Today marks eight years since Mrs. K marched into our Little Church and said "I do." I love her more today that ever. She is the best friend that I've ever had and I'm looking forward to the next eight years. Even when the poker cards are running against me, I can still feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Thanks Dear.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I'm back in Charlotte having the first Monday at work in a long time. Man, did I miss this not at all! I'm starting a slightly new job with the same organization within the same company as before. The brings a lot of anxiety, but mostly, my mind in still on the road.
The trip just ended was a good one to say the least. One week of baseball with my wife followed by one week of pool and poker with good friends other than my wife (I put it that way because my wife it my best friend) is just about a perfect way to live life. My work doesn't suck, but it exists to make weeks like the last two stand out.
We did have one experience that needs to be put in writing, though I'm sure it is one of those "you had to be there" kind of moments.
During the pool tournament, there were various raffles of different pool cues going on. Young girls would walk around showing the cue and asking everyone if they wanted to participate in the raffle. Most of the girls were young and sexy. But then there was this one young 'lady' who stood about 5' 4" and weighed around 220 lbs. This girl was seriously under-tall. Her stringy blond hair had one big purple streak down one side. Her makeup and leather bustier were pseudo-goth. That was bad. The bikini briefs, fish-net hose and go-go boots completed a most, um, how can I say this, startlingly unattractive picture.
After she passed our seats, several people had their comments. I was stunned into silence. No, I didn't even get a picture.
This all happened near the end of our match. As we were leaving the hall, we noticed the bikini-goth babe also leaving but about 20 feet ahead of us. This turned out to be the perfect distance for watching, not the girl, but all of the various reactions to the girl from the folks making their way to the hall.
Some laughed, others made puke faces, others turned and bumped into still others. I had tears in my eyes before we went 50 feet and was about to fall over laughing in 50 more. Seeing the girl had it's somewhat cruel humor, but seeing the reactions on a moving stage like this was most entertaining.
The whole trip (two full weeks) went by without injury or the loss of anything significant. All of the games went off on time. All of the flights went off on time (more or less). All of the hotels had our reservations. If anything, the smoothness of the trip accounts for the lack of adventure of these posts. Things just went the way they were planned.
Special props to Jaxon at http:\\tripjax.blogspot.com for his great pimpage to this site. I've traded emails and comments with the man, but have never met him in person. I look forward to that day. If you haven't checked out his blog, go there now.
On last posting of some of the pictures that I couldn't get up during the trip and it will be time to move on. (And I'm not going to post about the last hand of poker I played in Vegas where my AA got cracked to triple my loss for the week - Ouch). Okay, I'm still having problems with the pictures. Later.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
The team went down to defeat last night, but they played proud and always as good sports. They teach me a lot in that regard, and I thank them for that. I also thank them for taking me along on this wonderful ride. For a couple days there, pool in Vegas was more exciting than poker in Vegas. That is no small accomplishment.p>
Thursday, August 24, 2006
As for the poker, that really is going well. After 5 days and about 10 sessions of almost all $1-2 no limit hold’em, I am up $180. It is not a huge amount for the time spent, but it is fun and anything on the plus side is a welcome change to my usually casino poker experience. $180 is nothing compared to my pool teammate John Mike. It just 2 days, JM cleared about $1100 from the same $1-2 games that I was playing in. The game at the Riviera is pretty good with all of the pool players drinking and playing. I’ll hit it again tomorrow.
Speaking of pool, the team is in the money. We have won two matches and lost one. I am writing this at 3 am pacific time. Not 30 minutes ago we finished up the second win. And it was an incredible win. Let me tell you about it.
The match is won by one team winning 3 out of 5 contests. The match started out about as bad as it could. We put up Brent, a good player ranked a 4 (right in the middle of the APA handicap system). He played a 5 who was shooting like a 7 (8 being the highest). He tore Brent up in short order.
The next game had Mark go up against the other team’s 4 named Jeff Burton (not the NASCAR driver). This Jeff Burton was a bald 6’ 5” and 350 lbs. making him the lowest ranked player per pound that we have faced (which has nothing to do with anything). Jeff Burton shot like a 5 or 6 using safes, english and very good cue ball control to take Mark out 3 games to none. To make things worse, the opponents had a female fan in the gallery who would yell out “bullshit” every time Mark made a difficult shot. I guess they had given up on the sportsmanship award. Also, I’m not saying that Jeff has ever sandbagged to keep is ranking down, but he sure shot like it. That is to his credit. Our heroes are now down 0-2.
