Monday, December 25, 2006

Rest In Peace

Seriously, forget the drama that has plagued him since 1988. He was a bad, bad man. Don't think so? Go dig up "Funky Drummer" parts 1 and 2 and listen to them over and over. They're just ridonkulous. You'll be conviced and converted.

I have a very fond memory of using "Get On Up" to wake up my sister when she came to visit me in college. I just blasted it on the stereo and we danced our asses off in the early morning. It worked better than any alarm clock ever has and put us in such a good mood for the day. Makes me happy even now. Thanks, Godfather.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Pink Pig

Today was Joey's annual "guys' shopping day" at Lenox and Phipps malls. Typically, it starts with a group of about 15 guys getting together for drinks and light appetizers at one of the few bars in the mall. Then, after a good hour or so of socializing, we tend to be more amenable to shopping. So, after a couple of mojitos at Prime, we split for some shopping before meeting up again for another round of drinks and more alienating the patrons around us. (Tonight's surrounding patrons included Dominque Wilkins; I think we were equal opportunity offenders and not blinded by celebrity.)

Anywho, during our lightning round shopping, J3K decided to give me my holiday present, a human anatomy book. Part of the reason he chose it, however, was because it is enormous, heavy, and completely conspicuous. So, in kind, I decide to purchase us tickets to ride the Pink Pig at Macy's. We stand in line together for about 20 minutes waiting to ride the darned thing. Seriously, it's the two of us and a sea of 4-year-olds and their parents. I'd not felt this out of place since Parris and I bought tickets to a matinee showing of "Elf" on opening day. (That, of course, is another story.)

After an eternal wait, we finally get up to the front before the pink-clad high school workers pulled the velvet rope in front of us. Denied again! This did, however, mean that we'd get the very front on the next ride. After a few minutes, the ride concludes and the freshman opens the rope for us. We sprint to the front of the pig and shove ourselves into the first seat. I'm essentially sitting in J3K's lap holding the Pink Pig's ears to stay up. The "safety guy" comes by and tells us that, unless the seatbelt buckles, there is no way we're going to be able to ride the pig in our present state. Actually, there is no way in hell that the buckle would even remotely close. Luckily, J3K had a satchel with him that had a plastic clasp that matched the seatbelt. I clipped the belt into the satchel and fooled the safety guy. Then, we were home free.

Honestly, it was a disappointing ride. No loop-de-loops. It was vaguely haunting with a bunch of pink pigs everywhere and some overdone Southern accent narration piped in. Imagine the 'Pig in a Poke' set from the beginning of "European Vacation" and you're halfway there. Freaky, it was just freaky.

After a couple of laps, the ride was over and J3K and I quickly made our way to the Olan Mills studio for our free photo to commemorate our ride. My friends, I share with you our proud moment.

Note the enormous Human Anatomy book which weighs about 15 pounds.
If you carry it through the mall, no fewer than 50 people will stop you to inquire about it.

Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, I Have an Ulcer

Two finals today. Animals and Evolution and Organic Chemistry. Pretty damned stupid to take them both on the last day but, man, is that beer going to taste delicious tonight. Presently, however, I think I've got a bit of an ulcer. Oh well, must get to studying. I have more good grades to destroy by taking the finals.

As soon I opened my eyes at 4:55 this morning, I was fully awake yet terribly tired. Mr. Tambourine Man has been running through my head. (And, of course, Europe's "The Final Countdown.") Anywho, I suppose that there are worse things to have in your head. For example, I could be thinking about evolutionary patterns, how cells depolarize to allow conduction of an action potential, or even the mechanism for an oxymercuration-reduction reaction. Nope. Lyrics. I've got friggin' lyrics. Think I can get extra credit for them?

I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade into my own parade
Here are the parts from Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" that are repeating over and over and over in my head:
Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Answer For Every Question

If I could submit a video answer for every question to which I must respond on my final exams, the following would be that answer.

It is, after all, perfectly aligned with my test-taking strategy.


I've been terribly busy lately getting my ass kicked by school. More peaks and valleys. Lately, mostly valleys.

Anywho, I'm in the midst of finals. It's pretty strange actually. They're all self-scheduled which means that I take them whenever I choose. Prior to the end of classes, everyone purchases an "exam envelope" and provides it to each professor. The prof places the exam in your envelope and sends it to the central testing building. Then, when you want to take an exam, you simply show up at one of the exam periods (9am, 2pm, 6pm) and request the subject you want to take. Pretty strange but interesting.

Yesterday, I show up to take my physics final. Without a doubt, I was the only male in a sea of women. When I walked into the hall a few minutes before exams were distributed, a hush fell over large group of previous chatty women. Seriously, nothing but crickets.

I stood there waiting, feeling everyone scrutinizing my every move. Suddenly, I remembered a nightmare I had before I started the program:
In this dream, I was standing in line at the library with my arms full of books getting ready to check out. The place was packed. Curiously, I felt a draft down below. I looked down to see my fly open and, let's just say, the horse was out of the barn. So, I'm trying to get back in my pants and zip my fly in a crowded, quiet library without drawing any attention to myself.
I woke up in absolute panic. Anywho, this is the feeling that I had yesterday. Nonchalantly, I tried to check my fly to make sure it was up. Then, I realized how bad it would look for some strange guy to be really nervously touching his crotch in a big group of young college gals.

I fully expected my last memories to be of the deafening sound of one-hundred rape whistles being blown in unison and of the blinding effect of pepper spray.

Monday, November 27, 2006

You Have Derailed.

Today, we slogged into class, trying to escape the lingering effects of tryptophan, fighting to overcome the holiday food-hangover. This afternoon, I had to give a short, 10-minute presentation to my evolutionary bio class. I wasn't alone in this; everyone had to present. Topics were all vaguely related to evolution. Some had a scientific bent, others quite contemporary stretches that attempted to throw in a little evolution.

Last week, my nemesis wouldn't shut the hell up during his talk. Honestly, his presentation lasted about 20 minutes; the time limit was, of course, 10. He just could not stop talking and wrap it up. Best of all, he's up there blabbering and blabbering about menopause. Twice as long as allowed, endlessly talking about the evolutionary aspects of menopause. Outstanding.

Today, I joked with him that I was going to talk for at least 30 minutes, just to beat his time. Unfortunately, I didn't know that one of our classmates actually had designs to do just that. One woman in our program has done tons of graduate work in Women's Studies. (Much to our chagrin, she's frequently pointing this out. ) She's the self-anointed keeper of all things related to feminism, of being "liberal," and of trying to be shocking by speaking frankly about sex. All of this makes for very, very entertaining and slightly annoying viewing. Often, though, she's so wrapped up in looking for deeper meanings in things that she misses the picture because she never takes off the "Women's Studies" hat. Never. Hell, even Freud said that, sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

Today, she presented on a book titled The Woman Who Didn't Evolve. Although I can't recall her name, the author wrote it in the late 1970's and, from what I understood, made some reasonable arguments about why females were absent from the scientific discussion of evolution. Unfortunately, none of the reasoning came through in this presentation.

My classmate has a tendency to stray off topic quite easily. For instance, instead of summarizing the book per our assignment, she basically turned it into a rambling indictment of gender descriptions in scientific publication, a half-assed lecture on sexual politics, and failed attempt to flex her intellect. Any credible information she was discussing was buried so deep in her caustic, wandering commentary, there is no way anybody understood a freakin' bit of what she was blathering on and on and on about. Jesus, by the end of her talk, I was almost on the table screaming "Girl Power" and burning a bra. It was supposed to be a book report on evolution, for the love of Pete.

No shit, she came off like any stereotypical "angry feminist" character. My favorite part of her talk came at about 20 minutes into it. (She took the record with a final time of 25 minutes.) She goes to the chalkboard, draws a vagina, identifies the clitoris, and draws three exclamation points. Then, she starts quoting "The Vagina Monologues." I sat there, not believing what I was watching, choking on my laughter, tears welling in my eyes. Today, my tuition was worth every stinking penny.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Road Trip

Last night, I dreamed that I was taking a cross-country road trip with Richard Pryor. He looked just like he did in the 1970's in his early buddy-pictures with Gene Wilder. Anywho, we cruised around in some big old car just hanging out and laughing. At one point, we stopped into his parent's place to pick up some of his things before heading toward California. His parents kept his room up just in case he dropped by for a visit. It was full of old, yellowed newspaper articles about him and various little trophies and awards.

