Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vegas Wrap

Man, that was a week. Much more fun like that will kill me.

Sleeping is definitely optional. I've got a short turn around this week.

I got in from Vegas on Sunday afternoon and I leave for Denver tomorrow morning. I'll have to keep this post short as there is still much to do between now and flight time.

Let me start with Vegas highlights. We played poker. We played tournaments, and ring games.

I played in 8 tourneys and moneyed in 3. That's great and I wouldn't expect to do that well again. The bad news is that my luck at the ring games was bad. So bad, in fact, that after carefully keeping track of wins and losses over the 5 days of poker, I came out dead even. $0.00. I couldn't believe it when I added it up last night. I had fun playing so that makes the trip a winner.

According to the hookers in Vegas, I have very nice eyes. Who could argue with that. BTW, they never touched me or saw more skin that my face and hands, so stop thinking what you are thinking.

It was great fun seeing a friend of a friend talking to a hooker in front of the Mirage and then seeing him asked about it the next morning and seeing him wonder how the hell we knew.

Did I mention that I won a poker tournament in Vegas! Golden Nugget's evening tourney. I came back from just 3 $100 chips (starting amount was about $2500). My buddy BG made the final table as well. When I took 3rd at the Aladdin two days later, BG won the thing. That is very cool.

I got threatened to be tossed out of the MGM poker room for saying 'Bullshit.' I really didn't know that was still cussing. I left anyway.

While at the MGM, I had the most wonderful hand of poker of the whole trip. I was in the big blind of a $2-4 limit ring game. There were two young drunks 2 and 3 seats to my right. I'd been watching them raise absolute trash for a while. They would push and push until they either won the pot or folded that trash on the river. It really pissed me off.

On my hand, I picked up 89s and had to call one raise from drunk punk #1 (DP1). We saw the flop with 4 players. The flop was 789 rainbow. DP2 bets. I raise and other player folds. DP1 raises. DP2 calls. I cap it and the DPs complete the betting.

The turn is a unsuited Q and the madness starts again with DP2 calling the whole way to the cap between me and DP1. I'm a bit worried that DP1 flopped a straight, but he's been playing such trash, I can't ease up now.

The river is the sweetest 8 I ever saw. DP2 checks and folds as me and me and DP1 raise and reraise. After I'm reraised, I ask the dealer if there is a cap now that we are heads up (talk about a tell) and he says that there is since we started with 3. Crap! So we cap it and DP1 smirks and turns over pocket 7s for a full house, 7s full of 8s. It did my heart and bank roll good to look him in the eye as I turned over 8s full of 9s to take a huge pot (about $136). DP1 wasn't so chatty or pushy after that. I never said another thing. :)

A good time was had by all but I don't need to see any more poker for at least a week. On to Denver for business and a couple days skiing. Be good.

Top 9 ways you know you spent too long in Vegas after returning to work

9. You wonder what happened to the shoe shine guy in the men's room.
8. You catch yourself scanning the cafeteria for hookers.
7. It's 5:30 and you wonder why everybody is going home.
6. You are disappointed that you can't get shrimp or crab legs at the 'buffet'.
5. The only Elvis impersonator is Pilipino and there is only ONE.
4. Boss is real tired of poker references in business meetings ("We need to go all-in to make this deal.").
3. You are surprised to wake up refreshed.
2. You hang out in front of the office waiting for the valet.
1. Oh, so THAT'S the sun.

Monday, January 23, 2006

What day is it? Where am I?

…two questions that I seem to be asking myself over the past few days. The current stretch of work and travel must be wearing on me some.

Thursday night was poker night in Renton, WA for me. I dropped in on Diamond Lil’s Poker Room. I played the $4-8 limit hold’em game which was their lowest level. That is the highest limit that I have played in a cash game, but I figured poker is poker. I got a good early start that soon turned sour. I had two A-high flushes get beat along with a King-high flush. I was down to my last $10 (of the $200 I started with) at one point. But I stayed tight and worked my way back up to $243 over the course of 5 hours. It was a good grind and good practice for Vegas. It was 3:30 in the morning, so I decided that was enough.

Friday, I attended a meeting with Bill Gates and Steve Balmer, the Chairman and CEO (respectively) of Microsoft. It was a town hall type meeting for employees. There was nothing really interesting said. You could read most of it in any business magazine, but I got some great pictures.

