Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spontaneous Combustion



‘Twas the night before Christmas many moons ago and on top of the coffee table, not an object was stirring except for a wildly flickering jelly candle… and next to the flickering jelly candle rested an artificial flower arrangement. As the flame turbulently twittered in every which direction, my family lounged, reveling in each other’s company and the holiday spirit. I had assumed my official holiday position, sprawled by myself across the loveseat which visibly bore the punishment of years of insubordination to my mother’s injunction against “plopping”. My parents shared the couch, and my brother and sister each occupied a comfy white armchair. We were engaged in some edifying holiday family togetherness… I think we were reading Dickens or eating plum pudding or (most likely) reciting Christmas Vacation lines to each other when the small undulating blaze emanating from the jelly candle licked the very tip of the lowest fabric leaf of the artificial flower arrangement.

Initially, no one noticed the dueling flames dancing atop the coffee table, but after a few moments, my sister pointed at the six-inch conflagration in the middle of the living room and sputtered, “F-- f--f--.” Try as she might, she could not get “ire” to follow the “f”.

“What is it, honey?” my dad asked.

“F--f--f--,” she stammered, still pointing.

I injected myself into the conversation. “Um, Dad… the flowers are on f-“

I did not stutter. Before the “ire” could pass over my tongue and through my lips, my dad had jumped to his feet and yelled, “FIRE!!!” He immediately transitioned from holiday to survival mode, leapt from the couch and, in one heroic sweep, scooped the burning arrangement into his hands.

The fireplace was four feet away.

Unfortunately, he did not deposit the fire into the fireplace.

The front door, leading to our snow-covered front walkway was six feet away.

Unfortunately, he did not pitch the miniature inferno through the front door to our snow-covered walkway.

Instead, Dad ran. His goal had been to run through the living room, through the dining room, through the kitchen, and through the garage to the driveway wherein he would drop the burning flowers, compose himself, and determine his next course of action.

Unfortunately, his scheme did not go as planned.

As he ran, the flames spread across the surface of the decoration in his hand. He attempted to blow them out but his breath only encouraged the fiery expansion. He made it to the cusp of the kitchen when the flames began to burn his hands, at which point Dad’s Plan B took effect.

Plan B was to dropkick the plant the length of the kitchen to the garage door… and… actually, that’s where Plan B ended. There was no clear exit strategy. Which did not matter, because what seemed to Dad at the time of its inception an infallible course of action turned out to be quite fallible after all.

Arms outstretched toward the garage door, Dad held the glowing orb of flames before his face and dropped it like a punter preparing to send a football flying down the field. He kicked the basket. Instead of catapulting forward (the typical result of having been kicked in a forwardly direction) the basket wobbled up and over and behind his head, barely missing his hair. It landed five feet behind Dad, still in the living room, the flames now two or three feet high.

The smoke alarm finally recognized the potential disaster under its nose and began warning us of impending doom, when Plan C took effect. My sister, finally breaking free of her “F-- f-- f--” paralysis, yelled, “Fire! I’ll go get some water!” She ran to the kitchen, filled a Dixie cup with water, returned to the fire, splashed the water on a Dixie cup-sized satellite flame about eight inches from the main flame (which, thanks to Sister, was almost extinguished), then repeated as necessary, incrementally diminishing the magnitude of our indoor brush fire. Roused from our Christmas perches, Little Bro and I stood by watching, helpful only in the respect that we were not making the problem any worse. Dad stood by with his hands on his head. Black smoke began to fill the living room.

Where, you might ask, was my mother during these escapades? She was nowhere to be seen. We all assumed that she had grabbed her most precious possessions and hit the road, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Turns out, we were wrong: she was readying Plan D. She coolly returned to the room with an old blanket and draped it over the former faux flower arrangement and extinguished the fire by smothering it.

In the midst of the black intoxicating smoke and shrill detector siren, my dad fell to his knees in despair in the aftermath of our Griswoldesque holiday disaster. Before him was an incinerated patch of once white carpet and the remains of his favorite fake flowers. The living room furniture was subsequently rearranged to hide what resembled the last vestiges of an (sub)atomic disaster. Since this nightmare before Christmas, my family has traded their air freshening candles for fragrance oils, and “fire” is a four-letter word around the holidays.



For other death-defying fiery posts, click here or here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Letter to Santa Paws


Dear Blogosphere (especially Santa, Mom and Dad, Grandparents, and anyone else who loves me)...

It's me, Watson, Yajeev's Dog. I have been snooping all over for my dad's password for his blogsite so I could post this note to my loyal and adoring fans in cyberspace. Turns out, he keeps his passwords to all his online accounts in a cryptically titled Word document called "Online_Passwords.doc". Who'da thunk it?

It has come to my attention that America is suffering something of an economic downturn, what the economists are calling a "recession". The talking heads on the cable news outlets claim that people are losing their jobs and houses. Worse yet, they're buying fewer Christmas presents. In fact, I've heard that some concerned individuals, in sensitivity to the financial struggles of their loved ones, are asking their friends and family members not to buy them holiday presents this year.

I just want to make it clear that, while I understand that we are in a crisis of historic proportions, I am not one of those aforementioned concerned individuals. I know that 'tis better to give than to receive, and I dare not rob the pleasure-- nay, blessing-- of those who wish to bestow upon me tidings of holiday cheer. Especially tidings that taste like bacon or squeak. Of course, if you could find a tiding that tasted like bacon and squeaked, that would be ideal. Some would call such a tiding a holiday miracle.

Please, feel free to spare no expense in your holiday expenditures on my behalf. We'll both be glad you did.

Sincerely,





Watson Steve

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Remains to be seen


Warning: This post may be considered by some to be beyond the pale of decency. If you suspect that you may be someone who is easily appalled by borderline indecency, click here to be redirected to something more innoucous.

You have been warned.

Death is a natural part of life, so I'm told; thus far, personal experience has confirmed this notion-- I have never met a centenarian (though Willard Scott assures me that they exist). Thus, from a very early age, I have braced myself for the eventuality that I will someday cease to exist in the manner to which I am currently accustomed. I know that some people think a lot about their funerals... who will be there, which people will be crying or laughing, what they will say about the dearly departed... Some wonder about the after party: Will the attendees be somber or jovial? What will they serve? Will there be assigned seating?

These are interesting questions, but, to be honest, I am most concerned with the after-after-party. I am preoccupied with what will happen to my body once my soul has, umm, left it for dead. For some time, I have been torn between the options of cremation and burial. Despite my multiple close calls with fire (see this entry for an example and a Christmas remembrance soon to be posted), the idea of being condensed to a few pounds of calcium phosphate and minerals sort of freaks me out. I know that I will no longer be inhabiting this ultimately temporary structure of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen, and that burial only postpones the inevitable decomposition of this organic container of soul and mind and blog... but I have a deeply rooted visceral opposition to being reduced to an urnfull of ashen remains.

The only problem I have with burial, however-- in addition to the impending cemetery space crisis-- is that I am sort of in love with the romantic idea of having my remains scattered over places that mean a lot to me. I've heard lovely stories about the charred remains of loved ones being redistributed (downwind, hopefully) by family and friends in the mountains, rivers, trails, and foreign lands they once held dear-- becoming one with nature in the truest possible sense. I find this idea to be truly beautiful.

While beard trimming a few weeks back, I found myself pondering my ostensibly incompatible desires for corporeal integrity and decorating nature with ashen yajeev remains. As my shavings drifted to the saran wrap trap I had rigged for their easy disposal (to prevent their clogging our bathroom sink drain), I had an epiphany. As if by angelic courier, the solomonic solution punctured my awareness with the perfect cadaveric remedy. My body could be preserved for burial (or taxidermic treatment if anyone would like a lifesize Land of Yajeev souvenir in their living room) and a certain portion of my remains could be scattered amongst the locations dearest to my heart: rather than prepare my ashes post mortem, my loved ones could collect dispensible parts of my organism while I walk and breathe. Previously trash-bound personal components such as excess hair, fingernail clippings, and dry skin-- all legitimate members of my cellular composition-- will hereby be preserved for their future distribution. My body will remain at peace, and I will be eternally connected with my favorite locales: Chick Fil A, cyberspace, the yeast lab, and movie theater.

