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!
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.
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
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 it...how 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 integer...it was 1:30 in the morning and she probably thought I was drunk...in 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!
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 waiter...as in, wait until I ask for something. Well that feels better...off to dinner. Patrick OUT!
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 stalkers...you 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 wall-mart...like 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!
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.
7/13/07 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.
7/14/07 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!
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!
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!
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 course...you bet!"
(Chorus) 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