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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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Gwaroween

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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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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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Pies and Plays

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Saturday, October 19 – we awoke at about quarter of 9, then I got up to shower, make some coffee, and do the dishes as Becky gave Giles his morning time in the park. I took down my shower liner and threw it in the laundry after that (worth noting as it needs washing again as of writing this), then I ran a backup on Becky’s computer as I swept up and vacuumed. I continued my furor of chores after that by bleaching and scrubbing the bathroom, then I got my now-cleaned shower liner hung back up to complete the nice, sparking bathroom. There: chores done. I read some after that until the backup on Becky’s computer was finished running, then I ate my leftover sandwich from the previous day for lunch.

I watched the Mythbusters zombie special, then folded my laundry, before going to work on my sound sword for my Halloween costume. It was coming out fairly well after I cut off the top with a Dremel, so as to model it after Lemongrab’s.

I took a rest and read some in bed after that, then I went out to the gym with Becky for a 38-minute workout. After returning home to get cleaned up, we went out for dinner at the Thinking Man Tavern (a good choice we don’t get to often enough), then we went down to Kirkwood for Piefest, Kurt’s annual celebration of all things pie:



The pies were out front, actually, on his porch flanked by some lovely plants with huge leaves, but that Esso sign was so awesome that we just had to get a picture of it. Well, two pictures:



We had a lovely, pie-filled time. Most of the pies were sweet, but some were savory. We don’t get to hang out with Kurt enough, but Tracy was also there, so we didn’t feel like we were imposing. We had some drinks and some pie, then retreated to the fire pit out back, where we were regaled with stories from some of Kurt’s friends, including some middle-aged gay men from Louisiana. One, in particular, had the absolute best stories of just about everything (as you might imagine), on top of a voice we could have listened to read the phone book. We felt rather mundane by comparison, but it was nice to meet new people, something we don’t do often enough these days, thanks to being lucky enough to have friends here that make it easy to feel comfortable. Still, we need to branch out some, and we were really glad we went out to Kurt’s place that night. Plus, we took some pie home with us. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

We got back home at about 10:30, then put on a United States of Tara to wind down the evening. When that finished, we went to bed for the night.

Sunday, October 20 – I awoke at around 8 in the morning, then made myself some coffee so as to perk up before Becky and I went out to get groceries. I went to Home Depot when we returned, whereupon I bought six packages of firewood. It looked like it was going to be a cold winter (spoiler alert: it was!) and so I would eventually need to purchase wood by the cord, but that trunk-load would do for the mid-autumn, at least.

We went to the gym for a brief workout after that, then I had some of the savory pie we’d taken home from Kurt’s for my lunch. We watched a Nature about rescuing otters off the Pacific coast as we ate (otters are only made more cute by putting bandages on them), then I got up to call my parents to check in. After I talked with my dad for a while, I watched Rick Steves’ Northern Ireland with Becky off of the DVR. Belfast looks like a very interesting place, another in the “cities that were totally unsafe for American tourists when I was a child but are generally okay now.” I love places like that because they make me feel like humanity isn’t fucking up as badly as I often suspect we are.

By the time that concluded, it was 1:25, and so we drove up Clairmont to Oglethorpe and to the Georgia Shakespeare for a matinee show. Thanks to heavier-than-anticipated traffic on a Sunday afternoon, we wound up just barely making it in time: I had to drop Becky off to get tickets as I parked, then I sprinted the hundred yards from the parking spot down to the theater. Still, we made it, if only just:



We were there to see their production of Hamlet. There was a good deal of symbolism employed by the movement of the two full-length mirrors to the rear of the stage, there, but the exact nature of it escapes me, what with my lack of expertise in theatre and all. It seemed like a fairly good production, and I at least enjoyed the interpretation of Polonius as a self-righteous windbag full of meaningless platitudes (full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?). I know it’s not the most popular interpretation of the character, but I do enjoy how it would mean that in having Polonius point a self-assured finger in the air as he quips, “to thine own self be true,” he’s making fun of those who find deep meaning in blithering platitudes like “to thine own self be true.” It’s as if Shakespeare knew Pinterest was going to happen!

We enjoyed the performance very much, and we were glad we’d gotten a chance to see it, even if we had to do so on a Sunday matinee show. When we departed, we headed straight from there to the thrift store, where I was able to get some clothing to go with my Halloween costume (Becky had made the head and I had the sword, but I still needed an outfit). That done, we popped in at the Corner Pub in East Decatur for some dinner (the place is hit-or-miss in terms of the crowd there, but I think we’re figuring out that it’s best to sit close to the bar if one doesn’t want to get dragooned into babysitting the toddlers seated at nearby tables), then we picked up some Blizzards from Dairy Queen on the way home. Not a bad Sunday afternoon and evening, I’d say.

We put on some of a show about the Running of the Bulls in Spain (we didn’t record it, so we just caught the latter part of it on TV, but that was enough), then we powered through the final two episodes of the United States of Tara from Netflix. With that series under our belt, we put on a show I’d recorded on the DVR called Breaking Magic. It actually featured reveals of how magic tricks are done, which made it better than the previous ostensible-magic-reveal show we’d recorded. So well done there. When we’d finished an episode of that, we watched the new China, IL from the previous Sunday, then we retired to bed for the night.