May I rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Land of Yajeev honored by MSNBC.com

MSNBC.com recently listed the 11 lamest blogs on the internets, and the Land of Yajeev was decisively not among them.

If X is the total quantity of blogs on the blogosphere, then MSNBC.com has ranked the Land of Yajeev in the top x-11 blogs on the web.

Congratulate yourselves on reading the best.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Land of Yajeev: The Early Years

Have you ever wished you could have a hardcopy of the Land of Yajeev for posterity or in preparation for the unlikely eventuality that the internet goes out of style? Ever hanker for the wit and wisdom of Yajeev but couldn’t find a portal of entry to cyberspace? Do you long to read this blog while sitting on the john? Are you tired of draining precious ink cartridges printing Land of Yajeev posts?

My friends, if you answered “yes” to zero or more of these questions, then your wildest dreams have indeed come true. The Land of Yajeev is now available in book form! For my birthday, the wife spent hours upon hours compiling and editing the first two years of posts and comments of the Land of Yajeev and has packaged them into a slim 400-page hardcover or (more modestly priced) paperback volume now available for purchase at the brand new Land of Yajeev Mega-Bookstore. Perfect for display on coffee tables to impress your guests or to keep handy at your bedside, you will be able to enjoy and relive Land of Yajeev posts over and over again sans pesky computer. You can underline your favorite quotes, write in the margins, dog-ear notable posts, or leave your own personal comments at the end of each entry.

It has become a Land of Yajeev tradition (one year running) to make holiday gift recommendations, and I can think of no more meaningful present than the gift of bloggable humor. You will want to purchase copies of Land of Yajeev: The Early Years for all of your friends, parents, offspring, co-workers, acquaintances, mail-delivery personnel, sponsor children, neighbors, teachers, and significant others so that all of your kith and kin can experience the unbridled pleasure that is the Land of Yajeev. Information on book-signings will be posted as soon as the deluge of invitations from bookstores around the country hit my email inbox (any day now). In the meantime, if you want a signed copy, send an email to landofyajeev @ yahoo . com, and we will make special arrangements.

Visit the Land of Yajeev Mega-Bookstore to buy your copies today (and be among the first to rate and review the book)!



And, don’t forget—a panoply of Land of Yajeev merchandise is available at the companion Land of Yajeev Megastore. Stocking stuffers and Chanukah gelt abound!


Warning: You should not consume alcohol while experiencing Land of Yajeev: The Early Years. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Land of Yajeev: The Early Years affects you. Insomnia caused by inability to rid your mind of Yajeev is a rare but treatable side effect. Consult your physician if symptoms persist for more than one week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Daily Value

Per my doctor's recommendation, I had a consultation with a nutritionist this morning. Unfortunately, I was so hungry during our meeting that I had great difficulty focusing on our conversation. There was mention of food as I recall, but the precise details of our exchange elude me. I also seem to remember there being rubber chicken breast replicas and a bowl of fake oatmeal, but these may have been malnutrition-induced hallucinations.

Before returning to work, I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a glazed stick (far lower in sodium than V8--it's practically health food) Wish I'd done that before my appointment--I might remember what we talked about.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where's the beef?

Today, I did a very grown-up thing.

Succumbing to peer pressure (the rest of my lab was eating there), I ate lunch at a vegetarian Indian restaurant.

All veggies. No meat. Not even bacon.

"It's not like you eat meat at every meal," one of my co-workers (the one who picked the lunch spot) had said to me. Pause. Then she asked, "Do you?"

After some thought, I replied, "Not every meal. Usually not for breakfast. But for lunch..."

"If you can't find something you like, I'll buy you a burger afterwards."

"Deal."

I managed to order the meatiest non-meat item on the menu: fingerling potatoes in tomato curry with giant hollow fried balls of bread. It was the meat and potatoes (sans meat) of Vegetarian Indian cuisine. It shocks me to see these words appear on my screen, but I must admit that it was delicious.

I might even go back. Though next time, I'll probably smuggle in some meat (like my dad smuggles his Atkins' diet-approved bread into sandwich shops).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh Cap'n! My Cap'n!

Dear Wife,

First, I would like to sincerely thank you for all of your hard work—your clothes laundering, dish washing, (really spicy) chili cooking, chocolate chip oatmeal cookie baking, dog-hair vacuuming, and grocery shopping. Your dedication to the smooth functioning of our household is very much appreciated and has not gone unnoticed.

There is something, however, I need to tell you. I am sorry to have to confront you in this venue, but I thought the blow might be softened if we were in the company of many anonymous and non-anonymous blog-reading friends.

There is one crucial fact of life that it is time for you to learn. I had hoped when we got married that your parents would have taught you, but I am prepared to take the helm of your educational development for this teaching moment. Sweet, dear, loving, warm, beautiful wife, there is something you need to know:

Peanut Butter Crunch is NOT the same as Cap’n Crunch.

Sure, they both have the Cap’n on the cereal box, but these two cereals are as fundamentally different as Rice Chex and Wheat Chex—two completely different animals. Cap’n Crunch consists of textured rectangular yellow bits of crisp sweetened corn goodness, while Peanut Butter Crunch bits are smooth, puffed spheres of peanut butter. I poured the cereal in the dark kitchen, and thus didn’t carefully inspect the packaging. Surely, you can imagine my surprise upon inserting that first spoonful into my mouth.

Listen, I don’t blame you for purchasing the wrong Crunch. If anything, I blame myself for assuming you knew the difference. I can certainly understand how such an error in judgment could befall a newbie Crunchaholic when confronted with the panoply of Crunches in the cereal aisle: Cap’n Crunch, Crunch Berries, Peanut Butter Crunch, Choco Crunch, Chocolatey Peanut Butter Crunch, and Christmas Crunch (not to mention the generic imitations). Your childhood was obviously a disadvantaged one, and I love you all the more for it. For my part, I commit to you that I will no longer take it for granted that you are as well-versed in the ins and outs of sugar cerealdom as I am when we write a shopping list.

Love forever,
Your husband


P.S. Please don’t return the Peanut Butter Crunch to the store. I’ll suffer through it.




* For an expansion upon this post's title, please click here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Raindrops keep falling on my head



Wherever there is moisture, I will be there…

Whenever thunderstorms threaten to wreak havoc on picnics, yard sales, or outdoor church bazaars, you can count on me…

When dark clouds lurk behind silver linings, you will know whom to call…

Before you feel the first droplet of dihydrogen monoxide, I will have darted behind a lamppost or sapling or other such sufficiently massive object broad enough to hide my girth and will have mysteriously undergone the superheroic transformation from Yajeev the Blogger to Umbrella Man!

Shielded by a magical webless umbrella and cloaked with a spokeless umbrella sheath, I will project a forcefield of dryness around the eye of the storm.

Delusionally powerful, I will vaporize the liquid invaders by force of hot air that resides deep within me.

The only fluid in sight will be tears of joy shed by those whose days have been saved by Umbrella Man!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Concession

My fellow Americans...

It is with great pride in a well-fought but poorly executed campaign and tremendous sadness that I concede this Presidential election to Barack Obama. It has become abundantly clear that I will be unable to pick up the additional 270 electoral votes necessary to secure the election in my favor. Unfortunately, I have been unable to get through to Senator Obama via cell phone (he must have turned his ringer off) to concede voice-to-voice. I am sure that he is checking the blog every few minutes.

Perhaps it was my failure to go negative or the fact that I neglected to name a Vice Presidential candidate or enumerate a platform of scope greater than Department of Motor Vehicle reform. I will not put the American people through the national debacle that would be a recount (although I like my chances) nor will I follow-up on the innumerable (non-)instances of voter fraud which have resulted in tonight's result. I trust my fate to the judgment of the citizens of this great nation (and offer my services to President-Elect Obama as a potential Secretary of Yeast Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics).