So, if you're planning to dream about taking a long road-trip AND if you're still looking for a buddy to tag along, I recommend Richard Pryor.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Wrath of the Ginger

Evolutionary Biology Lab
Over the last few weeks, we've been watching a video about Charles Darwin's life and evolutionary discoveries. (Don't worry, I've made sure to show everyone the sticker on my textbook which clearly states that evolution is only a "theory.") Anywho, the acting in the video is a little hammy and overdone. On many occasions, I've rolled my eyes, chuckled, or moaned aloud at some of the overly dramatic scenes in the film.

Last week's segment included a few scenes in which Darwin's daughter died. Needless to say, this event was quite formative for him, pushing him away from Christianity. Earlier in his life, he was a theology student. After his voyage on the HMS Beagle, he began formulating and developing his theory of evolution and struggled to balance the prevalilng religious attitudes of the time with his scientific work. I digress.

To portray these events, the film shows Darwin taking his daughter to London for medical care. Later, the daughter is shown on her deathbed surrounded by Darwin and the nursemaid/nanny. The next scene might have been the most dramatically overacted, cliché that I've watched in some time.

Here's a description of the offending shot:
The camera moves toward the rain-streaked glass of a second-story window. As it approaches the window, it pans down into the courtyard. Torrential rain falls. Flashes of lightning illuminate the night sky. In the courtyard, on her knees, is the nursemaid. She's wailing and raising her clinched fists toward the heavens, screaming "Why?!?"
I have to tell you, it might have been one of the funniest things that I've seen on film in a long time. (This one seven-second shot was funnier than Nacho Libre.) So, this week before class, I'm discussing it with some of my post-bacc classmates. One woman mentioned that, although she new it was cheesy, she cried during the scene. The rest of us pretty much thought it was hilariously overdone.

It's at this point that a young undergrad woman in front of me, a ginger, turns around, glares at me, and says that "It not funny if you've ever lost someone." The she starts talking to her friends, evidently describing what a dick I am. Honestly, it was almost as overly-dramatic as the film scene I just described.

I love it when people who aren't privvy to an entire conversation butt in with some half-baked commentary. That the death of your child is utterly devestating and life-altering is not lost on me. Nor is lost my my ability to distinguish between a craptastic reenactment and an actual event that demands compassion.

Hair Island, The Secret's Out
Later in the week, our evolution professor was lecturing. We were discussing our evolutionary relatives, chimps and bonobos. He continues by saying that nobody is really sure why we, unlike chimps and bonobos, lost the coarse body hair. "Why do males still have coarse hair on their faces?," he asks, pointing to his own beard. "Why do some of us lose our hair as we get older?," he continues, gesturing at me. I wanted to look to see if he was pointing at someone else. Being one of two male students in the classroom, I knew he was pointing at my hair island.

A hair island is a small, isolated island of hair
created by the backward migration of the hairline.

I politely smiled. And gave him the finger.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Owl

I am the raven. Biology is the owl.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Random Thoughts

Fast and furious has been the pace. Apologies for the lack of posts. Here's a quick recap of some funny events of late:

My Wife's Birthday Dinner
To celebrate my wife's birthday, her family took us out to a great meal at Sushi Huku. (If you're a sushi fan, it's probably the best in Atlanta.) Anywho, my father-in-law isn't a big fan of sushi but was a really good sport. He was sitting next to me as I explained to my 7-year old nephew what the "green paste" on his plate was. I told him that it was called wasabi, which is really hot and spicy, and that he shouldn't eat it by itself but mix a little of it in his soy sauce and dip his sushi in it.
Not one minute later, my father-in-law makes a short, odd gasping sound before loudly telling everyone "Don't eat that green stuff, it is HOT!" I think his eyes were watering a little.

Orgo Grade
I made an "A" on my second organic chemistry exam. I'm not stupid, after all. Ahh, the sweet view from the peak that will soon be obscured by my trip to the valley.

Shortcuts in Lab
In one of my biology labs, we were separating DNA and doing an electrophoresis experiment. This involved making a slab of gelatin, injecting DNA into some little wells we made into the slab, submerging the entire thing in an electrolyte solution, and subjecting it to an electrical current. The applied current makes the DNA travel toward the positive pole. By staining the DNA afterwards and examining it, you can make inferences about the DNA based on how far it traveled across the gel.

This thing took forever to finish. At the end of the lab, you have to stain the gel with a carcinogenic solution and then look at it under UV light. Finally, you put it in a fancy photocopier, take a photo and print it for examination. Well, I figured that I'd skip the UV light step and just get right to the photo. My nemesis was behind me in line, jokingly complaining that I'd cut in front of him. I load the gel into the photo machine. Then, as fate would have it, the professor is unable to get an image to show up. She gets a little flustered and asks me what it looked like under the UV light. At this point, my nemesis starts saying that I didn't look at it. I elbowed him a little to shut him up, looked at the professor and said, "It looked crappy." My voice cracked and quickly faded to silence on the word 'crappy.' Science at it's finest. My nemesis was laughing. The prof was a little put out when she told me that I could use a photocopy of someone else's gel. I thanked her and stepped out of my nemesis' way. As I'm leaving the room, I see him hand the gel to the professor. She takes it from him, breaks it, and throws it away. As soon as it was in the waste bin, she realized that he wasn't done with it but, rather, needed to have it photographed. Classic.

That One Guy
My lab partner for organic chemistry is the guy who has a penchant for saying some inappropriate things at inappropriate times. The general consensus is that he doesn't mean anything bad by it but maybe his social filter just is a bit off. As I've learned over the last few months, he picked up some phrases in Iraq and likes to pepper his conversation with them. During casual conversation, he often replies to a simple question with an Arabic sounding word or phrase. Generally, the listener furrows her brow and asks "What does that mean?" which prompts an excited explanation from him. Well, by staying true to form, he earns my distinguished Uncomfortable Moment of the Month Award with this:

After lab, I'm chit-chatting with the prof, making small talk. Our professor is a dear, sweet, funny and charismatic woman who's also ridiculously brilliant. I ask her how she's feeling (she's been battling a persistent cold or something) and what costume her daughter was wearing for Halloween. During our conversation, my lab partner walks up and she notices that he looks a little run-down. She politely asks him how he's doing, how he's feeling.

He sighs a little and says something in poorly pronounced Arabic. So, he's dropped the word, beginning the dance. Our professor plays along and asks what it means. His explanation: "Bend over, here it comes again."

She gets this confused look, blinks here eyes a bunch, and tries to make sense of it. I mutter "My God, man," shake my head, and immediately walk away. As I'm leaving the room, out the door, I hear him offer this gem, "I'm sorry ma'am, I was in the military."


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Revenge of the Nerds (Redux)

Another long stretch of time has passed, obviously, and I've no real idea where it went. It's just gone. I looked up and it's nearly November...and freezing.

More of the usual at school. Heads really down in the books, trying to keep up with everything. I'm past the half point, now; coming out of the woods instead of going into them. I'm constantly overwhelmed and lacking time to think straight.

Here's an interesting non-science tidbit: Apparently "Revenge of the Nerds" is being remade with a cast of people I don't recognize. The only reason I know this is that for the last two weeks, campus has been turned into a movie set. To put it politely, it's been more than annoying. I alternate between scratching my head, muttering about how Hollywood really has run out of ideas if they're remaking this one, and trying to understand how this movie was filmed on this campus.

Seriously, a remake of this movie? Really? Is it warranted? C'mon, the nerds won. Remember the software boom of the 80's and 90's? The name "Bill Gates" ring a bell? It's over; the nerds have had their revenge. Hell, if anything, a "Revenge of the Jocks" movie would make a little more sense at his point.

Also, the remake was filmed at a private, liberal, women's college full of bright, young, enlightened ladies. How the hell did this movie get made here of all places? Did nobody on the faculty and staff see the original movie? Being the oldest of my classmates, nobody really remembers it. I've tried, with limited success, to explain it to them. As I give them the synopsis, their jaws gape in disbelief.

Do you remember this one? Really, it was little more than tits and ass and gross out jokes pitting stereotypical horny nerds against stereotypical womanizing jocks. That's all; the end. Admittedly, I thought the movie, at the time (1984), was hysterical. (The full-frontal female nudity was a big plus, in my opinion.) If you've seen the movie, it probably changed your vocabulary a little bit. What one line or two do you recall from the film? Hmmm. Think about it. Having trouble? Peruse this list of "memorable quotes."

