Sunday, November 30, 2008

Boston ASORs

I never got around to posting pictures n' such from the ASOR meetings. Oops.

They were terrific this year. Heard some very good talks (even found a few bone papers), and enjoyed getting together with friends. I arrived Thursday afternoon, went off to dinner with the Homan family unit and John K. We then ventured over to Harvard's Semetic Museum for a reception to honor Larry Stager, tho' cut out early because it was so crowded. The picture below is of Mike H, Justin L-T, Gabriele F, and Therese F.

Upon entering the museum I spotted a 4 room house reconstruction from the ancient Near East - permitting me to take a picture of something I'd spent quite a bit of time trying to hunt down on Google only days earlier (for a lecture on Bab edh-Dhra). This may sound quite boring...but I was pretty psyched at the discovery ;-)

The next day, I hit some talks in the morning. That afternoon I presented the ASOR Awards at the Members meeting, then off to dinner with John S. A cold cold walk, but well worth it - we went to "The Barking Crab" where we had some great Boston seafood. Clams, oysters, scallops, and Jonah crab claws -- mmmmm mmmmmmm good!!

Saturday I hit the biological anthro session in the morning, then off to explore Boston with Therese, Kalypso and Gilgamesh. Cold, cold, cold - a biting wind that made being outside pretty painful. We had planned to take a tour of Harvard - but we arrived a bit late, found out that there were 100 participants, and that it was an outdoor walking tour - the pastry shop next door got our vote instead.

As did Boston's big Apple store. I can check another one off the visitation list. Gil and Kaly played on the computers in the store while I purchased a thing or two...or three. Walking back we stopped at first public library opened in the US. Fun day, GREAT kids!!

Sunday morning Board meeting. Had to cut out an hour early to catch my flight -- Logan airport was dead quiet. The calm before the storm (Thanksgiving) I assume.

The pictures below are of Gil at the Apple store, Therese and I being dorks (we fit right in ;-), the Narnia-esque statue inside the library, Kaly outside the library, and an old church surrounded by skyscrapers - nice juxtaposition. All of the pictures are dark, I fear my little Cannon has bought the farm. It's old and has traveled the world, so it owes me nothing.

Started Bad...Got Worse

You know a game is in trouble when the first pass is intercepted. Especially after the trouncing we took last week. Sorry to end the season with a doofy looking football player, but it kind of sums up the end of this season. Better than last year I suppose.

They didn't get a first down until the final play of the 3rd quarter. And I'm not sure they ever got over 100 yards with the ball. It was clear that the USC wanted a shutout - it sure looked like they'd get their wish. So -- two games ago I found myself cheering for Navy because they were playing so much better than us. Last weekend I only caught a part of the 4th quarter - but that was enough. Syracuse?? Really??? And this week - glutton for punishment I guess.

Earlier this week, the news stations were playing a clip from Charlie Weis's first press conference where he emphatically stated that a 6-5 season was not acceptable - to the fans or to him. I wonder where 6-6 stands then...

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I made the terrible mistake of downloading the game "Bejeweled Deluxe 2" to my iPhone, and well...this Thanksgiving Break has flown by. I've gotten lots of stuff done, but when not being productive...I've been hooked (admittedly, the icon to the left goes to another game, but it was the closest I could come to Bejeweled...with a skull).

When not staring at a tiny screen, I've managed to program my garage door and openers (made necessary after I washed my previous opener). Cleaned and moved stuff around in the study and several closets (made necessary because I'm hosting the departmental Christmas party in two weeks). Wrote a largely new Early Primate Evolution lecture (made necessary because I hate the topic and have thus avoided updating the material for awhile). And, wrote lots of letters of recommendation (....because I left 'em till the last minute).

AND, while cleaning the study I came across one of my old PowerBook G4 laptops - the one that I spilled a nearly full Diet Coke into as I was herding cats on the desk. I just assumed it was fried - had tried to restart it several times long ago, no luck. I've since had 3 new laptops. I pluggd it in, and it worked!! I'm updating it now, will take it to the lab tomorrow for student use.

I tell ya, these Mac laptops can take a likin' and keep on tickin'. I had a small 12" laptop that was dropped from about 3 feet and kept working tho' nicely dented. It was subsequented dropped again from an even higher location, a key popped off, the screen popped out, and the frame was even more dented. The little bugger started up again once I pushed the screen back in, we've been using it in the lab since. I'm thinking about starting a new reality show -- Extreme Mac.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Pardoning??

Chatting with family today, and a few students on Tuesday - no one had seen the Sarah Palin turkey video. It turned me off turkey this Thanksgiving I confess - bummer, cuz I miss the good smelling house.

