Scott's MD-PhD Adventure

Thursday, November 30, 2006


My dad wants coffee in the morning. He can't use a French Press. We explain how Mike will make it for him. *eyeroll*

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Baby Steps

My mother uses my trackball mouse, and discusses with my dad the steps he's made in being able to "use the computer."

Can You Hear Me (Screaming) Now?

My mother has no idea how to use a cell phone. Hanging up. Dialing. Closing. Watch her looking at it with confusion.

Weather Man

So, back to parents. I mentioned we have video, and we do. Here is the first of many to come involving my dad and the weather. It was on Friday when we went shopping and it was like 60 out. My dad mentions his friend ralph joking about the arizona weather, and my mother tells him how it was warm! (sorry about fuzzy video). then, my dad asks my mother, talking to her mother, to ask grandmother about the weather.

I Feel Pity

Bob, as he randomly does some times, starts singing a capella...

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty...
Lili: What happens if you don't pronounce the R?
Bob: I guess I would sing I'm so pity?
Lili: Haha. Oh.
Me: Why would he not pronounce the R?
Lili: Sometimes he sings fast, and I don't hear the R.
Me: Um, ok?
Lili: Does that mean anything? If he doesn't use the R?
Me: Not really?
Lili: Ok.

Oh Lili. How I feel pity for you. :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


And we're back to Lili stories. I typed this while it happened...

Bob turns on a CD. Thunder Road starts playing.
Lili: I think there's a lot of misleading between American singer and Asian singer.
Bob: What?
Lili: There is misleading...misunderstanding. The singer, Brandy Spears, she would post for picture when she was pregnant. When some asian people saw the picture, they think all the western people are like this.
Bob: No, they're not all are like that.
Lili: Well, that is the information we get from this. There is dispute whether to put the picture in the subway station. The moms don't want children to see the picture cause they think that's crazy.
Bob: Right, not all Americans are like Britney Spears or Madonna.
Lili: Yes, I know some more American now. They are more optimized than I thought.
Bob: Optimistic?
Lili: Yes. They don't all get divorce. That's why I ask the people if the Sex and the City is real. The Desperate Housewives, my friends in China ask if I live in the country where the people are like that.

Amy comes out...
Amy: Bob, I'd like to ask about [this]. If you're gonna say [this] in the paper, you need to add [this part]. Ergo, another figure.
Amy walks away...

Lili: Ergo is...therefore?
Bob: Yes.
Lili: And people use that?
Bob: No.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


They're gone. Ciao!

Here's a brief update before the full one of the last few days. Btw, we got it all on topsecret isight video. Here's a YouTube clip (more clips to follow) and my transcript from memory before rewatching the YouTube clip.

Dad: Who's that singer you used to like?
Me: Which one?
Dad: She was Chinese
Me: I didn't like a Chinese singer that I know of
Dad: Yes you did! She played the violin.
Me: What are you talking about?
Dad: Val! Who was that Chinese singer he liked? She played the violin
Mom: I have no idea
Dad: She may have just been Asian
Me: I don't know
Dad: Come on, she was Chinese and she played the violin
Me: Really, I don't know what you're talking about. Vanessa Mae plays the violin and she's Asian
Dad: No! Maybe she played the piano?
Me: Tori Amos?
Dad: No! She's not Chinese! Val! Did she play the piano?
Mom: I don't think so.
Dad: Val! It's an Asian singer he used to like.
Mom: The Chow lady?
Dad: Yeah! Chow!
Mom: Margaret Chow, Jerr?
Dad: Yes! Margaret, Margaret Chow
Mom: She's a comedian!
Me: Cho!
Mike: She's Korean!
Dad: Whatever. Do you still like her?
Me: Yes, why?
Dad: Just wondering
Me: Why did you think she played the violin?
Dad: Remember you used to go to her concerts? I thought she played the violin.
Me: I never went to her shows when I lived at home.
Dad: Yes you did!
Me: No, I didn't.
Mom: She's funny

Thursday, November 23, 2006

(Cashew) Nuts

We spent the rest of the day (10am-10pm) at Steve&Shane's. Mike&I managed to avoid having to have one-on-one conversations with just them, preferring the family buffer. The following were the overheard topics of conversation between my dad and others: old stores in detroit. roads. hurricane shutter brand names. sale prices. old sports teams. new sports teams. which sports teams he likes.
My mother of course told more people about Pickle Ball. She also got a free haircut from Shane. She liked the haircut a lot. And she liked that it was free. Mostly she liked knowing how much money she saved based on what he usually charges.
The two children, Rachel age 3.9 and Ryan age 2.2 were also running around. Rachel liked giving out back scratches. She would offer one to my dad, and he would keep saying, I think truthfully, "She keeps scratching my favorite spot!"

