Going West

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Monday, November 4 – upon arriving at work to start the abbreviated week, I made some coffee, then sat down to read some, pay some bills and my credit cards, and to do my annual benefits re-enrollment so as to still have health insurance. Good thing, as I quite nearly didn’t have water at our house: DeKalb County neglected to send me any sort of reminder to pay my electronic-only (there was no option to do both, for the record) bill, and by the time I noticed I hadn’t paid it in a while it was already past due. Crisis averted, but still annoying.

With that taken care of, I received my freshly-printed poster from Diana, then I hung it up in the hallway, both to display it for a few days, and to let it dry, as the ink on it was still tacky to the touch. I processed a monthly air cylinder rental invoice after that, then I made some edits to a paper manuscript. I was finally able to sit down to a late lunch after that, then I met with Paul to discuss some of the edits I’d made. I read for a bit more after that, then I briefly left at about 2:30 to drop off my dry cleaning, in anticipation of the trip out to San Diego for the conference. With that done, I returned to the VA to continue reading until it came time to pick up Becky and to go to the gym.

We had some lovely chicken cordon bleu casserole for dinner as we watched a Daily Show and Colbert from the previous week. I set a fire after that, while Becky took stock of some of our Halloween decorations that we’d sort-of left up:

I don’t really think of us as super-spooky oddity-type people, but I guess it’s hard to tell if some of our decor is Halloween-related, sometimes.

With the fire going, we watched @midnight, then Jeopardy!, and then an episode of Caesar Milan’s new show. Eh… same stuff, more neurotic people. We gave up on it and instead just went to bed for the night.

Tuesday, November 5 – the morning started off relatively slowly as I got into work, grabbed my coffee, processed another rental invoice, read some, and made a packing list for my upcoming trip. I read more up until – then a bit after – lunch, then I ordered some magnesium chloride for Shavonne to use in her ACSF solution. I made up the trip planner for my departure day out west after that, then I continued reading until around 10 after 4, at which time I left to meet Becky en route to the gym.

So far, not exactly a very exciting day, but it was brightened somewhat by receiving a lovely card signed by Kath as a thank-you for contributing to her wind symphony’s Kickstarter:

So that brightened our fridge, at least.

I started my pre-departure laundry, then had the remainder of the chicken cordon bleu casserole as Becky and I watched the Daily Show and Colbert, followed by @midnight, then Jeopardy!. By the time that ended, my laundry was finished, and so I folded it and got it put away. We put on a Breaking Bad from Netflix after that, then we relaxed some, read, put on a Futurama in bed, and drifted off to sleep. One more full day to go for me.

Wednesday, November 6 – I arrived at work on time and got myself some coffee as usual, then I sat down to order some cell culture supplies for Vinny, along with some more isoflurane. I spent much of the rest of the morning making up the remainder of the trip planners for my time in LA and San Diego, then I read for a bit, and grabbed my lunch. I spent the entirety of the afternoon plugging through Society for Neuroscience’s 2013’s rather ponderously huge abstract list (numbering in the tens of thousands, I figure) so as to work up an itinerary of poster sessions and talks I wanted to see, then I departed to meet Becky, before going to the gym for a brief workout.

When we got home, I went out to pick up my dry cleaning, just up the hill from where El Toro used to be:

Oh, El Toro. We’re sorry we didn’t go to you more often while you were still open.

I picked up my dry cleaning without incident, which is more than Becky could say about her time giving Giles a walk. He decided to do a Very Bad Dog Thing when he saw a squirrel or squirrel-like object as Becky was pulling onto Lawrenceville Highway from McLendon: something snapped in his dog-brain, and he wriggled his way out of the open window. Onto Lawrenceville Highway. As the car was moving. Of course, Becky was quite upset by this, but she kept her cool, and pulled into the CVS. After several harrowing minutes, she tracked him down, and found he had only minor bruises and scratches from the whole ordeal. Worst Dog Ever.

Becky was, understandably, relieved to be back home safely, and she explained the whole incident to me when I returned with the dry cleaning. I told Giles he was so terrible that I was going to leave the following day so I wouldn’t have to be around him anymore. I don’t think he understood.

When we got settled down, I made myself a Kroger frozen pizza for dinner, then put on the Daily Show, Colbert, and @midnight. I packed for the trip as much as I reasonably could after that, then I sat back down with Becky to watch the final two episodes of the third season of Breaking Bad. We needed to push through the show faster, so I set the DVDs to arrive more frequently in our Netflix queue. For right then, though, we still had two (or three, depending on how you slice it) seasons left, and we’d just have to wait. We retired to bed for the night, for the final time together in about a week. I’d depart for San Diego the following day.

