Digging through Virginia

Esta breaks what was for me a five-year-old cone of silence and gives a peek inside her year as a professional contract archaeologist. Her job had her contracting to the state of Virginia, digging (per state law) at sites where the state planned to construct new public works to make sure that nothing of historical significance would be disturbed. A really cool job, right?

The constant traveling wore thin quickly, but the honeymoon would have lasted longer if not for the minimum wage, lack of decent benefits, creepy bosses and that thing about telling people their houses were going to be bulldozed.

Still, it taught her to swing a shovel. And gave her fantastic grist for the writing mill:

Rolling out of bed at 5 a.m. to get to the site on time and make the most of the sunlight. Living in longjohns, ripped jeans, flannel shirts, wool socks and beat-up boots. Staying covered in a poison ivy rash for nine months straight. Scraping deer ticks from my jeans with a trowel. The infamous black widow bite that didn’t kill me but made me wish it would. Eating lunch wherever we could, with preference given to rural gas stations that serve fried frogs legs and potato wedges, all-you-can-eat Mexican buffets that didn’t mind mud on their carpets, and diners with good pie.

Esta gets better comments

I will say nothing more about how the conversations between me and the anti-Win Without War folks are going save to note that the fine art of the ad hominem attack is alive and well.

Esta seems to be luckier. Her post about same-sex marriages attracted a thoughtful and responsibly articulated opposing view, in her comments rather than in email so it could be easily publicly shared. And so she started a real dialogue. This just goes to show that her language skills are more advanced than mine, I suppose…

BTW, happy belated BlogBirthday® to Estaminet. When I lost a guest blogger over a year ago I gained a keiretsu. Not a bad tradeoff.

Payback will be hell

Good morning! Thirty years is far too short a time with all of you. As Bilbo Baggins once said, I feel I know less than half of you as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as I should.

And thanks to Esta for the technicolor reminder of my mortality. Never fear, dear, I’ve got September 20 circled in my calendar for a few years hence…

Esta Minute

There’s a blog I’ve wanted to point to for a while, but because it wasn’t yet a fully public project I’ve refrained. Today I’m proud to point to the new location of Esta’s blog, now named “Estaminet” (which is not to be pronounced Esta minute, as tempting though it is). To make up for my not linking to her before, today is officially Link to Esta Day. Mark your calendars.

Move count: Two Jarretts

Esta moved into a new place in downtown Richmond this weekend. Apparently she’s quite happy with her new place, 6-minute commute and all.

One word of advice to Esta for her new place’s hardwood floors: Swiffers. A finer cleaning product has yet to be seen. Not an employee, just a happy customer. Procter & Gamble really understand their customer too. There’s nothing more satisfying than picking up the Swiffer mop, shuddering at all the dust, hair and other detritus that’s been picked up, then throwing the crap away.


Thanks to Tim for mentioning my pilgrimage trip a few days ago. The trip, to the Borderlands Ranch in South Dakota, was part of the youth program at my church, for which I have been a leader during the past two years. I’ve posted my journal from the trip if anyone’s interested in reading it.

Back from the pilgrimage

My sister Esta has returned from her pilgrimage. Apparently there were some eventful things: bad connection, super late arrival, cows in the road, “Bagging the Rush,” etc. Good things, too: sounds like there was lots of spiritual growth happenin’. Her leadership experience on this trip makes most of my business experience look tame.

Have a good pilgrimage

It’s “proud of my kid sister” day here at JHN. Esta is taking her church youth group kids on a spiritual pilgrimage to South Dakota starting tomorrow. This is a pretty darned big undertaking and I hope that the trip is everything they hope it will be.

Accidental Pilgrim

I don’t think Tim and Lisa are visiting any of the places mentioned in this article, but it makes good reading nonetheless. The author’s description of Rome on Easter makes me wonder what the heck my brother is getting himself into.


Next, the Emmys!

Popping on quickly to share some family news: Tim’s and my father, Gus, auditioned for a walk-on spot on a TV pilot yesterday. Andie MacDowell is starting something up in the Asheville area. At this point I think I can legitimately say: our Dad is cooler than your Dad.

grr. grr. grr.

Today’s the day: the company deadline for removing all IM software from our computers. Management, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks its distraction potential outweighs its usefulness as a business tool. Personally, I’m not over-fond of IM, and amn’t particularly sorry to see it go. But what does it say about managers that, rather than search for the real reasons that their employees’ productivity is dropping, would rather rant, rave, treat the employees like children and take away their toys? 1. The economy’s too bad for them to give us the bonuses and raises we need to make this job worthwhile. 2. They’re idiots, and bad managers. 3. They’re just as addicted to Solitaire and Minesweeper as the rest of us.