Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Was there ever anything as boring as my lecture today?

So we continued on through the history of archaeological thought and big names today....it was a little like slogging uphill through the mud. One set of drooping eyelids in the back, one set in the front....and the other six pairs made an OK showing of staying with me.

I guess I should have talked about the wife-swapping or sherd-throwing, ah well, tomorrow is dating techniques, and that my friends, is perhaps the only topic more entrancing than neo-Marxism to students in summer intro course.

P.S. I didn't get much sleep last night because the rat/squirrel that lives in the wall was back and scurrying/munching with a vengeance.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

So as the sisters sat

enjoying their lunch at St. Louis Bread CO. across from the theater where the Omen was playing, I wondered why the only flickering lamp in the whole place was over their table.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Back in St. Louis

Where the Panera overflowith. Not having an internet connection at home for the next month, gives me a perfect excuse to give in to my St. Louis Bread Co. (aka Panera) addiction. It shouldn't be to hard to stick to my diet, because I know the calorie pitfalls and can avoid them. It will, however, reek havoc on my salt intake for the month. Ah well, I will worry about my blood pressure in August when I am back in Ann Arbor.

It's time to start prepping for my class that starts in a week. I am pretty excited but also a little nervous. I miss Dan and the pups, but it is good to be somewhere besides Chambana. I was getting all worked-out being in the lab 12 hours 7 days a week. The only day I had off for the entire month was the half day Dan rolled into to town. We had a nice visit, but he had to leave pretty quickly to get back to his teaching load.

While he was in town, we even patronized the Urbana Dog Park. If Urbana can have one, WTFIWW Ann Arbor? They really need to get their act together. Yes we bitch bitch bitch, but that's because my bitch Sadie and her bitch Charlie are so sad they can't run free in this bastion of liberalness.

As someone noted on the AAIO webpage, just give it to us already and we will be happy....but no, I don't want it to be a breastfeeding dogpark, SMs and Rots just don't mix. I hope they institute a 12 and older policy, no one under 18 without their parents rule like St. Louis (University City) did. Yes it's a little anti-family, but it takes a lot of the stress out of worrying if my dog's gonna rip into some kid's jugular....which she never would because she is so sweet, but she might knock someone down running like she does.

Anyways, St. Louis is surprisingly cool (only in the 80s), and I am staying at our condo until we close in a few weeks. Then I will have to find a place for the remainder of the term.

Well its bittersweet, and bittersweat, to be here, but at least it's a change from Champaign.

(btw, the first replacement in the spell check for dogpark is "despairs").

Friday, May 19, 2006

Davenport Hall of Horror

I wish I had a photo of Davenport Hall, perhaps I will post one later this week. It was a dark and stormy night....no not really. I do, however, feel as if there is a perpetual cloud over the building and that the clock's hands are stuck on the witching hour.

I've been in a lot of buildings on a lot of campuses. What is it that makes some seem more like sets from B-movies than others? Dear readers, what buildings freak you out on campuses across the country?
I hardly ever become nervous working late at night in the anthropology department at Wash U. Once after 72 hours and no sleep, I saw some floating Coke cans, but that was just my mind and not some metaphysical specter. After that I believed the study about airline pilots going crazy with sleep deprivation, when I had previously thought it was an exaggeration.

The Museum building at Michigan is fairly benign. Come on kids, after the curators' ball who could see it as scary? Yes, maybe some of those cruators go creak in the night, but none of them walk down the hall with the REE-ree_Ree soundtrack playing in the background. When the camera pans to Flankus, we don't expect something to jump into the frame and scare us. I can't think of any of them eating their yogurt with a side of eyeballs, can you? Now, I admit that back 'n '99 there was some freaky stuff going on in that building, still none of it was all that gory.

Something about Davenport Hall in Urbana, on the other hand, just gives me the Willies. Even in the middle of the day I can be walking down a corridor, and I start to feel the walls pulse around me.

Could it be too much chemical fumage, or perhaps breathing in all that prehistoric bone dust? How long do you think weird shit from the past can live in soils and on bones? I don't think I brought back any rodent feces so that rules out hanta, and there aren't any fleas, so no plague. Taos isn't a big risk area for Valley Fever. Prehistoric staph?

