Hanukah Hay(na)ku

The Hay(na)ku form is a six-word tercet, with one word in the first line, and two words in the second line. Syllables are irrelevant. Multiple Hay(na)ku can be chained together.

I thought it would be appropriate to write some holiday-related Hay(na)ku.

Hanukah Hay(na)ku

flicker; families
sing Maoz Tzur.

With applesauce
or sour cream?

religious freedom:
Twirling toy tops.

gelt given
for dreidel playing
Tzedakah when
the spinning stops.

The Hoover Award

Back in 2007 I came up with a term for a baseball statistic I had never seen anywhere else. I called it the Hoover Award. As one might guess from the name, if one is familiar with the brand of vacuum cleaners, it’s all about the greatest amount of suckage. The team each year that finishes dead last in their league, using the win-loss percentage.

I realized due to the World Series this year, it was time to head on over to the Baseball-Almanac, and update my statistical research, so I now have a list of the number of Hoovers each team has won between 1973-2013. (I originally researched back to 1973, as that is how far back I had to go until there was ‘one team left standing’ in each league. I then researched how far I’d have to go back until those two teams finished dead last. The results might surprise you.)

A few notes:

1) I don’t list the Montreal Expos, as they no longer exist. The two “Hoover Awards” for the Washington Nationals are post-1995.
2) I list the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League, as that is where they are currently, but I count their suckage in both leagues. They have finished last in both leagues (1984 and 2002) so that isn’t an issue.
3) I list the Houston Astros in the American League, where it is as of 2013, but I count their suckage in both leagues. They won the American League Hoover Award this year, so that isn’t an issue.
4) Some may notice there are 39 Hoover Awards for the National League – and not the expected 40. I skipped over 1981 because I didn’t know how to appropriately handle the strike-split year for this statistic. There are more than 40 American League Hoover Awards because there were some ties.

American League 1973-2013

Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6
Seattle Mariners 6
Minnesota Twins 6
Detroit Tigers 5
Houston Astros 5
Toronto Blue Jays 4
Cleveland Indians 3
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2
Baltimore Orioles 2
Oakland Athletics 2
Chicago White Sox 1
Kansas City Royals 1
New York Yankees 1
Texas Rangers 1
Boston Red Sox 0

National League 1973-2013

Pittsburgh Pirates 7
Chicago Cubs 5
San Diego Padres 5
Atlanta Braves 4
New York Mets 4
Philadelphia Phillies 3
Florida Marlins 3
Washington Nationals 2
Milwaukee Brewers 2
Cincinnati Reds 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
San Francisco Giants 1
Arizona Diamondbacks 1
Colorado Rockies 0
St. Louis Cardinals 0

I conducted single-team research on both the Red Sox and the Cardinals

  • The last time the Boston Red Sox finished dead last in the American League – 1933
  • The last time the St. Louis Cardinals finished dead last in the National League – 1918

The Rockies have only been around since 1993. Twenty years without falling victim to the annual vacuum cleaner is impressive, especially for an expansion team, but give them time.

Poem: Agitate


A slightly overweight
middle-aged man
my weapon of choice
is my keyboard.

I write to agitate.

I hope my readers are entertained,
but I also hope their brains
get a little action in the process.
A slight jog,
maybe a few push-ups.
I’m not asking for a decathlon.

Sure, I’d like them
to share in my conclusions,
but I’m not delusional,
so I challenge those who disagree
to sheath their tongues.

(The mouth’s floppy mass
frequently ignores
messages from the skull.)

Convince me I’m wrong
with the written word.

Poem Found in My Drawers

I realize this poem is out of season. Found it on a slip of paper in one of my drawers today.

Explaining Only Ruins It

There’s probably something wrong
with the workings of my brain.

I’ve decided to eat antipasta,
while watching Lon Chaney
on the Sunday following Easter.
I’m not even Italian,
or Catholic.

I am a fan of Victor Hugo, though,
and I like Italian food,
so it seems appropriate.

radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless, noble

I believe only one or two of these adjectives at most appropriately apply to me.

All of them apply to the gas known as Radon (a byproduct of either Uranium or Thorium). Radon is everywhere – inside houses and outside. Average outside levels can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L. (Picocuries per liter. It’s nice that Marie and Pierre Curie have been memorialized forever with a unit of measurement) The national average outside is 0.4. The national average inside homes is 1.3. The average for homes in St. Louis County is 4.0. And the EPA recommends taking action on any home above 4.0.