We were then forced to put up our ace player Wade. Wade is a seven who really shoots a beautiful game of pool. The other team put up a 3 which means Wade had to win 6 games to the opponent’s 2 games. To make the situation as dire as possible, the other player won the first game, so we are now needing Wade to win 6 games in a row or we are done for the tournament. Since you already know the ending, you also know that Wade did just that. In fact, the other player never got close to having a shot on the eight ball. Villains 2, Heroes 1.
The villains put up a 5 next and we counter with the first appearance of the Suarolator (also a 5). I guess Wade got our team’s attitude on the right track, because Suaro ripped his opponent a new orifice and put the set away 4 zip. Villains 2, Heroes 2, but the situation is still not even. The other team still has their ace player to come and we are forced to play our lowest ranked player, Jenna. Long story short, Jenna KICKED HIS ASS. She played like a 2 on a few shots, but she made all the big pressure shots when she had to and put him and his team away 2-1. Heroes win 3-2 which puts the team in the money.
The down side it that there is no time to celebrate. That match ended about 2:40 am and our next match is at 8:00 am. So it is off to bed with me. Good night.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I got back on the plus side playing $1-2 no limit at the Riviera. I played tight, hit a few hands and walked away up $101.
I decided that I would buy my self a present and rode the Deuce (double decker bus that runs up and down the strip) to Mandalay Bay. After playing more no-limit, I attended the Ted Nugent concert at the House of Blues. What a great concert hall! What a kick ass show!!! I haven’t had that much fun at a show in a long, long time. I actually felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up several times as Ted hit some of my favorite opening riffs. And he played all of his best.
I’m currently down about $26 for the trip playing poker. The pool team arrived in town last night, so we’ll probably shoot some today. I’ll play more poker and maybe even some craps.
I’m having trouble posting pictures from the end of the baseball tour. I’ll get them posted as soon as I can.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
On Thursday, we got up and out as early as we could. Me and my wife work together really well when it comes to getting somewhere on time. We do what needs to be done and are usually a bit early to our destination. We just hate being late.
This trip threw a 13 year old into the mix. We don’t have any kids of our own, but my brother’s son G is along on this trip. Man, do teenagers think differently. Don’t get me wrong. He is a great kid. He is great as adults go, and even further along that his peers, but that brain is still running on a different beat.
Of instance, if you ask G to get ready, he’ll reply ‘OK’ and may or may not start doing anything. If you give him something specific to do, he’ll get right to it. As he is doing his task, if you turn on the TV, he will stop an watch TV, and not just for a second, but until you break the trance by reminding him of his task. I thought it was funny as hell. It will be fun to see how much of this he grows out of and how much is just G. I’ll bet a lot of it is just G.
Anyway, back to Thursday. Our first stop was the Santa Monica Pier. We arrived about 45 minutes before the 11 am opening (who would have thought), so we strolled around for a bit. Once open, we rode the roller coaster a couple of times (Mrs. K and I rode once each – we don’t roller coaster well anymore). The coaster was a bit lame, so twice was enough. We then rented bikes and rode down the beach to Venice Beach.
The ride was great. The weather in SoCal is amazing. Highs in the 80s, low humidity and sun shine every day. It is obvious why so many people live there. If it weren’t so full of people, I could probably get Mrs. K to move there one day.
Venice Beach is something else. The head shops, tattoo parlors, tarot card readers and street performers made the atmosphere just barely the PG-13 that we required. The shops were tame enough and some of the street performers were entertaining. We had a good lunch and headed back to the pier and the car.
The next stop was the Mulligan Family Fun Center and go-cart racing. With LA traffic, it took us about 45 minutes from Santa Monica to Torrance. The carpool lane helped a bit, but it could have been much worse.
We gave G a shot at the climbing wall before the race. Let’s just say that he had fun trying. The carts were slow as go-carts go. I just didn’t have much luck picking out the rides this day. We finished up with a round of miniature golf. I learned something on the golf course: My wife can putt. She birdied the first two holes and really set the pace. I managed a tie with a late run and her unlucky 5. She claims that I cheated on the score, but if that were the case, I would have cheated to win. I can see that we will have to try this again.
Finally, it was time to head for the game. We found our way over to Angels stadium at Anaheim. Parking was conveniently next to the park and not too expensive ($8 compared to Dodger Stadium $15, AT&T $25). I got one ball in batting practice which I gave to a kid. The game was good with more than a couple great fielding plays. G enjoyed the brats and lemonade and we were out of there by 10:30.