Thank you to all who have tirelessly supported my candidacy and those who, with great principle, wrote Yajeev on their ballots today.




This concession speech is supported by Yajeev for President 2012. I am Yajeev and I support this message.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rehab

Note to self (and any others who happen to read this and find themselves able to relate to self in that they have recently undergone root canal procedures): new S'mores ice cream treats from Burger King, while delicious, are not pleasant while you are undergoing dental rehab.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dumpster Diving

In an age when the economy is in the tank, banks and megacorporations are dropping like flies, and government-packaged stimuli and bailouts have become commonplace, there remains only one secure investment plan.

I have been paying into this plan for years and look forward to the glorious day when I can cash out and retire on my earnings. Like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, my treasure awaits me at the end of two glorious Golden Arches. That's right: Monopoly at McDonald's is back!

Yesterday, on the way to my car, I noticed that someone had thrown away a large soft drink cup-- get this!-- without peeling the affixed Monopoly game pieces! Of course, I overcame germ and grime and reached into the trash and removed the stickers for my own collection of this year's properties (you need to be willing to get your hands a little dirty-- or punctured by random sharp waste products-- if you want to be successful in this or any other worthwhile venture). Then, after work, I hit the McD's drive thru, specifically ordering so as to maximize game piece acquisition. I ate dinner while driving home (the wife is out of town). I pulled into the driveway around 8:00, and in my haste to let Watson out after a long day, I accidentally threw away my wrappers, game pieces still attached, in the trash can that we share with our neighbors.

I didn't realize this until I was driving to work this morning, mentally reviewing all of the properties I own (many in duplicate) and couldn't remember which ones I had earned yesterday. I replayed the post-large fry/"southern" chicken sandwich/ large diet coke consumption events in my head and could see myself, almost in slow motion, recklessly tossing the game pieces into the garbage. Needless to say, the first order of business when I arrive home this evening will be to retrieve those (probably winning) game pieces from the trash.

I haven't hit the jackpot (**yet**), but I have garnered two free breafkast sandwiches and 25% off my next purchase at Foot Locker. I'll keep you posted.



For a review of last year's Monopolooza, click here or here or here or here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Molarity

Yesterday, our apartment building was on the course of the Hartford Marathon. Runners who had trained for months and months jogged, ran, and speedwalked past our home. I have on multiple occasions remarked that I would rather have a root canal than run 26.2 miles. And in fact...

Things went from bad to worse yesterday morning as I reclined in the dentist's chair. While Aiesha, the dental assistant, hummed along to Billy Joel's Only the Good Dye Young, which played soothingly in the background, my dentist's descriptions of her exploration of my buccal cavity became ever dourer.

As my dentist, whose white lab coat simply read "Dr. B", poked and prodded my cracked molar, the prescribed course of treatment progressed from simple filling to crown to (I shudder to recall it) two of the most dreaded words in the dental lexicon: root canal. In total, I spent three hours under the bright lights, shiny instruments, and careful hands of my dentist and her assistant.

Apparently, my dental infrastructure is remarkably resistant to the numbing effects of novocaine. My lips, tongue, and cheek went completely numb and tingly after the first injection, but it took 4 shots to prevent surging jolts of pain as the dentist drilled and scraped the exposed pulp of my tooth. Meanwhile, the two dental experts openly marveled at the volume of saliva I produced.

"It's like a river of saliva," Aiesha, the dental assistant remarked.

"No, no," my dentist, Dr. B, corrected her. "It's more like a spring."

"Yeah, a spring of saliva," Aiesha agreed. Then she looked down at me and added, reassuringly, "That's not necessarily a bad thing."

My previous dentist was awed by the size of my tongue, this one by the volume gushing forth from my salivary glands. My oral anatomical wonders never cease.




Just found this article about diversionary video goggles that allow the patient to watch distracting tv shows or movies during dental procedures... I'm looking forward to the day when I can liveblog a root canal.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Wacky Wednesday!

Some posts just write themselves...

While I stayed up last night to watch the Twins lose in a one-game playoff against the White Sox, the wife went to bed early. When it finally came time for me to join her, she asked me, sounding alarmed, "Wait! What day is it?"

I responded matter-of-factly, "Tuesday."

"Do you know what that means?" she asked dramatically.

"No, what does it mean?" I asked.

"It means that tomorrow is Wacky Wednesday!" At this point, I realized that my wife was communicating from beyond the pale of sleep. My wife's impressive nocturnal communication skills have been previously noted (click here, for example); I was eager to continue in this conversation. "What happens on Wacky Wednesday, dear?"

"Everyone wears hats with googly eyes!" She giggled.

"What else?"

"And they might wear their overalls backwards!"

"Does anything else happen on Wacky Wednesday?"

"Yes--you wear shirts with little polka dots... and..."

She was fading. I didn't want to lose her. "What about the polka dots, honey?"

"The polka dots... they... talk..."

"What do they say?"

"They say, 'We're hungry. We want to eat donuts.' And then I give them little tiny donuts, and the polka dots are all happy." Her tone changed abruptly. "But the next day is Troubling Thursday." In her sleep, it seems, she believed Troubling Thursday to be as alliterative as Wacky Wednesday.

"What's so troubling about Thursday?" I prodded.

"I don't know what the trouble is... that's what's so troubling..."

She began to mumble, almost imperceptibly. I knew that I was losing her. I tried to revive her without actually waking her, but she was gone--lost to the deep, silent slumber that that follows RMM (rapid mouth movement) sleep.

I never learned what was so troubling about Thursday. I hope it doesn't involve nauseated polka dots. Godspeed to us all.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Retreat!

I spent the weekend at a departmental retreat, the ostensible purpose of which was to discuss the latest biochemical and biophysical breakthroughs of the scientists with whom I work.

The real highlight of the weekend, however, was Trivia Night. My team, "Team Food Table" (so named for our not entirely random proximity to the snack spread) succeeded in not finishing in last place. As it turns out, despite my timeless hipness, a fivesome comprised of me, three native Chinese scientists, and an Austrian postdoc could barely compete in the realms of pop culture and know-your-faculty minutia. We managed to hold our own in the famous historical scientists and identify-the-obscurely-photographed-common-lab-item rounds, but tune (and artist and year) naming would be our achilles heel.

At the very least, Team Food Table was well fed. Like doing good, eating well is its own reward.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Proud to be an American

One visiting German student will finish his research experience in our lab at the end of next week. I asked him about his plans were for his last weekend. He told me that he had a few important American experiences to check off his list: an all-you-can-eat buffet, IHOP (not this IHOP--although it's a good one, too), and a legendary Massachusettian (!?) state fair.

Sounds like one giant meal. God bless America.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What To Do With Dummies (for Dummies)

We celebrated the wife's birthday with a dinner-and-a-bookstore Saturday evening date. We had an otherwise delightful evening, but I must report that I was shocked and awed by a few of the titles on the self-help book shelves.

While there may well be some individuals for whom this world would be better off were they not to propagate, I am loathe to issue broad, sweeping decrees promoting the sterilization of any particular demographic.


The overwhelming technical difficulties of implementing such a policy notwithstanding, we must rise above the temptation to compromise the reproductive potential of even the least among us.

Some of the other volumes made nearly as offensive recommendations:














Where have we come as a people when we wish or plot such calamity for those of lesser intelligence?

Perhaps, instead of subjecting them to all sorts of diseases and afflictions, we should provide those with diminished brainpower more opportunities for support and uplifting experiences, such as the following:














If some strong parental figures, snuggly puppies, and good career advice don't keep the learning-impaired off the streets wreaking all sorts of dummy-inspired havoc, then there's always one last-ditch response that has, at the very least, kept yours truly from spreading dummy pandemonium far beyond the reaches of cyberspace:


Friday, August 29, 2008

It was good knowing you, Russ Parker's Blog

True to his word and despite the desperate measures undertaken by loyal LOYers and Russ-lovers everywhere, Russ Parker dismantled his blogsite on August 18, 2008, exactly one year after his most recent post.

