when black friday comes.

As you may have heard, the Friday after Thanksgiving is often the biggest shopping day of the year in America. It's called Black Friday. Some stores are opening at 3 am (yes, 03:00) in order to maximize the number of shoppers they can serve on this day.

I myself will be inside until dinnertime.

BTW, I'd like to point out that in this photo I've managed to capture quite a few defining characteristics of American suburbia: an SUV, a newspaper in a driveway, a nicely manicured lawn, somebody's grandparents' car (the old-fashioned white sedan in the background), and genetically mutated children out practicing driving, shopping, and looking bewildered. All that's missing are the cellphones.


My days are numbered, as they say. Today, tomorrow, Monday, then lots of airplane time. This means that my research activities are drawing to a close as well, so the mobile lab and sick bay that was my bedroom here will need to be completely torched and rebuilt in order to protect the innocent and restore its original "clean" state.

Last night, dinner at Z'tejas again. If you're not acquainted with this place, it's basically a chain of mid-priced "southwestern grills". Kind of like a slightly cheaper Houston's without all the beef. The food is generally tasty and reasonably fresh-seeming, and the portions are normal-sized (vs. somewhere like the Cheesecake Factory). There aren't really any kids there, the lights are low, the waiters don't have to wear funny uniforms, there's no neon on the walls, etc. In other words, it's not an annoyingly cheery or entertainment-themed place to eat, it's for grown-ups.

It's one of the default choices for when my parents don't feel like cooking because they live out in the foothills and aren't really close to much of anything that's not a chain. And for all of the reasons above, Z'tejas usually wins out. We've eaten there twice this visit and both times, the food's been perfectly acceptable, more so in fact than some non-chain places we've eaten. More in a bit.

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