Thursday, February 28, 2008

Shamrock n' roll: St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt Contest Results

The entries are in, and the results have been tallied. It is now time to announce the winners of the 2008 Land of Yajeev St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt Design contest.

I will say quite honestly, that the judging process was excruciating. I was beginning to regret the "Yajeev will make the final decision" clause in the official contest rules. In total, Land of Yajeev readers submitted 13 unique designs, any of which I would proudly have emblazoned across my chest... or, at the very least, emblazoned on a t-shirt covering my chest.

The decision was so difficult, I have selected three prize winners, each of whom will have their design imprinted on a unique limited edition Land of Yajeev Megastore St. Patrick's Day product. Each will receive that item in time to celebrate the St. Patrick's Day holiday in style and, as promised, the fame and prestige befitting such accomplishment.

With no further ado, the winners...

The first place image was submitted by Lisa...

To fully appreciate this one, you may have to read it out loud. I didn't get it until I did. Go ahead, take a second, and say it aloud. You may be surprised to hear your co-worker in the neighboring cubicle reading aloud with you. This first place design will be featured on two Land of Yajeev t-shirts (the standard value t-shirt and woman's jr. ringer t-shirt).

The second and third place images were submitted by Trevor and Marliese, respectively...

...they're so good it hurts.

Trevor's design will be featured on a sharp one-of-a-kind mini poster print, pictured above left, and Marliese's on an official Land of Yajeev magnet, at right.

I'm including below a few submissions which have earned honorable mentions...

Many, many, many thanks to those who entered the contest and made it the internet sensation that it was! This will certainly not be the last time I exploit, er, call upon my readership to create the images that will appear on other Land of Yajeev Megastore merchandise.

Be sure to check out the updated store with all of the new St. Patrick's Day products. This St. Patrick's Day, go green with the limited edition Land of Yajeev 2008 Irish collection.

....and, if you like what you buy at the megastore, be sure to snap a photo of your gear in use and send it to

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One more day

Feeling Irish? Love the Land of Yajeev? T-shirt collection running low?

There's just one more day in the St. Patrick's Day Land of Yajeev T-Shirt design contest. The winner will receive a free t-shirt with his or her design!

Click here for contest details. The deadline is tomorrow night, Wednesday February 27, 2008 at 11:59:59 PM.

Submit your entries to

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yajeev's Kids

We recently received a call from (now formerly) Pregnant Coworker. She claims to have had her baby on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2008. While mother and baby are both well, something smells foul... and I haven't completely ruled out the possibility that Coworker was afraid of me correctly guessing the date of birth and winning baby (nick)naming rights. I'm not convinced the baby wasn't actually delivered on February 3, Super Bowl Sunday, the day that I predicted the little bundle of joy would enter the world.

Coworker's phone call announcing her special delivery was on February 15, the putative day after birth. When asked if she wanted visitors to the hospital, she replied that she was just too tired. It is conceivable that Coworker is tired after having endured labor... but is it not equally (if not more) likely that Coworker was actually calling from home, her new baby girl now 12 days old?

Let's be clear: I'm making no accusations here. But I am a scientist, skeptical by nature. I'm just raising questions.

But look, I can put pettiness behind me: Congratulations, Coworker, husband of coworker, and baby girl of coworker.


In other news, one Land of Yajeev loyalist has just sent me pictures of his newborn niece with her brand new I Heart Yajeev teddy bear. The plush toy will undoubtedly support the normal and healthy development of this lovely little girl and provide countless wonderful childhood memories for her and her family.

Please, visit the Land of Yajeev Megastore today, and buy a little something for that little someone in your life.


Finally, don't forget that the St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt Design Contest ends this Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 11:59:59 PM. I've already received some creative submissions, and I hope you will submit yours for consideration. Remember what is at stake here: a free t-shirt with your design, fame, and prestige.

Click here for contest details.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Secret Agent Man

Recently, in our spare time , the wife and I have been watching the television show 24 on DVD. As my pop-culturally literate readership already know, each 24-episode season of this hit Fox TV show portrays 24 hours in the life of government counter-terrorist field agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), with each episode comprising a single real-time hour in the course of the dramatic efforts to foil some murderous terrorist plot that endangers the lives of thousands of innocent citizens, his family, or the President.

