P A R T   T H R E E  :   S H A K E,  R A T T L E   A N D   R O L L 
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2009     09:27 am
Some people say when you have a lot of dreams, you wake up less rested… that would be me this morning.  Naturally, my dreams are the most mundane things… I literally dreamt I was helping my dad bring groceries into the house (and knowing my dad, there was probably a lot).  A man named Carl just weight me and I pretty much weigh the same as I did when I got here last week, give or take a few tenths.   I asked the subject monitor to take a picture but she disappeared so Carl did it for me… I gave him a thumbs up (corny). I bought a disposable camera at the supermarket adjacent to the hotel I stayed at the night before the study.   I actually don't own my own digital camera… my folks have one and that's the one I use at home (mostly for eBay listings)… lately, whenever I'm with friends, usually at least one owns a fancy digital SLR, so it's not something I have to worry about.

If I didn't have this buzz cut (my idea, courtesy of a friend), I'd have a serious case of bed head right now.

Tammy came to check my breathing.  I asked her if I was on the right track, since I feel I'm not being active enough before the bedrest portion begins.  She said they don't want us to be too active and that, even I wished to do so, I couldn't go anywhere!  I can walk a quick lap around the ward but I can't power walk and there's no exercise equipment for us to use.  I'm sure there must be some literary device to describe the environment I find myself in. I can't leave, and as far as I know, beyond the double doors lies nothing.  The only proof I have of the outside world is the view out the window (each room has one plus the two in the common room).  In a Star Trek: TNG episode titled "Remember Me," Doctor Crusher asks the computer, "What is the nature of the universe?" and the computer replies, "The universe is a spheroid region, 705 meters in diameter." … that's my life right now!

Had a nice conversation with Teri, a lead monitor… we chatted about hurricanes.  Galveston was hit pretty bad last year and some of my predecessors had to evacuate, thus cutting the study short. [Or at least, short at the time.  The 90-day study has since been cut to a 30 or 60-day study, so their data was still recorded.]  I mentioned Hurricane Charlie (2004) and how, miraculously, Boca Raton has never scored a direct hit… I guess we've just been lucky.  I still remember Hurricane Andrew in 1992… we missed the first day of school (4th grade) and had to make it up on Veterans Day (which, coincidentally, is tomorrow… so you know where I was 17 years ago).

Shower, brushed (still haven't flossed yet… my bad). I'm going to have to do laundry today… while we're ambulatory, we have to do our own laundry but, once bedrest begins, they do our laundry for us. I had to buy detergent and there is a washer and dryer a few doors down… the supermarket next to the hotel where I bought some supplies the night before the study began is called H-E-B, which stands for "Here Everything's Better" but it's actually the initials of the founder's son, one Howard Edward Butt… (I find this amusing).  When I was in Dallas, I went to a supermarket called Tom Thumb… coming from Florida, I'm used to Publix and most of these people have probably never heard of it before.

Eric walked in to see how I was doing.  I asked if I could install Firefox on the computer; he said I could download it, but that he would have to install it himself… to paraphrase John Hurt in Contact, "First rule of government computers: why should one person install a simple program when you could use two people?"  (I believe his actual line was, "First rule of government spending: why build one when you could have two for twice the price.")
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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2009     02:34 pm
Dr. Seton (the psychologist) stopped by to chat… I told her everything was okay but I'm still in that awkward "First day at college" phase.  She listened to me babble about food, the various activities, the SmartPill, the novelty of it all and my parents' reactions.  I told her as a joke that, after the psych screening, when she saw me again, she would ask, "You're still here? They didn't have you locked up like I recommended?"… she laughed at that… 

She gave me a questionnaire to fill out and I'll do it after my next test… regarding the food, I told her I've gotten over white milk, cheese I'm still a little iffy on, and the oatmeal sucks (I phrased that last part differently).  She said it's all for a purpose and that I should try to focus on the health benefits. I also brought up the portion sizes and how, back home, one bagel could last me until dinner.

I just got back from my balance control test, also known as computerized dynamic posturography… Julie and Lance fastened me into a harness and had me stand up on a little platform inside a small three-walled alcove. I had to cross my arms and balance as best I could… occasionally, the wall would appear to move but I was unwittingly controlling that. Julie sometimes controlled it as well. I had to do these exercises with eyes open and closed, and the floor panel I was standing on gave sudden jolts.  I felt more tremors in ten minutes here in Texas than I did in the year and half I lived in LA.  I also had to nod my head back and forth, first with no tremors, then again with tremors… I almost lost my bearing at one point but that's why they use a harness… as a fan (student?) of physical comedy – The Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, etc. – I easily could've taken a tumble on purpose, strictly for comedic effect… I didn't.  Julie said I had rhythm… I guess I'm "pretty fly for a white guy."

