Monday, November 22, 2010


Working from home has been, well, an adjustment. One would think that an opportunity to work from home would be ideal. It may be ideal if I actually had the space and was set up for it. I’m not. I take over a corner of the kitchen table and run an Ethernet cord from my bedroom (where our cable comes into the house) down the hall through the living room and into the kitchen. Then when my nephews come home from school, it’s a battle for the cord so they can play their online video games. Working from home is distracting. Home has always been home, my escape from work. Now, work is in my home. It’s also pretty lonely. There’s no one to talk to to discuss whatever it is I’m working on. I have to call someone, and try to explain to them what I’m working on or looking at. And there is no one here to motivate me. When we had an office with actual people in it, we weren’t watched 24/7 or felt watched, but because my co-workers were there, I was motivated. Other people working, makes me work. Now I have to motivate myself. That is not one of my top skills; trust me. My sister and I made a small table today for my work computer and accessories (scanner, speakers, keyboard, etc). That’s right, we made a table. I routered and everything! I’ll still be in the kitchen, but I won’t have to “put” everything away at the end of each day. We shall see how it goes. I’m still adjusting. I still don’t know if I like it or dislike it. I do like that I can now go to work in my PJ’s and nobody looks at me funny.

I never thought I’d miss the commute to the office, but I do. Not the 2 hours I spent in my car every day, but the daily habit of “going to the office”. And right now the drive up the mountain is beautiful. The trees are changing and loosing their leaves, and when the wind blows, it’s like snow… only its leaves.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I love the forested mountains. I love the ocean. There is something magical about these places. No matter what is going on or how I am feeling, either of these places, here or there, near or far away, can calm me – allow me to just breathe.

Recently, as in earlier this week, I got to work in the Sierra Mountains east of Fresno, California. I got to stay in a little mountain town of a little over 1,000 people in a hotel with 8 rooms each of which has a theme. I had the duck room. I, the lucky one, got to go to sleep with stuffed ducks mounted over my oak bed. I got to wake up and see the ass of a duck. Scary as that sounds, it’s better than the fish room. That one just gives me the creeps.

Me and a co-worker, I’ll call him Bubba Joe Forsythe (because I can) surveyed around a historic dam and a wooden distribution line (wood pole utility line). We got to drive around on the back roads (limited access) and look at dilapidated corrugated metal sheds and walk down a mountain. And we got a peek at a working hydroelectric powerhouse (with the help of our escort). Sometimes human engineering just boggles my mind.

Now I mentioned walking down a mountain, and I meant it. We dropped 2,000 feet in a distance of maybe 500 feet. That’s STEEP! It took Bubba Joe Forsythe and I 3 hours to get down. Normally we could have just written it off as too steep to survey, but I knew we could do it safely and construction crews back in the 1910’s and later in the 1930’s built a railroad up this mountain and installed the utility line. So if they can build a railroad on this mountainside, then by golly, we can walk down it in 2010. We hung onto the poles, slid down a wash, and decided the mangle of manzanita was better to trapes through rather than the slippery loose gravel of the wash. I never felt like we shouldn’t have done it. And I’m glad we did. We saw some cool engineering and what 70 years of just brush clearing does to a railroad.

I hope these pictures can give you all an idea. And just so you know, I am walking like a 90 year old now because I am so sore!!
The very beginning

What happens to a railroad on a mountainside

Our ending point is that town

looking back up

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I highly recommend getting married…

… in Hawaii. I actually don’t ever see myself getting married, much to the chagrin of my mother who has been hopelessly hoping for girl grandchildren. I don’t think I should be a parent. Being an aunt is enough “parental” responsibility. However, my sister just got married on Maui, and I got to go too. I was her maid of honor and teenage-sitter for her two sons. I had never been to Maui before, never been to any of the Hawaiian Islands. So I was excited to go. Only had 4 days on the island, one of which was taken by the wedding ceremony and reception. But still 4 days is better than no days.

It reminded me a lot of New Zealand, but the water is much warmer, it only rained once and even the rain was more like mist, and the temperature is warmer too. Never had to wear my jeans or sweatshirt. It was perfectly acceptable to wear your bathing suit to a restaurant (flip-flops were optional attire). Everyone was very nice and polite, and was happy to see us spending money. Even the homeless people were nice.

Highlights: Crystal clear aqua blue water (warm enough to swim in at 8pm).
Beautiful fishies while snorkeling.
Seeing my mom conquer her fear of water and going snorkeling with us.
Finding the black sand beach, then realizing it had tide pools.
Watching me nephews drinking their first (and probably last) coconuts.

Good times were had by all. I didn’t want to come home, as per usual when I go on an awesome vacation. I wanted it to last longer… isn’t that always the case?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


This past Saturday I took my dad to the Watsonville Fly-in and Airshow. Awesome. I needed a distraction from the chaos at work, and I know that my dad loves planes... and so do I. I can't name them or anything like that, but he can. So we walked down all the rows of planes and read all the funny signs that the owners/pilots said about their planes. We watched some of the stunt plane acts. That was fun. Helped me remember why I used to want to be a pilot. Don't think my stomach could handle all that though, even if I was the one doing the barrel rolls. It does seem like something one of my nephews would find fun to do. There was one pilot that just blew us both away. A guy by the name of Bill Stine in his Edge 540. I've never seen anything like it. He was able to put his plane end over end. Tail over nose, again and again. It was just amazing to watch. We looked at all the WWII planes and the B-25 Bomber. It isn't a large plane but it is packed to the gills full of machine guns. We stood there and said, well, there would be at least seven guys manning the guns, a pilot and co-pilot, and navigator. That's a lot of guys packed into a small plane full of bombs. Just makes you think, you know?