Not a high-key weekend, but still a good one, overall. Don’t worry: with Halloween fast approaching, there would be plenty of crazy fun times coming up.

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Raging Mediocrity

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Wednesday, October 16 – it was a relatively quiet start to my abbreviated work week, as I caught up with my email backlog while having coffee, then read for a good deal to catch up on some blogs. Feedly went down for maintenance as I was doing that, though, and so I instead tried to make myself useful by collecting some data from Sarah’s notebooks into one Excel spreadsheet. After a break for lunch, I read and entered some more data, then wrote out and posted an entry for the day. With that done, I left at about 4:10 to drive up to Yerkes to meet with Becky, then we went out to the gym before returning home to eat dinner.

As I made us some spaghetti, Becky was out back with Giles, where she discovered a rare growth in the yard:



“Mama mia! That’s a big-a mush-a-room!”



If Mario’s happy, we’re happy.

We ate while watching the Daily Show and Colbert, followed by some of a nature show about predators. Well, at least I think it was a nature show. In my notes, all I said was “show about predators,” so it could have been sexual predators. I doubt it, though. At any rate, when that ended, we watched Jeopardy!, followed by – first – the new Adventure Time from the previous week, then the new one from earlier that week. We relaxed for a while after that, and eventually made our way to bed for the night.

Thursday, October 17 – I arrived at work on time, then grabbed my morning coffee to have while I read my overnight Internets. I made up an order form for another pregnant rat after that, emailed Glenda to check in, then read some more while entering some more notebook-bound data until it was time for lunch. I wrote out and posted an entry after that (the second-to-last one I’d get out before a 3-month dry spell), then I spent the rest of the afternoon continuing to read and collect more data into Excel. I left a bit early to meet Becky at Yerkes, as I’d done the previous day, then we went out to the gym for an abbreviated workout.

We had some more spaghetti for dinner at home, made with some leftover macaroni shells (we were really scraping the bottom of the barrel, so as to avoid a mid-week trip to the grocery store). We ate that while watching a show called Dead or Alive, a new one that was sort of like I Shouldn’t Be Alive and did not, contrary to the name, feature Pete Burns. Though one would imagine that the kids who were attacked by bears in the episode we watched did, in fact, have to undergo a lot of reconstructive surgery. So maybe that’s the connection.

We left home at about 7 PM, so as to go to a rare Thursday Trivia Night at Raging Burrito:



It wasn’t pouring down the rain this time, but it was rather chilly, and so our team elected to sit inside. I keep having high hopes for Raging as a Trivia spot because it has a great menu both for food and beer, but a) the dude who runs it takes forever, more than negating the advantage we gain from it being only 10 minutes away from our house, and b) we seem to have terrible luck there. This time we were convinced we didn’t know the answer to the final question, and so we wagered 0 points on it and made a blind guess… which turned out to be correct. Ugh. We can’t win for losing there. We salvaged third place, though, and at least we weren’t attacked by giant, robotic mosquitoes:



We made it back home at 10:20 (see? I told you dude takes forever), then played with Giles some before making our way to bed. It was a short week for us, but we still had to see it out to the end.

Friday, October 18 – despite the later-than-we-would-have-liked night the previous evening, we still got up and into work as usual. I read a bit over coffee, then started entering more data from notebooks, this time from Britany’s studies. I took a break from that to help the people in a lab across the floor from us to set up their isoflurane induction rig, then I got back to entering the data. At about 11 o’clock I ran out to my car to check to see if I’d left my lunch there, as I didn’t bring it to the lab with me. Nope: I forgot it. Again, I blame the verbose trivia guy for this; by depriving me of much-needed sleep that resulted in leaving my lunch at home.

I got some pizza from the cafeteria instead, then I read a bit more, then met with Paul to discuss all of the data I’d harvested from our notebooks so far. I left the VA after that, taking the 1:40 shuttle over to Glenda’s lab to pick up some of the EEG data we’d gathered thus far. She met me down in the lobby of her building, and so I was able to turn around quickly, then take the C-shuttle back to Starvine, from where I walked back to the VA, as it was turning out to be a pleasant afternoon, weather-wise. I read some more back in the lab upon my return, then headed out to meet Becky and to do a rare Friday trip to the gym, to make up for how fat and sassy we’d gotten on our trip up to New England.

After getting cleaned up at home, I went back out to get us some Fellini’s for dinner. We ate while watching Infested, a show all about home invasions by pests. This one was on skunks, bedbugs, and rats. So maybe not the best meal-time viewing. Oh well. We followed it with the second half of an extinction show we caught on TV but neglected to record, called Last Days of Man. Maybe we’ll catch a re-run of it sometime. For then, though, we put on Jeopardy!, followed by Pixar’s Toy Story of Terror!, which had just premiered earlier in the week. It was quite enjoyable, and we were big fans of Stephen Tobolowsky being cast as the shady hotel manager.

We played some Boom Blox on the Wii for a while after that, as it was pretty clear that we weren’t all that up to going out that night. We watched a Dead or Alive after that, this one on shark attacks. When that ended, we retired to bed for the night to read some before putting on a spot of Futurama to help us get to sleep. The weekend coming up wouldn’t be a very high-key one, but we had tons of stuff planned not too long after that.

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