Solutions to the problems at hand often require Jack to engage in a range of tactics that are usually death-defying and selfless and almost always disapproved of by someone higher on the food chain who can strip him of his job for insubordination. The threat always imminent, Jack never has the time to wait for his plans to be approved by his superiors, and every season we've seen so far has involved Agent Bauer leading an undermanned and uber-dangerous secret mission or using extreme measures to extract critical information from un-attorneyed witnesses.

(Please, spare me your politics, I know each season is a 24-hour advertisement for the Patriot Act.)

The wife and I have made it to "Day 4" (the fourth season). Usually it is the little lady in our relationship who becomes unduly affected by violent or frightening audiovisual stimulation, but it is my existence which has been permeated by the fabric of 24. I am now suffering the tortuous side effects of 24.

First, there are the vivid dreams and nightmares that put me at the center of some high-stress terrorist attack. In one, I am exposed to lethal bioterror agents. In another, I am assisting agent Jack Bauer in a desperate attempt to locate and disable a nuclear device set to detonate at any moment. In perhaps the most terrifying, I am fighting online attacks launched by terrorists to crash the internets just to prevent fans from visiting the Land of Yajeev. The horror.

Second, influenced by the no-nonsense all-business manner of the agents working for the counter-terrorist unit, I now answer my phone simply by stating me last name or, sometimes, Jack's: "Bauer." When the person on the other end of the phone doesn't know how to respond, I shout back, "Come on! I don't have much time here. Do you know what's at stake?! What is it?" Like Jack and his comrades, I rarely say "goodbye." I just hang up when I sense the conversation may be over. In the land of 24, energy is at a premium, and talking expends energy. Think of all the energy one could save over a lifetime if they cut the social niceties and just never said goodbye. Plus, just like Lloyd Christmas, I hate goodbyes.

Third, whenever I enter a presumably empty room, I do so as stealthily as my awkward, chubby little body will permit, wielding imaginary gun and flashlight. Once I round a corner into a new room, I silently hand-signal my imaginary backups to come in behind me: "Go! Go! Go!" I mouth, breathlessly.

Finally, last night I led a late-evening covert operation to Hollywood Video to procure Season 4, Disk 5. Driving through freezing rain and snow, I checked my rear view mirror several times to make sure I wasn't being tailed. I even took a more circuitous route along some side streets rarely used to ensure no one was close behind. When I arrived at the video rental establishment, I sprinted to the door, in the sort of crouched run Jack Bauer does when he's trying to avoid visual detection. I lightly rounded the corner, sending my imaginary backups in ahead of me. Once I determined there was no immediate threat, I located the target. I found the disk and swiftly carried it to the cinamistas (I don't know what those movie store employees are called--but I know Jack would know). I handed the floppy-haired cinamista the disk, my membership card, and credit card (I may have been wiser to pay in small unmarked bills). I glanced around, mindful of the security cameras recording my every move. "Yeah, let's make this quick," I told the man behind the counter.

The man took my membership card and entered some information into his computer. He glanced from the monitor to my membership card to my credit card to face. He stalled. The jig was up. I didn't know what the jig was, but it was up. I just knew it. "Is there a problem, Officer?" I asked, feigning humor.

"There just might be," he said, conveying a troubled facial expression to his co-worker at the neighboring register. I prepared for an ambush, hand on imaginary holster.

"Well, what is it?" I asked coolly, though my heart was racing.

"This card has been linked to someone else... to a Terry Giancola."

"What!? There must be some mistake. Who is this Giancola?"

"I don't know sir, but this card isn't yours."

"I've never let this card leave my pocket. You have to believe me. Someone is trying to set me up. Someone who desperately doesn't want me to leave this building with this DVD. Now, I want you to authorize this rental. Do you know what is at stake?"

"I'm sure it was just an honest data entry mistake, sir," he lied, furiously pounding his keyboard.

