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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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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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Into the Season of Fire

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Monday, October 21 – it was the first genuinely chilly morning of the fall season, in which the temperature flirted with freezing and a light frost coated some rooftops as I walked Giles before heading into work. As always, I greeted the cool not with mourning, but with relief that the long summer had finally come to an end.

When I arrived at work, I imported the EEG data Glenda had given me onto my computer, then I got on the 8:40 shuttle over to Woodruff to meet with her and to start a rat propofol infusion experiment. Despite the pulse-oximeter acting up, this one went well, overall, emerging to become ambulatory just a bit after I left to take the 11:25 shuttle back to the VA. So not a bad way to start the work week.

After taking a break to eat my lunch, I got going on processing data from Britany for our upcoming manuscript. Unfortunately, it turned out that, once we eliminated animals for whom the anesthesia protocol was not carried out properly based on her telemetry data, we simply didn’t have enough to publish. I’d need to do more studies on my own to shore up the numbers. That’d be a problem for later-Jon, though. For right then, I reserved a rental car for my trip out to San Diego and Los Angeles coming up in just a couple of weeks from then, then I got a call from a census lady. Her questions were fairly interminable, and so I had to cut her off after a while so I could make a meeting with Paul. I checked on my rats after that, looked into getting a MATLAB license for our lab’s use, then left to meet Becky down in the lobby (she’d gotten out earlier than usual) at a bit after 4 in the afternoon.

After a 38-minute workout at the gym, we returned home to settle in for the evening. Becky started work on digging a fire pit out in the back yard for our up-coming Halloween party while I made us some cheesy apple pork chops for dinner. We ate while watching a nature show about cheetahs, then I took advantage of the cool weather to set our very first fire in our wood-burning stove. As I did that, Becky made up some ghostly decorations for the party:



It kind of looks like what would happen if Jack Skellington was an anime character.

As the fire warmed the living room, we watched some of Journey to 10,000 BC, a somewhat-out-of-date but still entertaining show about the exploration of the Americas by early humans. We followed that with Jeopardy!, then another installation of Georgia’s Civil War. The amount of stuff that went on post-Sherman (which I’d believed to be “none,” damned Yankee I am) was pretty interesting.

We wound down the evening with a Doctor Who from Netflix, then we put on some Futurama in bed before turning off the light for the night.

Tuesday, October 22 – upon arriving at work for the day, I read for a bit while having my morning coffee, then I rode the shuttle over to Emory’s main campus. The rat propofol experiment with Glenda went quite well that morning, finishing early enough for me to hop the Yerkes shuttle, then walk through Lullwater back to the VA by about 11:15. I must have just missed Becky, who came out during lunch time to commune with the picturesque trees:



I read a good deal in the afternoon, but I managed to also make use of myself by weaning a cage of pups. I wrote out and posted a journal entry, too – the last one I’d manage to get put out in nearly 3 months. I stalled out on the day before July 4th (so, July 3rd), and in the two months since I’ve covered nearly 4 months of ground to get to here. Not bad, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

And so the next several months will progress without the phrase “wrote a journal entry,” that seems to stud these posts without much inward reflection. For then, I departed work to meet Becky at Yerkes, then I went to the gym with her for a standard afternoon workout.

Back home, I lined the nice, new fire pit Becky dug with some extra bricks from the back yard, then I made us some more cheesy apple pork chops for dinner. We ate while watching the Daily Show and Colbert, followed by the premiere of @midnight, the improv comedy ostensible-game show hosted by Chris Hardwick. It was pretty funny, and so we were happy when it wound up getting picked up for more episodes later on.

After we watched Jeopardy!, I called my Uncle Mike to confirm my visit with him and Nancy before I went out to San Diego for the conference. That seemed to be all set, and so I settled back down with Becky to watch the 10-year anniversary show for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was lots of fun, and, while I didn’t really watch the show during its original run (perhaps I should have), it was like catching up with old friends for Becky. We retired to bed for the night when it concluded, content that the spirit and positive message of the show lives on, even if I do wear jeans and plaid shirts too often.

Wednesday, October 23 – the work day started much as it had the previous two days, in that I grabbed my coffee while checking my email and some overnight blogs, then I walked out front to catch the shuttle from the VA out to Woodruff, so as to start a rat propofol infusion experiment in Glenda’s lab. I was quite happy for the morning to continue as a carbon-copy of the previous day, as it meant the experiment went off without difficulties, and the rat emerged as planned for EEG recording. Hooray, 3 for 3!

I took the C-shuttle back to Starvine (the Yerkes shuttle is faster, but I always get carsick when I ride it, so I needed a break from it), then I walked back the rest of the way to the VA, enjoying the crisp fall air in the process.

While I was eating my lunch, Becky was out in Lullwater looking for bugs on her own break:



Nope, no bugs here, just a leaf minding its own business.

I started off the afternoon by submitting a load of animal orders for Vinny’s upcoming work, then I read for a while, processed a monthly gas cylinder rental, and ordered us some fresh medical oxygen tanks for my own studies coming up not-too-far down the line. With all that done, I headed out at 4:15, then waited at Yerkes for Becky. She got held back at work for a bit, and so we elected to skip the gym, and instead headed straight home.

I tested out our fire pit with a small fire as Becky walked Giles. It seemed to work perfectly well, and so we’d be in business for the party that weekend. With that taken care of, we sat down to have some crock pot burritos for dinner as we watched the Daily Show. I made us a fire in the fireplace, then we put on Colbert, @midnight, and a neat nature show about sharks that live in the waters around Easter Island. We followed that with Jeopardy!, then a Doctor Who before relaxing and reading for the rest of the evening.

Not a very exciting start to the week, and I know it doesn’t seem worthy of its own post, but the following two days are worth mentioning on their own. They were going to be awesome.

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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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