Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A slow day in the Cambrian

If I earn my living by dating minerals for whomever wants my number, does that make me some sort of paleoprostitute? I hope not. I like to think of my chosen career path as a lifestyle choice, a way of liberating myself from the patriarchal oppression of grant application and troughside C.V. measuring contests. But days like today make me wonder. I spent most of the morning slumming it in the Cambrian. I’m not a big fan of the Cambrian; studying it is like trying to understand contemporary German history by starting with November 12, 1989. There’s a lot of rubbish and hungover fossils lying around, but the big event has already started to subside. Besides, the dates for the Cambrian have changed so many times in the past 20 years that I’m not even sure that’s where I was. I might have been trying to celebrate the fall of the wall in Hamburg. Or Paris.

On the other hand, it is hard to complain about what I am doing now when I don’t have any sort of alternative career goal to turning radiometric tricks. I’d have to actually get up off my ass, think up a research project, and get back on the research treadmill to nowhere. I’d probably also have to move halfway around the planet to take up whatever position I managed to find. And then repeat, lather, rinse for the next ten million years. It is just so much easier to lie on my back, close my eyes, and think of Cambria. Or Devon. Or the land of the Silures and Ordovices.

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