Tuesday, July 29, 2008


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.


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.




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!


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,

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!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Unofficial My Friend's Friend's Brother-in-Law Ben Fan Club

It only took about five minutes into last week's premiere episode of "I Survived a Japanese Gameshow", ABC's latest foray into reality television, for me to know that this was no Banzai (history's finest in Japanese- American entertainment). This show was too much reality and not enough Japanese gameshow.

I had all but written it off when I learned that one of the nine remaining contestants, Ben, is the brother-in-law of a close friend of a close friend. I also discovered that Ben is the official handler of Punxsutawny Phil--that's right the most famous groundhog in all of Pennsylvania who, based on the sighting of his own shadow, prognosticated six extra weeks of winter this year.

Re-energized by the prospect of a brother-in-law of a friend of a friend appearing on (inter?) national reality television donning nothing more than a giant diaper and bib, I re-committed to the show--in fact, I nearly transformed the Land of Yajeev to a My Friend's Friend's Brother-in-Law Ben Fansite, posting weekly BenWatch updates and opening a forum for readers to discuss the latest Ben gossip and submit their cell-phone-camera-snapped candid photos of Ben on the street.

The wife and I tuned in to tonight's second episode, eager for the extravaBENza. We were disappointed to see, in the first few moments of this week's installment, a tearful Ben tell the camera that he felt "sick". A minute later, the show's host was explaining to the other contestants that after Ben had fallen ill, he been taken to a hospital and would be leaving the show.

That was it: in a mere five minutes, my love affair with a reality television show and its woodchuck-handling contestant was over. Unless I hear word that Ben is making his dramatic return to the show, I'm afraid I've seen my last of this summer's guilty pleasure.

Ben, if you're reading this, I want you to know that while your stint/stunt on this show may have been cut short by unforeseen Asian maladies, my admiration and support for you will not cease. Thanks for the (really, really brief) memories.

Readers may demonstrate solidarity in their pro-Benness by indicating in the comments section that they'd like to join the unofficial Ben fan club.