In honor of this dark, dark occasion, I will go silent for the rest of the evening.






(the silver lining is that i've taken the liberty of copying all of his blog posts into word documents, so the possibility for an unauthorized version that is immune to russ parker's efforts to self-destruct still remains. don't tell his loyal lawyers.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Looking for my marbles

Since moving to Connecticut, we have conformed to the hands-free cell phone driving laws by utilizing bluetooth earpieces... which I have begun to use beyond the confines of my automobile, perhaps against better judgment.

I had a minor victory this morning, but given how overwhelmed I have felt during this past week, a minor victory was a real high point. A small confidence-boosting experience would carry me a long way, or so I thought. I was so pleased with myself that I gave the wife a call to share with her the small, but significant, good news.

Invigorated, I called my wife to communicate the high-point of my nascent postdoctoral career. As we spoke telephonically via bluetooth earpiece, I walked back and forth across the inner quad next to the building in which I work; I had no idea that I was at that very moment supposed to be attending a lab meeting... a meeting at which all but one of my ten-or-so co-workers were waiting for me to join them... a meeting in a room with a view of the inner quad... the very same inner quad on which their newest labmate was at that very moment pacing back and forth gesticulating semi-wildly, speaking animatedly, as it appeared, to himself... or the voices in his head.

One of the lab members mercifully came to retrieve me and tell me about the meeting I was supposed to be attending. When I came to the meeting room and saw that the entire group had watched me apparently cracking up on the lawn, I nearly did for real.

I've decided to take it one hour at a time. A day is just a little too much to ask for.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I was just following orders

On nights like tonight , I wonder just how much my PhD can really be worth...

Tonight, on her way home, my wife asked if we could go out to eat. I was the bad guy, citing a heavy workload, but I offered to prepare a frozen pizza if she would walk me through the steps...

Set the oven to 400 degrees.

Check.

Remove the pizza from the plastic.

Check.

Put the pizza on the shelf 6-8 inches above the oven floor.

Check.

Set the timer for 20 minutes.

Check.



I know what you're thinking. She neglected to mention one of the most important steps: Remove the pizza from the cardboard tray. As in, DON'T COOK THE CARDBOARD.


She didn't tell me. Tonight we had four cheese corrugation. Delish.


(for my wife's account, click here)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

When your best just isn't enough

As the astute reader will have determined from reading my previous three or so posts, I have begun a new job, and the transition has been a little on the stressful side. As a result, my neediness index has increased fairly significantly over the course of the past several days. I am fortunate, because I have quite an understanding wife who has put forth a heroic effort to provide love and comfort.

As I feel myself becoming more needy of my wife's encouraging words and warm hugs, I worry (irrationally, I tell myself) that I might wear out my welcome with her and that at some point she will tire of giving, giving, giving of herself so that I can feel reassured.

She was on her way out the door this afternoon to take Watson to the dog park when I asked her, "You're not going to get tired of me are you?"

"I'm gonna try my best," she said, joking.

"Try your best!?" I asked incredulously, insecurely. I had expected her to give full commitment that she would do more than "try her best"... that she would with certainty declare that, No, she would not become tired of me.

Before she left, I made her guarantee that she would definitively not tire of my neediness.

I was glad for the assurance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 4, and still blogging (if you call this blogging)

4 days into my new job.

Social anxiety and personal insecurities are at an all-time high. The situation is probably a bit better than the way it feels (it just has to be)... My stomach is constantly churning--when will my new co-workers figure out how much I actually don't know? I just know they'll find me out for the impostor that I am.

Beginning a new job reminds me of pursuing a girl--a total roller coaster of emotions... excitement-- terror-- calm-- diarrhea (I know, diarrhea is not actually an emotion)-- peace-- anxiety-- sleepiness-- restlessness-- "I can do this... what's the worst that could happen?"-- "oh, right, that's the worst that can happen... and I'm not sure I can do this." At least with a new job, I'm not worried about that first kiss and not burning her socks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 2, and still blogging

This is probably the last thing I should be doing right now, but I'm just signing in to give all of the loyal LOYers (Land of Yajeev'ers) a brief update on the new job...

My co-workers are quite friendly, but I am still overwhelmed by the newness of my situation and the mass of material I need to both comprehend and produce in a short period of time... but as has been historically the case for me, the degree to which I am caffeinated reflects the degree to which I feel up to the task. Unfortunately, compared to my previous lab, this lab actually enforces the rules: no drinking coffee at the bench. Bleh.

So, like the nicotine fiend who has to sneak out for an hourly cigarette break, I am the caffeinaholic that requires his regular fix to make it through the day. This might be a problem for long-term success.

I'd blog more but I'm supposed to be working.

And I need some coffee.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

At least I'll be caffeinated

I start a new job tomorrow.

Fortunately, the wife bought me a new coffee pot. Compared to our previous brewing machine, this one is sleeker, shinier, and futuristicker. I haven't read the instructions yet, but it may double as an mp3 player, protein gel transfer apparatus, or time machine--there are lots of shiny buttons.

Hopefully, I can forestall the occurrence of work-related mishaps so characteristic of my very existence at least until I've endeared myself to the new boss and batch of co-workers... I've found that endearment prior to mishappening makes the latter much less awkward (though perhaps less bloggable as well).

Here goes nothing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

coffee pot broken


this morning everything foggy head hurt watery eyes confused

need caffeine systems shutting down control alt delete help

must find coffee need soon

hallucinations dancing painfully shades of brown taunt me

send help or coffee soon or may not make it

cant think cant focus cant punctuate

anguish thirst unsatisfied running on fumes sputtering

hot coffee on the horizon or is it a mirage

like a fish out of water drowning in air

flopping

writhing

fading

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Poll Results: Blog on, Russ Parker


Despite his radio silence on the blogging front (even in the face of pleading for postage by his devoted fans), Russ Parker is in high demand. When asked if Russ Parker should continue blogging, Land of Yajeev readers overwhelmingly responded: Affirmative! In fact, LOY readers were 4 times more likely to say that Mr. Parker should persist in posting his unique blend of literary analysis, political commentary, and whimsical reflection. Further, if my suspicion that one of the "no" votes came from Russ Parker himself holds true, then non-Russ Parkers favor his continued blogging by a recount-immune 8-to-1!

Russ Parker, if you're reading this, I hope you will consider the desires of our mutual readership. On Saturday, it will be exactly one year since your most recent post. Let's not let another year go by before your next 'un.

n = 10

Final tallied poll results:
3 voters selected "yep yep yep yep"
3 selected "oh sure"
2 selected "oh heck yeah"
2 selected "no (don't click this one)"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Going Public

The wife has finally decided to make her Journey public. Please check out her new blog.

I endorse the Olympic proposal outlined in her latest entry and commit to work tirelessly for its implementation if elected President.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gender Confusion


Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, one online source has declared with 99% confidence that I, your humble blogger, am a female.

Mike (not to be confused with this Mike), at his advertising/technology blog Mike On Ads, has adapted a piece of javascript to analyze all of the websites in a web browser's history to determine one's gender (just in case you required assistance for such a determination). To try it for yourself, click here.

Once you request a review of your browsing history, you will find a list of all the websites you've visited with a corresponding male-to-female ratio for each site. Any website with a male-to-female ratio of less than 1 is more heavily visited by females. Likewise, a greater-than-1 male-to-female ratio value indicates web traffic skewed toward male viewers for a particular website. A score of 1 means the website attracts the same amount of men and women. A magical formula accommodates all of the ratio values of your visited websites and assigns you a gender.

I had my own preconceptions with respect to my gender identity, but ever curious, I wanted to know what the webgenies had to say. Below is a list of the sites in my browser's history and their corresponding gender ratios. I have ranked my viewed sites from most female (my newly assigned gender) to most male (my formerly presumed gender).


