Poem – For My Critics

With due credit to The Book of Numbers, and Monty Python

For my critics

For those who criticize
My poetic assays
Taking offense at my words,
I take Balaam’s defense:
I can only write
What I am told to write.
If you still object,
My ass will speak
In your general direction.

WW Redux – Week 1

Between July 2001-July 2003 I lost 35 pounds on Weight Watchers. Starting at 206 pounds, I made it down to 170. For a while I maintained a site on my progress. This was before I began using a blogging platform, but in the past week I have moved all my entries to this blog. 

On July 18, 2003 I wrote: “Two years, 104 weeks, 35 pounds. 35 pounds that I’ve kept off, and are gone for good.” 

Ouch. I stopped going to WW meetings. 3 years later, 32 of the 35 pounds had returned. I re-enrolled, and wrote a post on my blog. I don’t know how long it took, as I didn’t record it anywhere. (And I actually forgot that I had regained almost the entire weight and re-enrolled in 2006.) I lost 25 pounds, and since then have wandered between 180-190.

I have re-enrolled. My goal is to get back down to 170, and re-evaluate once there. I’m not sure my original goal of 150 is rational.

This past weekend the family went to the Renaissance Festival in Wentzville, Missouri. I had to have a turkey leg, mead, and fried oreos. I still lost almost a pound. The WW plan is still very flexible, but I need to journal what I eat, or I don’t lose weight.

Week 1: Sept 16 – Sept 23 – lost 0.8 pounds

Racism or Insensitivity

Today I read an opinion column by a moderate conservative who insisted that Trump isn’t racist. He’s just insensitive. The columnist also stated that they agree there is ‘systemic inequality,’ which is ‘unfair,’ and needs to be addressed, but it’s not ‘racist.’ I believe this is the first time I have seen the phrase ‘systemic inequality’ used instead of ‘systemic racism.’ But I am sure the columnist understood the absurdity of claiming that ‘systemic racism isn’t racist.’

I accept that ‘racism’ is a word that is loaded with negative connotations. I feel it should be, but that’s neither here nor there. I wonder how the columnist, and those who agree with them, would react if it was said that Trump has prejudices, acts on those prejudices more frequently than desirable in our society, and doesn’t exhibit signs of being self-aware of his prejudices or any attempts to fight them. Perhaps this is their definition of ‘insensitivity.’ It’s my definition of ‘racism.’ 

I can definitely agree that racism isn’t binary, and there is a progression. It’s certainly comforting to assert that those who are a little further on that progression than you are merely ‘insensitive.’ This probably helps minimize thinking about one’s own insensitivities, and I certainly know it’s uncomfortable thinking about that.

My Favorite Color

My wife will tell you my favorite color is red, and will use my reaction when she wears a red dress as proof. However, I don’t react the same way when other people wear red. So I’m not sure the conclusion she draws is 100% correct. (Though I am not saying she is wrong. Red is a very nice color. Especially on her.)

When it comes to business shirts, I definitely prefer blue. (Though I do have a pink shirt that I like to wear.) When it comes to casual shirts, tie-dye. (And one of my favorite tie-dye shirts is a baseball Cardinals shirt my wife tie-dyed for me – and you can probably guess the color. But my bleeding Cardinal red doesn’t make red my favorite color.)

My favorite color sky is blue. Yes, sunsets are beautiful, but they don’t beat a cloudless, sunny afternoon.

I like red wine, but I definitely prefer white. (Actually, I prefer mead, which is more of a honey color.) I once tried Red Ale, and didn’t like it at all. I prefer my food brown (the color of chocolate or dark rum) which doesn’t mean I don’t like apples. (I prefer Jonathan and Golden Delicious, anyway.) And my politics are a solid blue. Not one drop of red.

Draw your own conclusions.

Missouri Judges and Constitutional Amendments – How I am Voting and Why

Missouri puts their judges up for election, and recently, there have been more and more constitutional amendments on the ballots. Here is how I am voting and why. Not that you will necessarily agree with me, but my thought process could help you make your decision. Feel free to let me know why you disagree. My mind can sometimes be changed.

St. Louis County Judges

The Missouri Bar Association reviews all judges up for election. Lawyers know the judges the best. This time around, they are recommending that all the judges in St. Louis County be retained. So I will vote yes on all of them. If you don’t live in St. Louis County – check here for your county.


Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age?

If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.

My vote: NO — Currently prior criminal acts are not admissible as evidence to show that the alleged is the ‘type of person’ to commit a crime. The State Supreme Court unanimously stated this in 2007 – hence the legislature’s attempt to get the people to change the constitution. This Constitutional Amendment creates an exception for one crime, treating one alleged criminal differently from all other alleged criminals. Even if one thinks this is the worst possible crime, in the US justice system, one is innocent until proven guilty. So all alleged criminals should be treated the same. To treat one class differently is a violation of the “Innocent until proven guilty” assumption. You are stating that the crime they are accused of outweighs their presumed innocence, justifying the removal of legal protections. I am unwilling to state this.

ETA: And, as the League of Women Voters point out – we already allow this evidence in sentencing hearings – after conviction.

I suspect this will pass, because the majority of voters will not realize the problems with this amendment, and will think ‘anything that helps convict pedophiles is a good thing.’


Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
– require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding,
– require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system,
– require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts, and
– prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposals performance evaluation requirements.

My vote: NO — No way am I voting for this. Basing teacher pay and retention primarily on student test scores only sounds good if you believe a student’s success is due solely to the quality of the teacher, with no influence from the parents or the students themselves. This evaluation system, and the three year contract system, will actually further encourage the better teachers to teach at private schools.


Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the election day in general elections, but only if the legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?

State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

My vote: YES — Early voting is a good idea – the more people who have an opportunity to vote, the better for the system.
NO – I didn’t read the text of this carefully. The Missouri League of Women Voters discussion of the amendments clarified things for me. This isn’t a real Early Voting bill, but a distraction to prevent a real one from being passed. Note that all extra days are “business days” not weekends. And, if the legislature chooses not to fund it, nothing happens. Also, not included in the ballot wording, is that the only location for early voting would be the County Election Board. Early Voting is a good thing, but passing this would make passing a real solution less likely.


Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governors decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?

State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.

My vote: No — This sounds like the legislature attempting to remove abilities from the governor that tick them off, because currently the legislature has a party majority opposite the governor. Instead of providing a legislative check, they are removing an executive check.

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.