Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The SAA meeting, 2014

The annual meeting of the SAA (Society for American Archaeology) just concluded in Austin, Tx. It was a fun and exhausting meeting. I was able to talk to most of the people I wanted to see, I met some interesting people, heard some good talks (and some bad talks and lots of mediocre talks). Here are a few random points:

Texas Barbecue!

I had two (count em, 2) excellent barbecue meals while in Austin. My in-laws picked me up for lunch one day, and we went to the County Line Barbecue just outside Austin. Great food, funky atmosphere, great view. Then I went to a home barbecue at the house of Michael Love and Julia Guernsey. Wow, Michael makes a mean briskit! Add beer and a bunch of interesting people, and that party was a high point of the weekend.

Boring (um, yawn, well, umph, snort, I wasn't really snoring, was I?)

Yes, there were some boring talks. Well, actually there were MANY boring talks. See my post for advice on how you too can achieve a boring result in a conference presentation! A lot of people told me that my presentations were interesting and entertaining. I do have a good style (if I do say so myself), but could that mask a lack of content? I have been tempted to give a completely vacuous presentation sometime, but with flashy powerpoints, jokes, and a lively style. Sort of like the people who submit nonsense to journals to see if they will accept the paper.

The Congress Street Bridge Bats

I did walk across the Congress Street bridge just after dusk, and I think I saw a bat! Had a nice dinner with some Mayanists at the funky Margarita Cafe, and we walked back along Congress St.
We clearly missed the dramatic flight of hundreds of bats, but I think there was one straggler flying along, plus a few drunk graduate students looking for the Penn State party (no, it wasn't under the bridge).

Risky behavior (mine)

I did admit to some potentially illicit behavior during my presentation at the Presidential opening symposium Wednesday evening. Hopefully the relevant law enforcement types didn't attend and won't come after me. This reminds me of the public admission I made in an SAA session a number of years ago. It was a session in honor of George Cowgill, and I mentioned some risky behavior I had engaged in as an undergraduate. No, I won't repeat that here. I am far too stuffy and dignified for such admissions.

Is this blog too edgy?

This seems like a pretty tame blog to me. I only say outrageous things now and then, and those things are probably not considered outrageous to anyone but a few cranky archaeologists. But today a colleague suggested that some of my posts are too edgy or over the limit. Hmmmmm. Maybe I should say something really over the top. A couple of years ago, a departmental staffer offered to send tweets when I made a post. Ok, fine. But then when I posted my advice on "how to give a bad conference talk," she decided that was too outrageous for university approval. Was I encouraging bad behavior? That's not the right signal for a university program. I guess we are supposed to be boring. That ended my free tweets from my unit (now there are new staffers, and they are tweeting my posts again, if I remember to tell them).

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