"Look. I have to retrieve the information that is on the disk you are holding. Either you rent it to me, or I'll have to take you into custody."

"Okay. Here's what we can do. I can issue you a new rental card."

"You do that," I answered, becoming more suspicious that this was just some stalling tactic to keep me in place while whoever this rental store employee worked for made his or her way to the location. "And hurry!"

The seconds stretched to minutes. Finally, I leaned over the counter, grabbed this man by the collar, and asked him, "What is taking so long?" Obviously believing he was in danger, he aborted his mission to keep me in place and handed me my credit card, new membership card, and, most importantly, Season 4 Disk 5. I let go of his collar. He took a step back, relieved, and wiped the sweat from his brow. I looked both ways and slipped out of the store while the other patrons huddled in fear around the perimeter of the building.

I knew what needed to be done. I had to find this Terry Giancola. Who was he? Criminal or victim? Who was trying to prevent me from retrieving the disk? What did they not want me to see? I did what I thought Agent Jack Bauer would have done: I rushed to central command/home... and watched 24, Season 4, Disk 5, episodes 17-20. With the wife and dog. They're the only ones I can trust right now. I'm still not entirely sure about one of them, though... they were on the ones who knew where about my covert operation.

As we settled into bed to watch the DVD on my computer, I closed my eyes and watched the digital clock, emblematic of the show, count off the time, beeping with every second.

..... 8:59:57 ..... 8:59:58 ..... 8:59:59 ..... 9:00:00 .....

Roll credits.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt Design Contest

It should come as no surprise that the grand opening of the Land of Yajeev Megastore has been accompanied by wild success. We've been open for business a little over a single week, and already ones of satisfied customers have ordered and received their official Land of Yajeev merchandise.

With this overwhelming success as a backdrop, I would like to introduce a new t-shirt design contest that's sure to keep the interweb's airwaves buzzing with anticipation.

St. Patrick's Day (March 17) is nearly upon us, and I would like to commemorate the holiday with a special limited edition St. Patty's-themed Land of Yajeev t-shirt. This is where you, my creative readership, come in. I would like you to submit your design for the official Land of Yajeev St. Patrick's Day T-Shirt!

The winner of this exciting competition will receive a free (FREE IS GOOD!) t-shirt with their own design printed on the front, not to mention the fame and prestige that naturally would naturally accrue to such a skilled fashion designer.

The smallish print:
  1. Email your image as an attachment to
  2. Contest deadline is Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 11:59:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.
  3. Entries may be posted to the blog site as they are submitted.
  4. Entries may not contain obscenities or other inappropriate material. Yajeev reserves the right to determine what constitutes inappropriate material. He'll know it when he sees it.
  5. No otherwise trademarked or copyrighted material may be included in submitted images.
  6. By virtue of your submission, you yield the rights of your image to Land of Yajeev.
  7. While the opinions of others may be consulted, Yajeev will make the final decision.
  8. In order to receive your prize, you must submit a valid United States mailing address to after your design has been selected as the winning entry. If you are not comfortable with furnishing a snail mail address, the prize can be shipped to the United States charity of your choice.
  9. When the winner is announced, the winner's identity will be as anonymous as he or she would like it to be. The winner will choose what name or nickname will be posted on the blogsite.
  10. Yajeev reserves the rights to change these details at any time, though he probably won't. It just seems prudent to include such a disclaimer just in case.
  11. You may submit any questions as comments to this entry or via email to

Get to it, folks! I can't wait to receive your entries!

Luck of the Irish be with ya, lads and ladies!

Friday, February 15, 2008

If you can't take the heat...

They say love begins in the kitchen. Fortunately for my wife and me, the origin of our besottedness long predates any of my adventures 'tween dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and the wife and I kept it fairly low-key. The little lady had a dentist appointment after work, and I returned home well before she did. As a V-Day surprise for my sweetie, I decided to have dinner ready for her when she came home.

I chose to make a few of her favorites: Chinese kung pao chicken and chocolate chip cookies. These should have been fairly simple tasks: the Chinese dinner came in a box kit with all the ingredients in little plastic baggies and explicit instructions, and the cookies were of the break-and-bake pre-made cookie dough variety. I've watched the wife prepare these items a million times--how hard could they be?

