February 14, 2006

Fuck you, solvency. Yeah! Fuck you!

I went to a field school information session yesterday to see how this summer study plan of mine might play out. The results are surprising: I don't want to go to New Mexico anymore. The program isn't really what I'm looking for; it's a study of obsidian sources through mapping and sample collection, rather than a site excavation. It would be a fun camping trip, but for something to which to commit half my summer, I think I could do better.

I could, for instance, go to Israel instead.

Israel? Me? Of all the places in which I've never really expressed any interest, barring a few dismissive comments about how I didn't really want to go halfway around the world this summer if I could find a field school closer to home?

I've been following Jacob around since last night and listing the virtues of the Tel Dor field school like a kid explaining the hundred reasons to be allowed to go to so-and-so's sleepover party. It goes something like this: you live in a shared cabin, minimal but with air-conditioning and housekeeping service, on the beach a few hundred yards from the dig site. They teach you how to use the tools you're going to be using -- and this is where archaeology gets fun, because they range from pickaxes to chopsticks -- and then you get split up around the site and do the excavation alongside the professional and hired archaeologists. If you (the student) find something, they don't shoulder you aside so the experts can take over, you'd just better get it excavated and do it right. Why? Because this is a city-sized (ancient city, that is, not modern city) site with about 600 years of occupation and it's something like 1% excavated after a decade of work. There's no time for being snobby here. Food is provided and included in the program fee, and this is Israel so nobody's going to be sneaking meat or dairy into your meals without announcing it. Work is in the morning, the afternoon is siesta time, there are some lectures and activities in the evening, and on weekends you're free to do anything you damn well please (just don't try to take any buses on Saturday). Oh, and did I mention six hundred years? Six hundred years. We're talking about everything from the Bronze Age to the Crusades. If that doesn't make your toes tingle, well, great. I don't need your competition, buddy.

On the bus this morning Jacob said, in tones of reluctant admission, "Well, you probably won't get blown up by Hamas."

Since my summer plans have just gone from being $3000 expensive to being $4000 plus airfare to Israel expensive, I've decided to go ahead and take my leftover loans on the grounds that I'm sure as hell going to need them. Also, because my current work and class schedule has been making me crazy, I've reduced my working hours so I'll be making even less not-much-money than I was before. But does that matter? No, because my super-supervisor told me today that I'm being reassigned to a special project which involves a $2/hour raise, effective tomorrow. It's the slacker's dream: work less, get more money, and then get a whole whack of money for no work at all and pretend it's not going to be due back soon.

I remain, very truly yours,
Fiscal K. Undependable.

Posted by dianna at February 14, 2006 03:46 PM

dood that's awesome! i'm so jealous of your israel plans. that will be so cool.

Posted by: michele at February 14, 2006 03:53 PM

Wow, that sounds neat!

Where in Israel is Tel Dor? My vague understanding is that Israel's not that unsafe outside of Jerusalem and the Occupied Territory, and that the situation's quieted down a bit in the last year or so. Although with Hamas coming to power in Palestine, who knows what's next? Still, they probably aren't going after archeological digs.

Would your super-supervisor be Willyce? What's she got you working on? I ask as possibly the only person on the planet who is genuinely interested in the answer.

Posted by: Zach S. at February 14, 2006 03:53 PM

No, by super-supervisor I mean Ferol. Willyce gets the title of Boss, but Ferol can't simply be Supervisor without being confused with the student supervisors. The project is the expansion of the Paperback Project, in which we're actually going to be hauling all the paperbacks off the shelves and checking them out en masse to the bindery instead of just sending them along as they show up in 4RS. It's like Paperback Project Prime, hence the need for special project staff. And yes, I believe you are the only person who'd be interested.

Willyce, by the way, has been in Hawaii for the last couple of weeks and isn't expected back for another couple of weeks at least (it's some sort of family emergency). So basically I'm being promoted behind her back by Ferol and Jon Thomas.

Here is a map with Dor marked as the little red star on the coast (I note with interest that it was apparently a much more important city in ancient times than it is now; there's no level of zoom available on MapQuest at which it actually shows up as a city). Ooh, and here is the web site for the excavation (and now I'm noting that I radically under-remembered the time period in question; this is due to the fact that at the start of the information session I didn't think I was remotely interested in this trip). It seems to be more or less a sleepy little beach town with little to attract attention besides the excavation. I was informed by UCB's head of the trip that you can't legally excavate graves in Israel (as soon as a cemetery is discovered the excavation has to be redirected to another part of the tell), which leaves basically no imaginable reason for Dor to show up on anyone's political agenda. So I think we can put that baby to bed.

I'm not sure I mentioned the other important thing here. I've never been out of the US in my life. Not so much as a trip to Mexico or Canada in 24 years. And now that I'm contemplating dipping a toe into the waters of international travel, that toe would be going to Israel for six weeks and taking me with it? I mean, holy shit.

Posted by: Dianna at February 14, 2006 07:01 PM

Heh. I lived in San Diego 12 years and never went to Mexico. I've been to Canada a couple of times, both times to visit Niagara Falls (which is lovely; thumbs up!), but that's so close to America they don't even require you to go through customs. Technically I was born in Japan, but we moved from there before I attained cognition, so I don't think that counts.

Anyhow, I've heard lots of good things about Israel. Particularly Israel's beaches. Granted it's the Middle East, but I hear it's a very friendly and livable part of it. I'm sure it'll be fine. Unless another full-on Arab-Israeli war breaks out.

So Willyce finally got that all-out assault on paperbacks authorized, eh? Back when I was clarking she gave me work along those lines. Apparently she was going to have a meeting with the Grand Council of Librarians and wanted to get them to approve a project to re-bind all the paperbacks. To help with the meeting, she wanted me to collect examples of beaten up and abused paperbacks as evidence. The problem was, going through the paperbacks, they were actually in pretty good shape. I was surprised. I got some good ones for Willyce, but I felt a bit bad assisting in the preparation of a skewed sample.

I hope Willyce's family emergency turns out alright. She's the best boss/authority figure I've ever had.

Posted by: Zach S. at February 14, 2006 07:43 PM

Dude. This is awesome. Of all the reasons I can think of to go crazy with the loans, going to Israel to pick dirt off bronze mirrors with chopsticks seems like a winner.

A pareve question: does it mean that no one will sneak meat or dairy into your food, or that no one will sneak meat-and-dairy into your food?

And I always wondered why sometimes there are stray paperbacks hanging out on the library shelves, and then sometimes they turn into hardbacks when no one's looking.

Posted by: katie at February 14, 2006 09:46 PM

With respect to kosherness, I believe they generally tell you whether dishes are meaty, milky, or neutral; there are certain strains of Judaism that require you to wait something like 6-7 hours after eating meat before you eat milk (so it doesn't get mixed up in your stomach) so it's important to know what every dish has, in case you had a meaty snack a couple of hours ago.

One caution: they have some odd standards as to what constitutes meat and milk. So, for example, I believe the standard is that gelatin is neutral, because it's been so altered in form as to no longer constitute meat. Or something. This is where my knowledge of Jewish law ends.

Posted by: Zach S. at February 15, 2006 05:21 AM