How about the pivotal scene? Remember when the nerd leader beds the alpha jock's super-hot gal? Remember how this happens? Halloween carnival. Smoke machine. Haunted house or something. Anywho, the nerd wearing a Darth Vader mask has sex with the hottie. She, on the other hand, thinks it's her boyfriend who's giving her the business. After everything is done, he takes off the mask for the big surprise: the revelation of his true identity! At the time, it pretty awesome: it gave us nerds hope that one day, we could seduce beautiful women. Reflecting on it now, I'm pretty sure that what occurs in that scene would be considered rape.

Can you believe that this gem of the silver screen is proudly being remade here at my private, liberal women's college? Evidently, a little over $100,000 will make you overlook these things.

Here's the best thing: As a little wrap party, the campus is providing pizza and inviting all the students to a screening of the original movie. !!! I'm almost certain that the person who came up with this idea has seen the movie a few times on television after heavy editing for content and will be in for a huge surprise when showing the original.

I'm definitely going to be there for the fireworks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Soooo Much Better Than a Space Pen

Okay, perhaps I've been putting in entirely too much time with the books. I may as well be chained to my desk here at the house. I feel like I'm truly missing the fall, my favorite time of the year. Courtesy of this ridiculous schedule I've thrown myself into, I've missed the mornings becoming crisper, walks with my dog, grabbing coffee with my wife, most college football games (although UGA isn't playing that well), and most playoff baseball games (although the Bosox faded in September).

This weekend, I did allow myself to watch a couple of baseball games and pledged to promptly get a TiVo. How hot are the Tigers? I'm liking them to win it all; they're en fuego. (Now, your turn to make some "racially insensitive" jokes and get fired.) Seriously, how great was Magg's walk-off homer to win the series? It was fate, wasn't it? Didn't you just know he was going to crush it? That is October. And baseball. And all things good about life.

On the plus side of studying so much, I've started having nutty dreams again. Here's what made me wake up laughing this morning:
In my dream, I was about to buy a pen that recycled feces into ink. The advertisements remarked that it would never run dry because it ran on biofuel. As I really, really hate running out of ink and consume my daily recommended amount of fiber, I suppose I was the ideal customer. Basically, you drop a deuce, collect it, put it into you pen, and you're ready to write. How simple is that?

The pen itself was larger than a jumbo tube of toothpaste with an enormous opening at end, presumably for loading. It was a bright shiny red, almost like a color you'd see on an expensive sportscar. It came in standard size and a limited edition, "supermodel" version which had a much, much smaller fuel capacity. It was a size difference on the order of putting a giant, novelty cigar next to a Virginia Slims cigarette.

I should get one of these things. Then, everything I wrote really would be crap. I've a sneaking suspicion, though, that the reality wouldn't be nearly as impressive. It would, however, break me of chewing on my pen.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boys and Girls (and Tainted Hummus) in America

Back in July, I wrote that J3K, Rob, and I had formed a band, Tainted Hummus (24 July post). Anywho, we'd set 04 OCT as the date that we'd play at the EARL. Things were looking pretty grim that we'd actually meet the date. In addition to not practicing, we didn't get any sort of billing for the night's show at the EARL featuring The Hold Steady. It seemed a that Tainted Hummus would not be performing.

Walking up to the EARL, I mentioned to my wife and Rob that I had a good feeling about the show. I thought that we'd meet the band or something. Once inside, we parked it right in front of the stage about three feet from the microphone and held our ground. The Hold Steady came on and just ripped the roof off the place. They wowed me back in February and far surpassed themselves with this show. What a fantastic band. At one point, Craig Finn, the lead singer, says "I feel sorry for all you people who have to go to work tomorrow; we're going to have a good time tonight." Man, he was right.

I had one drunk kid to my right who couldn't stand up. After he continued to fall up against me, I just started to step out of his way and let him land on the floor. He looked a little puzzled, bent down to tie his shoes, and assured me that he'd just "put double knots in them" so he wouldn't be falling down anymore. The next time he fell on his ass, I suggested that he should probably look into triple or quadruple knots.

After what was an utterly amazing show, the band came out for a couple of encores. To our surprise, we got called up on stage along with several other folks in the front row to help close out the final song of the second encore. Amazing! Technically, Tainted Hummus joined The Hold Steady on-stage for their encore. We did, in fact, keep our promise to play on that night although only 2/3 of the band was there. Pretty good, I'd say. I got home about 1:30am and went to bed happy and with ringing ears.

As fate would have it, though, 2/3 of the band joined The Hold Steady on stage at the end of the second encore to help them close out the show. Technically, we did perform on the date we'd selected. I love keeping my word.

If you get the chance, do whatever it takes to see them. Do not miss their show. Wear earplugs and take the next day off. You'll be happy you did.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


In the kitchen, I find a little plastic bag that my wife has brought home from the dentist. It, no doubt, was the goodie bag she got after her visit. I guess after harvesting the freebies (toothbrush, mini-roll of floss, red plaque tablets, lollipop) she put the bag in the "doggie-bag" area. These miscellaneous bags are the life-blood of dog owners. Mostly, they are plastic grocery bags used to pick up the enormous, steaming turds that our dog, Dylan, only seems to deposit when we take him on walks. Anywho, the dog owner's lament is picking up hot, stinky crap and portering it to the nearest trashcan. This bag will change everything.

For some reason, using this bag for poop will really make me laugh.

Obviously, I've not been getting much sleep lately.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kudos Pitchfork; Sorry "Jet"

Every day I check out Pitchfork for reviews, news and such about the independent music scene. Many times I think the writing staff puts together some great reviews that mix humor, a wide breadth of musical knowledge, and an analytic approach. Other times, they come off as pretentious, music-snob asses with a grudge.

Today, I may have stumbled onto one of the best reviews I've seen in many years of reading their site. It's stunning in its simplicity yet it perfectly describes the reviewer's thoughts and feelings about the record.

Normally, albums receive a score on a scale of 10. If you're ranking 7.5 or up, you've garnered a good review. Well, the gang over at Pitchfork didn't feel compelled to give the new Jet album, "Shine On," a score. Check the review here. It's a modern classic. (I'm referring to the review; stay the hell away from the album.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

That Hurt a Little

Last couple of weeks have had me on the ropes. Seriously, if I just had about 8 more hours each day, I think I'd be just fine. I'm starting to settle into things but getting nowhere near comfortable. Here's a brief recap of notable events in the last couple of weeks:

My Family Tree Is Losing All Its Leaves
My Aunt Ruth, my grandmother's sister, died some days ago. She was 92 or 93 and had lived quite a full life but died rather suddenly and unexpectedly. Because of exams and such, I couldn't attend the funeral. Because Aunt Ruth had always lived in a different city, I never got to know her terribly well but I really liked her. She had a ridiculously adventurous spirit and was a feisty lady.

It was always fun and funny to see the two old sisters together. My grandmother, who everyone called 'Bamba,' was the younger sister. Ruth was the older sister that everyone sort of saw as the risque, fun-loving, free-spirited one. Put them together and you had fireworks.

A year or two before Bamba died, Aunt Ruth came for a visit. This was right around the time I proposed to my wife. Luckily, we had gone to visit everyone and share the good news. This was after Bamba's stroke, so she spoke in a gentle but hoarse whisper. Aunt Ruth, on the other hand, had not problem speaking loudly. Unfortunately, she was nearly deaf. So, you put them in the room and let them go. One could hear but not talk; the other couldn't hear a thing unless you were yelling but spoke quite loudly. After a few minutes, the two sisters were just laughing hysterically at the absurdity of it all.

When Bamba died a few years back, I gave the eulogy at her funeral. I consider what I said on that day to be one of my life's achievements. Afterward, Aunt Ruth found me at the grave site and thanked me for my words. As sad as I was in that moment, I felt even sadder for Ruth: she was the sole survivor among her siblings. I'm compelled to believe that, now, however, they're all reunited: laughing until they cry, getting louder and louder.

Exams and More Exams
Obviously, the exams of the last couple of weeks were paramount to almost everything. Seems everyone in the program is a little shell-shocked from it all. I'm reconsidering whether four simultaneous lab classes was really the best idea. Anywho, seems a little silly to bitch and complain about it. I'm trying to just think of it as a precursor to the strain of medical school. Yeah! That way, instead of thinking about it as "only several more weeks to the semester," I can really expand it to "only several more years of this shit." It really makes all the difference.

Fetal Pig Dissection
We started the fetal pig dissection a couple of weeks ago. The fact that I never had an anatomy class or did a thorough dissection makes this pretty cool. Our pig is a huge, well-developed, hairy female that my partner and I named "Butters." Honestly, dissection is pretty damned cool but awfully violent. It really takes a sort of detachment to step back from the object as a living thing and try to approach it scientifically. We've dissected several systems by now: digestive, reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, and excretory. The body is absolutely amazing. Considering how everything fits together and works is absolutely enthralling. I just wish that the damned preservative chemicals weren't so unpleasantly fragrant; they stick with you for hours. Butters really stinks.

