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Jennifer Anne Thompson

Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-12-25 12:33
Subject: It's Christmas!
Security: Public
I sort of feel like the Queen, giving my Christmas message. However, I'm not nearly as rich or as old as the Queen, so I guess there's not much of a comparison.

Yes, it's Christmas here in snowy Edmonton. This year the parents came to Edmonton to spend Christmas with Bronwen and I rather than us piling in the vehicle and driving back to the farm in Saskatchewan. It's nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and have all of my own stuff around me at Christmas. And this year I don't have to worry about going through boxes that I left in my bedroom at the farm and deciding what I want to keep and what can be thrown out. It's such a nice change.

And we can't complain about the weather this year. It's supposed to be somewhere around -1C and it's not supposed to snow again until next week so I don't have to go out and shovel snow. I really detest shovelling snow. I want heated pavement, so that the snow melts when it hits the pavement and ice never forms. Wouldn't that be a nice invention?

Anyway, I'm off work until 3 January so that's a whole week and a half of holidays. The time off is actually the best Christmas present I could have gotten because this field season burnt me out. By the start of November, I was done. Physically, emotionally, mentally - I couldn't do it anymore. This field season was incredibly hard. We just kept going and going and going. There was so much work to be done and not enough people to do it. I don't know how we ever got through it. And next season should be better because we've got more people but we've still got a whole load of work lined up already. Hopefully it'll be better, though. We should be more organized this year and everything will (hopefully) move more smoothly than it did this year.

But enough complaining. I now have DVD's and books and a spherical 3-D puzzle to occupy me. Yes, I shan't be bored over the next week. But I am going to enjoy catching up on my sleep. It's going to be glorious.

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. I wish you all a stress-free and quiet holiday season.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-08-24 14:42
Subject: what a week!
Security: Public
Have you ever been at a job and screwed something up royally? Well I discovered Wednesday that I did. I was writing a report on Wednesday for a survey that took place a couple of weeks ago. I was sent down to Calgary to do the fieldwork and I didn't really know much about the project because I was in the UK when we got the job. So I trusted that people would give me the information I needed and would provide me with maps that showed the exact area that I was supposed to survey. Boy, was I wrong. Nobody told me exactly where I was supposed to survey, and then they called the boss to tell him and that was a mistake. The boss didn't have a clue about what was going on and the information he passed on was vague enough that I thought I was supposed to look at one area when I was really supposed to look at a completely different one.

So yesterday I took a sickie and drove down to Calgary and back just to do one hour of work. I then proceeded to write the report last night, too. So I worked an 11 hour day and I'm not getting paid for it. But it's better than telling the boss that we did the wrong area. The work's done and we don't have to worry about it now.

And now I can hardly wait until the work day is over so that I can go home to bed. Oh, and I may have duodenitis (a hyperacidity condition). Yes, my week is going swimmingly.

And to top that off, we just got three permits through for work we need to do in Alberta and I don't have a field crew anymore because the kids are heading back to school. So it's not going so well.

Only another hour and a half and then I can go home and collapse. Yay.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-05-21 10:27
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
I had a minor panic this past week. On Monday I arrived home from work to find a large envelope sitting on the front porch. This envelope was from Cardiff University and was suspiciously stiff. My first instinct was that it was my degree, but I though this couldn't be since I haven't actually graduated yet. So I took it inside but I hesitated to open it - just in case. I finally worked up the nerve to get the letter opener and slice the envelope open. And what did I find but my degree! And it's dated 13 March 2007. Well, let's just say my heart kind of dropped and I went into 'what the hell' mode.

You see, I've been planning on attending my graduation in Cardiff in July. But according to this piece of paper (which I love because it's in both English and Welsh) I've already graduated. And nobody told me.

As you can probably imagine, I was a bit perturbed by this news. In fact, I was right pissed off. So I sent an email off to the postgrad secretary of HISAR (my department in Cardiff) asking what was going on. I had no idea if I was going to be graduating in July or not and I was rather upset by this since everyone was expecting me to be graduating and I really wanted to wear the robes (they're really pretty).

But I found out this weekend that everything is fine. I still don't know why I got sent my degree or why it's dated 13 March, but apparently I'm still graduating in July. The registry office claims they sent me a graduation pack in April but I don't believe them. Considering that, in the three years I had to register as a student at Cardiff University, I only received one registration pack from them, I have a strong feeling that they're either lying or the post from the registry office has a really bad habit of going missing. For anyone considering attending Cardiff University, you should know that the registry office is a mess and they will do nothing but frustrate you to no end. I loved my time in Cardiff, but I had some serious problems with how the university was run.

