Previous “By The Numbers” posts

This Reminder Is a Wee Bit Early

They should consider suggesting people update their check style like fashion, rather than just reordering when they run out.

As readers may know, I have fun with checks. However, though I have utterly ridiculous checks which amuse me greatly, I do not have much occasion to use said checks. As such, I was surprised to receive an email with the subject line “This is a friendly reminder to reorder checks.”.

I ordered a new batch of checks last August, and as the above email shows, I received 160 checks.1 Let me tell you, Harland Clarke is wildly overestimating how frequently I write checks. I’m still on my first of four books. In fact, over the past 9+ months, I have written exactly 10 checks. At this rate, I’ll need to reorder some time in 2034.


  1. I find it very disappointing that the image in this email fails to show the hug statement featured on my checks. ↩︎

Ah Hell, We’d Better Cancel the Mission

Today, in unnecesary corrections

In a recent issue of The Week magazine, I came across this correction:

A magazine correction reading “We erroneously wrote that the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster is 390 light-years from Earth. It is in fact 390 million light-years from Earth.

I’m definitely in favor of accuracy, and in favor of making things right. That said, there is no functional difference between these two distances. In practical terms, it’s the difference between a gagillion and a bazillion.

Speed Math (All Numbers Approximate)

Current speed record for a man-made object (The Juno spacecraft): 165,000 miles per hour

Speed of light (approximate): 186,000 miles per second

Multiple by which the speed of light is faster than the top speed of the Juno spacecraft: 4000

Time to reach the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster under the incorrect distance estimate, assuming we could max out at the Juno’s speed: 1.5 million years

Time to reach the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster with an accurate distance estimate instead: 1.5 trillion years

Either way, I don’t think any of us have that kind of time.

Illegal Parking Is a Peanut Butter Jelly Crime 

Peanut butter jelly crime, peanut butter jelly crime, peanut butter jelly crime. Now where he at? Where he at? Where he at? Where he at?

Earlier this month, officials at the University of Alaska’s Anchorage campus gave students an amusing way to pay off their parking tickets: peanut butter and jelly. In lieu of cash payments, students could provide peanut butter or jelly to cover their fines. The food would then go to other students in need. That’s a nice enough idea, but there are some definite problems with the exchange rate:

Officials say two 16-ounce (454-gram) jars offer a $10 credit, three jars offer a $35 credit and five jars offer a $60 credit.

Working out the math, that means one jar is worth three different amounts:

  • $5: At the $10 credit level, $10/2 jars = $5.

  • $11.67: At the $35 credit level, $35/3 jars ≈ $11.67.

  • $12: At the $60 credit level, $60/5 jars = $12.

The difference between the $35 credit level and the $60 credit level is minimal enough, but you’re really getting screwed at the $10 level. Given how much everything costs in Alaska, it seems possible students would actually be losing money if they’re only getting $5 per jar.

By The Numbers: December 28th, 2012 Edition

College Football

Number of teams currently in the so-called Big 12 Conference: 10

Number of teams currently in the so-called Big 10 Conference: 12

Number of teams the aforementioned Big 10 Conference will have in 2014: 14

Solar Charger

Number of attachments which came with the incredibly fancy, not at all shoddy, solar charger ShareBuilder sent as a holiday gift: 5

Number of attachments compatible with my phone: 0

Approximate amount of time in the sun after which the charger’s battery will be at 100%: 11 hours

Approximate amount of time charging before the charger died entirely: 50 minutes

August Bodies

Average age of members of the House of Representatives in the incoming 113th congress: 58 years old

Average age of incoming Senators: 61 years old

Average age of Supreme Court justices: A little over 67 years old

Average age of the members of the Rolling Stones: Almost 69 years old

The 2012 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

If it’s July 4th, it’s time once again for the “wildest ten minutes in sports”, the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. As it does every year, One Foot Tsunami is pleased to provide you full coverage of the event. This year’s contest will once again be shown nationally on ESPN. However, it will not air until 3 PM today, on tape delay three hours after the contest actually occurred.1

Yes, dear readers, though it is the anniversary of the birth of this great nation, ESPN has opted instead to show Wimbledon coverage live, pushing the hot dog eating contest over to their online ESPN 3 “channel”. Showing a British tennis tournament instead of America’s own Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island, on Independence Day? Treasonous. Goddamned treasonous.