Website & Male-to-Female Ratio
abc.com 0.47
bet.com 0.54
crateandbarrel.com 0.56
snapfish.com 0.57
cbs.com 0.6
barackobama.com 0.68
amctheatres.com 0.69
americanheart.org 0.71
nature.org 0.75
whitepages.com 0.75
nationalcity.com 0.79
netflix.com 0.79
cafepress.com 0.8
sixflags.com 0.82
att.com 0.83
facebook.com 0.83
mapquest.com 0.83
progressive.com 0.83
statefarm.com 0.83
yale.edu 0.85
bankofamerica.com 0.9
business.com 0.92
fox.com 0.92
msn.com 0.92
youtube.com 1
sciencemag.org 1.04
blogger.com 1.06
imdb.com 1.06
weather.com 1.08
ebay.com 1.11
flickr.com 1.15
honda.com 1.2
johnmccain.com 1.27
mlb.com 1.33
cnn.com 1.35
pepboys.com 1.67

There are some interesting observations to be made from the data in this list. For one, it is way manlier to support John McCain than Barack Obama (compare johnmmcain.com's male-to-female score of 1.27 barackobama.com's, 0.68). So, all you dudes out there who want to stay dudely, you know who to vote for (or at least whose website to frequent)... dudes who hope to get in touch with their feminine sides might consider the Obama ticket this November.

It may come as no surprise to many readers that MapQuest is found among the ranks of female-dominated websites (0.83), while the more masculine among the webisphere are perhaps inclined to trust their noses in their navigational pursuits. Likewise, chicks (I hope you will not find "chicks" a derogatory term--especially now that I can be found among their ranks) will consult whitepages.com (0.75) when they need to find a phone number; apparently men will just guess.

Women are far more likely to visit the websites for the television networks ABC (0.47), BET (0.54), CBS (0.6), or FOX (not Fox News) (0.92); men spend much more time than their womanly counterparts at the web pages for CNN (1.35) and The Weather Channel (1.08). Are ladies more interested in entertainment and men in information of a more political or climatic nature? It's difficult to conclude otherwise.

Youtube is the great online equalizer, devoid of gender bias; it has a score of exactly 1. Men and women are equally likely, for instance, to want to check out this great man.



Like the results from a carefully controlled DNA microarray experiment (performed in triplicate, of course), nearly unlimited quantitative and qualitative analysis can be performed on the data presented in this report, and I have just barely skimmed the surface for the wealth of information that can be derived from this list. I invite my readers to contribute their own interpretations of these provocative data.

Based on the accumulated ratios of these websites, I am, with 99% certainty, a female. Please feel free to try the site out yourself and report in the comments section to this post if you were surprised by your gender designation.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ron Evans: My Hero



I spent my five-year tenure as a graduate student studying the yeast version of the human enzyme called AMPK. The most widely prescribed medications used to treat patients with Type II Diabetes activate AMPK. Ostensibly, the goal of my research and that of others investigating this same enzyme has been to better understand the biochemical processes whereby these medications are therapeutic for Type II Diabetics.

Certainly, however, I am not alone in having harbored ulterior motives in making AMPK the center of my (professional) existence—motives which I have been made ashamed to admit by the liberally/ conservatively biased media and political elite which maintain that no gain can come in the absence of pain. In truth, I outwardly maintained the guise of searching for the cure for diabetes, while I toiled under cover of night on a quest for the holy grail of translational biomedical research: an instant fitness drug. Apparently, Ron Evans shared this secret passion.

There have been clear indications for some time that the compound designated AICAR directly activates AMPK, my favorite enzyme, but only since the recent publication in the journal Cell authored by the venerable Ron Evans and colleagues at San Diego’s Salk Institute has become clear that this AICAR-mediated AMPK activation represents the most significant biomedical breakthrough of our (all?) time.



Mice medicated with AICAR for one month performed as well in fitness tests as their siblings did that had been sweatin’ to the oldies on mice treadmills during that same month. The AICAR-treated mice had lost weight and were legitimately healthier than they were before the study began. Unlike many other diet medications which act by suppressing appetite or speeding up body metabolism, AICAR actually tricks cells into thinking they have exercised—that they have been burning energy (ie calories!) and ought to continue doing the same. In short, AICAR is exercise in a pill, and Ron Evans and friends have proven it.

It did not take long for critics of this miracle drug to cry foul—accusing anyone who would consider taking such a medication of supreme laziness. Skeptics decry would-be AICAR consumers as cheaters. I would like to provide an opposing viewpoint.

For people too lazy to eat their vegetables (or pre-menopausal women too lazy to drink their milk), we provide dietary vitamin and mineral supplements—in the form of a pill.

For people too lazy to get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, we provide liquid energy—in the olden days, it was in the form of a cup o’ joe or a diet coke; in these newfangled modern times we offer Starbucks Skinny Venti Triple CafĂ© Mochas (I perk up at just the mention!).

For people too lazy to learn their ABC’s and 123’s on their own, we provide pre-fabricated encapsulated learning experiences—in the form of a formal public education.

For people too lazy to manually control their labored breathing or exercised-induced respiratory challenges, we provide asthma medications—in the forms of aerosols and pills.

You may not know this about me, but I am just such a person who has at times been too lazy to eat an adequate supply of vegetables, too lazy to get all the sleep I need, too lazy to be a self-taught man, and too lazy to manage my asthmatic tendencies, and I have benefited from each of the above mentioned supplemental nutritional/ alertness/ educational/ respiratory enhancements.

Listen. I am no professional athlete, nor do I continue to aspire to be one. Unless I receive a (practically) unexpected last-minute call from the US Gymnastics Team (I’m a little past my prime), I am unlikely to ever participate in any activity which will preclude me from consuming fitness-enhancing chemicals. I will never engage in any function which will demand effort-derived wellness.

Exercise supplements (nay, replacements!) promise only to improve the quality of my life. When AICAR becomes available to the general public, I just might be first in line for this silver bullet. Think of all the time I will then have that was formerly (ha!) spent exercising-- that will then be freed up for other productive activities that will have a more substantial benefit for all mankind, chiefly further scientific research (any special requests for my next topic of investigation?) and blogging.

Call me a cheater if you will. But if you do, you must also call Christopher Columbus a cheater for using a ship to reach America, Helen Keller a cheater for using her hands to “hear” people speak, and George Bush a cheater for using hanging chads to reach the high office of the Presidency of the United States.

God Bless America!


* Ron Evans image accessed from the Salk Institute website

Monday, August 4, 2008

Doggy Differences


My folks and their curly blond haired cockapoo, Harley, are visiting Hartford for their first time since the wife, Watson, and I have become Connecticutians. One thing that has always been clear to the wife and me and my folks is the striking personality differences between our canines.

Toward those who have gained his trust, Watson is boisterous and playful, eager to deliver doggy kisses when permitted. Harley is guarded and fashionably smug-- he is reluctant to give his heart to anyone other than his dad or mom. While Watson shows affection with jumps and licks, Harley is far more demure and would would prefer to be admired from afar with polite compliments. When he feels particularly moved, he may shake your hand or tip his hat to you and ask, "How do you do?"

Watson loves the dog park. He jumps and runs and sloshes in the mud with the other dogs. Harley paces in the corner and can be heard muttering to himself about the modern decline of canine decorum ("Pups these days...")

Watson fantasizes about playing fetch or kissing his grandfather; Harley rehearses math facts in his head.

Watson passed obedience school--and promptly ate his diploma. Harley is currently weighing the pros and cons of a handful of graduate programs in international politics.

Watson is obsessed with the ant crawling across the carpet, pouncing at it, baring his teeth at it, picking it up gingerly in him mouth and spitting it across the room, begging for it to play with him (and crying when he accidentally brings the ant to its untimely demise, depressed that the bug refuses to play any longer). Harley is halfway through The Grapes of Wrath.

