Thursday, March 30, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

Venti Crapachino

Ok, so LJ and I left Pensacola and traveled more than 2,000 miles west. We have come to a strange and wonderful land. Yet this land is filled with danger. Danger that if not minded may destroy the very foundations of our sanity and leave us penniless with not but the vague recollections of speaking in a pseudo-sophisticate that we barely understood and our breath smelling of burnt coffee. I am, of course, alluding to the coffee house of the damned…STARBUCKS.

It seems that the city planners in Reno decided that no shopping mall would be complete or intersection would be left bereft of a Starbucks. The people out here seem to either bask in the lustrous figure of Starbucks’ succubus logo, called to her like doomed sailors to the song of Sirens, or they are seemingly oblivious to the edifices. They ignore it as the proverbial elephant in the corner.

I am a coffee lover. I have sampled most all varieties of coffee from most nationalities that choose to grow and ship it. In my house I keep the coffee that I purchase frozen until consumption. I grind whole beans before I start my machine and I can enjoy coffee black, creamed or sugared. Again, I love coffee. “Why”, might you ask, “do I hate these particular chain café’s so much?”

For a few simple reasons…Firstly, I despise the product. Though most wouldn’t believe it Starbucks coffee is over-roasted. This makes the beverage overly bitter. You may not know this though because most people order deluded variations of the standard Cup-of-Joe. If you don’t believe me go in and order a cup of coffee the next time. I swear that you will not want to drink it black. A truly good cup of coffee should be drinkable black or otherwise without overpowering all of your taste sensations and leaving your tongue ravaged and left for dead.

Second: The attitude projected by the overly smug staff and most patrons always pisses me off a bit. If I forgo the ridiculous language change and presume to order my drink in my native English I must endure the glares of ridicule and pity of those around me. To them I am the un-inducted the brigand who wandered into their private club and who is embarrassing himself and offending all. Sometimes, worse the condescending reprimand given me by the high school educated, metro-sexual behind the counter; “We serve Tall, Grande and Venti here…Sir.” “Whatever. I see that you have three sizes of cups and I will just assume that you have eaten elsewhere in your life and in doing so have ordered a small, medium or large drink. Now, if you were to apply that same formula to the empty cups in front of you which one do you think would be a small?” Why should ordering a cup of coffee be so difficult?

Lastly: I suppose the atmosphere is soothing to some but I am generally made uncomfortable by the time I sit down with my boiling cup of burnt coffee. I sit having to listen to some Italian version of Kenny G (but its foreign so its high class, right?) and marvel at the price tags on all the sundries that have less taste than anything one could purchase from a grocery store.

This may permanently brand me as an uncultured barbarian, however I must toss a life vest to those out there who may not know. Some of the best places to get a great cup of coffee that is reasonably priced are both Dunkin’ Doughnuts and Krispy Kreme. Yes, I know, horrible eateries of the proletariat though they may be, they still can make one hell of a damned fine coffee. Krispy Kreme in particular with their three varieties of richness is outstanding.

Was that over the top? Maybe I need to lay off the coffee.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Will Dig for Food

Ok so here’s the deal, I went for an interview today with a CRM firm (Cultural Research Management) and was offered a job. This job is basically part-time until they have more work that, from what I’m told, will be all spring summer and fall. So in the meantime I will still be working at The Shack but will be leaving increasingly for more and more archaeological work. The job is going to pay me quite a bit more than Radio Shack, and I have all sorts of room for advancement (with more pay of coarse). I am nothing if not ruthless in fighting for advancements at work.

This is really great especially considering what happened with the CLAST in Florida. This is also a huge ego boost. I mean, the job set up is perfect so that I can work and get the CLAST finished. Also, if I keep both jobs I can be making some real BUCK$!

The CRM guy tells me that I may be working what are called tens. These are ten days on the job in remote areas of Nevada, followed by four days off. He tells me that I will see parts of this country that are remote as hell and more beautiful than the places most people get to see. I can’t wait. I just hope this doesn’t put a strain on LJ and I, but she knew this was what had to happen with this career choice, and I know she’ll like the money. My new boss also seems to think that I’ll fit right in with the crew. “There are some tough hombres that work here”, he tells me “You should fit right in.”

While I was in Pensacola Mike, LJ, her parents and I went out to a restaurant. Once seated the waitress came over and to my amazement it was one of the girls I did my field school with. I am not trying to be demeaning here because God knows I am still not much better off. When I saw that it was her though, the class suck-up and all around know-it-all, I was heart sunk. I felt more than ever that I would never use my training as an archaeologist. I felt like I was doomed to work in low-level sales all my life. I mean if anyone was going to go places and make a name for themselves, hell even just get a job as an honest to God archaeologist, it was her. So, today was a huge day for me. Finally, I am taking the first steps in doing what I set out to do all those years ago. Who knows, maybe I’ll love it, and this will be my career. Not to mention, I will finally be able to wear my Indiana Jones hat with pride instead of longing.

Things that I expected:

The work is unsteady and the only full time jobs are for those who have been there for years

I will have to go out for long stints in the field

What you learn in school and the way it is in the real world are as different as night an day

All professional archaeologists wear earth tones

Things I didn’t expect:

There is no digging in the west when doing basic survey. Not even brushing

If something must be dug it is with a backhoe

My father sent me to college so that I wouldn’t become a ditch-digger…sorry dad.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Go West

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in like a week or two. We moved…westward. For those of you who don’t know, LJ got a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She is now a full-fledged bureaucrat with a cubical and everything. I, however, am still with the Shack unfortunately. Yet, I have had many leads into the CRM (archaeology for hire) field that may pan out. So we are both doing well and are very excited to be out here.

Let me just tell you all a little about our trip. When we were planning our move from Pensacola, Florida to Reno, Nevada (pronounced Nəv-a-də-a not Nəv-ä-də-ä, by the locals, though both are technically correct) I was basing most of my time frame estimates on a trip that I took with some friends out west right after high school. In this rational I thought that 3-4 days was a rather close approximation. Wrong! Here is a little math problem for you: You are leaving on a trip that is approximately 2,500 miles long, in a van that can’t reverse and only goes 65 miles per hour (at best) and that this van also needs to stop and be refueled every 180 to 200 miles. Now also take into consideration that flat tires, road debris, roadblocks, blizzards, and other miscellaneous obstacles will delay you. How log does it take to reach your destination? Answer: 5-6 days at best.

Let me also tell all of you who may be expecting phone calls that the reason we haven’t called is that LJ and I have a very low minute plan and we have already used up our minutes for this month. Our evening minutes start at 9pm and out here nine is actually midnight for those of you on the east coast. So we will have to try saving minutes next month or use the net to communicate more.

Our Place is great. We are situated on the south side of Reno, which is close to all sorts of new development and malls and such. Our apartment has just been remodeled and is awesome. Our digital camera is broken so I can’t show you any pictures yet unfortunately, but let me just say SNOW and MOUNTAINS! Yes the city seems to be surrounded by snow capped mountains that are visible from anywhere. Another mountain range of huge clouds are almost always visible behind them but seem to be held back almost like the rocks on the shore of an ocean holding back a giant crashing breakwater. You will still catch the occasional tumbleweed rolling past, but the city is pretty big and has all sorts of entertainment, food, and recreation to offer. The people have been really nice and though there are trucker types about I have yet to see my first redneck. I’ll try and update as soon as I can with anything. Until I see ya next east coast represent!

P.S. Mike I have your McGuire’s stein. Sorry it must have been packed in the move I will send it back when I can…or maybe hold it for when you come to visit.