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April 26, 2006

Year 28

Shameless self-promotion, similar to two years ago but now with photos. At least back then I got some trackback love. This weekend brings me Tom and Wendy to help celebrate in NYC!

And... I almost forgot, Happy Birthday to Carl as well :)

April 24, 2006

Grow, my pretties

The selection of vegetables that crosses my palate is fairly limited, both in variety and quantity. Mostly I like the starchy veggies. Hell, I didn't eat a single salad without grimacing until I was in college. Thank you, Burge cafeteria for forcing me to the salad bar. Okra, however, is one of those weirdo southern veggies that I love love love. Except when it's boiled, then it becomes a slimy mess. For me, chop it in cross sections, bread it lightly, and fry it up in an electric skillet. Apply salt. That's good eats.

Last year my dad handed me a small ziplock bag of what looked like black BBs. "Here, plant some okra in your new place." So I packed them in my carry-on and flew back with the seeds. I planted approximately 200 seeds and waited 2 weeks. Three lonely plants actually grew in my garden. I suspected that either the X-rays rendered the seeds useless, or the seeds were duds to begin with, or the birds ate them all. I think I managed to collect enough pods for one lousy meal.

This year I got fresh seeds and wrapped them in tin-foil for the trip through the x-ray machine. I also planted them indoors and kept them nice and warm near the heater by the window. Three days later I have sprouts! Wheeee!!!! There are more than enough, anyone want to plant some Okra in the backyard?

As a completely random aside, this thought went through my head while typing this entry:

Crispity, Crunchity, Peanut Buttery - I, give, my, self, to, you... Butterfinger.... Okay, I don't know where that came from, but I was channelling David Allen Grier doint Maya Angelou from SNL back in the day. I should dig out and post that audio blurb.... I bet it's on YouTube... [it's not, I checked :( ]

April 18, 2006

Could you eat the Hot Pepper Wizard?


The arrival of a new postdoc to the lab is a fun, yet challenging experience. Commonly there's a bit of a language barrier, especially from the far-eastern countries, and hilarity ensues. You need a what? To do what? Oh, put your pennies in a bank account... I see.... please don't pronounce it "pen-is" or "a-cunt". I'll explain later. Everyone is grateful in the end. Another wonderful thing is treats from a foreign land. Our new Japanese postdoc brought these little crackers (the packs are about the size of a quarter) for everyone. Super cute! But look closer. First off, they're nearly too cute to eat, until you examine the odd shapes of some of these critters.

The guy with the fish (with shrimp flavor... makes sense to me) looks like he's either got mega-cleavage, or is simply a giant butt. And on the left, we have some flavor called Shiso. Apparently it's a flavor- who knew? The monk who represents the shiso, however, looks way too much like a pennies.


April 17, 2006

Actual Conversation

Location: Random graduate student party on Long Island. Very mixed crowd - all ages, types, etc. I'm standing in between the liquor table and the snack table in the kitchen. Someone arrives with a huge tray of brownies and a Tupperware container of some mysterious brown liquid. A few people are making a fuss about the brown liquid (which turn out to be meatballs), eventually shoving it into the microwave. A few minutes later...

Random Chick: [to me] Do you want the other half of my meatball?
Me: Um, is that some sort of a pickup line?
RC: No, I'm not eating this half, I'm a vegetarian.
Me: Huh? How does that work?
RC: I'm a vegetarian, so I'm only allowed to chew it up and then I have to spit it out, but I love the taste.
Me: Really now? I wasn't aware of that technicality.
RC: ...
Me: What-ev, gimme the other half of that meatball.

I eat the girl's meatball and we end up talking for over an hour. [Ed. -- I just re-read that sentence and it sound extremely dirty.] My favorite part of the conversation was after I had explained a few things about my life, and how I moved to L.I. but was soon moving to NYC.

RC: Oh, you are going to do so much blow when you get to New York.
Me: I don't do drugs.
RC: I got really caught up in the scene with celebrities, like the cousin of Chloe Sevigny.
Me: She counts as a celebrity?
RC: I was doing so much heroin and coke all the time, I just had to move outta the East Village.
Me: I think I need another jello-shot.
*We both enjoy a jello shot*
RC: Really good things are going to happen for you in New York, I can tell. I'm partially psychic.
Me: ...
RC: No, really, I get these feelings about things, and they're totally always right.
Me: Uh, okay, well that's good to hear then! Are there any more meatballs left?