In a tactical decision my grandfather would have endorsed, I began with dessert. I pre-heated the oven, placed heaping teaspoon-sized dollops of cookie dough spaced two inches apart from each other per the Toll House protocol, and inserted the cookie sheet into the oven. The "recipe" called for an oven incubation time of nine to eleven minutes. When I'm working with a new experimental procedure in the laboratory that prescribes such a range of time, I nearly always choose the average. So, in this case, I set the timer for ten minutes, and shifted my attention to the main course.

Again, mimicking my laboratory habits, I read and re-read the instructions, neatly arranging the ingredients on the counter in the order that they would be required. Dinner preparation proceeded ominously smoothly. I boiled the rice and chopped the chicken breast to 3/4-inch modules. I had just moved all of the chicken breastlets to the frying pan when the intoxicating chocolate-chippity aroma suddenly morphed into the pungent bouquet of charred cookie. Just as I thought to myself, "Strange, the timer hasn't yet beeped," the timer beeped. I oven mitted up and extracted the metal sheet upon which the world's easiest-to-prepare cookies rested, nine shades browner than golden. The cookies were done.

My cookie options were limited. I had exhausted all of our dough (a recurring theme for us, of late), and the only cookies I am prepared to create from scratch are made on my three-in-one sandwich/waffle/pizzelle maker. I was still recovering from the batch I'd baked two months ago, and my time was limited. The wife would be home within twenty minutes. I quickly assembled a Valentine's Day Cookie arrangement (as if it had been the plan from the beginning), combining the freshly seared chocolate chip cookies with the three remaining sugar cookies we'd bought at the store last weekend, a few Oreo knock-offs, some low-fat 'Nilla Wafers, and the last of our frozen supply of Christmas pizzelles.

I was short on time, and had to abandon the cookie project to focus my will on the successful completion of kung pao chicken. Meticulously, I followed each step: frequently mixing the fried chicken until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, then stirring in peanuts, kung pao sauce, and hot water. The final task was to add the dried peppers to the chicken. The cooking instructions advised that, if an "extra kick" was desired, the dried peppers could be squeezed to release their seeds. I pondered this option. The wife and I both appreciate a little zest in our diets, and what was kung pao chicken if not spicy?

I turned the pepper baggie over in my hands and pinched the peppers. I tried to modulate the intensity of pinching such as to liberate an intermediate quantity of seeds. I opened the bag, dumped the peppers into the saucy, peanuty chicken mix. Almost instantly, I began to sneeze. My cell phone rang. I answered, sneezing.


"Hi, I'm on my way home." It was the wife.

"Oh, great." "Dinner is just about ready. I have to let you go."

"OK, see you soon."


Within two minutes, watery eyes and irritated asthmatic lungs accompanied my sneezes. I looked into the frying pan to see a great multitude of seeds escaping from their former peppery abodes adding that "extra kick" to every bit of meat and each drop of sauce. Before I could throw open a window to release some of the capsaicin-saturated air, the front door opened. The wife was home, and by the time I could greet her at the front door, she was coughing and sneezing, unable to utter anything more than "Hi." The entire first floor was filled with a nose-and-eye-burning smoky haze.

"I made you dinner," I told her, ashamed. "I'm sorry."

"Oh, great, thank you," she replied sweetly, eyes tearing.

"I don't think you want to eat it."

"Sure I do," she assured me.

I took her at her word, prepared dinner plates with kung pao chicken and white rice. I watched nervously as she ate her first bite. She looked pleasantly surprised. She ate another bite. Then a third. As she slowly chewed her third bite, her demeanor transitioned from cautious to panic-stricken. "Milk," she whispered loudly.

"What?" I asked for clarification.

"MILK! NOW!" She clutched her throat with one hand and fanned her face with the other.

I ran upstairs to pour her a glass of milk, but she couldn't wait--she was right behind me and grabbed the glass out of my hand and rapidly chugged its contents.