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A Smith of Nes

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Saturday, November 2 – we awoke at about 8 in the morning, then laid in bed while watching some old Singled Out off YouTube. Man, Chris Hardwick’s 90s hair was terrible.

I got up to shower, start my laundry, then get some coffee to have while we watched a nature show about polar bears. We followed that with a Breaking Magic, then the newest China, IL, both off the DVR. I made myself some leftover chicken and pineapple fried rice for lunch, to eat while watching an Orangutan Diaries (if I recall, that was the last one we’d recorded, but it didn’t really have much of a definite end, so I can’t remember exactly). I folded my laundry after that, then we put on the original Mad Max, from Netflix. It’s one of those movies I figured we needed to see to understand the numerous cultural references from it.

Turns out, though, it’s one of those rare movies where the sequel is the one everyone fondly remembers (or sequels, in this case). The original, aside from featuring a distressingly young Mel Gibson, is more or less just a slightly-more-bleak-than-average view of Australia in the late-70s. All of the post-apocalyptic goodness comes later on. And, really, I can’t stress this enough, but for being a famous action movie, it sure was awfully boring most of the time. Eh, at least we can say we’ve seen it, now.

I put some clean sheets on the bed as Becky watched some of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame off Netflix Instant, complete with a rather astoundingly-good Spanish audio track. We turned it off, though, to go out to the gym for a good, solid 54-minute workout. With that under our belts, we returned home to get cleaned up, then we headed back out at quarter of six to hit up Tijuana Garage for dinner. It was still just barely warm enough out to sit on the patio while we ate:

…and that is not a real frog in their fountain pond. Though they do have real koi in there.

We walked around L5 for a bit after finishing our meal, then we made our way to the Variety Playhouse, to line up outside at around 10 past 7. The musician we were seeing that night, you see, was the sort who attracted an older, not-quite-so-hip audience, many of whom were perfectly content to line up well in advance of doors. So, we did just the same.

We made our way inside about a half-hour later, and got some decent seats over to the left side. Everything seemed pretty good, right up until the folks behind us decided to wait until the very moment the house lights went down to play a football clip on their phone at a stupidly loud volume. It was so incredibly rude that both Becky and I – keeping in mind that, as much as we grumble from time to time, we both normally avoid conflict – spoke sharply at them to put it the fuck away. They didn’t react to us, but they did end up leaving early, before the set finished. Given how relatively expensive the tickets were, we’re both gobsmacked that they spent the money on going to the show in the first place, if they were just going to watch football instead, then leave. This is why humanity can’t have nice things.

Fortunately, after that, our experience was perfectly lovely. It was, you see, an evening with Michael Nesmith:

Mike Nesmith being, of course, the tall, aloof member of the Monkees, the same one who generally has always put the kaibash on a four-member band reunion (though, with Davey Jones’ passing, that’s no longer an option). You might recall how we once saw his bizarre music video “movie,” Elephant Parts. Turns out he’s done a lot since then. This particular tour was called “movies of the mind,” in which he’d descriptively paint the picture of a highly particular scene for us, then play one or several of his songs that fit that description. He did play several songs from Elephant Parts, though only one Monkees song, saving “Listen to the Band” for the very end. And that was a good place to end it. We weren’t, either of us, big enough fans of his solo work to go out and buy anything, but it was still a lovely evening.

We returned home at about 11 in the evening, then played with Giles some before retiring to bed. It’s not often we go see septuagenarian musicians, but with the Monkees running only at 75% capacity these days, we figured passing up this chance would be ill-advised. I’m glad we went.

Sunday, November 3 – the first day of Daylight Savings Time. This meant that we were up and at them shortly after 7 AM, though we’d be subsequently tired out early, as well. Still, a nice, early morning! We started it off by bringing Giles to the woods behind the middle school, from which he proceeded to promptly run off and had a Dog Adventure. When we finally found him, about 10 long minutes later, we told him he was a Terrible Dog and that we’d need to get him a new Terrible Dog Collar to teach him the virtues of not running away.

Before any of that, we went out to get groceries, then I swept up and read some as Becky made our dinners for the coming week. I had a nice, long conversation with my parents over the phone as she continued cooking by making up some Leftover Candy Pudding:

The finished product didn’t look all that impressive, but trust me when I say it was all manner of delicious.

I made myself some lunch, then we ate whole watching a Breaking Magic, followed by a Smithsonian Channel special called The Incredible Bionic Man, about attempts to make a fully-functional automaton replacement of a human being, using present-day cutting-edge technology. It was quite interesting, if only for how upset the bionic man’s model was when he saw the final product, after having been so supportive of the project up to that point. Still, we’ve got a long way to go before Replicants are a thing.