Friday night I got to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (Sea-Tac) for my flight back to Charlotte via Chicago. The weather was bad in Chicago delaying the plane for several hours. Luckily, United found another plane and got us going about 30 minutes late. I had a tight connection in Chicago and this just made it really tight, but not too bad. I drew a middle seat for this leg and I had a real ass in the isle seat next to me. He crowded me the whole trip. I don’t think I got more than 10 minutes sleep during the whole 4 hour flight.

We got to O’Hare. I had to go from gate C10 to B30 (a long ass way), but I arrived at the gate just as they were starting to board. The rest of the flight was great.

So I am home around 10am. My wife is the most understanding soul. I tried to stay up and visit for a while, but she could tell that I was about to fall over and sent me to bed. I ended up sleeping until 5 pm.

I took the wife to dinner (Chicken Wings) and returned home. This night I had to help a customer with a project that I thought would be short. We started around 11 pm. Unfortunately, this project was neither short nor simple and I ended up getting to bed around 7 am. I slept hard until about 2 pm.

Last night I laid down around 1 am thinking that I probably wouldn’t sleep well, but I slept like a log and got up ready to go this morning at 8 am. May sleep scheduled are optional. No one ever told me.

Well tomorrow I head to Vegas for some vacation with my poker buddies and to photograph another tournament. Now I know sleep schedules are optional. Y’all have a good week. I post if I get a connection.

Thursday, January 19, 2006



Me - I love a good hummer!

Slogging Through Seattle

Well, actually, I’m in Redmond. The trip has gone well so far.

Getting here went great until I actually arrived. The flight from Charlotte to Chicago was good. The guy in the seat next to me was nice and mostly kept to himself. I got to watch some of the Panthers/Bears game during my 2 hour layover. I was a bit worried about the flight out of Chicago. It was very full. The agent at the United desk in Charlotte had pity on my and got me an isle seat in the emergency row. That was much better than the middle seat on row 35 that I had originally. It got even better when nobody sat down in the middle seat, so me and my row-mate had what might have been the only empty seat on the plane between us.

So I arrived in Seattle a happy camper. I called Mrs. K to let her know I was safe. Then the wheels came off. First off, my bag didn’t arrive. Since I had a 2 hour layover, there was no excuse for the bag not making it onto the plane. The agent couldn’t tell me exactly when I would get my bag so I was probably looking at returning to the airport 2 hours later when the next flight arrived from Chicago. What could I do? I filled out the form and headed to the rental car counter.

They had my reservation ready to go, except it wasn’t the intermediate car that I had asked for. As you can see below, they gave me a bright yellow Hummer H3. I asked if they had anything smaller and was offered a Ford Crown Victoria. No thanks. H3 it is.

Since then, it has been smooth sailing. My bag arrived in the middle of the night and was ready for pick up the next morning. The folks at the Redmond Inn have been great. Breakfast and the internet connection is free and the room is big and comfortable. The drive to campus takes about 10 minutes which is remarkable for Redmond. The price is right, too. If I come back in August, I’ll look to stay here again.

The poker has been fun. There was a tourney on Tuesday night for $20. I got AQs on the first hand. A 3x raise took the blinds and I was the early chip leader. I folded the next 4 hands and caught KK on when I was 2 right of the button. As the action comes around, Pat, who is 2 to my right goes all in. There are only the blinds and one caller in at this point. I’m only worried about one hand, and overbetting with AA would be aweful. It’s an easy call. Turns out that it was an aweful play on Pat’s part as he had AA. Another A come on the flop and I am gone.

Tonight went much better. I got a few cards and about 3 big hands won to take 3rd of 25 and a $35 profit. Still, I really didn’t catch any good luck. The hands that I won were strong hands that held up. I had a big JJ get outdrawn by AJ. I had QQ get outdrawn by Ax. That was two straight 70% advantages that got crushed. That’s poker. I am happy that I was able to get so far on good play.

Tomorrow night I plan to visit the local card club. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Seattle, Here I Come

Life if full of twists and turns. The road got a lot bumpier this week for my family. I can’t talk in specifics right now. Some of the folks effected don’t know what is going on. I don’t necessarily agree that anyone should be kept in the dark about serious family matters, it isn’t my decision to make.

