I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

April 01, 2018 - 6:10 p.m.

Pesach Draft

I'm making a late start today; that's a direct result of the events of the past two day that I'm going to write about, some take place in the world, and some in my head. It would be easier to just give you the facts but how anxiety rears its ugly head will teach you more.

Saturday was the day of my Rotisserie Baseball league draft and the second night of Pesach, the night of my Seder. That is two things that I never miss, two things that I look forward to all year. There were in opposite directions, the draft was in Jackson, soon to be renamed Tubman, NJ, and the Seder in Norwalk CT in the late afternoon; one to the Southwest, the other to the Northeast. That was a factor in the anxiety. I needed to do both, and the timing could be close, but I thought it would be fine.

Someone at the Seder didn't know how Fantasy Baseball works so I'll explain it for the benefit of My Gentle Readers don't know. Rotisserie is a specific form of Fantasy Baseball, the original. We compete in 8 stats. There are 12 teams. If you come in first you get 12 points, if you come in last you get 1. It should be scored like bridge where you get a point for ever team you beat so the last place team gets 0, but it's not. Every team is given a budget of $26 to spend on our players. The draft is not like the MLB or NBA draft. It's not a draft at all, it's an auction. We take turns naming a player and everyone bids on him. It's a social activity, with lots of playful trash talking. There was not nearly enough mocking of Marc this year. It's so nice to be in a situation where I'm not the one that everyone mocks the most.

To intelligently bid on players I prepare. Ideally, I'd spend the off season doing research. As the draft approaches I should get down to specifics. Much of my prep is preparing spreadsheets to put the quantitative data into an easy to digest form to use at the draft. That takes a great deal of time. I started at 10 PM on Saturday night. Nick was picking me up after 7:00. I was thinking 7:20. I set my alarm for 6:45. That gave me 8:45 to do all my prep. Why didn't I start earlier? That's where the anxiety kicks in. I love doing the prep. I love reading about the players and I love preparing the spreadsheets. At one point I have to concatenate which is a highlight because Brian used the word in a We're About 9 song lyric and explained that it he learned it from doing a spreadsheet doing the very thing I need to do, combine columns with first and last names into one column with both. Finding that exciting is perfectly normal, getting anxiety from it, is not. Every year I say I will do all the technical prep early. My spreadsheets will be ready to go and all I'll have to do is enter the players that are in the draft pool. Every year I say I'll be extra good and prepare my analysis of how much every set of stats is worth. I created a formula for that, I don't accept the ones that others publish. The reality is that every year I get anxious every time I contemplate starting. The anxiety builds as I take steps to start, like opening Excel. I look for any excuse to put it off and feel relief as soon as I do. It's like the feeling of stepping into an air-conditioned room when it's sweltering outside.

Some Friday I had nothing done. On Friday I have therapy. There's a built-in excuse to not get started. Jane drove me to the train station. I took the train to Harrison. I took the bus to the hospital. I was early, as always. I went to the entrance; the door was locked! I should have mentioned that the name of the hospital where I have therapy is St. Vincent's. It's a Catholic Hospital. This wasn't any Friday, this was Good Friday. I'm an idiot.

The bus runs only once an hour so had to walk the mile and a half back to the train. I had to go to Stop & Shop on the way home. That's right on the way so it only costs me half an hour, the time to the next bus. I got home well before 5. That wasn't too bad. Did I start working? Of course not. I decided that I'll just watch Gotham before I start. When that was over I was still too anxious. Fine, I'll just watch Arrow. And so it went, till about 9:00. Then I had to make dinner. I treated myself, I had the bacon-wrapped chuck steak filet from Aldi with Peter Luger's steak sauce. When that was done the "I'll never get it done in time" anxiety became greater than the "Getting Started" anxiety.

I begin with the computer, not baseball aspects. As I said, I love that. I downloaded the available players list from the league and the player projections list that I get from another site. I then engage in my annual relearning how to do look-up tables in Excel. I thought I'd just be able to copy and past from last year but that didn't work. It kept on wanting to reference the old spreadsheets not this year. I figured it all out. I love figuring it all out. This is my natural habitat. This is me being the best version of me.

