Mechanical engineering

The Unexpected Task

It was an odd morning from the start. Turning on the radio to hear the radio hosts using that tone of voice that they get when they have “breaking” news. Congress was doing something, or rather wasn’t doing anything, and this was forcing them off-script.

The drive to the office/lab was similarly odd. The fog was thicker than normal for this time of the year. Signs along the highway were warning that the right lane was closed for a painting convoy. That convoy never materialized. I drove patiently behind a semi that was hauling bales of hay. Driving slowly through the thick, timothy-scented fog.

I arrived at the lab, one of the technicians was waiting for me. Normally, all of our technicians are on the field crew, and the field crew works ten-hour days from Monday through Thursday. This tech missed a day and wanted to make up hours. I had some lab work than needed to be done anyway, and had agreed to let her work some hours in the lab today.

When I got out of the car, the first thing she said to me was not “Hello” or “Good morning” or any of the usual morning salutations, but “I have some bad news.” Bad news. Yes. Hang on while I sip coffee from my travel mug.

As it turns out, there was a problem, but it wasn’t particularly bad. The Jeep had a flat the evening before and the spare was evidently not intended to be used on the Jeep. It didn’t fit. So, we took the spare off and I had her drive it over to the car place while I made arrangements with the purchasing guy. I should have guessed, but we needed to replace all four tires on the Jeep because it’s an all-wheel-drive vehicle and the tires all need to be the same size. So, the technician brought the wheel back and we had the Jeep towed to the dealer, who had to order the necessary tires. They’ll be in sometime next week.

The rest of the day was much more typical for one of my Fridays. I crunched the data to show our progress on fieldwork for the various projects we’re working on. I plotted out the areas where we’re planning on doing fieldwork next week. I responded to inquiries about whether certain undertakings would need any cultural resource work. I prepared the crew’s timesheets and sent them to the accountants to be processed. I answered questions about how to process artifacts to be cataloged.

Friday is usually a quiet day for me. The quiet days usually involve something I hadn’t planned on. Like most people, I carry that mental list of things that I have to do during the day. I rarely get to that list before lunch. The unexpected task inevitably takes up my morning. Sometimes, it’s a high-priority project that we need to complete sometime yesterday. Other times, someone has been injured and it’s a worker’s comp issue (those are the problems that I’d prefer to not have). Still other times are logistical issues that need to be resolved so the crew can keep doing their job. Not all of these issues involve changing a tire, but the variety keeps the job interesting.

Still working at the LAARC

We are suffering from post lunch spreadsheet madness here at LAARC.

Nathanial and Matthew are now presenting objects to each other in an Antiques Roadshow style.

“So what you have you brought with you today Matthew?” … “Well Nathanial, this is my great great great great great great Grandfather’s amphora. It was used for storing and transporting wine.” … “Quite right Matthew. It’s known as Gaul1, form 8G. You’ll need to be looking to insure this for…”

Christie is still creating new numbers. This requires her to push herself to the limit with her drawing skills. Each registered find has a card with a sketch on the back. She wasn’t thrilled when she found that out but she is turning out to be brilliant at it.

Here’s one of the beakers she’s working on right now:

It’s a poppy head beaker made locally (Highgate) that appears to have been ‘killed’. Or at least that’s one of the theories our Roman ceramics specialists gave us for the giant hole in its side.

Final pic in this post is a close-up of my new and life changing boiler suit. So much dust in the archive! So many high shelves and low shelves and heavy boxes! My clothes weren’t coping. Now my life has been changed! In fact, I love my boiler suit so much I embroidered it