Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Talking in my sleep

Preface: I am a science nerd. If you already know about my fascination with CSI (Las Vegas) and the various laboratory activities that are featured on the show, feel free to skip ahead. If not, read on. Each night when I arrive home from work, I immediately go into the living room and turn on CSI reruns. I Watch CSI while I cook, while we eat dinner, while I check my email, while I surf the web and while I do house work. I love CSI. I especially love how they use all kinds of wacky lab techniques and scientific methods to catch all those sneaky criminals. My absolute favorite lab instrument is the centrifuge. I mean, what's not to love? It is like a tiny amusement park ride for your samples. Anyway, needless to say, anyone who watches as much CSI as I do is bound to dream about it from time to time and that is where the story begins.

The last morning of the camping trip when I awoke Chris turned to me and said with an inquisitive look on his face, "What were you dreaming about last night?"

I immediately started describing in great detail a dream I had had about being an employee of the Las Vegas crime lab exactly as it is portrayed on CSI. I had interacted with all the characters during the course of my investigation and had spent a great deal of time analyzing data in the lab and using all the "cool equipment". I concluded by stating the obvious fact that "it was a really awesome dream."

"OK, science nerd, it must have been, because in the middle of the night last night you screamed out YEAH at the top of your lungs and woke me up. What part of the dream was that?" Chris then gave me that teacher stare he does so well, you know the one over the rims of his glasses where the eyebrows go way up.

I started laughing. I mean LAUGHING. Chris watched with a mixture of amusement and concern. I finally managed to explain that in my dream, Gill Grissom, the lab supervisor and head honcho, had come into the lab while I was processing data and had asked me a question. I responded yeah, but he couldn't hear me over the whir of the centrifuge combined with his character's mild hearing loss so I had to yell "YEAH" as loudly as I could. Apparently I had not only dreamed that I yelled yeah I *actually* yelled yeah.

Chris's face changed from concerned to relieved, then he started to shake his head and said "Man, you really are a science nerd."

Monday, August 27, 2007

S'more marshmallows please!

Without question, the best part of camping is s'mores. And the best part of s'mores is the marshmallows. So much so, that I love to just eat them toasted all by themselves. As it turns out, marshmallows have a lot of sugar in them. This becomes important for two reasons:

First, all that sugar means that marshmallows are highly combustible (read: BB never means to, but, always somehow manages to light them on fire). I put the marshmallow on the stick. I place the stick over the fire. I think to myself: "yeesh, this is really taking a long time. Maybe I'd better move it a little closer so that it gets nice and golden brown. I can't wait to eat this toasty marshmallow." At that very moment, as if on cue, the marshmallow bursts into flames. I am, however, thinking about eating the marshmallow and paying no attention to the fact that it is now engulfed in fire. I smell something burning. I look down in dismay to discover what has happened. My immediate reaction is to wave the stick back and forth furiously to extinguish the marshmallow. At this point, the person unlucky enough to be across the fire from me begins to weave and bob frantically in an attempt to not be hit by a flaming, aerial, marshmallow attack. In response to their yells of protest, I stop waving it around to extinguish the fire I begin to blow on the marshmallow in a manner reminiscent of the big bad wolf. Although, by now, the whole thing is pretty much black. I do not wait for it to cool off. I eat it right away. I burn my mouth. I gasp in pain which then causes me to choke on the little pieces of black ash. I swallow the molten marshmallow, and ask for another. This cycle repeats itself until we run out of marshmallows or I fall asleep on the picnic table when the sugar high wears off.

This brings me to a second interesting point about marshmallows having a lot of sugar. As it turns out, if I eat enough of them I bring amusement to not only myself and those around me but also to the unsuspecting folks at adjacent campsites. This past week, while camping, Warp, Chris, Chris's brother, and I were sitting around the campfire. I had consumed an unusually large number of marshmallows that evening was was halfway into a knock knock joke about a duck and a spatula that I can not seem to recall, when I became suddenly and overwhelmingly tired. "I'm very tired and I need to go to bed right away" I announced.

Chris and his brother exchanged dubious glances. "What right now?" Chris asked.

"Yeah, you can't go to bed now, your just lit your marshmallow on fire!" his brother said.

"Crap!" I yelled as I began frantically waving the marshmallow stick back and forth.

