A friend of mine in Seattle is participating in her local NAMIWALKS 5k. Go sponsor, my minions (you're my minions, right?)! NAMI | NAMIWALKS

NAMI is awesome, they are the National Alliance for Mental Illness working on advocacy for the mentally ill and working to destigmatize mental illness to encourage more people who need help to be able to access it.

I walked for them last year in Chicago, and it was great.


Fun with Hammers

Ball pane hammerImage via Wikipedia
What a hammer may look like
It's random tales from the field time again, children.  Gather round.

The last time I was in Sudan (2008) I got really, really sick.  Flu with complications.  Wound up leaving our excavation site for about a week to go back to the capital in Khartoum to see a doctor and get meds and junk.  Got to feeling slightly better, didn't want to come home to Chicago, so went back out to the site.  Before you yell at me for the stupid, bear in mind it was January.  No one in their right mind would go back to Chicago in January if they could avoid it.

Anyway we got back and I was still weak and woozy as all hell.  The day after I got back, the rest of the team went on a day trip to visit some other sites, some of which I had seen before.  Having just done the 8 or so hour journey from Khartoum the day before I was like "y'all have fun now,  don't fall in any tombs."

So it was me and our cook, Hashem left at the house.  As an aside, Hashem is a genius.  My god that man can cook.  He made fried chicken!  In a dirt kitchen!  With just two propane burners!  And soup!  He spoke almost no English, but so what.  He would wipe the floor with that Colonel dude from Kentucky.  If he ever for some reason wants to move the the US I will be at whatever government office necessary waving my cane around and yelling about how we need his awesome cooking for the good of the nation.

Anyway, I had stayed in bed a little late that day until I felt like getting up.  Then I staggered over to the dining room part of the house to see if there was tea left in any of the carafes and maybe some packaged cookies or something.  Hashem sees me and conveys very clearly that no, skinny foreign woman who looks like she may pass out at any moment, you are eating real food.  Off he goes.

I take a seat in one of the plastic chairs and hang out, sort of idly watching flies get caught on the fly-tapes we have hanging from the ceiling.  (Remember the fly tape, it's important later.)

Hashem all squinty because some genius
thought staring into the sun
for photos was a good idea
Hashem returns with enough food to feed like 8 people.  I express appropriate awe/gratitude and start eating hoping I can at least manage to force down enough not to offend him. It was good, I just still felt like ass.  He wanders off again, probably to mix his 87 herbs and spices for his magical, magical fried chicken.

There is suddenly this awful, loud buzzing noise.  Enough that I jumped up and away from the fluorescent light we had for use at night even though it wasn't turned on.  Then I look at one of the fly tapes.  A small bird appears to be stuck in it.  On closer inspection, it turns out to be some sort of gargantuan bumble bee.  I'm thinking "Chainsaw Bee" is a good name.  It's stuck to the fly tape, but is so heavy it's pulled the thing down almost to the tabletop.  And it's pissed and sounding even more like a chainsaw.  And skeezing me out, big time.  And shaking and jerking on the fly tape threatening to pull it down and/or release the lifeless but still disgusting bodies of its predecessors. 
Pretty sure
it was about the size of a Space Bee

So, after rescuing my plate of food from possible contamination by the chainsaw bee, I look around for a way to kill it.  I was wearing flipflops.  No way.  All the books available 1) belonged to me and 2) would have been ruined by Chainsaw Bee guts.  Other options included plastic chairs,  plastic tables, or either of 2 laptops.  There was also the option of yelling for Hashem, but I didn't know the Arabic for "the sickly crazy foreigner is a chickenshit and there is a huge fucking Chainsaw Bee up in here."

Then I spotted a hammer.  Score!

At first I tried smacking it with the hammer while it was still on the dangling fly paper.  In retrospect, this is probably the most obvious evidence that I was still pretty unwell, because even I would ordinarily recognize that as a bad idea.

My feeble swipes at it finally knocked Chainsaw Bee to the ground however.  Victory was to be mine!

There I am, crouched on the ground with a good-sized hammer in my hand, raised over my head prepared to strike with a no doubt manic/feverish gleam in my eye when Hashem comes back.  He stopped and blinked.  I waved my free hand feebly and gestured at Chainsaw Bee.  He sort of nodded.  And went away.

I smashed the fuck out of Chainsaw Bee.

I considered finding Hashem and trying to explain but, again, wasn't sure how to express "I'm stupid and there was a bee" in either Arabic or pantomime without making myself look even crazier.

Instead, I finished my brunch.


Ozzy, Bitches: New Item for the Time Travel To Do Iist

Portrait of Percy Bysshe ShelleyImage via WikipediaI haven't added anything to the time-machine to-do list in some time, but a discussion of the poem Ozymandias on Twitter today inspired me.   Along with someone wondering if a nickname for Ozymandias is "Ozzy" and thus also wondering if he bit the heads off of bats, I confessed that whenever I hear the lines:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
I add the word "bitches" to the end.  Now, while Shelley was probably too much of a whiny emo-kid to have made the poem that much more epic I'm pretty sure Ramses II (aka Ozymandias) would have been all about that.

1.  If someone invents a time machine and I go back to ancient Egypt, scribes better watch out. I will be pimp-slapping every last one of those bastards.
2.  Claim Europe.
3.  Print this out and take a copy to Charles Darwin.  For the lulz.
4.  Find the Trolololo guy and kill him.
5.  Take photos of Akhenaten and his extended family.  And blood samples.  And possibly penis measurements (that's totally getting farmed out to some grad student I hate).
6.  Convince Percy "Emo" Shelley that his poem will be much better as
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair, bitches!"


