Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I have many blisters on my hands from digging yesterday. I am running an excavation about 2,000 ft southeast from my house, clearing an area where large trees will be planted and buildings constructed at a park.

We are finding many pithouses, dwellings occupied by Native Americans from about 400 B.C. to A.D. 1300. The earliest is a large round house (about 4 m across) and dates from about 400 B.C. to A.D. 50. It has the typical ring of postholes around the inner edge of the house, each of which once held a small sapling bent to formed a domed roof covered with thatching and mud. Also present in the house are a large upright stone on the left that may be a post support and a grinding slab on the floor a few feet to the east. The center of the house had a thick area of ash and burnt earth where the hearth was, used to heat the house and cook food.

Allen is mapping the pithouse (click to make bigger). The line in the middle is where we removed a modern tree root.

A nearby house dates to the timespan when ceramic vessels were first made in large numbers. In one house we found two or three large seed jars, which were basically a globe with the top sliced off. In the picture below you can see a grinding stone (a mano) and a round ceramic lid for one of the seed jars, broken into pieces but reconstructible.

Artifacts dating from about A.D. 50 to 600.

Below is a seed jar found at another site from this time period, an excavation my company did in the 1990s. You can see the top of the pot, where the round ceramic disk could be placed and sealed with clay, preserving seeds or food from exposure to the elements, insects, or rodents. Before these pots were made, people stored food in below ground pits. Often the food in these pits was damaged by water or eaten by burrowing mice or rats. The development of the large storage jars helped insure people had food to eat and seeds to plant for the next growing season.

Seed jar at left, photo by Arizona State Museum.

I have one more week and a lot of work to do, I'm sure I'll have a few more blisters by the time we are done. And that concludes today's anthropological lesson.

Monday, September 29, 2008

As of today, my 401K is worth 75 percent what it was about six months ago. I lost about eight percent in value just today. The average price of a home in Tucson has dropped from 228k to 185k so far (19 percent). I'm certainly glad I'm not planning on retiring for 25 years or so.

My mortgage is with Washington Mutual and of course that company had so many fucked up loans they sold themself to some other soon-to-go-bankrupt company. When I got my home equity loan in 2003 they claimed over and over again that it was fixed rate. As it turned out, they lied (it was fixed rate for only the first year). In teeny, tiny print on page 15 or so it stated that.

I'm a reasonably smart person, and I was fooled by crappy business practices. I can understand why so many other people are having problems with loans they can't afford due to hanky panky by lenders. I'm not a business wizard, but it seems that this mess would be at least partly fixed if Congress and the lenders could agree to reduce interest rates for a large number of people to at least a reasonable level, and hopefully reduce the number of foreclosures. Lenders would still make some money and home values would stabilize. Perhaps someone can tell me if I am completely idiotic (Palinesque!) about this.

Brian came down to visit on Saturday and we did enjoyable things, despite the oppressive allergies which have made my eyes weepy and nose runny for two weeks. I have been taking over the counter crap and sometimes it works and sometimes it makes me so stoned I just lie in bed with the cats and wish it was nighttime so I could sleep.

Last night was Amazing Race over at David G's pad. I made chocolate pudding that Ms. Zoe said
"It tastes grainy" and yes, something was a little off, but not off enought for me to not have a bowl for breakfast. It has eggs and milk and vitamins, so why not? To make up for that, I had a bowl of no-name cheerios afterwards. I need to remember, no-name cheerios taste like cardboard, don't buy them again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My favorite donut: Simple- the plain ones with sugar sprinkled on top.

What is your favorite donut?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh goodness. John McCain hasn't voted in the Senate since April 9. He's missed 400+ of the 600+ votes in the Senate in the last couple of years. And suddenly he has to run back to DC, reschedule his debate, Palin doesn't get to debate next week, etc. I guess this is what looking "Presidential" is supposed to look like. I guess being "Vice-Presidential" means hiding from the press and only posing for photo-ops with world leaders who think she's real pretty.

Good lord it is hot here in Tucson- 100 degree days and I drink water and more water and never have to pee which isn't a good thing. Out at the dig site I had to drag the firehoses around and squirt water onto the dusty dirt to make it muddy dirt, thereby doing my part to improve the air quality of the county. Wrestling with the firehouse is a muddy, pinchy business and leaves you exhausted afterwards. I like firemen, I just don't want to be one (but I would date one!).