ESPN should also be ashamed for their gross marginalization of the women’s contest (much like last year). While it did air live on ESPN 3 at 11:30 AM, the production was simply pathetic. From the wide-angle still camera shot to the many spots of dead air to the meatheads who couldn’t properly operate the score flippers, the whole live viewing was a travesty.

Assorted Quotes From the Women’s Contest

  • …And you’ll put up a graphic, as soon as we go to live?…

  • Three minutes and forty-one seconds now left, ladies and gentleman…Sonya Thomas…Sonya Thomas has already broken her world record…strike that. My bun boy can’t count.

  • There’s some dispute with the judges now…As I told you, we’re gonna swear them in later [after the women’s contest], so technically they couldn’t be fined if they mess it up.

Sadly, but perhaps fortunately given the poor quality production, the women’s contest was edited down and folded into the men’s coverage. Elite female gurgitator Sonya Thomas shattered her own previous best (and world record), with a grotesque 45 hot dogs and buns, to capture her second Pepto-pink belt. As one announcer put it, the hot dogs were “falling like the euro for Sonya Thomas”. Ba-zing.

Now Let’s Bring On The Men

While the prize money is the same, the men’s event is the clear draw. Master of ceremonies George Shea gives it his all, and his brother Rich handles one-half of the television announcing duties (along with professional broadcaster Paul Page). There’s even a side-table reporter, “multi-platform media personality, television host, web entrepreneur, blogger, and spokesmodel“ Renee Herlocker (whose web site was apparently hosted on MobileMe). As a result, the men’s contest tends to be the source of the very best quotes.

A very literal answer on what it takes to win:

“You gotta come there…you gotta be hungry.”

Jason “Crazy Legs” Conti, on his outside interests:

“I enjoy movies quite a bit. VHS is my favorite format, and I own every Corey Haim and Corey Feldman movie.”

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, on training:

“It’s similar to a marathon runner training, and building up, building up, ramping up to peak.”

The only mention of Takeru Kobayashi:

“He is not here once again. But when you think about it, the last times that he met with Joey Chestnut, Chestnut put him away as well.”

The amazing introduction for five-time defending champion Joey Chestnut2:

“Too many of us are broken men, and we kneel at the side of the road, to be covered in the dust from the hooves of our enemies’ horses. We chew on gravel and we smile the smile of broken teeth and supplication. But one man will. not. kneel. One man will stand always, and he will cast you in his shadow. Because the rock on which he stands is not a rock! It is courage! It is hope, enough to sustain a nation!”

As the contest got underway, a few interesting numbers were presented.

By the Numbers: Assorted Hot Dog Eating Contest Numbers

  • 5: The maximum number of seconds a hot dog bun may be dunked in liquid.

  • 7.875: The number of pounds of deep fried asparagus Matt “Megatoad” Stonie ate in 10 minutes.

  • 10: Presumed value, on a scale of 1-5, for the stench of his resulting urine.

The Results

While the contest itself started off close, Joey Chestnut soon pulled away from the herd. Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti and Tim “Eater X” Janus both put up strong 50+ dog showings, but Jaws won by a comfortable 15.75 dog margin.3

Perhaps the best drama came in the closing moments. Like a shot leaving a shooter’s hands just before the buzzer went off, Joey Chestnut crammed two full dogs into his mouth as time expired. Once he’d finished chewing, he’d tied his own world record with 68 hot dogs and buns. In doing so, he won his sixth title, a “Jordan-level” feat. Another great day for America.

Do You Want More?

Just can’t get enough of this disgusting display? You can tune in for the re-run at 3 PM on ESPN or 4 PM on ESPN2. You can also read about the brothers Shea, who brought this exhibition to the main stage, in a rather incredible New York Times piece. Best of all though, for just 99 cents, you can try your (virtual) hand at competitive eating. Perform as your favorite gurgitator, and stuff, chew, and burp your way to victory in Major League Eating: The Game. Yeah.