Many stations have blurred out what's going on in the background - this one doesn't. Happy Thanksgiving???

Is Airport Security Useless?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Email Access (or Lack Thereof)

A quick note -- the internet access here at the Westin Boston Waterfront is truly awful, so if you've sent me an email and I haven't responded, now you know why. (fortunately the meetings are great and it's been a terrific visit).

Every time the computer goes to sleep or I close it to put away while I'm out, it loses the connection and requires calling the front desk, who transfers me to the internet provider, who then goes thru the same 4 steps (I guided the last guy to try to cut down on time), and then "guarantees" me that it'll work. Next time -- doesn't work. Apparently "guarantee" has a different meaning to them than I. Schmucks.

Anyway, I'm giving up the ghost cuz it's more than a bit frustrating (and wastes a half hour minimum each and every time). Talk to you in a few days. I will respond when I get out of here and to the airport on Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If At First...

I was scheduled to leave for Boston last night to attend the ASOR meetings. But alas, United Express had other plans.

When I checked in, the attendant said we might have a one hour delay due to high winds. While I was sitting in the terminal, the flight crew came in and the pilot told them we would have a one hour delay due to mechanical problems with the plane. After 2.5 hours, I realized that we would be landing (even with the extra hour time difference) about 40 minutes after my flight to Boston departed (the last of the evening), so went up front to see if I could get off the plane.

They were admittedly very nice about it. But interestingly enough, as they were getting me set up to fly out today, the attendant said the delay was a 'gate check' due to high traffic at O'Hare. Makes ya wonder....three reasons, same flight, double the length of the predicted delay.

At one point while I was getting my tickets for today, they reported that the flight was canceled. Then 10 minutes later, it was un-cancelled. By then, I was glad to be set up with tickets for an early morning departure, which went off without a hitch as it turns out.

It was a packed flight, since it was full of the folks from last night, as well as the people who got bumped when the 6:00 am flight was canceled.

And they wonder why no one likes the airlines....

But it was nice to be able to go back home to sleep rather than get stranded in Chicago. Unexpected kittie-cuddle time, no worries about packing, cleaning the house, etc.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Man's Terrorist... another man's freedom fighter, as they say. I heard an EXCELLENT interview today (yep, on NPR) with Bill Ayres - the 'terrorist' that Obama pals around with. To be honest, I didn't know much about the guy, beyond what was being said of him by the McCain campaign.

Which Way The Wind Blows: Bill Ayers On Obama
FreshAir,, Nov 18, 2008

At the start of the interview, there seemed to be a lot of passing the buck. "I was misquoted", "they exaggerated", "they misunderstood", etc. But then he got into the meat of the conversation, and it was exceptional. I'd take a course from this guy in a hot second! The students at U of Chicago have a goldmine in him, hope they take advantage of it.

His thoughts on protest, on what constitutes terrorism, on who should be apologizing and/or admitting to their actions during the Vietnam war, on the responsibility of 'witnessing' and then taking action, the importance of questioning your own dogma, etc. were quite salient. I was left admiring his views, though questioning his methods - and wondering why McCain was so willing to paint Ayres with such broad strokes. Perhaps because he asks what McCain was doing when he was shot down.

Agree or disagree with his views on the war, it is a VERY thought provoking conversation that asks questions as pertinent today as they were in the late 60s.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trekkie Glee

I can hardly contain my glee!!! I just saw my first commercial for the new Star Trek movie!! It's not due out till May 8, so it's going to be a slow painful wait.

Not having cameos from Shatner and a few others seems a bit sacrilegious, but at least Nimoy is involved. And it does look go-od. Yay, movie #11.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I'm late in posting this - sorry Alicia. It wasn't a pretty game, and for the first time, I heard them address the question of Weis' longevity at ND if this trend continues. We were 'assured' that he is here to stay, but the fact that it is being talked about can't be a good thing for him.

Anyway, we won. Gotta confess, at the end of the game, I was actually hoping for Navy to win. We didn't deserve it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Random Bytes

The 50 Biggest Movies of 2009
by Michael Moran,
Nov 10, 2008

Iraq's damaged Babylon hopes for revival
By Andrew North, Nov 14, 2008

Study Shows Drivers Feel Free to Ignore Speed Limits
By Keith Barry,
Nov 14, 2008

Five Million Dead and Counting The disaster in Congo is all the more tragic because it was utterly avoidable.
By Michael J. Kavanagh, Nov. 14, 2008

Pelvis Dated To 1.2 Million Years Ago Shows Ancestors May Have Been Born With Big Heads,
Nov 14, 2008