One way to really alienate everyone in your lab class (including the instructor): announce that for Halloween, you're going to wear an apron made of fetal pigs. The reaction is classic.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Results Are In (25% of Precincts Reporting)

Last couple of weeks have been hellish. I've much more to write about when I get a little breathing room. Here's a brief recap of how the exams went (in the order they were taken):

  • BIO 191 Exam - feces
  • BIO 196 Exam - fair
  • PHY 102 Exam - pretty well
  • CHE 201 Exam - fair

As a result of all the exams, I'm sort of getting used to going to bed around midnight and getting up at 5:00 in the morning. I think I might've mentioned that the general stress was finally getting to everyone causing some general shortness and snippiness among some of the group. Really, if you blow a test or two, it probably doesn't mean that you won't get into a medical school, you know? It's hard for me to believe that some of the folks can maintain their astronomical stress levels.

We got the first test back yesterday: the microbology (191) exam. The prof begins by stating that, out of a total of 75 points, the average score was a 55. The high score was 74.5 and the low score was 24. Yahtzee!!! I'd prepared myself to be at the bottom. Seriously, if you knew exactly how little preparation I put into this one, you'd realize that I'm not underestimating myself. She hands back the exams about five minutes before I was to sit for my Organic Chem exam. Without looking at it, I put it right into my notebook, close it, and went to take the chem exam. I didn't want to be thinking about the bio exam score while taking an exam.

Honestly, I forgot about the thing until a few minutes ago. Sitting alone at my desk with my wife and puppy asleep in another room, I opened the notebook, pulled out the exam (still face-down), and studied the anonymous back of the paper. After a quick prayer, I turned it over to reveal that I'd beaten the average by a point and a half and checked in with a solid C.

Thankfully, I didn't get the 24. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.

More results to come.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

All Things Go, All Things Go

Two tests today. Two more next week. I probably should've put in more time at the books but what can you do?

Yesterday was my 3rd wedding anniversary. Instead of studying all night, my wife and I celebrated a little by taking in the Sufjan Stevens concert at The Fox. We had 3rd row seats for what was an amazing show. If you haven't yet, check him out. If, by chance, someone tries really hard to sell you on the opening act, "My Brightest Diamond," you should immediately flee and avoid future contact with that person as they are not your friend.

More soon.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Believe It Or Not

Yesterday, I went to lunch with a few classmates. We drove in my friend's car to this little Jamaican place in Decatur. On the way, we're listening to a mixtape that she'd received from a friend. It was a pretty good selection, by the way. After lunch, we're riding back to campus and "Believe It Or Not" starts playing.

"The Greatest American Hero": one of my favorite shows from 1981-83.

I told them that I had the record (45rpm) and that I loved the short-lived "The Greatest American Hero" television show starring Mr. William Katt. I got nothing but blank stares. I explained that "Believe It or Not" was the theme song to the series. I got more blank stares.

My friend said that she just thought it was a song and knew nothing about the show. Man, that hurt. I explained the premise of the show: nice guy high school teacher receives special superhero suit from aliens and promptly loses instruction manual. He and his colleagues get into wacky adventures fighting crime. I don't think they were that impressed by the premise. From what I recall, considering I was only eight or nine during the series' run, I thought it was really cool.

Fifteen minutes later, we're walking back into the building another classmate admits that she, at that very moment, got the Seinfeld bit about George's answering machine message. Classic.

Believe It Or Not (2006)
Look at what's happened to me,
I can't believe it myself,
Fully surrounded by all of these girls,
Older than everyone else.

Believe it or not,
I'm losing my hair,
never thought I'd be thirty-three
Trying all day to look like I care
About chemistry
Believe it or not, it's just me.

(As a bonus, check out Joey Scarsbury performing 1981's 14th most popular song on Solid Gold! Where have you gone, Joey?)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Rules

Just want to wish a heart felt "kudos" to the heavy-set African-American woman who, yesterday, wore to class a shirt that read:

"I have the pussy, so I make the rules."

Do they make shirts that argue the contrary? If so, could I wear one to campus without incident? Probably not, I think. Anywho, good for her. It made me drop my pencil when I saw it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Do You Have Any Idea How This Makes Me Feel?

Physics, your name is cursed.

Oh what a wonderful week of Mondays! Finally, I found my "oh shit" place for the semester. I predicted that, for everyone in the program, it was Monday plus or minus 72 hours. Seems I was spot on with the estimate. Everyone has been walking around with that dazed look, wondering if we'll make it out of this thing alive.

Next week, I have two Biology tests, back-to-back. A few days later, I follow-up with Organic and Physics. How awesome is that? Pretty good, huh? Right now, I'm just fighting to keep my head above water with this crap. How am I supposed to walk on top of it?

On the plus side, no women have walked into the restroom while I was doing my business.

Colored Chalk Earns Favor, Doesn't It?
So, after two weeks of watching our physics prof scratch his head while drawing increasingly complex graphs and hearing him mutter how he's forgotten the colored chalk once again, I took the initiative to buy a bunch of it an just donate it to the cause. You know, it's only a ridiculously expensive private women's college; no hope for getting any chalk at that place. Hell, I've seen professors eating from dumpsters behind the building because of the lack of funding. Sad, really.

I bought a few boxes for $0.50 each and left them in my locker at school, relishing the idea of taking them to class and offering them at the opportune moment. Today, that moment happened. Instead of waiting for him to begin cross-hatching lines or drawing squiggly ones, I immediately offered up the goodies.

He was genuinely surprised and appreciative. I think the class was appreciative, too. When the prof asked me what it would cost him, the woman next to me piped up with "An 'A'." Not bad, I thought but I wasn't brown-nosing for a grade, I just can understand what the hell he's talking about when the board becomes a Jackson Pollock work in white chalk. Again, he asked me what he owed me.

"Fifty cents," I answered.

"C'mon, really, how much did it cost?," he persisted.

"Really, it was only fifty cents. Don't worry about it. It's my gift."

"Really? How much?"

"You owe me seventy dollars," I told him. "Really, don't worry about it. It's nothing." The class laughed and then enjoyed the wonderful multi-colored vector drawings.

... 5 Hours Later in Physics Lab ...
Later, we're in physics lab waiting. We're doing a lab that, under normal circumstances, would require us to conduct a free-fall experiment and then calculate the velocity, acceleration of the object. Well, the college doesn't have a "free-fall" machine, so he gave us the data to use. We performed the calculations and plotted our findings onto two graphs so that we could see the trends.

Today, no fooling, it took me ages to just get the scale of the axis drawn on the graph. Really, who uses graph paper any more? To make a long story shorter, we fight through all of the plotting, identify the slope of the line using an equation, and work through the given problem set. Before we left, we asked him to sign us out of the lab so we could split. He asks to see our work. Upon receiving it, he immediately commences the ass-whipping. Today, it was my turn to be the recipient. It went something like this:

"Who drew this graph? Why isn't your line smooth?," he asked incredulously.

"I did, sir. I just connected everything out of habit. I added a trend line it's just really faint," I respond.

"Why did you draw it like this? This isn't a straight line; you can't use this graph. How can you get a slope if you don't have a straight line on this?," he continued, throwing his hands up and shaking his head.

"Well, professor, I did add the trend line; I'm used to graphing with Excel. It's been about 15 years since I've done anything like this by hand."

"This is unusable. This is... Do you have any idea how this makes me feel?"

"I think I'm starting to get a very clear picture, sir," I jab.

"This is bad," he added, gesturing and shaking and pointing. He was wild-eyed and furious, a perfect caricature of an old man getting really bent out of shape over something trivial. "What do you mean dinner is served at 4:45pm? It's 4:30! It's always been 4:30!"

At that point, I sort of tuned out to what he was saying. Took a deep breath and watched him conduct his symphony of my deficiencies as a physics student. My proudest moment.

When he walked away, I whisper "But I brought you colored chalk!" and pack my bag, mutter a fantastic string of obscenities, and stagger toward the door.

The offending graph.
Consequently, I showed it to my dog and he thought it was great.

Friday, September 08, 2006

El Baño de La Diabla

As I've mentioned before, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my "hell" days. Start early and go relatively non-stop through the day. Not really any time to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, or do anything apart from sitting in class taking notes, trying to learn.

