New Deal

So the lab is once again full with four, count em...four new undergraduate peons...I mean students. WPI requires each graduating senior to do a senior project, their MQP, which typically focus on some form of original research. I now have two of these MQP students working directly beneath me. In addition, two more undergrads doing an independant study under me in plant tissue culture. They all work half days but, unfortunately, more often then not they work the same half days. Questions abound and I'm starting to think that I should get one of those big red deli ticket dispenser machines for the lab. That way each could take a number and I could answer questions when i was ready to do so and in turn...first come first served. They are actually making some significant progress which makes up for the slow down in my own work when they show up. In something almost unrelated, the WBDC is razing a building across the street that used to be part of Worcester Voke. In short, it is soooo cool. All the big machines I would see as a kid and want desperately to drive around and demolish things are now right next door. Huge arms painted in caterpillar/tonka colors ripping apart bricks, mortar, I-beams, and concrete. Once again, even at 24 I want to be down there maneuvering in and out of piles of rubble ripping a perfectly good building to shreds in the name of progress and reinvigorating a community. There is a certain purity in working with your hands and creating (or destroying) something physical and real and outside of intellectual pursuits. I often wonder what my life would be like now if I devoted my time to some other more concrete vocation. Could I be a welder? A carpenter? A mechanic? Maybe some day when i retire or sell my first company I will find a new life as a tradesmen...doesn't seem half bad. I'm sure they look up here from time to time and think the same...the grass is always greener. Patrick OUT!

Another Sports Entry

So its taken me a while to write this entry because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say about boston sports and wanted to make sure I did it justice. So my beloved Red Sox have won the world series and in such are moving ominously closer to being the Yankees of the late 90s. At first, I was a little put off by this whole notion but I guess in the end I will always be able to revel in the dominance whether or not we are "buying" championships. Its true that the red sox had the second largest payroll in baseball last year (a mere 50 million behind the yankees). I would contend however that the issue is what does one do with the payroll. The red sox suffer from the same inflated bankroll syndrome that the Yankees do that makes them take on large contracts for people who rarely deserve the money. On the other side, they seem to have a value set for certain individuals and rarely waiver and would instead see quality players go into free agency. Now, I'm not one to criticize management of a team who just won a world championship but it does seem strange. Either way, this past post season was not dominated by Manny Ramirez or David Ortiz, or Manny Ortiz as John Kerry would know him/them. In stead, the lesser known players, with lesser salaries made the most difference...dustin pedroia, jacoby ellsbury, and mike lowell (series MVP). These names also give me the most hope for the future when the red sox will be able to ride out ridiculous signings of high price free agents (see J.D. Drew, and Edgar Renteria/Julio Lugo) with the strength of a farm system there in returning baseball to the way it should be. A team homegrown from start to finish with young talent peppered with the superstar status of a few key veterans.
In other news, my lab life is once again full. Research is going ahead full steam once again and we have a bunch of new faces in the lab. At least three new grad students between the two groups and a slew (6) new undergraduates running around with a whole host of projects. Its nice to see the lab bustling again as a return to normalcy ensues. A salesman from a bio supplies company came in today and remarked that we seemed like the closest knit lab that he had encountered in the building. I am more than a little proud of that and I think he's right and I wouldn't have it any other way. Patrick OUT!!!

An Update???

Ok, so its been a long time since I updated here but believe me, it was a justified hiatus. Since my last post, the vast majority of my time has been split amongst three things with the first taking the lions share: PhD qualifier, Red Sox, and Patriots. I guess I should probably address all three at this point and that should cover about 90% of what I've been up to and thinking about for the past month. First off, my qualifier. My topic ended up being about a new technique for detecting metabolites in maize (corn). It could have been fairly cool but ended up being a nightmare and I'm glad that I only had to write about it in theoretical terms. Doing the work I outlined would have been a bitch and a half. The extra half bitch is because we are getting to be on par with paris hilton, naomi campbell, amarosa, and for those biblically inclined, delilah (go ahead, look it up...she was pretty bad). In the end, after all was said and done, I produced a fairly dense 15 page (a pretty short limit if you ask me) proposal for research that I submitted to my exam committee to look over and critique. Then last week, I gave a seminar on the proposal to the department. It went, OK but not great. I think I should have focused on some parts more than others in hindsight and that some important points might have been lost in minutia. Either way, I then proceeded to the private defense in front of my committee. That was less than pleasant all in all. I suppose I got off kind of easy because it only took about an hour and fifteen minutes, which I gather is a good deal shorter than some of them. Questions were not unreasonable but I certainly couldn't answer all of them. They did a good job of finding every weakness that I had found and exploiting them though I was hoping they might not notice. I guess, in hindsight, that was a less than stellar strategy for such a thing. In the end, after tearing apart my proposal and telling me it wasn't very good, they kicked me out of the room to discuss and eventually took me back in to say that all was well and that I passed. PHEW! After that, we went to lunch and I attempted to calm down for a while before heading back to the lab for more experiments. The whole thing was a little anti-climactic in that I spent a lot of time over the preceding two and a half weeks preparing the work to have it boiled down to an appraisal of "its good."
Tuesday followed, with Ally's thesis defense for her masters. She seemed nervous to start but all in all it was pretty good and she was very funny. She is quite the character and has a certain way of pulling people in and speaking in a way that makes it easy to understand. These are things that I certainly do not do and could probably stand to learn a few things. Long and short of it is that she is actually done, though she isn't leaving the department quite yet. After she finished, she announced that she had bought me a cake and we got together with the department later to have it and some champagne that her advisor had brought in. It was really great in all respsects. Besides all that excitement the only things that have been pulling at me are sports related. This has been a long post so I will just say a few words on boston sports. First off, the red sox are starting to drive me crazy...i'm starting to return to the mindset that is just waiting for a monumental collapse and the ensuing collective guilt/dismay/hope for next year mentality that beset red-sox nation before 2004. It might not be all bad, it could weed out some of the "pink hat/green jersey" crowd from making tickets impossible to get for the rest of know who you are. The patriots on the other hand...are becoming the Yankees of football. The only difference is that instead of overpaid superstars that flounder when the games really matter we have superstars that are willing to take a pay cut to keep the team competitive (see Randy Moss and Tom Brady) and still come through in a clinch. When do the, "Patriots Suck" chants start...that will be a good day. Depending on how this evenings game goes...this might be the last sports mention for a while or at least until i recover from the astounding victory/defeat of the Red Sox. Patrick OUT!

Whats in Store

So, over the past few days, I have finally recieved a qualifier topic. I don't want to talk a whole lot about it here but its pretty cool and in another incarnation could lead to a grant for the research to actually be done. For those who are not familiar, part of getting a PhD in this country is the passage of a qualifying exam. This is typically a written document of some sort, in my case a proposal for original research, that one must defend in front of a large public audience and then in a smaller closed door exam. It is the first major milestone on the road to completing a degree and entitles one to be called a "PhD candidate". Thus, after Oct. can all refer to me as such or maybe just "The Candidate." Whatever you feel would be best. Anyways, its also marking the beggining of a fairly stressful part of the process because in the event one doesn't pass their qualifier they are invited back to try once more and if that does not satisfy then they are asked to leave the program (essentially empty handed). I'm not particularly worried about that whole prospect but I do want to make sure I get it right the first time around. I know I promised a movie review and so here it is. Last saturday and part of Sunday, I watched "The Last King of Scotland." It the story of a doctor in Uganda and a brutally honest biopic of Idi Amin. Forest Whitaker is downright scary in his portrayal of Amin and the rest of the cast does almost as well. The movie slowly moves from hinting at Amin's brutality to an eventual visualize climax resulting from one of the more graphic and violent scenes I have ever encountered. The movie is totally worth a watch but it is far from mindless and should be given its own time for viewing. It will not leave you happy or optimistic on the human condition but will be eye opening to the effects of power in the hands of those not fit to weild it. That is all. Patrick OUT!!!

Are you ready?

Well, the rest of last week was fairly uneventful. Hung out with Elsa and Marie on Friday night after going to Jillians with the guys from the lab. Jillians was kind of a strange place...half sports bar and half Chuck E Cheese. If nothing else, the clientele was in the same age range as us. This could not be said for the Northworks grille around the corner that is clearly aiming for a more "seasoned" customer. I'm not sure I would go back to jillians again but the beer was OK and they have huge TVs tuned to nothing but sports so I could probably get used to that. Saturday morning, Elsa Marie and I went to IHOP for some pancakes and eggs. I got corn cake pancakes again that were as heavenly as ever. After that I went home and helped my dad hook up some of the stereo set-up for the new media room. It necessitated us taking a trip to the mall. This was something of a frightening experience at first. What had always been the natick mall is now the *ahem* Natick Collection. The architecture inside is really amazing to look at. Very open and full of light with some faux folliage thrown in for good measure. With a Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, and an Apple is a shrine to conspicous consumption like you have never seen. We really only had to go to Sears and radio shack so we didn't exactly look our Sunday best but the nice thing was that we didn't look out of place. One might think with such high-brow drastically overpriced retailers you would see more ritzy clientelle. Alas not, the same crop of slovenly american shoppers persists even amongst the $300 hoodies. The highlight was the older gentleman in the white bermuda shorts, white undershirt, and black socks to his that point, in comparison, I could have been Cary Grant on the red carpet. Sunday, of course, was filled with FOOTBALL. Patriots played at 1 and they demolished the Jets. My fantasy team also did well, amassing the most points of any team in the league. That being said, Sunday was the most unproductive day I've had in quite some was great. More to come on those fronts and a movie review for tomorrow. Patrick OUT!

