Sunday, December 31, 2006

One Last Post for 1996

It has been another really good year in some ways and not so good in others.

I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first. Mr. C is not doing very well. His situation is stable and I don't think he is in a lot of pain, but there is pain. Every doctor's visit or test causes everyone in the family to hold their breath knowing that one day the news will be very bad. Yet we are thankful for the days we have and the memorys we share.

His wife has set up a scholorship fund in honor of Mr. C at the local university. That is one of the most fitting tributes to a man that I have heard of and my and the wife were happy to give a nice chuck of change to get the ball rolling. My employer is almost certain to match the amount. It is a good company.

In almost every other way, life is about as good as it gets. I love my wife more than ever. We make enough money to support ourselves without killing ourselves. Most everyone else in the family is healthy. If this is a baloon that is about to bust, I don't see any signs, but I will do my best to best to enjoy, appreciate and share the best of it while it lasts.

Tomorrow I head to G-Vegas (Greenville, SC) for a new years poker tournament bash. Results, stories, and maybe a picture or two will follow.

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The greatest gift is Love.

(Warning: Much seriousness follows)

Christmas has gone and New Years is approaching fast. I used to hear my parents and their friends lament "Where does the time go?" Well, time accelerates with age. The first 4 years of my life seemed to take about about as long at the last 40, and the last 40 will be about the same as the next 400. I'm not over the hill, I started at the top and the trip down is getting steeper.

I have to say though that I'm not in a mood to complain. My job now is much better than it was at the start of the year. I'm home more with my wife and dogs and that is where I want to be. We need to start going back to church and that will be a good way to start the new year.

Some of my poker playing friends will be surprised by the last comment or think that I would go for my wife, but they would be mistaken. You see, I get a lot out of going to chruch. I enjoy the cerimony, though I don't think it is required to get God's ear. I enjoy the friends I make at church. I enjoy the activities. The teachings about applying faith in my daily walk mostly make sense and serve as a good reminder. I'm not really sure about how in control God is, but we'll know in good time. I'm just trying to behave like a fellow human until that time comes.

I'm not some christian zealot, but I do consider myself a Christian in that I believe the teachings of Jesus of the bible. Those same teaching are available in many forms by many names, but all with the same message. Sin is thinking of yourself. Love is thinking of others first. Love is the opposite of sin. Jesus is the love you have for your fellow man. Jesus of the bible is trying to tell us to think more about our fellow man than we think about ourselves. I believe it is really that simple. Many teachers throughout time have taught the same message. The Golden Rule is the same love.

The Christian church teaches that all men are sinners. All men are sinners if thinking about yourself first is sin. Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride (seven deadly sins) all involve thinking of one's self first. Love, pretty much by definition, is about thinking of others. In the bible, all of the lessons of Jesus are about this type of Love in one form or another. The Gospel of John has one commandment, which Jesus calls a new commandment: "Love one another."

I've always had problems with the way the faith is taught in church. They say we need to know Jesus and let him into our hearts. That is true, but they show us some painting of some white guy with long flowing hair who is supposed to be from Nasarath, Isreal. They talk about angels and ghosts, but none of that is real to me. I just keep quiet during those parts of the service. They don't answer the question, "What is Jesus today?" They say he left, but he is with us, but he will return. That confuses me.

(Boy, this is really getting deep for a blog.)

I think Jesus, the way to paradise, true peace, Zen, Nirvana, or whatever you want to call it is nothing more that loving others. That's it and that is something I can apply. It also works better for some other nagging questions.

I've always had a problem with the teaching that you must know Jesus (the son of God as taught in church) in order to get into heaven. What about all those souls that lived before Jesus walked the earth? What about the souls that never ran across a missionary or never saw a bible? Are they damned because of when and where they were born? I don't think God changes the rules that quickly. I don't think God changes the rules at all. Love has been available to all men for all time.

Here are a few versus from the christian bible just to drive home the point that this is what Jesus taught:

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn.13:35)

"Anyone who says "I love God", but hates his brother, is a liar. For whoever who does not love the brother whom he can see, can not love God whom he has not seen" (1Jn.4:20)

"If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing" (1Cor.13:1-3)
"God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them" (1Jn.4:16)

It's still hard as hell to do, thinking of others all the time, that is. I am a sinner more than most. I know some folks who are way better at love than me. Many wouldn't even call themselves Christian, but they get it. Knowing what I'm supposed to do and still not doing it nearly enough makes the sin all the worse. But it does make going to church and talking to the members much easier, even if I don't try to explain what I just wrote. I can tell them I know Jesus with conviction.