Watson has a memory like a sieve: he does not even know my wife's or my name (despite our gratuitous repetitions). Harley's memory is a steel trap: he knows the names and birthdays of everybody in his extended family. In his spare time, he is constructing a family tree that extends several generations into the past. "It's far from complete," he'll tell you. "Just a hobby, really."

Watson sits like a champ. Sometimes he seems to understand "come" (especially sans squirrels in sight). Harley, on the other hand, understands such subtle terms as "almost" and "focus" and "please, Harley, give me the packet of parmesan cheese, and I promise that I will help you review your spelling words" (Harley just loves the English language).

Watson begs for treats; Harley devises elaborate multi-step plans for coaxing his people into giving him treats.

The following is a true story about Harley that requires two pieces of background information:

Background fact #1: My parents (Harley's people) have hired a plowing service to clear their driveways following heavy winter snows. If it snows in the middle of the night, the plow will come in the wee dark hours of the morning to clean their driveway. Whenever the plow arrives, Harley, sensing an intruder on the premises, runs to the living room window and barks to alert his people of the uninvited guests. His people have to come to the living room and reassure him that the snowplowmuhn is a welcomed visitor.

Background fact #2: Whenever Harley's people witness him running through his doggy door to his personal lawn space to "be a good boy" (i.e. produce a numero uno or dos), he is rewarded with a treat.

One non-snowy winter evening, my folks (Harley's people) heard Harley barking maniacally as he is wont to do in the presence of the ominous snowplow. My dad looked outside and saw that there was neither snow nor plow, and found Harley in the living room. Pops attempted to reason with Harley, but before he could explain that there was nothing about which to be alarmed, Harley had bolted from the spot at the living room window through his doggy door and to the spot that he normally "is a good boy". As soon as he reached that spot (and saw that my dad saw him there), he sprinted back inside past my dad and stopped just in front of the cabinet door, behind which he knew was the mother load of doggy treats for "good boys". Harley had formulated a two-step plan to wake my dad up (by barking as if there were a snowplow when none was to be seen) and trick my dad into thinking that he was a "good boy" (by running to the spot where he normally is one and back) in order to get a midnight snack.

And now, a true story about Watson:

One time (before he had graduated Obedience School, mind you), when the wife and I were away for less than thirty minutes, Watson found an unopened bag of Beggin' Strips (a value bag with 20% extra free). He ripped the bag open and consumed the entire supply of Beggin'. Then he threw up (a giant ball of congealed Beggin'). Then he located and destroyed a scarecrow we had attempted to secure in our storage area. Then he found our latest Newsweek and ripped it to shreds. When we arrived home, Watson was totally unaware that he had behaved inappropriately, and he jumped for joy and attempted to lick us all over.

Harley is the gifted, borderline antisocial dog. Watson is the special needs canine with a nearly unflappable heart of gold. Harley is George to Watson's Lenny; he is Moe to Watson's Curley.

In truth, it takes all kinds (in case you always wondered what it took).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

UPDATE: Russ Parker: Beyond Salvation?


Despite the persistent efforts of Land of Yajeev readers commenting passionately on this blog and his, Russ Parker has shown no signs of renewed blog activity.

It's not looking good; this from the Google chat archives:

Me: you gonna rethink dismantling Russ Parker's Blog?
Russ Parker: not planning on reconsidering

Thanks to all the readers who have expressed their support for this progressive voice... Unfortunately, I fear his words may be available for an extremely limited time (unless of course, some blogger friend has taken upon him- or herself to dutifully save all of Russ Parker's blogs to his computer such they can reposted at some later date to an unauthorized unofficial Russ Parker's Blog--I'm just saying).

So, head on over to Russ Parker's Blog and soak in all the Russy goodness while you still can.

Let's hope this public figure returns quickly to the limelight. He may just have coulda been The One (for what, I'm not sure).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pride


After two years of blogging, I have finally been tagged for a meme. The instructions were to list six things of which I am proud. The always inspirational Velvet Sacks tagged me and predicted that my list would "probably be as funny as it is inspirational." I assure you that if this post is the former, it is so merely by stroke of luck; likewise, the latter I could accomplish only unintentionally.

Nevertheless, in keeping with the rules, I am proud of the following six things (though not necessarily in the order in which they appear):

1. The many times I have managed to not lose the love of my wife, despite my apparent subconscious efforts to undermine our relationship (such as this debacle).

2. The time I rolled a 532 on Cell Phone Yahtzee Deluxe (with photographic proof).

3. The time I raced a perfect 16-cup-tour on Super Mario Kart Double Dash (also photographically verified).

4. The time(s) I earned an entire year's worth of free chicken by battling the elements in a Chick Fil A parking lot.

5. The time Mike admitted to laughing at one of my posts (check the comments).

6. The time Velvet Sacks tagged me for my very first meme!

I am sure there are other things I have to feel proud of... Obedient dog, devilish good looks, points I've accumulated doing this or that, what have you. The above is a random sampling. Though I must disclaim that, in truth, I feel less pride for the enumerated items than gratitude, for I am quite often reminded of my own shortcomings and shortgoings and realize that any good thing that I may be tempted to take credit for is truly the result of (often accumulated) blessings over which I have little to no control. Except for the Yahtzee score. That was pure skill.

As I have gathered is traditional for memes, I now proceed to tag Mike, Russ, Trevor (and any others of his motley Good Night, States Crew), Joe, and Sara. This (tagging) is a lot of fun, because when I was "it" as a kid playing freeze tag, despite my heroic efforts, I rarely (if ever) actually successfully tagged any of the other children (whose legs were considerably less chubby and rate-limiting than mine). So, you're it!

I conclude with a brief, oft-quoted (at least between Little Bro and myself) dialogue from The Mighty Ducks that illustrates how my purposes in blogging resemble that of the ancient Greeks in their similar ventures:

Miss McKay: Why did [the ancient Greeks] compete?
Goldberg: Falafels?
Someone in the background: You wish, Goldberg!
Miss McKay: No. Anybody else?
Charlie (breathily): Pride.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Cease and Desist


Dear Yajeev Impersonator,

You may have thought that it would be funny to dress just like me (i.e. wear khaki pants and glasses with short wavy hair) so that Watson would think that you were me walking towards him on Capitol Avenue (when he thought I was attending a yeast genetics and molecular biology meeting in Toronto) and nearly choke himself to death as he strained against his leash to get ever closer to me (you).

Certainly, you learned your lesson when, as you drew nearer, Watson realized that you in fact were not me and that he had been duped, at which point, his leash-pulling ecstasy morphed to stranger-barking anger for toying with his innocent doggy emotions. If I had been there, I might have barked at you, too.

Shame on you.

Sincerely,
yajeev

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh, Canada!


I find myself this week in a strange and wonderful foreign land-- our mighty neighbor to the north: Canada. I am at the semi-(bi-?) annual North American edition of the yeast genetics and molecular biology meeting (the event that, two years ago, provided some wonderfully bloggable moments: click here or here or here and certainly here for some oldies but goodies).

Each day is packed with 20-30 speakers, and the evenings are filled with giant poster sessions (think: science fair for grown-ups) where the nations leading (and following) yeast research scientists gather to share ideas, debate hot button issues in yeast genetics and biochemistry (like this one), and conspire to collaborate on what they hope will be the next yeast-world-shaking fungal breakthrough. The scientists also get together at the much-anticipated conference-ending dance (which occurs tomorrow night). It is a week-long love-affair between man and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a veritable cornucopia of yeastiality.

A highlight of my experience so far was being one of the first 20 participants to complete a yeast-themed crossword puzzle to win a baseball cap with the superhero budding yeast SuperBud, the microbial caped crusader. An eight letter word for "yeast food?" beginning beginning with V, ending with E? * A five-letter word for "Yeast cell form named after a comic strip character", second letter C? ** Here's a clever one: A ten-letter word for "GO:0005813"? *** My utmost thanks to the fine folks at the Saccharomyces Genome Database for the lovely hat. Without reservation, I recommend their site for all your yeast genetic informational needs.