I read for a while more as Becky went out shopping. When she returned, she showed me the electronic training collar she’d picked up for Giles. After we went to the gym, then returned home to get cleaned up, we got the collar set up and gave it a trial run. Now, I know the crunchier of folks out there are appalled by the notion of electronic collars, but trust me when I say that the shock is so low that he couldn’t even feel it, except on the highest setting. The idea of the collar isn’t, as you might think, to shock him every time he does something bad, either, merely to put it on when he goes out to trouble spots (like the middle school woods), then give him an immediate correction with it when he starts to misbehave. After only several uses, it would be enough to merely have it on to improve his behavior; the shock itself was no longer needed. The only other two options we had were a) never let him off-leash, which means he wouldn’t get enough exercise, or b) just hope he won’t get hit by a car. This was the best way.

I picked us up some Little Caesar’s for dinner, then we settled in to watch part 2 of How to Build a Planet, featuring a roller derby squad in Texas telling Richard Hammond he needs to wear a helmet or else he’d get a head injury. Ah heh. When that ended, we put on Happy People: a Year in the Taiga off Netflix Instant. It’s a Werner Herzog movie about traditional fur trappers in Siberia, and that’s pretty much all you need to know about it. We told Giles that he was lucky to have been born a Georgia Dumbhound and not a Siberian Husky like the dogs carrying the sleds in the movie.

We finished off the night with an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, then we went to bed early, thanks to the whole “falling back” an hour thing. I had three more regular work days, then I’d be off to the West Coast on my own.

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Posters and Pumpkins

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Thursday, October 31 – following the late night full of comedy metal, I was reluctant to get up and going to work. But, get up I did, because I can’t get paid for sitting on my ass at home. Unfortunately. I got a cup of coffee when I got into the lab, then I spent much of the morning working on the poster. After lunch, I read for a good while to try to catch up on a growing backlog of blog posts, then I left at around 4 o’clock to meet Becky at Yerkes. When I arrived, I saw a bike parked outside dressed up like a dragon for Halloween:

I’m normally not a fan of hippies bedecking their bikes in all manner of dangerous items that might impede riding the bike, but that’s pretty neat.

Traffic on the way home was horrific, probably due to folks bailing out of work early so they could get home in time for the trick-or-treaters. We were still pretty shell-shocked from the onslaught of kids brought in by our neighbors having an unannounced party for which they blocked off the cul-de-sac at our previous house the year before, and so we felt it best to just get out for the evening. Plus, I can’t really understate how exhausted we were from the night before and, to a degree, the previous weekend. So, after giving Giles a walk, we put a bowl of candy out on the porch, then left at about 20 after 5. I stopped first to get us some gas, then drove us all the way down to the Tin Lizzy’s in Grant Park for dinner. This turned out to be an excellent choice, as, not only was it not too busy, but some of the waiters were dressed up like Vincent and Jules from Pulp Fiction. We had a good, relaxing meal, then we went out for a brief walk around the neighborhood:

It was a nice, temperate evening, and we had some time to kill, so we decided to cross Memorial and head over to Oakland Cemetery to see if we could pop in. In addition to, at some point, hosting a wedding, the cemetery also, apparently, had roses in bloom:

Unfortunately, as it was dusk, by the time we got there, the place was locked up tight for the night:

No weddings or roses or dead people for us.

I hopped on I-20 to take the highway route home, getting us back to the house at around 10 of 8. It was hard to tell how many kids had come by: though the bowl of candy was empty, there weren’t really many kids still wandering about. It’s possible that one, opportunistic kid just emptied it all into his own bag, but we suspect we got a relatively-decent number of trick-or-treaters. I hope so, because I don’t like being a Halloween Grinch, but the literal hundreds who came by our old house was just too much.

We put on Jeopardy! to wind down the night and give Giles some attention, then we retired to bed for the night, a bit on the early side. Though October was finally over with, we still had one work day left to go in the week.

Friday, November 1 – I got up on time and walked Giles through a passing rain squall, the result of which was a slowed pace in the traffic on North Druid Hills, causing us to get in a bit later than usual. A prospective Discovery Phase student was waiting outside the lab when I arrived, and so I spoke with him for a bit to hold him over until Paul arrived. With that taken care of, I read for a good deal as I finally had my morning coffee, then I checked on our rats, set the mortgage to be paid, and then ate my lunch.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon working on the poster, with Paul’s help. I finally got it finished at around 2 o’clock, then I sent it out to Diana. I weaned a cage of pups and adjusted our animal census after that, then I returned to the lab to burn a copy of the poster onto a DVD-R, as PowerPoint file of it I’d sent to Diana had bounced back due to being too large to be attached via email. She got it conveyed down to Medical Media, and so, finally, it was out of my hands. At that point it was a bit after 3 PM on a Friday and, to celebrate the completion of the poster, Paul and I bounced out of work and down to Ink and Elm. It was a bit hipstery-foodie for my tastes, but they made one hell of a bourbon cocktail that I thoroughly enjoyed. Right then, that’s all that mattered.