Ohhh, Ohh, OMG, it's another premise for Fox's House . This one isn't as good as Dan's where the young grad student measuring artifacts pricks his finger on an Amazonian dart, but it has promise even if we follow the formula. After House has ruled out poison, chlamydia, and some rare form of Cancer, will we find that this is just another episode about Wilson's disease? I sincerely hope not. I vote for botulism from the ling-anth friend whose kentuckian mother's canned goods were unfortunately mis-sealed. Your right, botulism is too predictable, and too easy to diagnose. How about bird flu brought back from Syria by a professor named Henry. We didn't even know Henry was sick, because his immune system is so hard core that he only showed slight symptoms before recovering. While visiting the dying student, Henry and House can talk about bikes. We learn that House not only speaks a little Chinese but also a little Arabic. OMG, House is sooo hot! In this episode, Cameron reveals that before her marriage, and before med school, she considered being an archaeologist, but that the ability to change the world and help people was just too limited......No, Cameron does not moon over Henry as she usually does to visiting scientists.

Yes I am a freak, and sometimes a hypochondriac, but regardless there seems to be something wrong with Davenport. If not the structure itself, perhaps it is the work I do there. On glassware-cleaning-acid-bath days, my heart rate stays up for hours, and as many of you know, I can think my blood pressure to 150 over 90. Is this the source of the claustrophobic-like meanderings of my mind? Last time I went to the doc, my diet and exercise had helped the BP. It is getting more difficult to keep it up by thinking panicky thoughts, and my resting heart rate has finally gone down to 85bpm (from the hummingbird rate of 100). So, yes, while it could be my occupational nervousness, I just don't think it is.

The hallways also are very long, which is not unusual in campus buildings, but there is something about the length to width ratio that just sets off my spooky meter. Maybe something bad happened there in the past and I am picking up on it. I don't really go in for that kind of thing, despite loving movies about heaven and hell. Finally, I don't think it is the one-armed janitor, he is very nice, and not at all urban-legendy, well mostly not.

I have been feeling weird in Chambana since I arrived. It could be the mounting pressure of working 12 hour days 7 days a week, for 13 days..... and only having 36 collagen and apatite samples prepared (when I proposed over 150). Stan says that now that I've got the system down, I don't have to be dependent on him being in town to work. This means that I could come back almost any time to finish the work. I am sort of hoping that my class in St. Louis doesn't make, then I could stay and finish up. If not, I hear it is pretty common to get extensions on NSFs.

On a side note, there is fresh blood in the lab this week. A very nice student from Wisconsin. David says he is used to working long hours. We will see how his time here compares to what he is used to. He is only staying for about a week, and I don't think you can break a person in that amount of time, especially if he is already a good worker......Unlike me who instantly doubled my sluggish 6 hour work days.

PS - the spellchecks number one replacement choice for NSF is "nosebag," wtf is a nosebag?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ragu de Mort

So besides being crazy busy in the lab, I had a pretty miserable weekend stomach-wise.

My housemate John kindly offered to cook dinner for me. Delicious!!!! Eggplant and pasta with red sauce, mmmmm! Unfortunately, I got pretty sick.

I discovered that he had been eating out of a jar of pasta sauce kept on the pantry shelf for a few weeks. His previous roomie from the Netherlands opened it, and he decided to finish it. I guess they don't always "refrigerate after opening" in France (or the Neatherlands, since who knows how long mystery Dutch-guy kept it open at room temp).

Anyways, I was the only one struck down by the three week old Ragu. I guess my stomach is a lot weaker. Some have suggested my sickness was psychosomatic, but I don't believe you can think your poop into a liquidy state after every meal for three whole days. The dry-heaves, yes, maybe those were the product of my twisted American mind. Thursday and Friday, I felt that if I could just Ralph, or"choke" as my 5-year-old nephew says, I would be ever so much better. No luck, what we had here, was a one-ended path to despair.

All weekend I was worried that I had some horrible bacteria or toxin growing in my stomach. After examining the jar in the recycle bin, I found that although the sauce looked fine to John, the inside of the lid had a lot of blue fuzz. So, what was growing in my stomach? I soon learned that botulism was unlikely. Carol C. Schlitt, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness University of Illinois Extension, put my mind at ease.....well mostly.