Then comes the next step, the baseball, researching how the teams are going to use each of their players. I color code that on the spreadsheet. For position players I indicate who is at the top of the depth chart at every position and then single out good players and great players. I bold those that I want to target as I suspect they will be undervalued.

With pitchers the classes are starting pitchers, Stud starting pitchers, closers, and potential closers. As I already have two cheap closers and one potential on my team I didn't code the potential closers.

When all this was done it was 5:30. My alarm was set for 6:45. I decided to take a nap as I was about to collapse. That's the anxiety and prep story. This is going to be a long entry. I've written over 1100 words and haven't gotten to any of the fun things yet. That's why I'm dividing this into sections.

I did fall asleep though not immediately as my mind was racing. I had to meditate to clear it. Next thing I know I hear my phone playing music. My alarm is music, Harpeth Rising singing Wheelhouse. After a second, I realized I was hearing Pesky J. Nixon, that means it was the phone. It was Nick calling to tell me that he had entered Pelham Bay Park, so I should out to the corner to meet him. It was 6:25, I said, "sure." I raced into my clothing and packed my computer. Too bad I had to go to the bathroom, some things can't be rushed. He didn't have to wait too long. Just the time it took me to get my coat on and walk down there. I reached the car before my alarm went off at 6:45. I'm good at racing to get ready. Nick was also driving our new members of the league Mark, not Marc, and his son George. The league is becoming a father and son thing.

We drove out to Jackson, soon to be Tubman. We got there at 8. The draft started at 9, so my thought of leaving half an hour later than we did was reasonable. Nick and I had a failure to communicate; my guess is that it is my fault. Nick is very good at preparation and details and I'm an idiot.

We got there just as Angelo arrived, he was the first one. The draft is at Joe's house. Joe has moved to Florida and selling the house. We don't know where we'll draft next year. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Everyone in the league arrived before nine. Chris was the last two arrive. He is the only Wise Madness regular in the league. I hadn't seen him in a day and a half. We went to the Cry Cry Cry show together. All the teams were there but the auctioneer wasn't. We need someone to hit the gavel and keep the records. He did an excellent job. The auctioneer, whose name is totally escaping me, arrived half an hour late. Need brooks no delay but late is better than never.

The dynamics of the draft is different every year. The norm is for everyone to spend their entire $26; this year most of us had money left over. The players I had kept were cheap, so I had more money to spend per player than most. I grabbed only one expensive player then sat back for a while. When the intermediate players were on the board I then grabbed the best player left at every position. My salaries are evenly spread out. I like that. My theory is that it's safer, all my eggs aren't in one basket. Except for Dee Gordon, who I couldn't pass up with that name, my players are good not great. Gordon is only great at Rotisserie not real baseball, he dominates stolen bases. I considered going for Alex Gordon too, but I didn't want him on my team just, so I'd have the two best names in baseball.

Ladies and gentlemen here are your 2018 Nashional Batnoses.

The draft went a little slow. That got me nervous because I had to get to the Seder. Then I forgot that Nick would want to stay for the post-draft pizza. Nick lives in Westchester so could have dropped me at a Metro North station or someplace I could get to 125th Street. I thought Fordham would be OK, but it wasn't. That would take two trains. That's moot as he stayed for pizza and I had to leave. Ira, another original member of the league lives in Brooklyn. I realized he could drive me to Borough Hall; that's right in his neighborhood. From there it's only 20 minutes or so to Grand Central where I could catch the Metro North. It looked fine for me to catch one train later than I originally planned and still get to the Seder at a reasonable time. I originally was shooting to catch the 3:02 train but we were still driving then. Then I figure the 3:32, that would be fine. But traffic was terrible in Brooklyn. I still thought I'd make it. As I walked onto the platform the train pulled out. If it wasn't for the slow person in front of me on the stairs I might have made it. I took the next train which was a few minutes late. I got to Grand Central. I got to the platform at 3:34. I missed the train by two minutes. I had to take the 4:02. That meant getting there after the Seder was supposed to start. I called my sister Alison and told her when my train would get in. She was very good and didn't make me feel guilty. I had that covered, I felt guilty. She didn't want to miss any of the Seder, so she sent an Uber for me. There was some confusion about where he'd picked me up, but we eventually worked it out and I got my ride. Once it was out of my hands I wasn't anxious. There was nothing left I could do. I don't know why I didn't get social anxiety that everyone would be mad at me. I know it's ridiculous but that doesn't usually stop me from getting anxious about it. It must be because I've known these people for over 55 years.

Now to explain my Seder to newcomers. You know my sister was there. My other sister is in Texas. Two people don't make much of a Seder. For countless years we have spent Pesach at the home of Louis, Alison's high school boyfriend, and Sylvia, her college roommate. That's not a coincidence, she introduced him. We figured it out, I must have been 5 when I met Louis. I was 8 when I met Sylvia. They, their daughters, Marjorie and Denny, and the other Seder regulars are my once a year family. Every year there are also new attendees, not all Jewish. I knew Alison's friends, Giordana and Jamie. I took the Pro-Truth pledge, so I'll admit that I needed to check the spelling of Giordana's name. I was right the first time but needed the verification to be confident.

It's not a competition, because there is no competition; We have the best Seder in the world. We have hand crafted personalized Haggadah. Do you have your name printed on your Haggadah? Does your Seder have kazoos? Does your Haggadah have a social activist version of the Four Children? We have many socially conscious interpolations. The story of the Pesach is the story of the release from slavery, that lends itself to themes of social justice. We turn Chad Gadya into a singing race. We call my nephew Max, who lives in California, before we sing that. It's tradition since he moved out there. This year we figured out how to Facetime, so we could see and hear each other.

When it came time to go home Alison drove Denny and me to the train station. Corinne took the train too, she's part of the once-a-year family too. Her parents drove her. The fourth member of our party was Matilda, Denny's dog. Corinne took a picture of Matilda on the train and dubbed her the Paschal Dog. Matilda did not enjoy the ride, they should have a car where dogs can stick their heads out the window.

I thought I'd have to go all the way to Harlem and take the 6 train back up to Pelham, but I didn't! The one stop the train made in New York before Harlem was Fordham Road. I can catch the BX12 Select there. That saved me more than half an hour.

When I got off at Fordham I had a strange experience with another passenger. She had a small suitcase on wheel, some small shopping bags, and a huge duffel bag. She asked me if I could help her. I of course said yes. She of course left me with the duffle bag, it was filled with something very heavy. She didn't say where she wanted me to take it. She just started walking. I was hoping it was to the far side of Fordham Road, that's where I had to catch my bus. She was out ahead of me, so I couldn't ask. She went to the elevator. We got there, and the door was open, and someone in it, but she didn't go in. She let it go and waited for it to come back. I didn't want to miss the next bus. I was exhausted. While we were waiting her phone rang. She answered it. She talked on the phone and when the elevator came went in and left her little wheeled suitcase outside. She expected me to carry it. She didn't say anything but what was I going to do? She had walked away from it.

I tried asking where she wanted me to carry her bag too. She just nodded and talked on the phone. Finally, she indicated I could put it down by the bus stop. She did give a quick thank you and went back to the phone. That bag weighed a ton and I felt unappreciated and used. At least I didn't miss my bus.

I went to sleep my usual time, around 12:30. I woke up a usual time, 8 AM. I went to the bathroom and went back to bed. I played WFUV's A Thousand Welcomes on my phone and crashed. I woke up and heard the mass on. That meant it was after 11:00. I turned the WFUV app off and while thinking of getting out of bed fell asleep for another hour. That's why I got off to such a late start. I made up for the missed sleep. It was very pleasant.

Guess what I had for breakfast; that's right, matzoh brei; see I'm a good Jew. Maybe not, I covered it with sliced ham and shredded pepper jack cheese. I tread matzoh brei the same way I would an omelet except I don't fold it. Give it a try, it's so good. Mix some garlic salt and whatever other condiments you like into the batter before you cook it. I used MSG and Trader Joe's all-purpose condiment, sort of like Mrs. Dash. If you eat sweet matzoh brei add some vanilla. I prefer savory.

My epic entry has come to an end. I will forego my usual nod to April's Fool. You got an idiot story, that's good enough.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile April 01, 2018
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