We made the long drive back to the hotel in Calabasas and got right to bed as we had a long drive in the morning.
Friday morning, the alarm went off at 7 am. G and I had showered the night before, so Mrs. K showered, we got packed, ate breakfast and hit the road. Our destination was AT&T Park in San Francisco. The distance is a little over 300 miles.
Instead of the Pacific Coast Highway, we needed to make time and opted for I-5. There are a few cool things to see on this route, but not many. It is mostly brown desert. We did drive by what must be the worlds largest cow patty. There were cows as far as the eye could see, and we smelled every one of them from the comfort of our car. Peeee-uuuuuuu. We also came across some garlic trucks and farms near Gilroy. I didn’t like that much better, but Mrs. K loved it. It reminded her of a college friend who used to cook with garlic all the time.
We got to San Jose and a lunch meeting with my other brother (not G’s dad). He wanted to visit with his nephew. After lunch, we took a tour of his workplace. He works at TellMe. If you have every used AT&T directory assistance and spoken to the machine, that is what TellMe does. It is need stuff. The atmosphere at his office is a lot of what Microsoft used to be. I miss that. We are much to corporate now, but that is what size and law suites will do to a company.
After a short stop at the hotel, we were off to the ball park. If I have a complaint about the park in San Francisco, it would be the parking. The signs to Lots A & B are clear from the I-280 interstate, but they don’t tell you that these are permit only lots. The don’t tell you how to get to the public parking, and it is the folks who use the public parking are the ones who need directions the most. Two illegal U turns later, we found it.
The park is beautiful, but cold. Be warned, if you go to a night in San Francisco, take your ski parka. It gets COLD. Mrs. K, who has no tolerance for the cold was in her sweat shirt before the sun went down. G and I held out as long as we could. I went for my sweater after the 3rd inning, and G went for the blanket after the top of the 4th. But we keep score at the games and people who keep score don’t leave early. There was never a question about that.
Once again, the game was good , but not terribly exciting. The Giants beat the Dodgers 7 to 3. There was a great play from the 3rd baseman who caught a ball on the line and fired across the diamond to first while falling away. I love that play. Ray Durham made a great play right in front of us on a hot shot and a bad hop the get a critical out.
Getting out after the game was easy, even though it was a sell-out. We got back to the hotel by the airport and got to bed ASAP. Seven AM seemed early in LA. Four fifteen this morning was down-right cruel. But that is what we did. Mrs. K had a 7 am flight back to Charlotte. G had a 7:55 flight to Denver. They are both in the air as I write.
I’m waiting on my 9:30 flight (now 10:00 flight) to Las Vegas.
So I’m in Vegas now. Everyone reached their destination though the Misses is loney without her Ipod and dogs. The Ipod became a story as we tried to get out of San Fran. The checking and boarding was an adventure without the excitement. G was on a United flight that left between Mrs. K’s flight and mine, which were both US Airways. Given the wat SFO is laid out, that meant checking the bags of me and Mrs. K, walking two terminals (roughly one half mile) to check G’s bags, then returning to the original terminal. Here, we go through security to get to Mrs. K’s gate.
As we are going through security, they take a long look at G’s carry-on bag. I mention half-jokingly (since you can’t full joke around TSA) that they are looking at his Ipod. At this, Mrs. K gasps that she has left her Ipod (the new one we got switched out 4 days ago) in the rental car. She was actually looking out for me and my pool cue which was stuck in an odd crevas in the car and she forgot about her own stuff.
Well, she doesn’t board for another 45 minutes and the ride to the rental car garage will take about 30. I leave G with the Mrs. And take off for the train and the rental care counter. By the time I locate someone to help me and actually find the Ipod (I also left a glasses case in the car) 35 minutes had elapsed and I was too late to get it to her. I bid her farewell over the phone and instructed G to meet me just outside of the security checkpoint.
Now G and I have to hike back to Terminal 3 where we repeat the security tango and arrive at the gate for the flight to Denver. I give G a big hug, call his mom in Boulder and start my vacation.
I hike back to terminal 1, grab a bagle and settle down at the gate to Vegas. I’ve now been in Vegas 14 hours. I’ve taken a nice long nap and played one tournament (didn’t cash) and about 4 hours of no foldem holdem (AKA $2-4 limit). I’m down a bit, but feeling pretty good.
