A Stationary Odyssey

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Bluebird of Happiness?

Today, we were visited by four bluebirds, perching in the ash trees outside our front windows. The sky was overcast and bright, which made getting a decent picture difficult, but this one came out ok, enough that you can see what it is.

We were really happy to see the bluebirds. Neither Laurie nor I have seen them here before, so seeing two pairs was really encouraging. We should look at the bluebird boxes at the farm, and possibly replace them if they have gotten old or weatherbeaten. I know we'll need to do double boxes due to the large number of tree swallows at the farm.

I'm not sure we have the best environment for bluebirds, but maybe they'll nest on the far side of the yard and then go eat in the big fields at Cornell.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A clean bill of health.

Laurie and I went to meet our new doctor today. Our health insurance company changed, and my doctor changed from general practice to specialized research, so it was time. The doctor listened in a way that was rare for what I've seen from doctors, and he was excellent. The main thing I had done in terms of an actual check-up was a screening for melanoma or suspicious moles on my skin. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary, and we got some tips to wach for: Asymmetry, Border (irregular), Color (2 or more), Diameter (more than 0.5 cm), and Elevation (raised moles with an uneven surface). None of the moles I have exhibit these, so all is well. The rest of the check-up went fine, with the not-to-surprising advice of getting more exercise.

This exam was very encouraging for me, since I got a note from my boss that her husband, another archeologist, has been given a prognosis of 3-4 months to live after a long fight with melanoma. I know how hard this is going to be, and all my best goes out to them and their family.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hello Winter!

Winter has really arrived in Ithaca. The snow is coming down at about a half-inch or more an hour, and the low tonight is forecast for 3 degrees F, and a windchill of potentially -20. The advisory says exposed flesh could freeze in 30 minutes or less, causing forstbite.

And to think, I used the barbecue to cook Christmas Eve dinner...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Appalled but not surprised. The Harvard news service has just released a study of the nicotine content of cigarettes from 1997-2005. The nicotine content has steadily risen by 1.6 % each year to a total of 11% more nicotine. I really dislike smoking, and I think the tobacco companies are among the most unethical corporate entities in the world.
I am really happy to see that over half the American population lives in places where smoking is banned in public places (bars, restaurants, etc), and hope at some point the tobacco companies are regulated out of business. Some people will complain about the economic impact and the loss of jobs that will result. The government also tries to put marijuana dealers and other criminals out of business, and people don't make an economic argument against that. With over 400,000 tobacco-related deaths every year, these guys should go out of business. Yes, I know there are lots of regular folks across the south that grow tobacco as a cash crop to supplement their income. I'd be happy to have the U.S. Department of Agriculture help them grow something else to replace it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dinner at Pangea. Last night, Laurie's parents took us to Pangea for dinner for her birthday. As usual, the food was excellent.

Friday, we went to the Ithaca Ale House with JP, as another birthday-like outing. It was the first time I'd been there, and really liked it. I had a flight of their draft beers, and had 4 I'd never had before. That is something fairly rare these days, and they were all good, too.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Back from Williamsburg.
We had a great time in Williamsburg. We got to stay in a colonial house, the Richard Crump House, built in the mid-1700s. The Williamsburg Inn has about 30 of these houses in the historic area that they use as guest rooms. For us, it was the same price as staying in the Lodge, so it was an easy choice. We had to go over to the main building to get Internet service, which made things a little tricky at points, but we managed.

The conference went well. I met with the new archeology editor at the University of Tennessee Press, and am going to send him an interim draft this week (which means by tomorrow). I still have more work to do, obviously, but things are looking promising. I also went to a number of interesting sessions and made contacts with people, so overall I think it went well.

On the way back from Williamsburg, we decided to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, which was a nice drive. We also saw these interesting diving ducks, and when I went to look them up found out they are Long-tailed Ducks. Apparently, not much is known about their wintering range, but mostly have been seen in the great lakes, maritime Canada, and along the northeast coast. They weren't mentioned for this far south. I sent a note over to someone at the Lab of Ornithology, but haven't heard back yet (which is not surprising). I may go over and talk with someone when I get a chance.

When I got back, amongst my throngs of e-mail was a note about the American Anthropological Association meetings this fall, which are in DC. The theme is Difference, (In)Equality, and Justice, and the Archaeology Division was asking for archaeological papers that touch on it, including such things as class inequality and colonialism. My dissertation looks right at this, so I'm going to submit an abstract.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Off to Williamsburg! The SHA annual meeting is in Williamsburg this year, and will include events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. I'll post some pictures once I get there.