Meera came by to pick up Paul at about 4:30, and so I left from there to drive up Clifton to Yerkes, where I picked up Becky, en route to Mellow Mushroom for dinner.

When we returned home, we realized that it was November. This meant we had to what needed to be done:

Yep, after saying the sacred words (“Pooja, pooja, pooja, oi! Pooja, pooja, pooja, oi!”), we lit the pumpkins on fire in our fire pit, as the annual pseudo-Hindi sacrifice for good luck:

Our deck isn’t as high as the one at the old house, and plus, what with owning this one instead of renting it, we felt more compelled to not accidently burn down the house. So, the pumpkins just went up for a few minutes in the fire pit, then I doused the embers and threw the remains away. I hope that was still acceptable to the gods.

We put on some Dog Whisperer while we settled down for the evening, then we watched the Daily Show, Colbert, and @midnight from earlier, followed by that evening’s Jeopardy!. We powered through the final 3 episodes of the first season of Big Bang Theory after that. Eh, it’s not for us. The whole time I just felt like I was being laughed at, not laughing with the target audience. I’ve heard it called “nerd minstrelsy,” and that seems about right. We wouldn’t end up watching any more of it.

It did, however, carry us to the end of the evening, and so, with the DVD set to be mailed back to Netflix, we went on to bed. The coming weekend wouldn’t be as high-key as the previous one, but it would still be fun.

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Monday, October 28 – it was tough getting going to start the work week, and so I was a bit late to get into work. Still, I had time to grab another vial of propofol before heading down to take the shuttle over to Glenda’s lab for a rat propofol infusion experiment to kick off the morning. It went well, overall, and the animal emerged while in the EEG recording system in enough time for me to take the C-shuttle a bit ahead of my normal schedule. I walked back to the VA from Starvine, returning to the lab at about 11:35, just a few minutes before when I would have had I waited for the VA shuttle. Still, it was a nice day, and I enjoyed the walk.

After eating my lunch, I got to work on the poster, or at least tried to do so. I spent the better part of an hour and a half looking for useable pictures of fluorescence microscopy slides from Sarah’s stuff, before finally giving up and just working on pretty much everything else. I finished almost all of a templated draft of the poster, minus Sarah’s stuff, just in time to head out to meet Becky before going to the gym. When Becky arrived, she was not wearing this shirt:

Which is a shame, really.

After our standard 38-minute workout, we returned home to have some pizza casserole for dinner. We ate while watching a Breaking Magic, then another episode of Orangutan Diaries, the British-produced version of Orangutan Island I’d recorded onto the DVR. We put on Jeopardy! after that, then the new Adventure Time from that night. When that finished, we retired to bed early to read some and watch some Futurama before going to sleep. We still needed to recuperate some from the high-key weekend we’d just had.

Tuesday, October 29 – I awoke somewhat earlier than usual, but still got into work on time to grab a cup of coffee before I took the shuttle over to Woodruff. The first rat I tried with Glenda kicked out its catheter as I was giving the bolus, and so its experiment was aborted. We’d try it again the following day. The second one went much more smoothly. We got it hooked up to the EEG rig, and it would emerge in perfectly average time, but due to the delay from the misfired first experiment, I was unable to stay to watch the second rat wake up, and instead had to leave it with Glenda as I took the 11:25 shuttle back to the VA.

I read for a good while after having my lunch. While I did that, Becky was out in Lullwater, trying to teach spiders to spell out “RADIANT” and other adjectives:

That spider didn’t seem smart enough to handle the task.

After spending some time catching up on a growing backlog of my blog subscriptions, I left to meet Becky, then to head to the gym. At home, we had some more pizza casserole for dinner as we watched the Daily Show and Colbert, followed by @midnight, Jeopardy!, then a pair of episodes of the Big Bang Theory from Netflix. We were going to at least give the first season a fair try. When the second one ended, though, we elected to go to bed early again, to try to rest up for our big plans for the following evening.

Wednesday, October 30 – Giles had a minor Bad Dog Incident overnight, apparently for no reason other than to be terrible. It must not have been a big deal, though, since I can’t remember what he chewed up, nor did I take a dog-shaming shot of him.