Dad sat next to Mike at dinner.
Dad: I went to this PFLAG meeting. I didn't say much cause I don't care you guys are gay. The lady in charge thought I was ashamed of my son. I don't care, I just don't need to talk about it.
Mike: Was she a short gray-haired woman? Who might have been a lesbian, but really just had a gay son.
Dad: Yes! How did you know that?
Mike: All PFLAG chapters have that woman.
Dad: Really? Hey Steve! Have you ever been to a PFLAG meeting?
Steve: Yes, why?
Dad: Did it have a short lesbian with a gay son?
Mike: The short gray-haired woman, who could be a lesbian but really just has a gay son.
Steve: Yeah, we had those women.
Dad: Really?! Wow.

For the most part they were on good behavior, cause they were around other people. As soon as we're alone again on the train, the fun ensues.
Dad: So what time are we going to dinner tomorrow?
Me: I think we're meeting Mike's parents at 6.
Dad: Why so late?
Mike: 6 is not late.
Dad: Can't we meet them at 5?
Me: We can try for 5:30
Dad: Cause I'd like to be done eating early.
Me: I know, but we're going to Chinatown for lunch.
Dad: I never eat lunch
Me: I thought your Olympic trainer told you how to eat. You should know lots of little meals are better than one or two big meals.
Mom: I eat lunch!
Dad: If I eat lunch I can't eat dinner though.
Me: Right, and that's why you get hungry early.
Dad: No, I like to eat early.
Me: Huh? You should have lunch with us
Dad: Well, Mummy doesn't want to eat it anyway. She wants the breast meat.
Mom: No, I said I prefer the breast meat
Me: You said you wanted me to ask for breast meat, and I told you they don't speak English enough for that
Mom: Oh
Me: So, if we go, we can order your Sweet & Sour Chicken, but it won't be all white meat. Would you still eat it?
Mom: I don't need to eat something deep fried.
Me: I know, but I was hoping Dad would try it, cause it would be the best Chinese food you'd have
Dad: I can't eat that, I won't eat dinner
Me: What? You can't have one piece of chicken to taste at lunch time?
Dad: No, I'll get too full for dinner
Mom: Scott, he says he gets full
Dad: Let me give you an example. Today at about 1:00, I had one cashew. I almost didn't eat dinner.
Me: That's nuts. You're ridiculous
Dad: I know how my body works.
Me: I don't think your alleged Olympic Trainer told you to have 2 meals a day and one of them should be a cashew!
Dad: You just don't understand.

While Mom takes off her makeup and Dad walks around...
Dad: This poster, run lola run, what's that about?
Mike: It's a movie
Dad: What's it about?
Mike: A woman who runs cause she has to get money to her boyfriend before he gets killed for not having the money.
Dad: Oh, ok.

Btw, for everyone who's keeping track...
Days he's been here: 3.
Number of times a shirt has been changed: At least 5
Number of pairs of socks that have been sweated through - dried - worn again: Probably 8
Times he's showered/bathed/washed his face/done anything other than brush his teeth or shave: 0

Choo Choo

We got to the elevator. My mother had said her shins hurt from all the stairs and walking, so I asked if we should take the elevator down 2 floors or walk. "We can take the stairs." "I have to stretch" my dad added. So he stretched his calves and we walked down the stairs.

We took the train up to Steve&Shane's. My dad likes to call it the "choo choo."

About Armitage, we had the following conversation (aboard a loud train)...
Dad: Where are we now? Lincoln Park?
Me: Yes
Dad: And they live where?
Me: Lakeview
Dad: Where's that?
Me: North of Lincoln Park
Mike (devilishly): It's also called Wrigleyville
Dad: What?
Mike: Wrigleyville
Dad: Ripleyville?
Mike: No, Wrigleyville
Dad: Wiggleville?
Me: Mike, don't add things
Mike: Wrigleyville. Like the field.
Dad: Field?
Me: Stop!
Mike: Wrigleyville. Like Wrigley field.
Dad: Wrigleyville?
Mike & me: Yes!