At Last

So its been a while since I updated which is I guess somewhat indicative of my lack of time to do such things. This past weekend was pretty good. My parents and sister went to a soccer tournament in Agawam and I saw Elsa for quite a bit. We did a few things around the house and eventually found ourselves in a hobby shop. We bought a model plane to build that was a "level 2" Box said it was for ages 12+ which should be about right for the two of us. With all the painting and cutting a glueing it ended up easily taking 8 hours to complete spread out over two days. We also went to Wild Willies in Watertown to get some truly delectable burgers and hand cut fries. If you haven't been there, I would highly recommend it. There is one just off the pike in watertown and then another in York, Maine. Both are quite good and worth the drive from wherever you are. On Monday, we got up early (like 5:30 am early) and drove out to Agawam to see my sisters first playoff game. They didn't win but put up a good fight none-the-less. After that, Elsa and I drove back to worcester so i could get some work done and she could try and tackle her thesis writing. I did a few experiments and we were on our way. We stopped by Uncle Cheungs in Framingham for a quick Chinese lunch before returning home for the night. The food was good but much more noteworthy was the first time that I found myself eavesdropping on a chinese conversation. I have picked up enough mandarin at this point to almost figure out what people are talking about. Elsa taught me a few new phrases that I, of course, can't remember now and made the waiter laugh at us a bit. Yesterday ws Marie's birthday so some of the old crew went out to dinner and had a marvelous time. We went to the Naked Fish and I had what amounted to steak au poivre but with tuna in stead of beef. It was fairly good but a bit overdone. I like my tune closer to sushi than canned white chunk. After dinner the table began to reminisce a bit about the old college days which was nice but also a little melancholy at times. Most of the conversation revolved around the general debauchery of 18 Sunrise Ave. For those that are familiar I will give the highlights of times remembered
Thadeus is living in the basement?
Jen tricks us into thinking she went to bed
Artie slides down the stairs one at a time and punches the wall
Sarah you can not sleep here
The porch collapses
Kimmy and the bathroom???
Hiding Greg's Vodka
Utah Stephanie and Seagrams 7
Kimmy cries over her scrapbook...twice
Sarah...its for you (sarah answers the phone).
DP Dough drinks a gargleblaster
Puke on the flowers
Jillian and the basement

and finally...Marie: " Remember when you had huge parties 5 weekends in a row?"

Amazingly, I do and happily I think a lot of others do too. Patrick OUT!

Miss America Strikes Again

I just couldn't resist. I almost feel dumber for having listened to this but don't let that disuade you from listening yourself. The ramblings of an idiot like you have never heard. Also, it looks like "Slater" (don't know his real name) can hardly keep from laughing at her answer.


Plan your trip now folks. Goobertown is the hot new tourist destination.

Busy Weekend

Well this weekend has been fairly eventful. On Friday, Elsa and I went to tanglewood to see James Taylor. The concert was excellent, he is both a very talented musician and a genuine and funny guy. We brought a picnic dinner to have on the lawn there and a cheap bottle of champaigne (I wouldn't have it any other way). The concert lasted a good 2 and a half hours and then we had to drive back to framingham. We didn't leave the conert until around 10:45 and then sat in the parking lot waiting to move for about an hour before then driving 2 plus hours to get home a few mintues before 2:00 am. Next day we got up and picked up Marie, a friend of mine and also one of Elsa's new roommates and drove out to see our friend Brian who has not been feeling well as of late. Brian actually lives fairly close to tanglewood but poor planning on my part had us doing the back and forth twice. We got on the road at about 11 to head back out to western mass and hit traffic in a bunch of different spots. It was really good to see Marie again and hear about her road trip that sounded awesome. I was jealous but I think she was probably jealous too because she didn't get to spend time stuck in Allentown with a busted water pump. Got to Brians at around 2:00 and quickly left again to get some lunch at a local farm stand/general store/ deli. Had a turkey pastrami reuben with bacon on it and toasted rye bread...fantastic. Normally I prefer a Rachel to a Reuben (both in sandwichs and in life), but this was pretty good and I'm willing to give Reubens another shot. Came back and ate in the blistering heat of the day and eventually retreated to Brian's fairly new home theater to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (or almost the last crusade as it turns out). Brian and I made dinner for the family that night which ended up being 10 people with all of us there. Dinner was just about ready when the power went out on account of a thunderstorm bearing down on another region of the berkshires and some tornado activity. We ate by candlelight and it was actually quite pleasant. Eventually left at around 10:00 and got back to Elsa's at just about midnight. This morning we got up and went to IHOP and I was able to indulge once again in corn pancakes which were as heavenly as always. I really need to figure out a recipe for those so I can make them at home every weekend. Now I must be getting back to work so i don't fall too far behind. Patrick OUT!


Things have been a little slower recently which is great because that doesn't cost me any more money. Not really much of note except that yesterday marked four years for Elsa and I. Pretty amazing when you stop to think about it. Well, i suppose it might not be amazing for you but it certainly is for me. Its gotten to a point where so much (well 1/6th to be precise) of my life has been spent close to her that I feel like I must have always known her. I'm not going to say I don't remember what it was like before her because I do...but I like it better now. Anyways, I'm going to can the mushy stuff for now and let people know about something almost as exciting. Since being back I watched a few episodes of America's got Talent. The show was hosted by Jerry Springer, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne, and some other Brit. With hosts like that makes you think that maybe the show should have been called...America never had talent. The show is entertaining despite the three of them. Well actually it was entertaining because of one individual that always brought a smile to my face. You will ifnd a YouTube video below. Terry Fator, is a ventriloquist which would normally have me rolling my eyes but this guy is GOOD. I mean REALLY good. In the clip below he sings Unforgettable as a duet between himself and himself/his puppet. I am a big fan of the version that came out some time ago of Nat King Cole (posthumously) and his daughter Natalie Cole doing this song. If you haven't heard that version I posted that clip as well. Patrick OUT!!

Wooba Gobba with the Green Teeth

Picked up my car yesterday evening and avoided having a meltdown with the people there. Paid my bill and left is running fine. Weather has been a little cooler recently which has been nice but I was really expecting summer to continue for a little longer. If that wasn't enought to snap me out of the summer relaxation mode, I had my weekly meeting with Pam and Kris yesterday. Usuaully these are fairly uneventful. This one went as they usually do until the end when Pam decided she had some things she wanted to talk about. Not the least of which was my PhD qualifier *gulp*. She wants to do it in December which is mostly fine until she mentioned that she wants to write a review article for Current Medicinal Chemistry. By "she wants to write" I really mean, "she wants me to write" an article. Normally I would be OK with such a thing because I could use a couple of papers with my name as first author but they want that submitted at around the same time as my qualifier would be happening. I guess I can kiss any sort of extracurriculars for those few months, goodbye. In addition, the GC here is still non-functional and just gathering dust in a different building. They keep telling me to be patient but it is fustrating because with a few supplies I could probably get it up and running in just a few days and then be on my way. Of course, that would make far too much sense to be feasible. All this boils down to, I've got lots of experiments I would like to do but can't and lots of other work that I would rather not do...staring down at me. My solution...waste time by writing a blog entry. I should work for the government. Patrick OUT!

Yes Sir, May I Have Another

So the car drama is never ending. After being told Friday afternoon that the car was not going to be ready on time (i.e. Friday), I was totally prepared to pick it up this morning as promised. "Mark" said all he had to do was finish a few things and take it for a test drive in the morning to make sure everything was ok. My father gave me a ride to the dealership this morning before heading off to a meeting and eventually to San Diego. This, of course, meant that after he left I was stuck at the dealership with only my car as transportation. I eventually talked to some guy in the service department who informed me that it was going to be another 4 hours before my car was actually done. After almost losing my cool and unleashing my most belittling and sarcastic alter ego...I decided to just give him a look of disappointment. I figure that always worked when my parents did it when I was a kid. He didn't seem as affected by it as I remember being. I told him I had to go to work. He asked where so I told him worcester ( a little outside their usual complimentary van service route). Eventually they did give me a ride and I made it to work before 10 but still without my car. I am a little disappointed in the service I have recieved there in general and I am considering filling a complaint with the BBB of Boston about the whole thing. The real test will be this afternoon when I finally pay for the whole thing. If it is even a little over estimate I'm going to have a real problem with these folks and they are not going to like it. Which reminds me of the time I was a "Code Blue" at the Cingular store. Long story short, I lost my phone and was trying to get a new one without paying the $170 list price for a new phone. I talked to some guy at the store who said I could buy another phone wherever as long as it met a short list of criteria. Eventually I bought a phone off of eBay for $50 that was "unlocked" and met the criteria. I went back to the store and he told me I couldn't use it because of something that he had not originally mentioned. I then caught him in a lie about how cell phones work. Well, it might not have been a lie...he might have just been stupid. Either way, I had done my research about the whole thing and knew what he was saying was BS. We had a louder than usual verbal exchange, where he called to a manager and described me as a code blue and I eventually got my complaint handled by the New England region manager for Cingular who gave me the money back i paid for the phone off of eBay and then gave me a new phone that would work. To sum things up, I was such a pain in the ass that I was able to lose my phone (totally my fault) and have cingular replace it for free with a newer better phone and I didn't pay a cent for it. If this repair thing doesn't go easy today...I'm gonna be a code red this time. I figure one should always have goals in mind. Patrick OUT!

