N A S A   S T U D Y   -  P A R T   E L E V E N :   "I t ' s    O n e    L o u d e r ,   I s n ' t   I t ...?" 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009     09:56 pm
Breakfast was waffles, sausage, scrambled eggs, a bowl of fruit, and OJ… I took a shower and watched my NBC comedies from last night.  The Office was positively cringe-inducing, 30 Rock still wasn’t up to its usual level of hilarity, and both Parks and Recreation and Community were just fine… and I get up two weeks from today!

Lunch was a sloppy joe with half a bun covered with a melted slice of cheese, greens, a couple of Famous Amos cookies, a bowl of apple sauce, and potato salad.  Watched Three Stooges and surfed the net all morning… makes you wonder what test subjects would do without the Internet.  I imagine there would be more congregating in the common room, and possibly more books being read.  I still haven’t opened the two books I brought with me -- the latest Star Trek: Titan novel and a history of the Second City improv troupe.

I was told it might snow today, but so far it hasn't.  I keep looking out the window but haven't seen anything.  One of the subject monitors told me earlier that it was snowing just ten miles north of here.  I've never seen snow in real life and to be stuck in bed during my first snowfall would be a major bummer, man.  I watched last night's Fringe and then Ghostbusters II.  The courtroom scene might be the best part of the film.  I also spoke to my mom… I received some mail but other than that, I'm not missing anything… she's looking forward to going with dad to the airport to pick me up on New Year's Eve.

Dinner consisted of turkey (smothered in something), rice, greens, a small bowl of Craisins, a small bowl of nuts, and a glass of milk.  Jorge posted tomorrow's schedule: same as before.  Another BM and another break from my "every other day" plan… Watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and now I just have to finish this water…
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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2009     07:48 pm
Breakfast consisted of bacon, one and a half hard-boiled eggs, and three-quarters of a bagel, lightly toasted, with cream cheese, along with OJ and milk.  I had to use the bathroom during the night, just before midnight… I believe this was the first time during the bedrest phase I had to do this… oh, well.  The last few nights, I've been getting up early in anticipation of the wake-up music.  I don’t look to see what time it is, but I would estimate that I'm getting up around 5:50.  It's a sunny day, but considering I have my legs under the blanket, probably more than a little chilly.  I didn't bring a jacket; only my flannel shirt which, at this point, is as thin as paper and several shades lighter than when I originally purchased it sometime during the Clinton administration.

Lunch was pizza, greens, salad, nuts, raisins, Jell-o, and a glass of something reddish-orange.  I spent a good couple of hours in the common room… first I played Scrabble with Todd and Nurse Veronica… we kept score and I (surprisingly) came in second.  Todd was wheeled out, and I played some Trivial Pursuit with three nurses: Veronica, Beth, and Olivia.  We weren't doing too bad but, as always, paperwork needed to be done so we called it a day.  Today's massage was uneventful.  I almost fell asleep, and if I had another five minutes, I probably would have.

Dinner consisted of tilapia, rice, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, and grape juice.  My head hurts again, and I think I might just ask for the Tylenol this time.  Jorge confirmed that I have my next T-reflex test on Monday (day 20!) and I take the SmartPill again on Friday.

They asked me to rate the headache and I gave it a two… right now, I’m watching the latest Muppet Christmas Special on Hulu… it’s not bad and I have to say, as someone who grew up watching the Muppets on TV (and I must've watched The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan a hundred times each), it's weird to hear them refer to things like the Internet and e-mail... so modern!

I'm reading some TV scripts online… despite my currently dormant filmmaking aspirations, I’d still like to write a script one day… and by "write one," I mean "write and finish one."

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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2009     07:40 pm
Breakfast was an English muffin, a bowl of fruit, sausage, and a glass of OJ… I watched last night's SNL on Hulu, hosted by Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively… she was pretty good (and hot).  A few sketches were funny but most were not, and one (which took place at NASA of all places) was downright bizarre.

