Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meeting Landowners, The Library Game

Yesterday hit the trifecta of bad weather - cold, wet, windy.

Cold. Wet. Windy.

We didn't actually walk that far looking for artifacts - maybe about 3 miles - but believe me, that was enough. It actually began to snow as we left for the day.

We did have an experience that was new for both myself and Leland - meeting the landowner. Usually the project director or possibly the crew chief actually meets the landowner whose property we are surveying, but the regular technicians, like myself, do not. We see the landowners as they go about their business but with the exception of a tersely nodded hello, there is little interaction. Often the landowners are ticked off about part of their land being torn up or bought for whatever project we are surveying for (gas wells, roads, etc), and they are none too happy about us being there even though we represent the least destructive force that they will see (and the most likely to get the project halted if we find something important).

Anyway, the project we were working on is for the Historical Society, which is unusual. Because historical societies generally don't have the money to actually pay people to do things like conduct archaeological surveys, but somehow this one got this huge grant and is looking for Native American village sites. The landowner was super excited that we might find something cool on her land - and she invited us in for coffee and brownies to chat.
Coffee and brownies! I'm in.

So seven wet, muddy, cold archaeologists crowded into this woman's small kitchen, trying not to get mud and water everywhere as she brought out old maps of the property and pointed out historic gravesites and spent six years or so carefully cutting the brownies into geometrically identical shapes and transferring each to a plate and placing a fork on the plate - this involved much rooting around inside her kitchen cupboards in order to produce enough plates and forks all of the same set. She then wanted to know all of our names and where we went to school and what we studied.
It was very Midwestern. Leland just couldn't believe how Midwestern it all was.

I don't mean to complain or make fun - I was tickled pink to be sitting in a warm kitchen, happily eating brownies that someone had made just for me.

Anyway, conditions were so crappy that our field day today was canceled, meaning that we have (dum dum dum) a day off!! Days off are nicer when you aren't camping at the KOA and can hang out in front of the TV, but I will take it!

We spent our morning at the Bismarck Heritage Center (free!), which was actually very nice (and free!). The Heritage Center had enough exhibits to keep us busy for about 4 hours. They did a pretty nice job of covering Native American history in the area as well as discussing the later, sad history of violence and persecution towards Indians. The Center had to walk a fine line between being (relatively) honest about the settlers' roles in displacing and killing Indians without offending any of the descendants of those settlers who are still here.

The Center has the unfortunate distinction of being in the same complex as the North Dakota State Capitol (yes, Bismarck is the state capitol), the ugliest state capitol building in the country. I have not seen all of the state capitol buildings in the country, but I assure you that this one is the ugliest.

The building is not actually tilted, I just took this from a moving car.

Following our trip to the Heritage Center, we ended up at the library. We spend a lot of time at the library because it is free, you can sit down there, they have bathrooms and free wifi, and it is not outside. Kind of the same reasons that homeless people come to the library (with the potential exception of the free wifi).

To keep ourselves occupied, Leland and I played a new game that we made up. I'm going to call it the Way Cool Library Game. It is very similar to the other game we play, called Ha Ha, You Live in North Dakota. You play this game by pointing to someone and saying "Ha ha, you live in North Dakota".

Obviously you do not do this to their face, or in such a way that they can hear you.

It's really funnier if you're here in North Dakota. The threshold for what passes as humor here is quite low.

Anyway, the Way Cool Library Game is also a way of making fun of North Dakota - specifically, the magazines subscribed to by the Bismarck Public Library. As is usual, the magazines contain several that are obscure, ridiculously specific, or just plain bizarre.

There are five categories in this game, and each person has to pick a magazine that they feel fits best into each category. Below, for your pleasure, are the categories and magazines that each of us felt deserved the prize.

Most Likely to be on the ND Governor's Coffee Table:
Prairie Business Magazine: Your Premiere Business Source for the Northern Plains (me)
Guns n' Ammo (Leland)

Most Embarrassing to Read In Public:
Doll Reader or Practical Homeschooling (me, couldn't pick)
Mother Earth News (Leland)

Most Specific:
Heritage Review: Germans from Russian Heritage Society (me)
Primitive Archer: Passing on the Tradition of Classical Archery (Leland)

Smallest Following:
Wildfowl Carving (me)
Vegetarian Times (Leland, remember where we are)

According to Leland, Magazine Anna Secretly Wants to Subscribe To:
International Wolf (it's true!!)

According to Anna, Magazine Leland Secretly Wants to Subscribe To:
Cat Fancy

As you can see, we are clearly going crazy here without TV. We're supposed to be out all next week (hotel and per diem - yay!) if the weather cooperates. Hopefully we will not have to entertain ourselves for the next week. Clearly entertaining ourselves leads to nothing productive.

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