So, the result is that I am graduating in July. The only question is, will I get another copy of my degree? How weird would that be.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-05-20 21:32
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Canadian weather is the funniest thing. I have had both a sunburn and mild hypothermia within the last week. Actually, the sunburn was Thursday and the hypothermia was Friday. Welcome to field season.

Yes, we are back in the field at full tilt now. Wednesday was the first day out for this week and it was a hideous day. The temperature got up to somewhere around 27C and we walked about 8 kilometres (or roughly 5 miles). Oh, and I dropped the keys to the Explorer so we had to search the field for them. We're working west of Edmonton, in an agricultural area that's all plowed fields and pasture. Luckily, I managed to find the keys and the crisis was averted (the boss is too cheap to get a second set made so there's a panic if we lose the keys). And did I mention that much of the area contains swamps and sloughs. The mosquito population is thriving.

Thursday was actually quite a nice day. It only got up to 20C and we walked about 12 km (or roughly 8 miles). And we found a historic site that we had to do some test pits on. Oh, and we all got lost. Well, we weren't really lost because we all knew where we were. We just didn't really know where everyone else was. That, again, isn't right because Jeff and Jae were together so they knew where each of them was. The problem was that the two quarter sections we were surveying were a series of cleared pastures with a bit of forest in between them. So we were all in different pastured areas but we didn't know that. And that may have been because I was the only one with a map. But we were only doing a half section and it was fenced so we shouldn't have gotten lost. But we did. And great fun was had by all. It was kind of like a huge game of hide and seek, but we weren't trying to hide. And we all had radios so we could talk to each other and try to figure out exactly where we were in relation to other people. It really was quite funny when you look back on it. At the time, it was just exhausting and rather worrying.

Friday was miserable. It was raining and cold and dreary and we were out in it. The good thing is that the walking was actually quite nice. Most of the half section we were doing was pasture and we stayed out of the forested areas because they were all swamps and drainages and nasty. Of course, this was only after some of us got lost in the largest forested area. Actually, just one person was actually lost. And Jeff and I just stood outside the forested area, waiting for the underlings to find each other and make their way out. I'm pretty sure that's not what a supervisor is supposed to do, but it was better than just going into the bush and getting lost, too. At least we were in a position where we could see the whole edge of the bush. And they found each other. Radios are wonderful things.

But it was wet and cold and miserable. And there were lots of hills. I hate hills. And we found sites. And we had to dig one of them. But we did go home early because we were all cold and miserable. And both Jeff and I had symptoms of mild hypothermia. I guess that first aid course was good for something. Yes, that was a fabulous day.

The theme of the fieldwork so far seems to be getting lost. First we lost the Exploder keys, then we all get lost, then one of us gets lost. I'm kind of hoping this theme ends and we have a new theme for next week. I can't wait to find out what that is.

And, on a completely different note, I've become a member of the Facebook world. So far most of my friends are from Cardiff but I do have one friend from the U of S. I haven't got any friends from the U of T yet. I'm still getting there. I hadn't heard about Facebook until about a month ago. I'm really out of touch with the 'cool' world. I have no idea what's going on anymore. But I do like Facebook because I find I'm better at keeping in touch with people than I am if I just rely on email. I think it's because I can see their pictures and it makes me want to get in contact more. I am a very visual person so that kind of makes sense.

And now I'm really just rambling. I'm going to have to go to bed soon. Ah, my bed. I've just got a new bed. Well, not new new but new to me. It's my parents' bed from their flat in Regina and they just shipped their furniture to Edmonton so we've finally got a house full of furniture. And I got the queen-size bed that my parents had. It's huge. I mean, I have to literally climb into bed now. It's like I have to mount and dismount my bed (and yes, my mind goes to the gutter when I say this, too). And it's actually a bit too soft for my taste. But it's so nice to be able to stretch out in bed and, most importantly, not have my feet hang off the end of the bed.