While walking to the apartment, my mother reminded us that her shins hurt from walking up and down the stairs so much.
Dad: Let's not walk too much so Mummy's [he pronounces it that way] legs don't hurt.
Me: That's fine. I had asked stairs or elevator, so don't say stairs next time.
Dad: No! Her legs hurt I'm telling you.
Me: That's not a response to what I said. That's information I already know.
Dad: Huh? I'm telling you her legs hurt so you shouldn't make her walk.
Me: I know. And I'm telling you when I ask stairs or elevator, and both of you say stairs, then don't blame me if her legs hurt.
Dad: You talk in a way that doesn't make sense.
Me: Right. I'm the one with the problem.

Breakfast with a side of Crazy

Dad: My air mattress was cold last night.
Me: Ok
Dad: Can I make it warmer?
Me: Um, it's a mattress
Dad: No, but like I want it to be warm?
Me: Turn the heater on next to it.
Dad: We can do that?
Me: It's a space heater
Dad: Ok, cause I don't want the mattress to be cold.
Me: Right, you said that.

Dad: So if Mike moved up here and brought his car, where would you park it?
Me: We'll figure that out then.
Dad: No, but how much would it cost to park?
Me: Um, depends on where we get a spot.
Dad: What would it cost you? $100 /month?
Me: More like at least 300 probably.
Dad: That's ridiculous!

My dad wanted to use the computer this morning to check his sports updates. "They only let Powell in for 2 minutes? What were they thinking? Why'd they play him?" Then he needed help with the trackball mouse and non-AOL browser. "Can i go to" "Can i go to" "How do i check my email?"

My mother relayed her own computer story: "I tried to print something and it was too red. So I called Dell. They said to try a few things. They didn't work. She told me I need to print things every week or the cartridge goes bad. I got a new cartridge. It works fine. Now I write down the date every time I print. I make sure I just print a page or something every week."

–Your dad and I want to talk to you two together
This morning?
Really? Don't you need to get ready?
–We want to talk to you.
10 min later...
–So, we're going to give you some money like we talked about, in January.
Right, I know. Thank you.
–You know, for your place.
Right, that was established.
–Ok, cause we know you're not going to squander it, you're going to put it towards the home.
–Right. we're not. thank you.
Ok. that was all. so we'll give you the money.
–Yes, thank you.

–Do you use olive oil for everything? I like it cause it has the good fats!
Well, or vegetable oil.
–Oh, cause I use olive oil for a stir fry.
You should try an oil that's not olive oil
Dad: Mike, my eggs are delicious.
Mom: Did you use olive oil for his eggs?
Mike: Sure. (He browned the onions in butter, then added eggs)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

She read you like a book

(noon ish - 11pm ish)
On the walk back, I asked why, for the second day in a row, he wore sweatpants and complained about sweating.
Dad: They're warm!
Me: Right, but you sweat.
Dad: I know! I don't want to sweat but I'm warm in them.
Me: You know they're called sweatpants for a reason, right?
Mom: Jerry, he's right! I told you to wear jeans.
Dad: Wow, I never thought of that.
Me: Yes, they're pants you sweat in. For when you want to get warm and sweat. You just want to be warm.
Mom: Scott's right Jer. You should wear your nice jeans tomorrow.
Dad: Alright fine I'll wear my jeans. Do you think I can put them in the dryer?
Me: What?
Dad: Yeah, can I put my shirt, pants, and underwear in the dryer at Steve's. I'll just stand in the laundry room for 5 minutes while they dry.
Me: Um, if that's necessary. They probably have a robe though.
Dad: No I don't need that. I can stand in there.

Back hanging out at Steve & Shane's, dad decided against drying pants and just handed his shirt to my mother. My mother was afraid of Steve's dryer. Steve was afraid of my dad's wet shirt. It went in the dryer. Meanwhile, my mother told Steve all about the colors for her new place. More purple talk (see yesterday). Then, we were all enlightened on Pickle Ball...
Mom: Here's something I play you've never heard of. It's called Pickle Ball.
Steve: No?
Mom: It was invented by a guy. His dogs name was Pickles. (Mike: Why is his dog named Pickles?) It's like ping pong but you're standing on the table. There's a whiffle ball. People play doubles. There's a lot of people playing it. They quit tennis to play. A lot of people get hurt. There's a podiatrist down the street. He loves it. People get injured and they go to him.

