P A R T   F O U  R  :   B U R N E D   B Y   A M B E R 
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2009     02:20 pm
I woke up on my right side though I don't remember turning in that direction… hmmm… JAG is on USA right now, and I make no secret of my crush on Catherine Bell (did you know she's half-Persian?).  Amber is sitting outside my window, but it's too early to strike up a conversation.  I wonder if some of the subject monitors keep journals themselves?  Those would be interesting to read… sort of an inverse (and less geeky version) of what I'm writing: "Scott is watching TV"… "Scott is still watching TV"… "Scott is surfing the net"… etc…. (9:45 PM UPDATE – they actually do!... I saw a piece of paper on Leilani's clipboard and it said, "Scott made a call on his cell"… "Scott used the restroom"… etc….)

Tammy was in here changing my linens and she told me I might be getting a roommate in a couple weeks.  She said if all goes well, I should expect someone on or around the 21st, and by then I'll be in bedrest, so there may not be a whole lot I can do… oh well… this isn't college… I shouldn't have to worry about anything.

I watched Life After Film School on Hulu… the guest was Diablo Cody (a.k.a. the future ex-Mrs. Saslow)., the Oscar-winning writer of Juno.  When I lived in Orlando, I read her memoir: Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper.  It was a very good read and I think I fell for her when she described a strip club stage as looking like "the 3-D chess sets on Star Trek"… I also cringed at one fetish exhibited by one of her customers during her days as a performer.  She had some good advice (about filmmaking, not stripping!) but I can tell she'd rather be at home writing in her pajamas than doing borderline vacuous interviews.  I still think Juno wouldn't have been such a big hit if: a) Ms. Cody didn't have such an interesting background, and b) she wasn't hot… (if she looked like Golda Meir, we wouldn't be talking about her).

Called Sanjurjo… everything is status quo. I've considered going back to school to get a Bachelor's, but it's so expensive… even though I already have an AA (and an AS from Full Sail) and could conceivably drop some classes, it's too much for me right now.  What would I major in?  What I really want to do is improv, so anything I major in would be a backup (read: something I wouldn't want to be doing).  I keep going back to graphic design, but do you see me drawing?  No... Can I name even two graphic designers (that don't work in film and TV)?  No... do I carry around a sketchbook?  No... and as I indicated above, I have disliked every art class I have ever taken... not a good sign... 

Once again, my lunch was split in two… right now, it's just fruit: a bowl of apple slices, and a bowl of grapes and strawberries... good deal!  One thing I didn't mention was how I'm classified ("He's nuts!")  We're each given a number and a color.  I'm #7132 orange.  I know, I sound like an android or supercomputer or something… at the beginning, we were told that certain items (urine bottle, blood pressure cuff, "hat," etc.) would need to have this information written on them… if they didn't, we'd have to tell someone because that would mean we were given someone else's stuff. That hasn't happened.

I just urinated but I still flushed the toilet… force of habit, I guess.  I had been playing Uno with Amber out in the common area.  She's good, and at one point, she told me, "You're not bad."  I wanted to ask, "What am I, chopped liver?"… I said "Thanks" instead.

I had my second cycle test today… three 3-minute segments… I was able to peddle 30 seconds longer than I did the first time around (for a total of 7:30).  Kirk was there to apply the electrodes and Sue did the ECG… we were joined by another woman named Liz who told me she had just visited an 8th grade science class to talk about the bedrest study.  Naturally, everyone wanted to know, "How do they use the bathroom?" which I'm sure was followed by a collective "Eww…!!"  One know-it-all asked Liz about jet fuel and its impact on the environment or some such technobabble and all Liz could say was, "Google it!"