The rambling will stop for the evening as I go to mount my bed. That really is a bit sick, isn't it? Blame it on the exhaustion.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-05-12 10:57
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Okay, so my last post sounds a bit too whingey (is that how you spell it? I can never tell). I sound like a little child. Yes, I know my parents have invested a lot of time into raising me, but I have some serious issues with my family. For me, Cardiff is a place where I built a life by myself. People knew me for me, and not for my family. I liked being separate from my family and I resent having been pulled back into my family. I know some people may think that makes me a bad person (Lord knows, my sister has told me that enough times) but that's just how I am. I don't like the family I was born to, for a lot of reasons, but I became a part of another family in Cardiff. A family I chose and one that I feel more a part of than my own blood family. And my blood family can't understand that and I don't want them to. I don't want them to become a part of that world because I feel like they'll spoil it. Yeah, I've got serious issues. The sad part is - I don't want to change that. I really don't want to be reconciled to my family. I'm happier when I don't see them for months at a time and only visit once or twice a year. Maybe some day I'll deal with that.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-05-12 10:51
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
I just ordered my gown and photos for graduation. It's so much easier this time than it was the last time I went to a graduation. Of course, that was back in 2000 at the U of S, but still...much easier. I'm kind of sad that I missed my U of T grad. They do a great procession at the U of T. Cardiff isn't quite the same since you have to go to the university to pick up your gown and get your photos and then you have to walk into town to St. David's Hall for the actual ceremony. And it's in July and you're wearing a wool gown. That's a bit more like torture than anything. And I've got a morning ceremony so I have to be at the university by 8:15 am. How cruel is that? And after the ceremony, I expect HISAR will be having a reception back at the Humanities building, as they usually do. So we'll have to walk back to campus again, in the heat and with me wearing a big wool Ph.D. gown. Oh, and I have to find another ticket for grad now, too. I've already got four but I somehow have to find a fifth. There's nothing like a little bit of stress to go with graduation. It's supposed to be MY day but my family seems to think that they all have to be a part of it. It would be so much easier if my parents and sister weren't going to be there. Then I could just invite my cousins. I'd like that much more.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-05-09 13:08
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Today is a slow day. I'm at work, trying to finish my very first report for my very first permit. It's really not as exciting as it sounds. I've spent most of the morning trying to get a stupid GIS program working but it's not. And it's all because the boss is too cheap to buy a proper copy of any of the software we really need. And everyone in the office is having the same problem with software. We have proper GIS software for the two people who specialise in GIS, but the rest of the software is a mishmash of different versions and probably some of the programs are illegal copies. But we don't actually know what's legal and what's not because the boss has a tendency to throw away CDs and DVDs that he doesn't think are useful anymore. It's a wonder we're not all bald and under psychiatric care by now. Although, some days I think it's not far off.

I was out in the bush on Monday, though it wasn't really all that long in the bush. I was doing a survey of a small parcel of land northeast of Edmonton, where they're planning to build a new subdivision. There are paths throughout the area but a large part of it is still forested, so we had to walk through the bush as well as the nice clear paths. It was pretty nasty bush, with lots of willow and rosebrush. Luckily it wasn't in leaf yet, so the bush wasn't as thick as it could have been. It wasn't a bad day but I was ready for bed by 5pm. I had to force myself to stay awake until 9pm. The first day of fieldwork is always the worst in terms of feeling totally worn out by the end of the day.

I don't have any work to do for the rest of the week once I'm done this report. All we have to do is fieldwork and we're waiting for permits and start dates. I'll come in tomorrow to make any changes to the report that need to be made and get it printed and bound, but after that I'm done until Tuesday. There may be more work to do this week, but it's not going to be anything too big. I may get a long weekend! Wouldn't that be nice?

And hey, two more months and I'll be back in the UK! Graduation's on 16 July and I fly into Heathrow on 12 July. I just have to arrange for places to stay and get train tickets and I'm done. Oh, and get all the details about graduation figured out. But that's all I have to do.

Well, I really want to go to bed. I'm exhausted. I think we're going on either a slurpie run or a Starbuck's run pretty soon. Personally, I'm leaning towards Starbuck's because it's raining and cold outside. I'd like something to warm me up. A nice Chai latte, I think. Caffeine and sugar, what a lovely combination.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-04-14 15:02
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Spring is finally here! Well, I hope it's here. I really hope I haven't just jinxed it. Oh well. Spring and the lack of snow means that we should be in the field soon. Of course, I have a report to help finish, research to do, and a first aid course to take before we can get into the field. So who knows when I'll get into the field. Although we've got at least three projects in Alberta and two in B.C. that need to be done ASAP. Yeah, we're going to be just a bit busy this year. I don't think I'll be getting a lot of weekends off in the next few months so I'm enjoying my time off this weekend as much as I can.