The home my wife and I are buying currently has radon levels of 4.4. So we will be installing a Radon mitigation device upon moving in.

Here’s an interesting risk chart from the EPA

If 1000 people who never smoked were exposed to radon levels of 4 pCi/L over a lifetime – 7 could get lung cancer. Roughly equivalent to the risk of dying in a car crash. Not exactly a horrific risk level, but on the other hand, reducing the radon level is still a good idea.

The risk is higher for those who have smoked.

Have you checked the radon levels in your home?

We have normality

“…probability factor of one to one…we have normality, I repeat we have normality…Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.” - Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Caught up on sleep. Receiving the results of the Radon inspection today, and that should conclude the inspection phase. The house is very well-maintained, and assuming the radon levels are OK, we shouldn’t be asking very much from the owners. The rest of this should be as smooth as the smooth object of your choosing.

Well…except the packing. Why does there have to be packing?

The Inverse Relationship of Sleep and Blood

Wednesday Morning last week:

Basherte: Have you ever had insomnia?
Me: No

Wednesday evening: The Basherte and I put a bid down on a house.

I don’t think I have had a normal night’s sleep since.
I may have gotten close to a normal night last night, but not nearly enough to catch up.

The inspections are coming to an end today and tomorrow. We’ve been told the house is insurable, and the loan is approved. The things for me to be stressed about are being checked off one by one. Packing will be a pain, but that shouldn’t be as stressful, since the outcome is more certain.

Some people might wonder if I lied to my wife, or not. This isn’t really the first time in my life I have had issues with sleeping. But I don’t consider it ‘insomnia’ if the stress that is causing it is so clearly identifiable. The diagnosis for me is ‘stress’ not ‘insomnia,’ and it happens very rarely. (And it usually doesn’t last more than a day or two.)

My nose also bled this week for the first time in several years. I had several nose bleeds around the time I was initially dating my Basherte. She didn’t understand the cause back then, but now she finds that hilarious, and compares me to Stan on South Park.


All-Star Game Prediction – American League

As I posted last year, my whereabouts the evening of the All-Star game have correlated with the winner for nineteen years. The National League has only won if I was home. Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Nineteen times in a row? (I said 20 last year, but either I miscounted, or rounded up.)

This all began in 1996 when I joined a writer’s group that met on Tuesday nights, and the National League started losing the All-Star game. Of course, in 1994 and 1995 the National League won, and I am fairly certain I was home watching the game those two years. I don’t have evidence for this, but the odds are relatively certain.

In 2010, the Writer’s group switched to Mondays. And guess what happened? I was home, and the National League won! And they continued to win in 2011 and 2012. So, starting in 1994, and for 19 years, my whereabouts have correlated with the winner.

Alas, the group switched back to Tuesdays. I won’t be home tomorrow.

I am rooting for the National League for two reasons.

1) Because I always root for the National League. I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan; they are a National League team; I root for the National League.

2) If the National League wins this year, there is finally proof that my whereabouts are unrelated to the final game result. That will be a wonderful feeling. I will never again feel guilty that I wasn’t home on All-Star game night. Rationally, I know that there can be no real causation between my whereabouts and who wins. But irrationally, the evidence keeps piling up year after year that I am the cause.

But, alas, if I have to make a prediction, judging from past history, I’d have to predict the American League. Of course, my history of predictions hasn’t actually been very good. May that continue. (I need to update that 2005 post on my predictions, but I suspect my record hasn’t improved by much since then.)

Update: The American League won. 3-0. However, I decided to stay home and watch the game. Therefore, I am not responsible for the American League winning. I no longer live in an irrational world; my All-star Game Albatross has flown away and shall bother someone else in the future.

Everyone needs an editor

The Writer’s Guild of America recently released a list of the 101 best written television shows of all time. At #76:

I, Claudius – Written by Rupert Graves and Jack Pulman

Rupert? Rupert?

Rupert Graves (1963-) is a well-known British actor. Robert Graves (1895-1985) was the well-known poet and novelist who penned the original novel, I, Claudius, and its sequel, Claudius the God, upon which Jack Pulman based his writing of the BBC miniseries.

A somewhat embarrassing mistake, I would think, for a guild of writers to make. Did they forget to run the list past an editor? Everyone needs an editor, even editors, as Charles Apple, of the American Copy Editors Society, is fond of pointing out on his blog.

Of course, like most bloggers, I don’t run my posts past an editor before posting. So if I make a mistake in this post, or any other, I’d appreciate it if someone tells me, so I can correct it.