Shit Creek

"I'm very lucky. The only time I was ever up shit creek, I just happened to have a paddle with me."
-George Carlin

This kind of sums up my situation at the moment. I got word about my car repairs yesterday. Seems that my cylinder heads were not cracked but they were a little warped from the overheating. This means the repairs should be around 2000 instead of 2800 which was also a possibility. I guess I can count myself lucky there. I have also worked out a means of paying that and my recently received bill for summer housing without going totally broke in the process. Also, Dan and I are going to this afternoons red sox game which is doubly good because Josh Beckett is pitching and I'm ditching work to go do it. Yesterday was Kate's birthday which was fun, the family plus some of her friends went out to the local japanese hibachi grill and stuffed our faces beyond what should be legal. I've always said that if I ever won the lottery I might have one of those big cooking tables installed some place in my home. I think it would be the perfect mix of entertaining and cooking. It seems to me that everyone always gathers in the kitchen in the first why not make that the point of it all by cooking in front of people. Plus...the ability to do the onion volcano thing whenever I want has a certain je ne sais pas that really makes it appealing. Maybe to start I will just go buy myself a tall chefs hat, a knife holster...then i can fling shrimp at all my friends. I've been working on my japanese jokes and almost unintelligable accent to complete the ensemble. I was also thinking what if I did an Irish-American cooking table to pay tribute to my heritage. Everyone could gather round and watch potatos boil and I could slice corned beef brisket and slop on some cabbage. Smells like success...and old socks. Instead of the little jar of soy sauce, I could replace it with whiskey because when you are eating corned beef and probably need it. Make your reservations early...this is gonna be BIG. Patrick OUT!

Car Trouble Yet Again

Well, I brought my car to the mechanics yesterday and it was not good. Come to find out that my leaking coolant and the rough start are in fact related. Apparently my breakdown was either caused by or the result of a busted head gasket. Because SAAB likes to have a light engine block for better performance, they make them out of aluminum alloys instead of cast iron as might be seen on some beefier automobiles. This leads to some risk of heat stress in the event that something like a water pump breaks. Thus, I have to send out and possibly replace my cylinder heads because they might also be cracked. These things, one or both have lead to coolant leaking into my cylinders which leads to rusting and eventually hydrolock (damn that incompressible liquid stuff). Long story short, the mechanics need $2000 to fix this stuff and perhaps more if the cylinder heads are in deed cracked and need to be replaced. They are out to be pressure tested at the moment which also leaves me without a car for some time. Luckily, other means of transportation have made themselves available for the time being and I had a little bit of money saved away from the summer and before that will cover the cost of the repairs. Even so, it looks like I will be living a fairly frugal lifestyle for the coming months so that I might recoop my losses of the past few weeks. Trying to keep upbeat about the whole thing, i still have a job and a place to live and i'm not flat broke so I suppose in the end I can't really complain about my particular situation. Whats that old saying, "When life gives you a honda instead?" Patrick OUT!!!

Its that time of year again

Yes folks, its that time again. The time of year when with each passing week I get more and more excited and my sundays are full again. The time of year when on Sundays i can expect to open up a cold beer and do so little in terms of actual productivity that even Jabba the Hut would tell me to get off my lazy ass. Yes, football season has officially begun...sort of. Actually its just the pre-season but that is certainly enough to get my heart going and the butterflies in my stomach. I feel like that scene in Jerry Maguire where Jerry finally confesses his love for whats her name..."Bill Belichick, you complete me." Sometimes people give me that "any given sunday" crap but to them i're right, any given Sunday some loser team is going to bow to the majesty of the revitalized patriots offense. Not to mention the patriots defense that will still run over most offenses and thats despite having a former retiree with a broken arm and a stroke victim. If they weren't making running backs all over the NFL miserable week after week you would think we got them out of an old folks home. Furthermore, we might have bad boy randy moss on the team this year but I think we have been pretty fortunate ot not have many criminals on the team save Tedy Bruschi who has been stealing reads off opposing quarterbacks for the last 12 years. Add donte stallworth and kelley washington to the mix and all of a sudden Brady is going to be launching a "shock and awe" campaign through the air like you have never seen. Needless to say, I'm a little excited about the upcoming season. I know some of you are saying...Patrick, they lost their first preseason game. Well I know that, but they also weren't playing any of the aforementioned superstars to their full potential or in some cases at all. Its all coming together for another great season. On a similar note, the red sox still maintain the best record in all of baseball (despite some mediocre play recently) and even the celtics look like a championship cotender again. A golden age for boston sports may be upon us and to the gorillas of the gridiron, the devils of the diamond, and the kings of the court I say "show me the money!" Patrick OUT

A cut above the rest

This week has been mighty slow, every day I see a few old faces I haven't seen yet since being back. Most people seem surprised when i tell them I enjoyed my time in Arkansas and give me a look like..."you wouldn't move down there would you?" Well, I probably wouldn't move down there but its certainly nice for a visit. I guess I'm just too much of a yankee at heart to ever live quite so far below the mason dixon line. The lab has been rather quiet and I haven't been able to do a whole lot but that should change rather shortly and I think things will pick up. Since my schedule is a little bit relaxed this week, I got a haircut this morning. Actually, I got them all cut. I have been going to this one woman to get my hair cut practically since I was born. Sometimes she really amazes me. I will mention something while sitting in her chair and 1-2 months later she can recall it like I told it to her yesterday. She must take notes or something and then study up the night before I come in or something like that. With a memory like that the woman really should have been a detective or something like that. Beyond that I haven't really done a whole lot since being back. I did get to finally see Elsa's new apartment in watertown. Its a pretty nice place with a fair amount of potential save for the hideous wall paper and funny chandeliers. Other than that, not too shabby. I have to bring my car in next week to get a coolant leak fixed. I'm brining it to a dealership and I'm fairly certain they have loaner cars. Normally this wouldn't excite me all that much but the other half of the dealership sells hummers. A little part of me wants to roll around in one of those bad boys for a day or so. I think above all cars, a hummer symbolizes my personality the best. that is totally not the case at all, i'm probably more of a toyota camry kinda guy but I can dream. I'm not even sure what I would do with a hummer, maybe I could off-road it to work then park across 5 spaces in the garage because having a car like that makes you more important than most and thus worthy of taking up more spaces, obviously. Anyways, i'll update you on the loaner car sooner or later. Patrick OUT!

New Age Hippie Bullshit

Kind of an addendum here to my previous post for something that really deserved its own space. Part of the trip from this past weekend involved hiking down Mt. Ellen in Vermont to the Sugarbush resort. At the bottom we discovered that there were quite a number of people, strange for a ski resort in the summer. Upon minimal investigation we discovered that the American society of dowsers was meeting there. For those not in touch with their spiritual side, dowsing is an "ancient" science (their words here not mine) that purports to be able to find just about anything (though water is the most common) underground or in general by using a simple set of tools called dowsing rods or a dowsing pendulum. The idea is that these people (the dowsers) get in touch with the spiritual life force of the living earth and are able to chanel the energy into the movement of dowsing rods that will let them detect the presence of a variety of things. We met a dowser who explained the basics and claimed to be able to find water in 90-95% of the attempts he has made in over 40 years of doing it. He also claimed that he could find other things like power lines, and other underground objects. Another dowser went further to say that dowsing could answer any yes or no question and furthermore in the right hands could answer multiple choice questions. He related a story of a young woman taking a notaries exam who had not studied but was able to complete the exam using a dowsing technique and scored the only perfect score on the exam. Apparently, the earth is very in tune with the requirement of being a notary public. We also ventured into a bookstore and looked around at some of the items for sale to conventioners. Among them, photographs of one's aura, dowsing rods, digeridoos, crystal skulls, ouija boards, tribal drums etc. Needless to say, I was starting to go crazy with the amount of hippie bullshit approaching from all sides. What worse is that some of the people I was with were being convinced that this shit was real. I had to keep quiet for a while so we wouldn't get into a major fight but by the time we left I just about exploded with fustration at the whole thing. Sometimes I wonder how in this day and age where we have all the advantages of a modern scientific society that some people can be convinced of something that should have died out in the dark ages. I mean seriously, who in their right mind looks at a pair of sticks and truly believes that mother earth will lead them to water or to the correct answers on the notary exam. After leaving I wondered if when you have a dowsers convention wouldn't it be better to just tell people the date of the convention but not the location and have them find it on their own by connecting with the higher powers. I bet if they did that, next years attendance would be a little lower. I wondered why they don't just dowse for winning lottery tickets or for oil all the time...doesn't look like these people are all rolling in dough at this point. I think after that I've worn out my sarcastic skeptical side for quite a while...ok maybe quite a short while. Patrick OUT!

Home and Away

Finalyl competed my drive back up north this past thursday. Was able to pick up my car in the early afternoon, more than 5 hours ahead of schedule and $250 under their estimate for the repair costs. Even though it was still a sizeable bill, I was totally psyched to have it done with and be on my way out of allentown. Drive took about 5.5 hours to get back as I was caught in some major afternoon traffic in NY city. Stopped by worcester on the way to drop off my samples and say my goodbyes to Elif. For those of you who don't know Elif, she is a post-doc in the lab I work in and has been there much longer than me. She is a great scientist and a great friend and she will be sorely missed as she goes off to bigger things on the west coast (i'm a bit jealous of her san diego locale). Got home about 6:30 and had dinner with my mother and then elsa came over for a bit. Next morning got up real early to head up to vermont to go camping. Had a generally good time and got a little bit of a workout backpacking. Ended up hiking on some ski trails which was brutal because there was no shade and they tend to go straight up. I felt like death for a good portion of the trip, but I suppose that just makes it memorable because in the end...I didn't die. On the way back from vermont, stopped by a BJ's store and got a case of long trail ale for $20!!! I wish our BJ's sold beer...guess I will just have to drive up to new hampshire. Also saw Gregg's ski house in vermont and he offered to rent it to me a weekend if I wanted. This place is great, it sleeps 12 people has a huge kitched, a deck, BBQ, a hot tub, a fantastic view, stereo system, etc etc. Even has a refrigerated keg hook-up with CO2 and the works (only for ski season though). I think I might be taking him up on his offer at some point. Should be going out to dinner this evening courtesy of a gift certificate from last x-mas that has been lying around. Always feels good to find a gift like that to have x-mas in july (or august in this case). After that it is back to the daily grind for my first full day back in worcester. Patrick OUT!