  1. If you’re planning to watch the television broadcast, you may wish to avoid the hot dog spoilers contained in this post. ↩︎

  2. If you’ve got 45 seconds, listen to the full audio:

    Pitch-perfect. ↩︎

  3. 15.75 hot dogs sounds like perhaps the least comfortable “comfortable” lead ever. ↩︎

By The Numbers: Miscellaneous

Air Travel

Percentage of flights where all customers are requested to place their rollaboard suitcases in wheels-first: 99.3%

Raw number of flights where this request is followed: 0

Average time elapsed between the co-pilot telling passengers to “remain seated until the plane comes to a complete stop and the seat belt sign is turned off”, and the sign actually turning off, as measured over my last 10 flights: 9.8 seconds


Maximum number of blue ribbons won by Pabst Blue Ribbon: 1

Year in which that solitary blue ribbon was won: 18931

Years they’ve been milking it: 119


Date a purchased item shipped: April 9, 2012 1:45 PM

Date the item arrived: April 11, 2012 10:50 AM

Date I received an email containing the item’s tracking info: April 14, 2012 10:46 AM


  1. According to Wikipedia, it’s possible the beer’s name comes not from an award but from the company’s practice of tying blue ribbons around the necks of beer bottles in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    Additionally, the award it may (or may not) have won in 1893 might have been a bronze medal, not a blue ribbon. Pabst Bronze Medal doesn’t sound very good, especially given the third-place connotations the Olympics have given to bronze. ↩︎

The 2011 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Yesterday was America’s independence day, which means it was also time for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest. Since its inception in 2009, One Foot Tsunami has been providing you with coverage, so you don’t have to watch it yourself1.

2011’s event started off on a bit of a sour note, as the women were removed from the men’s contest and given their own competition. While the female winner received an equal $10,000 prize2, their contest was marginalized when it came to television coverage. It took place prior to the telecast and was summarized and disposed of in the first seven minutes of the coverage. Shameful, ESPN. Simply shameful.

Nevertheless, we should not allow ESPN’s discrimination, nor the off-putting Pepto-Bismol product placement, to sully this fine event. Instead, let’s take a look at the science of hot dog eating.

By the Numbers: The Science of Hot Dog Eating

  • 5 or more: The number of sticks of gum some competitors chew at a time, in a training exercise to strength their masseter muscles.

  • 280 lbs of force: The bite of some eaters, stronger than that of a German Shepherd.

  • 5 minutes: How quickly Joey “Jaws” Chestnut consumed 5 days worth of food (in the form of 30 hot dogs and buns, totaling 9000 calories).

You learn something new everyday. And today, you’ve learned something disgusting. Now, let’s dive into the best quotes from the contest.

The Best Quotes From the 2011 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, on how he spends his time:

“Outside of eating and cooking, I read a lot of bad teenage girl novels.”

On Damon Wells emergence:

“He is a rookie out of the dumpling circuit.”

Describing what led gurgitator Sean Gordon to find his niche in competitive eating:

“As a young man, he failed to excel in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, soccer, tennis, swimming, running, wrestling, handball, racquetball, curling, cricket, and shuffleboard.”

Discussing youngster Matt “Megatoad” Stonie, who ate 32 hot dogs to qualify:

“18 years old – do you think he has a future?”

On Joey Chestnut’s confidence:

He looked like Bradley Cooper at a sorority house.

In response to the weak performance of Chinese competitor Lu Ming Kui, who said he eats mostly “fish and chicken”:

“When I think of savory chicken dishes, I think of the Colonel and General Cho. Mr. Kui does not have any military experience, and it looks like limited hot dog experience.”

In regards to competitors not being the lard-asses you might expect:

“Body fat takes up valuable space for stomach expansion, which is why many competitive eaters are surprisingly fit.”

Joey Chestnut, on his failure to set a new record:

“I was having a little bit of trouble with the water.”

The results of the ESPN SportsNation poll which asked “Is competitive eating a sport?”3

Yes: 18.7%

No: 81.3%

The Results

In the end, the contest’s outcome was unsurprising. Despite a good fight from Deep Dish, Jaws remained supreme. Joey Chestnut captured his fifth straight mustard-yellow belt with 62 HDBs downed.