As an aside, the party gets an A+ for alcohol and preparation. The hosts pre-mixed shot cocktails into bottles, complete with labels like "The Incredible Hulk" (which was Mtn Dew, Triple Sec and Vodka = NASTY), and "Sit on my Face" which was incredibly popular despite the fact that it tasted like ass. *Ba-dum Ching!* But the Jello-shot Cosmo's were great. Just like making a cosmopolitan, but use Raspberry Jello and slightly less booze. Delicious!

April 13, 2006

Decisions Decided

I'd like to recap the last year, at least with respect to my career. Before moving into this house with my roommate, we sat down and I plotted out my life. Full timeline on paper kinda situation. We were at a Hoolihan's restaurant, it made sense after a couple of beers. The plan involved me keeping my current job for around 2 years and then quitting to go to graduate school. The genius in this scenario is that I'd get to do one of the things I'd been dreaming about for some time: A three month trip to Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Thailand, Angkor Wat, Nepal, Bhutan, possibly Korea, maybe fly back around-the-world via Dubai or Turkey or even Africa. I was gonna spend a whole pile of money. Then get back and go to grad school refreshed, tanned, with a new take on life.

FDR.jpg>>Fast Forward>> Approximately 6 months ago the effects of the current administration's budget choices started to hit home. The funding cuts from the NIH directly affected the grant situation in the lab and money got tight. I sat down with the boss and discussed how to cut the budget, and how to save money through attrition of staff. Although he assured me that my job was not in jeopardy, the writing was on the wall. So, the graduate school application tango began for me soon after.

I took the GRE. I asked for recommendation letters. I filled out applications. I did some serious soul searching. I applied to one school in San Francisco and five schools in New York City. I went to four interviews, all in NYC. Three of those schools offered me admission. Decision time. Choices were narrowed down to two almost immediately, but the end choice was difficult. Both schools are very strong programs, and either choice would be a good one.

The one piece of advice that was given to me multiple times along the way was, "Go with your gut, and you'll be fine." The whole time my gut was telling me the same thing, but I had to go weigh all the options. The bottom line is that I'll be attending a very well known institution specializing in cancer research. I'm moving to the UES of Manhattan sometime in mid-July.

Holy Guacamole!

April 12, 2006


CapitolBlossoms.jpgThis past weekend I was also lucky enough to catch the end of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. Saturday was rainy, and I wasn't about to brave nasty weather just to see the parade. Tom and I had to get to Richmond anyway. Friday night, however, we hung out at Titan with Bob, Rich, Joe, Carl, Devlin, Cary, and I'm sure a bunch of folks I've forgotten to mention. After dinner at Thai Chef (mmmm... sushi), we headed to Remmington's to hang with Mr. Bartender, Carl, and Sean. Allegedly, I haven't seen this place in full effect, but I still have a great time when I go. One of these days I'm going to get brave and try to two-step.

It's a fun stumble home via the US Capitol, and Tom and I re-met up with fellow drunks when we were almost home. Fun stumbling photography on Capitol Hill could have kept me out all night.

Saturday was Richmond. Sunday's drive back to DC was much more enjoyable than the drive down. We toured historic downtown Fredricksburg and had lunch at an deserted sports bar. I forced Tom to stop and experience the suburban joys of Super Wal-Mart. Scary? You betcha! Later we decided to brave our way into Potomac Mills and our shopping circuit breakers quickly tripped and we got back in time for me to catch up on the important things in life. Yes, The Soprano's. Thank you HBO OnDemand!

Now it's time for some sleep! More pictures are posted here.

April 11, 2006

Have fun without me

This weekend I think I'm staying in and taking care of business at home. I'll be double-checking my taxes and sorting out stuff to sell on eBay. I got a bunch of crap laying around that is not moving with me anymore.

You kids better have fun at Blowoff without me. Somebody take some pictures!

April 10, 2006

Equality VA

JeffTomEqualityVAsm.jpgThis past weekend I visited Tom in Washington, D.C. while the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Tom invited me to join him at the Equality Virginia Third Annual Commonwealth Dinner in Richmond, VA. The only other political speech I've attended was when Elizabeth Dole gave a speech at The University of Iowa. This was a lot larger event.