I had a good time, and I think my dad did too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I don't know, and I don't care

I still have a job. I just don’t know if I want it. The Santa Cruz branch of the company (where I work) will be closing its doors permanently at the end of September. The company will also be closing our Chico branch as well. The company wants to keep the three of us supervisors from the Santa Cruz branch. However, we will be working out of the Lancaster branch. If you have ever been to Lancaster, you know it is not a very fun place. It’s better than Taft, but still miserable. We will be what our client calls “lead monitors”. We will work 6 days a week up to 11 hours a day and basically be on-call, 24-7. It will not be a fun experience, very high stress and frustrating, and an all around logistical nightmare. I’m painting a very lovely image aren’t I? Now, if this project is running at full steam then the three of us who used to work in Santa Cruz will be fully employed round the clock. However, this is not the case right now. There will be times when nothing is going on… and then what? I stick my thumb up my butt and wonder why someone thought it was a good idea to create a drug that rots your teeth? The “boss man” said when this particular project is not running full steam ahead, or we don’t need to be on the ground down yonder, we can work from home… but then he can’t guarantee us work. But this is archaeology and CRM where there really is no job security ever, and we are at the whim of the people, government agencies, and corporations that hire us. There never was job security, I just got lazy and didn’t think this would happen.

So the elephant in the room is this: Do I continue on here and basically relocate to Lancaster and go prematurely grey? Or do I start looking for another job in Archaeology? Or, do I look for another job elsewhere?

I’ll say one thing: I won’t miss the hour commute it takes just to get to the office in the morning. I will miss my co-workers though. How many of you can say that you would actually enjoy hanging out with your co-workers outside of work, or understand each others humor? I consider these people my friends.

I used to like this company. I was proud to work here. I was proud of the products we produced and the quality of our work. Now I feel like a pawn being carelessly strewn around the chessboard with no regard to my feelings, worth, or well-being. I almost threw in the towel today and walked away. But my co-worker who is also getting tossed about said not to make any rush or rash decisions, that we needed to let this stew a bit. It’s still fresh… it needs to fester first, I suppose.

So, I know now that I will quit. I just haven’t decided when. I feel like I need to have at least some semblance of a plan first, perhaps another job lined up so that I’m not without. Then again, I am a saver, and have been since I was a kid and my older siblings would borrow money from me. I can survive and still pay my mortgage and expenses for about 4 months with no income. And because the “boss man” won’t just lay me off, I do not qualify for unemployment.

I’m angry. I’ve given this company 5 years of my life and even caught a deadly fungus that has permanently scared my lungs for life while working for them. I’ve done great things for them, and they don’t see it! They never do. It has happened time and again, that they loose great employees because they don’t treat us right. They push, they shove, they take take take. I had a hellish year last year and ended up taking a long vacation this past December. The job was better at first when I came back. We do this job because we love archaeology. It’s not for the glamor, fame, or money because those things don’t exists in this field. But it wasn’t fun anymore. I’ve become very bitter, battered, bruised, and burnt out.

Kia ora, and perhaps it is time for this *koru to unfurl.

*Koru is a Maori word, which is a new unfurling fern frond and symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Anxiety bound

Instead of listening to the pile of CD’s my co-worker gave me today, I’m listening to this: Iron and Wine’s Sunset Soon Forgotten on his Our Endless Numbered Days Album. Why? Because I may, or may not, have a job by the end of tomorrow. And so my anxiety level is a bit raised. The “boss man” is coming to the office to “discuss the future” of the company. We’ve been in slow, tight spots before… but never this bad. Last week I had to let go two of my favorite minions, and my only minions. And now, as of tomorrow, I have no work. Now don’t panic! It’s just the end of the world. Worst case scenario is that I get laid off. When I really think about it though, I don’t really think that will happen. We’ve been speculating all day about possible scenarios. Our contract manager thinks she will get laid off. The rest of us (all 3 of us) are thinking that we will be “asked” to take our PTO for a week or two or longer, or go to a 32 hour work week until the work picks up, or take leave without pay. We just don’t know from the cryptic email from the “boss man”. His emails are always cryptic and we have spent years trying to decipher the “code” with no avail.

So, I think I will polish up the resume, just in case. Can’t hurt. This has also started my brain churning the idea’s that I’ve been avoiding asking. Which are: what do I want to do? What kind of job do I want after this one? Because I won’t be here forever. Do I want to stay in archaeology? What came to mind on the drive home today was trail maintenance. Apparently I want to do some hard labor. And a kayaking guide, which isn’t really realistic since I don’t even know how to kayak. And I’ve only been in one twice in my life. Then I thought well, maybe it’s a good time to go back to school. Then I also run the risk of having too much education, and being over-qualified. Why can’t it just be easy!! Whaaaaaaaaaaa! If I do chose to go back to school however, what would I take? What interests me doesn’t necessarily equate to jobs that pay money. Geology, geography, botany, forensic anthropology, and set building (i.e. movie and tv show sets). Yeah, who knew. I could try and get a pilots license or motorcycle license, but I don’t have a plane or a motorcycle. Too bad I can’t get paid to pull the weeds in my backyard or sit on my ass and read books (that I want to read). It would be cool if I could get a job where all I do is do archaeological surveys of county, regional, state, and national parks! Come on USDA, I just know you are itching to give me a job like that. Then I thought I could live out one of the other jobs I’ve always wanted to do. Fire fighting, but for the Forest Service. Hot Shots or CDF, CalFire. But that is mostly seasonal.

