The BLAHS #4–Geek of the Year

“Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”–Warren Buffett

 A view of technology in my youth.

A view of technology in my youth.

I know what you’re thinking.   Why don’t I give the Geek of the Year BLAHS to myself?   Short answer:  I almost won an award like that in my youth, but lost out to the guy in the picture above.   It was no fair really;  I look far cooler in a leopard skin toga than he does.  Anyway, I am only half geek.  In my ancient past I was both a sportscaster and a classical music radio announcer.  How is that for a cognitive dissonance?

Jokes aside, let’s get down to the serious satire.  It’s time to give out another BLAHS (BLog Awards Handed out by Sackler).   A quick review of the rules is in order:

  1. Unlike the various chain-letters going around that masquerade as awards, this one is given out only one at a time–by me.
  2. The only thing the winner has to do to claim the award is endure the embarrassment.  Actually, they don’t even have to do that, as they are getting it either way.
  3. I give these out whenever I want to, to whomever I want to, for whatever reason I feel inclined to give them.  If you don’t like that, I’ll take my football and go home.
  4. The prize is a limited-edition T-shirt and matching refrigerator magnet complete with typographical errors that make them valuable collectors items.  (Don’t worry, when I run out I’ll order more.  As long as the number out there is not infinite it is still technically limited.)
  5. This award is in an appropriate-for-this-blog state of superposition on two counts.  The name BLAHS is both single and plural and the award itself is both serious and satirical at the same time.

You can see a complete history by clicking on “The BLAHS” link under “Categories” in the sidebar to the right.  The short list of previous winners is:

  • The Blog of Funny Names for being my favorite blog (other than mine).  They returned the honor–I am now one of their guest authors. (Is there such a thing as retro-active conflict of interest?)
  • Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for having the funniest blog name among those I follow.
  • Essa on Everything for winning a reader poll in the category of Lady Blogger with an Attitude.

So, without further ado, let’s go on to the latest and greatest BLAHS–Geek of the Year!  May I have the envelope please?

The envelope?

Where is it?  Oh wait, I forgot. It’s not in an envelope;  it’s in an encrypted email.  Hey, considering that the Associated Press recently had their Twitter account hacked, you can’t be too careful.  Give me a nanosecond to gear up my quantum computer and decode it.  OK, here it is…[drum roll]…and the winner is:

Elke Stangl (a.k.a. Elkement) of Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Just Anything



Congratulations Elke. You have been named to this honor for any number of reasons. You might ask, what are those numbers (other than 42)?

Besides writing a blog that I follow, her fine geeky points are:

  • As mentioned in a previous post, a resume that reads like a character from The Big Bang Theory.
  • She is a founding member of the cult of search term poetry and spam poetry.  My search term haiku feature is a direct result of her challenge to me in this arena.
  • She is one of the most loyal followers of this blog.  Others may hold that habit against her; I applaud it and award it.
  • She appreciates Douglas Adams as much as I do.
  • Her most recent post of existential spam poetry puts her immediately in a class with Woody Allen and Albert Camus.

Let’s hear from Elke herself:

MS:  What are your favorite geeky things to do—other than spam poetry, of course?geek power

ES:  That’s a tough one. I hardly do anything non-geeky. I spend my whole life nearly hard-wired to my computer and hope for better man-machine interfaces (Stephen-Hawking-Borg-Google-Glass stuff). I indulge in putting the geekiness back into so-called business-y or scientific documents (in a very subtle way, so that only other members of the Geek Cult will notice), and I enjoy hunting bugs and evil networking packets (very much in the same way as Sandra Bullock in The Net – including living off pizza). I feel uncomfortable when directly exposed to sun light which resulted in a lack of vitamin D.

MS: So what got you started on search term & spam poetry?   Who or what is your muse?

ES:  I was sick last year, had just started my meteoric rise to fame as a virtual stand-up comedian on Facebook – and was desperately searching for something funny to post. My non-creative brain, impaired by fever, could just come up with recycled content – from WordPress Stats. So it started with search term poetry on my FB timeline – spam poetry was a logical step in my evolution as an artist. If I would be a more down-to-earth artist, I’d create art from pieces from the scrap yard.

My muse is a person called “Irgendwer” – this is German for “somebody”. His job title in one of my geeky universes is: Somebody Doing Anything Nobody Wants to Do. (My job title in that said universe is Subversive Non-Coordinator and Chief Desperate Dreamer, if you really need to know). He might be my significant other in quite a bunch of alternate universes.

MS: Kirk or Picard?  (Damn, it makes me feel uncomfortably geeky just to ask that—I don’t even like Star Trek)

ES: Picard of course, because he is a refined educated French (European) philosopher 🙂

MS: Any advice to aspiring geek bloggers?