Thats Doctor Wikipatrick to You I am relaxing...though not at home. my car broke down in allentown PA. luckily there was a SAAB dealership close by so I was able to get a tow there. the bad news is that they had to order the parts to fix it which means I had to get a hotel room here in allentown for the night. things have been boring to say the least save one experience. I had to go find dinner and the only restaurant within easy walking distance of my hotel was a bennigans. I walked down there and sat at the bar between a guy on my left and a couple on my right. I order a huge (22 oz.) beer and a bacon cheeseburger figuring that was a safe and exquisite combination that would cheer me up. Normally I wouldn't talk to people at the bennigans bar like this but the guy next to me asked if I was from arizona. I gave him a confused look and said no...he apparently thought my A State T-shirt was actually arizona state (easily confused I suppose). I explained that it was arkansas and he asked if I was a student. Rather than explain to him that I was kind of a student and kind of not and all this shit I said that I worked there at the bioscience center. He asked if I was a doctor and I thought for just long enough to lie and say, "Yup brand new". He then proceeded to question me on my speciality and I think he thought I was a medical doctor which was even more surprising than him believing that I was a PhD. I was sitting at a bennigan's bar with a huge beer wearing ripped cargo shorts and college T-shirt. Nobody in their right mind would ever trust a family members health to me...except maybe this gullible bastard. I decided to come clean (sort of) and told him that I studied the practical application of phytochemicals (which I think he assumed was some sort of drug, but actually just means plant chemicals). We talked a bit more about other things and I eventually left after seeing on the TV that the celtics landed Kevin Garnett (for 7 players but thats besides the point I guess). Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett...the next big three??? Since then I've been in my ill appointed hotel room watching old TV and surfing you tube from link to link. See if you can follow my linking starting with me watching who's the boss on TV
1. Who's the boss
2. Alyssa Milano
3. Poison Ivy II
4. Poison Ivy I
5. Drew Barrymore
6. John Barrymore
7. Hamlet
8. Shakespeare
9. Anne Hathaway (shakespeare's wife)
10. Anne Hathaway (Actress)
11. Audrey Hepburn
12. Breakfast at Tiffany's
13. Truman Capote
14. Harper Lee
15. Banned Books
16. Catcher in the Rye
17. Mark David Chapman
18. John Lennon
19. The Beatles
20. British Invasion

And you thought that a 1980s show about an italian american housekeeper had no connection to the british invasion of 1960s. Wanna play trivial pursuit? Patrick OUT!

Long Drive

Drove for a little more than 12 hours today. Left Jonesboro at about 6:45 CST and got to Staunton VA at around 9:30 EST. Went about 800 miles which leaves me with only 540 for tomorrows drive. I'm hoping it will only take about 9 hours in total. The drive was boring and I didn't stop any place special but I did pass the worlds largest fireworks store (or so they claim). It seemed pretty big to me, like the size of a large supermarket. People were going in and coming out with shopping carts full of boxes. I was surprised to see that many people buying fireworks on a Tuesday afternoon not that close to a holiday. I guess people from Tennessee just like to blow shit up. A couple little stories from yesterday. Cleaned up the apartment, my roomates decided to leave quite the mess for me to take care of. I ended up filling one large industrial garbage can with trash and another totally full of bottles and cans. Got everything inspected and checked out. Loaded up the car with all of the stuff from the lab including a package that I needed to take back with me. The last package didn't arrive until 4:50 pm which made me really nervous that I was going to have to wait a another day before I could leave. We drove to goobertown and finally got pictures of that sign...those should be posted soon. For the first time since coming down south other than in reference to myself, I was called a yankee. It was one of my prouder moments and really added some finality to my trip. Went back to amanda's house and watched a bit of a movie before finally saying my good byes to that whole crew and heading over the Pam's for the night. Went straight to bed and got up at 5:30 this morning to get ready to go. Took care of a few last minute things and had breakfast with Pam before hitting the road. The drive gave me a lot of time to reflect on the last few months and what I've learned from it all. I would hesitate to call it life changing just yet but it might be. More about all of that later. Patrick OUT!


Playing Tri-bond with Jaime, Amanda, and Ashley. Game consists of finding a commonality between three seemingly unrelated words. Ashley gets the following "Dick, Tarzan, and Ted Turner." Her response, "Dick? Dick? What Dick? I dunno, things you cover with a loin cloth?" No, the answer was that they all have "Janes." Other than this rousing game, I started packing today and got most of my clothes together. Also went to pam's house for the party that was a bit of a let down. Not too many people showed up but I guess that was our fault for not inviting more people. Anyways, after all that I came back and finally vacuumed the apartment for the first time since we moved in. Dan and Adam leave tomorrow so it will be just me for at least a day. Its been a little depressing that this is all coming to an end so soon but I guess I will just have to get over it. I'm sure that I'll be more upbeat when i get back to massachusetts and into my groove there again. I am a little depressed at having to try to be an adult again for the rest of the year but I guess it was going to come back sooner or later. Patrick OUT!

Cat Predicts Death

Just red from the breitbart wire service about a cat that can predict the death of nursing home patients. Apparently what happens is that the cat sits next to some patient and then they die within about 4 hours of that event. Workers at the nursing home claim that the cat (Oscar) has predicted the death of 25 patients and "doesn't make many mistakes." They even gave the cat its own plaque in recognition of "compassionate hospice care." This all seems a little fishy to me. I mean if I saw a cat that approached people and then they died 4 hours later on 25 different occasions, my first reaction would be get that cat the hell out of my nursing home...its killing people. This cat is a menace to society, slowly killing the elderly. Oscar should be locked up in a little pussy penitentiary for small furry offenders. Observe the mug shot below.

Patrick OUT!

Oh Arkansas

Nuf said...
Patrick OUT

Deja vu

Last night, we all went to Amanda's place for games night and so the girls could make themselves sugar laden cocktails. Played a few different games, thankfully no Apples to Apples(A2A). Now A2A is a great game and all but it seemed like every time we had a dull moment down here someone wanted to play it. I could never escape its presence, always in someones trunk and ready for that moment when it could pounce down. We even went over to someones place who we usually don't hang out with and what are they doing when we arrive? Playing A2A of course. If you've never played I encourage you to go explore the game because it is fairly good in small doses and definately one of the more unique games you will play. Also, have a few drinks first...the games get really good when people have been lubricated. Anyways, we finally broke free of the A2A strangle hold last night and played Catch Phrase. I was a bit nostalgic because we used to always play catch phrase in Elsa's dorm room when i was in school. After a few rousing rounds of that we decided it was time to take a road trip so we all piled into another guys jeep and went to the town of Weiner Arkansas. Yes...Weiner. The funny thing is, thats not even close to the funniest name out there. There is Toad Suck AR, Greasy Corner AR, Goobertown AR, and lots more. Not entirely sure why they feel it necessary to give their towns crazy names but its worth a picture. Goobertown is on tap pretty soon as a picture destination, so stay tuned. I will post the Weiner pictures (starting to sound like I'm going with smut from now on) as soon as I get them. Also, I'm starting to plan my trip back up north which is both exciting and a little sadening. Its looking like I might have a layover in Sandusky OH (Ashley: "Wheres that??? Oh wait, I know...thats where Tommy Boy took place") which is where Cedar Point Amusement park is which is supposed to have the best roller coasters in the US. It all depends on if I can convince some people here to take the leap and drive that far just to turn around. For me, its essentially on the way...for them...not so much. I'm thinking now that I should go and try and do some work. Patrick OUT!


So I haven't been feeling well lately, I think I must have caught something on one of the many plane rides of the past week. Normally, I would suffer and try and not take medicines but I gave in and bought some robitussin yesterday. I guess it helps a little bit but I can't really say for sure, I might just be feeling better naturally. Its kind of hard to say really. I also decided, against perhaps better judgement, that playing volleyball yesterday was a good idea as was going to Audrei's and having a few beers. I ended up feeling alright and got a good nights sleep and made it to work bright and early. I'm still not feeling 100% though. Things are just starting to wind down here. I don't have many experiments left to finish or that I could possibly start and finish in the time I have left. I think my days will become a bit shorter. We are planning some sort of a going away party for the weekend which should be cool because this town is going to go way down hill as soon as all of us massholes leave. I don't know what they are going to do without us. In all seriousness, I've done some reflection these past few days on being here and people have asked if it was what I expected or not and if I had a good time or not and all that sort of stuff. Jonesboro was not at all what I expected (thankfully) and I have had a really great time. I don't want to get all mushy here but I've met some really excellent people that I would have probably never hung out with otherwise and had some really great experiences. The first few weeks were a bit tought but after that things took a good turn real fast. In that line, I've made a list of things I have gained or learned from being down here in jonesboro
1. A slight southern accent that rears its head after 3 beers.
2. A taste for nuances of Miller High Life, the champagne of beers (thoughI think I'll stick to Sammy A back in Massachusetts)
3. An understanding of the usage of the phrases "y'all" and "all y'all" (only one of them is actually plural)
4. The ability to use the phrase "fixin to" without people laughing at me
5. Knowledge that catfish is really not fit for human consumption
6. If you need a ride in memphis on a saturday night...look for lesbians (yea, long story)
7. I suck at soccer
8. People who aren't american are pretty good at soccer
9. Catfish noodlin/grabblin/wrangling is the most redneck thing any person could possibly do (look it up on wikipedia if interested)
10. Lastly, livin down south can really start to grow on a person

Patrick OUT!