Stay tuned for additional yeast meeting updates.







* VEGEMITE











** SCHMOO










*** CENTROSOME

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Poll Results: The Connecticourt has ruled


Attention fellow Connecticuters, Nutmeggers, and Connecticutensians:

The masses have have spoken, and an overwhelming plurality (40%) have denominated the citizens of Connecticut as Connecticutians, and it seems only fair for us, Nutmeg State residents and lovers of democracy, to follow the will of the people, disregarding the underwhelming majority, whose votes have been split among the gentilic designations Connecticuter (30%), Nutmegger (20%), and Connecticutensian (10%).

I will be the first to officially adopt this demonym; I hope you will follow me as I follow the people.


Thank you for exercising your American right, duty, and privilege by participating in this historic survey. Your voice has been heard!

n=10

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yajeev for President Campaign Materials





My fellow Americans (and other citizens of the world), today marks the two-year anniversary and 200th post of the Land of Yajeev blog.

On July 18, 2006, I first put fingers to keyboard for the first entry of what would become my cybervoice. I wasn't sure that anyone other than Russ, Andy, or my wife would ever read these words, but two years and over 10,000 hits later, I have tens of astute readers, a few of which even link to me from their websites!

On Monday, I posted a video announcing the Yajeev for President write-in campaign (never mind that technically I'm 7 years too young--we'll leave that matter for the courts). The groundswell of support has been 0verwhelming, and since no unofficial write-in campaign would be complete without campaign materials, today I unveil the official unofficial Yajeev for President paraphernalia, exclusively available at the Land of Yajeev Megastore.



At the Land of Yajeev Megastore, you will find all manner of reasonably priced Yajeev for President gear, including organic cotton or fitted t-shirts, tough sleeveless tees, junior spaghetti tank tops (available in four lovely colors), kids t-shirts, coffee mugs, keepsake boxes, framed tiles (just what you've always wanted!), ball caps, messenger bags, and stickers.


If you appreciate the unique voice that the Land of Yajeev brings to the interwebs and think it's time to take this show on the road, then please, show your support by visiting the Land of Yajeev Megastore (and recommending that your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers do the same)!


Making it great in 2008,
Yajeev

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waiting for Auto


I wonder who will believe us when we tell them how long we were here.
- the wife

No wonder there are so many illegal immigrants--they're too smart to wait in these *%&@ lines.
- another satisfied DMV patron

You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you've been waiting on a hot, sticky summer day for a chance to ride your favorite amusement park roller coaster and you think you're near the front of the line when you turn a corner to discover yet another endless of sea of would-be riders snaking slowly through a new series of turnstiles in front of you and you realize that you're still an hour or more away from actually boarding the coaster?

Yeah, our day at the DMV was sort of like that... except that no cool ride awaited us after we spent over 5 hours in a series of a half dozen or so lines... just two Connecticut drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations ringing in at a grand total of $527.

What made matters worse was that the DMV employees actually seemed to enjoy the collective misery of those languishing in motor vehicle purgatory. When we got to the front of the first of several lines, I asked the lady behind the counter if we would have to wait with the crowd of people to my left. "No," she answered, convincingly deadpan. "I don't know what they're waiting for. They must be here for something else." Moments later, the wife and I found ourselves waiting for our requisite eye exams in the midst of the same crowd.

Later, after we had filled out our second or third or thirteen-thousandth form of the day, I asked another attending cheerful DMV employee, "How long do you estimate we'll have to wait once we've completed this form?"

"The wait will be about two hours," he responded. He paused, looking from my face to my wife's and back to mine. "I'm just kidding!" He began to laugh, then abruptly ceased. "I'm not kidding. There are 60 people in line ahead of you right now."

"You are kidding," I half-asked, half-demanded.

"Yeah." He paused again, waiting, presumably, until relief had begun to reveal itself on our faces. "No, I'm not kidding." He smiled broadly.

We walked away, bemused.

"Was he joking?" I asked my wife.

"I don't think so," she replied.

"He must have been joking," I concluded.

He wasn't joking.

By the time our visit to the Connecticut DMV concluded, I had become completely disoriented, dazed and confused, nearly unresponsive to the normal stimuli of the external world. I was practically catatonic; neither pizza nor Watson nor latest issue of the New Yorker could rouse me from my stupor.

It wasn't until hours later when I watched the spastic wide-eyed unwitting Wipeout contestants, limbs flailing, stochastically caroming from one giant red bouncy ball to the next in hopes of winning $50,000 that I began to awake from my DMV-induced walking coma. In fact, our 5-hour DMV experience may have been rendered less excruciating, if not downright bearable, had Wipeout been broadcast throughout the facilities rather than the thirty-minute loop of DMV trivia and news they pipe through their closed-circuit television systems.

When I'm President...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yajeev for President



An official platform is soon coming.













I first learned about this video here.

Goodness, gracious, ping pong balls of fire!


At a party last night, I learned a trick for removing dents from ping pong balls: holding a flame near the dented ball causes the air inside the ball to expand and push the dent out.

It turns out that holding a flame near a dented ping pong ball doubles as an effective method for conflagrant projectile generation.

I thought we were going to be on the news last night after a blazing (formerly dented) ping pong ball was flung from a back porch into a cluster of beautifully landscaped bushes (rather than, incidentally, into a large cup of water immediately in front of the hurler). Fortunately, the brightly burning missile was entirely incinerated before any of the shrubbery could catch fire. Were it not for the rapid and complete combustion, Connecticut would have soon been added to the list of states with raging wildfires. It was close.




For the visual learners among you, here is a clip demonstrating both outcomes of flaming a ping pong ball. For those seeking less igneous techniques for ping pong ball dent removal, click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yahtzee Redux


For months, I have grieved the loss of a special friend that provided endless hours of comfort, entertainment, and thrills. Though this friend has left me, the legacy of shared memories of companionship and mischief has survived. I had thought that this friend was irreplaceable, that the void left in my soul by my friend’s absence could never be filled by another.

Nearly 10 months ago, cell phone Yahtzee deluxe (my dear friend) and the cell phone that housed it perished in what can only be described as a tragic loss of cataclysmic proportion (I believe the insurance companies call this sort of thing an act of God), and I was forced to bring out of retirement an older cell phone incompatible with modern Yahtzee Deluxe software. The addiction Yahtzee Deluxe had fed was suddenly starved; the withdrawal was excruciating.

Many were those who attempted to ease the pain: my sister-in-law found a website with Yahtzee Deluxe downloads for cell phones of all makes and models—attempts to load it to my aged phone proved nearly fatal to its creaky circuitry. The wife and I tried to play Yahtzee the old-fashioned way: with analog non-virtual dice. The little black-dotted white cubes were so loud, and sometimes the dice would take a hard bounce and fall onto the floor—the game just felt too out-of-control and in-color.

No, I would have to muster whatever resolve I could to face life alone (almost alone, anyway—the wife and dog do provide a significant amount of companionship, but unlike the ultra versatile Yahtzee Deluxe, they are not willing or able to spend their every waking moments in my pocket waiting to amuse me at the drop of a hat).

This sob story does have a happy ending, my friends: I have just acquired the latest in touch screen technology, and, perhaps to your surprise, it was not manufactured by Apple. I recently splurged and purchased a replacement friend: handheld touch screen Yahtzee. This pocket-sized electronic appliance with a bright blue backlight is the ultimate portable gaming device.

The advantages of hand-held touch screen Yahtzee are almost too numerous to list (but that won’t stop me from trying). Unlike its major competition, the gimmicky iPhone, which is bogged down with internet connectivity, voice and e-mail communicative capabilities, and expansive music and movie storage capacity packaged in a single sleek shiny black exterior, handheld touch screen Yahtzee is the no-fat, no-frills trimmed-down device that meets all of my (non blog-related) technological needs, unencumbered by needless fluff (who needs maps with GPS technology?).