The began with a silent auction and, of course cocktail hour. We mingled a bit, and eventually the crowd of 1300+ people sat down to begin dinner. We were seated at a table with several elected officials from Arlington County, and the dinner company was very pleasant. After the introductions of introducers and other formalities, dinner was served, and the Keynote speaker was introduced. I didn't quite know what to expect, since my knowledge of Virginia politics and political figures is miniscule at best. The speaker was former U.S. Senator Charles Robb, who gave an impassioned speech against discrimination and legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act. Most of the room was close to tears, me included. The simple fact that this man stood up for equal marriage rights equality back in 1996, and made a rare public appearance for this event showed how genuine some politicians can be.

After the speeches were over, and delicious desserts were consumed, the bar re-opened downstairs where there was a DJ and a dancefloor. Let the disco music play! No, really. It was fun, but we split after one drink to explore the Richmond nightlife. Barcode was running drink specials for the dinner attendees, so we hung out for a while.

All in all, it was a great roadtrip! More on the cherry blossoms and photos to come.

April 07, 2006

202 Here I come

Zippin' on down to DC this weekend to see Tom. No Blowoff this time, instead we're going to head to Richmond for a fancy dinner. Glad I had my suit drycleaned. A lot of random thoughts in my head lately, which may get written down next week. Until then, I leave you with a few lines from LL Cool J and J. Lo. (that's a lotta L's and J's):

She said her name Shayeeda

I could tell her mama feed her (yeah!)

When they tight and thick, them jeans don't fit

I'm L, nice to meet ya (uh-oh!)

The song would be a lot better had they bothered to actually write the final verse instead of wussing out and singing: Zuh-Zuh-Zuh-Zuh-Zuh, Zuh - Zuh - Zuh, ZuhZuhZuhZuhZuhZuh. LAZY! I'm off to cleanse my brain with some Sufjan Stevens and a quick plane ride.

April 04, 2006

Gentlemen, Start your engines!

GrillFire.jpgSpring is starting to appear here on Long Island. Green things are prodruding from the earth, and from the flower pots on my front porch. We have a new fence in the backyard, yet are missing the one flowering tree which was cut down (not by me) to make room for a small shed. The living room still needed a coat of paint, and Saturday I employed the roommate and the French contingent to apply a single coat of computer-color-matched Sherwin-Williams Super Paint to the living room. Due to our past painting experience, the process was extremely quick. We started at 9:30 AM, and had the entire place painted and put back together by 3 PM. The crew of Trading Spaces would have been proud.

Sunset31Mar2006.jpgTo celebrate both the accomplishment and the arrival of springlike weather, the grill was fired up. George even ventured out from Manhattan to join us. We had a freezer full of hot dogs and hamburgers to eat. I thoroughly blackened most burgers and even a few hot dogs for those that like 'em crispy (you know who you are). The pleasant sunset would have been nicer to see from atop the tower where I work, but then I wouldn't have been sipping on a Magic Hat #9 and enjoying the company of friends. My evening luck yielded a windfall of $8 in a post-dinner Texas Hold'em tournament. We finished off the bottle of rosé champagne that I had in the fridge, and moved on to more interesting liquors. I had received a bottle of some curious purple liquor from the French contingent, the label proclaiming "Violette" something-or-other. The occasion was perfect to try out a new taste (and continue getting drunk) so I unscrewed the cap at the table. The first words out of my mouth were, "Aaaah! This smells like my Grandma!" I could only muster a tiny sip, because it tasted much like it smelled. I just can't drink my mammaw.

Sunday was equally as fine a day, and I managed to get to the gym for my scheduled workout and still find energy enough to play tennis in the afternoon. I re-learned my yearly lesson: wear sunscreen on your bald head!!! Lucky for me it only turned slightly pink and remained painless. As 5 PM rolled around I staked out my position on the couch with my laptop and joined these two (plus one non-blogger) in a cross-country game of Diablo 2. It only took 29 emails and a month's notice to schedule such a game, and then someone only stays for an hour and a half. For shame! It's all good, however, since the rest of us had extra characters stashed away and enjoyed the killing fields of nightmare mode.

You have died. Death takes it's toll of 234,328 gold. You have lost experience.