The local Catholic Bishop wrote an editorial stating that support for the anti-gay marriage amendment to the Arizona constitution was not discrimination. He used a lot of obtuse language to claim that he loved faggots and dykes, but not enough to allow them to have civil rights. Bishop Kicanas, by the way, got to be bishop because the previous bishop let lots of horned-up priests stick their cocks into little boys, moving them from parish to parish when the parishioners got tired of using crowbars to separate the priests from their childrens' buttocks. Bishop Kicanas and his lousy church have no moral authority, in my opinion, and besides, why should we respect the opinions of unnaturally celibate (hehehehe!) men about marriage? It's not like they are ever allowed to have a natural or unnatural relationship with another adult. I guess that's why the Catholic church in Tucson had to declare backruptcy because of the priest-pervert lawsuits.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tell me a secret.

My secret: sometimes when I get really upset about something I drag out my old teddy bear (Smokey the Bear) and he hangs out with me for awhile.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Because I know nothing about economics, I made chocolate pudding. From scratch.

People are always surprised when I tell them I make desserts from scratch (except pie crust). But honestly, it takes only a few minutes more than those cruddy mixes filled with dried goop and festering chemicals. And the desserts taste much better, especially the lemon meringue pies.

Chocolate pudding.

I was going to write something about the bailout of Wall Street, but honestly I do not understand all of the issues involved except it seems we will be protecting the wealth of rich people yet again.

So instead, I am going to enjoy a lovely bowl of chocolate pudding.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My father died 12 years ago today. I was in Athens, Greece standing in the basement of a dark gay bar when it happened.

Daddy had a stroke in 1991 and was partially paralyzed. He had gradually gone almost blind, a side-effect of 14 years of diabetes. The last time I talked to him on the phone he assured me he was going to live a while longer, "The doctor just gave me 100 days worth of pills."

It was my first trip overseas. I went to visit Yorgos, arriving in Athens on September 18th. Everything was strange and exotic and my travel journal is filled with observations about how different things were, observations that I cringe to read now. On that Friday, the 20th, Yorgos and I walked downtown from his apartment, passing the original Olympic stadium. We had lunch at McDonald’s (Yorgos loves American food) and I have the placemat from that meal stuck into my journal, in Greek with occasional English words sprinkled in.

The previous June I had flown back to Michigan and driven to my parent’s house in the upper peninsula. My brother had announced that he wasn’t going to run the family dairy farm and that he wasn’t going to run the buffalo farm either. At 35, he had suddenly developed a backbone. My parents had to move in with my mother’s mother. My father was distraught, it must have been embarrassing for him at his age to live with his mother-in-law. But what else could he do? For the last five years he had been an invalid and when the farm sold, there was about $17,000 left over. $17,000 after 22 years of work. He had never been a good businessman.

That afternoon Yorgos and I walked around the base of the Acropolis. There were excavations underway, but no opportunities to see them up close. In one spot the ground was covered with pottery sherds and roofing tile fragments. I had once wanted to be a classical archaeologist, but my brain was not wired for foreign languages. It was certainly wired for foreign men, I was busy admiring all of the swarthy, hairy Greek men. Yorgos suggested that we go out to some gay bars that night.

My father had not been feeling well that day. A couple of days earlier a friend had stopped by and afterwards that friend had called another friend and told him he needed to go see my father, that he wasn’t going to last long. Daddy had been depressed since moving in with my grandmother, and I suppose his health was deteriorating, although my mother and sisters hadn’t noticed.

So Yorgos and I had gone out to a gay bar in Athens, late that night, many times zones away from Michigan. The second bar was in the basement of a building- dark, a backroom that men kept wandering in and out of. I stood next to Yorgos and on the wall opposite up a projector projected porn, a movie with black men, titled "Black & Hung 2." I was surprised to see that someone had subtitled the porno. Yorgos was helpful and translated the captions, "Homer, the black man is going to dance.... Homer, the black man is getting excited and now he is going to masturbate... Homer, he is coming!"

Back in Michigan it was early afternoon and my father wanted to take a nap and my mother took him to the bedroom. Long ago it had been my grandfather’s, I remember sitting on his bed as Grandpa dressed and asking him why he wore boxer shorts instead of the kind of underpants I wore. Such a strange memory. My father sat on the edge of the bed and without a word suddenly fell onto the floor. My mother tried to get him up, but he was not responsive.

My mother does not react well in crisis situations. Calling 911 is generally not an option, I’m not sure if it is because of denial or because it is embarrassing or if she just doesn’t think of doing so. So on that afternoon she picked up the phone and called my brother, who worked on a farm nearby, and asked him "Your father has fallen down, can you come get him up?"