So, the world is always in flux and will be a mystery… until tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh the wonders of Summer

The months have been flying by it seems. It’s almost August and I have yet to complete my farmer tan and uber freckle. April and May were spent in the office for the most part producing the report that I did all that field work for in Taft last year *shudders*. Mind you this was only the draft report. We now have to wait for responses from the client and the governing agency which is the Bureau of Land Management. It ended up being over 8,000 pages long with over 570 archaeological sites, 270 of which were newly identified by us. However most of those “sites” are quite boring, having to do with the oil industry. The client (who will remain nameless) were complaining about all the stuff we were finding. My answer is this: Well, if you had only picked up after yourselves to begin with, we wouldn’t be here right now spending all your precious money. I didn’t dare say that though. But it is true. Leaving a trail of trash and oozing contaminated soils seems to be a theme in the oil industry. These archaeological sites are trash dumps and left over debris from oil workers and abandoned wells dating back to the late 19th century. If these people had, I don’t know, thrown their used sardine tins in the trash instead of out in the field, well then, a dump of tin cans in the middle of an oil field in the middle of a desert would be non-existent. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone dumps their garbage out there. I do not understand the logic of loading up your pick-up truck full of couches, baby toys, and used car parts and driving it miles and miles and miles only to dump it illegally on public lands (lands we tax payers pay to keep public) when the city dump is only 2 miles outside of town and has FREE dump days! While I’m on the subject, I also hate people who throw their trash into the back of their trucks and then proceed to drive down the freeway oblivious to the fact that their trash is now hitting my windshield. Those people have no right to complain about how “dirty” our highways are.
I spent a few months (January, February and March) down in Lancaster and Los Angeles doing survey work. Now I am working on that same project, only doing the anal OCD nightmare of the “records search”. And I volunteered for this! All of the California Archaeological Sites and other related reports and data (such as the National Historical Landmarks, buildings, places, maps, land grants, etc) are housed in 12 Information Centers spread across the state. A regular Joe Shmoe cannot walk into one and look at stuff. Well you can walk into one, but they will politely kick you back out. There are also “info centers” at each U.S. Forest run by the USDA (so that’s Tahoe National Forest, Sierra National Forest, etc) Some of these are quite large and are broken up into districts. And guess what, that’s right, each district has its own “info center”. Basically any governing agency that owns and manages land… and sea in California will have such a place. Whether they keep it current is another story. All that said, I get to go to 3 of the State run Info centers, the Angeles National Forest, and the clients very own house to do the records search I am tasked with. That means I will be going to Bakersfield, Fullerton, Rosemead, San Bernardino, and the 4 districts making up the Angeles National Forest (three of which are Saugus, San Fernando, and Glendora). Road trip!! I’m actually glad I get to do this, because I have the chance to really organize and streamline this huge project. And I mean huge. This is 11 transmission lines (steal towers) running from the Tehachapi Mountains down into LA and over to San Bernardino. That’s about… eh… 300+ square miles as the crow flies. On the ground, on foot, it is over ……… a lot.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It may not look like much

But this little guy here with the help of a rhyolite flake, a couple mano's, and some FAR just put the breaks on a construction job*. This little rock is a bowl fragment. We think it is the bottom piece of a bowl anyway. This find was very unexpected. The rhyolite flake was imported because there is no source anywhere nearby. And when I say nearby, I mean within a 50 mile radius at least. The mano's (hand stones: formed to fit the hand and has "use" wear, i.e. used to pound and scrape the crap out of stuff)and FAR (fire affected rock, i.e. placed in a hearth to cook the crap out of stuff) was probably local material, but was found in a most unusual place. A shooting range. And a shooting range with people... shooting the crap out of clay pigeons (they never had a chance), and bow-and-arrow! This shooting range is in the middle of El Monte, population 115,965 as of 2000. And next to a major highway. Amazing that even with all the development, a little piece of prehistory is still there.

We found this on my second visit to the shooting range (we had previously surveyed the area twice). We came back at the request of our boss, and with a little more intensive searching, wa la, a site. The site started out as an historic one (European - old glass and ceramics [plates and cups]) and while we were sitting down for break under the transmission tower... "hey that looks like an interesting rock"... "oh wow, is that what I think it is?"... "the client is going to squirt their shorts!"...

And they did. What made it interesting is that this little prehistoric concentration was in the berm of the dirt access road that goes around the transmission tower (big steel electric towers), and this road gets graded probably yearly if not more. So by grading this road over and over and over, eventually exposed this concentration. We will now get to answer the questions of is this just an isolated hearth? Was it all imported and dropped? Is there more beneath the surface? Will I get shot in the ass by a rogue arrow? All will be revealed.