With him gated off into his room for the day, I got into work as usual, then paid some bills as I had my morning coffee. I took the shuttle over to Emory after that, to get going on a second try at the failed rat from the previous day. This particular wee beastie seemed hellbent on ruining its experiment, though, and it managed to be, to date, the only one to successfully pop off its EEG headgear when in the new, canvas restrainer we’d been using. So, that was that. Since we had no more rats for the week, I spent some time helping Glenda to set up an isoflurane anesthesia loop. That was, you see, the rather inglorious end to my experiments with her for several months, as I’d have to do some of my own back at the VA, and she’d be pressing on with isoflurane instead of propofol, as it doesn’t require a second set of hands to administer.

I read for a while back at the lab after taking the 10:25 shuttle back to the VA, then I sat down in Paul’s office to meet with him and to discuss figures for the poster. I worked on the template for the poster after that, then I read for a bit more until it came time to meet Becky.

After a brief workout at the gym, we returned home to have some pineapple chicken fried rice for dinner. We ate while watching the Daily Show, Colbert, then @midnight. When the last of those ended, we headed out for the evening, at about 7:15, for a show upstairs in Heaven at the Masquerade. It was going to be a hell of an event:

See what I did there?

We arrived toward the end of the set of the opening act – A Band of Orcs. We worked our way toward the front during the second act – Iron Reagan. Believe it or not, they’re hardcore. The penultimate act, Whitechapel, really got the crowd moving. That’s what I love about metal shows: you’d think they’d save their energy for the headliner, but, nope, circle pit for one of the openers. Good stuff. Around then I caught an elbow to the forehead head myself, so I had my requisite battle scar for the night.

All of that was well and good, but there was one band that we came there to see:

Yep, straight out of Antarctica – or Virginia, depending on who you ask – it’s everyone’s favorite costumed comedic thrash metal band, GWAR:

Now, we were initially much closer than that. But, as the crowd swayed in a way that made me feel not to terribly safe, Becky bailed toward the back to get some photos:

Just as well, as we were quite soaked by that point with the fake blood/other fluids they spray on the audience at each show. That had the added bonus of making the floor slick, so I think she had the right idea. It gave her opportunities to take photos of the individual band members:

That’s lead singer Oderus Urungus. There’s long-time rhythm guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death:

Of course, Jizmak Da Gusha on drums:

…and the new lead guitarist, Pustulus Maximus, replacing Flattus Maximus after the death of Corey Smoot:

Finally, it wouldn’t be GWAR without the falsetto-singing bassist, Beefcake the Mighty:

We would have loved to have stayed for the whole set, but we were pretty beat up, and not to mention soaked:

I wish I’d gotten a “before” shot, but I assure you, both of those shirts were white when we arrived. I’ve since used mine as a gym shirt, and some of the red paint still hasn’t come off. Because that’s how GWAR rolls.

We returned home just in time (like, literally, for the last pitch) for me to see the Sox win the World Series, then I took a shower that ranked among the Top 5 Most-Required Showers I’ve ever needed in my life. Red paint. Everywhere. Like crazy.

After I got as cleaned up as I could manage (my cuticles would be dyed red for a couple weeks to come), we put on a bit of Futurama to wind down, then we finally got to bed at around midnight. Wow, what a Halloween. Wait, what’s that? Halloween hadn’t even officially happened yet? Ah, crap.

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Of Princesses and Fire

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Saturday, October 26 – I managed to sleep in until 8:45, which wasn’t really all that much sleeping in, considering that I didn’t get to bed until nearly 2 the previous night. Still, better than the usual awakening at 8 o’clock sharp. I went out to get Becky and I some much-needed bagels from Einstein’s for breakfast, then we headed back out to run some errands in Toco Hills: first to the Kroger for some party snacks, then to the nursery next door for pumpkins, then, finally, to Toco Giant for party booze. I took a much-needed shower after that, then I set about doing some chores to prep for the party: I vacuumed Giles’ couch in the front room, I threw the blankets we use to cover the couches into the wash, I vacuumed our main couch (that sucker was by far the most expensive piece of furniture I’ve ever purchased, but 9 months on, I still love it), I swept up some, I helped Becky to move our big, Oriental rug so it wasn’t off at an angle like it had drifted to over the past couple of months, and then I finished the vacuuming and sweeping. Whew! But good news! After catching my breath for a bit, I did more chores: I threw my clothes into the laundry, I swept up the back deck, I set up the deck chairs, folding table, and the cooler, and, finally, I set up our Tiki torches in the back, including the nice centerpiece one that Paul and Meera had gotten us for our housewarming party a few months earlier.

While I was working on setting up out back, Becky was decking the halls with fake cobwebs:

Spoooky! She also got Cornelius dressed up for the occasion:

With all that done, Becky laid down and took a nap as I watched some Futurama on TV, then did the dishes. I replaced the cushions on Giles’ couch after that, as they were finished from having gone through the laundry. Don’t worry: Giles would make them filthy again in no time. For then, though, Becky and I went out to get a late lunch/early dinner at Taco Mac in Decatur. Or, we would have, were it not too busy, despite a relative dearth of Sportsball on right then. We opted for Big Tex instead, and that worked out just fine.