Hanging out the rest of the day was mostly uneventful, from the crazy parent perspective. We left to head back downtown. My dad got on the train and immediately asked the young woman with a pizza box who got on with us, "What kind of pizza is that?"
–"Well, it's complicated… it's half broccoli and artichoke and tomato and half spinach and chicken and ricotta."
"That's leftover?"
–"Yeah, it's half of each of those. It's for my roommate. — You're from out of town, aren't you?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Yeah, of course!"
–"Well… the sweatpants."
"The sweatpants?"
"What's wrong with sweatpants? I wear these all the time."
Mike interjected, "By the way, we don't know her and we didn't pay her to say that." I laughed. A lot.
She added, "And you talked to me randomly."
"I always do that. People don't do that?"
"What's wrong with wearing sweatpants?"
–"Well, it's not wearing them," she hedged, "but more when and how you wear them."
"When and how? I'm wearing them. Now."
–"Right. But like… not just around the house. Outside the house."
"Oh. Everyone wears them like this, just like this, all the time where we're from in Arizona."
–"...and the bottom, like the elastic, well, people don't usually wear it with it so tight. The band at the bottom."
"They came like this! I bought them like this! I bought them just like this."
–"I'm sure you did…"
"In Arizona!"
Mike: "Again, we don't know her…"
She delved deeper: "…and the socks."
"What's wrong with my socks?"
–"Well with the shoes and the sweatpants and the band and the white socks showing."
"You know I'm not from here. People don't wear socks?"
–"They do but… not white ones that show… like that. Like him (pointing at my long jeans covering up his white socks)."
I nodded.
We talked about where she's from and how they're visiting me for a few more minutes, then we had to get off the train. When we got off the train, Mom remarked to Dad, "She must have read
the same book as Scott. Scott! She must have read the same book as you about the sweatpants!"
Yeah. Someone got read. By a stranger. On the el.

We got off the train to go to Fleet Feet. He heard it was the best shoe store around. My dad has "high arches" that allegedly magically become low and flat some days, and are high on others. His mother apparently had the same problem. This "condition" results in countless hours at shoe stores looking for sneakers for daily walking and cleats for softball. 99/100 times, he buys a pair of shoes that is ok at the store. Then he walks some more at home, and they in fact suck. The only shoes he wants, they don't make any more so he had to buy the tester. They were there for over an hour. Mike and I went to the grocery store, then he went home to cook and I sat next door at Starbucks.

The brown line was all kinds of fucked up coming home. Unfortunately that delayed us getting in till 6pm! My dad ate his leftover Greek pasta the second we got home. "It's even better the second day. Those spices are still in it. What spices are they?" We informed him again that it was cinnamon and coriander. "I've never heard of that second one."

I thought it would be fun to have them meet whomever of my friends happened to be in town. Ina, Julian, Joe, Neil&Kevin, Brian&Benjeman came over for some veggie crepes and tofu&chicken satay.
Dad sat on the couch, saying very little. Occassionally he would shout "what's that Val? I can't hear" and make her repeat something. This is intermixed with him occassionally saying "I hear really good!" He didn't interject or say anything, unless we got to a topic he kind of knows about. Like roads.
Neil: I've been to Sedona. We went there from Vegas. It's beautiful.
Dad: Oh! Did you take 40?
Neil: Uh, yeah, I guess so.
Dad: We've been on 40! South of Sedona it becomes highway 17.
Neil: Ok.

My mother was pretty sociable. She told Joe all about Pickle ball. Ina and her talked about Mahjong. I walked Ina out and she confirmed my suspected diagnosis for my dad. Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

After everyone left, the fun really began.
Mom: So, how does Ina feel hanging out with a bunch of, you know, gay guys?
Me: She doesn't mind. Besides, I told you 9 times, I have other friends who are not here.
Mom: So, she's not a lesbian then?
Me: No
Dad: She's not a lesbian?
Me: No
Mom: She has a boyfriend?
Me: Yes
Dad: Where was he?
Me: He lives in DC
Dad: Oh, I guess she's not a lesbian.