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2009     09:37 pm
 The second half of my lunch consisted of greens, potato salad (not that bad), a couple of Famous Amos cookies, a bowl of apple sauce, and a sloppy joe with half a bun… covered with a melted slice of cheese. This time, I rolled the cheese in pieces and, with bits of beef still hanging on to them, downed ‘em in one shot.  It wasn't the worst thing in the world, I have to admit.  In the Mirror Universe, I'm sure there's a goateed version of me who never stopped snacking on Kraft singles when he was a little kid.  I'm hoping some of those memories come back to me… I wonder how that works… you eat something then stop for twenty years… does your body remember how it tasted and how much you liked it?... or is all of that information lost forever?

Leilani, one of the monitors, asked me if I needed my laundry taken care of. I told her I did it already, and that I would be doing it one more time before bedrest.  I haven't had anyone do my laundry in years.

I've been out in the common area playing Uno and Scrabble with Leilani… they served dinner, which consisted of turkey (smothered in something with the consistency of water), rice, greens, a small bowl of Craisins, a small bowl of nuts, and a glass of milk.  I dropped a Craisin and they had to collect it and give me a new one: literally a plate with one Craisin on it… they balance this stuff like nobody's business…!  I might've made a joke like "I better not go swimming."

Uno was fun… apparently, they've redesigned the cards and there are multiple Uno games to play… I was only familiar with the basic version from when I was a kid. Scrabble took a while… I hate using my letters to spell a measly three-letter word like "sir."  Leilani had to take off for a while so I played with Jerry. I lost most of the Uno games but I won Scrabble.

Tierra came by and said we'll be getting some new people… so far, I've heard about a girl and a guy (presumably my future roommate). Tierra, ever the sunny optimist, said we should become fast friends and that I could answer his questions.  The rest of us will be in bedrest , so the new guy might not have much to do when he gets here. 

Watched the final two episodes from Dream On's first season – good show… tomorrow will be one week since I got here, so I guess I'm officially 1/8 of the way done.  Leilani wrote my schedule for tomorrow on the board (she has some good handwriting!)… I have a second isokinetic test and that's it.

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2009     02:08 pm

I had them remove my mattress pad yesterday.  I think it might've been a bad idea… I didn't sleep well… bathroom, tossing and turning, etc.  We'll see how I do tonight , and maybe I'll have them put the pad back tomorrow.  My friend Mike from high school called me again after I left him a voicemail asking him not to call after 10:00. I was weighed and I went up a pound, possibly for the first time since I got here… it was that dinner yesterday and, since my lunch was split, it came less than two hours after the second half of said lunch.

Now I remember where I was going with my talk about 2010 and life's adventures and all that: maybe it's because I get out of here on New Year's Eve and a new year always brings with it a certain amount of introspection.  Maybe it's because there is nothing left for me to do back home, other than tie up a few loose ends. Part of me feels like this study is the last ordeal I must face before moving onto the next stage of things… I'm not saying I'm gonna mutate into some kind of advanced lifeform (then again…), but the brain tends to categorize things: Full Sail was one stage, LA was one stage, the period after LA (Orlando and Boca) was one stage and that is the stage that ends with this study.  I know, this probably doesn't make a lot of sense and, per usual, I'm probably reading too much into things.  In January, I'm gonna stick around the house for a while to get my sea legs back before finally moving out again… hopefully for the last time.

Star Trek: Enterprise is on SyFy right now… we know more about half the supporting characters on DS9 than we do about helmsman Travis Mayweather.  It's a shame too, since ENT had a very good cast and might've been the best show on TV strictly on a technical basis… too bad they didn't get the good writers until the third season but by then, it was too late.

Oh, for breakfast this morning, I had bacon (when did bacon become such a big thing? – even Wikipedia has an entry for "bacon mania"), a bowl of fruit, hard-boiled eggs (yay!), and two bagels cut in half with cream cheese on the side… no problem… hell, bagels are practically a birthright.  The cream cheese was fine (though I would've preferred lox)… also a glass of milk and a glass of OJ.

They just tested the fire alarm around 9am.  First, they made a general announcement so I simply plugged my headphones into the TV… I think the TV volume was louder than the fire alarm itself… probably not a good sign.