ES:  I don’t care about advice on blogging – in particular avoid those Top Ten Most Important But Yet Extremely Trivial Things to Know about Blogging lists.

[That was a close one.  I thought she was going to say “avoid The Millennium Conjectures”]

MS: Who on “The Big Bang Theory” do you think you most take after?  (Assuming you watch if over there in Austria, otherwise you can pass on the question).

ES: I don’t have time to watch TV, I am following too many geeky blogs.

  [That comment alone is worthy of this award.]

MS:  Any other comments you would like to make are welcome.  (Sorry but “42” is taken)

ES: I am exhausted from all that existential stuff posted to my blog in the past days. I leave it at a quote of Douglas Adams and my discerning observation of artists being better than management consultants and sociologists in analyzing corporate culture:

Context: Part 5 of the Trilogy of Five, Ford Prefect enters the building of the publishers of the guide,

He always entered via the ventilation system rather than the main lobby because the main lobby was patrolled by robots whose job it was to quiz incoming employees about their expense accounts.  The company had been taken over by InfiniDim Enterprises…We spent millions on that name, because before it was under-structured, over-resourced, under-managed and over-inebriated.

Congratulations, Elke.  To claim your prize, please send me a self-addressed stamped steamer trunk.  Your award will arrive via return carrier pigeon as soon as I can train one to fly to wherever you are.



Time Out: The Douglas Adams Award

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?”–Douglas Adams


There’s great news for all you blogging enthusiasts just clamoring to be nominated for one of the many chain letters–er, blog awards that are circulating around the net.  It’s the newly minted Douglas Adams Award and all you have to do, if nominated is:

  • Tell what six time seven equals.
  • Tell what the square root of 1764 is.
  • Tell what the cube root of 74,088 is.
  • Tell what the name of the Jackie Robinson biopic is.
  • Tell what number I am thinking of right now.**
  • Nominate 6 other bloggers for the award.
  • Repeat the above six steps seven times without nominating any given blogger more than once.

Got it?  Do all this and you are a winner.  By my calculations, after ten full iterations within the blogosphere, no fewer than 17 quadrillion of these accolades will have been distributed.  Everyone wins more times than they can possibly count; even your pet newt wins.  Who wants to be first?   In the meantime , I am plotting my next old fashioned BLAHS, which is bestowed upon one measly blogger at a time.  How 20th century lame is that?



(**Sorry. You’re wrong. I was thinking of 9 3/4)


BLAHS #3.2: And the winner is…

“On my tombstone just write: ‘The sorest loser who ever lived.’–Earl Weaver

It’s all over but the shouting.  Fortunately, I can’t hear you scream on the internet as long as my volume is turned down.



In a hotly contested battle, 529 ballots were cast, at least 400 of them by voters other than me.  Essa edged out Clotilda by a nose, even though I am pretty sure her nose is not the favorite part of her anatomy.  Congratulations Essa.  Or condolences, depending on how you view the BLAHS.  As for Clotilda and Sooz, I hope you are not sore losers.  Your followers tried, but could not out-stuff the ballot box.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.


BLAHS #3.1: Down the stretch they come

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries.”–Will Rogers

With just about 24 hours to go, it’s neck and neck in a tight three-way race.   (And remember girls, not only is ballot box stuffing permitted, I also accept bribes.).  I’ll attempt to close the voting at 5PM EDT Sunday Feb 3, which may not be easy as I am presently in a far distant time zone and don’t even know if I will have internet access.  At any rate, if you missed the initial post and want to know what all the commotion is about, you can review here.  If you don’t have a clue and are too lazy to do the research, don’t worry.   This is like a real election: you don’t have to know squat to vote.



Cosmic Quote #15

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”–Emma Goldman

If this election changed anything it would probably be ignored, which wouldn’t change anything.  Anyway, we are nearing the mid-point in the hotly contested vote to bestow a BLAHS in the category of outstanding lady blogger with an attitude.  It appears that Essa Alroc has pulled out to the early lead, thanks to her followers taking to heart my encouragement to stuff the ballot box.  Richard J. Daley would be proud.  Voting ends this Sunday afternoon EST, or sometime around then, assuming I remember to close the ballot box and name a winner.  You can vote here, or on the original post.  Or you can hack poll daddy and give new meaning to the term voter fraud.


BLAHS #3: Women with an Attitude–You Pick It.