Meanwhile, in a simultaneous chowdown across town, disgraced/disgraceful former champion Takeru Kobayashi claims to have downed 69 dogs. As this stunt was entirely unsanctioned, his “record” will assuredly not be recognized by Major League Eating. Do it on the stage, or don’t do it all, Takeru.

Hats off to you, Joey Chestnut. Readers, if you’re looking for more hot dog-related fun, check out the wraps from the 2010 and 2009 competitions. Otherwise, please join in on the appropriate closing chant: U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


  1. Even as a fan, there’s no denying that this is a revolting spectacle which probably shouldn’t be allowed on daytime television. ↩︎

  2. An amount that seems unlikely to even cover the medical care that will no doubt eventually be needed. ↩︎

  3. To which I must retort with this tweet from last year:

    Maybe it isn't a sport, but I'll tell you this much: not once has the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest  ended in a 0-0 tie.

    Soccer. Pfft. ↩︎

By The Numbers: Amazon Shipping

The product box
Oooh, a package from Amazon!

ZipIt drain cleaner
Ah! A disgusting-but-effective drain cleaning tool, perfect for the hirsute gentleman, has arrived!

ZipIt and the box
Wait, that was the only thing in the box?


Box dimensions: 6.5 inches x 8 inches x 26.5 inches
Product dimensions: 2 inches x 0.375 inches x 23.5 inches

Box volume: 1378 cubic inches
Product volume: 17.625 cubic inches

Approximate percentage of box volume used by the product: 1.28%
Approximate percentage of box volume left unused: 98.72%


Incidentally, the Zip-It works horrifyingly well. Unfortunately, I was too nauseated to capture pictures of all that it brought back from the deepest depths of hell and my plumbing. If you want to see it in action, go ahead and visit the Zip-It site. You will absolutely regret it.

By The Numbers: Banking

Information Update

Phone calls and bank trips needed to initiate a change on my bank accounts: 3

Confirmation letters received to my “old address”, making sure this change was authorized: 2 (one for each account)

Confirmation letters received at my “new address”, informing me of the change: 1 (oddly, one letter for both accounts)

Changes of address I was actually making: 0

Number of letters I was removing from my name: 1

Understanding of why bank fees are so expensive, when it takes all this to go from Paul R. Kafasis to Paul Kafasis: High

TD Bank Redux

Number of days from when the new TD Bank put up their “Open 7 Days A Week” sign to when they opened (predicted): 85

Number of days from when the new TD Bank put up their “Open 7 Days A Week” sign to when they opened (actual): 107

Logic of putting a sign claiming to be open up first, and then finishing construction of the actual business: 0


Encouragements to “go green”, and use paperless electronic bank statements: Nearly ∞

Cost savings to the bank when I did so: >$0

Cost savings to me when I did so: $0

Months’ worth of electronic statements my bank keeps readily available: 12

Cost to retrieve an older statement: $15

My understanding of the phrase “going green” in this context: “Reducing unnecessary use of paper, thereby saving trees”

Actual meaning of “going green” in this context: “Your green is going into the banks’ coffers”

By The Numbers: Birthday Wishes

Snail Mail

Birthday cards received via mail: 3

Percentage of cards received via mail which were sent by my mortgage broker: 33.3%

Scoring from 0 to 100, value given to “Has the lowest rate”, when shopping for a mortgage broker: 99.999

Scoring from 0 to 100, value given to “Sent me a birthday card”, when shopping for a mortgage broker: 0.001


E-cards received from friends and family: 2

Other emails received from friends and family, with birthday wishes: 6

Emails received from assorted companies, and the automated emailing robots which represent them: 9

Ratio by which programmed robotic love outweighs human love, using email as a benchmark: 9:8


Facebook, Twitter, and other non-email well-wishes received: Dozens

Facebook virtual gifts received: 0, thankfully

Coupons and gifts received from the previously mentioned companies and robots: 3

Savings ING Direct is offering me at the ING Direct Store, for bright orange and belogo-ed things like “mugs, bags, books, and more”: 15% off

Gratitude I feel for this particular “gift”: None at all.