Wax On Wax Off

Been a while since my last post. Got back from the conference all right though I had a sore throat. I ended up brining a post-doc back with me from Tilton to Framingham to stay the night, so we could both get early flights out (me to Arkansas and him to japan). We will call him, Dr. Miyagi and I will hence forth be known as Patrick San. Anyways, Dr. Miyagi was very talkative the whole way home. He discovered very quickly that we have similar tastes in music. He informed me that his favorite was the beatles and asked if I like them. I said I did and that my favorite album was "Revolver." He then proceeded to give his broken english renditions of the following beatles hits. Ereanor Rigby, Tax Man, Brackbird, and Sgt. Peppers Ronery Hearts Crub Band. I was trying to show enthusiam at his singing but I was secretly angry that there was the possibility that next time I hear the original they might be tainted by his version. This guys singing ability makes William Hung look like Luciano Pavoratti. I tried to change the subject until Layla came on the radio and I mentioned ( couldn't help myself here) that it was my favorite eric clapton song (it isn't even really my favorite...but its close). He then began again with a stirring rendition of Rayra. Dr. Miyagi was in all honesty, very nice and a good guy. He invited me to Japan like it was around the corner and said I should be sure to come soon. Maybe someday. Ended up getting not too much sleep and getting up early to catch the bus into logan. Flight was uneventful but we had major delays in Atlanta where we were held on the ground for an hour. They said it was a weather situation that they were trying to get around. This seems totally strange to me. I mean planes fly in the rain...right? If there was an hour delay every time it started to drizzle no one would get anywhere. We ended up taking off in the rain and then flying above do they come up with these genius solutions. Got to Memphis an hour late and had to wait another 45 minutes for our gate to open up. Dan kindly picked me up at the airport but I guess he didn't check the flight status because he was waiting there for quite some time. Made it back to Jonesboro and quickly stopped by the lab before collapsing in the apartment. My rest was short lived because we went out that night. Does it ever stop? Weekend was kind of slow, hung out a few night and didn't do much which was good. Went to IHop...I didn't get corn pancakes this time...just a dish of ice cream. The waitress came and I said I wanted a bowl of ice cream she said, "How many scoops?" Now on the menu it just says ice cream $1.49 nothing about a price per scoop there. I said I wanted 2.5 scoops and she gave me a funny look. She never specified that it had to be an was 1:30 in the morning and she probably thought I was reality I was totally sober which made me in the minority for IHop at that point. On the bill I got charged the 1.49 I expected with no mention of how many scoops. I wonder how many I can get before I get charged more. This will have to be an experiment. Next time I'm going to order 5 scoops, then 10, then I'll move from scoops to quarts. Maybe I can get 2 quarts of ice cream for 1.49 and then get it to go, sell it for a profit. Make IHOP pay for their lack of menu precision MuHAHAHAHA. Patrick OUT!

Soup Nazi

After having spent more than a couple of days at this tilton school I have come to appreciate it a little bit more. All in all, its a pretty nice place...rooms are comfortable, facilities are great, meals on the other hand are a bit trying. The food actually isn't half bad but the wait staff is crazy. First off, when you arrive at the dinning hall (this is a high school remember) you stand in line to get your food. The woman behind the steam tray has not just one lazy eye but two lazy eyes which means that she is looking at you but never actually looking at you. They also seem to rotate their direction day to day, I think they might actually tell the time. Left eye is the hour hand and right is the minutes. If I could just get her to hold a big numbered circle around her head then i could test my theory. Anyways, after you get your food you can sit down at one of the many tables. At this point you find your utensils and a glass for a drink and a mug for coffee. The problem arises in that these place settings never correspond with a seat in any intelligible manner. Normally this kind of thing wouldn't phase me but with 150 people all sitting down to eat at once you need to rush to an empty table to establish your region of cutlery dominance and claim a coffee mug as your own. I feel like an epicurean conquistador every morning trying to stake out my territory. Once you have your necessary tools, you can obviously start eating but you would be foolish to stop eating at any point. Young wait staff (bus boys) hover around the dinning room like vultures waiting for the unsuspecting to put down their utensils so they can swoop in and take a half eaten plate of food away. God forbid you go up to get a drink the would probably take your food, put your chair up on the table and start turning the lights off. I'm not exaggerating here, one of them literally took a plate of food (well she tried to) from in front of me while I had a fork full of said food in my mouth. Apparently I was not eating efficiently enough for her liking and she was going to revoke my dinning privileges. If there is one thing that I do appreciate is that no one comes around to ask how the food is. It seems that every restaurant waiter in america wants to make sure my food is ok as if their entire self worth depended on my appraisal of someone else's cooking. I would like to institute a new system. They can bring the food out that I ordered. I will eat it and if its fine then they can bring a check and I will pay it without any further interaction than is absolutely necessary. If the food sucks, I will tell them and we can sort it out. Otherwise, leave me alone...and be a in, wait until I ask for something. Well that feels to dinner. Patrick OUT!

Cast of Characters

Well, I've had a few days at the conference at this point. Yesterday we all went on a boat cruise on squam lake to see loons (the birds, not the local residents). Got back and played ping pong with a guy from China who beat me twice in a row. I told him I would play better later that night after a couple of beers. He thought I was kidding but later that night after the requisite two beers I soundly defeated him three times in a row. I'm not sure why that always works out that way but I think it relaxes me and gives me a little bit gentler touch. Anyways, we also saw a really amazing seminar by a young professor who was at Cal Tech on molecular sensors. While it really was an impressive talk I'm going to hold off on the details for now so that the non-science readers don't groan. In addition, she was probably the hottest professor at the conference (thats not saying a whole lot in reality). I've met a lot of people here from all over the place and so I'm going to give a little synopsis of the people I've met that have intrigued me in some way. I'm going to change names to protect the innocent (and also myself) from google all know you've done it at least once.
Gerard Depardieu (M/26) - PhD student from France who acts like he has never heard of America. Wal-Mart was totally foreign to him (I thought all the french hated they hate personal hygeine). A fairly nice guy who wants to leave france after his degree and get a job in industry. Does research on mycorhizal fungi hyphal branching that may have some application to the research back in worcester...still trying to convince pam.
Sam Adams (M / ~40) - Older guy who works in manipulating Hops for brewers. Pretty funny to talk to but I think he's a stoner because the first thing he mentioned in his talks was that hops are related to cannabis and that the compounds he looks at are similar to THC (the active component in marijuana). Said he likes to drink Pilsner Urquell because it tastes stale but won't drink budweiser, i'm not sure I get that line of reasoning.
Eddy Haskel (M/27) - Met this guy at a previous conference and got to know him fairly well and he knows pam. Named him Eddy Haskel because he is exactly like that character from leave it to beaver. Always trying to instrigate insurrection amongst the graduate students and beat the system but puts up a good face for the higher ups. Example: Conference wants us to pay $30 for sticker for an open bar all week. Eddy suggests that just one person buy the sticker and get drinks for everyone else. We all bought stickers...maybe next time Ed.
Edna Haskel (F/26) - PhD student who is eddy's female counterpart. She greated her PI (boss) with a big hug and kind words and then proceeded to rip her a new asshole behind her back later in the evening when she had gone to bed. I'm not going to say her boss didn't deserve it but I was pretty taken aback.
Dieter VonSchnell (M/52) - Professor helping to run things around here as of late. Stereotypical german male, very controlling, direct, harsh, and unyielding. I like him.
Adriana Lima(F/27) - Brazilian who talks incessantly about virtually nothing. Not a biologist by training but thinks its quaint that we study all of the things we do. A chemical engineer who can't really see much farther than a reaction diagram. Totally lacks perspective of the big picture and always has a comment about everything. Asks questions at each session attempting to impress but really just exposing her lack of true insight. I don't care to see her much more.

Thats all for now. Probably a few more to come after the conference is over. Patrick OUT!

Long One

7/12/07 Just landed in Hot-lanta on my way to Boston. I have an hour and a half lay-over here. Found a Moe's burrito place and got one of those. It was pretty good but not as good as Bueno y Sano in Amherst. The flight was fairly uneventful though my seat was waaaayyyyy in the back of the plane. When i got to my seat, I had a window seat which I was not excited about and as I walking back I saw that my row mate was a very large woman. I squeezed into my seat and she kindly offered to put down the middle arm rest. I declined realizing that while it was a nice offer it would be literally impossible to squeeze a metal bar between the two of us without me being forced through a pressurized window. Somewhat dreading the remainder of the short flight I was pleasantly surprised when she asked if I might switch seats with her daughter in the row ahead. I quickly agreed as this would move me to an aisle seat and next to a young man of not more than 10. He wasn't very talkative for most of the flight until drinks were served and then he said (this is a direct quote), " You know what the worst thing about being an unaccompanied minor on a flight is?" I said no. He said, "They make you get off the plane last and then some dude takes you to the next gate but they never get it right." This kid was pretty precocious and funny for most of the remainder of the flight, mostly making fun of our "flamboyant" flight attendant. He was visiting his sister in North Carolina and seemed rather excited about it. He even offered to share his bag of cheetos with me, I declined the offer and he said if I wanted one (raising a single powdery orange digit) that I could have one any time. I thanked him and attended to my pretzels and soda. Which brings me to my next point...sometimes when you fly and the flight attendants come with drink service they will leave the can of soda, juice, etc and other times they pour it into a cup and then keep the rest for someone else. I think for $400 you should always get the whole can. In protest, from this point forward...I resolve to only fly airlines that leave the can. If that means wasting my time and theirs with phone calls to determine their soda can status...then thats what i'm doing. For the record...Air Tran is a can stealer.
7/12/07 part 2
Volunteered to be bumped from my flight. Got a free round trip ticket to anywhere air tran flies for the next year. Also got a meal voucher, a drink on the plane, and seating in an exit row. In return, I took a flight that was two hours later and got home at around midnight.

