Monday, May 23, 2011

Rain Rain Rain

Dad and I relaxing in the new recliners

I'm not convinced the Rapture isn't happening in Kodiak; it's time to prepare the ark. It's been raining so hard since last night that the entire yard is a puddle as you can see. I did make it into Kodiak though, as did everyone else on our crew. Now our problem is going to be getting out of Kodiak and down to Karluk Lake in a Beaver (float plane). We were supposed to leave at 11 this morning, but that is definitely not happening. We're supposed to call the pilot again at 1 for a check-in, but I am sure we won't be leaving today, and probably not tomorrow either. It's disappointing to be stuck in town, but on the other hand, it would not be fun to be camping and working in this weather.

The good thing about all this rain is that the rivers and really high. The Karluk River is a pretty shallow river, and even though we'll be going down it with two inflatable canoes over the next two weeks, we've heard that most of the time it is so shallow you have to pull your rafts. Hopefully the water will be high enough now that we'll actually be able to float.

The only break in the doom and gloom forecast isn't until Friday. Hopefully we make it out of here before then!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The mind-numbing parts of archaeology

I've been feeling a bit uninspired to write over the last couple of weeks. I can't wait to be in the field. It's been a long school year and I am ready to get outside. Because it's almost summer, I've also been working especially long hours to make some major progress on the faunal analysis for my dissertation. That basically consists of sorting and counting tiny fragments of shell and bone and then identifying them. It's extremely boring, to say the least. And it hurts my back. We won't get into the ergonomic disaster that is the "lab" they assign archaeology grad students to, but we'll just say it's not comfortable. So, I go to school, do my usual boring grad school stuff for about 12 hours, relax for a little while when I get home, sleep, and repeat six days a week. It doesn't leave much time for fun and excitement, which is what I would prefer to write about here. I suppose this is life though and if this blog is about my life, sometimes it's just going to have to be boring.

I've been analyzing the Early Kachemak (3400 years old) bulk samples of midden I collected from Mitks'qaaq Angayuk last summer in Kodiak. I put the samples through 1/2", 1/4", and 1/8" nested screens. I then separate the shell from the bone (mostly fish), identify and count the shell fragments (that's the mind-numbing but easy part) and then I try to identify as much of the fish as I can. In the top photo I'm sorting the 1/8" midden fraction. If you look at each white tray clockwise from left to right, they contain unidentified shell, chiton, sea urchin, fish, mussel, and pebbles. In the middle is the unsorted midden. The second photo is of fish bones waiting to be identified (these are mostly cod). It is boring, but it does feel good to be getting it done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ebey's Landing

I love the "super macro" feature on our point and shoot camera!

Ryan testing out his new backpack (a bit overkill for this hike)

Jay and I descending the bluff
Things are getting extra busy for us as the field season starts up. Ryan leaves tomorrow for two weeks in Maryland and I leave next Sunday for two weeks in Kodiak. We managed to fit in one short hike on Whidbey Island at Ebey's Landing today with some friends though. It was a perfect easy hike with a beautiful view of Puget Sound. The weather was even on the nice side and it supposedly hit 60 degrees. We are still having the coldest spring on record though, in case you were wondering.

Unfortunately for the blog and all the readers, I think posts are going to be fewer and shorter as the field season gets going. I doubt Ryan will have much time to write while he's in the field and I will definitely not have internet when I'm on the Karluk River surveying in a week! We will post when we can, but apologize in advance for the lack of updates. =)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's Bike to Work Month!

What my parents pay in Kodiak to fill up their full-size pickup truck.
May is bike to work month! Given the price of gas, maybe more people are participating this year! Gas is over $4/gallon here and every time I drive by a gas station I wince. Luckily we don't use our car very often so we only have to fill up once a month (when it's not ski season). When I was in Kodiak last month though it cost $92 to fill up my parents full size pickup. Ouch! Even the price of gas in most of Alaska is nothing compared to Iceland or many other parts of the world.

I've been a little bit of slacker on riding my bike this winter. I'd do a week of riding and then give up for a month, and then repeat. I have to stick to it this month though because I'm on a bike to work team! I biked 36 miles this week (three round trips). This week I should do at least four round trips. My team (the Bipedal Foragers) was a few miles behind the other archaeology team on Friday so I biked into work yesterday to put us up by 5 miles, yeah!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The art of taking good cuisine photos and why we don't have many

"Bleu Salad"
Every time we post about food, I wish we had better photos. I see tons of beautiful cuisine photos on other blogs. Ours just never quite seem to be in the same league despite the fact that we have a good camera and are able to occasionally take lovely photos of other subjects. I believe the key that we are missing is natural daylight.

We do nearly all of our cooking and baking late in the evening and by the time we finish whatever is on the menu for dinner, it's dark. Even on the weekends we tend to cook and bake late into the evening since my Saturdays are almost always spent at school and on Sundays we like to do something fun outside. This type of schedule obviously works for us, but it is not conducive to taking nice photos with natural light. Unfortunately there isn't much we can do about it so everyone who reads this blog will just have to continue to look at mediocre food photos. Sorry!

I did get this one nice salad shot recently on a rare Saturday lunch spent at home. I love this salad. It's a version of the "Bleu Salad" I had at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks when I was there for the aaa's in March. It's just lettuce, red grapes, nuts, crumbled bleu cheese, and bleu cheese dressing. Simple and yummy!