*I feel I need to explain a bit more here. The project in question is a transmission line. The client (who we were hired by) will be dismantling an old transmission line and towers and will be erecting (I knew I could get that word in somewhere) new bigger and shinier ones with more power. They have a right-of-way or easement, in some places. Which means that anything we find within that right-of-way, they have to deal with and manage. Even if it is on private property. The client, not the actual property owners have to mitigate what we have found. Our client has decided that they will replace said tower anyway, so to off-set the fact that they will obliterate the site during construction, we go in ahead of them and do it for them (excavation). This is a state and federal government issue and so the client has to fulfill certain requirements by law (state and federal).

Many people have the misconception that if they have any archaeological site on their property (Indian or otherwise) that if the government or Indians find out about it, that it will get taken away. Not so, peeps. Private property means exactly that, private. I've worked on private property before and I've documented sites on private property. All I have the power to do is make life miserable for those who have an easement or right-of-way through said property. It means an agency/company/whoever won't be able to put a cell tower or road or utility pole in the site. They will now have to find a way around it, or change their plans to avoid it. But the property owner can do whatever they want (nothing, graze cows, blast it to smithereens). Also, if the site is one of a kind or pretty darn cool, then the owners can actually get money from the government (state and/or federal) to protect/preserve it. Pretty sweet, eh?

Friday, March 12, 2010

While we wait

A few songs from my library that I listen to when I need to just stop. When I need calm, peace, reflection, temper my anxiety, and when people close to me die.

The first two I found many many years ago, and I listened to them over and over and over again when my grandfather died. I was in Denmark at the time traveling with my sister and we weren’t able to go home for the funeral. And the only outlet for me was listening to these two songs and writing a poem about what I remember about my grandpa. Now I find myself drawn to them again while I wait for my grandmother to pass. Both songs are just instrumentals, nothing fancy. I have the full album for both songs but only like the one song on each. I don’t know why, but I suppose you like what you like.

“The crystal Pillar” by Jeff Johnson on the album, Prayers of St. Brendan
(available through itunes - sorry couldn't find it on the web, but well worth the purchase)

“The Glen” by Joseph Bradley on the album, Stories: A Narada Artists Collection

The last I’ll share with you this time is Mazzy Stars’ “Into Dust” from the So Tonight that I Might See.

It is also a simple song with just voice, guitar, and cello. The cello is one of my favorite, if not the favorite, instruments of mine. It has a richness and deep mellow sound that just mesmerizes me. I have no idea what the song means. I’ve looked up the lyrics and read them over and over and still don’t have a clue. But in this case, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care. It is just a beautiful song. I can listen to it non-stop and not get sick of hearing it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

In the mean time

While my brain is not functioning in the sense of writing thought provoking insights about my life, I hope you instead enjoy a little trip through my music library. Now this is an experiment and one I hope you find fun and interesting because I have no idea when my little nut head will start sputtering words of wisdom again, so you may be in for a long trip through my music library.

I've wanted to try this out for a while anyway. This first song is from the Cranberries, To the Faithful Departed. The song is called Bosnia. It's a bit dated in that it talks about the brutal civil war there and a theme of when will someone or foreign government step in (which is a theme that comes around again in a song down the list). The other interesting part of the song which I enjoy comes in just after the 3rd minute. This is when one melody starts, and then another different melody runs under the first (the children singing at 3:40), and then another joins in (horns at 4:10). They are different, yet harmonious. And woven together have a powerful presence.
don't pay any attention to the comments, just chose that link because it isn't the actual music video.

The next piece is by Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight. Song is Hands Held High. This one has a bit of explicit language so your virgin ears have been warned. Again this is slightly dated in that it was made during the Bush (Junior) administration and is about the dreary outlook with some of his war policies. This song although has some rough language is beautiful in its chorus. They mix rap with a lyrical three part harmony (a trademark of the band). The chorus also mixes two different choruses together ("amen" and "with hands held high into the sky so blue"). This is an effect in music whether singing or instrumental which I gravitate to and enjoy listening to over and over again. Perhaps it is why I got a torturous pleasure out of learning Bach's Inventions on the piano.

again chose a video that isn't the music video or some one's interpretation. Whether or not you agree with what is sung, the piece is constructed in an interesting way with the harsh sounding verses and softer lyrical chorus.

The next song is also by Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight. Song is The Little Things Give you Away. No potty mouths this time. This one again is beautiful to me. Makes me tear up every time, no matter how many times I listen to it. Only one word: Katrina.

Again this song has an overlapping element. "The little things give you away" and "All you've ever wanted was someone to truly look up to you"

And finally the world would not be complete without a bit of whistling. The Bravery, The Sun and The Moon. Song: Bad Sun. I just have to whistle along with it every time I hear it.

I hope this was an interesting journey through some of my musical tastes. And hopefully you music majors out there won't make too much fun of how I try to describe things, I only have a minor in music, not a real degree.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Space Invaders

The video arcade game Space Invaders was released in 1978 and was one of the games I used to play on our attari when I was a kid. I do believe the world has been invaded, and people just don’t realize it. Enter the new and improved Space Invader.

heh heh heh

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Fifty One Minute and Twenty Second Moment in Song

Something a little different this time. I talk a lot about my job and other experiences in my life usually pertaining to my job here but another big part of my life is music. Some of you know this and others of you don’t. And although I don’t play any of those instruments very much anymore, the music is still very much apart of me. I never played music for the pleasure of others as much as I played for my own enjoyment. And so here is one of the soundtracks that has touched me and says a lot about me for a brief blip of my life. The blip happened to be the flight home from New Zealand and the months following the trip. Now I know I’ve talked quite extensively about the trip and such so just indulge me one last time…. or two or three.