Mom: So we noticed that the other ones, Brian and Benjeman? They had the rings like you?
Me: Yes
Dad: Oh, so they're together too?
Me: Yes
Mom: How about Neil and...what was his name? Kevin?
Me: Yes
Dad: Does Joe have a partner?
Me: Yes, Randy. He is out of town with his parents
Dad: How about the other one? Julian?
Me: He's single.
Dad: Oh, ok.

The night ended with an attempt at watching Daily Show. My dad turned it off when Howard Dean was the guest. "He's too liberal."
Mike: Why?
Dad: I like a strong defense
Me: What?
Dad: I want to make sure we can defend ourselves cause we are at war.
Mike: Well, that isn't by interrogating people at Guantanamo.
Dad: But we're at war! Don't you wanna win the war?
Me: Um, can we turn on Stephen Colbert?

Bagels & Matzah

(7:30am-noon ish)
When we got up this morning, Mom indicated to Mike that they usually turn up the thermostat when they wake up so it's nice and toasty. Not a horrible idea; Mike obliged and overrode the program and made it warm. Then, when it was time to leave the house:
"Oh, Mike, did you switch the ther—"
"Yeah, I changed it back."
"—mostat back because you turned it up for me—"
"Yeah. I put it back"
"—because it was colder and then you made it warmer, you probably want to put it back down to wherever you had it—"
"I did."
"—since we're leaving the house; we'll be gone all day—"
Scott: "He did it. You can stop."
"—Well, he turned it up for me, I was a little chilly in the morning so he turned it up."

A couple months ago, my parents asked if I take the train when I have luggage. Of course I do, and I got a lecture how their friend who used to live in Chicago (probably 20+ years ago) said not to take the train when you have luggage cause you'll get mugged. I said "Um, if you dress like you're from the suburbs/out-of-town, you get mugged."
So, Mike saw an ad for a last minute Green City market. He called Steve to ask about going.
My dad decided he would also use the phone to call a softball friend back in AZ.
"I'm in Chicago! Yeah! Is it warm back there? 75!?! Wow!"
I informed my mother he needed to get off the phone. It wasn't polite to be shouting, and that if he wanted to let everyone know he's from out of town, shouting on the bus & wearing sweatpants would let everyone know.
When he got off the phone, I reminded them of the story how they were blatantly acting like they were from out of town and are more likely to get mugged than me with luggage. I explained that shouting "I'm in Chicago" would let everyone know he's from out of town.
His response: "No! I had to ask him about the weather. He says it's warm there!"
Me: That's not a retort. That's a side story.

We ate breakfast at The Bagel because there are no good Jewish delis where they live. Our grand total at the Bagel was $30.10 "Tax is high here!" And yes, 9.25%, or whatever it is, is high.
Mom: So, $3 for tip?
Me: Um, $5
Mom: What?!?
Dad: You don't tip on the tax!
Mom: Oh, I meant $4
Me: You can't give $5?
Mom: You know you're not supposed to tip on the tax Scott. $4 is plenty.
I of course dropped another single down on the way out.

Dad, walking north on Broadway: Look at this street! It's like Boston! Do people live here?
Me: People live everywhere.
Dad: This is wild!

We took the bus to Andersonville from Steve&Shane's cause Mike needed some Pomegranate Molasses for the Pomegranate-Pear Pie he's making. The Middle Eastern Bakery&Grocery is right there at Foster/Clark. On the way there we passed by Wrigley field. "Look it's Wrigley Field!" and on the way back "Look there it is again!"
As we walked around, I mentioned Andersonville was where the lesbians are. So, every woman who passes by, my dad asks "Is that one?" Or someone passes and I say "Yes" before he asks. "I know!"
Inside the Middle Eastern bakery, we get pita and lavash. My mother shouts "It's like matzah!" to me. To which I have to say "Don't say matzah in here." She of course relayed to Steve & Mike back at the house "I said it was like matzah and Scott told me not to say it in...what kind of store was that? Oh! Middle Eastern!"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You don't know, you have no idea.

My parents are visiting from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday morning. Mike was originally going to fly in at 5pm Tuesday, but managed to skip a class, change his flight, and he arrived at 1. He helped clean and otherwise prepare for them.

2:30 PM.

Mom: Oh! Mike is here! I thought he wasn't supposed to be here till later! Oh, you look slim!
Me: I was never not slim. I was never fat. You saw a picture with me in 4 layers of clothing.
Mom: Well, wow! you look slim!

If I were writing a novel with metaphors, sweat would signify crazy. Because OMG there is a lot of fucking sweat pouring out of my dad.