"Fortunately, botulism spores only vegetate(grow) in the absence of oxygen. Since you say the can was open, botulism would not develop. And the symptoms for botulism are not flu like but attack the nervous system-- so I would stop worrying about that particular bacterium. Thank goodness it was meatless sauce-- the pH of the sauce is lower (more acidic) than spaghetti sauce with meat making it a less likely environment for harmful bacteria to grow. Food spoilage organisms (such as mold, etc) probably would take over long before food borne illness bacteria multiplied to sufficient numbers to cause illness. Most bacterium that cause food borne illness cause flu-like symptoms -upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting. And these symptoms can occur as soon as 30 minutes of ingesting up to 72 hours later (depending upon the bacteria strain). I hope this has helped and that by the time you are reading this you are feeling fine. It's true that Europeans do not refrigerate their food as readily as Americans. Many of their food products that we normally refrigerate are aesceptically packed which allows them to be shelf stable. Perhaps he is use to this type of sauce. However, once this type of packaging is opened it must be refrigerated for safety (even in Europe.)"

I felt much better after bland food for three days, and a course of yogurt therapy to regrow my good bacteria (thank God for mango lassis!), Anyways, John has started a new bottle on the shelf, I am timing this one to see how long it takes him to get through. I also won't be eating any more of his pasta. Then again he did help me meet my first diet goal of 152lbs, so maybe on my quest for 144, I should ask him to cook for me again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Taking a leaf from Jamielc

After seeing Jamie's lovely Poems of San Juan, I couldn't resist.

Oh Isotopes Oh Isotopes, a slow
Process for collagen and apatite.
Rotary tool it grinds and cleans, then lo
sore fingers, hand, and wrist. Goombye eyesight.
My carpal tunnel hurts like hell, and I've
been standing half a day for samples twelve
in number. Singing dust, the fumehood jive!
NPR yawn, in acid baths we delve
the samples and my hand, oh s**t, oh f**k
that hurt a bit. Yikes, baking soda helps
and water too. If I've got any luck
No contamination 'a develops
I hope to load and run them soon, so we
Can see if Taos turkeys Corn-fed be.

Well, I should get off to bed so I can arise early and beat Deepak to the shower, bike in if it doesn't rain, and rinse the NaOH with dH2O eight times so we don't make salt during the next step. After this, I suspect I will prep more samples and have my arm go numb for the rest of the day and night. Stan seems to think if I wore more clothes, I would have less numbness. Maybe I will try a sweater. After living all winter at 55, the UIUC Anthropology department's thermostat set near 70 degrees seems positively balmy.

Tonight, I will wear my brace to bed and hopefully have some arm function in the morning. I have also started taking guggal, an herb used mainly for lowering cholesterol. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and thins blood. Last time I took it, my arm felt much better. Though after 3 months I had to stop because of slight stomach upset. By that time my arm was in good shape, and my cholesterol rocked! Was it a placebo effect? Perhaps. At that time, I also was supervising 6 undergrads so I didn't dig but an hour a day. Still, a month in the Taos heat with nary a twinge, that's pretty darn good. Based on this bit of success during the summer of 2005, I'll give the platelet-stickiness-reducing guggal another go, because I don't want to do aspirin any more than I have to. If the guggal doesn't work, then I guess there's always the amazing diuretic duo --coffee and beer. Mmmm coffee and beer. Unfortunately, I should only try one remedy at a time, and the guggal can take up to 3 weeks to kick in. Decisions, decisions.

I do want to be able to use my hand when I have to measure out micrograms for the machine. It's not as if I didn't have enough to look forward to with the essential tremor. I wasn't counting on ET plus carpal tunnel numbness and pain. My arm will just have to get better.

It can't get much worse.

Well, there was that one summer in a Nebraska poopfield, when someone (a handsome nameless archaeologist who luckily treated me to DQ blizzards or he wouldn't have gotten any at all that summer) had me weed-wacking for 8 hours....and to this day nothing has been that bad for my hand.

Weed-wacking for 8 hours, to survey on my knees for 6 flakes in a poopfield, made the numbness last for months....it was like the energizer bunny of numbness.....oh, sad sad hands.....I wish I had some DQ now.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My Fitday Journal