When class ended, I was about to pee myself. I left the room and quickly headed into the restroom. I'm taking a leak in this tiny cave of a bathroom. Just when I was becoming confident that my bladder was not, in fact, going to rupture out of my abdomen, a young woman flings the door open and takes a few steps into the room. Confused, I look over at her. She looks up at me, sees me looking at her, loudly shrieks, and runs out of the room.

She was surprised to see me in the Men's restroom.

In fact, I was terribly surprised to see her.

Funny, I never thought that minding my own business and taking a leak in the proper restroom would cause me any more trauma than normal. Either campus security or the lacrosse team is going to be gunning for me, I can feel it. The pandora's box is opened! How long will it take for a sexual harassment charge to be dropped from your record?

Doesn't matter, I'm afraid to go to the bathroom now; I'll always be looking over my shoulder.

Is it safe?

Women have the whole damned campus. Really, can't we at least have the men's restroom as refuge?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Secret Nature of Vectors

"The Secret Nature of Vectors" was the title of today's Physics lecture. It was less of a lecture, really, and more of a discussion of a seemingly disconnected series of random topics. Our professor reminds me of an aged Jeff Goldblum mixed slightly with Richard Lewis and Frazier Crane. He's terribly smart but, in my opinion, has so much going on upstairs that it gets lost in translation on the way out to the rest of us. Going to class is more of an entertaining experience than an informative one. Really, he's a riot.

Anywho, he writes this on the board and I'm thinking that it sounds like the middle chapter of a bad novel.
Chapter 6: The Secret Nature of Vectors
Some noise outside woke him. A cat knocking cans out of the garbage? A gunshot a few streets over? Slowly, he reclined back into the old caved mattress, careful to turn his body so that he springs would miss his spine, his shoulder blades, the healing gunshot wound on his left buttock. Inches below the cracked plaster ceiling, he could make out the dusty fan blades lazily tracing their arc. The medicine was still making him nauseous. After two weeks, he thought it might go away. With each dose, he was surprised to find himself queasy.

Alone in the dark, he rubbed his eyes, yawned, and scratched his lower belly. He replayed the night of the shooting over in his head, as he often did since then. His half-hearted laugh broke the silence when he asked himself why he didn't just continue for another 25 meters 45 degrees north of east. If he had, his net displacement would have certainly put him out of harm's way.

Gingerly, he rolled onto his side, avoiding any pressure on the wound. He felt the bandage and then the mattress for dampness. Again, it had wept through the bandage. Again, he'd have to change the dressing by himself, awkwardly in front of the mirror. He tried to fill his mind with thoughts of her as he buried his face deeply into the pillow and breathed in the fading scent of her hair.
Yes. It's driving me mad. Week two and it's driving me mad. Hopeless isn't it?

Tomorrow is another "hell day." All classes and labs back to back to friggin' back. Maybe we'll continue the discussion of the bee dance in my Animal Bio class. Evidently, we'll be tested on interpreting a bee dance. When a honey bee enters the hive with pollen, it does a dance by doing a little "waggle" of it's abdomen and walking in a figure eight pattern. This dance indicates the direction and distance that other bees should fly to reach the pollen source. Actually, it's pretty cool stuff. I think I'm gonna start doing it in the lobby when classes let out and just see how long it takes me to get tackled by the campus cops.

Gender Ratio
The whole gender ratio hasn't been as bad as I was expecting. I thought I'd be completely overwhelmed by being one of the few men. It's not really so bad. Yesterday, one of the women in the program asked if I thought any of the undergrad women were noticing me. I told her I really hoped so because it's too hot to keep wearing the leather chaps and because I haven't been shaving and oiling my chest for nothing.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Back to the Grind

Well, I'm at it again. Today was the second day of class. Here's what I'm taking:

  • Physics with lab
  • Animal Biology with lab
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology with lab
  • Organic Chemistry with lab
Thankfully, labs are postponed until next week. It lets me think that I'm slowly jumping into the deep end. It's a nice trick or, rather, an illusion.

It's quite strange to have the campus flooded with women. By "strange," I mean that I'm willing to allow my single male friends to carry my books for me for a small fee of $50 a day.

One guy in the program showed up to his class just before it started. When he walked into the lecture hall, the room quickly fell silent. When he took a seat in the front row, he could hear everyone asking why the professor was sitting. He had to inform everyone that he wasn't the professor but a student, just like them (but different).

Anywho, more later. Physics homework to do.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Yesterday was a very, very laid back day. I woke early, walked downtown to Corita's Copper Kettle, and ate another fritter with everything on it. Then, I walked back home. Along the way, I stopped at Smith's Cove beach to sit, watch the surf, and write a little bit. I finished the day by hanging out with my sister and watching the first six episodes of "Band of Brothers." Quite a day, let me tell you. Honestly, I was a little too sunburned to get back out in the sun. Also, it was just too damned hot. Mostly, though, my sis needed an easy day to recover from her wild karaoke night. For the record, she doesn't sing as much as she yelps loudly into the microphone while dancing suggestively. Proud moments for a brother. It did, however, get us free drinks for most of the night. I'm okay with that.

Today, however, was a different story. I woke early, came downstairs and read for a bit. (Just started A Confederacy of Dunces, it's freaking hysterical; I'm talking laugh out loud funny.) She slept in for a bit. We took her car to the shop for repair, grabbed some lunch, and headed back to the apartment. We decided to head out to one of her favorite beaches for some sun and snorkeling. It's called cemetery Beach, a fantastic public beach that's mostly off-the-radar for tourists.

We phoned for a taxi and grabbed our gear to head out. Wagers on who drove the taxi? None other than Elvis from the other night. Seems that driving a cab is his occupation on the island. Honestly, he's a little freaky up close. The other night, I suppose the dim lighting and the beers made me and my sis consider that his hair was real. Up close and personal, however, it was one of the worst wigs I've seen. Honestly, he had the same hair as Mowgli from The Jungle Book. So, he's dressed in jeans, some flashy shirt, silver Elvis shades, and a bandana around this awful, awful wig. He looked like a Warhol version of Geronimo.

I actually considered that Elvis' Mowgli hair was real.

Here's the best thing though: he had a bitchin' horn on this old beat up van that is his taxi. Any time we passed an attractive woman on the street, he'd hit the horn and it would actually cat call and then growl. Fan-stinking-tastic. Seriously, can you imagine walking and thinking, "Hold on a minute, did Geronimelvis' van just whistle at me?" Classic. I'm thinking of getting one for my car back home.

Anywho, just prior to dropping us off. Elvis turns around and warns us to be careful because a 12-foot hammerhead shark has been sited off-shore in the area this week. We silently got out of the van, grabbed our gear, and looked at each other as he drove off.

We sunned for a bit and then ventured into the water. It was so damned murky that we called it quits. All I could hear was Brody yelling at people to get out of the water. I obliged. After a while though, it cleared up and we ventured out into the sea. We came upon a good-sized sea turtle and followed it for a little while. Then, fish schooled around my sister, who promptly freaked out. I haughtily laughed until some big damned fish nipped at my hand and I inked the water.

We went in and headed to the Sunset House for a beer. We watched the sun drop off the horizon and sipped a cold beer or two. As the sun was setting, REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was playing. Fitting for the last sunset of the trip.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In The Ghetto

Tonight, my sister and her roomie decide that we'll go to "Country's," a local country bar, to have a couple of drinks. My sister set my expectations really low with adjectives like "dodgy" and "sketchy." I'm figuring that we'd probably be the only ones in the bar.

We arrive at a stand-alone building that's pretty large with a country/western couple painted on the front doors. (Instead of Picasso, think second grader.) As we're walking up to the door, the sounds of karaoke get louder and louder: it's Elvis. As we walk into the bar, my sister says something about Elvis at the bar. "Yeah," I reply thinking that it'd be hard not to recognize Elvis with the volume so stinking loud.

There are probably 12 people in the whole, enormous place. I order a beer and take notice of the surroundings. Honest to goodness, Elvis was at the end of the bar.

"You weren't shitting me, huh?," I asked my sis.

"Nope. He's a taxi driver," she says. "He picks up tourists in his cab dressed as Elvis. It plays only Elvis songs and has an Elvis horn that says things like 'Thank you; thank you very much.' He's always in character."

"Is that his real hair?," I ask.

"Oh yeah."

"It's horrible...but great."

"Isn't it though?"

We have a few beers and listen to terrible, terrible singing. After a while, Elvis actually takes the stage to great applause from the few of us at the bar.

These thumbnails are all I could get at the moment.