I have a real simple rule when it comes to giving bad news. Many of the people around me want to hide the bad news to shelter their loved ones. I can respect that. But on the other hand, those being sheltered want to be trusted with the truth. So my rule here is “if the situation were turned around, would I want to be sheltered or told?” In some cases, the person being sheltered would want to be sheltered, but I think in most cases they would not. So be it.

Tomorrow the travel starts again with a trip to Redmond, Washington to visit a little software outfit that is headquartered there – Microsoft. I’ll be learning on this trip. It will be the first formal training that I have gotten to attend in years. The schedule is very demanding with the class starting at 8:00 am and most days finishing up around 7:00 pm. I am definitely looking forward to it. My camera will also be attending, so I’ll try to post pictures from the road.

Will I be playing any poker while in WA? Oh yes. There are two games on campus, but I will only be able to attend the Wednesday night game. It looks like class will overlap the start of the Tuesday night game. There is also a card club in the area (45 minutes away) that I will probably find my way to on Thursday night.

I used to live in the Seattle area and I still have a friend there and several friends that have moved there since I left. It will be good to see some of them again. Then it will be good to get home before heading back to Vegas.

Here I go again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Rapids are Approaching

What a day! If most days are like floating down a long lazy river, today ended like class 5 rapids followed by Niagara Falls.

On my drive into work this morning the radio played the Logical Song by Supertramp. We’ve all heard this song a billion times. This morning, for some odd reason, a heard the sax bridge and thought it sounded a lot like Quaterflash’s “Harden My Heart”. That took my mind off to the time when I actually saw Quarterflash in concert. It was the Mann Music Amphitheater in Philadelphia way back in 1981. (Now we are showing our age!)

My kids and co-counselor (not Steve J.)I remember that year because it was my first summer as a counselor at Camp Comet – the space age camp for boys. I remembered riding from Waynesboro, PA on our long day off with 3 other counselors to Philly for the show. Unfortunately, I only remember the name of one of those guys, Steve Joynt.

I remember Steve for both the unusual last name and because we became pretty good buds that summer. We were two crazy white protestant southern boys in a northern summer camp for Jewish boys. We traveled together. We did the camp morning radio show on the PA system together. And we laughed at the kid and other counselors until our sides ached.

This was now officially one of my “I-wonder-what-ever-happened-to-Steve” moments. I do this fairly often, not just with Steve but with many long lost friends. With the internet, it can be really easy to follow-up on the questions and find out. So I did.

It didn’t take me 15 minutes to find Steve, his web page, his email address, and to get a short note off to him. Needless to say, he was surprised to hear from me after 25 years. We only exchanged quick “What-are-you-doing-nows”, but I look forward to hearing more about the years and maybe getting together for a drink the next time we are in the same town.

I did a bit more searching on Google for “Camp Comet” and ran across a couple of memory pages. I found a fellow counselor named Richard Winestock and shot an email off to him. I’ve yet to hear from Richard, but it hasn’t bounced yet either. We’ll see. I also came across a guest registration site for Comet alumni. I signed to register and also found the name of my favorite camper from those days, Adam A (not pictured above).

Another quick search on Adam’s name and another quick email off to Adam. He replied right away, and he was surprised as well. Adam is now a lawyer in Bethesda, MD. I look forward to hearing more about Adam’s life as well as having drinks or a dinner when I’m up that way.

About that time, a co-worker calls my name and asks me a technical question. That was the end of the lazy river for me. Next thing I know, I’m up to my elbows in somebody else’s computer case.

Then my Mother calls wanting to know if she can come over tonight to talk to me and my wife. I say sure (especially since shy never asks to do that). I can also hear some dread in her voice.

Next, another co-worker calls and needs me to possibly go to Dallas, TX to help a customer.

On the drive home I get another call wanting me to go to Jacksonville, FL. Then the first co-worker calls with another question. Then I get an email asking if I have time to go to Michigan. “Uh, I don’t think so.”

Right after my wife gets home from work my mom shows up and drops us all over Niagara.

My uncle has terminal cancer!


Typing those words just makes the pit in my stomach grow and kick. After all we have been through with Mr. C (father-in-law), we were really looking for 2006 to bring us a break. I guess it doesn’t work that way.