Got new glasses this morning...slightly different prescription. Talked to Dr. Whoever about LASIK surgery to maybe get my eyes fixed and he said it would be $5000 for both eyes. Seemed a little steep for the privilege of wearing designer sunglasses and not pushing up my glasses all the time. I suppose I could get contacts if I could conquer my fear of poking myself in the eye repeatedly. He did inform me that Tiger Woods got the surgery. I'm not sure what he was insinuating but if it was that LASIK made him the greatest golfer of all time and lead to his lucrative endorsement deals then sign me up. For 12 million a year, I think I could go under the knife and you could even call me panther, or leopard or some other ridiculous nickname. Here I come PGA. Went to worcester after that and stopped by the lab for a bit. It was good to see Dr. Manny, Elif, and Deli again. I was informed that Deli found a girlfriend (in china, though) which is good because he needs someone to go to his funeral when Jose eventually kills him. They had an ice cream social of sorts to welcome some new faculty member and so I tagged along for that before eventually heading up to Tilton for the conference. Took close to 3 hours to get here because of lake's region traffic.

First real day of the conference, woke up for 7:30 breakfast and then 5 hours of seminars of which only a few were worthwhile. Had lunch and then had some free time. Ended up playing basketball with some of the guys. Luckilly they weren't very good. By not very good I mean when the 5'7" white guy (me) looks like he could play for the NBA...the rest of the court probably isn't so hot. Its a good thing they are getting PhDs because their basketball careers are going no where fast. My golf career on the other hand is going to be outta this world as soon as I get that surgery. Had a very lengthy poster session where I talked to lots of people about my project and got some less than encouraging words of caution from a Joe Chappell...this could mean a lot more work. Had dinner and now we have some more seminars until 9:30 and then an "informal gathering." Not entirely sure what that means and why it was on the schedule but I'm glad I can leave my three piece suit in the room for now. *phew*. Also, the highlight today was talking to this guy who sounds like he is high as a kite all the time. I think he is just canadian (from calgary I believe). Anyways, I should be getting down to the seminars for my education. Patrick OUT!

Fixin' to bust up

Been a while since I updated. Last weekend, went "floating" which is essentially just what it sounds like. You float down a river (the Spring river in our case) and drink beers and people watch. We rented canoes in the bustling metropolis of Hardy AR (pop: 500) and canoed for about 10 miles and 4 hours. This was my first real experience with the intricate redneck culture that surrounds jonesboro. Saw more than a few redsox fans which was nice and especially nice because the girl in the front of my canoe was a cardinals fan and made a point of telling me that the sox weren't too popular in this neck of the woods. I told her that red sox nation extends beyond all borders. Came home pretty early from that and fell asleep. Sunday was pretty lazy but I did manage to get in to work and run some samples on the GC. Results weren't what I expected but interesting none the less. Sunday night we played volleyball and had a BBQ at Audrei's. Just some steaks and brats but they were soooo good. However at volleyball, one of the girls heard we were gonna BBQ and essentially invited herself over and demanded we eat earlier. I couldn't help myself and was a total ass hole to her (mostly because she ruined a perfectly good volleyball game). She kind of had it coming though because she has done some pretty ridiculous things before and I held back. I felt a little bad about it later but honestly don't right now but apparently she wasn't bothered by it because she gave me a friend request on facebook that night. Last night we went bowling. I didn't come in last place which was all i really cared about. Bowled a 102 the first round then a 110 the second game. We were the last to leave the place but they close at 11. What kind of bowling alley closes at 11? Simple...the one that isn't allowed to serve drinks. Thats Jonesboring for ya. We had to wait for a lane because (and I quote ashley here) "A bible camp is fixin' to bust up this place." For those of you who don't speak southern, despite its violent sound it just means that they were going to be arriving soon for a raucous good time. Needless to say, I used that phrase no less than 10 more times over the course of the evening. She didn't think it was nearly as funny as I did but of course she is free to make fun of the way I speak. We educated them on the proper pronunciation of Worcester, Leicester, Haverhill, Peabody, Norfolk and I think a few others. For those of you interested and who might be in the worcester area, I will probably be on campus at WPI for a part of the day (afternoon) on Friday. Otherwise things are winding down here and I should be back in MA permanently by August 1st. That is all. Patrick OUT!

Larry David?

Something of an embarrassing update this time. So we went to Pam's yesterday for her 4th of July BBQ and had a generally good time until i realized that I locked my keys in my trunk with the top to the car down. So the situation is this, the car is unlocked with the top down but I can't open the trunk because with the top down the only way to open the trunk is with the key that I locked in the trunk itself. The end result is that I either have to break into my own car by picking the lock or get the second key from massachusetts. Thus, the key is being overnighted to me and I should have it tomorrow to get my car back. Forecast says there is a 40% chance of showers for this evening. Scott and I put a large tarp over the top to protect the interior. If I could get it up on cinder blocks and into the lawn, it would be like a redneck auto shop. Besides the embarrassment of that whole thing, the rest of the party went well and since I obviously wasn't driving myself home any more I took liberty of the generous libations that pam provided. Made 3 racks of ribs using a new recipe and they seemed to go over well, judging by the empty pan that was left within minutes of food being served. Later that night, we went to Lynn's house and hung out for a while before heading over to Audrey's to play Booray (sp?) which is a card game from Lousiana (or at least a guy from LA taught it to us) that is similar to spades. Had a good time but stayed there pretty late for a wednesday. Eventually found ourselves at kroger buying frozen catfish that amanda deep fryed for us at some ungodly hour. It was pretty good but I kinda regretted it later as being a poor mix with the food and drink I had consumed just prior. Got home real real late but still managed to get up early and make it into work on time...not that anyone would notice. Booked my trip back to massachusetts for the conference in Tilton so that was good to finally get done. Also heard from Marie, Ally, and Carey about a road trip down south coming right through the Jonesboring area. Should be good to see them if we can get things together. I always find a certain satisfying novelty when you can see people far away from where either party would normally be and when things work together with such serendipity to allow it to happen. Tonight in honor of cinco de july-o we are going to have margaritas at the apartment. Hopefully it wont be toooo late a night but even if it is, at least I'll be at home. Patrick OUT!

Walkin in Memphis

Last night went to memphis and had a generally good time that I will not soon forget. To help describe the night I have rewritten the lyrics to the Marc Cohn classic, "Walkin in Memphis." For those of you not familiar with the song I have included a link to a youtube video with the song in it. Feel free to sing along. I may elucidate on the particulars of the evening in a later post.

Put on my last clean clothes
And I got in the car
Drove down to the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain
A.S. Univ. -- won't you look down over me
Yeah I got a first class ticket
But I'm as blue as a boy can be

Then I'm walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel

Saw a crazy addict
On mad'son Avenue
Followed him up to the local trolly
That I paid and walked on to
Now the driver, she did not know us
She just knew that were new
But there's an older sort of man
wants to give a hand
In that trolly gloom.


They've got bottles on the table
They've got guys and gals inside
And the lesbians be glad to see you
When you haven't got a ride
But boy we got a ride in Memphis

Now they rescued us from the ghetto
Crazy saturday at the "One More"
And they brought us down to see her
And they gave us a quick tour --
Bought them all a drink
and i took a long calm breath
And she said --
"Can we take your pictures boys?"
And we said "yea of bet!"

Put on my last clean clothes
And I got in the car
Drove down to the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain
Drove down to the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain

Sock Economics

Went to club 501 last night. Had a good time, its a steak house but we all just had burgers (filet mignon burgers to be precise). They were quite large and I couldn't finish mine. Had two fat tire ales which were both excellent...I really wish they sold that in massachusetts. i think i might buy a case down here to take back. Also went to Target before dinner with the guys. Bought socks there which is really a highlight because there are few things that make me feel as good as putting on a brand new pair of socks. Brings to mind a story a friend told me, he determined that because the cost of doing laundry in the dorms was so high (used to cost like 6 dollars or more to do a single load of laundry) and because socks took up a small but persistent percentage of his laundry load that it made more economic sense for him to go to Sam's club and buy huge packages of socks and only wear them once. He showed me the numbers and I always thought that would be nice. So today, I'm wearing my new socks and its great. Ask yourself, who else's blog can you get a whole paragraph on the merits of new socks? Not too many I would guess. Besides all that, after dinner we went over to amanda's (an undergrad who cuts the heads of rats in the lab, and is all to willing to explain the guillotine mechanism used to accomplish the job) apartment. Ashley from the night before was there too and they were getting very drunk. Ashley doesn't drink and I always assumed that it was for some moralesque reason. In actuality she just really detests the taste of any alcohol. Furthermore she has an unnatural ability to taste it even behind pretty substantial cover. Thus her friends were trying to find some combination of sugar, fruit, and ice that would effectively mask the taste such that she could enjoy it with them. I think they finally settles on a very sweet strawberry daiquiri. The guys on the other hand, after a good couple long nights in a row, remained relatively sober...much content at watching the girls. Left there later than I should have to go to bed so I could be at work for 8:15 meeting with Robyn (the PI I work with downstairs) which she was late for. She blamed it on having ADHD, which I at first accepted until I remembered that I don't believe it exists. Anyways, now I'm waiting for all my experiments to finish after lunch. Then off to a masters thesis defense which should be at least somewhat interesting. Patrick OUT!