When we returned home, I started us a fire in the fireplace, then we put on some of Starbuck, a Quebecois movie about a middle-aged guy who can’t seem to get his life on track, but suddenly finds out that he has hundreds of illegitimate children, thanks to a clerical error at a sperm bank he periodically donated to in his youth to get money. Then hilarity ensues, in mangled French. Actually, it was pretty good. Good enough that they decided to make a near-scene-for-scene remake starring Vince Vaughn a few months ago. Which is why Hollywood cannot have nice things.

I set up – but did not light – our fire pit out back, then I got dressed at around quarter after six. Minus the head, of course. Becky and I continued watching Starbuck as we waited for our guests. Before any arrived, though, we took some shots in front of Becky’s big mural. Though she didn’t manage to get everyone throughout the night (I know we missed Deb’s rather hilarious Minion Dave from Despicable Me due to her arriving later on after taking non-blurry photos became a difficult task, and, of course, some folks couldn’t be bothered to put on a costume despite my numerous threats against doing so), it provided a great ersatz photo booth for our guests:

Becky was the prettiest Flame Princess. As you can see, she got actual flames this time! Well, sparklers. Still, they wouldn’t allow those in the Shelter the previous night, so that was a plus for her.

As for me, being slightly weary from the night out at the Shelter on Friday only added to my costume, in terms of my body posture:

Of course, anyone not wearing a costume would be deemed to be:


Should my food be spiced or if I was told that I really smell like dog buns, then:


Fortunately, our first guests did no such thing. Sam and Lisa started it off, arriving at 7 o’clock. Lisa was Princess Witch:

…and Sam was Princess Brony:

We got things going from there. They arrived with Cicy, who made sure Giles was a pretty princess, too, in his dog-shirt:

The rest of our guests started arriving after that. There was Hair Metal Rocker Tim:

…or maybe he was dressed in Dutch high fashion, circa 2005. Not quite sure which.

I think one of our favorite outside-the-box costumes was Heather’s:

Just scrubs? Nope, we recognized her as being Piper Chapman from Orange is the New Black. Becky liked it enough that she took another picture in profile for her mug shot:

They also brought a friend of theirs, whose name I forget/lost when my phone died in January. She was Princess Nurse:

Another honorable mention should go to Lynn and Ted:

We didn’t really know Lynn and Ted; they’re friends of Sam’s and Lisa’s whom we had yet to meet. But – unlike literally everyone else who fits that category – they decided that it didn’t matter that Sam’s and Lisa’s Halloween party was being held at the house of some folks they’d not met before, and came anyway. We really appreciated that, and so they get gold stars.

Chuck, meanwhile, also rode his bike in, but he seemed to be hiding his face from us:

When we got a look at poor Jim, we figured out why:

The GADOT helmet really completes the ensemble.

I think one of our favorites, overall, was Elizabeth’s 70s Housewife, if only because she sold it so well, bringing her own “VALIUM” and Scotch tumbler:

Though, after Cicy put her crown on him, the ever-surly Princess Paul was a real cutie, too:

Pictures in which Paul is smiling: somewhat more rare/less verifiable than pictures of the Loch Ness Monster.

The evening went by quickly and smoothly. Jim had brought Maddy along, so Giles had someone to dog-play with, too:

After it had gotten going, I made a nice fire out in our pit. To date, it’s the only real use we’ve gotten out of it, but it was still worthwhile:

Though, really, it was more suited for Becky than for me:

Ah, there we go.

Before long, I realized it was past 11 o’clock, and that most of the party was still outside, and, furthermore, loud, so I wrangled folks back inside. This pleased Giles, as he loves nothing more than getting under foot:

I wonder what he’s looking at?

Ah, Sam being Sam. Of course.

And really, that’s as good a place as any on which to wrap it up. As things wound down, I put on several episodes of Adventure Time for Elizabeth and Lisa. The last of our guests departed at about 12:30, then we cleaned up as best we could, before hitting the sack at around 1. A very good time, I’d say. Not a super-high turnout, but we’re still glad that everyone who made it came. And I, especially, was very glad to just be able to get some sleep.