Eric allowed me to install Firefox, and it works… hopefully no more IE crashes.  He also said my room didn't have enough lumens so he brought in another floor lamp – I told him whatever he had to do would be fine with me but that I would prefer not to keep the fluorescent lights on all day (it would be like living in a Wal-Mart).  He said the point of all this was to closely mimic the environment the astronauts work in and they have a lot of light up there… it reminds me of the people who like to complain about the Enterprise on TNG being too bright and that the bridge looked like the lobby of a Hyatt Regency (says designer Andrew Probert).  Once bedrest begins, the subject monitors will have to turn my lights on and off since I won't be able to reach them.

Lunch was chicken pitas with cheese, a bowl of eggs, uh, something, with cheese, salad with cheese on it, a bowl of Mandarin oranges (yay!), Jell-o, and lemonade… curse my aversion to cheese! I didn't even finish every morsel of cheese and egg so Elva came back with a plate with two spoons on it: one with the leftover egg, and the other with the leftover cheese… yuck!!!  Thank God I only have to eat this four or five more times.  We can prop ourselves up on our elbows to make digestion easier… but we can only be in that position for 90 minutes total (30/30/30) for meals throughout the day

One of the monitors came by and gave me a Sharpie to mark up my leg… the ladies in charge of the "T-reflex" test had marked the back of my left leg where the electrodes were placed and, after today's shower, the marks have faded, so they need to be re-drawn… my leg looks like a surge protector now…

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2009     09:21 pm
I just watched the movie Land of the Lost and the phrase "creative misfire" comes to mind.  I might've grinned at one or two points but I didn't really laugh… and the movie, despite what I'm sure was an enormous budget, actually looked kinda cheap (except for the CGI).  In terms of practical effects and sets, the original Star Wars looks more extravagant. If this was a deliberate homage to the original show, they failed… it's worth watching maybe once but if you want a fun movie with dinosaurs or other creatures, just watch Jurassic Park or The Mummy

Nurse Kathy introduced herself, and asked me if there was anything I needed… I'm fine!  If I needed something, I'd ask them… now my nerd mind takes over and begins to speculate: they're so nice so there must be a catch… what do they want?

In the days leading up to my departure from Florida, Sanjurjo and I spoke and I told him this would make a cool movie, but in what genre?... romantic comedy?... horror film?... Hitchcock thriller with Bernard Herrmann-style music score?  Some friends have joked that I must: a) be a sleeper agent for the US government, or b) have a capsule inside me with a little pilot (like in Innerspace or Fantastic Voyage).  Jerry said I should start writing crazy stuff, like they suspended me upside-down from the ceiling or kept me in a water tank (think Luke in Empire Strikes Back hanging out in the bacta tank)… I told him I might later on, but this whole enterprise only proves truth is stranger than fiction… and that clichés are sometimes true.

Dinner was okay… it was nice to have some meat… along with greens, some bread and noodle thing (quiche?), dinner rolls (woo-hoo!), and some Fig Newtons.  I'm starting to realize all the foods I never tried as a kid because I was afraid I wouldn't like them… I actually don't like them!  I was right all along!  Dana checked my vitals and I helped Sonia with her crossword puzzle… slow night… 

I've been thinking (uh-oh)… ever since I left LA, my life has been a planned, yet seemingly random series of events: move to Orlando, get a temp job at the county courthouse which I later walk out of (a first), almost want to strangle my roommate and I know the feeling was mutual (we're good now… better than ever, actually), start improv classes, get another temp job (at a bank and I knew nothing up to and including my last day), go back to Boca, continue taking improv classes in Orlando (16 six-hour roundtrips)… get more temp jobs (two weeks at Konica-Minolta, several months at LeadAmerica, followed by a nice thirteen months at Simplex, a division of Tyco).

Now I'm here in Texas working as a NASA guinea pig… I know the cliché is "It's not the destination, it's the journey…" and maybe that's true… sometimes I have to sit back and wonder, "What a life…"   It sure as hell isn't what I was planning back at Full Sail where I naively (yet optimistically) thought I'd be knee-deep in filmmaking right now.  Luckily, I found improv and it was the first thing I 100% felt I was any good at… 2010 promises to be quite an adventure… (after all, it's the year we make contact).

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Continue on to Scott's Journal : Part Four


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