And my poor mother. Damn! She is having to find assisted care for my Grandmother who will not want to go and now this. We lost my Dad 10 years ago and my mom’s father 5 years ago. Now to hit her with problems with her Mother and only Brother at the same time just reeks. Just REEKS.

My Grandfather and Uncle - 1961So it looks like my Uncle D will need chemo for a few weeks and then an operation. No details on this blog right now, but the odds of survival of this kind of operation are a bit under 20% and even then, well, there are other problems to worry about.

My wife, bless her, did some great research on assisted care and got a great list of questions to ask while trying to find a place. Mr. C used to be in a related field, so I’m sure most of that came from him. Bless them both. They are the blessings in my life.

So now it is late and I have to work tomorrow and figure where, if anywhere I’m going on business. I also need to call my brothers since they don’t know any of this yet (at the time of writing – I can’t post until I talk to them – you understand). So tomorrow, I’ll hug my wife and dogs a little harder and work a little harder and probably try to live a little harder. And pray.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

They all end the same

Poker tournaments, that is. I'll get to that in a sec.

Life must have really slowed down. I'm not posting nearly as much as I was back in Oct-Nov. I've not been traveling as much is one reason. At least I've not been traveling any where that I care to write about or anyone would care to read about. Atlanta and Durham just don't get my fingers excited. In the next three weeks I'm slated to go to Atlanta (again), Redmond, WA, and Las Vegas. The first one is a working customer visit, the second is training for me, and the last is just for fun or at least lots of poker.

Before I get to Vegas I really need to find a better way to end my poker tourneys. It's not that my chips all go to somebody else and I walk away. No, that would be normal. In my case it seem they all end by me calling some small all-in as a big favorite and getting some 2 or 4 out suckout on the river followed almost immediately by a big pre-flop hand that I go all in with as a big favorite to (you're way ahead of me by now) get sucked-out on by a 2 or 4 out suckout on the river.

Tonight's pub poker was no exception. Well, maybe not strictly as described above, but close enough. I played pretty straight up except for throwing down a suited hammer (7h2h) to steal some blinds and one other junk hand to take a small pot. I couldn't get paid on my premium hands. I really should have pushed this table harder, but I didn't. That's my falut.

Four hands from the end I'm sitting on a pretty average stack in the big blind. With 3 limpers, I go raise 3x the big blind with AKo. I get two folds and an all in that was for about half my stack. She shows 10h9h. Naw, I don't get it either. Long story short, she flops nothing and catches a 10 on the river. Crap! Three hands later I'm hurting and I look down at 1010. All in (about 3x BB). I get 2 callers. The flop comes J 8 5. Check, push for another 3 BBs and a fold, so I'm heads up. The other player turns over 66. Cool. "It's a good time to triple up", I think. Hell no. The turn is a 4 and the river a 7 for her straight and my walking papers.

That's poker, or so I'm told.

Otherwise I'm a happy guy. My father-in-law is feeling so much better that he is attending our poker game this weekend. I know that he has missed getting out. My friends who are in their 30's mostly are really looking forward to Mr. C's (in his 70's) return. I think that is a testament to the quality of my friends and Mr. C. I'm still employed, coming up on 12 years at MS. My wife is still beautiful and my dogs are healthy. Even my grandmother's condition is stable.

My wife had a good idea tonight. Let's go kick Iran's ass. That new president of theirs is turning out to be a real loon with ideas of the end of the world. President Bush has done a fine job so far so let's really finish the job of taking out the terrorist by cutting off their benefactors at the knees.

I know there is a lot of disagreement on that score (Bush as President), but the folks you hear crying about everything Bush has done were the same ones crying about everything he did from the time he was born leading all the way up the his first inauguration.

When reading opinion, I have a simple test which you may want to use: Does the writer have good and bad to say about the subject? If so I give it some weight. If it is all praise or all bitch, I throw it out unless I already thought that to begin with, of course. Case in point, if the writer is working over the President, does he mention that the economy is doing great (Clinton would characterize it as the best economy in 550 years!). Or does he write that Bush should be impeached for wiretapping terrorists (which is probably legal)? If you want to change my mind, show some thought by showing some balance.

Here are a few facts that I have recently had friends get wrong:

Costa Rica is not an Island.
Cyprus is an Island.
The first definition of celibate is not married (I got this one wrong). Not having sex was second.
Israel is close to Lebanon