Obama's plans for probing Bush torture
By Mark Benjamin, Nov 15, 2008

Turning Urine Into Water For Space Station Recycling,
Nov 14, 2008

Pentagon Clears Flying-Car Project for Takeoff
By Noah Shachtman, Nov 13, 2008

How Eating Red Meat Can Spur Cancer Progression: New Mechanism Identified,
Nov 14, 2008

Growth hormones for kids
By Rahul K. Parikh, M.D., Oct. 31, 2008

Pope sees physicist Hawking at evolution gathering, Oct 31, 2008

Can Animals Lie? You Want A Piece of This? (Please Please Please Don’t Take a Piece of This!)
by Carl Zimmer, Nov 13, 2008

The Incredible Journey: Microchip ID Reunites Owners with Cat - 13 Years Later
by Lisa Stein,
Nov 14, 2008

To Save the Southern Polar Environment--Dump the Antarctic Treaty
By Brendan Borrell, Nov 10, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008


Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Here's the article that led me to this startling discovery. Take the quiz yourself - better safe than sorry!!

How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you
by Matthew Inman

Jane Goodall Interview

Here's another NPR recommendation -- an interview with Jane Goodall.

Goodall Reflects On A Lifetime Of Chimp Research
Talk of the Nation, Nov 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Polly Wanna Cracker??

This is a very interesting interview with the woman who worked with Alex the parrot for 30 years studying language acquisition. Some very touching accounts, I think this is going on my nightstand.

'Alex & Me': The Hidden World Of Animal Minds
Fresh Air, Nov. 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

I hate to kick him while he's down (way down), but today's ceremony on the Intrepid seemed a slap in the face of many in uniform. Today George W. Bush was awarded the Intrepid Freedom Award, designed to recognize world leaders who embody the ideals of world freedom and democracy. I understand that his father served on that ship. And that it might be common to award the outgoing President with said award.

But don't we have to remember that this is the Administration that sanctioned torture, dispensed with habeas corpus, started the first war of aggression by America on a sovereign nation, suspended portions of the Geneva Conventions? I'm bypassing the whole set of Constitutional issues here, the above seems more than enough to call this award into question.

Seems a bitter pill to make the families of soldiers who died in Bush's Private Little War...not to mention the countless Iraqiis, who we seem to never actually talk about.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cold Dark Day...

...yes, that applies to the weather as well. But alas, it was more a mood around campus after last night's utter trouncing by Boston College. It looked like the Irish were channeling last year's team -- although, as a student pointed out to me on Facebook - at least last year's team managed to score a point on BC.

And alas, they announced that the Mars Phoenix lander died today. Apparently it will slowly freeze into a solid block of dry ice over the Martian winter, and is not expected to revive in the Spring. So sad. It's like somebody killed Wall-e or something. Sniff!

On the up side...the Obama camp 'leaked' that they are going to close Guantanamo. That is indeed excellent news!! A definite bright spot.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Whoa!! Dodged a Bullet!!

I mean really -- I knew Palin was dim, and didn't hesitate to say so from the minute she was selected -- but now the stories are getting downright frightening.

What is particularly sad -- even if today's stories prove to be false -- is how willing people are to believe them because she so repeatedly proved herself to be incompetent. No sexism, no he said/she said - she totally did this to herself. She was not qualified for this position and didn't have the smarts (or humility) to recognize it. Nor did McCain apparently.

According to today's releases (from FOX!!!!), Palin didn't know:

• what countries compose North America (is this actually possible???)
• what countries are part of NAFTA
• that Africa is a continent and not a country
• asked if South Africa was part of that 'country'
• spent much more on clothes 'n such than the $150,000 we were told
• refused a briefing before the Couric interview (no trouble believing that one)

To be honest, it really is hard to believe that any adult American is really so stupid that they don't know what countries are in North America. I realize I live in an academic bubble most of the time, but I really have to wonder about the truth of that story.

Here's the link to the Fox report: Fox: Palin didn’t know Africa is a continent


A colleague (Eric L.) posted this on Facebook, I thought I'd share it here:

Voting Shifts

This is a pretty interesting map from this week's election. It shows voting shifts nationwide, and the degree of change. Note the strong shift towards the Democratic party even in red states...particularly in Indiana. To see a larger version, just click on the map below. Or, it can be found at:
New York Times Election 2008 Map

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I've been smiling all day. Admittedly, the outcome last night was one that made me very happy -- but seeing Indiana go blue really was the cherry on top. I drove two loads of people to the polls yesterday, and neither of the polling places had any line. Nada. I was therefore pretty sure that we were gonna stay red. Happy to be wrong!!