Amber was up for more Uno so we played in the common area… we were joined by Todd, who was out there in his bed watching Episode III on his laptop… we were both winning when Todd asked to be wheeled back to his room.  After a while, we were joined by Brian.  Eventually, Amber started winning, but in the end Brian beat us all (we were playing to 500 points). 

Brian and I both had our lunch served out there: pizza (!), greens, salad with nuts and raisins, and a bowl of Jell-o… we were joined by a few others and we all had a nice chat… food, family, the usual.  Brian actually had to go to one of his tests early so his spot was taken by Nassavol ("Nas"), one of the subject monitors… Nas won for Brian and I went back to my room. Enterprise is still on… the actor who played Dr. Phlox was almost too good for that show at times.

Nikki took my vitals and, in the hallway, I saw one of the other nurses showing a woman around the floor.  She's a new participant in the study, according to Nikki, who might be starting tomorrow.  In short, NASA needs women (who doesn't?) and there aren't many who have expressed an interest in the study over the years.  Kirk stopped by and said he'd be back for me at 14:25 for my second isokinetic test… this time, I'll take photos (I'd forgotten my camera last time).


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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2009     07:56 pm
Jorge, one of the subject monitors (they sure are coming out of the woodwork now) introduced himself to me, as did Mona, a new monitor who starts today… both seemed pretty nice.  Jorge had already done the 90-day study two years ago, so at least he's been there and knows what it's like.  I told him I'm pretty low-maintenance (for now) and that it's all been pleasant… he asked me if I needed anything at all and, per usual, I answered a polite "No thanks."

Brent and Kirk, again, with the isokinetic test… pretty much the same procedure as last time.  They had computer problems at the beginning and it was almost humbling to see them work through the various nonsensical error messages on Windows, just like millions of people do everyday.  On the other hand, this is NASA and even though they work with hundreds of vendors, all of whom have their own proprietary software, part of me cynically wonders what other problems occur on a daily basis.  They told me a funny story of an employee who twisted his ankle which caused NASA to place a big fat "0" next to the "___ days without an accident" sign.

On the USA network during NCIS, there are ads for their new series titled White Collar.  I don't watch the show, but I noticed Natalie Morales (a.k.a. the other future ex-Mrs. Saslow) is on the show.  She starred in a series on the ABC Family channel a couple summers ago called The Middleman… I highly recommend it… it's nerd heaven… and rife with references to pop culture (Star Trek, Animal House, Die Hard, Ghostbusters, ad infinitum).  Too bad it was cancelled… but it's available on DVD.  And it's based on a comic book written by former Lost scribe Javier Grillo-Marxuach so you can check that out too.

Dinner consisted of fish, rice, a sliver of apple pie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a glass of grape juice… not bad.  I guess Jorge and Mona are my monitors for the night.  The only one who really initiates conversations with me is Jerry and it's usually, "You working on your blog again?"  The rest of the monitors, when they're not asking me how I am, tend to converse among themselves… and I don't know how talky the other subjects are.

I played another round of Scrabble with Jerry in the common room...  he was also playing rounds of Ms. Pac-Man in between turns.  Eventually, Mona joined us to help out… I won in the end when Mona and I found ourselves stumped.  Tierra came to check my vitals and noticed that my feet were cold… "Cold feet and a warm heart" she said, repeating something that her mother told her during her youth in Tennessee.  

Jorge posted my schedule for tomorrow… I finally have a busy day!  I wake up at 6:00, a light breakfast at 6:30, shower/hygiene at 7:00, something labeled "Echo, Plasma Vol., Tilt" at 7:30, the rest of my breakfast at 10:00, lunch at noon, another T-reflex test at 1:00, another functional fitness test at 3:30, a briefing on bedrest stretches at 4:30, and dinner at 5:00… and that will be my Friday.
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