After I ate the marshmallow I decided to sit at the picnic table and wait for Chris and his brother to put out the campfire. Then, I thought I would just put my head down for a minute while I waited. I awoke with a start to the hiss of the campfire being put out with a bucket of water. As I turned my head, I noticed a long black line across my field of vision and I felt a poking sensation on my forehead. I reached my hand up to discover that I had fallen asleep on the marshmallow stick which was now firmly affixed to my forehead with residual goo. I quickly pulled it off before anyone noticed.

"Come on" Chris said "we need to get another bucket of water to put out the fire."

After a quick stop at the bathroom, I told Chris I would meet him at the water pump. When I got there I thought, maybe I will just sit down on this stump for a minute while I wait. Once I sat down, I thought, maybe I will just close my eyes for a minute while I wait. I must have dozed off again because when the squeak of the pump startled me awake I yelled "ARRUGH!" and jumped to my feet. Evidently, I was not the only one who was startled. The guy using the pump stumbled back while simultaneously sloshing himself with water. He then turned and stated walking very fast in the opposite direction. Moments later Chris walked up, picked up our bucket and we headed back to camp together.

"Ready to go to sleep?" he asked.

" You have no idea" I replied.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Scare a racoon in 10 easy steps

Night one of the camping trip: we realized we were in for a long night when 10 minutes after zipping the tent shut raccoons began to emerge from the woods and surround us. The dog, of course, went ballistic. This is when Chris must have gotten the idea for how to scare a raccoon in 10 easy steps:

Step 1: Select an isolated area with lots of hungry wildlife and no one to hear your screams.
Step 2: Prepare a fragrant and delicious meal outside.
Step 3: Wait until dark, then go inside your tent and zip it closed.
Step 4: Sit inside tent, in the dark, listening with mild alarm as the raccoons begin to close in.
Step 5: Cover ears as dog goes ballistic and begins to bark continuously and with great zeal.
Step 6: Attempt to calm down dog.
Step 7: Jump back as raccoons bump into wall of tent while wrestling with each other outside.
Step 8: Carefully select weapons in case you must defend the tent fortress. Recommended weapons include large rocks, a pudgy pie iron and a camping lantern with a loud warning siren.
Step 9: Go to sleep.
Step 10: Sleep in silence as a 47 lb raccoon tippy toes up to the tent window and peers inside. Lay in silence as the dog attempts to attack the 47 lb raccoon *through* the tent wall. Then, with out warning, snap open eyes while you sit bolt upright in sleeping bag zipped up to the neck and simultaneously scream at the top of your lungs. *NOTE* For best results, make a noise that sounds like both the Tasmanian devil from Loony Toons and a person puking up a large shoe.

It is probably worth mentioning that Step 10 not only scared the 47 lb raccoon but also the wife and the dog.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Avian Nose Job

While I was in the driveway the other day after work, I looked up to see the gigantic first grader who lives next door out on his porch with the parakeet. This the very same child who nearly collided with my car while reading the grocery store circular just days earlier. The boy, clearly bored, was 'playing with his pet'. This consisted of wedging his nose in between the bars of the bird cage while making noises that could only be described as a frighting hybrid of a rabid owl and a run away freight train. "Woooouh Woooot Wooot Woouuuuuuhhhhhh!"

As usual, the parakeet was squeaking away but in an attempt to put some distance between himself and the weird kid the bird had crammed itself into the far corner of the cage. I stood there for no less than 10 minutes watching transfixed as the noises continued and the bird became more and more irritated. The kids face was now pressed so tightly against the cage that little bulges of skin were popping up between the bars. Perplexed I turned to head back inside. But I did not make it through the door before hearing a short series of flapping noises followed by an abrupt halt to the hooting , an indignant wail and finally a loud thud.

I guess the bird must have had enough because when I turned around, the boy was sitting in the middle of the porch with both hands clamped over his nose screaming at the top of his lungs. I can only assume that left with no other alternative, the pissed off parakeet flew across the cage and pecked the kid right on the nose to silence him.

I managed to keep from bursting out laughing until I made it inside and the door was shut behind me. Chris wondering what was so funny, listened to my story accompanied by the screams which were clearly audible inside and said "That kid has been out there for a couple hours hooting at that bird. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner"

As we left later that night we saw the boy sitting on the front steps, looking particularly miserable, with a bandage on his nose made from a sock. The bird was eying him suspiciously and each time it moved to a new spot in the cage, the kid would shrink back gripping his bandage tightly lest he might become the unwilling recipient of a second avian nose job.