I know it's been a little while since I last posted, so I thought I would give a brief update on what's been going on recently. Most of my time has been taken up with the beginning of the semester. This is my last year of course work, so I'm trying to finish getting in the classes I need. Not much in the way of real exciting or interesting classes this time around, but that's university life I guess. And as with the beginning of any new school year, there are a bunch of new graduate students who are running around looking scared and stressed and trying to figure everything out. Fortunately, this looks like a pretty good class, and I think almost all of them will make it. But it's going to take them a couple weeks to get into the swing of being a grad student. And as I seem to be one of the people they can most easily come to for help/advise/coffee, this means a another few weeks of them randomly stopping in to see me. I really don't mind this (I was once a first-year and can remember wanting to have someone I could go to for help), but occasionally I would like them to go away so I can get my work done. And there are a couple of them in particular who hang around far longer than they should. "Yes, it's been nice chatting with you, but it's been half an hour and I need to get back to work." But I know all this will pass in time - I just have to keep reminding myself of this.
While classes aren't anything special, at least my TA work is more interesting this year. Half of my time is still working for The Overlord, mostly doing web design and tech support as usual. But he's a good person to work for, and he has more money than he knows what to do with, so I can't really complain. My other TA work, however, is much more exciting. Myself and two other grad students are going to be working on a National Park Service Cooperative Agreement contract. Each of us has been given a different Cultural Landscape project to work on in conjunction with the Cultural Landscapes Inventory (CLI) program. CLIs are basically how the Park Service tries to preserve landscapes which hold special cultural significance beyond simply the buildings and structures. For example, a CLI project would look at an entire ranch, and not just the barn and bunk house. While some of the work will be simple data entry, there will also be some research and some work on updating National Register nominations, which is why NPS brought in a bunch of historians to do this work. We will be taking landscape architect speak and translating it into National Register speak. Once I'm done with this project, I can legitimately say that I have experience working in preservation at the city, state, and regional levels, and I can list a city historic preservation program, a SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office), and NPS as past employers. These are all good things to have on your resume! (And, yes, I am aware that I sound like a big geek here.)
There's more to tell on this NPS thing, but I'll save that for a little later when I have some more time!