Monday, June 22, 2009


As I sit here typing, I notice that I have an extremely awesome farmer tan acquired by spending copious amounts of time in the Black Rock desert. Yes, my friends, it is field school time. What is field school you are asking? Well, allow me to tell you. Field school is basically a crash course in archaeology and the way universities exploit students for free labor.
The site, Sulphur, is an old mining town founded in the late 1800s and abandoned around the 1950s. The first week of school was spent doing inventory. Basically this means walking around and figuring out just exactly what is out there. Each of us was assigned a transect, or a specific course to follow. We stood about 30 meters apart and walked and walked and walked, flagging anything of interest. I seriously had ADD, because I could not stay in a straight line. I would see something cool and run over to flag it, forgetting that I was supposed to stick to my transect. Needless to say, my first run was not a straight line. But, as is usually the case, I got better as time went on.
Next, we defined features. A feature can be anything from the remains of a house, to a scatter of cans left out in the desert. In the end we had over 100 features. They ranged anywhere from a mound of dirt left by people prospecting for gold, to an intact dugout, lined with cardboard boxes.
After defining the features, we set out to record them. My partner is a tall redheaded guy whom I will call Opie. I feel bad for him because he is getting slowly roasted out in the desert. He borrows SPF 70 sunscreen from another student, whom I will call SpongeBob, due to his smashing rendition of the SpongeBob campfire song (more about that later.) He doesn't talk very much, but that is okay because I more than make up for his lack of conversation. We spend the day taking angles, drawing feature maps, and measuring cans. We also manage to chase lizards, particularly horny toads. We have found three and named them Harvey, Tyler, and Roy.
We have been particularly lucky this year to have rain everyday. This, as you can imagine, makes sleeping in a tent quite pleasant and fun!
Due to the intensity of the sun (when it is not raining) we work from 6:30 to 2:30. After that everyone is exhausted and we basically all fall asleep until eating dinner at 5. We have decided that we are running on senior citizen time because we go to bed at 8. The downtime is spent telling offensive stories to one another. I know that you are thinking and they are not all from me!! SpongeBob might just possibly talk more than I do. I know, shocking! I can tell that sometimes he gets on another student, Alaska's nerves. I have taken advantage of this fact to amuse myself. I try, whenever possible, to get SpongeBob to sing the campfire song, just to annoy Alaska. Last Friday they finally figured out what I was doing, to which SpongeBob replied, "Natalie, we are not your playthings." I disagree.
Because this just wouldn't be a blog posting from me unless it discussed the bathroom in some shape or form, I will honor you would more information than you could ever want. The nice accommodations reside at our campsite. We have a nice wooden box with an attached toilet seat residing over a freshly dug hole. The view from the latrine is quite stunning. One morning I was watching the sunrise as I did my morning business. When I stood up I noticed a ginormous black widow centimeters from where my bum had been. It was super disturbing.
The bathroom at the site is non existent. The land is completely flat and there isn't a tree to be found. The guys have it easy. Basically they walk like ten feet away and turn around. The girls have to walk a good ten minutes to find anything big enough to act as cover.
Well, I am off. More next week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The end of it all, possibly.

Yes, I know. It has been a little while since I have bored you all with snippets from my life. This semester started out slooooow and finished extra fast. The difference? Working two jobs in addition to school. Who'd have thought? Crazy.

Today was my last class of the semester, but I am learning that grad school, at least grad school in anthropology, never ends. Instead of getting a nice long summer break, I am supposed to attend not one, but two 5 week digs in the Nevada desert. Yay!!!!

Tomorrow bright and early I have to someone returning artifacts to the museum that have been missing since 1996. I think this is my finest accomplishment during my time in the museum. My job has technically ended there, but I just couldn't refuse their return. :)

Okay, possibly my most boring post ever! But I am in the middle of laundry and cleaning so this will have to do. :(

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nevada Desert

Owwww, I am so sore! I spent yesterday afternoon wandering around in the Nevada desert with a fellow archaeology student looking for artifacts. 5 hours wandering up and down sand dunes. Not the smartest idea for a fatty like me. But the guy I was with was super nice and waited for me each time I had to butt-slide down a dune. Fine, I was hoping you didn't notice, but I am sure you did. Yes, I went out into the Nevada desert with some guy. I realize this could have been very stupid of me. As in I was clear out in the middle of nowhere and could have easily been murdered. Then in about 10 years, my eerily persevered body would have been dug up by a golden retriever out on a hike with its master. And to complete the circle, a forensic anthropologist would be called in to examine my corpse. But that didn't happen and I am back in Reno and everything hurts.
We went to Bohunk Camp, an early 20th century campsite for Slavic workers on the Carson River. We didn't find anything left of the site, but we did trespass, by uh accident, on a restricted area of government land. Next, we went looking for Chinese pottery to verify that Chinese immigrants had occupied the area. All we found were a lot of cans, broken glass, and WIE. Oh and a lot of lizards. They guy I was with seriously had ADD and had to chase after every one. I think he was just keeping himself amused while I caught up with him, wheezing. But so goes the life of an archaeologist.
Anyway, it was fun to get a taste of what it is like to work in the field.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Week 3

Highlights from my first three weeks back in Reno:
  • Returning home to find that my roommates hadn't emptied the garbage the entire time I was gone. Do you know what cabbage smells like after it has sat out for 5 weeks? I do.
  • Finding out that my internship at the museum wasn't just brunt work - it was actually running the museum. It is all I can do not to run screaming in a blind panic as I have no idea how to run the day to day operations of a museum. Night of the Museum, my only previous museum experience, did not prepare me for this. Stay at the museum until midnight hoping that it will come to life and help me with the day to day work. Sadly, the drawer full of dead weasels stayed deceased. Extreme disappointment sets in.
  • Going to class and learning that anyone who believes that God created the world is a "moron." The next two weeks include such gems as, "I think that eventually speciation will occur as the more enlightened evolutionists segregate themselves from the ignorant individuals who believe that God had his hands in any of this," "Let's drop them off in Antarctica with the bubonic plague and let them pray all they want because it aint gonna save them." I find this especially disturbing coming from anthropologists whose entire goal is to study people different from themselves without bias.
  • Hitting a saloon on Friday night and a casino on Saturday.
  • Finding my favorite chocolate cake!
  • Falling in love with Dean Koontz all over again.
  • Analyzing a car in the parking lot. A big ole pimped out Black Tahoe. Concluding that it had to belong to a Caucasian male. Watching a tiny Asian female get in and drive away.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What list did I get on?

Yesterday I received an invitation to the grand opening of the maternity ward at the local hospital. Today I received an invitation to the local bridal show. Um, what list was I put on and how do I get off it?