any excuse

Another athletically busy couple of days. Played volleyball on monday evening with Dan, Scott, Audrey, Melinda and Melinda's roomate (whose name I can't remember, but she was nice and VERY southern). Had a good time, though my arms were a little sore that night. Went out for pizza afterwards to a place downtown. It was pretty good, we got there just before closing time, no not 1 or 2 am...9pm. I really can't figure out how places do business around here. The "best barbecue place in town" according to most, Demo's is open from 11:00am - 8:00 pm. In my mind that means that they close for dinner, seems crazy but I guess it works for them. Just have to start eating dinner at 4:00, maybe I can get a walker and one of those craftmatic adjustable beds to complete the lifestyle. Anyways, yesterday went rock climbing again and had a good time. A girl from another lab, Ashley, came and tried it out for the first time. Invited us all to her place that night for board games. Ended up playing cranium, not my favorite game in the world but our team won and I avoided humming any songs or acting out skits...thus, I had a good time with it. Also learned some card game from scott that was kinda cool and that we'll probably play again. This afternoon, scheduled to play squash for the first time with scott and audrey and then to audrey's house for a party to celebrate walter taking the GREs today (any excuse for a party). As scott put it recently, "I've never been this active until you all got here (the people from massachusetts here for the summer)...I'm certain that when you all leave in august I'll be back to my regular work out routing of sitting on my ass in front of the couch and drinkin a beer." I suppose there are worse things than that but it has been nice being a bit more active that usual, especially with things I rarely if ever did back in massachusetts. Patrick OUT!

To recap

Where to begin...things got really busy hear really quickly. Saturday was spent doing mostly nothing, lent Adam the car so he could go out with his girlfriend some place but ended up needing it to go play soccer that afternoon. Dan and I rode our bikes to the field (very reminiscent of being in junior high again) and had a good game. I don't want to toot my own horn here but as far as soccer is concerned, I don't think I'm understating anything when i say "i suck." Had a good time none the less and will probably go back for another go 'round. That night went to a party at this girl lynn's house after having some BBQ and Audrey's place. Dan and I brought steaks, actually Dan brought steaks and I just drove. Ended up being a kinda cool party, they had jello shots that someone decided would be quite to put in miniature plastic wine glasses. They looked kinda classy but it was a little strange. We always made ours in little paper cups that would quickly be thrown on the floor or smashed into furniture. While they were always good, what a pain in the ass to clean up. Lynn's house was nice, actually really nice...huge TV, mercedes in the garage, subzero refrigerator...and she's a grad student. Come to find out she's been married a few times and has an eleven year old kid. To make things even more strange the RISE students (undergraduates doing summer research in the labs) were all there as well. They were crazy, a mixture of alcohol irresponsibility and social awkwardness made for an interesting show for the rest of us. At about 3 in the morning, people decided they wanted to go to IHOP. I'm always down for some pancakes so I obliged and drove (being one of the few sober people left). Got there and the place was fairly busy, ordered some corn pancakes. Kind of like pancakes made with corn muffin batter. In a word, they were HEAVENLY. Perhaps the finest breakfast food ever created, though possibly second to those pop and fresh cinnamon buns that come in a tube, could be a tie there. Anyways after a somewhat lengthy dinner/breakfast and trying to make conversation with people too drunk to even attempt such things we finally made it back to the apartment at 4:30. Of course, woke up at 9:30 the next morning because I couldn't help myself and went to the lab for a bit to get a little work done. Came back and started making ribs for everyone. Never made this kinda ribs before but they came out not half bad, could've used a little less salt and a little more brown sugar but I suppose thats lesson learned for next time. Not that I wrote any of this down until now so I will probably just make the same mistake again. Scott and melinda came over and watched Talladega nights. Today, played volleyball on the sand courts in the apartment complex. Had a good time and got covered in sand. Took a shower afterwards and went to dinner with the guys to some pizza place down town. Hung out afterwards and had a couple beers and now I'm off to bed. To recap:Soccer-> Jello shots -> crazy undergrads -> Heavenly IHOP-> Salty Ribs -> Volleyball -> Goodnight.
Patrick OUT!

Hippies need not apply

I feel it necessary to once again delve into the political forum, though the topic is at its heart a scientific one. Alternative energy has become such a BS thing in recent years. People have this idea that there is some technology out there that will allow us to make energy from water, air, moon rocks or whatever that will revolutionize the world and let us all drive hummers guilt free. There is no perfect solution out there and their never will be. I think the public by and large needs to really start thinking critically about solutions that are presented and realize that energy must come from somewhere and that things that are inherently low energy...will not just produce it spontaneously given the right circumstances, it just violates fundamental laws of physics. That last point falls on deaf ears more often than one might think, I saw a documentary on PBS about the "energy crisis" and some environmentalist claimed that the oil companies were keeping down technology that would allow us to run cities on sea water. I know it seems great that there is this possibility that we could do this but it all hinges on a specific process called electrolysis. That is, you split a water molecule (H20) into its component parts and separate them, hydrogen and oxygen. This makes a hydrogen fuel cell, you can either put them into a battery and make electricity or you can burn the two gasses and make heat and reform the water. Up until now it all seems great until you remember that first law of thermodynamics, or maybe you don't remember it: "energy is neither created nor destroyed." For those mechanical or civil engineers out there reading this post who struggled through thermo...I know thats not the actual law but thats the point of it. Anyways, when you look back to the beginning the process of splitting the water requires a tremendous amount of energy that is equal to the amount of energy that you could potentially reclaim at the end. The problem lies in that no energy conversion is 100% efficient, you always lose energy in the form of heat or light or sound or something but it never all goes where you want it to. Thus, we actually lose energy through hydrogen fuel cells. Ethanol is a different story, in that it is perhaps a true alternative fuel. Up until recently however this was not so in that it took more energy to produce ethanol than the energy you got out of it but now plants are better and genetically engineered strains are helping too. The only other problem with ethanol is cost. I read an EPA report that said that ethanol raising the price of food was unfounded because they don't use sweet corn and that the corn they use currently only goes into sweeteners. Once again, this sounds great until you look a little further. Sweet corn is the most commonly consumed corn on the dinner plates of american and world wide but one must understand that every time you buy a coke...that "high fructose corn syrup" comes from this second variety of corn and that syrup is what ferment into ethanol. So, the price of everything with HFCS would go up concordantly. I can see my environmentalist friends ( I know some of you are saying, "there is no way he has environmentalist friends," but i do) shaking their collective heads and saying so what's your solution smart ass? Well, I like biogas, geothermal, and hydroelectric power production. Biogas technology essentially collects the methane being naturally emitted from animal waste, landfills, and swamps and burns it to produce energy. In this case, all the energy conversion is being done by bacteria without any additional being supplied by us so the energy balance is positive in our favor. Some of you with a background in chemistry are probably saying but that produces CO2 and Al gore said that the world is going to turn into a desert/flood-plain/tundra/worst case scenario inserted here if we don't curb our CO2 emissions. What he didn't tell you is that methane is a 20x more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and so we are actually helping the situation by removing that and converting it to CO2. Geothermal is also pretty cool, they use it in Iceland and because of that they have free electric power there. You can't use it everywhere but if we used it everywhere that it was possible to use then just imagine the possibilities. Anyways, this has been a long post and so while I could go on for quite a bit longer on the intricacies of these, I will end here. Patrick OUT!

Oot and aboot

Been out two nights this week, haven't done this since college...really is a novelty now to be able to say that. Anyways, last night went to Audrey's (guy from another lab group) and had a good time. Pretty laid back crowd all in all. He had a BBQ with lots of food. He made some chicken with garlic and soy sauce and ginger and it was soooooo good. While I'm not exactly sure whats in it, I'm sure I could replicate it somewhat. Had a few beers and called it a night...not bad for a wednesday. Today went rock climbing at the local community center. The rock gym there was pretty sweet and you can climb for free on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Audrey was there again looking like spiderman on the wall and I was...not. It was fun none the less but I can already tell that my forearms are going to be sore. After that we all went to the Brickhouse for dinner and drinks. A very cool place, that I hope to go to again. Its another "private club" so both Audrey and Scott were members and we were able to get in without paying this time. Had a fantastic beer selection and I got to have a "fat tire ale" for the first time since working out west...heavenly. Had a pretty good burger to go with it and they had live music upstairs. Again, really a cool place to be. Couldn't stay out too late though because we (Pam, Dan, and myself) have to give a seminar tomorrow on our work with artemesinin. Should be ok, I'm not too worried about it because I don't have to impress anyone here. Probably not the right attitude to take but I really hope the whole thing is low key and people have a good time and dont get all crazy about stuff. Of course, if I could find just a small verbal argument with some faculty member that would make my day too. Thats from 10-12, and then I have my weekly meeting at 2 so between those two things and lunch...I don't see myself being very productive tomorrow. Then the weekend begins with a possible trip to mountain view which I gather is the folk music capital of the world or at the very least the folk music capitol of north central arkansas (and is there really more to the world than that?). Either way, I'm hope to get my bluegrass on and listen to some down home good time music. Patrick OUT!