Jack Johnson’s, Sleep Through the Static

I started listening to the album while flipping through all the music the flight offered. I needed something to distract me from myself and since we were experiencing turbulence, I couldn't watch anything (would have made me sick). And I wanted to sleep but couldn't due to the aforementioned turbulence and the fact that we were packed in like sardines. So I selected Jack Johnson. He was also fresh in my head because his other album, "In Between Dreams" was played a few times by our guides on the bus with their little ishuffle and tiny speaker.

The first song: All At Once

All at once,
The world can overwhelm me
There's almost nothin' that you could tell me
That could ease my mind

Which way will you run
When it's always all around you
And the feelin' lost and found you again
A feelin' that we have no control
Around the sun
Some say
There's gonna be the new hell
Some say
It's still too early to tell
Some say
It really ain't no myth at all

Keep askin' ourselves are we really
Strong enough
There's so many things that we got
Too proud of
We're too proud of
We're too proud of

I wanna take the preconceived
Out from underneath your feet
We could shake it off
Instead we'll plant some seeds
We'll watch em' as they grow
And with each new beat
From your heart the roots grow deeper
The branches will they reach for what
Nobody really knows
But underneath it all
Theres this heart all alone

What about is gone
And it really won't be so long
Sometimes it feels like a heart is no place to be singin' from at all

Theres a world we've never seen
Theres still hope between the dreams
The weight of it all
Could blow away with a breeze
If your waiting on the wind
Don't forget to breathe
Cause as the darkness gets deeper
We'll be sinkin as we reach for love
At least somethin we could hold
But I'll reach to you from where time just cant go

What about is gone
And it really wont be so long
Sometimes it feels like a heart is no place to be singin' from at all

What hit me right off was the first few verses. It was exactly how I felt at that moment in time. I was overwhelmed emotionally. I couldn't escape my own mind running over and over my life and that I seemed to be stuck and didn't know how to get out. And it just hit me like a sack full of quarters upside the head. And it brought me to the brink of tears. I didn't want to be going home. But I knew I had to. But then, did I really?

What You Thought You Need

I can't give you everything you want
But I could give you what you thought you need.
A map to keep beneath your seat, you've been to me in time I'll get you there.
I fold it up so we don't find our way back soon, nobody knows we're here.

We can park the van and walk to town
Find the cheapest bottle of wine that we could find
And talk about the road behind how getting lost is not a waste of time.

The water moor will take us home in the moment we will sing as the forest sleeps.

Well it's all for the sake of arriving with you
Well it's all .. for the sake of arriving with you

Well, I will make the table into a bed
The candle is burning down its time to rest.
I can't take back things already gone, but I could give you promises for keeps.

And I would only take them back if they become your own and you give them to me .

And it's all for the sake of arriving with you.
Well it's all for the sake of arriving with you.

We could make this into anything
We could make this into more than words we speak.
This could make us into anything
It could make us grow and become what we'll be.

How and we really know
It's just like it feels.

This one hit home the loneliness I feel at times and my want of companionship. I went to New Zealand alone, spent a week on my own there, and was now flying home alone. And I kept thinking how much I would enjoy trips like the one I just did more if I had someone to experience it right along with me. Now I know I don't need anyone. But want and need are two very different things.

Go On

What is the purpose of my life
If it doesn't ever do
With learning to let it go
Live vicariously through you
You can do the same
It's the least you can do
Cause it's a lonely little chain
If you don't add to it

That is just a portion of the song, but it has a point. We all must play our part. There is a purpose, at least we all tend to search for a purpose. Or we live vicariously through others with "more exciting" lives than our own. But we should live for ourselves, and not live lives that other people think we should.

I listened to the album a few times on the flight and then I found myself listening to it at home and in the car, to and from work. I can't decide if it helps or hinders my depressive moods. I haven't been listening to it exclusively lately, although while writing this I have listened to it twice now in a row. When I listen to it, I am right back in the plane bouncing around in the turbulence thinking about what I experienced in NZ, what I did, what I should have done, things I said, should have said, and the uncertainty of my future. Sorrow and mourning what I left, and having to face reality back home. I just find it fascinating that a piece of music will come along at a certain point in my life and just fit.

If you are interested you can listen to the album here and it is available through itunes.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

First fieldtrip of 2010

Winter in the high desert is actually quite nice. I'm in Lancaster which is considered in the high Mojave Desert. Joshua Tree's, greasewood, cholla, buckwheat, and creasote abound. The snakes are still underground hibernating so you don't have to worry about venom bites. The fiddleneck and other pokey sharp plants are not so pokey and sharp yet. The grasses are turning green and aren't tall past your knees yet. The poppies aren't out yet so there aren't a lot of stupid tourists around stomping on them all. It is very cold in the mornings and evenings, but it is almost t-shirt weather by noon after you have been walking for a few miles.