The rest of the pool crew arrives tomorrow. Ted Nugent is in concert at the house of blues (might go) tomorrow night, and the week is spread out before me. Time to partake.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
As I mentioned yesterday, we start today in San Diego and we need to get to Dodger Stadium by Noon for the start of the Dodgers and the Florida Marlins. We zoom on the drive up I-5 until we hit the LA County line. That is where we loose our HOV lane. That is also the first time we need an HOV lane, wouldn’t you know.
No matter. We have plenty of time built into the schedule (well, 30 minutes). We creep and crawl for a while, but get moving enough to get us in the area on time. I was really surprised that there were no signs to the stadium until you get right there. It is not far at all from downtown LA at the confluence of I-5, I-10, and 101, but unless you know to turn onto 110, you would never know it was there.
Though the stadium is near the urban core, it looks and feels like a suburban park. Once in the ravine, you don’t see any buildings of any size. The only parking is in the large lots adjacent to the ball park. The park itself is nice. It has good views and reasonably wide seats. I would never guess that it is the third oldest major league ballpark (1963). It has the same feel as the new single-use parks like Petco Field and Camden Yards.
The game was a wild one. The Fish broke out to a 4 run lead in the top of the first. The dodgers broke back for 2 of their own, but they would never catch the Marlins. The Dodgers pitching was bad. Their fielding was bad. But the brats and the fans were good. Between innings, the jumbo-tron started showing dancing fans. One of the fans that they focused on was a very pretty young woman in a small bikini top.. As soon as she knew she was on, she lept to her feet, raised her hands high above her head and began wildly shaking two of the biggest boobs I have ever seen. She got very little air time. Dodger stadium is a family friendly place, damn it.
The game ended 15-4 in favor of the visitors from the east. We are now at the pool of our hotel contemplating ordering pizza delivery and a good nights sleep.
Tomorrow we tour LA and watch the Angels take on the Mariners. Later.
Another great day in Paradise.
The wife and I hung out at the hotel in the morning. The down time during a vacation can be as nice as the busy times. We had to be at the airport to pick up my nephew G.around noon. We got there right on time, but still had a few minutes until G made it out to us. We stopped by the information table and spoke to a very nice lady who gave us everything we needed for the rest of the day.
Once out of the airport, we headed for lunch. We picked Old Town San Diego. It was a nice little area. We didn’t see much besides San Diego Avenue. It was filled with shops and restaurants. Coyote’s didn’t have a line and they had a posted howling hour from 4 to 6, so it seemed like a good place. They waiter and the food was good.
By 2, we were headed to Belmont Park. Not the horse race track, the amusement park. We let G get his fill of the roller coaster (see picture of G and Mrs. K on roller coaster), bumper cars, and other rides. They had several wave rides for those in swim suits. These were hills with water jets shooting water up the hill to form a wave that could be ridden with a board. It was a lot of fun to see the kids trying to show off for the tourists and the girls and busting their asses in the process. I’m easily amused.
4:30 had us heading to the ball game. Petco Park is right in downtown San Diego. Currently, it is surrounded by under construction condo towers. When they get those finished, I’m betting the this will be one great area to hang out in.
The park itself is very nice. They have about a half acre outside of the outfield for sandlot games, corporate events and just laying out in the sun. The stands were very comfortable. Our ‘obstructed view’ seats were fine (as shown in the nearby picture). We could see to whole field except for a sliver of right field and the adjacent foul area.
The game was good. It was tied in the 7th, but the Giants pulled ahead for good in the 8th. I would have rather seen a home town win, just because I don’t like the Giants. That goes back to the Braves/Giants battles of the 80s, but has been fueled more recently by Barry Bonds. Bond had a bad game never reaching base. He did have a 390’ pop fly out, but that was it.
We got back to the hotel around 10:30. Today, we move on to LA to see the Dodgers play the Flordia Marlins. We have to get started early as we are still in San Diego and the game starts at Noon at Dodger Stadium, a 1.5 to 2 hour drive.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The sky was foggy some times and clear as a bell other times. The whole drive was beautiful, at least until we got to LA.
I'm having some trouble uploading my pictures to the site. I did get some keepers yesterday. I'll get them posted as soon as I can.
Santa Barbara was particularly beautiful. I would like to return there sometime and look around and maybe hang out on the beach. All of the homes on the hills were impressive.
Once we got south of LA, it was time to stop for Mrs. K's on-line class. We found a comfy Borders Books and let her chat with her classmates.
We arrived at the hotel in San Diego about 8 pm with out a wrong turn or any real adventure. I like it that way.
Today, we pick up my nephew G and go to the ball game at Petco Park (Padres v. Giants).