“A hard man is good to find.”–Mae West

“Vote early and vote often”–Al Capone

Note: Click on The BLAHS link in the sidebar to the right for full history of The BLAHS

It’s a new year, and that means a new angle.   So without further ado, let’s get started with my third installment of The BLAHS (BLog Awards Handed Out by Sackler).  In the previous installments I pointed out that, unlike the various so-called blogging awards that amount to little more than chain letters, these goodies are handed out one at a time.  Whether one would actually want to win one is another story altogether, but I leave that for you, the reader, to decide.

Mae West--A woman after my own heart.

Mae West–A woman after my own heart.

In the name of either democracy, or laziness, I am asking my readers to vote for the next blog award for the specific category of lady blogger with an attitude. Unlike the so-called nominees in those fake blogging awards that go around–and the fact that I have been “nominated” six times in the past few months verifies the bogus nature of these entities–only one of three nominees will emerge victorious.  With that honor will come the accolades and/or humiliation, not to mention the option to receive limited edition tee shirts and refrigerator magnates with typographical errors that make them valuable collector’s items.

Enough for the preliminaries.  Let’s get started.  The nominees are: (click links to view blogs)



Clotilda Jamcracker for her blog of the same name.  The first BLAHS went to The Blog of Funny Names.  The second BLAHS went to the funniest named blog I follow, Millard Filmore’s Bathtub.  So it only makes sense to nominate the funniest-named blogger I follow.  Her attitude is more in her name than her writing;  her main goal in life seems to be maintaining a comfortable middle-class American lifestyle on financial fumes.   Attitude style:  female Ebenezer Scrooge.

Essa Alroc of Essa on Everything.   This is a woman with a no holds barred libertarian attitude.  Nothing is sacred and everything is fair game.  She makes no apologies for  herself, or for that matter, anyone else.  Be sure to wear a flak jacket when you read her blog.  Attitude style: female George Carlin.



Sue (aka Sooz) of Dreamshadow59Now here is an attitude I love.  She makes no apologies for being a single female on the prowl, or for enjoying more than a drink or two along the way.  Her faux romantic advice columns are a hot hoot.  Now, if I only had her full name and a phone number.  Attitude style: 21st century Mae West.



So there you have it folks: a professed skinflint, a professed libertarian, and a professed nymphom–er, party girl.  And while the rules of this award allow me to bestow all three of them whenever and however I want, here is your chance to participate.  Actually, the only rules of this award are that I can do whatever I want.  And what I want is allow you 7 days from the initial post to vote with no limit on how often you can vote.  In the spirit of Al Capone, ballot box stuffing is not just allowed, but encouraged.   See you at the awards ceremony.

(Note: you don’t actually have to visit and read these blogs to vote, but it is recommended)


The BLAHS #2: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

“To refuse awards is a way of accepting them with more noise than normal.”–Mark Twain (also attributed to Peter Ustinov)

The absolutely awesome BLAHS logo which adorns the tee shirts and refrigerator magnets awarded to the winners.

Thread update:   Since last we visited the BLAHS (BLog Awards Handed out by Sackler) I have been”nominated” for three more blog awards myself.   I used quotes around the term nominated because there are conditions behind accepting these particular awards. One must, depending on the award in question, “nominate” between five and ten other blogs for the award.  (You’ve probably seen many a blog boasting one of these awards:  Versatile Blogger Award,  One Lovely Blog Award, etc.). See, the thing is, these amount to the blogging equivalent of a chain letter.  If money were involved, it would be a Ponzi scheme;  the math doesn’t work too well.  If everybody nominated were to participate to the fullest extent possible, then within between ten and fifteen iterations there would be more awards handed out than there are people alive on this planet today.  How else would I be cited for three of them in less than six months of blogging? (Yeah, my ego is big, but not that big.)   Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate these other bloggers thinking of me, and will acknowledge them at the bottom of this post.   But I don’t do chain letters, multi-level marketing or Ponzi schemes, so I chose to create more noise by not accepting them.  (And at least my BLAHS are handed out one at a time, even if otherwise worthless).

Without further ado, the winner of BLAHS #2 is…


What could be more appropriate?  The first BLAHS went to The Blog of Funny Names.  So why shouldn’t the next one be awarded to the funniest named blog I know, after the funniest named president that most of us have ever (or never) heard of?  To be accurate, though, it’s not named after Millard Fillmore himself, but after one of the oddest hoaxes in American journalism history.  It was promulgated by H.L.Mencken,  who on December 28, 1917 published a story in The Evening Mail, stating that the date was the anniversary of the installation of the first bathtub in the White House by Fillmore in 1850.  It was complete bunkum;  yet to this day it has repeatedly been cited as fact–as this link recounts in detail.  This account clearly proves that fact checking in journalism and history is not dead–it never really existed in the first place.  Mencken intended the story as a joke, and was stunned that it was taken seriously despite several obvious fabrications. Fillmore’s hometown of Morovia, NY certainly has a sense of humor about the whole thing.  They stage an annual Millard Fillmore Day which for years featured a bathtub race as one of the main events.

