July 29, 2006

I'm back in the bay area! Let's blog about bicycles!

I biked to the farmer's market today and, while there, had the nice fellow at the bicycle-repair stand take off my hardcore clip pedals and replace them with ones that are flat and ridiculously enormous and may very possibly have come off of my old pink Schwinn. No matter; I can ride with them without having to spend an inappropriate amount of time staring at the pedals instead of the road. I'm no longer concerned that while placing my feet just right I'll run headlong into a parked car. And for my $2 I got not only the pedal replacement but the fascinating experience of watching the repair guy learn to replace pedals.

Starting back home, I pulled out onto MLK and thought happily about how easy this all was. Look at me! I'm so badass. I'm using my bicycle as viable transportation in a metropolitan area! I no longer look like a complete n00b! I have all the grace and competence of a -- what the hell was that clinking noise? Why is there no resistance on my pedals? How the fuck do I stop this thing?

In my desire to look casual and confident as I mounted my bike, I neglected to give even the quickest glance at my bike chain, which had gotten knocked around during the pedal installation. As I pedalled, it jumped entirely off of my front gear and hung down somewhere around asphalt level. Suddenly I was coasting rapidly down a fairly major street while my pedals spun wildly out of all relation to either my actions or the bike's motion.

As it happened, after coming to a screeching halt in the middle of the street and hauling my bike unceremoniously onto the sidewalk, I was able to poke the chain back into place without needing to drag it back to the repair stand and ask for help. The fact that the rear derailleur swings forward to allow the chain to be fit around the large front gears is one of those incredible piece of information which I really should have been required to learn before getting on a bicycle in the first place, but now at least I get to feel good about having gotten my hands nice and greasy figuring it out on my own.

Speaking of getting hands dirty, I've got some exciting archaeology pictures here for you. Please enjoy vicariously experiencing the sun and mud and corn, because it's bound to be better for you than experiencing it firsthand. You know all those reality shows where they try to make people stay in situations that are driving them slowly insane? They've got nothing on 250 hours of rocks.

Posted by dianna at 03:27 PM

July 09, 2006

Speaking from beyond the... corn.

Now that a good two weeks have elapsed since my last communication with the internet, it seems like a perfect time to remind you all that I exist. Field school continues apace: simultaneously mind-numbing and completely fascinating. I spent all day Friday lifting tiny bits of dirt out of a posthole with the handle of a teaspoon because the spoon itself wouldn't fit. It's supposed to rain again on Monday, which means we'll be back in the lab brushing quarter-inch fragments of bone with toothbrushes and putting them into hundreds of tiny plastic bags. After that it'll be back to the field with trowels to scrape rain-induced mud off of the walls of our excavation units because we're a bunch of masochistic lunatics. At least, I'm a masochistic lunatic because I'm enjoying the hell out of this.

In all seriousness -- not that I wasn't being serious when I said I enjoy this stuff -- I am having a damned good time. My classmates are the most motley group of people I've ever seen get along, and we get along like gangbusters. At this rate I'm going to have almost as many close friends in Pittsburgh as I do in the bay area. Last weekend we piled seven of us into someone's tiny Honda and drove out to Watkins Glen to go hiking, which was, as one might expect, Gorges. Hence my first picture.


Next, a sample from my Corn Series (more of which will be up when I get around to getting my Eloise account fixed and putting up a big regular gallery). The corn has grown so high since my first pictures that it's barely recognizable as the same field. On the left, me, in a borrowed hat, hiding in a cornrow and looking pleased with myself. On the right, a sneaky shot of my TA Adam looking pensive and glamorous.

And for my final two pictures, Archaeology Makes You Strange. On the left, my name in folding rulers, which is the closest that you get to glittering lights when your work takes place in grubby cornfields. The lunch tray in the upper right is what we use to sort 500-year-old pottery fragments. On the right, the person responsible for spelling out my name in folding rulers, reading peacefully in a hammock made of excavated dirt. Sadly, his nickname isn't quite as settled as some others', so I'm unsure whether to refer to him as Cannon, Hulk, or Fezzik. Don't be fooled by his tranquil appearance; the first week we were here he was picking up 50-pound boulders at the reservoir near the house and heaving them at the cliffs to see what would happen.

(They broke.)

Posted by dianna at 06:54 PM