I'm here in the desert working on what we call a Road Story Survey. Basically we are walking already existing roads or new proposed roads to be built to access transmission towers that are or will soon be built. This is not my project, which means I am not in charge. I like it. I'm acting more like a field crew chief rather than a supervisor. It is a nice change. I don't have to worry about the money, or plan out the days, who's going where, which vehicles, do we have enough vehicles, so-and-so needs this, so-and-so needs that. No running around like a chicken with it's head chopped off. This job is actually enjoyable for the most part. We were staying in what most people would consider a crappy hotel the first 4 nights, but after being in Taft for 6.5 months where the best hotel had a cockroach problem and a recovering meth addict for a hotel manager, a crappy yet clean hotel is quite nice. I think my standards have been severely lowered. I'm just happy to have clean sheets without unknown stains and cig. burns.

One unfamiliar with the desert may think that there is not a whole lot to see out here and think that people way back when would not chose to live in a place like this. But in reality, even though this is a very harsh environment, life abounds. And in this particular area, not to long ago there was plenty of water. It was only when us genius Californians decided to farm the heck out of the area did the water table drop so far that now it is almost impossible to drill a well deep enough to find water, hence now getting water for agriculture via the California Aqueduct. Human occupation of the area reaches as far back as some of the very first (what we call) paleo-indians. Meaning soon after the little ice-age 15,000-20,000 years ago, people were able to migrate here. That is freakin' old! And just to add icing to this black dirt cake, under this human occupation are fossils from when us primates weren't even primates yet(I'm talking millions upon millions of years old)! How cool is that?

It looks as though I may be spending quite a bit of time down here and farther south into the land known as Los Angeles for much of this year. And although the archaeology is interesting and that I actually enjoy the desert, I don't want to be down here all the time. I would like to actually spend time living in my house and not just visiting it on occasion a few times a month.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Romancing the Nomad

1. a member of a people or tribe that has no permanent abode but moves about from place to place, usually seasonally and often following a traditional route or circuit according to the state of the pasturage or food supply.
2. any wanderer; itinerant.

I’ve always been romanced by the nomadic life, yet I don’t live it nor do I want to. But I find it fascinating. I’ve met quite a few people who do live it in one way or another. I’m not talking about the more traditional sense of the word like the people of Mongolia or the Eurasian steppes. But those living here and there in the more industrial world. Many of them are in the same field as myself. They move from company to company, job to job. Many do not have a home or apartment and live basically on the job and in their vehicle, or couch surf with friends and relatives. They travel all over the U.S. and some travel the world. The other nomads I’ve met are people like the guides I had in New Zealand. They have lived in more countries than I have even visited, done more different jobs than I can count, work a job long enough to save money to go travel somewhere. And even though they may have a home base, they are never there for very long. I'm not making this sound very appealing, am I? It's an adventure.

In a way, I am envious. There is a sense of freedom that the life of a nomad has that someone like myself does not. They meet all sorts of interesting people, see amazing country, see and do things that I never will. I can’t even imagine the knowledge they gain and have. They live in the here and now. It seems care-free. Living in the moment. And although that excites me, it also frightens me. Perhaps it has been ingrained into my very being that only I am responsible for myself and my own well-being when I am old and can no longer work. Save save save because the government will not be able to support you. Save save save because you don’t have a spouse or children to take care of you. Save save save because you may loose that 401k. You get the idea. I’m always thinking about the future. What will I do five years from now when my sister and I sell the house? Will I have enough money to buy a place for myself? Will I be on my own? What about when I can no longer physically do the job I have now? I don’t have a back-up plan. What about when I’m 80 years old and can’t live on my own? Who will take care of me? And quite frankly, I’m scared to death about getting old and dying.

My brain is always pushing itself out to the future, trying to prepare me for what lies ahead. And this causes anxiety. But the future is not written. I worry and fret and put money away for an unknown life that may or may not need anything.

One could argue that I am a part-time nomad. 50% of the year, I am away from home traveling for work. Although six and a half months in Taft is not my idea of a nomadic lifestyle. But I do tend to travel to places in California, that many regular joe folk don't get to. My path is usually pretty set though. I get my assignment, I go do the job, and I come back. I always come back. But because it is my job, I don't really have much choice in where I get sent, and it is limited to central and southern California. See the six and a half months in Taft reference. The nomad however can pick and choose where to go, what to do.

Now I know I'm making this very simple. It's the "idea" of the nomad remember? So although the nomad gets my blood pumping and makes me giddy, I will not quit my job to walk the Pacific Crest Trail or take a road trip on Route 66 and stop at every weird sign, object, art, or motel. But those are things I would like to do. I think the nomads are a dying breed. Most are all very young, in their 20's, and are still able to rely on their parents for support (money and room and board). They will only be nomads for a short time and then will "grow up" and get steady jobs with retirement plans and medical benefits. Others are getting on in years and worry about what will become of themselves. One of my NZ guides said that while he enjoys what he does, he cannot physically do the job for very much longer and is uncertain about what the next stage of life and employment will be.

I cannot and don't want to be a 100% nomad, but a 50% one is okay. I am in a hotel room in the desert writing this, so that counts. But even this gets old after a time. And living with one would be just fine because I'm gone half the time anyway, so that there isn't time to get seriously annoyed by their strange habits and tics. Or by the time either gets a stick up their rear, one or both are packing and heading out for work out in the world. Sounds great to me.

Well, I am not all that happy about how this entry ended up. It didn't come out the way I had wanted, but I want it out of the draft box so I can move on to all the other junk in my head needing release.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

There comes a time…

When you just have to suck it up and make change happen.