My brother, not yet Amish, drove down the road to Grandma’s house, which was perched on the hill at the corner of Long Lake and Zimmerman Roads. He took one look at Daddy, who was busy turning blue in the face, and told my mother, "He’s dead." Afterwards, someone called 911 and the paramedics and a police sheriff came and they tried to revive him, but he was very dead.

We walked home from the bar sometime after 2 AM, I hadn’t met anyone, as I noted in my journal, I was being shy. I went to bed not knowing that thousands of miles away my mother was taking my father’s favorite crazy quilt to a funeral home, for some reason she wanted him to have it when he was cremated.

My father hated funerals, and so my mother decided that they would have a party instead on that Sunday. So they arranged family pictures up on the fireplace mantle and dozens of people crowded into Grandma’s house while in Greece I drove with Yorgos, Filios, and Mike to the town of Nauplio on election day. My mother had decided that I was to remain in the dark- she didn’t want to ruin my trip to Greece. Even if I had known, there wouldn’t have been time to get back to Michigan for the wake party.

On October 1st, eleven days later, I arrived back in Tucson and my roommate Randy picked me up at the airport. He asked me if I had a good trip and I said yes, it wasn’t until we got into his car that he suddenly got serious. "Do you know?" he asked. "Know what?" "Oh Homer, your father died while you were gone, he said. All I could say was "Oh!"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Well, I don't feel any different. Thank you muchly for all of the nice birthday wishes. I don't know why turning 45 seemed like it was going to be such a trauma (perhaps because 45 is closer to 50 than 40?).

What else? Everything else seems the same- cats throwing up left and right, it is still hot, I come home from the dig site covered in dirt. I am encouraged that Obama seems to be doing better now that the hype over Mrs. Unqualified has died down. It helps that McStupid has no clue about the economy. A co-worker and I tried to think of something positive he has done for Arizona and couldn't think of anything.

Well, I just checked my 401K balance. It is just magic money anyways, and it is now down about 25 percent from what it was last year. That's super great, I'll just work another decade or so.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Version 45

5:42 A.M.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

By the way, I'm still officially 44 until about 8:15 AM Eastern time on Tuesday.

This morning I had a dream I went back to Couzens Hall, the dormitory where I lived at the University of Michigan for three years (Urspo and I lived there at the same time, but didn't know each other). When I close my eyes I can still everything there- I wonder if they still have the useless phone booths in my hall or if they figured out what to do with that space.

That got me to thinking, What if I could go back in time and run into myself at age 18 in 1982. What advice would I give myself?

- get braces a couple of years earlier- that was a major self esteem boost
- go to the gym and ask someone how to lift weights. I would have had an awesome body
- invest a $1000 in this new company called Microsoft
- don't take Italian 101 or Spanish 102.

If you could go back to age 18, what advice would you give yourself?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My birthday wish:


Preferably back on top of my head.

A revelation, I found my reading glasses. They had been missing since May or so and I looked fricken everywhere. And suddenly they were on the floor of the backseat of my car. I had even looked under the seats before. How did they get there. I dunno. I'm happy there are back, that saves me some money which I will put to good use (presents for Mummy including a gluten-free care package, for the No on anti-gay marriage amendment, and for that hair transplant).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The doctors have finally figured out what has been wrong with Mummy- celiac disease. For some reason her body decided that she can no longer eat anything with gluten- anything with wheat, barley, or rye. She is already diabetic, so this just means she will have to be even more careful about what she eats. And when she comes visit in January, I will have to be very inventive about how I cook- lots of potatoes in the future, and other vegetables. No grilled cheese sandwiches unless I can find special bread. No processed foods, since wheat products show up everywhere as weird ingredients.

Apparently there are a number of products manufactured for people allergic to gluten- special flour, cereals, etc. I will now have to hunt them down.

Two toads today! Tonight I stepped outside onto my vintage brick patio, and there was one of the toads chirping away. I could hear it, but not see it, but anyways, I was very happy to hear that.

My archaeology project is ongoing, but the difficulty in finding people to work for me is worrisome. I have to be done on October 6, and have only half of the people I need. Once the backhoe is done though, I will be able to dig- you should see me throw dirt around. It's amazing!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thanks, but no thanks! Dear Mr. Obama, can you just have Biden call the Gov of Upper Freeze-your-balls-off-istan a Fucking Liar. Every time I hear her whiney voice say that super stupid lie, makes me want to shout at the radio, "Shut the fuck up you stupid fuck!" And that is what I do when I hear Bush's nasal whine. All respect I might have had for the sorry oldster McCain went away forever yesterday with his pervy sex ad. I called McCain's office today to ask when was the last time he had voted in the Senate- they didn't know and then they got downright bitchy with me for asking.