Even tho' I felt pretty crumby much of yesterday (a cold is a'brewin'), I was still kicking myself last night that I didn't go down to Grant Park in Chicago. Today in the lab, some of the students said the same thing -- we should've had a field trip. Bummer!

I got two very nice emails today from family members who, although they didn't vote for Obama, were very gracious about his victory. I'm not sure I'd have been as honorable - definitely a lesson in losing with grace!!


Granted, not by much. But by enough. Including our country (St. Joseph)!!! Yay, makes all the phone calls 'n such totally worth it!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the Making

Okay, so I couldn't fall asleep. Other than the moon landing, and maybe the Berlin Wall coming down, this is the most historic night in my lifetime. Couldn't really miss it, even if tomorrow brings lots of yawns. Gotta admit, I'm more than a bit teary eyed at the outcome.

Tomorrow really is a new day!!

Woo Hoo!!

I'm calling the race early because I've got a cold that's flattened me today. Headache, fever, sore throat, the works. Too much campaigning?? Anyway, I'm sure Obama will win so am going to crash for awhile (or till tomorrow morning) and hope that my blog post doesn't turn into a "Dewey Wins" repeat.


Even if your state is the opposite color you prefer, help send your candidate a mandate. And don't be fooled, if Indiana can lean blue for the first time in 40 years, you never know how your state will turn out when all the votes are counted. So, just do it!!

For the women out there, if you doubt it's important, watch "Iron Jawed Maidens" one day to get a feel for the sacrifies made to give you the vote. And video from almost any 1960s newscast will drive home the importance of the African American vote!

If you're voting absentee, remeber, for most places it simply has to be postmarked by today - so you have PLENTY of time to get your's mailed before midnight. No long lines, best of all possible worlds.

And if that weren't enough reason, don't forget - free coffee at Starbucks all day just for saying your voted. You could lie I suppose, but then I hope you feel DOUBLY guilty!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Here's the "Vote/Don't Vote" song video:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

McCain on SNL

He did a great job with this, might be the best one yet.

Delayed Halloween Post

For Halloween I dressed up as a "Creationist" - which means, I wore my Creation Museum tee shirt that says on the front "Prepare to Believe" and on the backk "I went and I believe!" Pretty scary, it required no further enhancement ;-)

The TAs for Osteology got into the spirit as well. They came as a Pirate (Mark Q), a hip-hop artist (Mary DeA), and white trash (Danielle M). Danielle wore one of Mark's flannel shirts, so the students in class guessed her costume was indeed "Mark" when she got to class. Made me laugh...but perhaps you had to be there ;-)


Here's a second "Vote/Don't Vote" Ad.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Here's one of the full-length "Vote/Don't Vote" ad that's making the rounds. I'll post a new one each day. They're pretty good.

Longest Game Ever

Bummer. But they did it to themselves. Up 17-3 at the half, they managed to blow it and lose in a 4th overtime.

While Pitt was quite good, I'd say Klausen gets some of the credit for the check in the L column. Arrrrrggh. That was a hard one to lose. And long! Tho' the sprinklers coming on did add a certain comic relief.

Random Bytes

Vote! Why your ballot isn't as meaningless as you think.
By Jordan Ellenberg,
Oct. 31, 2008,

DNA legacy of ancient seafarers
By Paul Rincon, Oct 31, 2008

Dig finds camp of 'real Crusoe',
Nov 1, 2008
This is kinda cool - a 'theme park' in the making

'Oldest Hebrew script' is found, Oct. 30, 2008

A Radical Business Plan for Facebook - Charge people.
By Farhad Manjoo,
Oct. 31, 2008
Hope not...

Science Advice for the Next President
By Andrew C. Revkin, October 31, 2008

The Unappreciated, Holding Our Lives in Balance
October 27, 2008
This is quite cool.

Lost Skeleton Crew Returns for Cadavra Sequel
By John Scott Lewinski, October 30, 2008

10 Geeky Movies That Should've Been Terrible, but Weren't
By Matt Blum,
October 30, 2008

New Study: “Humans Are Responsible” for Warming Even Antarctica
by Eliza Strickland, Oct 31, 2008

Fire Out Of Africa: A Key To The Migration Of Prehistoric Humans,
Oct. 28, 2008

Death Rituals Reveal Much About Ancient Life, October 8, 2008

Return of the kings
By Bruce Bower,
October 27th, 2008

Where Will the Next Pandemic Emerge? The next killer germ could burst from the African rain forest—or from your family pet.
by Jared Diamond and Nathan Wolfe, October 27, 2008