Anywho, he gets up there and sings a few songs, like everyone else, at deafening volume. (Honestly, my ears are still ringing as I type this.) He runs through a few Elvis standards and starts on "In the Ghetto," my second favorite Elvis tune. He sings it with a ton of heart, a decent voice, and horribly broken English. It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic.

Here's what I heard:

On a coal and gray Chicago more
another little baby chile was born
in da ghetto

If dere's one ting that she don't need
iss anoder hungry
mou to feed
inna ghetto

Classic. Absolutely classic. Can't wait to go back tomorrow night. Holy crap, I must buy a video camera.

After it was over, he was walking by the bar. I extended my hand and said, "Great set, man, great set."

Without missing a beat, he gives me the Elvis pose, takes my hand, shakes it, and says "Thank you, thank you very much."


As my sister's car is broken, we woke early this morning and walked into town. Once there, we avoided the cattle (cruise ship tourists) and found a nice little Jamaican restaurant for a Corita's special - ham, egg, cheese, and jelly on a fried dumpling. Damn fine eating.

On the way home, the sun came out for a bit and the temperature really got up there. We napped for a little bit and headed out to Governor's beach for some sunning (read: burning). At first, it was pretty overcast. Just after we fell asleep, the sun came out and promptly burned me. I've now changed my plan: instead of getting a deep tan while I'm here, I'm going for a deep red. Seriously, I'll be maroon or something.

Trade the shorts for a tiny Speedo and this is me.

On the way home, we stopped at a little Jerk shack for some chicken. Then, headed home, devoured it, and napped like nobody's business.

Trying to get up the energy to head out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tropical Depression

At least it's tropical, you know? Seriously, cloudy and storming. Any day on the island, though, is better than in the states.

I arrived on the island this morning and went to the waterfront for some lunch and beers with my sister. It was quite nice to sit there at the bar, listening to the waves crash, feeling the rain occasionally blow into the tikki hut, sipping some cold beer, and just catching up with my sister. Just to be safe, we went ahead and got a little emotional talking about our dearly departed grandparents. Two stinking hours and we're crying into our beers, pouring a little out for those who've moved on. Man, we sure do miss our Bamba and Grandaddy. Not to mention, we're lucky as hell to have our parents.

Now, that we've got that one out of the way, we can really move on to some hijinks for the remaining part of the week.

Island Life

This week, I'm heading down to Grand Cayman to visit my sister. I'll try to post but the island life may get the better of me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Pretty Good Jukebox

Tonight, I celebrated Peej's by joining him, Beth, and J3K for a bite to eat and a couple of beers. We were lamenting the presence of a digital jukebox in the establishment. Really, a digital jukebox that offers every conceivable album isn't a plus. You might get the one or two songs that receive airplay (if the band was a commercial success) but no deep tracks.

In my opinion, a great jukebox is something to be coveted. The Stein Club had a great jukebox. I used to love playing the old familiar tracks with my boys Danny, Matt, and Joey. We had a ritual that had to be followed. First, walk to the box, take your position in front of it. Start at one end and browse the CDs from start to finish, taking note of your probable selections. Return to the beginning. Insert cash, note "selections remaining" and begin the journey to the back. Anyone could spot but one person was generally the "keymaster" who was responsible for entering the song numbers.

Inevitably, the songs we played would always include the following tracks:
  • "So What'cha Want" - Beastie Boys
  • "How Soon is Now" - The Smiths
  • "Walking After Midnight" - Patsy Cline (for Carol)
  • "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" - Willie Nelson
  • "Suspicious Minds" - Elvis
  • "Peace Frog" - The Doors
Man, I miss The Stein Club. After it left us, The Righteous Room provided some solace with its jukebox. The FlatIron in East Atlanta Village is better. Recently, I have discovered that Twain's in Decatur has a box on par with the Steiner. It is fantastic. If you haven't, go check it out. In addition to albums, it includes a few homemade mix CDs complete with cover art. My favorite is the one with the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons titled "Best. CD. Ever." Anywho, it makes me happy.

The List
Tonight, after we all lamented the all-digital jukebox in the restaurant, we decided to build our own jukebox. Actually, it's for the bar that we'll open. According to PJ's rules, everyone who works there gets to put in 5 CDs. If they suck, the person is fired. Anwho, we made a list of 5 albums and one alternate. Then, each person got to remove a CD from someone else's list. Finally, everyone got to add their "Oh shit, I forgot to include this CD on my list" album. I think we made a pretty good jukebox.

Click the image to peep our premium tracks.


Yesterday, J3K and I went mountain-biking in western North Carolina. We got on the road from ATL at about 6:30 a.m. and headed up to the Tsali Recreation Area, near Lake Fontana on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After almost three hours, we arrived at the trailhead, geared up and hit the trails for what we anticipated would be an approximately 20 mile ride on some fantastic terrain. The trails and scenery were amazing.

We rode the Left Loop trail and were planning on linking it to the Right Loop to get in our total mileage. The Left Loop, however, proved more challenging than anticipated. It was definitely a more difficult ride than Yellow River in the metro Atlanta area. Narrow, winding single-track trails wound along the lake and into the surrounding forest and mountains. At one point, we distinctly felt like we'd been 'Unicoi-ed' because this climb was so stinking steep. There were lots of nice stream crossings, a little mud, loose rock, sheer cliffs, roots, and opportunities to bust our asses. (I did, of course, take a couple of spills. Luckily, I spilled no blood.)

One long climb led to a spectacular view over Lake Fontana and into the Smoky Mountains. It might have been the highlight of the trip. At this particular spot, James was tormented by a bee and we continued onward and upward. (Just for the record, when pitted against an aggressive bee, J3K, unlike our friend Joey P. maintains his composure.)

Photo of the Overlook from the Mountain Bike Western NC web site. Click it for more.

Luckily, we missed a turn at around 10 or 11 miles and ended up barreling down a gravel road back to the trailhead/parking lot. We'd completed about 13 miles and decided to have lunch and reevaluate before heading back out. In the parking lot, while we were eating our tasty sandwiches, we bumped into a father/son adventure squad. The kid was about 18; dad looked about 40. We chatted a little:

"You guys from Atlanta?," the guy asked.

"Yeah. Just drove up this morning. How about you?"

"Just finishing a 1400-mile road trip. We've been hiking, riding, and paddling," the father told us. "Making a last hurrah before we ship the boy off to Georgia State," he adds while lighting a cigarette. (A cigarette!)

"Sounds like a good 'hurrah'," I said.

"Yeah. Yesterday, we climbed a 500 foot face," he boasts. After taking a drag on his smoke, he adds, "Today, we just decided to come out here to get a ride in before we go paddle the Nantahala."

"I don't think I want to go to the river," the son confesses to his dad.

"You pussy," the dad says to the boy. "If you don't go to the river, we're going for another loop on the bikes," he chastized.

Jim and I sat there and looked at each other a little puzzled by the exchange. I wondered who the trip was really for: was it a coming of age voyage for the boy who would soon leave for college? Was it for the dad who was leaving his own definition of youth? Regardless, I was a little put-off by the whole exchange.

Jim mentioned that we should tell him that we were completing a 1500-mile road trip and that, this very morning, we'd fought a wolverine and, afterwards, had decided to go mountain biking.

After Lunch
We decided not to do any more mileage. My legs were quivering when I got back on the bike and took a tour of the campground. No way I be able to safely do more riding. Time to head back. After I said this, Jim quickly agreed and we packed up and got on the road back to Atlanta. The only thing that would make us feel better was barbecue. We headed toward Elijay with hopes of stopping in at The Pink Pig or Poole's. I was utterly disappointed when both were closed. Why not be open on a weekday? Come on!

We headed back to ATL and directly went to Pig-n-Chic BBQ. After a hearty pork plate, I reached the proper QUE-librium. It was QUE-topia.

I'm still tired and my legs hurt.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Murder, She Wrote

Friday, I went to the public library near my house to get a library card and check out a few things. Honestly, I love libraries for their motley assortment of patrons and of media. For example, I was browsing the DVD section and ran across the following titles:
  • The Godfather II (Widescreen)
  • Multiple Carey Grant films
  • Murder, She Wrote (Season One)
I cannot wait to check this out; I never watched a single episode of the series.

Hopefully, I'll be able to also get The Equalizer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Congrats to J3K on Winning the Oscar...

Crazy dreams continue: Last night, my esteemed colleague, James Three Thousand, took home the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Bandit Run 2005." I was quite happy and more than a little disappointed that I wasn't nominated as co-writer. Anywho, he won. We all owe him congratulations. Later in the dream, I watched a grizzly bear swimming in the surf at Panama City beach as a hurricane approached. No clue at all.

