Semester Home Stretch! (The one with skulls and prehistoric artifacts!)

We’re down to the final weeks of the semester. And really the final weeks of the year too. Why are we always surprised that time moves pretty quickly? It feels cliche to say that this semester was a whirlwind. But I do feel as though I did have a lot going on this semester.

This past spring I was just getting back in the swing of being in school again. Not to mention dealing with moving back to Indiana and everything that came with it. This semester, my academic confidence was up and I could just focus on getting my work done and really start thinking about moving forward. Which I tackled at in a big way. If you’re friends with me on facebook, you may have seen that announcement already. If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen the hints at it. Otherwise, I’ll catch the rest of you up soon.

This semester has also brought some new activities and things and such… Wow. That was a bad segue. Anyway. Here’s some things I’ve been up to…

AAL Labeling Materials

I started my volunteer hours in the Applied Anthropology Lab on campus. I’m pretty sure that taking pictures of the artifacts isn’t ok — or at least I’d rather not risk it. But, I figure a picture of my supplies is ok. Maybe. Probably. Anyway. I’m basically just labeling prehistoric rocks. Ok it’s a little more than that, but yes, that basically is it. They’re mostly lithic flakes and cores — evidence of tool making. It also involves writing very, very tinily on these said artifacts. Which means it also means erasing (with acetone) and rewriting a lot. Or at least my first day did. It also involved me accidentally adhering a number of artifacts to my fingers. That B-72 you see in the picture, that stuff is very sticky. Very sticky. Anyway, after I complete 20 hours in the lab, I’ll be able to start working there for real — as in, getting paid.

Next semester I should likely have an internship with the lab. This time not involving adhesives. Maybe. I applied for the Collections Management and Public Archaeology internships, and in talking with my soon-to-be boss we might do a mix of the two programs. It’s unpaid, but will be great experience. (This is one of those areas where it’s ok to be paid with experience. Or at least mostly ok, because I am getting credit for it.)

I’ve also just got access to work in another lab in the department (though this one is a lab in the “we only study” sense, not in the “we get uber amounts of grants to study stuff” sense like the AAL). It’s our biological anthropology lab. Aka where all the bones are! For my Human Variation class, we were given pretty big leeway for our term project. I’m looking at the craniofacial adaptations in regards to environment and culture. I want to tract these changes as human ancestors moved out of Africa and began populating the rest of the world — aka, why do we look the way we do. It’s got nothing to do with race. I could care less about that cultural construct in this study. I want to know what in our environment cause our noses to look certain ways or our jaws… and why we retained certain traits but lost others. This means I get to look at a lot skull samples.  They’re not actual bones, but models. I’m looking at individuals from 1.9 million years ago. It’s honestly one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do on campus.

Early Hominin Samples

Meet Homo halibis and H. rudolfensis (and another H. habilis in the back left, same individual). I’m taking a few cranial measurements myself. Which was very intimidating since I have no training whatsoever in craniometrics. But ultimately it’s been a lot of fun. And I’m looking forward to continuing my work.

Lastly, I’ve felt more confident socially this semester. I’m starting to get to know my peers in my department, making friends. Not like, BFFs or anything, but people I feel ok walking up to and starting conversations and hanging out with at events within the department. That has been really great. It’s nice to have other people not just to talk about all this anthropological stuff, but just small talk about lives too. I’ve felt really at home in this department. BSU wasn’t my first choice, but it seems like it was the right choice for me.

And while I am gushing to tell you everything about this other big thing I’ve been working on. I just want to wait until a few more pieces are in order.

Anyway. Before I close out on this post, I just also want to remind you that I’ve been live streaming some of my gaming experience. You can catch me at 2pm EST on Thursdays, and then late morning/early afternoons on Sundays. Currently, I’m playing Don’t Starve. And it’s awesome and I’m addicted. I might also be streaming some of my skull studies (as like a hangout thing) and hopefully once a month on Sunday evenings some cooking! More details coming on that. Anyway:

Also, my host automatically upgraded everyone’s php, even if they didn’t want it. And I’m having some issues with my theme. Please let me know if my site ever loads weird for you.