It's very quiet here this morning… I don't know if any of the other guys participate in any kind of Sunday morning religious services (it was asked on the questionnaire).  I have a shower in an hour and it will be much appreciated… I can look down on my black t-shirt and see dust upon dust… it'll be nice to change.

Lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, greens, a glass of grape juice, and some Lorna Doones.  I took my shower earlier and I got water up my nose but not in my ear which was a nice change of pace.  I've just been surfing the net all morning… still on my first pitcher and I did not have to use the bathroom during the night…

I just finished watching the latest episode of Have I Got News For You on YouTube… they rarely lead with an American news story but they had a lot of fun at Tiger Woods' expense.  Some stories just have that kind of universal appeal, I guess.  I'm also researching phones and listening to film score samples on Amazon… yep, just another boring day here at the old UTMB. It's not snowing, but I can tell from looking out the window it's a gray day.  Sanjurjo called me and Arby recognized my ringtone: the bird-like chime of Captain Kirk's communicator (actually the sound from when he'd flip it open).

Dinner was chicken, rice, greens, a bowl of Jell-o, and a glass of milk… my stomach hurts now.  I guess there was a point just before bedrest where I reached some kind of culinary nirvana, not worrying about the food and what I may or may not like.  Now I'm back on Earth, where I find myself dreading what's next, and I'm taking longer to finish...

Out of morbid curiosity, I asked Arby for a mirror.  "Ahhh!" was my reaction.  Of course, what was I expecting?  No full beard, just random whiskers.  The hair on top of my head is coming along just fine.  Once bedrest is finished, I'll attend to the whiskers on the side of my face but I'm keeping everything else until I get back home (or until I get tired of it all, whichever comes first)...

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2009     09:51 pm
Breakfast was an English muffin, a bowl of fruit, sausage, and a glass of OJ.  I get up a week from Friday.  I spoke with Sanjurjo, and he said we could head up to Orlando anytime after I get back (assuming I'm good to go) but would prefer the first weekend.  I know life continues outside these walls, but sometimes, when I stop to think about it, it really feels like I took a vacation and put the world on pause.  I know my parents will tell me I didn’t miss a thing (Thanksgiving dinner notwithstanding), and I have no job to go back to.  John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans" and he was right.  This is the first time where I haven't had to worry about a job or finding a new place to live… and I might as well enjoy it because when I get back, life begins again...

My T-reflex test was uneventful and went by pretty fast; the conversation wasn't as lively as it was during previous tests, but I did get to bring my own pillow this time which made things easier since the test surface is as hard as a rock.  After I finished my stretches, Dr. Seton stopped by and I showed her my journal entries on Heather's website.  We talked about a ton of stuff: Chanukah, family, food, going home, bacon (don't ask), and more. Toward the end, I admitted, "We're really scrapping the bottom of the barrel for conversation topics here"... she laughed...

For lunch today: a tortilla, salad, some sandwich cookies, and grape juice.  Modern Marvels was on the History Channel and the subject was heavy metals.  I'm a sucker for these shows when they cover certain subjects: the New York subway system, life aboard an aircraft carrier, etc.  Dr. Ware stopped by to give me thumbs up: "Keep up the good work!"

The massage was fine... she did most of the talking and, among other topics, we covered the holidays, food, and my last non-NASA trip to Texas, which took me to Dallas to see a friend.  After that I watched The China Syndrome.

Dinner was lasagna, one and a half dinner rolls, broccoli, carrots, a wedge of apple pie, and vanilla ice cream.  I'm slacking on the water today for some unconscious reason... also had another BM which was expected.  I guess I’ve switched from mornings to evenings.  I've been told that when I'm older, I'll think about these things more often but for now, I don't care.  Dr. Seton e-mailed me an NPR story about the marketing of bacon, per our earlier conversation… I'm going to give it a listen in a little bit.
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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2009     10:15 am
I had some weird dreams last night… I actually woke up early and checked my watch: 5:43.  I tossed and turned and, as usual, as soon as I shifted to a more comfortable position, the music started.  I thought it was a little too early for electric guitars but it's not my call.  I have another plasma volume test today which means I’ll be getting another IV... joy.