Sunday, October 27 – okay, you guys, I know this is going to come as a huge shock, but, after staying up partying until 2 AM on Friday and then 1 AM on Saturday, I woke up feeling pretty darned ill. I know, right? I got myself up very slowly, but couldn’t manage to go get groceries with Becky. As she went on her own, I instead cleaned off the porch and put away the Tiki torches. So at least I wasn’t completely worthless. I laid down for a bit after that, then I did the dishes, then made myself an early lunch to try to put something on my stomach. I ate as we watched some of a show called Orangutan Diaries, about the same facility in Orangutan Island, but filmed by a British crew, a year earlier. It was decent enough, and so we decided to record some more of it, since there appeared to only be a few episodes of it.

We followed that with a Breaking Magic (the one with actual reveals of magic tricks), then we put on a Rick Steves’ Europe about the countryside of the Czech Republic. Good, since we missed that. I got up to call my mom and check up on her after that, then we watched another Breaking Magic, followed by some of Going Medieval, a British-produced History Channel show about, well, Medieval times. It was kind of silly, though, and so we turned it off in favor of Chris Hardwick’s standup special off the DVR. It was funny, but we’d heard about half of the jokes in it from when he’d come to Atlanta on tour in 2012. Still, it gave us something to watch as we finally carved our pumpkins:

Fun fact: carving letters is WAY more time consuming than I thought it would be. But, there you go, completing my costume, if a bit late for the party.

When we finished with that, I drove out to get us some Pizza Hut for dinner. It was still grungy on the inside, it was still a shit show of inefficiency and behind the counter, and it still took forever to get the food I’d ordered. So, I decided that would be the last meal we got from there in some time. We eventually tried it again not long ago, but, while it was cleaned up some, it was still a disaster in terms of no one having a clue how to make the food in a less-than-obscene amount of time. So, screw that noise, I think.

On this particular evening, we ate while watching the new special, How to Build a Planet, hosted by Richard Hammond, famous for hosting Top Gear and/or nearly killing himself in a horrific car accident. How that qualifies him for astronomy facts is beyond me, but it was entertaining enough. Since Hammond sort of reminds me of a shorter, less-dreamy David Tennant, we put on a Doctor Who after that. Well, I guess I may like David Tennant, but Giles wasn’t as impressed:


We wound down the evening with the new China, IL, then we retired to bed for the night, nice and early, so as to try to catch up on sleep. Despite all indications, Halloween was still actually a few days away. We’d have one last event before then, too.

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The Earl of Sweatygrab

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Thursday, October 24 – summer appeared to have well and lost its grip upon Georgia as it was quite chilly when I walked Giles before heading into work for the morning. After getting a cup of coffee and reading for a bit, I started work on my poster for SfN (this would, to put it lightly, take a bit of effort to complete), then I stepped aside to help Shavonne get the floating table in our side-lab operational, to minimize vibrations as she was doing LFP experiments. I spent the rest of the morning working on the poster, then, after lunch, spent more or less the entire afternoon working on it, too! So exciting! Still, I needed to work up an outline in slide form before I could even think of the final layout, and so I really needed to get cranking on it. After a solid day’s work, I felt a lot better about it.

I left at 4:30 to meet Becky, then, after a brief trip to the gym, we headed home to get cleaned up and to have some burritos with meat from the crock pot for dinner. We ate while we watched the Daily Show and Colbert, but we didn’t have time for @midnight, as we had to head out at around 7:15 to go up to the big cinema off I-85. Since there isn’t all that much we go to that cinema for, least of which on a Thursday, that could really only mean one thing:

Rifftrax! We hadn’t gotten a chance to go to a live show yet in 2013, so we were glad we made it to at least one, just in time for Halloween. As you can see, it was a movie that featured a protagonist who appeared to go to WVU. But, actually, it was George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, the movie that launched the zombie movie genre:

Though, as the riffers pointed out, the word “zombie” was never used in the film. Still, rare is the movie that is both a cinematic classic and good MST3k material, so how could we not go? It was every bit as fun as we’d hoped, too.

We made it back home a bit after 10, then read some and put on a bit of Futurama before drifting off to sleep. Lots more fun to come the following evening.

Friday, October 25 – upon arriving at work, I poured myself a cup of coffee, then got right to the grind, adding some more data from Chaitanya to my poster outline. I did that right up to our lab meeting at 9:30, then I met with Paul to discuss what I had for the poster while I had my lunch. I took a break to read for a bit after that, then I talked to a grad student from the big lab on the same floor as us for a while, giving him instructions and tips on how to use the isoflurane system I’d loaned out to him. I read a bit more after that, gave a prospective Discovery Phase med student a tour of the lab, then left at 4:30 to pick up Becky at Yerkes.