Monday, August 14, 2006
This was the first day of baseball. We got started right on time, but ran into a problem with the iPod. Even though Mrs. K used it yesterday, it was showing no battery power and would not charge. It was a short drive to the stadium, so we decided to worry about that after the game.
The game was good but short. In fact, it was the shortest game that I have ever seen, in person or on TV. The entire game took 2 hours and 1 minute. The game started out with an incredible catch robbing the first batter of a base hit.
After that, we saw a lot of pop flies, 6 base hits, 2 errors and one home run (by Jason Kendall). The ball park had good dogs (Italian sausage) and good beer (Fosters with many more choices). The fans were friendly, but were not always in the game. They get points off for doing the wave and cheering louder for the ‘dot race’ than at anytime in the game.
We got out of the game and turned our attention back to the iPod, since that was our entertainment for the long drive back and forth to San Diego. We tried to charge it more, but couldn’t get it to work any better. By 6 o’clock we determined that it was broken, but it was Sunday and nothing would be open. My sister-in-law insisted that I check their web site just in case.
Turns out that they were open until 7, so off we go to the mall. Once there, my wife didn’t think my attitude toward Apple was helpful and made me leave her at the service desk with my brother.
At the end, the iPod Genius (their title, not mine) read the warrantee date wrong and gave us a new iPod. I give him credit for living up to his word. I give Apple no credit for selling crap and acting like their products are great. This is my wife second replacement iPod.
Tomorrow, we drive to San Diego via the Pacific Coast Highway. It should be beautiful. I’ll post pictures.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
At the airport. We woke up to find it raining. It was not a storm, but a cool steady rain. That has not happened in Charlotte for months, but it was going on today. Luckily, it slowed up enough for us to get the bags in the car and from the car to the airport without getting soaked
The flight was delayed for about an hour, but the winds were good and we only arrived in San Francisco about 20 minutes late. One of the only good things about traveling a lot is that you get to skip many of the lines. When we got to the airport in Charlotte, we got in the Preferred Members line behind 4 people instead of the regular line with about 400. Security had a long line, but no line for Preferred members. When we finally got our bags and made our way to the rental car center, the lines there were outrageous, but we are Avis Preferred Members and we went right to the car.
We spent the day wondering around the Fisherman’s Wharf area, drinking some beers, eating some ice cream and taking some pictures. We are staying with my brother A in San Jose.
On Sunday, we start the baseball. So far, so good.
Friday, August 11, 2006
It’s vacation time. For Mrs. K and me, that means baseball. Three years ago, when the term blog had not even been invented (AFAIK), I blogged the baseball trip that we took to the mid-west. That trip took us to 9 games at 8 different parks in 10 days (throwing in the Field of Dreams in Iowa on our day off).
For the next week, we will be traveling around the state of Califorina on a quest to visit all five major league baseball parks in 6 days.
The ininerary looks something like this:
Saturday August 12 Arrive San Francisco
Sunday August, 13 Tampa Bay @ Oakland (1:05 pm)
Monday August, 14 Travel Day (Hwy 1 – Pacific Coast Highway)
Tuesday August, 15 San Francisco @ San Diego (7:05 pm)
Wednesday August,16 Florida Marlins @ LA Dodgers (12:10 pm)
Thursday August, 17 Seattle Mariners @ LA Angles (7:05)
Friday August, 18 LA Dodgers @ San Francisco Giants (7:15 pm)
Saturday August 19 Depart San Francisco
As an added challenge and pleasure, this year we will add my nephew Greg to the trip for the last four games. Greg is one of those kids who was born as an adult. He is easy going, quiet, and a general pleasure to be around. Come to think of it, that is better than most adults I know. As I write this, he is on a scout canoe trip down the Colorado river. That will keep him from joining us until Tuesday. I hope he is not totally worn out and home-sick when we get him. It will be understandable if he is not at his best, but I won’t be surprised if he does great.
After the week of baseball, I put Mrs. K on a plane home, I put Greg on a plane to his home near Denver, and I get on a plane to meet my pool team in Vegas. Yep, this will be my third trip to Vegas in as many months. Of course there will be lots of pictures and text on my adventures there, as well.
Right now, I am in Reagan National Airport awaiting my flight home. I had a last minute business trip to the Executive Office of the President. That is pretty heady stuff for me. It took me about an hour to fix the problems. Good thing since the baseball adventure starts tomorrow morning.
It’s no wonder that I keep hearing Sanatra singing “Come Fly with Me” over and over in my head. Travel, Baseball, Wife, Poker, Sanatra, Vegas, Pool… It’s all good.