She looked at me and I at her. I followed her as she returned to our dinner plates, tall glass of milk in hand. We muscled through the rest of our meal, barely speaking, heavily breathing, frequently sipping milk.

After the kung pao chicken inferno, the toasted chocolate chip cookies provided unanticipated sweet relief. Previous adventures in dinner preparation should have prepared me for such a fiery outcome.

The Valentine's Day Taste Bud Massacre of 2008 was an unanticipated testing ground for our relationship. That my wife was still sitting on the couch next to me bodes well for our future together.

For now, however, I will stay out of the kitchen.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grand Opening of the Land of Yajeev Megastore

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls of all ages...

Our economy has seen prettier days. Right now, Congress and the White House are hustling and bustling about Washington in an attempt to right the ship that is the receding United States economy. I'm afraid to say that we cannot depend on the federal government alone to steer the American financial system in the right direction.

But do not despair, my friends. I've got your economic stimulus package right here. Tonight, I proudly unveil the Land of Yajeev Megastore! The demand has never been higher, and I have the opportunity and duty to provide the supply to match.

This is no joke, fair readers. Finally, you can now purchase a wide variety of Land of Yajeev paraphernalia at the Land of Yajeev Megastore hosted by Cafe Press!

Here is just a sampling of what can be found at the Megastore.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you still haven't gotten your sweetheart that special something, may I recommend to you the I Heart Yajeev t-shirt. Available in three different colors and in sizes ranging from small to 4x-large, this t-shirt is the perfect gift for the blog aficionado in your life. Listen: the "classic" (read: "cliched") Valentine's Day gifts of flowers and candies are temporary--here today and gone tomorrow. But a 100 % cotton shirt that says I Heart Yajeev? That's here to stay (and so are I Heart Yajeev sweatshirts and long-sleeve tees).

If shirts aren't your significant other's thing, do not despair, because the store has much, much more to offer. Ride in style with the official I Heart Yajeev bumper sticker.

The cuddly and lovable I Heart Yajeev teddy bears are sure to be a hit with the younger crowd of Land of Yajeev readers. At eleven inches tall and covered in soft plush fur, you can't go wrong gifting this bear to the one you love. This one should be very popular--I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few months' time, stuffed bears became widely known as yajeev bears.

Need some help sprucing up your living quarters? The Land of Yajeev Megastore is here to meet your interior design needs. You can purchase the sleek I Heart Yajeev wall clock... you'll always know what time it is: Yajeev time! Couch looking a little drab? Give it some life with the I Heart Yajeev throw pillow!

But wait, there's more! Are you looking for a convenient way to keep the sun from getting in your eyes while proclaiming to the world your fervent devotion to the Land of Yajeev? I thought you might be. You just might feel a heck of a lot better wearing the Yajeev ball cap.

Now, I recognize that my blog appeals to readers of all social classes, rich and poor. For those who desperately desire to get their hands on cool Yajeev gear but don't want to drop a ton of dough, I have great news for you. You can sport a trendy I Heart Yajeev button for just $1.99-- barely the price of a large McDonald's coffee. You can also buy an eight-pack of I Heart Yajeev postcards to send to your closest friends and family!

Lest you think the Land of Yajeev Megastore design artists and shopkeepers suffer from lack of creativity, please acquaint yourselves with the blockbuster-to-be Mishaps Happen line of Land of Yajeev merchandise. Exclusively designed for the Megastore by my lovely and talented wife, you will spend hours reliving all of the wonderful mishaps and pratfalls detailed here at the Land of Yajeev. You can purchase the Mishaps Happen refrigerator magnet for just $3.49! That's right--for less than four dollars, you can have a piece of the Land of Yajeev with you in your kitchen at all times.

Do you or someone you love want to avoid mishaps while cooking out on the grill? If you answered affirmatively, the Mishaps Happen BBQ apron is the appropriate Yajeev apparel for you or yours. Not only will you stay clean while grilling burgers, brats, and dogs, but you'll look good doing it! Trust me--you won't have to wear one of those goofy "Kiss the Cook" aprons. This'll do the trick! It's no Men's Warehouse, but you are going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.

Have you always wanted a convenient way to carry around your printouts of the Land of Yajeev blog posts? Your prayers have been answered with this stunning Mishaps Happen tote bag. Now you can go ahead: print 'em out and stick 'em in. You can conveniently transport and read the Land of Yajeev bloggings wherever you go--no internet connection required!

Finally, I haven't forgotten about the animal lovers among my readership. Too embarrassed to dress your dog in a doggy sweater on blustery winter days? Take heart, for now your pooch can stay warm and look good, too. Available in a range of sizes from small to 2x-large, the Yajeev's Dog shirt features a mugshot of Watson Steve, Yajeev's Dog. If the Yajeev's Dog shirts catch on, you can expect a wider array of clothing for your cats, gerbils, parrots, and goldfish in the coming months.

Listen folks, this is just the beginning! The Land of Yajeev Megastore will be expanding its designs and product selection. If you have any ideas for Yajeev-themed materials, please feel free to drop me a line. I will soon announce details for a t-shirt design contest--the winning design will be featured at the store.

I apologize for the length of time that has transpired between this and my last post. I hope that I have made it up to you with this news and the opportunity to own a piece of the Land of Yajeev.

I must offer many, many thanks to Grant of UsGuys fame for opening my eyes to this American Dream.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Baby

Today is the day that I predicted my coworker would have her baby. If I am correct, I'll get exclusive nicknaming rights.

Once I receive official notification of my victory, I'm considering the possibility of yielding my baby-dubbing privileges to a corporate sponsor as a way to bring in a few extra dollars during a season of semi-unanticipated excessive spending (new windows, new computer).

If any rich business tycoons or Fortune500-type folks are reading this, please send your best offer. The moniker selection will be awarded to the highest bidder. For the right price, you can purchase a lifetime advertisement in Baby Nike, Baby Google, or Baby Exxon Mobil.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Faux knee injury

Mike’s recent post about faking injury (“Ohhhhhhhhh, my ovaries!”)to avoid marathon training reminded me of a particular low point in my otherwise illustrious athletic career.

I was eleven years old and had never been skiing. My classmate, Scotty, told me that he had also never skied and convinced me that this was something we both needed to do. Brian, a friend of my parents, agreed to teach Scotty and me the fine art of gliding down snow-covered mountainsides on two narrow slabs made of whatever material it is snow skis are constructed.

And so it went. It wasn’t long into our skiing expedition, however, that I became aware of a few details that had direct and immediate bearing on the enjoyability of the trip:
  1. Scotty lied. He’d been skiing his whole life. His ploy about being a novice was clearly a cover to land himself a ski trip.
  2. My parents’ friend Brian was an impatient ski instructor who shouted curses every time I fell into the snow.
  3. I fell into the snow. A lot.
  4. I don’t like falling into snow.
As I struggled unsuccessfully to sustain a general sense of uprightness on one trip down one hill, Scotty breezed by me several times over. Up and down he went, shouting empty words of encouragement, each time he zipped past me usually in the act of falling or having just fallen. ”Great job!” or “Keep it up!” he’d yell just as I would wobble and crumple to the frigid wintry slush. Brian, my instructor, would bark obscenity-laced orders at me to get up, bend my knees, snowplow, don’t fall, use my poles, don’t use my poles. No matter what crude command he gave me, the result was the same: a highly unstable (physically and, before long, emotionally), overweight and uncoordinated middle-schooler with virtually no chance of ever achieving any measure of ski-slope competence.

I couldn’t even disembark the ski lift without collapsing. Whenever a chairlift I was riding would approach the top of the mountain, my heart raced and an oppressive sense of impending doom overtook my fragile, pubescent soul. At the appropriate moment, I’d propel myself forward from the seat, poles in arms waving wildly about, striving with every ounce of willpower to remain vertical. More times than not, I toppled to the ground, barely managing to crawl and wriggle clear of the trajectory of the next skier emerging form the chairlift, skis aimed at my head.