And after the week I've had, I am in great need of some relaxation. We had a horrible week at work. Between the incredible computer problems we had and Bruce being a complete idiot, it was a very, very stressful week. And next week probably won't be much better at the office. I had to do a complete system reboot of my computer at work, meaning that I had to reload all of my programs. And in doing this, I discovered that we don't have the disks for some of the programs. At least, we don't have the disks at work. Who knows where the original disks are. So we have to break the news to Bruce and convince him that we really need to get new programs. And we need to convince him that he should buy us all new copies of Office so that we should be able to get rid of some of our document problems. But that's going to be an ugly meeting. I'm not looking forward to that.

But then I have a two day first aid course on Tuesday and Wednesday. Except Bruce wants me to do some research on Tuesday but that's going to have to wait until Thursday. He'll just have to deal with it.

My main task for this weekend is to get my hair cut. I need to get four inches taken off because it's far too long. I think I'll also have to find a dentist this week because my gums are really sore. The thought of trying to find a denist and paying for it is a bit daunting. I'm hoping I just need a cleaning because that shouldn't be too expensive. I really hope that's all it is because I know how serious gum disease can be. Scary thought.

And I hope I can get an appointment fairly soon because I don't know when I'll have time otherwise. This is what happens when you don't know where you're going to be at any one time. I can't say that I like that aspect of field archaeology. I'd really like a bit more structure in my life.

I've also had the work truck for the last week and I have to give it back on Monday. I didn't think I'd be sad about that but I am. I've enjoyed having a vehicle to drive again and I'm going to miss having that freedom. It's back to the transit system and taking 45 minutes to get to and from work. It's only 10 minutes when I drive myself. Oh well.

Well, I don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of today. Tomorrow I've got to go to the library and get my hair cut. That should be pretty easy.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-03-23 15:21
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
I just realised that I haven't told you about what happened to me on our D&D night. Let's just say that my hope to come out of this adventure with less time unconcious was a foolish hope.

The night seemed to start out so well. We started with a short adventure that was absolutely hilarious. We had to go to a wizard's house and find out what had happened to her and her husband. In the end, we were attacked by an animated, giant calzone. The piping hot tomato sauce was a killer. Luckily, we all got out of this one relatively intact. Being one of the front-line fighters, however, I did end up getting burned a bit by spurting tomatoe sauce, but I was able to recover nicely and I didn't become unconcious at any point. Yay for me!

The next adventure, however, did not go as well. This is a much longer adventure and we only got started on it. We should have a couple more sessions before we're done. We started out by getting hired to guard a caravan. I didn't think I would get into as much trouble this time because we've added another player to our little band. Corry is playing a monk, so I finally have another front-line fighter. This didn't really help me much.

We were going along nicely, with our rather plush caravan guarding job. It wasn't too hard, just walking along with the caravan, making sure nothing happened. But then we ran into two orcs. Now, they were speaking Common, which should have been a sign that something fishy was going on. I, however, did not think about that. And neither did anyone else in our party. I play a human ranger whose favourite enemy is the orc. This meant that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go chasing after these orcs. Unfortunately, only one member of my band wanted to come with me - a gnome bard. Now, I should have thought that there would be more than two orcs and that I shouldn't just go charging off with only a pint-sized gnome bard as my only companion. But I didn't think - I just reacted.

When we entered the ravine, I should have realised something was up. But again, I wasn't too bright. The two orcs turned into 6 when the other four jumped down from the edge of the ravine. To cut a short story even shorter, due to a number of bad rolls of the dice on my part and one good roll on the part of the DM, I was quickly reduced to critically wounded. By the time the rest of my compatriots arrived and finished off the orcs, I was one hit point away from death. So much for orcs being my favourite enemy. And I, once again, didn't get any experience points because I was unconcious.

And then, later in the adventure, when we were in a castle at the bottom of a great chasm, I rolled a critical miss in the middle of a battle. Guess what? Yep, I didn't fare well. I cut myself up with my sword and ended up unconcious...again.

Needless to say, there's a good chance I won't be levelling up any time soon. On the plus side, however, I don't think I have laughed as hard as I did that night for a very long time. Twice that night I ended up in tears because I was laughing so hard. And everyone else there was having a great time, too, laughing at my incredible misfortune. I don't know if you'll be able to appreciate the true hilarity of the evening without having been there. With my two 'accidents' and the gnome's misfortune of falling off a rope down to the bottom of the chasm after rolling a critical miss (she decided to do a 'look ma, no hands' moment...it was a brilliant moment).