The great Fillmore himself. Sadly, no images of his bathtub survive.

“Secondhand, commonplace, mediocre, undistinguished: these are the words that spring naturally to mind as one surveys Fillmore’s brief rise from obscurity and quick descent into oblivion,”–Paul Boller in “Presidential Anecdotes.”

Back to the award, though. Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, the blog, touts itself as “striving for accuracy in history, economics, geography, education, and a little science.”  (Why only a little science, I have no idea).  But who cares?  Yes, the content is lively and interesting, but the name and premise it is based on is almost worthy of the award in and of itself.  Congrats, Ed, and keep up the good work.

The Prize

I promised to strive to find a completely useless prize for this award.  I almost did it.  I have fashioned a tee shirt and matching refrigerator magnet out of the logo which appears above.  Not useless?  Well, I figure nobody would actually want to show off this award, so the logo should do the trick.  Yes, I know, the tee shirt could still be used as a dishrag.  But short of a monogrammed piece of lint, this was the best I could think of;  I’m also betting somebody out there will think of a use for the lint.

Three Blogs of Note

These are the blogs that nominated me for the awards mentioned in the preface at the top of this article.  While I have chosen not to participate in these awards, I do appreciate their thinking of me–and I do read and recommend their respective blogs.

Sciencelens               Essa On Everything          The Art Frog

(Postscript:  It occurs to me that H.L. Mencken was also the author of many great quotes, one or more of which is bound to turn up in one of these posts.)


Introducing: The BLAHS

“What’s with all these awards?  They’re always giving out awards”–Woody Allen as Alvie Singer in “Annie Hall”

Golden Raspberry

The Golden Raspberry Award. Given annually to the worst films, it’s the only Hollywood award I have any respect for. This is probably because my sister Micki has been a presenter at many of their ceremonies.

Woody Allen is famous for his disdain for entertainment industry awards.  But there is, I have discovered, one media cohort that gives out even more awards than Hollywood.  You’re in it right now.  It’s the blogosphere. It seems that every third blog I visit claims to have won a blogging award.  How can this be?  It’s because just about every third blogger gives out awards.  Hell, I’ve even won one already!  And unlike Groucho Marx, I have no problem belonging to a club that has me as a member.  So without further ado, here come the BLAHS.

The BLAHS (BLog Awards Handed out by Sackler)

There are three significant things you should know about the BLAHS.  (That is, if you are interested, which is a dubious assumption on my part).

First, the term “BLAHS,” itself, is in an appropriate-for-this-blog state of superposition.  It is simultaneously singular and plural.

Second, the awards will be quasi-semi-maybe annual.  This means I will give them out whenever I damn well feel like it for whatever I feel like and too whomever I feel like.

Third, I am still working on an actual physical prize.  Trophies are nearly worthless.  I would much prefer to give out something completely worthless.  Like a years’ supply of rutabaga.  And since I don’t know anybody who actually uses rutabaga–or eats it–the  prize would be….nothing!  OK, you say you can think of uses for a rutabaga?  A doorstop? A very small lopsided bowling ball?  A shot put for a 98-pound weakling?  If you can think up 20 more uses then you have less of a life than I do and still won’t win anything.

And now–may we have the envelope and a piccolo trill, please–the winner of the first BLAHS is:

Dave Carlson of The Blog of Funny Names

Ossee SchreckengostBenedict CumberbatchOuterbridge Horsey…if you haven’t heard of these names, well, you have now!  And if you had been following The Blog of Funny Names since it’s debut last December, you would not have needed me to clue you in.  Every weekday Dave and his co-authors present another great name from history, entertainment or current events.  Special features include a weekly Funny Names in the News column.  Oh and of course, they also give out blog awards; they gave me mine.  Here is what they said about me:

Mark Sackler of Millenium Conjectures wins the Rube Waddell Ridiculousness Award. He’s a newer fan of ours who has already earned some notice. He’s an avid baseball fan and a kindred spirit who formerly kept a funny named baseball players list, and prides his blog on the “ridiculous and sublime” – also a good descriptor for Rube Waddell.

Great demented minds are equally demented.  But besides the obvious quid pro quo, there is another great reason I selected Funny Names for the first BLAHS.  It’s my favorite blog–other than my own, of course.

Endnote: if you have any suggestions for a suitable prize for the BLAHS, or a logo for that matter,  please send them to me, or post them herein.

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