Acanthus (ornament) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Remains of the capital of a Corinthian column....Image via WikipediaAcanthus (ornament) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"The Roman writer Vitruvius (c. 75 BCE — c. 15 BCE) related that the Corinthian order had been invented by Callimachus, a Greek architect and sculptor who was inspired by the sight of a votive basket that had been left on the grave of a young girl. A few of her toys were in it, and a square tile had been placed over the basket, to protect them from the weather. An acanthus plant had grown through the woven basket, mixing its spiny, deeply cut leaves with the weave of the basket."

I did not know this story, as my knowledge of Classical Antiquity is spotty at best, but I find it very touching, somehow, regardless of whether it is true or not.

Then again part of why mortuary archaeology is so interesting to me is that it's such an immediate contact with people - not just the person interred, but with whomever took the time to carry out the steps of a proper funeral.  It's often a last act of compassion for a fellow being and there is a certain deliberate care to do it as right or properly as possible.  And there is often an ongoing element of interaction between the living and the dead.


Native Americans modified American landscape years prior to arrival of Europeans

Folsom PointImage via WikipediaNative Americans modified American landscape years prior to arrival of Europeans

My Twitter followers will have already seen my response, but because I am particularly arthritic and therefore grumpy today, I wanted to reiterate:

No shit, really!?!?

Humans modified landscapes in which they lived? Even the Injun ones? I may die of shock.

Don't get me wrong, having quantifiable evidence is good and the study is pretty cool.  I just tend to get pissy about the tendency some people have of thinking humans were somehow way more stupid or incompetent in the past.  Especially non-European humans.
We're all still pretty much the same.  People in the past and people now are still just as capable of epic awesomeness of achievement of the WIN! or FAIL! variety. And even of somehow managing both at the same time (Ramses II at the Battle of Kadesh, I am totally looking at you.  "Derpty-do, I'll totally believe these random spies and just go on way ahead of the rest of my army and get caught by a huge enemy force...")

I'll go back to grinding my teeth and being aware of each and every joint facet/point of contact in my shoulder, fingers, and sacro-illiac now.


Before the Pyramids Sneak Peek (3)

Before the Pyramids Sneak Peek (3)

Some wonderful photos and peeks behind the scenes of the OI's latest temporary exhibit "Egypt Before the Pyramids." Beautiful, beautiful Predynastic pots. Very nifty.

These are on the Oriental Institute's Facebook page, but you should be able to view them even if you are not a member of Facebook.


Chicago Tribune Fail

So there was a story on the Chicago Tribune about a pilot program trial thing for dementia patients in Illinois.  I hit the "like this on Facebook" button on and went on my merry way.
The I checked Facebook today and a friend had commented that the photo with the story was sort of priceless.

If you can't make it out, it's a photo of a building on fire.  That was a different Tribune story.

I am going to hell for laughing so hard at this.


My Official Response Is As Follows: "Daaaaaaaaaaaamn"

Bodélé Depression in Africa Dust storm in the ...Image via WikipediaUnreported Heritage News: Ancient Egyptians made the arduous trek to Chad ne...: "View From Egypt to Chad in a larger map The Bodele Depression. New research suggests that the Egyptians travelled to this area. Today it..."

Go read the article and look at the pictures.

I wonder what this will do to the ongoing debate over which ancient Egyptian place-names apply to what areas in greater Nubia and Africa

Also: ZOMG A country in Africa had contact with other parts of Africa!


In Memoriam - Donny George Youkhanna 1950-2011

I just found out that Donny George Youkhanna, former Director General of the Baghdad National Museum, passed away yesterday in Toronto. He apparently collapsed in the Toronto airport, was taken to hospital, and passed away there.
He was a brave and brilliant man who worked tirelessly to protect Iraqi heritage and antiquities before and during the Second Gulf War. I had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him lecture in 2004 while I was a graduate student.
He was forced to leave Iraq with his family due to threats from militants and a lack of financial and other support from the international community in helping to protect sites and artifacts in Iraq and to stem the looting and trade in antiquities but continued his efforts to protect Iraq's cultural heritage.


Are You Wishing You Could?

roniAre You Wishing You Could?
I was going through my Google Reader backlog and found this from over a month ago. I liked the idea of a "wish I could" list. Especially since I wonder if actually vocalizing (typolyzing?) some of the wishes might help me find ways to make them happen.

So, I wish I could:
- Take long hikes
- Drive safely
- Bicycle
- Dance, especially take a class
- Go out in the sun without having to be covered in sun protection
- Dig professionally
- work full-time



Best Sunglasses EVAR

-Just like Jack O'Neill, bitches. Bask in my nerdy radiance! Behold my geeky excellence.

(Bask looks like it's spelled wrong, but apparently is not.)

Every time we watch Stargate SG-1 and I see Jack's sunglasses I'm always like "I gotta get me some of those."  So, I did.  Thanks to the powers of eBay!
Posted by Picasa

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Psychotherapy

John, thank you so much for publishing this. I was an archaeolog­ist just about to propose my dissertati­on when CFS finally smacked me down hard. Now I can just barely manage to work a few hours a week and keep my apartment somewhat close to clean.

I've spent years trying to convince doctors and family and friends and at times myself that *something­* was wrong; that I'm not just lazy or lacking in ambition or drive; in short, that this isn't a character flaw. Even harder has been accepting that this may be my reality for the rest of my life. Despite what society tends to want us to do - fight constantly­, spend all our energy on "getting better" it seems the healthiest thing is to accept things as they are and to plan for the future based on how we are now, not how we used to be or how we hope to be in the future. I find that frightens some people. It's as though acceptance is taken as defeat.

Anyway, to conclude my rambling - thank you again, John. Every voice sharing their reality is a blessing and a gift.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost