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.


Remove the pizza from the plastic.


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


Set the timer for 20 minutes.


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




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 0.47 0.54 0.56 0.57 0.6 0.68 0.69 0.71 0.75 0.75 0.79 0.79 0.8 0.82 0.83 0.83 0.83 0.83 0.83 0.85 0.9 0.92 0.92 0.92 1 1.04 1.06 1.06 1.08 1.11 1.15 1.2 1.27 1.33 1.35 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's male-to-female score of 1.27'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 (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).