ve gotten used to most of the quirks of going there. But as I’ve gotten used to the teaching, the strident injustice, the bitter humor (one guy last night said, “take your time coming back; I’m going to be here for 17 years!”), I think my confidence in something that I felt deeply and suddenly when I first started has become absolutely entrenched–this has to end. No more prisons.
But I’ll go back next Fall and teach something else–maybe Californian or Mesoamerican history. We’re doing a paper on it at the Society for Californian Archaeology, and I’d like to expand that into a journal article, so we’re profiting academically, to be sure. But the best thing that I’ve taken from this is that getting a degree in archaeology and working for social justice aren’t really all that far apart after all.
Yes, I still excavate. Yes, I need to wash my hair more often.
So this was the only picture I was able to take yesterday–my camera batteries gave out. I worked a nice, full day excavating in the misty rain, bossing undergrads and digging floors, laminated features, and a small brick wall.
You’re looking east across three 1×1 test units where a small brick “wall” (likely the edging to a long-gone garden) came up at about 15 cmbs. The stratigraphy has been kinda fun in this area–there’s top soil, then a scatter of gravel, then a condensed gravel “pavement”, then fill–clay with charcoal on the north side of the wall and sandy stuff on the south side.
In the dustpan to the side you see a horseshoe–no nails, so it hasn’t been used. Even better, it was sitting in a sandy cut with a metal pole sticking out of the middle. Yup, century-old game of horseshoes.
You can’t see it very well (maybe I’ll make some notes on the flickr page) but there’s also a cut in the unit farthest west (closest to the camera) with condensed, darker soils in it. I excavated it and it was a hole that was dug for a plant.
I also found a neat old-timey brass button pressed into the “pavement” layer.
It’s a little strange to be working on historic stuff after Catalhoyuk, but it actually prepares me to go back better than the paleoindian stuff did in Texas. Complex stratigraphy is a gratifying challenge, whether it be 100 years old, or 9000 years old.