09 March 2012

UTSA talk

On Wednesday, I drove up to San Antonio to give a talk and meet the fine folks in the University of Texas San Antonio neuroscience group. Because I had decided to talk about nociception, Sakshi Puri came along with me. We got to San Antonio early enough Wednesday that we were able to play a little hooky, and decided that it was a lovely day to go to the zoo. We saw this massive guy there:

Biggest snapping turtle I have ever seen. It looked like it was a million years old.

Thursday went very well. We met lots of people who were doing interesting science but who weren’t waaaaay into themselves. My feature talk was well received, had a mini-Tweet-up (one person who was following me from the Ecology meeting last summer!), followed by lunch with students.

We then recorded an interview of Neuroscientists Talk Shop. My interview isn’t up yet; I’ll let you know when it it. But there are plenty of other interviews there for the neurocurious (76, I think). Just the thing to keep your mind working through an exercise routine, say! We talked about nociception and yesterday’s connectome post.

One of the unexpected things I learned on this trip from my host, Todd Troyer: How to catch a zebra finch.

If a zebra finch escapes in your room, wait until it lands. Note where it is. Then turn off the lights, and reach and grab where it was.

These guys completely shut down when the light goes out. In a room full of chattering birds, the silence was so sudden when we flipped the light switch out that it seemed as though the switch was connected to the birds and the lights both. I just couldn’t get over how immediate and complete the silence was, and how quickly they started up again when the lights went back on.

After the visits, we went to The Monterey Restaurant. The website does not at all convey the great, funky feeling of the place. It also features the most... different... desert I think I have ever had: the cheese-plate pop-tart. It’s a slightly surreal combination of sweetness and, well, cheese. I was glad that I had it, because it was a taste unlike any other I can ever remember experiencing. I’m not sure I would order it again.

Thanks to all the students and faculty at UTSA for making it such a fun day for us!

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