So the next time someone asks you if you know Jesus, you might have a different answer. You might smile knowingly and say "yes." You might not. Probably not. Just don't let "religion" get in the way of faith.

Jesus is love. You probably already know him though perhaps by some other name. The more love we have in the world, the better. When we all love all the time the world will be a paradise and isn't that what the bible promises us will return? Please remind me to do my part. Thanks.

And Happy New Year to all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas is coming like a freight train

This has been a catch up week for me. I took on a trip to a customer site last week. It was a good trip and I got a lot done that needed doing, but it has put me further behind in Christmas shopping than I have ever been before. Some folks on my list are getting last minute, impersonal gifts. I appologize in advance but it's all I can do at this point.


I hope my reader doesn't mind the recent commercialization of this here blog. In case you haven't figured it out, I'll take a few minutes to write a few words about someone elses site for cash. It's not a ton of cash, but it might get me through a day in Vegas sometime.


I can't believe all the things I've got to get done before the end of this week, yet I sit here playing poker and blogging. Time to go check something else off the list.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hotel Reservations

Sponsored Post:

I’m just back from a whirlwind of travel. In the past 7 days, I’ve been to LA, Vegas and Dallas. Coming back from Dallas tonight was great. I got bumped to first class from my reserved middle seat on the over-sold flight. Talk about Christmas gift. It was great.

Over the past 3 years, I've been a traveling computer techie. I’ve logged around 200,000 miles and spent somewhere around 5 months in various hotels all over the country, so I’ve gotten to know a thing or two about traveling. Travel can either be fun or a super pain in the butt. Finding good flights, hotels, and car rentals can be as big a challenge as getting to and from your destination.

A friend of mine put me onto a new (to me) site that could be a big help in future travels. It’s called ( HotelReservations works the way you want to work. If you like working with people over the phone, HotelReservations has toll-free numbers for the USA, Canada, and Europe. This can be a huge plus over the other reservation sites, because if you are in France and you have a problem, you really need to get somebody on the line. I like making my reservations on-line, but I called the US toll free number and had a person on the line in less than 60 seconds. Outstanding.

Of course, you can book your whole trip on line at HotelReservations. The interface makes it easy to enter the dates of your trip and the options that you need and it pulls back the best rates available. The screen is crowded with info. Some will find it busy at first, but I like having lots of info on my screen so that I don’t have to search around. It took me about 5 minutes to see how it was laid out. Once your hotels are on the screen you can sort the results by Value, Price, Quality, or simply A-to-Z. You want to only see hotels with Free Breakfast and Children’s Activities? HotelReservations has got you covered for these and many other preferences.

For beginners, the site has great information to help with booking your trip no matter what company or site you end up booking with. Topics like what is an Internet Special Rate, Credit Card Safety, and effectively changing your reservations and subjects which every traveler should know.

Check out They do groups, too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CardsChat talks Poker

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As you can tell from the posts below, I’m just coming off a terrific trip to Las Vegas. Seeing all the poker bloggers has recharged my interest in all things poker. I want to read about poker, learn poker strategies, go over hand analysis, and find the hot places to play poker. The hot site to find all this information is at CardsChat (

This site is the online poker forum for the world wide poker community. The site says so right on the header. And when you look inside, you know that it is true. In addition to the subjects that I’ve already mentioned, they have message boards for the theory of Texas Holdem poker, tournament poker tips, freerolls (I love that section), where to play live poker, and special events for members. They have the rules posted for the beginners, a glossary of terms for those on the rise, and advanced strategy articles for those polishing their games to a bright shine.

The forums have over 100,000 posts, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding interesting things about poker that would have made you money had you found this site earlier. also has great bonus offers and reviews from the biggest online casinos like Party Poker, Titan Poker, Full Tilt, Paradise, Absolute, Stars (you get the picture). It is a one-stop shop for getting your poker on, the right way.

You don’t have time to make all the mistakes yourself, so get to and learn from the mistakes (and good advice) of others at

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PokerTek and the PokerPro Poker Tables

This past Saturday night in Vegas found the blogger community at the Imperial Palace for a party and hands-on demonstration of the PokerPro poker tables from PokerTek. These tables are automatic electronic versions of the Hold’em Poker tables found throughout Las Vegas. With these tables, no dealer is needed. Players get their ‘chips’ by putting money into an account and receiving a card that can be swiped at their seat at the table.

Each player at the table has his own touch-screen that allows him to bet, check or raise when it is his turn to act. Hold cards can be checked by cupping your hand over the cards on the screen to reveal upturned corners. Remove your hand and the cards return to only showing their backs. The big screen in the middle of the table shows each player’s chip count and bet amount.

The game that was running on the 10 player table this night was a quick tournament. The blind structure was crazy, but that was to promote rapid play so everyone got a chance. It can be restructured for any style of tournament or cash game.

The general consensus among the bloggers that I spoke with liked the tables. A few objected to the way the table raced off chips between levels. This was a minor thing to me. Most loved the way you could show either or both of your cards from a winning hand, and so this feature was used to taunt opponents liberally. The interface made it too easy to fold your hand when a check was available. More than one player folded their hand when no bet was required. That is probably an easy fix that won’t get made, but we’ll see. I don’t see this table replacing many human dealers, but it will have a place for micro-limit games and sit-n-go tournaments that are now too expensive for human dealt games.

A bigger potential hit was the heads-up version. This was a small table with 2 player consoles and a screen a little bigger than the old Pac-Man bar tables. This table saw a ton of action as the bloggers played king of the hill style. If PokerTek makes a coin op version for “amusement only,” they could put one or more of these babies in every bar and pool hall in America. It was that fun. This table could also open up the ability to play heads-up tournaments since casinos can afford to have dealers running such small games.

Thanks to Becca Bernstein and the gang from PokerTek for lots of fun, food, drinks and a look at a likely part of poker’s future.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Simi and Vegas - Dallas is on deck

This past week will go down as one that was a bit crazy. That makes it par for the course of the past year.

The week started with wrapping up my home fix up projects of the previous week in time to head out to Los Angeles. I spent the work week in Simi Valley with a customer of mine teaching them the ins and outs of SQL Server performance. Simi is a great area with its beautiful scenery and proximity to LA and great SoCal weather, it’s got about everything. The folks I met were very nice and seemed to enjoy the workshop.

The last day in Simi did have some unusual excitement when a brush fire broke out on the mountain above our location. Many of the employees (and at least one visiting trainer) made a special trip to the front steps to check out the action. I’m guessing that the fire was 1 to 2 miles away, but we could still see flames shooting into the air and helicopters dropping water onto the hottest spots. You just don’t see that often in NC.

At the end of class, I had the assignment from my NorCal sister-in-law to deliver a care package to my nephew at UCLA. So I got to have the fun of filling a grocery cart full of crap (fun crap, but still crap) like Gatorade, beef jerky, snickers bars, etc. The young man is into his first final exam period and his mom wanted him to have plenty of fun eats. Well, he’s got them now.

From there, I got to LAX way early for my 10:30 flight to Vegas. As luck would have it, I was right on time for an earlier flight and got on and to Vegas 2 hours early. That gave me time to meet up with the bloggers at the MGM and play a couple hours of break-even poker ($2-4 limit). Saturday was the big winter edition of the World Poker Blogger Tournament at Caesar’s Palace. You can see Special K in action at this site ( I’m the face in the foreground just behind the water bottle. My buddy Falstaff ( is facing me with his back to the camera. I did well going much deeper this time than in the summer, but still running out of luck before the final table. Falstaff did better than me, but still no money. Congrats to –EV for his tremendous win.

That night we went to a reception hosted by PokerTek ( to show us their PokerPro ™ tables. I want to save my impressions of the tables for a separate post. They gave us a good party so that we would give them some vInk, so I’ll do them right.

The rest of the night was full of poker (Harrah’s (lost) and Imperial Palace (won)) and a nap up until time to go to the airport. I got back home without incident in time to start preparing to go to Dallas Monday evening for the coming week. I could have spent the whole weekend in Charlotte and not have been so rushed, but I opted for Vegas and the poker bloggers, so I’m to blame for this mad schedule. I’ll be way behind for Christmas. Oh well.

Big thanks to all the poker bloggers (and others) who will never read this post (and a couple who will) but made my weekend a true blast including Falstaff, PokerProf, Flipchip, Iggy, Lee, Brian, Tina, Tim, Michael, Byron, Ryan, John, Maudie, Gracie (still sorry for knocking you out of the tourney),(, EasyCure (not sorry for knocking you out first (gigli) :) ), Pauly, and Catitude. This is is a great group of folks. Thanks again, guys.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cardroom Supply

Sponsored Post:

Wow. I came across a great site today full of some of the best poker accessories available. The site is Cardroom Supply. You can get to the site by pointing your browser to Right away, you will likely be blown away by the incredible “No Limit” Casino Quality Poker Table. This jewel only costs $5500, so look, but don’t touch unless you must have the absolute best. Cardroom Supply has tables for all budgets. The $245 72” table with folding legs is more my speed. The will even customize your table top with a words or your logo.

Cardroom Supply also has a great selection of poker chips. They have 13 gram Pro Clay chips that look terrific as well as standard 11.5 gram Suited chips and knockout 11.5 “High Roller” chips. You really need to see those to understand what I mean.

Of course, to give your game a professional feel, you need cases and racks for you chips. Cardroom Supply has those as well at great prices. Take my advice and order the accessories when you order your chips. If you are like me, I intend to order the extras and never seem to get to it and suffer as a result. Don’t do the same to yourself.

Cardroom Supply can also stock your game with Cards, Dealer Buttons, Tourney Timers (one of their buttons is also a timer, very cool), and more. Don’t miss this site when stocking your poker supplies or shopping for the poker playing love of your life. The folks at Cardroom Supply will take good care of you.

You can order on line or call their toll free number (877.867.0823) and they offer free shipping on all orders over $100. You can’t beat free.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Vacation and a Near Death Experience

It's been a while since my last post. Apologies go out to my loyal reader. It's just that I've been really busy over the past 2 weeks taking forced vacation. No, I didn't get fired. My employer gives me a lot of vacation time every year and I'm required to take it by the end of the year or lose it. So I take it.

I had planned to spend this vacation around the house doing a ton of the little projects that I've ignored for the past 2 or 3 years. It was a good plan, too. It just didn't work out as I had planned.

My first project was to deal with some water that was seeping into my basement. My house doesn't have a full basement. It is more like a dug out crawlspace. The water and moisture down there recently took out part of a dugout wall and a foundation pier. One pier is not cause for major concern, but I sure don't want it going any further. So on Sunday and Monday, I installed a sump, sump pump and a dehumidifier. I had also scheduled to have my house treated for termites on Tuesday.

Tuesday brought torrential rains to Charlotte, so the termite guy couldn't prep the outside of the house and decided to do what he could underneath the house. I continued with some indoor projects. When I went to check on him, I found about a foot of water overflowing my sump. I kicked on the pump and looked around for the source of the water. It was coming in from 3 sides of the house and collecting in my sump at the rate of about a gallon every 5 minutes. Suddenly I know what the next project is, stop this damn water.

I take note of where water is standing near the house and dig a few temporary trenches (digging in the rain sucks) to relieve the pressure, then go back to my indoor projects.

The rain and Thanksgiving take up the next two days, but I make my plans and wait. Friday is spent prepping around my house. On Saturday morning I hit the Home Depot for a trencher and 200' of corrugated pipe. I'm going to give this rain somewhere to go.

I take careful note of where the gas line runs from the street to my meter and start digging. The trench on the left side of my house goes great. I get about 80% done on the right side of the house when it happens.

I will never forget the pop and rush of air I heard when I HIT THE GAS LINE. I remember looking down to see a 2 or 3 inch hole where the gas was erupting from the ground, my hands still on a running, combusting trencher. I'm lucky to not be dead already. I know right away I have a new entry in the top 5 dumbest things I've ever done. I pushed the trencher forward and myself backward in a lurch and head inside to get my wife out of the way and on the phone to 911. I head to the neighbor's house to alert them as well. I get some tools in hopes of shutting off the valve to stop the leak and get a neighbor to stop traffic. The trencher eventually stopped from lack of oxygen, I think.

I had no idea what would happen if the gas caught with me at the valve about 20 feet away, but I had to give it a go. I get my wrench on the valve and twist. It doesn't budge. I tell myself to stay calm and deliberate and try again. Again, nothing. Within two minutes, the fire department arrives (the station is only 3 blocks away) and I stay out of the way. They also try the valve without success. One of the guys eventually crimps the line and stops the emergency.

The gas company came and fixed the line. What I hit was a T off my line that feeds my neighbors house. Ooops. The bills are going to run about $150 for service and repairs. I am glad to pay so little for a valuable lesson. I eventually got the pipe laid and I'm waiting for the rain to see if I've done any good.

My wife likes to tease me about stuff like this. I guess I'll never live it down for a long time, I hope.

The vacation is now over. Many ToDos got done. A business trip to LA is next week with a weekend in Vegas tacked onto the end should be fun, if not deserved.

See ya around.