Apparently to some, my latest posts have been a bit dreary. I will try to be a bit more… peppy and enthusiastic. And so to start it off: new favorite not really a swear word is… lint licker! Almost as good as hotard. So I guess my imaginary badass kiwi boyfriend isn’t going to spontaneously materialize in front of me. No “poof” there he is. Quite frankly, why would anyone from that little island country want to live in Gilroy? There are hardly any sheep, if any to keep you comfy at all, and it stinks of garlic and manure. I’m putting this part of my life on the back shelf for now and will concentrate on other things. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to do with him anyway.

I put my mii character into the wii fit. It told me I’m overweight, and should weigh 17 pounds less than I do now. Um, yeah. I’m 5’3” and built like a rugby player. I understand that I should loose about 10 pounds, which for me is a healthy fit weight. But 17? I did weigh that once… in college when I had mono and couldn’t eat for three weeks. Unless you really want to see a jaundiced sunken-eyed freak, it ain’t going to happen. That whole height/weight ratio thing just doesn’t work on me, it never has. The body/mass index is antiquated at best. But I guess it is still used because it is an easy calculation. Lord knows, I don’t do math well. The majority of people in this world do not look like Barbie. Actually she would most likely have severe back problems due to her, uh, top-heavy-ness. Or those scary supermodels that look like they just walked out of Auschwitz and beaten by their boyfriends. *shudders*

Because it is winter and I don’t get home till after the sun goes down, I’ve been occupying my time at home by reading a book called Living Abroad in New Zealand. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere unfortunately. Ironic that I choose to learn about the country only after I have returned home. It is quite interesting though. I’ve learned that it would be a very difficult process for me, if I ever did try to immigrate. I would need an actual legitimate reason for one, and I don’t have one. They use a point system to even review your application. I would have a pretty darn good score there because I have two degrees and am under 55 years of age. The only thing is, I don’t have the income. Even with these two degrees and being in a supervisory position at work (and sometimes I even have minions), I am still just at the poverty line. Because I live in California, I think I am actually under the line, but don’t quote me on that. Of course if I lived elsewhere in the U.S., it would be the same situation because my pay would be modified to the standard of living of whatever state I’d move to. And remember in an earlier post here I said that NZ pays their archaeologists better? Well, I lied. Sorry. I typed in my salary to a currency converter today, and it turns out that I’m right at the same pay scale.

I’ve also picked out a new paint color for my room. I’ve decided that it is too dark and depressing in there, so I will lighten things up a bit. Perhaps that will help. And I have hardly turned on the TV since I got back from vacation. I have no real desire to watch anything. And I quit Netflix. I had a dvd sitting here for three weeks, never watched. So why pay for something you aren’t using. We still don’t have phone or internet at the house. So I haven’t been able to occupy my time surfing and geeking out. And I like geeking out! Plus it is how I talk with my friends who live so far far away. I was going to go explore/walk in one of the parks I have not been to before over the past weekend but it’s winter and an inversion layer came in and well, it was cold and overcast. Will definitely get outside this weekend!..... unless it’s raining. Then I just might get motivated to paint the room.

Change is definitely needed in my life. Loose those 10 pounds so I can wear a bathing suit in Hawaii and not feel self-conscious. Wow I’ll have to buy a bathing suit. Haven’t had one or worn one since my roommate in college needed people in her aquatic class. It’s just that I am a lazy couch potato by nature. Motivation is needed. Now, where to find that. Do I have to get up off the couch? Really? Fine, ugh. Ok.

Was that peppy and enthusiastic enough? No? I just can’t help it. The winter months tend to be a bit depressing to me. Thank god I don’t live where it snows or freezes. And I’m having a pimple break-out a la high school. And I am envious/jealous of those who seem to have what they want already or know what they want in life. How do they do that? I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. What’s that? I am a grown-up? Shut-up!

**A friend told me today that she loves my new attitude toward work since I got back from NZ.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What to do...

Guess what? It's raining. Oh, it's done now. I am here at the office on a Friday all by myself. Everyone else, all two of them, are in the field or meetings today. So what have I done? I fixed all the spelling errors on most of these blog posts. I didn't bother with the grammatical errors. That's just a waste of my time. I have done some work though too.

My hike the other day was nice. I did a loop trail at Coyote Lake (a Santa Clara County Park). I had never been there before. It is beautiful, and there is a nice community there as well of small ranches. The trail was closed, but I did it anyway. The sign said the trail was closed to equestrians and bicyclists. It said nothing about people on foot. So I had it all to myself. The only wildlife I encountered, if you even want to call it wildlife were turkeys. I picked up some books at the book store the other day. One is a small book on easy trails in the San Jose East Bay region. I think I will go through and walk all of them.

And now for something completely different:

I've been emailing a friend of mine recently and she said some interesting things that got me thinking. We were discussing the fact of why we are both still single and in our 30's. The two of us live very different lives but we are similar. We are both strong, opinionated, independent women. I had a boyfriend in college, but it wasn't until that relationship ended, that I realized what I had become and I didn't like it. That put me off relationships for quite a while. Two things came to mind when I realized I will be the crazy lady with cats. (I'm already crazy, just don't have any cats yet)
1. I have no social life. You need one to actually meet people and get friends. But I don't like going out. And I'm an anxious nervous freak when I have to meet new people, so I try to avoid it as much as possible.
2. Like I said earlier, I'm very independent. I've been "alone" as it were for a long time. I can and have lived just fine all by myself. I don't need a "man" to do anything, because I can do it. I can build a bookcase, mow the lawn, lay a brick patio, take out the trash, and even get rid of a partially decapitated mouse in a trap, all by myself. I can even change a light bulb! And I do a job that most Americans think as a male profession. Although in reality there are more female archaeologists than male these days.