More Random Thoughts
I nailed the final for my Chem 102 course. I think I needed a 77 to keep my "A" in the course. I earned a 95 out of 98. Kept my grade and then some. Seriously, I'm just glad it's over. Now, three weeks of R&R. Today, I started with a little 5 mile hike in Unicoi. Tomorrow, another mountain biking jaunt. I'll finish the break with a quick visit to Grand Cayman to visit my sis. Honestly, aside from not having any income, this student life is pretty good.

Shake and Bake
Saw "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" twice over the weekend. Go see it; it's really funny even if you do have to sit through a preview of "The Grudge 2: Still Grudgin'."

Talladega Nights: A Billion Times Better Than Nacho Libre.

Fear the Taquito
Let's briefly consider a hypothetical: If prior to seeing a movie such as "Talladega Nights," you and a buddy celebrate something like the completion of a tough course with a few drinks, and if, after several of these drinks, your buddy convinces you that, in lieu of dining at the movie theater, you should stop by QuikTrip for a few hot dogs and a Taquito, and if you successfully convince your designated driver to stop, I implore you DO NOT EAT THE TAQUITO. If you do, you will forever rue the day you introduced it to your gastrointestinal tract. They are unholy cannoli filled with demon scat. Instead, eat something, anything, that you find on the ground of the gas station parking lot and you'll be better off.

If you eat this, your buddy won't include you in the Oscar nomination.

Here's a description from the QuikTrip website:

The origin of the QuikTrip Taquito has been translated by archaeologists from inscriptions on the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan. The original pronunciation of this delicacy was Taquiktripito. Apparently the Taquito was a gift from Quatzequatel, the winged serpent god of the Mayan culture. Quatzequatel was a benevolent god, filled with goodness, as was the QuikTrip Taquito that he lovingly bequeathed to his followers.

Later, Spanish explorers discovered this wonderful meal and sent an armada of ships back to Spain filled with Taquitos. Unfortunately, the fleet was lost at sea, although there were rumors the crews of the ships had eaten all the Taquitos en route and were afraid to return home. This theory has been supported by a study conducted by Don Miguel Fernandez, who discovered what appeared to be remnants of a manually operated roller grill on the island of Grenada. Along with these artifacts was the original Mayan recipe for the Taquito, which has been translated and carefully followed to produce the ultimate QuikTrip Taquito.

QuikTrip Taquitos are the perfect meal on the go. Nearly a foot of crisp meat-filled tortillas are kept hot and fresh on sparkling clean roller grills at every QuikTrip store. QuikTrip offers two varieties of Taquitos, beef and chicken, with just enough spice to awaken your taste buds. The best part of this great meal is that Taquitos are only 99 cents. Quatzequatel would be proud!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Riding the Wings of the Dragon Through the Cosmos

I just emailed my final to the prof. I am done. (With this one class. Of an intense year-long program. That preps me for the MCAT. That paves the way for four years of medical school. Followed by residency.) Guess I'm nowhere done, huh?

Seriously, for the next three weeks, I will punch anybody in the face if they ask me to do a chemistry problem.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Close Call Yesterday...

I nearly ran out of gas. On the way home, I stopped at the gas station and filled up. I put 12.37 gallons into my tank. By the way, it's a twelve gallon tank. Oh, it only cost me $200 dollars.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


A potpourri of things I overheard, read, or said:

"Did I tell you that David's chinchilla is sick and he's going to take it to Athens?"

Evidently, my chem textbook has the opening sentence for a terrible novel:

"In many environmental or biomedical research applications, a buffer of unusual composition may be required to simulate an ecosystem or stabilize a fragile biological macromolecule."

The next sentences:
As he raced the car down the rain-slicked boulevard, he glanced over at her between drags on his cigarette to see if she understood. If she got it, she would understand why they were in such danger, why Pete was dead, and why Rudy lay in an induced coma in the county hospital.

Last week, several of us gathered for a few beers after class. I ordered a beer that had a powerful floral aroma. This led me to remark that the beer smelled a little bit like rose water and how I think rose water is sexy or, at the very least, sensual.

For example, if you've eaten at a fancy Moroccan restaurant, the meal begins with you washing your hands in rose water. It's a memorable experience, not necessarily sexy, but very sensual. You end up noting the texture of the water (silky), it's temperature (cool but not cold, crisp), and it's wonderful scent (roses).

Anyway, the rose water comment earned me a few strange looks from the kids. Uncontent to stop there, I followed up with something about it actually reminding me about the sachet my mother kept in her lingerie drawer. This utterance earned even more strange looks; I'd captivated them which prompted me to say:

"I used to dress in my mother's lingerie and bathe myself in rosewater. Is that weird?"

The stares, silence, and nervous laughter it proved were priceless. Most knew I was joking, others didn't exactly know what to think. Yesterday, I got this strange feeling that I might actually be that one guy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

1st Law of MFE

Yesterday, I wrote my final lab report for this class. The lab dealt with the formulation and analysis of several nickel complexes. Truthfully, it covered topics that we're not covering in class and that I probably won't commit to memory. Nonetheless, I had to write a stinking lab report about it. It took forever. Hours that I could've used to study for this week's test. No problem; it's awesome to spend your time working on just plain busy work, you know? Who doesn't have the extra time?

I think I'll definitely get a perfect score on the report based on the my final calculations:

For maximum credit, always cite the 1st Law of Middle Finger Extension.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Survivor's Guilt

Perhaps my surprise at doing well on the test manifested itself in last night's dream:

I'm at a restaurant for breakfast with people from class. Everyone is sitting around and chatting, the usual post-meal banter. I excuse myself to the restroom. When I return, my exam is on the table and everyone has been looking through it. One woman says, "I'm not sure how you got a 97 with all those deductions that she marked on your paper." I take a look and see a plethora of deductions: -16 points here, -10 points there, -20 points in another place. I explained, "She graded my more leniently."

Luckily at the next table, a group of rough looking people had just finished their English breakfast and start drinking tequila shots. This captured everyone's attention and took the heat off of me because it was only 9:00 in the morning. I carefully grabbed my test from the table and pocketed it without being noticed.

English Breakfast and Tequila: A Suitable Distraction

I need to send my deep subconscious some flowers for getting me out of that one.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

97 Out of 97

Seems like I did a little better than I expected on the test. I'm sort of expecting that she really meant to give me a score of "07" but hit the wrong key. I'll take it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I've Got the Touch

I've got the power! When all hell's breaking loose, I'll be right in the eye of the storm. This is, quite possibly, my very favorite Stan Bush song.

I already feel better. I should really listen to this every morning. Now, I just need to find my old Transformers at my folks' house and I'll be set. I miss you, Optimus Prime.

Bring On Tuesday...

...because this Monday has really sucked.

It started this morning when I got up. As usual, I'm pretty hopeful and optimistic. I'd worked a crapload on the test this weekend. With exception of one problem, I finished the test in about 2 or so hours. The one problem had me rapt for about 7 hours. I kept working it and reworking it and reworking it to no avail. The numbers just wouldn't work. Finally, late Saturday, I had an epiphany and thought that I had it figured out reasonably well. Anywho, I transcribed my answers on Sunday and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

This morning I get up and am preparing to go to campus. I log on and check my email and see a message from the prof. She gives some big clue about how we're supposed to approach the problem. This wasn't, by the way, the method that I used. My heart sank a little and I went to campus.

I dropped in to talk with her about it about an hour before class. She put me on this path for solving it that was totally bogus. She suggested to everyone a method for solving this damned thing that she flat out told us in class should never be used for the conditions presented in the problem. The numbers just wouldn't fit. Anywho, I spent an hour trying to make it work and finally just scrawled some shit onto the page and ran to class and handed in the exam just before the deadline.

Brutal. Just brutal. She donkey punched me right in the ass. Oh, I also dropped my yogurt in the hallway at school and it broke open and spilled all over the place. And our softball team got killed. (I didn't lose any of my newly formed scar tissue or do any further damage to my assberry. James Three Thousand didn't fare so well, though.)

Two more stinking weeks of this Chem 102 crap and then it's on to ... several more years of this junk. Good God, what am I doing? Seriously, I've suddenly become one of those neurotic pre-medical students who obsess over every single stinking grade and how it will positively or negatively affect my final grade and my future. Holy crap, I need a break already.

The Good News
Last Thursday evening, I think that Rob, Jim and I formed a band: Tainted Hummus. We're trying to get it together. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that we'll be ready by our promised 04 OCT 2006 opening date but it shouldn't be to long before we're ready to rock. Simple set up: snare drum, keytar, harmonica, cowbell, and vocals. Seriously, our first single "Unicorn Dreams" will knock you on your can.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Make Mine a Strawberry...