Toad alert! I found another Great Plains toad today and brought it home for my garden. That makes nine! I hope they are all snug and happy in their little burrows, safe from bulldozers.

Brady got a new computer and the Spore game and I played with it. Unforts, his sound wasn't working and so it got tedious after a while. I do have screen envy, a 25-inch screen makes everything look bigger.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What should I do for my birthday next week?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Last pool volleyball for the summer.

Photo by Patrick.

Even in the desert summer has to end sometime. So we got together at Richard's house and played one last set of raucous games.

Photo by David B.

We have improved greatly over the summer, sometimes it took forever for a point to get made. I'm sore today from jumping and lunging for that little plastic ball.

Patrick and Homer contemplate the end of pool volleyball for 2008.

I made a chocolate cake for Richard and everyone said it was very, very good. I was less pleased with the three bean and corn salad I made, but people claimed it was delicious. I am a very picky cook.

Chocolate mayonnaise cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting.

The cake and frosting were very easy to make, I'll be adding this to my regular desserts that I concoct for special occasions.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Toads in a bucket! As the backhoe scrapes the ground at the site I'm working on, occasionally it cuts into a toad hole and out pops a toad (or in one case, two!). I catch them and put them in a bucket. Today I found six. It is amazing that they aren't squashed by the backhoe bucket.

One, two, three, four, five.

After catching the two from one hole, the backhoe operator Dave scraped again and pulled up the dirt. I was looking into the bucket and heard him shout out, "Oh shit!"

I turned and there dangling from his bucket was one long snake. It was black with thin blueish-black stripes. About three feet long. It too had escaped unhurt and slithered out of the dirt and dropped onto the backdirt pile. I admit it, when I first saw it I screamed like a girl. It was that big. It slithered over the pile of dirt and went off into the weeds, looking for a new home.

The biggest toad.

I brought six toads home and put them into my garden. I think they have already burrowed into the ground. I need to do a little research to find out what their natural history is like, so I don't harm them with the plants in that area.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I had to attend a meeting so I missed HateFest 2008. I've heard a couple of the nasty, sarcastic things Mrs. Palin said. I guess when you are a Born Again you can lie, lie, lie all you want.

But enough of that. I have a new dig going on and the hardest thing is the damn firehose that I have to use to wet down the backdirt piles. It is four-inches-thick and heavy and when you turn the hydrant on, it twitches and bucks and pinches. I'm covered in mud by the time I'm done. I had to stop by my house and change my shirt because I was so messy.

Oh God, CBS news is blaring her whiney voice. I'm going to switch the telly and watch a movie tonight.

But first, I'm stopping by the Obama website and donate some money.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And now for something different. Pizza toppings, what are your two most favorites?

Mine: black olives and red onions. Just thinking about a slice of that kind of pizza makes my stomach growl. GRRRRRRooowllll!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Your sister says that it's the first time a candidate has been just like us," my mother said.

The more I hear about her, the less I like the Wicked VP of the North. She's a liar, mean to her employees, wants to tell other people how to live their private lives, and I'm not sure so sure about those much-vaunted Traditional Family Values.

The funda-mental-cases are having orgasms about how great it is the the 17-year-old is going to get married to that young stud. It seems to me that 17-year-old girls should be focusing on the things that 17-year-old girls typically do (get an education, slumber parties, visits to the mall) instead of being forced to marry so that Mommy can be VP. Very curious to see how this all plays out.

Ohmigosh, allergy alert. Something is making my nose run and eyes itch. It has been so wet here that it could be anything.

Started a new archaeology project today. The most exciting thing I found was a cute green toad, which I rescued and brought home and put in my little garden. It will be safe there, away from the scary bulldozers.


Monday, September 01, 2008

"No comment," I said to the reporter when he asked me about the VP candidate's daughter's bun-in-the-oven. I am not one to spread gossip about long-deceased ancestors, but I note that my maternal grandmother's grandparents had her mother exactly eight months into their marriage and my maternal grandfather's grandparents popped a baby out six months and two days after their marriage.

As my mother has stated in the past, the first baby can come at any time.

Of course my father was illegitimate (they used to call those children bastards), his parents didn't get married for a year and a half after he was hatched.

My only comment is that people and their families who push abstinence only, creationism, and a general antipathy towards science are far more likely to have unintended pregnancies than those grown up enough to talk about sex with their kids and have adult conversations that move beyond, "Don't fuck!" to more reasoned things like, "If you become sexually active, promise me you'll use birth control."

Contemplating my scandal-racked ancestors.

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