And so we have decided (my friend and I) that because of this fierce independent nature, men are usually put off by it. The ones we are attracted to are not attracted to us. And those who are interested tend to be, how should I say, a bit on the girly side, which for me is not an attractive trait. It is kind of off-putting when I'm more of a man than he is. They either want to "take care of you" or want to be "taken care of". And we don't need either. I am capable of wearing the shiny armor and riding a white horse, I don't need to be "rescued". And I sure ain't going to "rescue" you. Just get up off your damn ass and "get it done".

And so according to my friend we will be crazy single ladies the rest of our lives. And there is nothing wrong with that. The world needs crazy cat ladies. And she may be right, I don't know. I've gotten this far on my own, and it ain't too shabby. Only that the single life can be, at times, a lonely life. But that's why we get CATS!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Same ole, same ole

So I won’t be moving out of the dungeon any time soon. I won’t go into details but it’s a freakin’ mess. So those of us left in the office are staying put for the foreseeable future. I’ve only been back to work for a few days and I am not motivated at all. I hate getting up in the morning. If the scenery on my commute to work weren’t as pretty as it is, I’d go nuts. And driving home in the dark sucks. Maybe I just don’t like winter. Let’s go back to New Zealand where it is summer and the sun doesn’t set till 9:30pm. I like that idea. It’d be perfect. I could spend California winters in the New Zealand summer and New Zealand winters in sunny California. I would never have to suffer through winters again. Although, I would probably shrivel up into a brown prune and look twice my age, but I could live with that. Now if only I could win the lottery…

I was suppose to go monitor construction today in Monterey. So I didn’t go into the office. I would call the gal in charge of the project in the morning, and she would give me a time to be there. So then I would call again before I left home and she would give me a new start time. By noon, today was called off completely. I will most likely have to be there tomorrow morning at 7am. Ugh, that’s early. So I decided to take the day off. I’m at the coffee shop posting this. We will be getting cable internet at the house this Friday. And then I thought I'd go for a hike at Coyote Lake and contemplate.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Things: they are a changing

Hello and welcome to the first post of 2010, from me anyway. I don't know if this year will be good or bad, but one thing I do know is that it will be different. For starters the work office has shrunk from 6 to 4 people (including me). The boss-man and our business admin have moved the "business" part of the office to what I assume to be the boss-man's place of retirement. Yet I don't believe he will retire in the next few years. So when I go back to work Monday morning, I am assuming that I will get to move my desk and all my stuff out of the dungeon (the lab) away from the dust, dirt, bones, and everything else you can think of to an actual office with... wait for it... a real window! It looks out to the lovely asphalt parking lot, but a real window with blinds and it *gasp* opens! Wow.

My sister, whom I live with, will be getting married in October... in Hawaii. So I will finally be able to visit Hawaii, Maui to be exact. And then we will be adding yet another boy to the household. heh heh. He's 40 something, but in reality he is an adolescent boy trapped in a man's body.

I will try to only work a 40 hour work week. While in the office anyway. When I'm in the field running a project it is near impossible. I'm lucky if I can keep it down to a 10-11 hour day while out and about. Perhaps this 40 hour a week thing will help in my lack of enthusiasm about the job. Don't get me wrong, I love archaeology and I like digging holes and walking around looking at stuff. I just don't like the, how should I say, the bureaucracy and how we are treated.

In other news: On my birthday while you all were either nursing a hangover or lounging on the couch stuffing your face with junk food watching college bowl games, I was lounging on the couch eating junk food watching a Dr. Who marathon on BBC America. Then went to Home Depot and bought some pine boards and cut them and fixed my bed so that the mattress will not fall down through the frame. Then I watched more Dr. Who. Ate more food, watched Dr. Who. You get the idea. So I guess this birthday was better than the last one. I didn't want a party or anything. And so I got to sit on my ass. Perfect.

My sis bought me a tree for my birthday. We went and picked him out today. We found him at Home Depot. The nursery was closed, sucks for them. We picked out a young magnolia. I think he will do great. His name is Brisco. We planted Brisco in our infamous tree killer spot. We first planted Bruce the spruce there last spring. We got Bruce in the mail with our Wall-E DVD. Bruce died soon after. We then planted Sam the walnut. Sam we found in our backyard. A squirrel left a nut and it sprouted. So we thought, why not? Sam died soon after. And so Brisco here is our third try. Brisco is young but not so little. I think he will survive. And if you get the link with the names, you are perhaps an even bigger dork than me, and I salute you!

By only working 40 hours a week, I hope to gain more actual home time. I want to explore and see my town and the surrounding parks, trails, and whatnot. I hate running and so to get in shape I want to hike. Sounds like a good idea to me.

I did a bit of research on NZ archaeology. The country and the environment/cultural laws are younger than any U.S. ones. Yet they seem to be much better off. And it looks like they pay better too. But it also is a very competitive market to get into. There just aren't very many jobs. One can hope, I suppose.

So here's to 2010. It will definitely be different than last year. And I'm hoping better.