The first half of breakfast consisted of a bowl of fruit and a small glass of OJ… then I was wheeled into the other room for another ECG and plasma volume test.  Mike and Sydney were around (and as pleasant as ever) and a woman named Donna operated the transducer for the ECG… man, that gel they use is cold! She said I had very good lungs, and I guess it's a good thing I don't smoke, though there are times I'd love to be able to have something to do with my hands (like hold a cigarette). Mike hooked me up to the IV and it still hurts, no matter how many times it's done… some things you just can’t get used to. The plasma test was the same: nose plugs, breath through an apparatus, etc.

The second half of breakfast was the dreaded cheeseburger quiche and another small glass of OJ.  Lunch came only 15 minutes later: the dreaded cheese sandwich, along with salad, vegetable soup, and a glass of grape juice… if my math is correct, I will only have to eat this two more times.

Took a shower and for the first time, no water in my ears or up my nose… I guarantee I'll have this whole system worked out and then it’ll be time to go.  I was informed that shower construction begins tomorrow, so I will miss my Thursday shower… oh well.  Sydney asked me, "What's the first thing you're gonna do when you get home?" and apparently my answer was pretty popular: "Order a pizza!"

Dinner was chicken with rice and corn, greens, peach cobbler, vanilla ice cream, some Lorna Doones, and milk.  I didn't finish every last morsel of rice, so the lady from the kitchen came back holding a spoon with about eight or nine grains, asking, "Do you want to be spoon-fed today?"  I politely took the spoon and downed them in one shot.  I spent the next couple hours reading some script reviews, stretching, and chatting with Sanjurjo…

Played Uno with Jerry in the common room; we played four games but I only won one of them.  Michelle was out there setting up the Christmas tree, but she forgot hooks (I had no idea those were sold separately) so she'll have to come back tomorrow to decorate.  I'm back in the room, full of water… Hulu added a few episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and I've spent the last thirty minutes watching Mike and the robots make fun of an old movie called The Starfighters.

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2009     08:39 pm
Breakfast was a burrito, cereal, bowl of fruit, a glass of OJ, and a glass of milk.  I watched last night's season premiere of Better Off Ted and now it’s time for Scrubs.  I had another finger stick this morning, as well as a blood draw, which wasn't entirely unpleasant.

Patrick left yesterday and Thomas leaves today… and supposedly, today is the day we’re getting a new female subject.

The meal cycle has rebooted: lunch was a cheeseburger (with half a bun), corn, greens, fruit, and a glass of lemonade.  If I'm here for 57 days and there are 11 meal combos, then I'll be repeating the cheeseburger two more times: once in the next cycle, then for the last time the day before I leave.  Maybe I can negotiate with the people here: get them to substitute non-cheese meals for those last two days (56 and 57)… wishful thinking never hurt anyone…

The massage was fine; she had the music turned up because of the construction noise down the hall... just your standard relaxation CD but at one point, I thought I heard my phone ring and it was the sound effect of a bird chirping.  We talked about food and the time she spent in Chicago as a teen.  I mentioned to her that two of my favorite films take place in Chicago: The Blues Brothers and The Fugitive.  I told her about The Blues Brothers and how it’s an action comedy musical with car chases and explosions and big dance numbers, etc.  She seemed genuinely intrigued… and the Jewish talk was kept to a minimum.  She mentioned she once saw a lovely pillow with the image of a menorah embroidered on it and that she wanted it for the "Jewish room" in her house... my first thought was, "Is she employing comedy writers or something?" (that joke was inspired by a 30 Rock episode).

Dinner was the salmon cake with rice, greens, vanilla ice cream, peach cobbler, and a glass of punch.  Time seems to be flying -- I swear I just ate this stuff.  I was introduced to the new female subject; her name is Amanda and she seems nice... we chatted for about twenty minutes.  She got a kick out of this journal, and couldn't believe I had 58 pages (so far).  She asked me a few questions and I reassured her about the SmartPill, saying, "You’ll be fine!"

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Continue on to Scott's Journal : Part Twelve


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