Movie Reviews

Its been a while since my last post but Jonesboro has been as I initially expected it to be...boring. While I haven't done very much, I have seen two movie worthy of my opinion. I know what you're all saying, "Patrick...when has a movie ever not been worthy of your opinion?" The answer to that lies in the film "Never Been Kissed" starring drew barrymore which I might think was the worst film of all time if it was even worthy of my opinion. So bad in fact was that movie that John Barrymore contacted his broker from beyond the grave and had him sell his estates stock in 20th century fox.
Anyways, I saw spiderman 3 in Indy with Dan. It was pretty campy all told, not that I was expecting much more. Tobey Maguire or is it Topher Grace...aren't they the same person??? Was entirely ineffective this time as a more manly womanizing version of spiderman. He should really stick to the awkward teenage roles and not assume he can do anything else. The same goes for his twin there Topher, that 70s show was good for you but don't assume that you're a good actor because people watched your show. I think that after three spiderman movies they might have done all that they can with this franchise. They are really starting to stretch with this stuff now...they have gotten away from the mindless superhero movie and gone on a crusade for human drama in spandex.
The other movie I saw was "Art School Confidential." Its essentially about a small private art college and the cornucopia of strange people that inhabit it. There are avant garde filmmakers, stoners, goth drawing majors and every other stereotype you can think of. John malkovich is in it and is clearly the shinning star of the movie...he really needed a bigger role. Of course, I probably say that for every john malkovich movie. The rest of the movie surrounds a weak plot about a freshman artist trying to find love and the search for a serial killer roaming the campus. The film itself is totally bizarre with lots of scenes where you aren't sure if you should laugh or not and very few where the decision is clear. Might be worth a rent if you are or have ever thought about going to art school.
Patrick OUT!

The following post is rated PG-13

Well, the conference finished with fairly little fanfare. I didn't win the poster competition, two fifth year PhD students weaseled their way in front of me. Got everything packed up Sunday morning to leave and drive back to Jonesboring. This time the car would have four people instead of three because Dan needed a ride back. After informing Dan of the particular circumstances surrounding the rather harrowing ride up we decided that it would be best if perhaps we minimized the time Lou was in the drivers seat and did most of the driving ourselves. I took the first shift to get us out of the city. Had to pay $92 in parking for less than 4 total days. You'd think for that price they would change the oil or something. Drove until we reached some small town in Illinois where we stopped for gas and then lunch at a subway. Siva once again announced to the woman at the counter, "I am a vegetarian." To which she replied, " dont get meat on your sandwich." A good piece of advice for any aspiring vegetarian who is not too familiar with the concept. We sat down to eat and I noticed that out the window was an establishment of some sort called "The G-spot." It didn't really look seedy at all but I made a sophomoric (please note: this is the only time I have ever used that word) crack of some sort to Dan about it. At this point, Lou, who had seemingly no control over the volume of his voice asked what a "G-spot" was. I told him we would explain it in the car. Upon getting back in the car we had perhaps the strangest conversation yet where it was as if I was living an east asian version of Borat. Trying to answer such questions as "where can a man have sexy in this country?" "its ok for man to have wife and then have girlfriend?" "what about mr. clinton?" Dan and I tried to answer the questions as tactfully as possible without piquing further interest too much. Eventually Lou and Siva fell asleep and that was the end of it. Dan drove for another few hours and then it was Lou's turn to drive. I buckled my seat belt tightly and prepared for the ride. It didn't take all of 10 minutes before Lou was already veering off of the road as he wasn't paying attention and trying to drink his coffee. Thankfully he didn't fall asleep at the wheel but he did decide it necessary to honk the horn at a car parked in a driveway, I guess just in case it decided to jump into the middle of the road suddenly. Finally made it back home and watched a rerun of the season finale of the Sopranos. I kinda thought that I should have watched that show from the begining but I think even after that one episode the thing that struck me most was ....

SIVB: Society for the Intentionally Very Boring

Finished day one of the conference and I was very much underwhelmed. I skipped out on the very early meeting this morning because I had to be at my poster for judging at 8:00 am. I think it went fairly well and if I do well enough there could be a cash prize in my future. We should find out tonight. Saw a pretty good session this morning before lunch about miRNA and regulation of gene expression. Then went out to lunch with Dan, Siva, Liu, and one of Liu's friends who gave me his name three times before I just gave up and said I understood what he said. Found a little italian restaurant where we ran into the same problems that we had at Denny's. Did a lot of explaining but this time on a more general scale. "What is this...entree?" He wasn't asking what chicken parmagina was he was asking what an entree is and then he moved on with insalata, antipasti, etc. etc. I felt like I was going to have to explain all of italian cuisine right there. Lunch went late so I missed the afternoon poster session but shed a small tear inside to make up for it. There are interactive poster sessions in the afternoon that should be *yawn* great. Some interesting talks later and then a business meeting that I wouldn't be going to if they weren't giving me a check there. I guess they figure they have to bait the grad students with money...I bet you I'm probably last on the agenda just to add insult to injury. Meeting lots of "interesting" people here that will be the subject of a later post. Patrick OUT!

Day 1 at SIVB

So I'm here in the hotel lobby of the Westin Indianapolis for the SIVB (Society for In Vitro Biology) conference. Yesterdays ride up was interesting to say the least. We rented a car in Jonesboro that Enterprise described as compact but a more appropriate adjective would have been minature. It was a chevy aveo hatchback that I think is probably the smallest car I have ever been in. Lou was driving most of the way which was a little harrowing at times. He has a couple of interesting habits which include slowing down whenever he feels like it (ie. on the freeway, going through intersections etc. ) not using his turn signals to change lanes, and a couple of other less than favorable things. In essence he drives like an 80 year old in boston who can barely see over the steering wheel except he is a 34 year old chinese man. He almost feel asleep at the wheel, at which point i told him I was going to drive and he should just sleep. While I'm not 25 or listed as a driver on the vehicle, I would bet that Enterprise would prefer me at 24 to Chunzhao asleep at the wheel...just a guess. After a few hours of driving, we stopped at a Denny's (my first time). I was unimpressed but it was a funny experience none the less trying to get these two to order. Siva, a vegetarian, had some trouble finding things on the menu. I had to explain what french toast, pancakes, omelets, eggs benedict, and a few other things were. I felt like a breakfast food wikipedia. I think the waitress was a little confused with the whole situation too, I'm sure we looked like quite the odd bunch. We returned to the road shortly thereafter and Siva began to grill me on American politics with question like, "Which president is better Bill clinton or Bush?" I had to bite my toungue a few times but it was funny to see how he thinks in absolutes about things like that. Then I had a conversation with Lou about tiananmen square (the anniversary was a few days back) and he essentially said that the students should have known better than to mess with the government. Again, I had to bite my toungue. He also asked if they could have done that in the US which was the second time this month that someone from china has asked about protests in america and the governmental response, assuming it would be similar to tiananmen square. Not sure what they are teaching over there in China about US policy but I'm guessing its not entirely accurate. Finished the rest of the ride out with fairly little event and arrived in Indianapolis at about 6:00 local time. The hotel is great especially compared to the dorm room I've been staying in recently. Up at 7:00 am today to attend a meeting...they have these daily but I'm only going to do that once more for this conference. I should be updating you on all the crazy scientists I meet here. Also, Happy Fathers Day! Patrick OUT!

Off to Indy

Well tomorrow I leave for Indianapolis for the Society of In Vitro Biology national conference. should be a good time, I've never been to indianapolis. We rented a car today so Pam's two post docs (who I mentioned in a recent post) and I will be driving up together. Should take about 8 hours from here, though Lou said he wanted to drive two hours then take a break and then drive two hours etc. etc. I'm going to try and push him to go a little further than that so we can get there before midnight. Also, I'm in a graduate student poster competition there so wish me luck and maybe I can come away with a cash prize. Not really a whole lot else going on but hopefully this weekend will be fun and educational, I will try and post regularly while I'm there but I don't know what my access to the internet will be. Also, very happy birthday wishes to Simone! Patrick OUT!

Linguistic Largesse

So today is Pam's (my boss here in AR and in worcester for that matter) birthday. She is turning 60 though I think she would be mad if I told you that. We had a meeting this morning at which she seemed awfully depressed about the whole thing. She has some of her family up and invited us (well we think she did...but thats another story) to her house tonight for some sort of festivities. Anyways, this afternoon her postdocs here Siva (his real name is awfully long and hard to pronounce) and Chunzhao Liu or "Lou" went to kroger to buy her a birthday cake. We took my car because I'm the only one that drives and they were talking about all kinds of things. I could recognize that the language they were speaking was english but it wasn't my english. It seems that these two have learned to speak in such a way that they understand each other perfectly well whereas I, the only native english speaker, rarely understand stand things the first time around. I wonder if overseas they teach another brand of English that isn't the English i know and love. All foreign graduate students coming to both WPI and ASU are required to pass the TOEFL, or test of english as a foreign language. I guess I always just assumed that English as a foreign language meant my english. Perhaps instead of taking french in high school I should have taken English as a foreign language. I imagine that its like ebonics, that is a language with english roots but its own language none the less that those outside the culture can hardly understand. I think next week I will go try and find some ESL audio tapes to familiarize myself with this new dialect. In other news, I will get a nice long car ride with both Siva and Lou this weekend as we drive 8 hours to Indianapolis for a conference. I would like to be able to practice my new mandarin chinese vocabulary with Lou so in the car today i attempted to say in Mandarin that I speak a little chinese and he responded with "I don't know any cantonese." Not so good for my linguistic confidence...though he eventually got what I was saying when he listened closer. Guess I need to work on the pronunciation a bit. Anyways, Patrick OUT!