Dad: Hi! How are you? Val!! I have to change my socks! I'm wet! Scott, where can I hang up my socks? My feet are soaked. They're soaked.
Me: Um, the whole front coat closet is all for you.
Dad: God, I gotta hang up my shirt too. It's soaked! Val! Where are my Tshirts? Did you bring the ones I like? I have to change my socks too.
Mom [sensibly]: Yes. They're in the blue suitcase. Hold on.

Mike and I proceeded to show my mother around and prepare a mini-snack of an apple, pita chips, and water for them. They arrived at 2:30, having not eaten much all day. My dad used a blow dryer on his chest then put on a dry shirt, and the new socks from the blue suitcase. The goal was to get them out of the house as quickly as possible to see my school.

My dad refused to eat anything. "I don't eat snacks!" My mother reminded me as we got outside that "he doesn't eat fruit either." We walked to the L station, and I was asked "Is this a safe neighborhood?"

The train ride consisted of questions like "when are we eating dinner? what are we eating for dinner? is mike going to meet us for dinner?" I mentioned we were going to greek food, and that I thought my dad would enjoy gyros, as he likes meat and onions and mayonnaise. He informed me that he "doesn't eat lamb!" As we got off the L, they asked "is this your school?" about no building in particular. This was followed by dad's "Ooooh! Sbarro! Let's go there. I could get some pizza now!"

Roberta was not around for the suite tour. Amy wasn't around for the "meet the boss" so they just met Bob and Palash. Lili was in the animal facility, so oh well.
—"So he's not a student?"
"No, he's a postdoc"
—"Does that mean he has a PhD?"
"Yes, he's post-getting his doctoral degree"
—"Oh, so why doesn't he have a job?"
"He does, he works for Amy"
—"Doesn't he want a real job?"
"It is a real job. This is what you do after you get a PhD"

We went inside and outside to see the Union. It was now 4pm.
—"Can we go to the restaurant now?"
"No, it's 4. The earliest I'm getting there is 5."
—"Scott! We haven't eaten all day. I need to eat!"
"Yes, that's why I offered you a snack. You refused it. I'm not getting somewhere and eating dinner before 5."
—"Well, can't I get some pizza or something? You said we're by the Italian food."
"Ok, let's go get you some Pompei. You can eat now, and then we'll be done by 5 and we can meet Mike for real dinner."

We proceed to walk to Pompei. During this time, my dad, who is wearing uglier-than-navy blue sweatpants, a Senior Softball maroon XL polo shirt, and a sort of raincoat/jacket hybrid that he borrowed from a snowbird, hood up, starts complaining that he's sweating, again.
Dad: Val I'm drenched! I'm gonna have to change my shirt again. Can Mike bring me another shirt?
Mom: Sure, Scott would Mike bring your dad another shirt?
Me: Of course.
Dad: (over the next 5 min of walking) I'm sweating like a pig! I'm freezing cold now. It's really cold. I'm soaking wet and I'm cold. I'm soaked. I'm drenched. I'm sweating through another shirt! This is just great! I can't believe how wet I am! Val, did you bring the other shirts! I hope we have enough shirts! I might need one of Scott's shirts!

We get to Pompei.
Dad: I can't go in there! I need to go home. Let's go home. I'm soaked and wet and sweating like a pig. We need to go home so I can change my clothes.
Me: Ok
Dad: (on the return walk to the train) I'm gonna get sick. My throat is sore. I can't keep going in and out of buildings. You know I'm allergic to the cold. I have vasomotor rhinitis Val! You don't know! You have no idea! It's bad! I'm wet and I can't breathe.
Mom: After 30 years of marriage I know you get it.
Dad: We need to get home. I need to change my clothes. I'm soaked.

The train ride home consisted of him touching his head, and showing his sweat-glistening hand to my mother with shouts of "Look Val! Even my head is wet! Look!" This happened at least 4 times. He also complained repeatedly about how he would go and get his own food for dinner right away, cause he needed to eat. Walking back from the train, he kept making comments about how he needs to eat, how I don't know his body, how he has a fast metabolism. He told me that all of the Olympic trainers he knows told him when and how to eat. I explained that I've taken nutrition and I know what's good and that snacks are healthy and many small meals are good. He shouted, "You don't know anything! I know more than you! I'm an athlete!" Oh, he needed some food.

We're back. He changes. The blow dryer comes out again. It was used on hair and chest. This time, he gets dressed up in his Sunday best. And by Sunday best, I mean red longsleeve flannel shirt. I think even lesbians would be horrified. Mother reapplied lipstick and we were good to go. It was about 5:10ish.

When Dad is hungry, that's all that matters. The L stopped, of course. "Does this happen? How often does this happen? Has this happened before? How long will it take? I'm starving. You sure we're ok? Will I get to eat dinner? When will it move?" And every restaurant we passed got a, "Why aren't we eating there?" or "Have you ever eaten there? Is it good? I could eat there." We finally arrived.
Dad: What did you say I should get?
Me: I think you'd like gyros?
Dad: I don't see them on the menu?
Me: On the right, under Greek dishes. It's spelled g-y-r-o-s
Dad: Oh! there they are. What's a jy-ro meat? (said like gyroscope) Do I like a ziki sauce?
Me: It's, uh, sort of like mayonnaise.
Mom: Jerry, you might like guy-rose. What else is there for Dad?
Dad: Oooh! traditional pasta with meat sauce! I want that.
We order. Waiter asks if anyone want a salad or something.
Dad: Can I get a Greek salad? With no tomatoes, and no olives. [We sort of wonder what will be left: it turns out to mean iceberg lettuce, balsamic vinaigrette, and a couple slabs of feta.]

Back home, Mike also got a very detailed description of changes they've made to their own abode. About ten minutes of rambling is distilled as follows: purple wall. another purple wall. was going to make purple wall in bathroom, but painter cautioned against (too much of same purple). other walls, off white "swiss coffee, but it doesn't look like coffee, sometimes it looks sort of grayish." other bathroom, blue. pillows on couch. pier one. sale. 50%—no! 75% off. purple. yellow.
on the couch. real nice. real nice.

They also had to make a couple phone calls (to Mom's mother Goldie, most importantly, and Dad to someone he plays softball with). These calls featured less of their analysis of the visit or their impressions than raw, completely unfiltered data. "They have a nice area rug. The dining table is frosted glass. The counters are black. They put up shelves in the bathroom, instead of a medicine cabinet. They hold more than a medicine cabinet. They take their shoes off at the front door! They say it is easier to clean if you don't track your shoes in the house. I think it's like what Asian people do. But we took our shoes off, too. They say they don't have a coffee machine, but they can make coffee. [We heat water and use a press pot.] Jerry wants to get up early and make coffee but he can't. We saw the Sears Tower."

Dad's conversation with his neighbor / softball-friend (from Naperville) consisted of the Chicago native asking what Jerry had done or planned to do ("We were by Taylor street today. By the Italians"), and then shouting place names at us as if it were some kind of a random-association type of quiz: "Greektown. That's Halsted? That's right. The Hancock building? He says to go to the 95th floor. We're going to Michigan avenue? Where's Oprah live? What about Lincoln Park? Old Town? Wrigleyville?" etc.

Oh, and my mother proceeded to show&tell me a whole bunch of crap. I got a $5 blockbuster gift card, since the blockbuster near them only has DVDs and they still only have a VCR. I got a bag of jelly beans that were discounted from the Jelly Belly factory because they visited and got the marked down mis-shapen ones. And she showed me a "real nice" sweater she bought for my dad. It was marked down from $50 to $7. She made a point of pulling out the tag and showing it to me. "John Ashford!" And guess what, it's on ebay! (his is XL too)

The evening ended with my mother checking her email, slowly, and filling out her surveys so she can get free samples of shit (I got a Swiffer duster sample last week!) while my dad watched Fox News. He would ask Mike things like "What do you think of Iran?" "What's your opinion on Harry Belafonte?" "What do you think of Lieberman?" or just make comments like "Ugh. Chuck Hagel is gonna run!" My dad checked the Boston Celtics homepage. We watched my recorded episode of House. They asked me things like "Do you think he really has brain tumors?" "No, it's probably a fungus." After commercial, it's a fungus. "How did you know that!" "I'm in medical school."

They went to bed by 10. Mike and I blogged this for an hour. The fun resumes at 8 tomorrow, when we take the bus up to The Bagel.


Lecture on gene-specific translational regulation, which somehow has translated to a lecture on iron.

"Almost all organisms use iron. It's found everywhere in the environment. You can also find iron in the front yards of some people in the form of rust"

It reminds me of the redneck neighbor blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Michele says freakdancing.
Ludacris is played on NPR.
They basically describe an average Monday night at Hydrate.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Lab lunch was today. At Pompei, as always.

Lili (while pointing towards food on display): I think I want that pasta? The one that is long.
Me: Spaghetti?
Lili: Yes? Can you order that pasta.
Me: Sure, I can order it for you. What sauce?
Lili: Um, I want the one that is red.
Me: Ok.
Me: She'll have the spaghetti.
Counter guy: Meat sauce or marinara?
Me: Do you want meat Lili?
Lili: Uh, no. Just sauce.
Me: Just marinara.
Counter guy: Ok
Lili: That means sauce?
Me: Yes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Failure is not an option

Yesterday was biweekly grad student research talks.
I got there a few minutes late, and was stuck in the back next to this Indian PI.
The first grad student speaking was a woman who works for the Indian PI. After she gave her second background slide, he mumbled quickly and angrily "If she talks about that she will surely fail!"

Needless to say...she didn't fail.


Yesterday I skipped lab in the morning and went biking on the lake. It was very nice. I rode south first, cause I hate riding against the wind and this way the way back is happy and with the wind. There weren't that many people since it was like 10am on a sunny but relatively warm morning.

After about McCormick place, (2400 S or so), I rode by a black woman walking north. She was walking alone, in sweats, and reading a Denzel Washington biography while walking. If only I had taken a picture!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Isn't it time for a change?

Melissa and/or Michele talk to the voices behind the negative campaign ads.
Then, the voices make fake ads for Humpty Dumpty and London Bridge. It's a must listen!

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. He said he could put himself together again. But after wasting thousands of our tax dollars, all the kings horses and all the kings men, he failed us. Humpty Dumpty. Wrong...on wall sitting."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dog? Flamingo?

Am I supposed to be a dog? or a flamingo? I'm confused?
Well, at least they tried. It isn't heteros making out.

Beer Peer Pear

Location: Grad Student Council Meeting
Subject: Jen's persistent cough

Jen: I can't seem to get rid of this cough
Ruiqing: Do you like beer?
Jen: Beer?
Ruiqing: Uh... Peer?
Jen: Peer?
Ruiqing: Um, it's fruit
Jen: *with hand motion* Pear?
Ruiqing: Yes, pear. You steam. Cut up peer. Put in bowl and steam the bee...pee..
Jen: The fruit?
Ruiqing: Yes! Steam the fruit. Cough go away.


Leslie brought her favorite children's book up to share, SkippyjonJones. It's about some cat that wants to be a chihuahua or something, involving phrases like "Holy Guacamole!"

Lili: What's this word? Chee-hah-hah?
Me: That's a kind of dog. A Chihuahua. Let me pull up a google image.
Lili: Oh! ok. I know that dog.

Lili: What's a beeg?
Me: It's the word big. They're trying to spell out a Mexican accent. Beeg head on thees little body

Lili: I don't know this word. Avocado?
Me: Um, I have the bubble tea menu. Here, this is the chinese for avocado bubble tea.
Lili: Oh, this is the fruit. It is green. Outside is black?
Me: Yes! This menu is quite useful. Avocados are in guacamole.
Lili: I don't like that food.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Trick? Or Treat? Or...?

My new favorite thing in lab is explaining American customs to Lili.
Case in point from the other day:

Lili: So, if someone comes to my door, they say trick or treat?
Me: Yes
Lili: And, then I will give them the candy?
Me: Mm hmm
Lili: Do I say treat when I give them the candy?
Me: You don't have to.
Lili: So I say trick?
Me: No, don't say trick.
Lili: Oh, it is not a question?
Me: No, it's just a stupid American saying. It doesn't really mean anything anymore.
Lili: But can I say treat and give them candy?
Me: Yes, yes you can.
Lili: Do they get to pick what candy?
Me: If you want to be nice. Or you can give it out as you wish.
Lili: Ok. I will do that.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween

So, yeah, the picture below was worth me trekking up to boystown for the Halloween parade.

While 2 guys dressed as Tranji (Benji & Travis from So You Think You Can Dance) was good, a Madonna chasing a black guy dressed as a baby was great, nothing beats this woman, who after I took the picture said "It was the wig, wasn't it?" Umm, kinda. :P