No one ever calls my handheld touch screen Yahtzee, so my games are never interrupted. I’m afraid that the iPhone gamer can’t boast the same. Additionally, the handheld touch-screen Yahtzee is quite bulky (measuring a hefty 5¾" x 3½"), so it’s much more difficult to accidentally lose than today’s newfangled miniature cell phones (pictured, left, with really, really ridiculously good-looking model Derek Zoolander). Plus, handheld touch-screen Yahtzee comes with its very own hard-plastic screen protector to avoid all those nasty scratches that have plagued every miniature electronic device I’ve ever owned.

I can already hear the protests from the Nintendo crowd: “Sure, yajeev, you have your handheld touch screen Yahtzee but we have the Wii, with its incredible graphics and motion-sensing controllers.” And to you wee Wii players, I reply thus: “Yes, but can you play your Wii while stuck in traffic? While riding the bus? While using a public restroom? Furthermore, no handheld touch screen Yahtzee has ever (to my knowledge) been responsible for damaged plasma televisions, windows, pets, lamps, or limbs (click here for details) during the course of normal gameplay."

(with respect for Todd Beamer,) Let's roll!


Disclaimer: that Yahtzee, like any addictive recreational activity, has the potential to wreak havoc in personal relationships professional success.



The forecasted surge in posts to this blog may be compromised by the handheld touch-screen Yahtzee insurgency.


For previous Yahtzee-related blog posts, please visit:
* Warning: Not for the faint of heart
* Addiction
* Yahtzee Deluxe Update
* RIP: Yahtzee Cell Phone Deluxe

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Save Russ's Blog


I have caught wind of an unsettling rumor circulating throughout the interwebs. I just hope that it is not too late for us to take action. One of my favorite bloggists and political personalities, Russ Parker, after several months of silence has reportedly decided to officially pull the plug on his blogsite August 18, 2008.

Russ has blogged with great eloquence on such diverse topics as the war in Iraq, the passing of Kurt Vonnegut, yard signs, facebook groups, voting, voter registration, absentee voting, trails in Alabama, and the weather.

You can do your part to keep this behemoth of the blogosphere online!

Please visit Russ Parker's blogsite, read his posts, like what you read (you won't be able to help yourself), and leave your emphatic comments encouraging, begging, cajoling him to keep on blogging on (no threatening entreaties, please). We can only hope that the massive influx of comments will convince him to persist in the art and craft of blogging. Let your voice be heard, so that his may be read for weeks, months, and years to come.



Land of Yajeev readers unite!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

From Keystone to Constitution

Two weeks ago, my wife, my dog, and I transported all of our worldly possessions from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Hartford, Connecticut in a high-speed (50ish mph) two-Honda Civic, one-Penske truck caravan across Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.


With the help of an unexplainably high-spirited crew (including the wife's sister and brother-in-law-to-be, occasional blog commenter and devoted friend Andy, and two of the wife’s classmates (one current classmate, one former classmate accompanied by her husband—who graciously donated his time and strength to a couple of Pittsburghers he barely knew), we spent several hours dodging raindrops while lugging, maneuvering, forcing, wedging, wiggling, and finagling boxes, shelves, beds, dressers, couches, and televisions up two narrow, steep flights of stairs and through an unusually and frustratingly narrow front door to a then-un-air-conditioned third floor apartment. By the time all of our stuff had been forced through the entrance, the entire crew was thoroughly exhausted.

This was the easy part. We all went out to eat to celebrate the mass movement of stuff and got a good night’s sleep, and the next morning, Andy and I got into my car and returned to Pittsburgh, where I would attend the closing of the sale of our house, complete the microbiology course I taught at the community college, and officially submit the final version of my dissertation.

Stereotypical man that I am, I left the hard part (i.e. getting our new home in order) to the little lady, who was assisted for one more day by her sister and sister’s fiancĂ©. (“No, dear, I insist: you stay in Connecticut with Watson and enjoy our new home, and I’ll work hard in Pittsburgh for one more week.”) The wife worked tirelessly for eight straight days of arranging, rearranging, cleaning, shopping, logisticating, assembling, while I spent my days working and nights and weekend, well, relaxing in a true yajeev-style vacation, chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and all shooting some b-ball outside of the school (minus the b-ball part).

The first four nights were spent with Andy, who treated me to dinner at a different fancy (or fancyish) restaurant each evening. At night, we watched movies on DVD, played video games, watched funny video clips on YouTube, and listened to some sweet tunes. As I write this, I’m imagining a split-screen movie with my wife working to exhaustion on one side of the screen and me lounging on Andy’s couch popping cheddar chex mix into my mouth, guzzling diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, and laughing at Stephen Colbert on the other. The wife is Cinderella, and I the gluttonous evil stepsister.

These four glorious nights were just the prelude to the indulgence of the weekend that followed: Saturday and Sunday were spent with my folks, and the entirety of my waking hours was spent in a rapid-fire alternation of large meals and movies. When I awoke on Saturday, I ate breakfast, which was soon followed by lunch (we had a movie to catch, so these first two meals had to be compressed—though, not combined to brunch). Pops and I drove to the theater for the first movie of the day (I had nachos with cheese), after which we met my mother at Outback Steakhouse (where there are very few rules) for a filling dinner. Immediately after finishing our steaks (mine was crowned with blue cheese), we zoomed to the cineplex to catch movie number 2. I abstained from snacking during the second movie, as I had caught wind of a rumor (which later proved to be true) of an after-movie stop at Pizza Hut, where my father and I each ate our own P’zone (contrary to what some might tell you, they are delectable) as my mother watched in horror. Exhausted by the exertions of the day, Dad and I retired to the house for a cinematic nightcap: we watched a third movie, this one on DVD from the comfort of my parents’ den.

Sunday, traditionally a day of rest, was accordingly lower-key—only two large meals and two movies—and a visit with Grandma. While I rested in the Midwest on Sunday afternoon, the wife struggled in New England for several hours to assemble a bathroom storage unit (which I broke yesterday in one of the myriad careless flashes of coordinational ineptitude that serve to connect the otherwise mundane moments of my life).

This past Monday morning, after an exhausting week of leisure, I tied up the few remaining loose ends of my life in Pittsburgh, completed my final round of goodbyes, and hit the road. I arrived in Connecticut late Monday night to what no man deserves: an apartment lovingly and meticulously assembled and cleaned and (best of all) a wife and dog excited to see me.

We’ve spent much of this week acquainting ourselves with our new surroundings: exploring the city parks, checking out a few of the tourist attractions, and, most importantly, systematically surveying the local dining landscape. In the past four days, we’ve eaten at The Pantry (a heavenly breakfast, lunch, and dinner greasy spoon situated within easy walking distance from our apartment), a charming BAEYOB (bring and exchange your own books) library/coffee shop called La Paloma Sabanera (which I think is Spanish for Starbucks), an incredibly cute Laotian/Thai diner (where I ate my third delicious serving of Pad Thai in less than five days and an out-of-this-world fried flour-shell-banana-mango dessert), an upscale downtown after-work martini (and APPETIZERS) bar for which my wife and I were shamelessly underdressed (but we enjoyed it just the same), pizza delivered from an upstart joint called Domino’s, the Red Rock Hartford Tavern (an independent bar and grille), a van parked by the capital building serving Chinese food, and a little place I like to call (pseudo) Mexican Heaven (Taco Bell--we've been there twice).

The most wonderful aspect of our new home is the plethora of Dunkin Donuts, apparently the primary source of nutrition of New England. En route to our closest Wal-Mart (less than two miles from our apartment), there are at least 4 Dunkin Donuts to choose from.


Lest you think my new Connecticutian life consists of one giant vat of donutty laze, I will have you know that I have contributed to the upkeep (if not the setup) of our new Hartford home: yesterday, I completed two loads of laundry and I washed the dishes—by hand—and I’ve checked the mail almost every day!