I went home only briefly to drop off Becky so she could walk Giles, then I drove back out, first to the growler store to fill a couple for our party on Saturday, then to Fellini’s for pizza for dinner. I called my mom as I went, then, when I got everything set, I settled in and ate as we watched the Daily Show. I started us a fire in the fireplace as Becky gave Mary Elizabeth a call, then we watched Colbert, followed by the @midnight we’d missed, as well as the newest one. We followed that with Jeopardy!, then a show called Nature’s Matchmaker, all about efforts to repopulate critically endangered species. It was pretty interesting, overall, and I’ve love to see an update on all of the projects showcased a few years later.

We got dressed in our Halloween costumes after that (minus my head, of course, which would have to stay off until we arrived at our destination), then we departed the house at 10 o’clock – much later than our usual – to first stop at Kroger to pick me up some yellow dish gloves (we weren’t the only ones in costume there, and I found a nice, cheap pair without difficulty) and some cash for the evening, then finally to the Shelter for their Halloween party.

You may note I didn’t link to the Shelter’s website there. Unfortunately, they went out of business at the end of 2013. Still, this would prove to be an excellent final night there. We arrived late because we knew it wouldn’t get going until quite late, and we had to persevere until the costume judging contest. We just barely made it, too, as we snagged the very last parking spot in the sprawling lot the Shelter “shares” with the Booty-shaking club up the hill, a solid 100 yards away from the club. Still, we made it:

As you can see, I was the Earl of Lemongrab. Becky’s costume was not as elaborate, but I think she’d done an excellent job with working it out such that she could still move around, all while obviously being Fire Princess:

Yes, we both had Adventure Time costumes. Register your lack of shock and surprise here.

I wouldn’t exactly call the place “crowded” (later, we’d figure out that much of this was because folks don’t seem to want to go to Buckhead for a club night. I’d love to sniff my ITP nose at that, but I honestly can’t blame them. Becky and I both loved the Shelter but we would have loved it more if it was more or less literally anywhere else in Atlanta), but it was the most full of people we’d ever seen it. I suppose part of that was how popular Halloween parties are, and part of that was that we rarely arrived so late in the evening. Whatever it was, you can read Becky’s excellent writeup about it, done much sooner following the event. I’ll try to add my own spin here.

In hindsight, I really do like how Becky pulled off her costume. It was clear who she was, and it allowed her the freedom of motility to dance:

I, on the other hand, struggled most of the night to keep my head on straight:

Not that I didn’t give it the ol’ college try at dancing:

Fortunately for me, the stilted gait that would be expected of Lemongrab trying to dance covered up the fact that I was incapable of any more fluid movement. I think it helped, overall. I noticed the Mad Hatter next to me taking lots of pictures and seeming to mentally catalog things, so I made efforts to look good:

This would turn out to be a good decision, as he was, in fact, a judge, and I wound up getting selected for the finals for the costume contest. So that was nice.

Not so nice? The heat. So, dance clubs can get steamy. No surprise there. My gloves didn’t help, and by the end of the night I had to drain the sweat out of them, exposing my pruned-up hands in the process. That head, though, was the worst: it was a freaking oven in there. And rehydrating wasn’t exactly possible while staying in character:

Don’t worry, that beer was mostly there for show, and it took me the whole night to slowly sip it. I did take off my head from time to time to get water, too, but I tried to stay in character as best I could.

We continued dancing, and had a great time. Finally, as the night wore on, the costume contest was announced, and I was called up to the stage:

You might recall that, the previous year, at the Masquerade, the contest was a democratic one, in which costumes were rated on audience applause. A thoroughly elaborate Bender – well deserving of the title – wound up winning, but it relied a lot on folks “getting” the costume. Anyone who didn’t watch Adventure Time wouldn’t get ours, and so I was happy that I appealed to the judges. They gave me an opportunity to show off on stage:

I’d love to say I won, but I took first runner-up. Still a good deal, since I got a half-dozen free t-shirts, two of which are so nice I wear them regularly, and the rest of which I just use for the gym. So that’s not bad at all. If I had my druthers, I’d have awarded first prize to the hideous, zombie Grady twins from The Shining for being a good combination of well-executed and outside-the-box. Instead, it went to some girl in a catwoman outfit. Because, y’know, sexy sexy Halloween mrow, or… something. Eh. Excuse me if I don’t get too excited about that, but it seemed like the whole night was doing a great job of not being one of those Halloween parties, then it went ahead and awarded sexy over clever and/or well-made. I suppose it was somewhat inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong: we had a great time, and I in no way expected to win first prize myself. And, really, if that was to be the final trip we made to the Shelter, it was a great one.

I collected my free stuff, then we headed home for the night. It was late. We didn’t get back home until about 1:30, which is crazy for us in our relatively-old age. Still good to know it’s even possible for us to stay out that late on a Friday night, though. After getting cleaned up, though, I was overjoyed to be able to go to sleep. I’d need it: we had our own Halloween party the following evening.

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