After many years of playing softball in this body of mine, you'd think I'd get it that sliding is a bad idea. Nope. Never ever learn. Never ever will.

Last night we played (and lost to) the number one team in the league. I was trying to leg out a double. The throw was coming in and I slid to avoid the tag. I decided to slide. Keep in mind that this wasn't one of those recreational league slides but an honest to goodness MLB style slide. I got to the bag and popped up. The 2nd baseman booted the throw and I took off for 3rd base and made it safely.

When I finally caught my breath in the sweltering 90+ degree Georgia heat, I noticed that my ass really, really hurt. Turns out, I'd earned the largest and, not coincidentally, the most painful strawberry of my career.

One of these will probably leave a mark.

This one's probably going to leave a mark. Maybe I should invest in some sliding pants or something. Better yet, I should just give up sliding.

I love the Sleestaks.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Your Assignment

Earlier this week, I found out that my buddy Mike's grandmother had passed away. His relationship with his Meemaw reminded me very much of mine with my Bamba. I called to offer my condolences and to catch up with him.

Mike and I have known each other since 1991 when I started UGA. For a couple of years, we lived on the same hall in the same dorm. Later, we traveled around together: an RV trip to Kentucky and Graceland on one spring break, a trip to my grandparents' beach house on another. Just prior to graduation, we were roommates for about 9 months in an abysmal little ghetto place in Athens. (BTW, I consider "ghetto" the inability to have a pizza delivered after dark.) After graduation, we ended up working at the same software company. Twice.

In the last several years, as we've settled into adulthood (not that I feel settled or particularly adult), we've been following the paths of our own lives. Career. Marriage. Hairline recession. Waistline expansion. Aches. Pains. The realization that we're not 22 any longer.

Occasionally, we'll actually pick up the phone and call or, if we're lucky, we'll get to see each other for bit. Wednesday of this week, we had a long phone conversation. The death of his grandmother made us touch base. On the phone, the time between conversations and the distance separating us seemed to fall away. No problem, we just picked up where we left off, you know.

It makes me think of what a college girlfriend told me as I was leaving for a study abroad program in Mexico. She said, "Absence doesn't heart grown fonder; it makes the heart forget." Consequently, mine grew fonder; hers forgot (very, very quickly). In a way, though, I suppose it's a true statement. Life gets in the way. Our attention is paid to the most immediate things surrounding us on a daily basis. When we finally look up, time has passed and we've forgotten what certain people and things mean to us.

Here's my point: Go pick up the phone and ring that person that you've been "meaning to call." It just might make both of your days.

Another Week ...

This Chem 102 business is tough. This week, I had my ass handed to me daily. Lab stinks. Class stinks. The whole rotten thing stinks. Our new pup is really cutting into my ability to study at home. So, I'm looking for a new study sanctuary so that I can actually get some work done. It's no fun being behind in class. During one lecture, I might as well have been listening to Charlie Brown's teacher for two hours. "Wahh waa, waa whaaa wah wah whaaaaa." No friggin' clue what she was talking about. It's gonna take an entire skyscraper of puppies to get me out of this one.

9 Solutions Puzzle!
So, our final lab this week was to solve for 9 unknown substances. We get to lab and are presented with 9 test tubes, each with a small sample of an unknown solution. Prior to arriving, however, we were told what the nine solutions would be and had to devise a plan to determine what each one was in lab. So, we created a flowchart to determine how to test and identify them one by one. For example, the one with a stongly basic pH could only be a certain substance. We knew, then, that it would react in a specific way with only one or two other substances and so on and so forth. The goal, according to the lab instructors, was to be in and out of there in about 20 minutes. It's why we did all of the stinking pre-work before showing up.

So, we get there and start running our tests. We got about 1/4 of the way into it and our results were showing an impossibility. We kept testing and testing (as did everyone in the room) with no success. I told my team that the lab assistant either screwed up the solutions that she gave us or made some other mistake. An hour and a half later, it came to light that the lab assistant had, in fact, screwed up the solutions and made some other mistakes.

She actually said, "It's like this every year." What the hell does that mean? Obviously, she has never held a real job. I would've gotten canned in a minute if I tried to rationalize tremendous failure with some crap-tastic quote like that one. Then, she actually left early. Outstanding.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Wear Cotton

Yep, it's been a while since my last post. Semester break, 4th of July, new puppy, start of classes and such = I've been busy and will be for the foreseeable future (7 years according to the Peej). In a little less than a month, I'll be done with this semester of Chemistry and prepped for the hellish fall schedule that I've submitted.

The new semester is pretty interesting but a little more hardcore. Can't really explain to you exactly how uninterested I am in hybridized electron orbitals but it's my life at the moment. In lab, I'm doing some cool stuff. Last week, we coated a penny in brass. (Look for it on eBay, I need to make some cash.) Also, we synthesized some polymers in a lab. We ended up making nylon. Probably one of the freakiest things I've ever seen. Mix two chemicals together and this shit just starts growing. I'm grabbing it with tweezers, wrapping it around a test tube and just rolling and rolling it up out of this tiny, tiny beaker. Seriously, it was about a yard of dead hobo skin that I pulled out of it. It was a like an outtake from "Silence of the Lambs." Looked awful, smelled awful, made me feel awful. I think I'm about to start wearing nothing but hemp or cotton clothing after that one. Can't be good for us. Oh yeah, we also made "slime." It was like the ectoplasm from Ghostbusters. Odd, odd stuff. Anywho, that was what I did last week.

Open Your Heart to the Puppy
Here's our new pup, Dylan, the cutest puppy ever. He's a German Wire-Haired Pointer with lots of energy and a love of chewing. He's so damned cute. He's doing a fine job training my wife and I to never sleep and constantly wipe up his urine.

Dylan, the Destroyer

Friday, June 30, 2006

The results are in...

I earned an "A" in the class.

I feel a little like Andy Dufresne scrawling that first mark on the prison wall to mark the passing of a year. How many were on the wall before he got out? Tons, right?

Same thing here. One down. Infinity to go. Looking forward to the sewer crawl, though.

I Am Nuts

I turned in my final yesterday. Now, I just wait a few days to learn the grade and confirm that I kept my A. Hopefully, I didn't screw it up. I don't think that I did but it's always a possibility.

Last night, I had a terrible bout of insomnia. I woke at 2 a.m. and just lay there in bed for two hours. At 4 a.m., I got up, came into the office, sent a few emails, and just surfed the net for a while. When I finally went to sleep at 6:30 a.m., I had the pleasure of dreaming the following:

I'm in the middle of some sort of competition being held on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta. Honestly, I'm not sure what the contest was about but I know that my two teammates and I had to get stuff out of the back of a pickup truck. I should probably mention that my two teammates were supermodels. Anyway, me and one teammate were standing outside the truck while the other would wrestle with the opposing team for items in the bed of the truck. When the first teammate got an item, she would hand it to teammate who would run it to a checkpoint about 50 yards away and then come back to the truck for the next item. My job: spray them down with a water hose!!! (Seriously, it was a beer commercial without any beer in it.)

Thing were going well, if a bit odd, until Star Frickin' Jones shows up. Like she apparently is in reality, she was a real queen bitch in my dream. She kept complaining about not having a job, bad-mouthing Baba Wawa, and talking up these other projects she had in the works. She was terribly annoying.

Any version of Star Jones is a bad one.

When the competition ended, I was returning home to my in-laws' mountain house. I walked into the newly renovated kitchen complete with built-in handwashing stations. Not just sinks, mind you, but special areas only for washing your hands. I was happy to be home and was looking forward to doing some studying. I went to take a nap because, evidently, hosing down supermodels is tough work. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep because someone was playing some new age music really loudly. I get off of the sofa and go to investigate. Imagine my surprise when it was none other than the new live-in house guest, Star Jones! I was floored. She was terribly inconsiderate and unapologetic, a pure diva. At that point, I notice that her things, including her new project, were spread all over the house.

Upon investigating, I learn that her new project was a Star Jones board game loosely modeled after Harry Potter. The playing board was purple and featured cartoonish caricatures of her, Brooke Shields, and Tom Selleck. I thought it was pretty dumb concept for a game. It seemed about as overly complicated as the E.T. game I had as a kid. Even so, it looked like the worst game ever. I left Star Jones and her board game project to go make a salad and take a nap.

A much better board game than Star's.
(Even without Shields and Selleck.)

I am nuts.