By midday, my entire body was caked in snow and I was chilled to the bone. And though my muscles were already sore, my body did not hurt as profoundly my ego. I felt humiliated every time Scotty or Brian zigged or zagged around the quivering mound that was my contorted body twisted around two skis.

I finally decided that I had had enough. As was my habit that day, I had fallen to the ground while attempting to negotiate a very gentle turn. Rather than fight the good fight and struggle (yet again) to my feet, I patiently lied in wait for Brian. When he was within earshot, I clutched of my left leg and shouted, “Ohhhhhhhhh, my knee!”

I heard him swear under his breath as he skidded to a halt by my side. And with one simple fib, my agony was over.

“I don’t know what happened,” I lied, “but I think I really hurt my knee.”

“I can tell by the way you’re holding it that you’re in some serious pain,” he incorrectly assessed my condition. My ruse was working.

“It—it hurts a lots,” I confirmed with crocodile tears. I had hoodwinked Brian. I began to suspect that subterfuge was my spiritual gift.

Before I knew it, the ski patrol snowmobile arrived, sled in tow. Brian and the patrolman delicately maneuvered my clumsy body onto the sled, careful not to further disturb my *injured* leg. For good measure, I winced as the two delicately straightened my leg. Positioned comfortably, I then enjoyed the smoothest downhill ride of the day—nay—of my skiing career. I rode past Scotty, who was practicing some fancy maneuvers far above neophyte skill level. He looked mildly concerned; I maintained my pained visage and waved meagerly.

Upon arriving at the ski medical facility, the onsite doctor gave me a brief looking over. I feared he would determine that I was not really hurt. The only thing that would be more embarrassing than to have utterly failed on skis would have been Brian and Scotty knowing that I faked a knee injury to prevent further utter ski failure. Fortunately, the good doctor did not (openly) doubt the veracity of my claims of intense, sharp knee pain but recommended that I see my family physician when I returned home. As I write this, in far retrospect, I cannot imagine that my sham injury was in fact unique. Surely, ski lodge medical practitioners encounter fraudulent skiers on a routine basis and have learned to tell them what they want to hear: No more skiing for you, Mister (or Missy).

After I had been transported to the lodge post-examination, I assured Brian that I would be okay and that what I wanted most was for him and Scotty was to enjoy the rest of the day. “Don’t worry about me,” I said feebly, limping to a comfortable chair in the corner. “I’ll just take it easy over here.” Indeed, the rest of my day was spent reclining by the massive lodge fireplace sipping hot cocoas. Whenever Brian or Scotty stopped by to check on me (which was rare), I rubbed my knee and adopted a sour countenance. I expressed what a crying shame I thought it was that I could not be out there any longer than I had been. “And I think I was just starting to get the hang of it,” I told Brian once.

I managed to maintain the deception for the entire day and car ride home. Scotty and Brian, as far as I could tell, did not detect my artifice or suspect fakery of any kind.

While I had bamboozled Brian and Scotty, however, karma was not so easily fooled. As it turned out, within two years of the phony injury of ‘91, I actually did suffer a debilitating knee injury, requiring major reparative surgery: I tore my medial collateral ligament. The surgeon believed that I was “born with” weak medial collateral ligaments and warned me that my other knee would likely require a similar operation by the time I turned 20 (I am currently 28, and my other knee is still in its original working condition). It is clear to me, however, that I was not “born with” weak knee ligaments, but rather was dealt a hefty dose of karmic retribution for my stratagem. Furthermore, I have been blessed with a loving, beautiful wife… whose favorite winter pastime is snow skiing.

I no longer practice the art of injury fabrication to evade activities in which I have no desire to participate. The pain of implementing and maintaining such schemes and the risk of embarrassment for having been found out far outweigh the unpleasantness experienced in most enterprises I’d like to avoid. Besides, right now, I’m finding it much easier to implement the “I have to work on my thesis” tack to dodge undesirable activities (read: home improvement projects). I don’t even have to fake a limp—I just need a computer on my lap.

I sure hope the wife hasn’t read this far… as I’m blogging, she’s under the misimpression that I’m currently working on my thesis.