So, in the end, it was a good evening of entertainment. I just have a feeling that I wasn't meant to be a front-line fighter. I don't know, call it a hunch.
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Jennifer Anne Thompson
Date: 2007-03-23 13:02
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
I miss being able to make long, rambling posts. It's not that I can't do it any longer because of a horrible, keyboard incident which left me a) horribly disfigured, b) with a violent aversion to anything even remotely resembling a keyboard, or c) with my fingers glued to the keyboard but with my fingers in the wrong position so that I can't touch-type anymore! No, I'm just a working slob who lacks the energy and excitement in life to actually have anything to post. Generally, I just don't feel like posting anymore. Even though I have a relatively new and exciting computer at home and a new one, though less exciting one at work.

When I was a lowly Ph.D. student (well, not that lowly but it sounds better), I had lots of time to post to my journal, despite the fact I didn't really post that often. But at least I had the time to do it if I wanted to. And I actually had interesting things to talk about.

Now my life revolves around work. And work isn't all that interesting. At least not right now because I just spend my time in the office, working on reports and looking at really uninteresting artefacts. I do get to do some research but it's mainly reading old site reports and doing background research on ethnography and ethnohistory for whatever region we're working in. I have to admit that I find Native history incredibly boring. It doesn't interest me in the least. I couldn't care less about it. But I feel that way about lots of things. When it comes to European history, I consider anything prior to the rise of ancient Rome hideously, life-threateningly boring. And don't get me started on European pre-history. It's enough to put me in a coma.

Pretty much, I just find anything pre-historical boring. I'm a historical kind of person. Though even some kinds of history are repulsive to me, too. Anything too modern is ridiculous, in my opinion. It's not even proper history. Anything after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks should not be considered history. It's all far too modern. Yeah, I'm a bit of a medievalist. But I'm proud of it. Medievalists are the coolest types of historians. And Latin rocks!

Okay, I may be going into a bit of medieval withdrawl. Yes, yes I am. I just checked with myself (and no, I'm not anymore crazy than any other postgraduate...which means I could possibly be stark, raving mad...hmmm...I find I don't really care) and I actually miss reading Latin. I may have to go home and pick up one of my Latin books from Toronto. Either that or re-read my Old English textbook. Ah, Old English...it's a lovely language. I do miss it.

But no, I'll probably just spend the weekend reading the stack of books I've got next to my bed and watching TV. Although all of the TV watching will come on Sunday, since there's Top Gear, Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica. I'll probably spend most of Saturday reading, which will be nice. I might make it through a few of the seven books I have in my to-read pile.

And then it'll be back to the daily grind of the office. It could be worse...I almost had to go to Williams Lake, B.C. this week. Luckily, I didn't because the boss decided that he needed me here to work on reports that need to be finished. Instead, Jeff had to make the 10 hour drive all by himself. I feel bad about that, actually. At least when Jeff and I went out together, we could share the driving. This week he has to do both trips by himself. That's not very nice. But I didn't have to go so I don't feel too bad.

If the weather keeps warming up as it is, we should be in the field within the next month. And then it'll be six months of non-stop work. This year looks to be a busy field season so we should be very busy. That'll be good because it should mean that we'll spend most of those six months working our little trowels off. And hopefully we'll get a few actual digs because those are what really keep us busy during the off-season. On the other hand, digs will mean artefacts that will have to be washed and catalogued...oh joy, more mind-numbing artefacts. Right now, I'd kill for some Crusader pottery to analyse. And I won't even speak of what I'd do to have a Crusader burial to look at.

Well, I guess I was able to write more than I thought I would. It's just that I always feel guilty about writing in my journal at work because I feel I should actually be working. But I really don't want to do the work because it's horribly boring. But the boss is out of the office right now so I don't feel that guilty. It's just when he's standing over my shoulder that I feel guilty. And I mean standing over my shoulder...he gets bored and spends his time wandering around the office hovering over people's shoulders. It's really annoying. And rude. But more annoying. Especially when you're trying to work and he's just procrastinating. Annoying is just kind of the common experience for those of us who work in this office.

Okay, I should get back to work. I have to finish reading a site report that's pretty much rubbish. The conclusions are all wrong and the artefact analysis is a joke. And the man who wrote the report is pretty much an idiot and a jerk. And no, it wasn't my boss. But good guess.
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December 2007